Buried Treasure

This post originally appeared on my old blog Amyma’s Art Ramblings on July 26, 2007.  I am reposting it here to participate in Seth Apter’s Buried Treasure blog roll.  This is one of my favorite posts of all time.  I am happy to re-post it here on my new blog.  I hope it inspires you.  By the way, I still have the original article posted in my studio!


The following is an excerpt from and article House and Garden magazine entitled “Give us Courage and Gaiety…” The article was published in May, 1966. I don’t know who the author was.

“Nothing of beauty was ever created by anyone afraid of making a mistake. You can copy the tried and proven, but almost certainly you will miss, if only for lack of that one-of-a-kind horseshoe nail that was so much more important than you ever would have guessed.
You can adapt someone else’s ideas,
but timid adaptations are the surest road to stodginess.
Only the courage to venture gaily forth on your own will be rewarded by a full measure of freshness and delight and by the abiding pleasure of living with what you really want.”

I find this fabulously inspiring. I read it whenever I feel myself in a bit of a creative block and tempted to look at ebay and flickr to see what everyone else is making.

I want to strike out and do my own thing. I want to make something truly original and all me.

These days I see alot of lovely things made using vintage images, and commercial imagery. Many of them are highly creative and exciting. They take the image to another level, and really show an artists heart. Some are formulaic and leave me cold. I often wonder if the widespread reliance on these images is making it easy for those who are fearful to avoid stepping out. Are we afraid we don’t have talent enough to rely on our own imagination? So what if we don’t? Are we creating art just to look lovely to outsiders, or do we want to express something that our heart wants to say?

Here challenge to anyone reading this who uses commercial or vintage images in your work:
1. Don’t get mad at me. I enjoy a lot of work done with these pre-made images. I just want to encourage you to stretch beyond them if they are a crutch or hindrance for you.
2. Examine your artwork and see how much of you is in it. Is it all about a picture taken by someone else and framing it? Are you taking it to the next level. or is it holding you back from the next level? If you are holding back, and ready to try to bust out, go on to #3. If you are satisfied with what you are doing or afraid to make a change, stop reading now……..
…are you sure?…
3. Yay for you. Lay aside your premade imagery. Decide that for the next week, you are going to allow yourself to experiment.
4.For this week, stretch yourself by allowing yourself to make your own marks. Take a sketch book with you wherever you go. Doodle, sketch, draw shapes. Journal about it.
5. Finger paint. Take a piece of paper and your acrylic paints and make a lovely mess.
6. Pick something you have always wanted to draw or paint and do it. Don’t worry if it looks right or not, just do it. Then do it again, and again. Journal about it.
7. Tell yourself every day that you are creative and talented, and your heart has something to say and the right to say it. Journal about it.
8. At the end of the week look back at what you have made, and see how far you have come. Look at what you love about what you have made. Ignore what isn’t perfect. That stuff improves with practice. Journal about it.
9. Don’t give up. You can do it. I did!

If you would like to share with me the results of your experiments, please email me at Amymasmith@gmail.com. Let me know if it is ok to post your stuff here.

5 thoughts on “Buried Treasure

  1. Lovely! I, too, wish to “venture gaily forth” and make work that is my own — I must save this excerpt — it spoke loudly to me 🙂

    Looking forward to all that awaits you in this beautiful space you have made for yourself here on the web!

  2. Enjoyed this thoughtful post and good questions….I find so much of today’s mixed media art relies too much on photos, stencils, technique, etc, instead of original marks, drawing, and risk. In the end it is a measure of being secure or going out on a creative limb.
    (Thanks for your stopping by Cinnamon!)

  3. Finding your own creative voice is so important – using
    your own images – taking your own photographs, doing sketches and
    drawings – this is the mark of a true creative. Thank you for this
    important reminder.

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