Category Archives: creative life

The Perfect Progression

The Perfect Progression

Lolita Vampiress, as some may know, is a dedicated composer.  Until recently, she has produced in an eclectic, dissonant style which defies genre classification.  A few weeks ago she discovered an unaccompanied vocal loop which has inspired a foray into the dance/trance category.

Our reformed vampiress has found over the centuries that her best results come from a creative process that is well-integrated with her daily routine.  This does not necessarily mean that she composes every day, which she doesn’t.  Rather, she seeks a regular progression of self-maintenance activity that leads her as often as possible to those quiet, centered moments when patience rules and inspiration sparks.

Arriving at those moments frequently is a function of regular self-care.  The elements of that self care support her physical, mental and spiritual well-being and include: exercise; sleep; diet; social engagement; study; piano practice/vocalizing; and (of course) holding down the day job.

Just as Lolita’s system of self-care forms the macro support for her creative work, so on a micro level does her composition process have it’s own nurturing routines.  She takes several days becoming familiar with the notes she has selected for her music.  She gets them in her ear.  She explores all the possible combinations and how those combinations relate.  Armed in this way, Lolita creates the most perfect progression of notes which she can conjure.

Every moment of our day offers an opportunity to calibrate for creative work.  That calibration takes many forms.  We subdue our anger.  We lend a hand.  We brighten our thinking.  We find ourselves in a virtuous circle of mindfulness, to be present for each of those opportunities which ultimately nurtures us as artists and maximizes our potential to do good work.  We are happy in the moment and looking forward to our creative time.

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Posted by on March 7, 2017 in creative life


Artists Feeding

the-art-and-science-of-feeding-your-baby-1500x1000Our own growth as artists is dependent on the growth of all artists across all disciplines.  For there is a critical common denominator to all our creative efforts.  Cutting through all of our work, really validating all our production as creative work, is the element of renewal.  For to create, by definition, is to bring into existence something new.  Even the photographer of realistic subjects, through his technical choices, makes something new of the subject.  The conductor makes something new of the Beethoven symphony in each performance.

In what way does the notion of renewal as art’s inherent theme relate to that of our interdependence as artists?  To continuously engage in the process of creation, we must be continuously in a condition of self-renewal.  Experiencing the works of other artists, in all the disciplines, is the very food of this self-renewal.  It facilitates the next sstep on our current process.

There is a painting by Danijela Jovic which brilliantly abstracts this process of self-renewal.  It is called Teranova 3.  Teranova means New Earth.  Danijela posits a narrative of transformative meditation which leads the viewer from a material to a spiritual state.  The progression of color and brushstrokes from the lower right corner of the canvas and upward visually represents this transformative process.


Danijela herself offers these words:

“When you meditate in relation with the earth you become different, but the earth is changing also-through meditation becomes a new earth and a new man…Blue is the color of spiritual and red color symbolizes the remnants of the material.”

It seems the dream of sleep corresponds to the artists notion of meditation. Both can be catalysts for change, as they reveal insights from a deeper consciousness. It is fitting that the red, the remnant, exists in the bottom right of the canvas. With the artist’s words, we see evolution, even directional flow in the painting. From the material, the red patches, we transition to lines of purple (towards the spiritual) and then into the full spirituality and revelation of the blue.

Danijela also contributes the project’s audio component. Succumb to trance. Breathe the air. Feel the energy. Let go of the material, of the painting’s red. Make your journey upward to the spritual, to the G-dhead.

The Teranova 3 project is an entry in the Midisparks Winter Composers contest.  You are welcome to visit the site and CAST YOUR VOTE (FAV!) for this project and any other contest projects that you like.

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Posted by on February 8, 2017 in creative life


Marketing as Therapy for Artists

Artists must spend time creating and selling. It can be difficult to strike a balance. If we spend too much time on one activity or the other, either creative work suffers or the audience falls off. Marketing can refresh us by connecting us with people and reaping some ego satisfaction from the acknowledgment of artistic work. Likewise, our creative endeavor is the recharge from within. Creative work connects us to the artistic soul, the essence of the artistic personality. It is this artistic personality that lends credibility and distinction to our marketing efforts.

With both creative work and selling, it can be difficult to switch gears.  When one or the other is going well, why should we quit?  Well, we shouldn’t.  But we should learn to break off as close to our productive peak as possible.  In creative work, we have sublimated personal ego for the sake of channeling Creative Thought (not everyone buys this of course).  Rather than putting the project aside, and allowing the ego to refresh in various ways (including marketing work itself), we feel compelled to push to completion of the project so we can share out and earn some recognition.  This of course is damaging to the natural evolution of the project.  And for that matter we don’t always get the kind of response we hope for because our work is still half-baked.

a vampiress is raging in her blood lust

Too Much Marketing, Lolita?

By the same token, ego’s powerful (and necessary) engagement during marketing work can be addictive.  It can be tough to pull back from the spotlight of the public forum, to reconnect to the quiet voice within.  Without this regular reconnection with our Creative Soul, however, the marketing message begins to ring false and fall flat.

The solution lies in a bit of cognitive work.  Essentially, we learn to take the ego’s “pulse” periodically.  Do we begin to find ourselves distracted during the creative process?  Are we in a hurry to complete tasks?  Do we see next steps in the process as burdens to unload rather than as moments of discovery and learning?  These are warning signs that the ego needs some nourishment and that we should break from our project.  It is time for some human connection and some recognition.

During our selling campaigns, do we find ourselves too frequently checking the stats, craving the next ego rush of a new like, a hit on the site, a comment, a sale?  Do we find ourselves selling out for the sake of responses and reactions?  It is tough to be honest about this, but we can remember that the most satisfaction comes from sincere responses to our artistic offering, not from the latest clever cat video we shared out (although there is definitely a place for sharing out clever cat videos).  To effectively convey the artistic offer, we must continually refresh at our own creative wells.  To do this we have to stop selling and start painting (or composing, or writing, etc.).

This monitoring and switching gears can be tricky and even lead to some resentment until we have reaped the rewards a few times.  But rewards there are to reap both in creative work that evolves in an optimum way, and in marketing which conveys most convincingly the essence of the artistic offer.

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Posted by on September 16, 2016 in creative life


Of Scams and Silver Linings

Of Scams and Silver Linings

Have you heard about internet shipping scams?  Recently, Midisparks Art Sales was subjected to one.  They go something like this.

An interested buyer contacts your site via email.  The prospect asks if your site ships internationally and accepts credit card payments.  Upon receiving affirmative replies to both those queries, the prospect gives you a story about poor delivery service to their (remote) country by the well-known international shippers.  The prospect asks that you contact a recommended shipper.  She provides you with an email address to that end.

The quote you get back from the bogus shipper is for an extraordinary amount of money – usually far more than the value of the order.  When you quote that number back to your prospect, she has no problem with it.  You should put the order together for him and he will then provide a credit card.  When you have taken payment you should bank wire payment to the shipper.

After you have done that the scammers will either cancel the order or the card.  You might be out the cost of goods sold.  You will certainly be out the shipping payment you wired.

Okay, there is the scam.  So what might the silver lining be?  What is the learning?  Well, in my case, helpful retail support suggested the con while I was speaking with them about the order, which I abandoned.  So an aborted scam because of bringing in your team is certainly a good thing and a happy lesson to store for the future. Beyond that, I took some extraordinary measures to ensure that product was going to be up to snuff and that the customer experience was going to be superb.  The attention to quality for the sake of this bogus order established a production procedure with my vendor which will guarantee quality on all the real orders going forward.

Positive, well-planned and incremental steps can overwhelm the negativity that may be assaulting you and keep you from being hurt.  We should keep believing that good fortune can come our way.   We just need to keep our heads when things are good, even as we have learned to keep our heads when the going is rough.

Spark on!  Dan Goldstein

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Posted by on May 18, 2016 in creative life


Creative Life: Celebrating Life

the tatoo apprentice is contemplating a bite out of baby

Lizard’s pals have a 4-week old newborn. 

Lolita and Lizard King made the pilgrimage to Pittsburgh last weekend. Any time is a good time for our pals to check in at Pittsburgh’s Artform Gallery and Tattoo. They trust no other shop with their ink. But this visit was highlighted by the celebration of a new baby.

That baby seemed to encapsulate the spirit of the evening. Two members of the Pittsburgh arts community were commencing a show at the gallery, and the larger family of artists was there to cheer. It was a celebration of new artistic creation, and by extension, a celebration of life itself.  Though not all artists believe in G-d, most acknowledge some Driving Force that takes hold, especially as the creative project builds momentum. The artist is not alone, even through the inevitable periods of isolation during the creative process. There is a partnership. The Creator, The Artist, is involved intricately in the process.

For the artist, and probably not just for the artist, these exhibition openings can be expressions of gratitude, joyful acknowledgments of the creative Partner who holds us as we bring new work into the world. The event at Artform Gallery and Tattoo was a celebration of artists for artists and for life. The work of the two was the work of the many. The achievement of the two was the success of all. The newborn baby announced and affirmed the miraculous power of G-d to bring new life into the world. The artist could be reminded that her own unique creative partnership with The Artist is also about renewal, about sustaining life in the world.

It occurred to Lolita how profoundly the tattoo artist represents this concept of the artist sustaining life in the world. Tattoo artists are deeply connected, beholden in a very personal, physical way to their clients. The tattoo is on the skin, a visible expression of the client’s values and passions. And Lizard, who had thought to party down at the event, ended up taking nothing but ginger ale. Nobody seemed to be imbibing much or drugging out. People were really just grooving on the art and the company. It seems the celebration of life, in its purest form, is enough drug by itself.


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Posted by on June 25, 2013 in creative life


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Creative Life: Lolita Needs a Date

One would think, with the gift of eternal beauty that compensates somewhat for the challenges of blood lust, that our girl, Lolita, devoted Composer of Music for Art, would be prancing around town with a different suitor every night of the week. Party on, Lolita! Right?

a sexy vampiress poses elegantly her victorian look

Lolita ready for her date with Lizard King

Well – actually no. Fact is our Girl works night crews for income. Days are spent (when she is not sleeping) in darkened studio, toiling at her composition and writing. Lizard King, who has not been able to hook up with his Girl for too long, has been calling her out lately on this rather brutal schedule. Despite a spontaneity that can border on attention deficit disorder, we have to give Lizard King some credit for the good balance he establishes in his life. Lizard King feels the moment, lives the moment, with intensity. Those moments may last for hours, or for seconds. There is neither plan nor schedule. Of course most of us cannot get by living on insects and sleeping in a cold cave, so a bit of scheduling to the daily grind is indicated to provide for the basic needs. Nevertheless, Lizard’s style is instructive.

a shirtless man with a long green lizard tongue extending from his mouth

Lizard King has been knocking on Lolita’s door

Artistic expression, be it in painting, music, dance, involves tension and release. Even in a portrait painting, with its single subject and general lack of background, an aspect of the subject is emphasized – a facial expression, an action. Other aspects are secondary. This is tension and release. In music, a theme may build in volume and complexity. We reach a peak and then back off somewhat. A gentler passage allows us to process the intensity, to regroup.
How can we achieve this fine balance of tension and release in our creative work, Lizard King argues, if our personal lives are structured only around tension? If we are constantly driven, constantly pushing to produce more, to read more, to exercise more and harder, we give ourselves no experience and wisdom in the experience of release, of relaxation. What is our point of reference then, for this aspect in our creative work?
Lizard could not see over the phone of course, but the eyes of his beloved Vampiress had moistened somewhat. At any rate, she suggested a drink tonight.

spark on!



Posted by on May 22, 2013 in creative life


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creative life: Deuce confesses his abandonment

a happy Springer Span

Deuce, as a happy puppy, well before his abandonment

The road to personal growth generally, and artistic growth in particular, starts with a journey into the past. If we have been scarred by early life experiences, we must find ways to articulate those experiences, to work through the painful emotions associated with those experiences, and to recognize the consequences of those experiences. After this often painful process we understand better the adjustments necessary to surge ahead. In our experience as artists, we sometimes come up against technical or conceptual limitations. Sometimes we can dig into our past and discover the origins of these stumbling blocks.  Armed with this self-knowledge, we can describe and implement the therapies which will further our creative work.

There was a happy puppy once, innocent, playful. His old master was kind and gentle. Families kept their large yards unfenced, all extending back to the large woods. The neighborhood dogs enjoyed lots of play and adventure. Life was good.

But Ancient Master’s mind failed. He became forgetful. Bowl would remain empty. Walk times would be missed. Petting time, snuggling time, brushing time diminished.  The bonding rituals were breaking down.

It was not easy for the dog to comprehend. There was a feeling of abandonment, of rejection. That feeling became embedded in the psyche of our poor Spaniel mut.

One Spring, the Old Master left our Spaniel mut at the groomer’s for his hot season shave. As it would happen, the groomer had moved to new quarters and was not able to let the dogs out to relieve themselves. By the time master returned at the end of the day, Spaniel was ready for business. The minute they left the groomer’s shop, Spaniel bolted like a bat out of hell to find his spot. He pulled the leash out of Master’s hand and charged around the block. Typically master would catch up in these situations. This time, when Spaniel looked back, master was nowhere to be seen. Our loyal dog sniffed his way back to the groomer’s shop. Master was gone. Intentionally? Absentmindedly? Spaniel would never know.

This is Deuce’s story. With tears and sobs he related as much to Lolita.

Lolita held her beloved Muse close, soothing him, encouraging him. “I have good therapy for you, my dear Deuce.”

(to be continued. . . )


Posted by on May 11, 2013 in creative life


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