Creativity Is My Voice – JR Butler (Part 1 of 2)

JR Butler is a muralist, sculptor, potter, painter, digital artist…you name it! He is also a good friend of mine and an integral part of the Siler City and Chatham County arts community. I recently asked him for his thoughts on creativity and his creative process. Here’s what he had to say…

To me, creativity is a passion to recognize the possibility of presenting unique, new ideas and using whatever means to bring this vision forward. I feel grateful that I possess this passion. Creativity is like a hypothetical muse that exists in my mind. It is the voice I hear most clearly in my head; it is my voice. When I’m able to use it to speak out loud, it is the truest, rawest expression of me. When I truly expose my creativity through art, I feel the change in energy from people who experience it. I know that my creative energy has caused them an emotion that is real. This is what motivates me above all things to create: to know that I have created an experience that has an emotive quality that resonates with the viewer. That they have felt me for the moment through my art. When someone truly appreciates my creativity and my art, it’s as if that voice has become a part of me that the viewer will take with them…a part of me that will live on with them and in others who view this work.

I am affected by the emotional energy of others every day. This is the best way I know to share those feelings with others. They may not always know what the art is about, but if it has made people feel my emotions like I feel theirs, then I feel good about that transfer of energy.

Mural by JR Butler, Siler City, NC

My all time favorite movie is the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and my favorite line in a film is delivered in that movie by Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka: “We are the music makers and we are the dreamers in the dream.” This is my mantra. So when people want to blame Ozzy Osborne for my actions…(((buzzer)))…the correct answer is Willy Wonka!

As an artist, a dreamer, a creator, I believe those of us who create are on a quest to find what is closest to godliness…and it’s not just cleanliness, folks. It also has to do with the act of creation and the ability to live eternally, just as the pharaohs sought and have so far attained with their artistically elaborate tombs. It is art.

Some would argue that art is one of the differences between humans and animals. However, if you have not seen art in nature made by animals and the forces of rock, you haven’t seen our world. I am an artist and I am here to help open your eyes. Art is not only what we have placed our claim on as humans. I can show you art I have collaborated on with a dog, insects, and nature. We have only just scratched the surface on knowing what art is and what it can be. I have been on this quest for as long as I can remember and I will continue on this path. As long as there’s another breath, I will be reaching for it to make my art.

Diversity Mural, by JR Butler, Siler City, NC

Writing for the Animals

Featured

As the Writer-in-Residence at Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge, it is an honor for me to sit and talk with the residents, and to be allowed to tell their stories.

For example, sitting by the duck pond one day, the peace and tranquility of Dexter Duck and Channing Duck’s lives here at the Refuge brought to mind memories of a younger me swimming at The Lake….

“Closing my eyes, I listen
Comfort surrounds me
Cooled by the breeze as its feathery touch pushes aside the warm sun.

Bullfrogs croak their deep baritone greeting
Ducks quack like old friends gossiping over tea
Talking over one another
Their voices converging into steady harmonics….”

Read more…

Garden Peace Pole Project – Part 2

Part 2 of my Garden Peace Pole Project appears in my Mother Earth News blog.  Follow the link below…

For me, garden art creates natural balance. The flow of creating a piece of garden decor, especially from design to development, enhances my life balance. Seeing garden accessories sprouting in the midst of plants provides a personal human touch to my natural world…  (Read more…)

 

Garden Peace Pole Project

Seems I’ve always been a gardener. My earliest garden memory: building rock gardens with Mom when I was a wee one as my two older sisters went off to school. Warm spring days found the two of us collecting pebbles, stones and rocks(Read more here)

My first blog post, Part 1 of Regaining Balance By Making a Garden Peace Pole appears online on Mother Earth News!  

WARNING: 100 Days of Welding Will Lead to More Days of Welding

I started following Mara Strayer’s 100 Day Challenge on Instagram a couple months ago.  I soon learned she lived within 10 minutes of me, and we’ve become good friends.  Always up for a challenge, we are currently undertaking the daily #CreativeSpringBoard Challenge (ending on the first day of spring), which you can follow on Mara’s Instagram page, as well as on mine: @SparkworkStudio and @WildesArt

Mara’s 100 Day Welding Challenge was very inspiring, so I invited her to be a guest blogger.  Enjoy her story, as well as some of her beautiful creations!

Barbara


I met Barbara Hengstenberg only very recently on Instagram. She found me somehow and seemed interested in my project at the time, #100DaysOfWelding2. As it works sometimes in social media, we started to form a relationship and discovered we live very close to each other, so, we met for coffee.

Barbara is such a kind, inclusive and positive person…she just makes you smile. She asked me if I would write a guest blog for her site to describe what #100DaysofWelding is and how I decided to do it. I thought it might be helpful to have a little background information first!

So, a brief history is that many years ago I graduated from the University of Kansas with degrees in both Graphic Design and Metalsmithing/Silversmithing. I enjoyed careers in both fields but life went along and my husband and I decided to start a family. We decided that what was best for us was for me to stay home with our girls…and the years went by. In fact, it was when my oldest was 18, I realized that it was now time I find something for myself.

I stay motivated with goals. I have done this my whole adult life. It’s kind of a strange thing but if I have a goal, I will get it done and if I don’t have a goal, I will waste my time. The key for me is to set realistic goals so that I can actually meet them. Then, I feel satisfied and can move on to the next. Some are big and lengthy and some are quick.

So, I decided on a big goal: obtain a welding certificate. I went to a local community college and completed a one year program. It took two semesters while my daughters were in their Senior and Freshman years of High School.

I learned to mig, tig and stick weld, plasma and oxy cut among many other things. I completed this goal and got my certificate in May of 2016. I could have easily been satisfied with my accomplishment and welded just for me and just for fun, but that’s not what I did. I set a few more goals to keep me moving forward. I opened an Etsy shop, got my work into a local shop (Chatham Home in downtown Pittsboro) and got into my first juried show at The Arts Center in Carrboro. I felt that proud sense of accomplishment after meeting each one of these.

I do, however, still have a house and family! And, off course, sometimes too easily, I put off my welding to do the day to day things that seem more important. The meal planning, shopping, laundry, errands and carpools seem endless and still need to get done. Consequently, my current projects tend to get shoved further and further down the list. I needed a way to get and stay motivated EVERY DAY!

One day, while browsing around Instagram, I found a possible solution. An artist had challenged herself to 100 days of creativity. She had created a hashtag: #The100DayProject and asked others to join her. This artist, @elleluna , works mostly with paint, but suggested that each participant creates their own individual hashtag and join the community. It was a lightbulb moment for me, the perfect way to find a little creativity every day. So, I did it and created the hashtag #100DaysOfWelding , which amazingly had not already been used. Some days I would post pictures of a finished piece and other days it would be a work in progress or a sketch. As long as I was working each day, it was forcing me to focus. I met quite a few other 100 day participants along the way and a new community was formed. Many of the followers I gained were fellow 100-dayers. A few would like every single one of my posts and comment with words of support and encouragement and I did this for them as well.

On day 100 of the challenge, there was much celebration. I felt both a sense of relief and accomplishment.

But, something else happened, I saw the final post of one of the artists who had also taken the challenge. Cate of @lets_make_a_ruckas is a needlework artist and posted a small round finished work every day. On the last day of the challenge, she posted a picture of all 100 of her perfect round pieces all together and it blew me away. It was so awesome that she had this plan from the beginning and so was able to finish with a huge impact.

So, of course, I had to do this too.

I planned it out and this 2nd time around with my #100DaysOfWelding it would be #100DaysofWelding2 . Each day, I posted a finished charm. Each different but all 3” round. I planned it so that on the final day, January 1st 2018 symbolizing a New Year and a “Fresh Start”, I would post a picture of all 100 pieces!

Here are a few of the individual posts…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the whole darn thing altogether!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       I met my goal!

During that recent coffee date with Barbara, we planned a new challenge of our own. We decided to work every day towards a finished piece that would be unveiled on the First Day of Spring, April 20th! We are calling it the #CreativeSpringBoard Challenge. I would encourage anyone looking for inspiration to challenge themselves to their own #100dayproject or something similar. Whether you are stuck in a rut or needing to stay focused, it will feel good to be a part of a community and work towards a destination.

Follow on Instagram @SparkworkStudio or Twitter @SparkworkStudio

A Day with Eric Sommer: My Kind of Music – Slapping, Sliding, Stabbing

Ever hear a musician for the first time and say, “Wow, I could listen to this music all day!”? For me, it’s a rarity. I consider myself a music snob…I know what I like, and that’s that. (I’m also a comedy snob, but that’s another story.) Back in October, Bill and I were headed to a Halloween festival. We had read about the performer, Eric Sommer, whose music was billed as folk/blues/Americana/rock influenced by the likes of Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, Steve Howe, Randy Travis, and Elvis Costello. Wait a minute…really? A favorite guitarist in our household is Steve Howe. We were intrigued, yet skeptical that perhaps there was some hyperbole in this write-up.

Indeed, we were blown away on that Halloween evening, listening to Sommer’s music and banter with the crowd. There was no exaggeration in that initial write-up. Bill and I knew right away this was a musician who belongs on WildesArt and whose music deserves to be heard by the masses.

Fast forward two months, and I find myself reflecting on a day spent video-recording the awe-inspiring singer/songwriter and guitar master, Eric Sommer. Setting up in the old Chatham Mills building in downtown Pittsboro, North Carolina, Sommer strolled through the door, a black Vivian Westwood fedora atop his head, carrying guitar upon guitar: a Jay Tercer parlor guitar; twin black and white checked Trinity River guitars; a Taylor acoustic embellished with mother-of-pearl inlay; a 1951 Sears Silverstone that looked as though it was once strummed in the doorway of an Airstream trailer on a lazy summer afternoon; and the Holy Grail of guitars: an ageless Fender Telecaster, worn from years of use, its fret-board patina announcing a history of glory days.

With steel finger picks on each finger of Sommer’s “strumming” hand (I use that term lightly, as his playing is better described in terms of slaps, slides, and stabs), one foot on a volume pedal and the other foot tapping out the beat on a kick box, Sommer drove us through a catalog of songs. These are tunes that tell a story…some are epic poetry laced with a guitar riffs and chorus. Others are fusion instrumentals or inspired by old-time Americana and bluegrass tunes. These songs will never fit into a one-hit-wonder mold. For instance, the song, Do Re Mi, played on the Jay Tercer, is not your kid’s note-scale music lesson. This song touches upon the psychedelic, using frequency waves a la Jimmy Page, and glides to superior riffs reminiscent of Steve Howe. Then, turning his instrument face-up flat, Sommer punctuates with a jolt of guitar bongos.

After eight hours of filling the old brick and wood warehouse with instruments and video equipment, the air still vibrating with music, it was a wrap. Eric will soon be setting off on national and European tours, and Bill will be working his wizardry on editing and packaging this collection of music videos. And I will be anxiously awaiting the release of each of these creations. Stay tuned…you won’t be disappointed.

Visit Eric Sommer’s website: www.EricSommer.com
Follow Eric on Facebook:  @ericsommermusic

Subscribe to WildesArt and to our WildesArt YouTube channel to stay up-to-date on new releases.

Special thanks to Chatham Mills.

Creative Treasure in Siler City, NC

Chatham County, North Carolina, is teeming with creativity.  Creative people, murals, artwork, art galleries…  You name it, and it seems like we’ve got it.  And if we don’t…we’ll create it!  But finding the space in which to create can be difficult.  I’ve carved out a room in our house for my studio, and I know others who love to paint, draw, or write outside…plein air…  

Then yesterday, I ventured out to Siler City, known as the last home and burial site of Francis Bavier (a.k.a. Aunt Bee from The Andy Griffith Show).  The more I travel Route 64 West, the more I fall in love with the scenery:  dairy farms, open space, a stained glass warehouse, and an alpaca farm.  Once I reach the city limits, however, it looks like Anytown U.S.A., with a Walmart, gas stations, convenience stores…you get the idea.  

Yet, driving just a mile or so into “Historic Downtown Siler City,” sits this humble small city, subtle in its beauty.  At least 9 murals decorate buildings within walking distance to one another, with more being planned.  And in the heart of it all is the NC Arts Incubator.  

I met with the Incubator’s new director, April Weaver, who took me on a tour of this impressive space.  Within these walls is housed a retail gallery, a new exhibit gallery,  studio space, workshop space, and a coffee shop.  This is a colorful, warm, and inviting place.  April took me downstairs to a large clay studio, where I was lucky to see two clay artists at work. Afterward, when we entered  the painting cooperative studios next door, the smell of oils and acrylics piqued my desire to put paint to canvas again.  Anyone who is looking for affordable, cooperative studio space, this is the place!

I’m looking forward to getting more involved with this non-profit organization.  April, the board, and volunteers have great vision for this space, and I encourage folks to go visit and see what they’re up to…and maybe buy a piece of art while you’re there.  

Their Holiday Art Market is open November 17-December 29. This is a chance to shop for handmade holiday gifts by local artists. Art such as paintings, pottery, jewelry, fiber products and notecards will be available.  (I’ll have some work available for sale, too.)  Opening night is Friday, November 17th during the 3rd Friday Artwalk. There will be live music inside at Courtyard Coffee and the Holiday Art Market in the PAF Gallery. The perfect opportunity to Shop Local!

Holiday Art Market:  November 17-December 29: Wednesdays through Fridays 10-6 and Saturdays 10–4. 

If you see me there, please say hi!

Visit: NC Arts Incubator:  223 N Chatham Avenue, Siler City, NC 27344  (919) 663-1335

www:ncartsincubator.org   email: info@ncartsincubator.org

 

Finding Community: Just Show Up

 
 

Bill and I recently showed up and celebrated author Tara Lynne Groth’s book launch.

Creating art or writing are reclusive practices.  Sure, I look for inspiration from others who create.  But I bring ideas into my lair (a.k.a. my art studio which I call my Zen Room).  There, I ponder these inspirations in solitude as contemplation massages the right side of my brain,

A while back, a friend told me, “Just show up.”  Simple, yet powerful words.  But for introverted artists and writers, this can be difficult.  Just show up equals Put yourself out there.  And that can be downright scary.

However, by just showing up, I have become a part of a community…actually, I’ve become a part of a few communities.  I have been showing up at classes and critique groups, and that has made all the difference (tip of the hat to Robert Frost).

For writers in the North Carolina Triangle area, I highly recommend Triangle Writers, a creative writing group of over 900 members that curates events and activities with the goal of getting published.  I’ve been to many seminars and a few critique sessions through this freelance group.  In fact, in December, I’m hosting a Children’s Book Critique Group in Pittsboro/Chapel Hill through Triangle Writers.

A few months ago, I came across a post for Children’s Book Writing classes through IgnitingWriting.com and I showed up.  I’ve made great friends and have challenged my creativity, taking it in new directions through these classes and groups led by children’s literature expert Susie Wilde.

When I attend Living Poetry meetups and author talks, I buy their books which give me encouragement to publish my own.

Check out MeetUp groups near you.  There’s so much to do, to learn…if you just show up.

Are there other communities that have made a difference in your creative world?  Tell me about them, so I can spread the word and all the good that happens when we just show up.

– Barbara

Marching to the Beat of Her Own Drum – Jennifer Locke

Freelance writer and friend, Tara Lynne Groth, and I often exchange creative ideas…we always seem to be planning something!  So when she suggested I read Jennifer Locke’s blog and that I connect with Jennifer, I looked into her work.  Jennifer and I have started a creativity dialogue, and I have, of course, asked her the question…

What ignites your creativity?

“I’m a writer, so I’m a reader first. Reading exceptional books never fails to inspire me and encourage me to get to the page. However, I’m inspired by anyone excelling in any creative endeavor–music, visual art, drama, etc. In general, people living creative lives give me hope. I love seeing people who’ve said “no” to the “rules” society has laid out and are choosing to march to the beat of their own drums.

“When I need to get in touch with my own creativity, journaling is a big help. I’m a big fan of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, especially the morning pages. I enjoy listening to inspirational podcasts. A long walk can give me time to mull over a particular plot problem or other story element. Baking pies can get me out of my head (and provide a sweet reward for my labor!). Sometimes it’s a matter of clearing figurative “space” for the words to come; lighting a candle, playing stimulating music, tuning out distractions so that I can be in the flow of words. When that happens, it’s a true gift.”

***

Jennifer Locke is a freelance writer and blogger for hire, as well as a YA author. She specializes in health, parenting, and the craft of writing. Jennifer writes articles, blog posts, and site content. When not writing, she’s usually wrangling her toddler twin daughters or nose-deep in a great book. Follow her on Twitter @jamlo525 and visit her website, jenniferlockewrites.com .

Whimsical Creativity – Featured Artist: Tamara Brown

I love the whimsical, airy paintings of Tamara Brown.  She seems so at ease with experimenting with technique and color.  So, of course, I had to ask Tamara…

What ignites your creativity?

 

“Living life fully and joyfully helps bring me most inspiration…a fresh perspective always helps, too…getting out and experiencing a new coffee shop with a friend, my children, a drive down a street I normally don’t drive down, pausing to notice the things that seem to speak to me for my attention (lines of buildings, colors of flowers, sunlight hitting trees).  When my heart and soul are full, I feel the most creative and free.

I wholeheartedly think our gifts are ultimately given to us from our Creator and have always loved this quote a creative mentor told me years ago…”Creativity is the closest thing to divinity; it comes from above.”

You can learn more about Tamara and her art by reading my Visiting Artist interview with her.

View and purchase her work at www.TamaraBrownArt.com.