Artist’s Rights

Definition of Courage Being an artist isn’t always easy. For one thing, people tend to assume they know your true identity based on your work (as if you were trying to hide it from them!) It’s an easy mistake to make, but the fact is, we are so much more than our personalities, our history, our knowledge, or even our experiences. If you allow yourself to experience the process and practice of making art, in whatever form it appeals to you, you are really being a kind of channel.

This channeling is available to everyone, anytime, and anywhere. It is a fact of being human.  We make things.  As the great but totally goofy George Clinton said at Voodoo Fest one year, “This is what we do.”

The marvelous Keri Smith posted a wonderful list of things that would make an artist miserable. Chris Roberts-Antieau wrote an artist’s statement on “Trusting Direction.” I thought I might make a list that I will call “Artist’s Rights.”

1. You have the right to not care about what other people think. These days, it seems like criticism is both endemic and a market for those who don’t/won’t think for themselves. Spending too much time trying to please everyone results in pleasing no one and will make you inefficient and unhappy. Bottom line? Screw ‘em if they don’t get it.

2. You have the right to require time alone. Much of the work that creative people do is done alone.  Allowing yourself precious private time is essential, as is keeping people who are full of shit out of your circle and your headspace.

3. You have the right to take your time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Some books/films/paintings take years. Art that is personally authentic and substantial is worth waiting for, and you have the right to insist on taking the time you need to make something beautiful.

4. You have the right to claim some authority over what you’ve spent time doing. You are allowed to insist you know what you’re talking about based on your considered experience with, and practice in, your art. You don’t have to have a phD to get people to listen to you if you have clearly devoted yourself to a practice.

5. You have the right to grow and change artistically.  People often tend to categorize an artist based on the first successful thing they did. If Ron Howard was expected to be Opie on “Happy Days” the rest of his life, what a disservice that would be to the incredible filmmaking he has accomplished as an adult. People will continue to pigeonhole you. Change anyway.

6. You have the right to NOT talk about your work. Art can make some people uncomfortable.  Intellectualizing art is a great way to avoid feeling the emotions that can come up when experiencing it. When someone insists you explain your story/song/picture you are not obligated to tell them. Really. Allowing yourself some secrets will preserve you as a creative person.

7. You have the right to not market your work. Not everything worth making must be sold.  Structuring your work for the biggest dollar can put instant limitations on work that could otherwise be groundbreaking. Similarly, you have the right to not “follow the rules.” It can help to know the rules, but it really isn’t a requirement. What some call “Folk” or “Handmade” Art has a deep wisdom to it.

8. You have the right to not be a role model. Making art that puts you in the public eye should not also demand that you become a saint. The best work is often made by people who have explored all the vagaries of the human condition. Give yourself a break.

9. You have the right to be passionate. Some artists can get consumed by their work. These moments are like an illness that overtakes them for a time. If this happens, try and allow yourself the experience. Censoring your passion so that others will feel more comfortable doesn’t do you, them, or the art any good.

10. You have the right to keep your own hours. The muse strikes when she is good and ready, and often it is in the middle of the night. If you tell her, “Come back after I’ve had a cup of coffee,” she probably won’t. Don’t let other people give you a hard time about WHEN you need to write, edit, practice, draw, or compose. If you don’t listen when the call comes, who will?

Wishing you a joyous, liberating, delicious, frustrating, indecent, fascinating, immersing, trippy experience with whatever art calls to you!

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“Write the Dream” Conference

I am very excited to share that I have been asked to be the keynote speaker at a groundbreaking writer’s conference in Kansas City March 7th through 9th, called Write the Dream.  I will also be teaching my four hour “Dreamscaping” seminar, both Saturday and Sunday.

The conference is to not only help jump start YOUR dream of being a writer, but to share with you all the tools you need to get your story out into the world.  I believe so much in what Leanna Brunner (the head of the conference and Studio Z Publishing) is doing, that I am self-publishing my long awaited book, “Murdering My Youth,” through her process.

At the keynote speech, I will share some of the secrets of how to deal with the landscapes of creativity, production, and (gulp!) criticism.  There is an art to being an artist, and I can’t wait to help you reach your true potential.

My workshop, if I say so myself, is a lot of fun. My goal is to help you allow yourself to dream like a kid again – within a framework that will open up one or more stories that are both deeply personal to you, and meaningful to the reader.  We then mine your personal instincts for how you want to tell that story, and get into action on making that a reality!

There are many more classes available at the conference that will help you learn more about the booming world of self-publishing: everything from the basics of novel writing, to cover design, to marketing and promoting your finished work.

I hope you will consider coming to join us, March 7th through March 9th, for a fun and inspiring weekend!

And PS: I will also be signing copies of my book!

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“Flip Fantasia” Makes the Macon Film Festival

Poster art by Dylan Pierpont

MAGA Official Selection 2014I am beyond thrilled that my surreal short film, “Flip Fantasia” has made it into the Macon Film Festival.  If you haven’t been, I can assure you it is a real treat.  The people are lovely, the movies are fascinating, and the town is delightful!

I hope you can join me and come get your own pair of martini sunglasses!  (There’s a limited supply, so please show up early!)  For tickets to the festival, just go to the Macon Film Fest Website.  Tickets are on sale now!  Check out their FB page or go to their website for a chance to win an All Access Pass!

On a personal note: thank you so much to all of you who have supported this film.  Your excitement, commitment, belief (and ability to suspend disbelief) have helped me persevere though the difficult process of submitting to festivals. Your willingness to help me fight for a small, personal, creative work means the world.

 

 

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Holiday Spiced Wine (aka Gløgg)

One of my favorite things to make every year is a big vat of Gløgg.  This Eastern European holiday drink cuts right through the winter blues and shakes off the cold in one fell sip. My late mother used to make it every year, being a good Swiss/German/Scotch/Irish midwesterner. It always brings back lovely memories of her laughing in the kitchen, baking up some incredible Christmas Cookies. I am grateful to have her recipes collected in a big folder, her graceful handwriting filling the backs of index cards or magazine articles, even the odd section of a box, with arrows pointing or parts crossed out where she disagreed with the cooks directions.  Mom was a cooking rebel down to the core, and I have clearly inherited her tendency to shake up a boring meal with something fun!

I have experimented with this recipe for Gløgg and I can assure you that there is no “wrong” way to make it.  If you are missing an element, you can always substitute whatchagot.  In fact, some of my favorite Gløgg’s have been made just this way!

The basics:

2 large bottles of cheap red wine

1 bottle of port

1 bottle of brandy

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of raisins

1/4 cup of whole cloves

4 cinnamon sticks

1 vanilla pod (optional)

1 orange or 2 tangerines (use both the juice and the peel).   Some people even throw in a lemon!

1/4 cup cardamom pods or seeds

1/2 cup sliced, blanched almonds

I have substituted orange juice for the oranges, figs for the raisins, peach brandy for the brandy, and added Vodka or Aquavit for shits and giggles.  This year I threw in some chopped candied ginger and a handful of mulling spices from WIlliams Sonoma.  I’ve even seen cranberries thrown into the mix and a star anise used as a garnish. Like I said, it’s whatchagot!

VERY IMPORTANT: DON’T BOIL THE GLOGG! It will burn off all the alcohol and leave you with hot juice.  Where’s the fun in that?

Directions: pour both bottles of wine and the port into a large pot.  Put heat on low.  Throw in raisins, cardamom, almonds, cinnamon sticks, and vanilla pod.

Cut up and peel oranges or tangerine and lemon.  Squeeze in the juice, and drop it all, peels, orange pulp, and everything, into the pot.

Put Brandy in a smaller pot and add the sugar.  Heat on very low until the sugar had dissolved, and it has taken on a nice carmel color.  Again, do not boil! Add to the wine and port mixture.

Let sit on the stove for at least three hours for it all to take on the flavors.  (I have been known to let it sit out overnight, so that it really gets the flavor in there deep, and then reheat it in the morning, straining and bottling in the afternoon, but three hours will do the trick.)

Using a sieve, take out the bigger ingredients and pour the Glogg into the now empty bottles.  Save the raisins and almonds and use them to put in the bottom of the cup when you serve.

Serving:

To serve you can either heat up just what you are going to be drinking on the stove, or just pour into a mug and pop it in the microwave for about 30 seconds.  Add some raisins and almonds. If you want to be all elegant about it, serve in a tea cup or a clear glass with a slice of orange and/or a cinnamon stick as a garnish.

My favorite way to drink this is out of a thermos at the end of a hard day of work!  Awesome served with christmas cookies like gingersnaps, raisin cookies, or Pfeffernusse (German Spice Cookies).

Cheers!

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California Glamour

Here is a beautiful outfit for the holiday party season, both simple and elegant!  I love it!  Also, pretty affordable!  The dress is only $60 dollars!  Match with your own black shoes and bag, and you’ve got a nice warm weather look no matter what’s happening outside!
Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!
California Glamour

Boohoo dress
boohoo.com

Dune vintage black handbag
$105 - debenhams.com

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How to Survive the Holi-daze

Happy Holidays!Yep, it’s the most wonderful time of the year again… almost as fun as paying your taxes.  Wait, you LIKE Christmas?  Well heck, maybe there is something to this!  Maybe there are ways to not only get through this time of year, but to actually enjoy it!

Here are ten fun things to do that might actually lift those creepy crawly sneeky-deeky holi-daze blues.

1. Make a list of all the things YOU have done RIGHT this month. Even things like “I didn’t bitch out that lady in Trader Joe’s even though she cut me off with her cart” or “I didn’t fart in church” are things to give yourself a little pat on the back for doing.  We don’t give ourselves enough credit for all the effort we put into life!

2. Make a list of all the things your parents did RIGHT.  This might be a short list for some of you but there’s got to be ONE thing they did that was nice!  ”She didn’t hit me” counts.  So does “I never saw my father naked.”  If it’s a long list, well then lucky you and what are you yammering about?  Go hug those crazy people and count your blessings!

3. Put up some Christmas lights, even if you aren’t Christian.  There is just something so magical about those little white lights… you can even keep them up all year!  They just say “Dream, Hope, Don’t kill anybody today… ”

4. Listen to “The Charlie Brown Christmas Album.”  Yep, it’s the best Christmas album ever, and will bring back at least one happy moment of your childhood when your parents left you alone in front of the TV.

5. Get this years Jackie Lawson Advent Calendar.  It’s only four bucks for a whole month of daily joys.  Again, you don’t have to be Christian to enjoy this calendar, you just have to allow yourself a little bit of childlike wonder.  Yesterday I made five virtual snowflakes and put together an internet puzzle with dogs pulling a sled on it and felt pretty darn accomplished.

6. Do something for somebody else, even if you don’t know them or like them.  Open the door for someone who never opens the door for you.  Let the jerk with the shopping cart go ahead of you in line.  Smile at strangers.  Don’t share the ugly gossip about a mutual friend.  In 2014 you can return to being as rude as you want, but if you want to feel better until December 31st, restrain the beast.

Noodle and Nutjob

7. Let your freak flag fly.  There is no better time of the year to wear stuffed reindeer antlers, or to put them on your dog.  Paint your toes with Christmas trees or Hanukkah candles, cover yourself with body glitter, put clips made of mistletoe in your hair… whatever secret little mad nuttiness you’ve been dying to do but didn’t want to look like a freak by doing.  If anyone makes fun of you, tell them to not be a grinch!  It’s Christmas!  The best excuse to be a freak second to Mardi Gras!

8. Indulge in holiday fare.  Yes, you CAN buy those holiday Pringles, Candy Cane Peppermint Oreos, or an Egg Nog Starbucks Latte.  YES… YOU CAN… Why?  Because it’s Christmas!  Just try not to eat the whole bag or can … you’ll vomit.  Really, you will.

9. Make something special for co-workers!  Nothing says “Hey, I actually like you sometimes but especially when I’m drunk” like bringing a hot thermos full of Swedish Glogg to share with the gang at the office. I assure you, you will be decking those halls with someone you couldn’t previously stand in about 30 minutes.

10. Be your own Santa Claus.  If no one else is going to stuff your stocking, well as you probably learned in college, you are just going to have to stuff it yourself.  Why not try one of these fabulous personal pleasure packages?  Being naughty has never felt so nice.

Tingle for Kringle

Happy Holidays!

 

 

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The Agony and the Ecstasy

Actor Julian ElferOne of the great things about being an artist is getting the opportunity to create something that is totally authentic, totally and completely aligned with your personal vision. The irony in filmmaking is that unless you are going to run the camera, hang the lights, run the sound, and do all the acting, (which is impossible) it is a completely collaborative process.

Personally, I love collaborating, but there is an art to it, just like there is an art to conversation.  In my opinion, the art lies in one single element: listening.  You must be able to listen deeply, not just to the words someone is saying, but to their body language, their energy, and all the little hints in how they choose to share with you.  If you focus on connecting, and not on “being right,” or “having your say,” then collaboration becomes a beautiful dance – an experience of connecting within an energy field toward a particular goal.  I have worked hard at this art, and feel that it is one of the reasons I make a good director.

I had the great pleasure of experiencing this transcendent connection with not only my lead actor, Julian Elfer, but with my DP, Alex di Suvero.  Each person has a different way of connecting, a different way of communicating but both are intense and beautiful.

Julian is so soulful all you have to do is look in his eyes and you can see his understanding and compassion for the human condition, but you can’t just jump in there, you have to earn his trust.  Conversely, Alex is always looking out at the world (natural for a Director of Photography) and we tended to communicate via the visual of the shot.  He, too, required me to earn his faith.  I believe that I did so.  As the director, my job was to pay attention to their communicating, to earn their respect by being humble and showing them respect… and theirs was to respect and listen to mine.  Once we all made that leap into trust because we were all equally passionate and devoted, I believe a greater conversation began to unfold: we were listening to more than one another, we were listening to the work.

On the last day, the three of us, with our fourth amazing, silent, and essential AC (assistant cameraman) Nikita Carpenter, and our fifth incredible team member, gaffer Christopher Bye, the five of us danced together with the Steadicam (a camera attached to the DP that allows him to move with the actor) up, down, and around Riverside Drive.  It was a magical moment and the shot was (if you will forgive me) magnificent, almost transcendent of time.  This, I believe, was a direct result of co-joined LISTENING.

(Not to be forgotten, we were also blessed with AJ Wilhelm, who ran sound AND did our production photos.  AJ’s energy is that of a complete artist and I am so grateful for his presence, his creativity, his passion and compassion for the work. In addition we had the brilliant Nick Stergiopolous as our script supervisor (essential for the amount of continuity issues we were dealing with), the amazing Julie Lucas (“Belle” from “Flip Fantasia” as our associate producer, the hilarious Chris Nunez (“E” from “Flip Fantasia”) and the incomparable Eliana Mullins (our PA and appearance as “the girl on the street” in “Flip Fantasia”) on board running one million PA duties as well as other Secret Stuff.)

Me on set with my script

This is the ecstasy part of filmmaking: having a great cast and crew, feeling like everyone is behind your vision, and getting to be in the presence of “the extra element.”  It cannot be compared to, in my opinion.  It is exquisite.

The agony belongs to the physical toll the work takes.  Hours and hours on your feet, lack of sleep, lack of rest, and an emotional exhaustion that is hard to describe. The cost is that you’ve laid yourself out 100%, spending vital emotional energy that will now no longer be with you.  In short: it takes everything you have to give, right from your guts and your bones.  That said, it is worth it.  Completely.

I am very, very proud of “Flip Fantasia,” and so grateful for the incredibly support you have all given it.  I hope that you will come with me again for “The World of Fuh.”  My goal is always to make beautiful stories that will touch your heart and hopefully expand all our ideas about what it means to be human.  Stories about love, loss, and loneliness mean a great deal to me, as well as stories about how important we are to one another and how hard it can be to allow love in.  I have the deepest respect for humanity and for you, the audience, and will always strive to give you the very best of myself, my art, my thoughts, my words, and my visual expression.  You are here.  You are human.  You suffer, you pine, and you love.  You deserve it.

I am lucky to make the work I do.  Thank you for joining me and connecting with me to the greater human story.  Thank you for coming with me on this journey.  I could not do it without you.

PS: You can see more photos on our Instagram page: #worldoffuh or follow our progress on Twitter: @WorldofFuh https://twitter.com/WorldofFuh

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