Showing posts with label Artist. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Artist. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Clair Fair

 ‘Rapture.  As a noun meaning delight.’
Clair thought to herself as her fingers flew over the piano keys as if she didn’t guide them. 
‘Delight as a noun meaning enjoyment, ecstasy, enchantment, contentment, joyance, relish, which leads back to rapture.’ 
Since Clair discovered the piano and the joy inherit in this instrument that could whisper and yell, sigh and resonate, she spent her spare time trying to find the word that defined the sublime elation that filled her when she played.  She searched thesauruses, other languages, symbols, whatever she could get her hands on.  But not a single word alone described this feeling of release and bliss that she experienced while she played.  So her mind would string together all of these words to try and express what was being experienced.
‘Bliss, as a noun meaning ecstasy, euphoria, felicity, heaven, paradise, which leads back to rapture.’
She was playing Mozart’s piano concerto no. 20 in D minor.  It was one of her favorites to practice on at home and loosened her up when she was ready to compose her own works.  No. 20 in D minor was special to her.  This one had been the culmination piece of her first full concert at the age of 15 for a local arts festival.
After her Aunt Mary introduced Clair to the piano it had been the passion of her existence.  She had played throughout middle school with a mix of lessons with her Aunt Mary and whoever was available.  When she had entered high school, Clair had applied for a work-study program that allowed her to spend fewer hours at school and more time practicing her instrument.  Her dedication had been noticed by several of the local musicians as Aunt Mary had made it her job to find teachers that could operate at the level that Clair had reached and could carry her beyond.
That had been when she had met Edwina Powell.  Edwina was a large maternal woman with dubious ethnicity.  She was dark in coloring with her black hair and dark brown eyes.  But it was her tan skin tone that made it very hard to place her into any particular race. Edwina had been teaching pianoforte for 15 years in the small high school in Taos New Mexico.  It wasn’t until you went to her home for private lessons did you see the fruits of a 20 year long professional classical pianist career.  She had played everywhere, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Sydney, Paris, Japan.  Her walls were lined with accolades and world championships.
The day Clair had met Edwina had changed the course of her life.  Before that day, Clair had believed that she would not be able to become a professional artist.  She was told by school counselors and most other adults that choosing to become a professional artist was foolish and would not support her well. Everyone agreed with exception of her Aunt Mary and her mother who had both encouraged Clair to follow her passion and to ignore the call of material wealth in lieu of happiness. Still Clair had been undecided until she had her first meeting with Edwina Powell.
The first meeting had been at Clair’s home with her mother and aunt.  Ms. Powell had walked in like a ruling queen.  Her stature had been perfect, her clothing, hair and makeup immaculate. She had asked for Aunt Mary to leave so that she and Clair could speak privately.
The woman had instructed Clair to sit at her piano and then circled her seemingly looking for deficiencies.
“Clair.” She stated clearly in a Spanish accented, deep feminine voice. “That is not your full name.”
The woman waited a moment or two and then continued. “Clair is short for something, what is your full name, as it is written on your birth certificate.”
Clair had hesitated, hating what she was about to say out loud. “It’s” she paused taking a long labored breath. “Clairvoyance”, she sighed, “Clairvoyance Olivia Warren.”
The woman only stared pointedly at Clair, “This shame’s you.” She stated. “It is empowerment, a characteristic that is unique only to you.  You should embrace this name of yours.”
Moving to stand next to Clair she stared pointedly at the instrument before them both. “Does this shame you as well?”
Clair turned to her quickly denial in her heart. “No, there’s nothing embarrassing about a piano, or playing it.”
The woman sat next to Clair at the bench. “What is this instrument to you?”
Clair thought about it long and hard staring at the instrument in question.  Softly she ran her fingers over a few keys and the day her Aunt Mary introduced her to it flashed starkly in her mind.  Her entire body was filled with the euphoria that had started that day.  Her Aunt’s words ringing in her ears, ‘this does not care what color you are, it only knows music, it only knows joy.’ With that fresh in her mind, Clair had answered Ms. Powell with the only word that had summed it all up for her.

Ms. Powell had nodded. “You’ll do Clairvoyance.”

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Pick Up That Axe. Life After Prince

The first time I heard 'Do me, Baby' I was too young to truly understand what it meant but I knew it was everything I wanted one day.  Sitting in the back of my mom's car listening to the local Dallas, TX R&B station I heard Prince for the first time and started to try and understand the concept of doing someone.  Because according to him it could be the most amazing thing anyone would ever do.  So of course I wanted to figure it out. I never asked my mother cause I didn't think she knew anything about it or else she would be on the radio singing about it. So I wanted and need more of this Prince fella.

This started a love affair with what he considered music which calls to my soul in ways most people can't understand and a few know all too well. Love is sometimes a taboo subject for young poor dark kids.  Mostly because all the love we see in media is usually not dark. Prince taught me what love could and should be. I became fascinated by his vision.  It wasn't till I was older that I truly understand what was the most engrossing thing about this artist. Prince taught me to accept me. No matter who I find that person to be.

When you grow up and you have a very keen understanding from the first time you become truly consciously aware of yourself that you are different life gets harder.  We have a culture obsessed to a painful degree with fitting in and staying in your lane whatever in the hell that means. And when people step outside of the bounds of where everyone thinks they belong they get shunned. It’s the functioning act of society.  Provide the human interactions that we need to feel whole or deprive them from those who buck the system.

When I first saw Prince I found him to be beautiful in a way that I had never seen a man achieve beauty. He was glorious, fashionable, wore heels and just glowed.  He showed attitude and sass he was everything any young girl would want to be.  But he was intensely male no matter what else he had going on. So he then became who any girl would want to be with. It was a perfect moment of the yin and yang energies of masculine and feminine existing in the same being. It was the first tangible understanding that the concepts of male and female are a myth.  A structure we put into place to maintain the status quo.  When you realize that is a lie you begin to question everything and then you begin to rebel.

Freedom looks beautiful and Prince embodied that in every way.  But it was beyond freedom.  His freedom was unique because its core was identity. It’s not till you get much older do you recognize what that beauty is.  Prince was a man that didn’t' challenge identity and gender roles to be controversial or as a gimmick. He challenged them because he refused to let them define who he was and how he expressed his art or lived his life. He lived as he needed to in order to bring clarity to his art to his life to his unique vision. He was an alchemist who took the elements around him, reshaped them and reformed them to become something we had never seen and realized in that instance we should have never lived without.

What he became for me was a catalyst to a crucial understanding for every human walking this earth.  Of all the things that can be bottled, copyrighted, co-opted, stolen, renamed, identity will always be yours. The unique aspects of your life and being that make you who you are is the only marketable skill any of us will ever really need.  The art is driven by the artist, not the other way around. Your art is not your vehicle to success, you are.  And how well you reveal yourself defines the success of your art.

I consider his death a wakeup call to the conformers and those on the fence.  The ones trying to fit in and emulate others to achieve fame and fortune. Greatness is only gained from great risk and there is no greater risk than true unfiltered exposure. The reason he was able to be prolific after decades of work is that he never had to figure out where to go.  The art was never in control, he was. The art didn't live in its own space to be pulled from and used. He was the art. People can remake his music, they can offer tribute they can mimic his style even take his name. But they will never capture the essence of what made him great.  That is a journey that each artist has to make for themselves.

If you take nothing else away from the death of an icon understand his beginnings. He was ridiculed criticized and maligned. But he never stopped his journey because it didn’t matter what you or anyone else thought. His work was never about impressing you.  His work was about expressing him. His story is a living breathing testament to faith beyond all else. To trusting the higher forces because they have entrusted you with this life and this time.  This place. Stop counting. He never counted. It doesn't matter when just do it. Like the man said, Do me, baby. Like you never have before. Which really means do you. Make the journey.  Find it, embrace it, put your foot in it. Pick it up. Pick up that pen, that paintbrush, that script, that microphone. Pick up that axe. 

And now my favorite Prince moment of doing him:

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Learning to Not be Ruled by Genre

It is a long road that I believe never truly ends.  That road is that of a writer when finding their voice.  The best of the best say that the most important part of this journey is the journey.  No matter what never stop writing. For many writers that is almost like saying never stop breathing.  But as an asthmatic I can tell you that breathing is not always a guarantee. And over the years my writing has come and gone like a breath in some instances. Whiffed away without any hesitation or thought. My well seemingly run very dry.

However my mind still swam with scenarios of unfulfilled passions and desires. The human spirit needs passion and desire.  Creation is as much a part of living as the breathing and the beating. Most seem to not notice that life is nothing if not a lesson in sheer natural brutality. The elements that make us up crammed together in clumps and fits.  Our very systems demand the use of words like force, beat, move. As they say the struggle is real. And it is a struggle.  Nothing worth having has ever been born politely. It comes in a haze of blood, sweat, and tears screaming its battle cry ready to be heard, listened to and engaged. Life does not ask for the fight, life demands it. So the only failure is in trying to deny the fight. Because then you are truly denying life.

When I decided I wanted to try my hand as a writer I was sure that I wanted to write romance. I had a game plan like I normally do. I wanted to start as a romance writer then move into more science fiction or fantasy. As offensive as the thought is I was young and foolish enough to believe romance writing was an easier place to start. I was very very foolish years ago. As many know the genre is not well thought of by literature critics. However I dare to say that writing romance may be even harder because of how it is thought of.

It reminds me of professional wrestling in a lot of ways.  The trick to professional wrestling is that there is no trick. Its hard work, dedication to a goal and a performance. It eats up life because the only way to get better like with any craft is to continue to hone it. And yet it is not very well thought of by many people who view it as fake.  In many ways similar to how some authors view genre writers. The analogy forces me to think about the limitations provided just by perception. Because the barriers are not one sided.  All are affected by the perception and the need to justify it. As human beings we love balance and we like to know the answer. We subconsciously lean to a lie of perception as much as we may lean to the truth. Just as there is no way to convince gravity to stop working for a wrestler, there is no way to easily construct a palpable endearing emotion laden first kiss for a romance author. It is a sport of conditioning, practice, and training.  The road is long and the culmination is to tell the perfect story.

I now know that there is no such thing as an easy writing. The quality writing, the change the world stuff is a labor of intense love, commitment and selfless devotion. It is staying up all night to finish the most crucial scene you have ever written.  But they all are aren’t they? And the answer is yes, every single one IS the most crucial scene you have ever written.

I was given the advice that my heart knew was true before it was even given.  Write what you love. I started writing because of love, I write about love.  But I was looking for the trick, I was asking gravity to stop working for a moment. Sometimes in a craft you get completely immersed in your tools instead of the art giving the tool the power. It becomes about fitting in, coloring in the lines and less about expressing your unique voice. The truth is the man behind the curtain is in fact just a man.  A man dedicated and committed enough to an idea that he was able to convince the world he was an all-powerful wizard. He went outside of genre, outside what the limitations of a man should be.  In the process he stopped allowing his tools to limit him, he instead gave them new power.

I was a visual artist in high school and became a vocalist and music composer. I noticed early in my art studies that I was better with colors than with black and white.  What I understood before I left was that this was a myth I had told myself. My mind was so enrapt with technique that art was not being made. When I went into music I noticed the same. I was concerned with vocal replication of other artists and not concerned with my own sound. The girl is hardheaded. Somewhere in my junior year of high school, somewhere in the middle of performing Deep River, somewhere in the middle of composing my 3rd work technique faded and art finally took form. The moment is indescribable. For a split second you hear clearly, you feel deeply.  The world is beautiful, lovely. You absolutely matter and what you have to say bears weight and has the meaning and affluence of a living viable human soul and spirit laced throughout it. It connects you to the now, the past the future and the fountain of infinite bliss and wisdom. Pure as you and I are meant to be.

The point is have influences, mimic them as you need, read the art books, understand the style, refine your craft; use your tools. Before its over though make sure the voice is your own.  A lesson I have to teach myself over and over again. This is my ultimate love letter to remind myself why I should never give the tools power but instead use the art to empower them. I'm writing this so that when I start to forget and I'm worried about book sales, or another press or agent saying no that I stick to my declaration and follow the advice of knowledgeable others.  I embrace these tools and make them an extension of myself and what I need this world to see and understand. That I listen to the beating, pounding pace of my heart and stay with the fight. That I fill what I do with my will, my spirit; my spark. With my love, always with my love.