Influences: The Bookshelf (Part 1)

I appreciate when other artists give us glimpses into the influences that undergird the work they're making, so I've decided to periodically offer you those glimpses of the things that comprise my creative process. Hope it's interesting or helpful to you in some way!

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There's no way around it. What I read highly influences the way I'm thinking and whatever work I'm making. Whether the content is directly related to art and the creative process or it seems like it's from somewhere out in left field...in some way or another I'd say just about all of it makes it into the work I'm doing (or will eventually). Because nothing is actually out in left field when we're talking about art and creativity. Everything is fair game for material, and some people even land on a definition for creativity as something like: making connections between things previously unrelated to create something new...

Of course, the reading material doesn't only affect my tangible work, but it also & just as much influences my conversations & relationships. I had a couple of friends ask for book recommendations last week, and I realized that those are some of my absolute favorite questions to answer! So I thought hey, why not "answer" those questions for anybody who might be curious?! If you're one of the curious, AWESOME! I hope getting a glimpse of my bookshelf might point you to some valuable reading of your own. 

In compiling the list, I've realized that we're working with a pretty large bookshelf...so I'll break this up into a few posts divided by category. Today's: Art & Creativity. Upcoming categories will be: 

  • SOCIAL-PSYCHOLOGY, PERSONALITY & CONNECTION
  • SPIRITUALITY/PERSONAL GROWTH
  • INTENTIONAL COMMUNITY
  • BIOGRAPHY/AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  • FICTION


ARTS & CREATIVITY

Hope this points you in the direction of some good information and inspiration to undergird your work and relationships! Next in cue for part 2 of this mini-series, Influences: The Bookshelf, will be a list of books roughly centered on Social-Psychology, Personality, & Connection...

Until next time,

sd.

Influences: Scott Erickson

I appreciate when other artists give us glimpses into the influences that undergird the work they're making, so I've decided to periodically offer you those glimpses of the things that comprise my creative process. Hope it's interesting or helpful to you in some way!

If we've talked for any length of time about art and what artists I'm learning from, then I expect you've heard the name Scott Erickson. If we haven't gotten to have that conversation yet...well here it is! In brief anyway...

Scott Erickson is a visual artist who is currently living and working in Portland, OR, with his family. I first heard of Scott when he was in Houston working as the Artist-in-Residence at Ecclesia Church, where he was helping to create a visual culture largely through live-painting. And I was convinced of his brilliance when he did a series of abstract studio paintings to accompany Derek Webb's Feedback project–an instrumental, electronic, classically composed interpretation of the Lord's Prayer.

In addition to the paintings he makes, Scott writes and speaks vulnerably about life not only as an artist, but as a person in the world who wrestles with very real experiences of doubt & faith, depression, community & family life, finding a vocation & making a living, embracing the value of the mundane, making meaning of suffering, and more. I've encountered so much of myself in what Scott shares and makes, as have many other folks. It has been a formative, encouraging gift to engage what he shares of himself and I'm grateful in advance for all that is yet to come! You can see his work and read/hear his words by perusing scottericksonart.com.

One of my absolute favorite things Scott has put out is his recent one-man play called We Are Not Troubled Guests. I've watched it twice now, laughing and crying in equal doses. Both times just as grateful for his honesty and in awe of how quickly he can transition from flippant, irreverent humor to raw vulnerability and the deep kind of human insight. Watch it by clicking on the video thumbnail below and entering the password: guests. And read more about the process of creating it here.

It's a private video...(Password: guests)

We are not troubled guests in this world, and our journey isn’t to try to figure out how we belong. But to realize we’ve always belonged.
— Scott Erickson, We Are Not Troubled Guests

A heartfelt "thank you" to Scott for all you've shared and all you will in the future. In your own words, "Be brave & keep going." We'll all be better for it...

sd.

Influences: Sandra McCracken & Jordan Brooke Hamlin

I appreciate when other artists give us glimpses into the influences that undergird the work they're making, so I've decided to periodically offer you those glimpses of the things that comprise my creative process. Hope it's interesting or helpful to you in some way!

I can't deny the immense influence Sandra McCracken has had on my music and my development as an artist––and as a person for that matter. For almost 10 years now, I've followed her career closely and have gleaned wisdom, solace, challenge, and courage at each turn. I'm indebted and surely grateful to Sandra for all she's shared with us. Now in her mid-late 30s, Sandra is only making better and better work, and that is such a sign of hope to me as I go forward into the next decade of art-making and sharing. In fact, I thought just the other day that I have no idea how she'll top her last record, "Desire Like Dynamite," but the momentum would suggest that she will, and I can't wait to hear whatever form the next record takes.

Sandra is a calm, gentle presence (I've had the slightly-intimidating privilege of meeting her) with a subtle strength and energy that seems to pulse under the surface and come forth so clearly in the depth and richness of her songs. I appreciate the honesty and innovation that she's been brave enough to bring to the table. It's a gift to all of us who get to receive it. If you haven't heard Sandra's work, or if you have and are ready for more, check out the video above! I found it recently on Vimeo, and it's a high-quality, 25-minute concert documentary complete with live song performances and brief interviews in between.

Jordan Brooke Hamlin backs Sandra in the video. Jordan has also been a huge influence of mine, as she not only produces records and plays auxiliary instruments/vocals with numerous artists, but also does visual art & graphic design for album covers and other projects. Charting her growth as a successful multimedia artist has been quite empowering to me. I'd love to meet her and pick her brain someday.

In addition to the music, Sandra does some writing for the Art House America blog. Check out her latest piece here. Sandra's artist bio on the blog reads as follows:

Sandra McCracken is a singer, songwriter, and producer from Nashville, TN. Over the course of eight critically acclaimed studio albums, Sandra has developed a body of work that encompasses hook-driven melodic pop, No Depression-style Americana, contemporary recastings of classic hymns, and even children’s music as part of the Nashville alt-folk super-group Rain For Roots. Her music has been featured on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy; her 2013 solo record, Desire Like Dynamite, charted as one of Billboard’s Top 50 Heatseekers; and she is currently at work on a new album for 2014.
— Art House America Blog

Sandra is also a part of A Rocha international's work in Nashville––a community seeking to integrate faith, creation care and hospitality.

Thanks for reading! (And hopefully for listening/watching the video;)

sd.