Thursday, September 15, 2011

Searching for the Muse

There are times when inspiration abounds, when i find magic all around me, in the smallest things. But then there are times of emptiness. Times where there seems to be nothing but a vacuum or a dark void. I get lost in it's vastness, the depth that seems to never end.

I'm not the kind of person who is generally inspired by nature, though i love it immensely. But it's not the kind of thing that inspires my work. My music has always been an exploration of the human experience, and the endless layers that make up that reality. It's so hard to explain, because it's not something in which words can express completely, which is probably why i have found i tend to gravitate towards writing music mostly without lyrics. Without words, the music can speak of many things...something different each time it is played, even.

So, as a consequence of my inspiration, i tend to find that it's humans who inspire my work. And there are times when i feel such a need to express something that's so close in my heart, but there is no conduit. It's like knowing that there's someone trying to call you on your phone, but your phone has no reception.

It's usually at a time of some kind of personal awakening that i lose my muse. My muse can be anyone...a perfect stranger, a friend, or someone who just arrives in life. But the emptiness of a muse-not-yet-revealed becomes more than a frustration. It grows into a deep yearning. It clouds all of my thinking, and devours my day. No matter how hard i try to ignore it, it plants roots inside of me, and creates havoc. It's like yearning for a lover who lives across the waves, and the ache is insatiable. And there's the tease that at any moment, you could stumble upon it unannounced..

So, here i am, observing my emptiness. I will keep searching for the Muse, for though i feel it is a fruitless exercise, i live in the hope that maybe, just maybe...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Labour of Love

I love it when i'm "in the zone" in the recording studio, when the music just seems to come out of me from nowhere, and when something from that moment hits a kind of sweet spot. I love that feeling of synchronicity, even if some of the bits are a bit rough, a few notes pretty jarring, and some of the playing sounded a lot better to me when i was actually playing it.

And then, there's the labour of love...or hate in some cases...when the recording has to be fine-tuned, when the sharp edges have to be carefully ground down, and when the rough diamond has to be patiently cut and polished. Every artform has this process. It can be painful and damn-right annoying. It can see me spending more time walking away from it to clear my head that actually doing the work that needs to be done to make it presentable to the world. Because, you see, i want others to experience it that way i can see it's potential, without having to see past the roughness of the first draft.

Sometimes the process can take so long, i want to throw my hands up in the air and walk away and never return to it. Sometimes i scare myself, thinking that "if this keeps up" i may never finish it, or i'll get so "over it", that i'll no longer hear any magic. I occasionally wonder how long before that labour of love becomes the thorn in my side, especially when it's only a technical problem that's holding up the birth. It's enough fear to keep me motivated to get it done whilst the motivation is there, because i can never guarantee i'll feel the same about it tomorrow.

But recently i spoke of how much i enjoy being privy to the process of others, and so i made a share some works-in-process, with their warts and all. I've given myself a challenge to spend more time in the creating and sharing of drafts than in the polishing. I'm going to put aside my desire for detail, and leave things a bit raw and "not quite right". Maybe someone else might enjoy hearing my own progress through a piece as much as i enjoy watching another artist evolve their piece of art. Who knows. Maybe there's people out there who would actually prefer to hear drafts than listen to something slick and shiny.

And you know what? it feels GOOD.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Art In A Crisis!

When a life crisis hits, many creative people instinctively turn towards their art. Sometimes they can experience a manic surge of artistic activity, creating large bodies of work within a short time-frame. For many artists, life's misadventures can help build creativity and dedication. So what's the drive?

Celluloid by Tania Rose
 Friends and family sometimes find it difficult to witness a creative loved-one disappear into their world of art, assuming that they are using it to "escape the truth", or "ignore" those around them. But often there is something more going on. Many artists first discover their need for creating art through a negative experience, or a sudden change of circumstances. If they were lucky enough to have discovered it from a young age, their art may be the only reliable constant in their lives they feel they have control over.

Professionals in medicine are now beginning to understand how powerful creativity is in promoting healing and good mental health during times of crisis. through art, we can express things that cannot be said, cannot be changed, or cannot be understood. It also infuses a sense of empowerment and strength, and the process offers a place to purge and analyse oneself and try and make sense of the world around us.

So next time your artist locks themselves away and goes crazy with the art, think of it as a GOOD thing, They might just emerge a stronger and healthier person.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fiddly and the Dilly-Dally

Creating something can be a fiddly business. It can be extremely time-consuming and laborious. This isn't to say that it's not enjoyable, but it can be a painstakingly looooong process, full of yes/no, maybe/maybe-not, will/wont i, dilly/dally...

For the painter, who may take months to finish a work, it can be a difficult thing to see an audience spend only a few seconds looking at the finished piece before moving on. Blood, sweat, and tears can go into a work, and an artist will often pour their heart and soul into their creations, forgoing proper eating, relaxation, and sleep in a bid to achieve a finished piece.

Likewise for other art forms. Music, film-making, and even photography (which can sometimes have a lot of pre and post production work outside of the "click" of a shutter). Art takes time, and for the artist it can be all-absorbing. This is the process. This dedication and care is what creates the wondrous things that we see all around us, from the chair that's been designed by the chair-maker, to the building that's been crafted first on paper. Time and more time are the main ingredients to art.

So, when a piece is finished, most artists will feel an emptiness. Where once there was incredible dedicated effort, there is now a nothingness. Sometimes it can manifest itself in a type of depression or withdrawal, where an artist will seem to skulk, or become ill-tempered. It's ok. All loss is like that, and coming to the end of a journey is a process in itself, one which every artist needs to learn to deal with.

Creating an artwork is in itself an art-form, a head-space. But each piece is unique, and requires it OWN unique head-space, one which will never be lived again. One chapter, one work. We all have to deal with it, and we all have our own ways in which we discover it, live it, and let it go. It's not unlike a temporary love-affair, one which invariably comes to an end.

The upside is usually that one can share their piece with others, finally, after so much has been poured into it. We all hope that you feel something from it. I know i do...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Homus Interuptus

I love working from home.
I love it because i have small children, and it means i can fulfil my role as a mother and a musician simultaneously. Yes, it does mean a lot of juggling, some rule-setting (for the kids AND for me), and i've had to organise a dedicated space from which to work, but i like it! What i don't like are interruptions...not from the kids (because that's just the way things are with young children), but from people who don't seem to understand that you WORK from home.

The time that i can actually dedicate to working is very precious, as it's been negotiated through the maze of  motherly commitments, timetables, cooking, cleaning, clients, see, dedicated work time is often literally a case of QUICK! i can probably do an hours' work now that the kids are settled into some playtime, and there's a slim possibility they may just stay occupied during this window. Yes, i put motherhood before all else, so "time" is a complicated thing.

But some people like to just call past and "drop in" when i'm in the middle of something. This is very inconvenient, particularly when i'm recording, or in the middle of a difficult edit. Every artist knows that creativity itself can be a fragile thing, and there are many times when i have to cram my artistry into a few minutes. It's not that i don't want to see people, but i do think it's highly unlikely that a friend would just drop in to see me for a chat if i worked in an office for someone else. But because i'm "at home" i have a target on my back?

So i have made some rules, and set some boundaries. Firstly, if i don't want to be interrupted, i just wont answer the door. This has literally taken me years to feel ok about it. Sometimes, when i hear that knock or that doorbell, i feel like someone is DEMANDING i drop everything and act RIGHT NOW! I also remind my friends to call me before they visit. Some need a LOT of reminding. The children also now understand that just because someone's at the door, doesn't mean it's going to be answered. Boundaries are important. They help things run a little smoother.

So, if you're like me, trying to keep lots of balls in the air, let yourself off the hook. And if you have friends who are working like me, just pick up the phone before you hop in the car.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

You Have A Choice

When it comes to our communities, one of the most biggest concerns i have, is that people generally seem to think they don't have a choice. They feel trapped in by circumstances. They feel they can't make the changes in their life because life makes it impossible. "I CAN'T do my art because i have to work to get an income", "I HAVE NO CHOICE but to put my child in childcare, even though at the end of the day i'm only $50 better off", "I CAN'T be successful, because no-one will give me any opportunities". These are very real beliefs, with real feelings attached, and real people suffering as a result. So, are the right? Do we really have a choice?

I heard a great talk recently about work/life balance by Nigel Marsh on TED . It points out the obvious, that many people work long hours in jobs they hate to have money to buy things they don't need, to impress people they don't like. Sounds crazy, and it is, yet so many peeps find themselves in this lifestyle. Imagine if we could do things we are really good at, get paid for it, and spend more time with family and friends? Is it possible? it certainly used to be. In fact, only decades ago, a shoemaker HAD to be very good and passionate in their work in order to make a living in a small community. Carpenters needed to make things well and take pride in their work, otherwise houses would fall down, furniture would break, and he would fast run out of business. So what's changed?

Today we're surrounded by lies. These days, many businesses are concerned with covering their arse, because someone may sue them for doing a dodgy job. It's often about people trying to con their way "up the corporate ladder" to get more money to buy more expensive stuff (yes, i'm cynical, i know). It's about women leaving their babies with strangers so they can go back to work, so they can afford to put fuel in their guzzling 4WDs (SUV's) that they bought on credit for very odd reasons. And it's all based on the lie that THIS is success. More money = a better life. Try telling that to the kid, who never sees his dad because he works 6 days a week, always comes home after bedtime, and is grumpy on his day off because he is so wrecked from his job that at home he lives on a knife-edge. Try telling that to the daughter who wont learn to cook, because her working mother is so exhausted, she can only prepare pre-made dinners. Try telling that to the toddler who gets so used to having to trust everyone as she's bundled about, that she'll happily follow a stranger just because they smiled at her.

I can hear the angry mob brewing. Perhaps it's hard to take because it's true. It's hard to hear it, because most of them believe that life HAS to be this way. No choice = no change. People grow up thinking it's normal to hate their job, despise work, get frustrated with their relationship, and have no time for their family. But there are ways. No-one can change it for you. There is no wonder-plan, but if you are real enough about making some serious changes, then you can.

The most important thing about being able to change, is believing you can be empowered enough to do it. Once this idea becomes a BELIEF, you will automatically make choices which reflect that belief. It might start off small, by negotiating one day a week off, for you to spend some quality time pursuing something you love. Happier people work better, have better health, a better to live with, make batter parents, which in turn make better children. Happiness breeds happiness.

If you'd rather be doing something else, shouldn't you do something about it? And if you're not going to do anything about it, you'd be much better off starting to get happy about being where you are.

Monday, January 24, 2011


It's a tough thing being a solo artist, having to rely on your own drive and motivation to get you through some of the darkest times. It can be a lonely occupation, one which can end up having go round and round in circles, it would seem. Whilst i have discovered my own ways to get things happening within myself, it remains a constant natter at my door, turning me inward more often than not, as i find myself getting in the way of myself.

Sharing and Caring
Sharing your journey in a partnership is delicate. The only way it can truly work is if you have a give-and-take relationship. Everyone involved needs to be flexible and compassionate, as some things may matter more to one person than the other. Some tasks, (such as the business end of things), can take some negotiating, even in the simplest of terms, such as who is going to do what. It's hard to find a good, long-term relationship of trust, action, and equality. In some ways it's like a good marriage, where people are prepared to flex and grow with the times.

If indeed you are one of the lucky few to find such a gift of partnership, most important of all is communication. In this age of electronic comms, things can get lost in text translation, so keeping things real as often as possible is probably a good idea. If you live or work close by, this can be as simple as having a weekly beer at the pub to chat about the week ahead. If distance separates you, (something more and more common), tools such as SKYPE can keep you in touch face-to-face for free, across the globe.

Who Does What
You usually find that some peeps are good at some things, whilst others are good at other stuff. Working out which stuff comes easily to whom can make a huge difference. For example, if one of you is more comfortable on the phone, then it makes sense to have that person make a lot of the calls. Tech folk should obviously take-on the tech tasks, and writing tasks should fall to the one who is most comfortable with that. This can make a HUGE difference to how you feel about the workload and the peeps involved. If you get stuck on something, see if you can delegate.

The Creative Stuff
Of course the foundation of any good creative partnership is the creative arena, which was probably what drove you together in the first place (though partnerships arrive through all manner of needs). Maintaining a good creative practice will keep you solid on the business end. Momentum is so important. It shapes part of the feeling, and the knowledge that you're working on something that only came about because of a team effort. This is what we fall back on, when all the other business stuff feels too hard. It's what you will keep coming back to, so keep it moving. After all, at the end of the day, it will be what you showcase. No one will see all the 1000s of hours you put in to the website, the opportunities you chased, the arguments you had, and the procrastination you constantly felt at your heals. They will see the art. That's all they will have, so make it good.

MuscularRose aka Peter Grigoriadis & Tania Rose

Be Real
The reality is that people also have lives outside of the project. You can't expect people to put the project before all else, even though you yourself may be at times prepared to do so. Most artists also work a day-job for a living, have families, and a social life. High expectations can result in feelings of neglect and frustration, so you need to be realistic. If someone can only put in a few hours after work each week, but you're wanting more from them, you might have to adjust your thinking to save you from self-inflicted pain. Likewise, not everyone is going to be able to answer emails and messages straight away, even though to you it might feel urgent. Patience and understanding are two of the most fundamental assets you can have, as you'll be doing everyone a big favour.

We all want results, but everyone has different expectations. If you communicate your very least expectations to each other, things might be easier in the long run. For example, if you are working towards an exhibition or an album release, then having your art on gallery walls or a box of freshly pressed CDs in your hand might be a wonderful and realistic goal. Selling your art might be a secondary goal, one which you work towards. If the whole basis to your partnership is based on making lots of money, you may be in for a rough ride. Expectations of this kind of outcome are pretty freaky, and can become highly stressful and intense. Not to say that you cant have this goal, but if you look at things in a stage-by-stage manner, you'll have a much more enjoyable ride.

Partnerships are people. This must never be forgotten. No matter how far you've come, what you have done, or what didn't happen, it's all about the personal journey. We are feeling, breathing, human people, so a partnership is all about that. It's a shared journey of a meeting of souls, a walk down the same path, a place where we meet, evolve and nurture each other. Sharing this journey, and taking a path you wouldn't take on your own, can be one of the most extraordinary and precious things you do. With the right people, you can create lifelong working relationships, deep friendships, and and understanding that goes beyond words.

Above All Else
Treasure these things for what they are. People come together for many reasons, and often out-of-the-blue. They are gifts, special chapters in our lives, taking us to new places within ourselves, and providing us with new opportunities of growth and exploration. If we learn from them, we can only become better human beings.