Sunday, November 22, 2009


I was talking with my mother about this blog the other day and one of her first comments was regarding the idealistic tone of of this blog, which I translated as an indication that she feels this is another of my charming, but perhaps not grounded in the real world, endeavors. Obviously, since I was able to discern this without her saying this exactly, this voice is in my head telling me to be realistic and tone it down so to speak. In fact, I think the battle with this voice and others like them is one of the most important battles that anyone who is breaking away from the herd and trying something new, wanting to flex their creative wings and take to the sky will face. Fear is the mind killer, the mind can make a heaven of hell and a hell of heaven. I think most of us have such voices in our heads which tell us to be realistic, to tone it down, to give up, to accept our mediocrity and so on. One of the ways I have found to quiet these voices is to find inspiration and strength from those who are saying the complete opposite of such mind killer voices. One of my all time favorites comes from Martha Graham, a trailblazing woman and dancer:
“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is on a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”
For me her notion of leaving aside any value judgments of what you create and get on with creating is one of the most important mantras I have when I feel one of those mindkillers start to creep up on me. Words of wisdom such as hers are invaluable. Whenever I find such words, I add them to my sketchbook. There is lots of inner work to this process as one finds their inner voices starting to interfere. Though perhaps meant to shield us from humiliation and failure, they must not be given the final say.
As well as inner voices, outer voices must be managed. In an earlier post, I mentioned a resource that helped when I was first starting off on this path, The Artist's Way. One of the elements that I got the most from was the author's advice to be careful how and with whom you share your beginning steps at change. She likened this movement as a sort of spark that had to be shielded from harsh winds until that spark was a roaring fire, which would then be strong enough to feed off harsh winds, criticism and the like. I have found that when you break out of the normal conventions of life, there are those who envy your courage and try to squash it with the voices in them that have squashed them. They will hand you all sorts of garbage, perhaps even well-intentioned, that will serve to pour water on your fire. I found that it helps not to take what they say personally and treat it as something that is more about what they have accepted as reality rather than reality itself. Since we are all pretty much lost in terms of our ignorance about reality- we see only the tiniest fraction of what is and what we experience is so tempered by the way we have been raised, programmed, really, I think that we have to be rigorously discerning with what we take to be reality. Consider the quote I shared, I don't think one has to be idealistic to accept her premise. I think what she said is as much an observable reality as an idea from which to proceed into reality. So, this being said, find those authors, artists, friends, loved ones, anyone who adds to your fire. Cleave to them and their words will be instrumental on your journey.
I want to bring your attention to a link I added some time ago but have negelcted to say much about. The link is Drawing Tutorials Online in the corner of this blog. I love this site and use it regularly. If you like drawing and want to get better,you must check out this site. It is full of loads of instructional videos and articles, reference photos, opportunities to network and tons more. It is quite reasonable to be a member, around 13 dollars a month and for the price you cannot go wrong. The instructor is a great teacher as well as a professional illustrator who teaches at a well known art school in NYC. He has put together a great program, so check it out. If you decide to that its worth your while like I have, click on the icon on my blog and I will get a kickback, so you will be doing me a favor while you do yourself one.
The image on this post is one of my most recent works. Che Guevara seems like a pretty good rep for idealism, I think this is part of why his face is so famous. I did this one in pen becuase I have always admired him as a rebel for the people.I would love to hear from you about this image as well as anything you came across in the blog.


  1. Many of us are paralyzed by our inner voice - it is the culmination of our socialization and our interpretation of how we believe people receive us as individuals. We are usually our harshest critics.
    As a young mother, I would turn on Mister Rogers for my toddlers - I can remember crying when his messages were finally received by me. Individuality, loving yourself and others BECAUSE of differences, accepting challenges, being true to yourself. I represented none of these things at that time. Silly as it may sound - Fred Rogers is a calming voice in my head - along with Thomas Merton. The two of them can bring me back to a sense of wellbeing when the world feels like it is falling apart around me (and it often does).
    The Martha Graham quote you shared is wonderful.
    Thank you, Tony - and not that you crave external validation - but your blog is a nice break from life as usual. It is inspiring in many ways. Your gifts are many, and you are putting them to good use.
    Much Love - Frannie

  2. Thanks for the heartfelt sharing, and double plus thanks for the comment on my blog. Its always great to hear that you have touched someone else with your creation, especially in a way that is appreciated.