View Full Version : Artistic Transitions

10-10-2003, 06:22 PM
Hi All,
I dont come on too often on WetCanvas but thought this would be the place to be when dipping into the creative reservoir for new ideals and creating a new approach.

The thing Im going through right now is an artistic transition.
I do paint every now and then but I am more like an artist of the stage. So the Stage is my main canvas.

As performance art is so closely related to canvas art or sculptures, anything artistic is family.
Such as an artist transitioning from pop art to impressionism. Or painting to sculpture.

Over the last 4 years I have been doing danc & performance art as a dancer while also training as a vocalist.
Now I am in the transitional period where I want to become a full-fledged vocalist. Its rough right now.
There are a few but small amounts of confidence issues on vocal technique & quality but this doesnt hold me back.
Any artist may say they struggle at some point with technique.

Dance & performance art now come easy for me since I have done it for so long and so well. Making changes to one's artistic focus can be a scary thing because there is a lot of the unknown.
But its refreshing!

A new path, a new way of living. New goals and a fresh start.

Life embraces change and transition. Life and Death and Rebirth.

But it feels there is a part that is afraid of failure, even though I know failure is where we learn our greatest lessons.

Making changes to one's art can be very hard. An artist is so connected to the spirit and the emotion. We're sensitive at times and afraid of criticism and if we're doing something new we either dont care what others think or we may have a tiny seed of self-doubt.

What are some means you use for successful and smooth transitions?
What are your philosphies behind closing one door and opening another door in the path of life?

I guess Im looking for just about anything I can get here.

so, thanks for listening.

Stoy Jones
10-10-2003, 11:52 PM
Hi Redhead,

I'm currently in the middle of a change of mediums and possibly my future. I generally do cartoon type illustrations, mainly working at it to be a source of income, but lately I have dipped into pastels. The cartoons feel like second nature, but the work behind it could be hectic and stressful and a challenge with deadlines. Does this suit my personality, likely no. I draw with the first priority of enjoying my work. If I'm not happy, I turn out terrible work.

My other option would be to possibly stay with my non-art related job and paint for the enjoyment I'm currently finding in pastels. There is no particular future in that other than painting portraits which I'm finding that I like to do and I could sell a few pieces along the way, once I'm more experienced at my craft.

Everyone is different, but I'm having to realize what my personality is and going with that rather than setting goals that are not a part of who I am. Be honest with yourself and don't feel like you have to go all the way to be a success. Find what you are really happy with. If you don't know, then that's a journey you ought to take. Consider it like fishing, have a few lines out there in the water and whatever bites, real it in. It may not be the best of advice, but just a point of view. I do wish you success in your transition, whatever that may be :)


10-11-2003, 08:37 AM
My mantras:

"It's not brain surgery or a heart transplant or world peace. Nobody's going to die. What's the worst that can happen?"

"What, me worry?"

As a visual artist - it's a stick with hairs attached to it and a piece of fabric. For you, what? tap shoes or ballet slippers, a piece of paper with lines and musical symbols?

These are harmless, inanimate objects - but with human untervention have the potential to "make" magic. What if you stumbled into magic? Could happen........why not?

10-11-2003, 12:59 PM
Actually I'm a vocalist who'd love to be much better at dance and performance! No, really! Though I will probably never get that side of things as good as you seem to be getting with your vocals.

I think it's great what you're doing. To keep going beyond the comfort zone, to those difficult places. Great way to keep growing and feel alive!

I want to say that I think singing is one of the most vulnerable arts as we tend to identify our self worth with our voice probably more than other mediums. Maybe not so with dance, but certainly as a musician, it's easier to hide behind a wrong note on the piano, than a bad tone in one's own personal sound.

I started out playing piano when I was a kid. I always wanted to sing, but my fledgling days were tough. I finally plucked up courage to take a voice lesson when I was 20 and the teacher said, at the end of it, 'well, you'll never be a Minnie Ripperton, but we'll see what we can do for you'.... (in his brash Aussie way, which didn't feel like he thought I'd ever amount to anything) at any rate my devasted fledgling singer decided he had pronounced that I'm never going to be anything but bland and mediocre and I dived back into my shell for another 5 years until I met someone teaching Kristin Linklater's Freeing the Natural Voice method (which is actually more for actors than full on singing training).

I still didn't go full steam ahead, it took another 2 years before I had the confidence to have another go at singing, but then I took some lessons and my teacher's encouragement and support gradually rubbed off on me and I started to believe in myself just enough to dare to sing some of my own songs even. If anyone had given negative or even neutral feedback at that point I probably would have dived back into my shell again, but fortunately people seemed to like what I was doing. I knew my limitations, though I continued regardless, and reached a point where I was singing for a living several years later.

A little further on down the track I met another wonderful voice teacher, who I still take lessons from whenever he's in town and my voice is still growing (he has a classical background, so his voice teaching is all about growing the voice). And for the last 10 years I've been making a living with my voice. Even though I have a lot of confidence with it nowadays, as I know how much more versatile I've become, I still feel like a beginner in my lessons, cos my teacher continually takes me beyond that comfort zone to somewhere new. I think, after 5 years of lessons with him I've started to get used to that feeling and I'm definitely not as afraid to go to this place with other things as I used to be.

It becomes something like: "just do it and get out of the your own way, leave your ego at the door and you'll learn something. Keep showing up and you'll keep growing and one day you'll realise you're actually getting good at this now, so celebrate that, but don't rest on your laurels as there's always further to go."
And trying to find the balance in all of that. That being said, I'm not immune to feeling frail about things. I do all the time. I don't think I'm quite that evolved yet :D

I can really appreciate how vulnerable it can feel when someone dreams of being a singer, but is aware of their limitations. So I want to say yay for you :clap: - for pushing your limits and moving into a new area where you are no longer a technical 'expert'. I believe artists need to keep growing and for some of us this means branching out into other mediums.

When I first started singing I considered myself a piano player who sang. It was still awhile before I started to call myself a 'singer'. It's been the same thing for me with painting. I've painted for a long time, but it's only been recently that I've started to think of myself a 'painter', or, heaven forbid, an 'artist' (as in painting). Before that, it was 'I paint' but I'm not a painter or a real artist. I was scared for a long time to get an easel because only 'real artists' use easels, not me.

Painting's a medium that I'm opening up to more and more, and though I'm really happy with some of my work, I still feel very much a fledgling.

I don't have the burning passion to be a 'pro' dancer, though I do enjoy it. I had an experience where I really went beyond my comfort zone, but also beyond my techinical limitations, a little too far. Yoiks! I'm no expert, though I've dabbled in arabic dance classes for awhile, and a few years back I got my arabic dance teacher to choreograph me for a performance where I wanted to dance to a song of mine that I was singing (with a headset microphone). I was nervous at the performance (I was one of quite a few performers that nite). The venue and audience were wrong for the kind of music I was doing, and, I discovered on the day, there was a troup of professional belly dancers performing earlier on, so the audience had a good idea of what the 'real thing' looked like! I wasn't comfortable at all, and one of the musicians just didn't come thru, so the energy I needed for my dance just wasnt there musically either. It was a bit stiff to say the least. I saw the video and I wasnt game to watch it again for another 9 months. (at that point I realised it wasn't as bad as I thought, though it certainly wasnt as good as I wanted it to be). A friend had a guest with her and his comment was 'she should stick to singing'. I could only agree.... or at least, I shouldn't try and perform until my level had improved.

Another time I was on a tour for a Japanese pop artist. I was one of three backup singers. They wanted us to dance with her for one of the songs. The two other singers were african americans who could both naturals at dance. We went to the rehearsal for the choreography. Basically my body is a slow learner. Once it's got the movement it's okay, but that can take a long time. So I couldn't keep up with the class. The next day, back at music rehearsals, they told us that the other two singers would dance with the artist and I was to stay in our regular spot on stage and just sing. Oh well, I do tend to have 2 left feet when it comes to hip hop! It's not natural to me.

So - there ya go. I started doing arabic dance classes again a few months ago, for the first time since my arabic performance fiasco. It will enhance my moving on stage. I love doing it, but will probably never take it far enough to try and become fully fledged. I have other things to focus on and develop that are much more burning for me.

Another field I want to cross over into is percussion. Back to the beginning again. I think it's healthy to keep expanding into that uncomfortable place of not being the pro.


10-14-2003, 10:59 AM
I love MAME's mantras but find them hard to live by-:D

I think transitions are an integral part of everything.....I prefer them gentle, but life doesn't always give them to me that way

I try to listen to the small voice

I meditate

I visualize where I would like to go

I try really hard to accept and integrate serendipitous events

And then .....sometimes it happens


I start over


10-17-2003, 02:20 PM
Many creatives are creative in many venues.... and I think this is perfectly normal.

I do not see any problem with transitioning from one form of art to another, such as visual to dance. It is all creativity, it is all expression and experimentation and fun. I have a book with the drawings and paintings of famous writers of novels and plays. There are also many theatrical/movie people who are visual artists (ie: Redd Skelton, the comic, painted clowns). And, how about the singers who became well-respected actors (ie: Cher) or poets who became famous singers (ie: Bob Dylan).

So, I look at your interest in dance and performance as just another artistic expression of a creative person... not like a sharp break between one career and another. Do what you are inspired to do now... and later, go, again, where inspiration leads you. Makes for the wonderful, exciting, enriched life of a creative.


10-18-2003, 11:40 PM
I went from a 9 to 5 job to full time art study. I knew off the bat that I'd have to get a rhythm and a routine that fit my new life. So I chose to keep as many comforting routines from my old life as possible, morning pages, work out in the gym, once a month eating out at the sushi place and creating new routines that would work for my new life. Now I have mornings free so I plan little painting experiments, visit the local museum and do my grunt work on the weekend.

I also made it a top priority to get comfortable and in the zone in my new life - not necessarily do well in my new line of study but just to get comfortable with the lifestyle. I think its unreasonable to start something new and expect to be good right off the bat but it is possible to find a way to get comfortable with the learning process. So far its working and its making the transition easier.

11-07-2003, 12:02 PM
I don't see these transitions as "opening one door and closing another".
To me it's more like I am in the center of a large room, like a ballroom, and there are many doors around the perimeter.
First (as a child) someone opened the door to music. (I was schooled as a clarinetist). (Had some tap & soft-shoe training, too.)
Then, as a teenager, I opened the door to guitar. I continued down that corridor to add singing.
Then I opened the adjacent door to songwriting.
Since, I have opened the photography room, woodworking (toymaking), cooking (a chef), writing peotry, dinner theater (murder mysteries), watercolors and oil painting, and music recording/production.
Not to mention the skills-oriented "hobbies"; coaching little league, riflery, fly tying (fishing), muzzle loader shooting, &tc.
I hope the list will continue to grow.

More facets the better, I say.

Makes for an interesting life.