Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Year's Resolutions...Again

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. Most of you know this because I talked about it earlier.  I also don’t have a bucket list. But, that isn’t to say that those things are bad. It’s just that it’s my belief that if a person wants to change they don’t have to wait until the beginning of the year to do so. If you realize on December 3rd that you want to lose some weight, start on December 4th. You don’t need to wait a month to get your life in order.

There’s a similar response to issues that I see with many of my associates and friends. I call it the “Monday Start Motivation.” Here’s a variant of a conversation we’ve all had, maybe in these exact words:

Lord Digglesworth: I have been eating like a vagrant this past fortnight, and lately I feel the bubbleguts each night before bed. It is rather uncomfortable.

Baron Narrowshanks III: Yes, old boy, I know what you mean. Perhaps we should do something about it.

Lord Digglesworth: Agreed. I can no longer push the limits of my gastrointestinal fortitude. I shall begin eating well immediately!

Baron Narrowshanks III: I agree! We shall forsake these meat sweats by utilizing a healthy eating regimen. Tut tut!

Lord Digglesworth:  Here here! We shall start immediately!...on Monday!

Baron Narrowshanks III: Naturally, on Monday! Today being only Tuesday, we shall take the Rolls to a wonderful drive-thru dining locale where we can have the largest grease patty that the world has ever seen!

Lord Digglesworth: Don’t forget the bucket of fries, old sport!

Baron Narrowshanks III: Never!

Today is the 30th of December. If you have a Resolution for the New Year, I say start it today! If something comes to mind on the 17th of January, start it then. If you come up with an idea on a Wednesday, hop to it! Mondays are there because we needed to start the work week SOME day. It doesn’t mean everything in your life has to start then, too.

There is a caveat. Some people are not disciplined. If there was no Monday or no New Years, it is quite possible that some people would never grow! If you need a starter gun to get going, then Monday is just as good as any other. That is, unless you actually own a starter gun. Then, use that!

Now, I can push this idea for the next eight years, but let's be honest: we tend to move with the crowd. Most Americans make New Year's Resolutions. And they will inevitably ask you what yours are. Most of us are too self-conscious to say, "I don't make resolutions because I am awesome as-is!" That's ok. Make a resolution. Making one is better than not growing. 

Just, try not to wait until next year to make the next big change in your life. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Portrait Q & A with Geraud Staton

Why do you have so many non-traditional portraits in your portfolio?

I don't do very many traditional portraits for two reasons. The first is that traditional portraits are boring. Now, if you're getting your first portrait done, it can be very exciting. Especially a family portrait. But, a portrait has very little different about it than a photograph. If you're going to come to my studio and sit like you're taking a class photo we may as well just snap a few pictures and let you put them up on Facebook. Instead, I want your portrait to be amazing, and inspiring, and most of all exciting!

That leads me to the second reason for my non-traditional portrait style. A portrait does have its purpose. It shows a visual reflection of what you were. When you get your traditional portrait it will be a great visual likeness of the person you were one to six months ago, when you initially posed. But, my goal is to portray not only the person you are inside, but the person you want to be in the future!

So, people want to be angels or gods or warrior princesses?

Not quite. People want a wide variety of things. When we meet to discuss your portrait my job is to learn about you. To learn your loves and joys, the things you want out of life and the successes you've had. And then, my job is to work with you to come up with a visual representation of that. I did a portrait of a young lady who was one of three fostered children in her family. She said that life as a foster child was hard and that it could make you into a very jaded person. But, she and her two brothers fought through it and became powerful adults. Her portrait was titled "The Children of Loki," and it had the three monstrous children of Loki from Norse mythology. The main person was the portraitee. It was important that she see a reminder that a part of her is strong and is able to do things that most people can't because of her upbringing. The other part of her can be human and compassionate. It was important for her to be reminded that she can be both.

Portrait added with permission of the owner

Are there any rules for your portraits?

There are. Mostly, the painting needs to show who the client wants to be in the future. What do they want out of life? Are they career focused or family oriented? Are they looking for something in particular out of life, or is there some personality trait that they aspire to displaying? There have been times while sitting with a client and asking them questions about who they are that we've had to stop working on the painting idea and actually start hashing out their life's purpose. Sometimes it just takes an outsider to help put your life goals into perspective.

Once we have an idea of who the subject is, we have add more focuses. I call them focuses, anyway. They are little symbols and icons that help link the viewer to the painting. They give you a little more buy-in. That's important. None of us are so simple that one sentence could sum up what we want for ourselves. So, your portrait has symbols. They don't have to be obvious. They just need to be able to focus you on one aspect of what you want. Or, one aspect of who you currently are.

That's the third rule. You cannot always be looking forward. That way lies nothing but unrest. The person you want to be can be wonderful, but the person you are today has also done wonderful things. It's important to look at your portrait and not only see what you hope to be, but also what you are. That makes you visualization that much stronger.

Does a portrait like this really help a person become better?

This is no longer the realm of hocus pocus. There is a great deal of research that discusses the link between visualization and success. (Australian Psychologist Alan) Richardson's famous experiment with 3 groups of basketball players is the most used argument. One group would practice throwing free throws for 20 minutes every day. The second group would visualize throwing free throws, but no actual practice was allowed. The third group did neither. The astounding results, as most of us know, is that the group of visualizers improved almost as much as the group that only practiced!

Vision boards and even Pinterest are great examples. Images and drawings help the brain respond with much deeper interest and attention than some 1000 word affirmation. And a portrait that you can relate to, that can show you, even in mythological proportions, what you can be is incredibly powerful!

Do you have one of these portraits?

I have a couple actually. The latest one is in my bedroom. I look at it every morning.

If you're interested in a portrait quote from Geraud, just contact him at gerauds@gmail.com or at 919-423-7841