Creative Status: Episode 20: Claude Larson: The Myth of the Artist

Whether in creativity or life you need to listen to YOURSELF ?

A lot of the times, we run around trying to live or create things prompted by all kinds of false assumptions and ideas that we’ve picked up from OUTSIDE rather than being aligned with our nature which is to start from the INSIDE-OUT.

When we live in this outside-in way, we just end up distorting our own inner voice or damaging our ability to listen to it and this just causes us to create all kinds of unnecessary inner friction.

This inner friction causes problems in our lives (or with our ability to create) because it causes us to: 1) try and solve problems that don’t exist (like running around trying to ‘find’ ourselves when we’re already there, or to 2) try and act out our lives as a set of ideas rather than something to experience.

Claude Larson (@claudeblarson)is an artist, educator, and presenter who works in a variety of different mediums to explore the natural world, seasons, cycles and her outdoor adventures. She also has an amazing Youtube channel where she shares her artistic process and philosophy in intricate detail and gives a lot of food for thought and insight.

One thing that I really appreciate about Claude is her ‘no BS’ approach to the whole thing – she truly understands that getting things ‘done’ is about following the prompts of your intuition, getting out of your own head and whatever assumptions and pretensions might be hiding in there, and then allowing the work to come to the surface and speak for itself.

This was a potent but chill conversation where we explored the attitude that you need to be able to work in this way. We also looked at some of the myths around ‘art’ and ‘artistry’ and what it really means to produce something real that speaks for itself in a way that people want to be spoken to…

If you want to level up your artistic game then check out this episode and start flowing with yourself.

Listen on any podcast player or use the embedded player above!

(Scroll down for show transcript)


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Episode Links:

Claudes’s website: claudelarsonart.com

Claude’s Youtube channel: youtube.com/@claudelarsonart

Stay up-to-date with Claude on Instagram: instagram.com/claudeblarson

Creative Status Links:

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Show Transcript: The Myth of the Artist

Intro

Oli Anderson: Oh hi there, Oli Anderson here, you’re listening to Creative Status. This is a podcast about using your creativity to improve your life, basically in all areas because the creative process actually turns out, at least that’s what we’re learning here on this podcast, is the process of becoming more whole within yourself.

That just means that you basically make the unconscious conscious and accept everything that’s going on inside of you so that you can get into the creative flow state and live a life that you actually want to live.

That’s the abridged version but it’s the main theme that keeps popping up. If you don’t know, my name is Oli Anderson and I’m a creative performance coach and author. I work with individuals and groups sometimes to help them tap into their creativity and to basically become more real.

All of my work is about that, becoming real, testing our assumptions about ourselves, getting the self-limiting beliefs out of the way, making sure that we truly can live lives as human beings instead of just ideas of what it means to be human. Don’t get me started on all that stuff. This particular podcast episode is an interview with a lady called Claude Larson.

Claude is very real, very matter of fact. She seems to really understand the creative process, especially in terms of just getting things done, getting out of your head and just doing what you need to do in order to allow what needs to emerge to emerge. Basically, this conversation is about a lot of the myths around being an artist, around art itself, around what it means to engage in all those kinds of activities.

So yeah, Claude, thank you to you for your time. Hopefully this is going to give you some insight and if you’re interested in doing creative things, maybe it’ll help you get a fresh perspective here and there about what you’re doing in the first place. If you want to work on any of this stuff, you can book a call with me on my website.

Just go to olianderson.co .uk. We can talk about all this kind of thing. Really, I just want to hear people’s stories these days. That’s my main thing. Then see if I can help you to write the next chapter.

That sounds very poetic, but anyway, it is what it is. Anyway, here’s the interview and I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for listening and see you next Monday for another episode of Creative Status.

Here we go.

Interview

Oli Anderson: Oh, hi there, Claude. Thank you for joining me today on Creative Status. Based on our previous conversation, which covered a lot of ground, I think we’re going to be talking quite deeply about some myths around the creative process and what it means to be an artist in itself.

That’s just purely speculation because we haven’t got started. But before we do get started, would you like to introduce yourself please and tell us who you are, what you’re all about, what you’d like to get from this conversation today?

Claude Larson: Sure. Hi, I’m Claude Larson and I live in New Jersey in the United States. I am a primarily self-taught artist. I give myself that title because I had a mind shift maybe 25 years ago where I was producing things. I was making things. I liked creating things, but when I decided I was going to be an artist and actually saying, this is not my sewing room. This is my studio. This is not where I paint. This is my studio. I’m a painter and artist, which I know a lot of people don’t want to put that title on themselves for whatever reason, but I kind of embraced it knowing that whatever was going to happen, I wanted to elevate what I did.

I think that was the mindset shift. There are people who make crafts and they follow other people’s directions and they produce similar things over and over and over again, but when you say, I’m going to be an artist, you’re like, I am making one of a kind things.

Oli Anderson: I suppose the obvious question there becomes, what is your definition of an artist in the first place? It sounds like it’s not just somebody that’s doing technical things or they’re doing crafty things. There is this higher level of elevation or something like that, but what exactly is the essence of an artist?

What do you say?

Claude Larson: I think the difference between people who make things and create things and an artist is the ability to be okay with uncertainty, to be uncomfortable, to be like, I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m going to try this anyway.

I think that is why a lot of people, that stops a lot of people from saying they’re an artist because they think, if I’m an artist, I have to know what I’m doing because Leonardo da Vinci knew what he was going to make. Michelangelo knew what he was going to make and the reality is they didn’t. These amazing sculptors who were like, well, I just carved away the marble that didn’t want to be there and then I had this sculpture.

They were drawing on the marble and measuring. No, they were like, I’m going to start chipping away at this and then I’m going to take away what, basically I’m going to edit this down into only what’s essential to be there, to make my sculpture. I think people get hung up on this.

If you’re an artist, you have to know what it’s going to be at the end. If COVID taught us nothing, we had no idea how this was going to work out. Everybody thought you were going to be home for two weeks. Two years later, we’re still talking about it.

We’re getting on to three years and it’s like, okay, I don’t know. I’m going to start painting. When I paint, there’s 10, 12, sometimes more than that, layers of collage and paint and line and all kinds of things I put in there. I used to be like, oh, I’ve just started. It’s the first layer and it’s terrible and it would make me take pause.

Now I’m like, I’m never going to see any of that in the end anyway. What am I worried about? People worry like, oh, what if my art is no good? I made plenty of things that were not very good, but the more you make, the better you get. Then you’re not very good. It’s something you wish you could have done 10 years ago. You’re like, well, this isn’t very good, but 10 years ago, you would have thought, man, I rocked this.

Oli Anderson: It sounds like what you’re saying then is the main distinction between somebody that just makes things or creates things for fun and an artist is the mindset that they approach their work with. Is that a fairer? assessment.

Claude Larson: Absolutely. Absolutely. Because any one of us, any one of us could be an artist, any one of us. And there are people, you know, those who are like, oh, I don’t want to say I’m an artist.

Are you afraid somebody will judge you? And so like, you know, or, I mean, I’ve had people who like, like when I, you know, I had a career full time job, all of that. And then when I left, they were like, what are you going to do now? I was like, well, I’m going to pursue my art. You know, like I am an artist.

And like I had one woman, she like had to hold back her laugh. And I thought like, okay, like it makes me so happy to go in my studio and you don’t get it. So that’s, that’s cool.

Oli Anderson: Yeah. Like that, that judgment says more about them than it does you. That’s how I always see that kind of thing. But there is kind of an interesting thing here where that word artist has become so loaded and so kind of polluted because of so many misconceptions that people have picked up about it because there, there are a bunch of people out there that want to be artists, but they approach it in the complete, I don’t want to say wrong, but they, they approach it with a very unreal mindset where, you know, they tried to be a tortured artist or a gifted artist or a insert adjective here artist.

And that just causes a lot of people who are viewing them to think that art is something that it isn’t, if that makes sense, because those kind of people, they’re using art almost as an escape from the kind of process and the kind of mindset that you’re talking about, I think.

Claude Larson: Yeah. You’re, oh, you’re absolutely right. I mean, you know, one guy cuts off his ear and the rest of us have to torture ourselves. Like, yeah, I’m good.

I’m fine. I go in my studio. Sometimes I make things that I really like and sometimes I’m like, wow, that’s going to need a lot of work before I can get it somewhere. Or that was a great experiment. I’m going to chalk that up to, you know, a learning experience and like get on with my life. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Lighten. And they think, they think if they’re not going to be Leonardo da Vinci, like they should never say that they’re going to be an artist.

And I think to myself, you know, Leonardo da Vinci on his deathbed was like, oh, you know, I don’t want to die because I have so much left. I want to do. Right.

And I think that’s, I mean, that’s part of the artist mindset. What do you like, what do you want to do next? You know, what right now I have two series going on. And I’m thinking about them, but I also know that when I get to the point where I feel complete, I don’t want to make another one in this series, in this color palette, in this style, in this process, there is something that is going to come along that’s going to peak my curiosity and I’m going to want to play with that for a while. And I think if you don’t, if you can’t deal with, you don’t know, first, you don’t know how it’s going to turn out because we don’t always know how something is going to turn out. I mean, that’s kind of a metaphor for life, I think.

You know, really. Yeah, 100%. 100%.

Yeah. If you can’t just embrace that and stop being hard on yourself or thinking that everything you make has to be Instagram worthy, you know, you’re not going to, I don’t know, you’re not going to, one, you’re not going to enjoy it because part of it is just like the fun of going in there and seeing what’s going to happen. And I think there’s a lot of people who, you know, they talk, if they’re going to go to a party, so let’s say they’re going to go to a party, they want to know like what food is going to be there or who’s catering it so they have an expectation. They know what other guests are going to be there so that they know who they’re going to talk to, you know, as opposed to what if you went to a party and you had, this was a new kind of food from a country you’d never eaten that type of food before and you didn’t know any of these people.

Like how would you, some people would be terrified and they would not be able to leave their own home and some people would be like, well, let’s see who I meet there. And that’s, that’s, that’s art. Like that’s art.

It’s kind of like, here’s a color palette I’ve never worked in before. Oh, it does this. This is unexpected. And it’s not something you can predict because you can say, oh, I’m going to put blue over here.

Right. I’m going to add blue to this painting. And depending on all the other colors around it, you don’t know what it’s going to look like until you actually put the blue there.

People want to know before they do it.

Oli: Yeah. That’s the main, the main problem, I think, when it comes to all this stuff. So the whole theme ultimately of this podcast is that creativity is just anything that allows you to keep moving, keep growing and to keep becoming more real, IE more authentic. And there’s an overlap between that way of living and the creative process that you’re talking about and the overlap ultimately comes down to this experiential, experimental way of being where instead of just living according to concepts or ideas and thinking that you’ve got it all figured out and just repeating the same old patterns over and over again, you’re actually going deeper into life by learning from life or learning from the creative process.

And so if we back it up a little bit, what we’re saying about the tortured artist is a kind of perfect example of the two different paths that people can go down. So the tortured artist, they’re leaning more towards the conceptual way of viewing and living and creating art versus the experiential one. And because they’re more in love with the conceptual side of things, because they need certain concepts to be true for whatever reason, because they’re emotional stuff, they’re more in love with the torture than the art itself.

And if they were doing it in this other way, the real way, it would be more experiential and they’d be able to use the art as a way of overcoming whatever it is that’s causing to feel causing them to feel tortured in the first place. Does that make sense? So you can either just go into it with ideas, i.e.

a map, or you can go into it with a desire to experience the actual territory, not just the map in your head.

Claude: That’s that’s it. That’s brilliant. I love that.

And it’s it’s like going on a vacation to someplace you’ve never been. Do you want to know everything you’re going to do and have a schedule for when you get there?

Do you just want to enjoy it and have something unexpected that was delightful happen? Why not? Yeah, why not?

Oli: Yeah, this is where art and life become the same thing. I think.

Claude: Absolutely.

Oli: Yeah, because what you’re talking about, like allowing serendipity or whatever it’s coming to play, that is when you are actually living as a whole being or whatever word you want to use to describe it, instead of just an idea of yourself. That’s that’s how I see it. Right.

Claude I think, you know, as you’re saying that, I think what stops people is again, that fear of uncertainty. And you have to believe you have to believe in yourself enough to say, and I think, you know, people go out into the world and they go to their jobs and they go to, you know, wherever they go.

And when a problem arises, they solve it because they have the belief that they can solve their own problems. But when they go to art and they say, but what if this painting is no good?

Or what if I don’t know how to use this particular tool or medium or whatever? It’s like, they don’t trust. trust one, they don’t trust the play and experimentation and they might not yet believe that they have the ability to solve the problem that might come up while they’re playing with materials and learning.

Oli: Yeah, 100%. Like that’s the main thing I believe that causes people to fear uncertainty and to not want to take risks. And there’s always a risk involved in the creative process. The problem being that at some level they don’t believe in themselves.

So they think that some terrible thing is going to happen as part of the creative journey, whatever it is, some hypothetical thing they see in their heads. And they believe that when it does happen, all of their power and all of their capacity to make choices about how to deal with things is going to leave them.

It’s an illusion that they kind of put in their own path before they even get started.

Claude: And I think, yeah. Self-fulfilling prophecy, right? Yeah, exactly. What if my art is going to suck and then it does and then you’re like, see, I knew this is how it’s going to turn out.

Oli: Yeah, it’s that. But also, if they have that self-fulfilling prophecy or that mindset before they get started, not only do they fulfill creating something that’s not as good as it could be, but a lot of the times they don’t even get started.

And so they’re just, you know, they’re procrastinating, they spend so much time in the preparation phase, whatever it is, because they’ve put an obstacle to that path that we’re talking about, the path of exploration and growth and all those things.

Claude: And that’s where you get that like, you know, imposter mindset. Like what if I’m not good enough, right? Well what if I just procrastinate? Well now I’m not actually even making art. So why am I calling myself an artist? And I’m not really an artist, but it’s, you know, this self-feeding cycle, you know, because the loop they play in their head, well, I’m not making art, so therefore I’m not an artist, but I can’t make anything because I’m not good enough and it won’t be good enough.

But just go enjoy yourself. Like really, it’s not.

Oli: Yeah, do you think people, like we’re talking about the myth of the gifted artist kind of and all this stuff, but actually there’s a lot of myths around art itself. Do you think people take art too seriously in general?

Claude: I think, oh for sure. And people who, you know, there’s the artist who takes it too seriously and then paralyzes themselves and it’s kind of like, they will make more paint and there will be more canvases or you can paint over this one or there’s always a trash bin, you know, like it’s, and everything’s going to be okay, right? Like I have never heard of an art emergency.

Like, you know, okay, maybe there’s a, you know, a theft of a painting. Okay, that’s an emergency, but I mean, in my life, I don’t have an art, I don’t have an art emergency. But I don’t get in my studio today, like a giant hole in the earth does not open up and swallow me whole. And it’s okay, but I get to the point where it is painful to not have time in my studio because now we’ve just, you know, we’ve had holiday time and the days are a bit a little disrupted. And now I’m just eager to get back into a regular process. It’s actually more, I don’t want to say painful because that’s a strong word, but it’s more frustrating to not be in my studio than it is to be in my studio. Like I just want to get down there.

And even after a couple of, you know, I mean, it hasn’t been a couple of weeks, it’s been a couple of days, but when you are away from it for a couple of weeks, it’s like that muscle has a little atrophy and it takes a little something to get back started.

Oli: Yeah. Wow. Like it’s, it’s interesting because actually when you’re in your studio, obviously, yeah, it might be hard to create the art, especially if you have to push through your own limits and all that kind of stuff we’re talking about.

But it’s also hard, like you said, not to be in the studio doing that because actually that studio time that you have, that is your place or your practice to become more of who you are, to become more real. And so if you’re not giving yourself that time, then you’re just getting caught up in the world. I’m assuming anyway, getting caught up in the world and you know, you’re not really giving yourself the attention that you need to be able to express what you need to express.

Something like that.

Claude: Oh, it’s, it’s, it’s such an act of self-care. And there’s a lot of people who have, they struggle with self care.

They’re going to take care of everybody else around them. I’ve heard this so many times, you know, by the time I’m done, you know, making the meals, cleaning the house, doing the this, doing the that, by the time I’m done with all of the things that I have to do for everybody else, I don’t have the time or energy. And I’m kind of like, well, what if you did this first?

Right. Because my, like when I have creative energy, wow, like it takes a lot, you know, like, and I sometimes I come out of there one, I’m starving. I’m so hungry. And like, I need a minute to just kind of sit and rest. But if I’m going to go like clean my house, I don’t need creative energy to do that.

You know, that just, that just needs doing. And I think people don’t, they don’t want to prioritize it because similar to the woman who had to stifle a laugh in my face. Like if I said, I didn’t get to, you know, whatever, cleaning the bathroom, or I didn’t get to running that errand because I was creating art. People will view you and judge you as selfish. Yeah. Like you didn’t do everything for everybody else first.

No, you did. Like take care of yourself first. And the rest will, I assure you, fall into place and you’ll be less resentful about having to do all those other obligations because you will have already like filled your well, you know, and that’s my thing.

I’m always like, dig the well before you’re thirsty.

Oli: Yeah. It’s so important. And I think what you’re saying is just a good reminder that actually when we’re creating things, whether it’s art or writing a novel or whatever the hell it is, that is when we’re being real. That’s when we’ve been authentic. And all of this other stuff that the world is constantly asking us to do, like go working a job that we don’t really like or go spend time with people we’re not bothered about or whatever it is. All of that stuff actually is secondary to the foundation we can build for our lives by getting in touch with ourselves, but also with reality itself and the way it works in the creative process.

Actually. And so whatever self care thing we do that puts us in touch with that is going to give us a more solid foundation for going out into the world and actually been better to other people, actually, as well as giving more. It makes that.

Claude: That’s so true. Like you nurture yourself, take care of yourself. But then when you go out, you are happier on the inside.

That’s energy, right? You start attracting happier people. You start being happier. How I’m not going to say suddenly your job is transformed and it is like, you know, the happiest place on earth, you know, it’s not, didn’t become Disney world because you took care of yourself.

But, but, you know, your last. less frustrated there. You suddenly clarity comes in suddenly you start to get like that birds eye view you put things in perspective like I am making a mountain out of a mole hill because I am not taking care of myself when I take care of myself I am happier I am more joyful I am less stressed and when a problem arrives arises I believe in myself and then it either resolves more easily or at least I don’t bring the frustration to it right at the start it makes life it just makes your life so much more fulfilling like day to day moment to moment event to event and the people and it’s funny because you talk about the people you can’t be bothered about man more art I make the more I curate who I spend time with.

Oli: Yeah, yeah, yeah, because you’ve taken control of your life basically you’re not by doing by creating art and spending time in your studio you’re ultimately becoming more present.

Claude: You can’t you can’t be otherwise in your studio. Yeah, and even if I if I have to be somewhere like I have an appointment or I have an obligation I have to be somewhere if I go in my studio I will set my phone alarm to give me 15 minutes to get out of there and you know put a change if I need to change or you know whatever I need to do I set the alarm so I don’t have to think about time I don’t have to think about anything beyond what is right there that I am engaged in the energy I’m feeling the materials I’m working with the process because if you’re worried about oh I got to make something so I can post it on Instagram oh I got to make something that other people won’t think is crap like don’t like don’t bother you know don’t bother because you’re you’re adding stress that’s unnecessary it takes away it takes away the joy.

Really, I mean when you look at paintings or you look at other people’s artwork you see their soul and if all they were worried about was will other people like this yeah you wouldn’t like it yeah yeah because they’re trying to fill the somebody else’s opinion rather than I made this I was so happy making this when I look at this I’m so happy with the outcome this was a joy and if and if you’re not bringing that into your studio if you’re doing it for somebody else you know and that’s why I don’t really do commissions someday my plan is if people want commissions which I have been asked if people want them my plan is to say I’m going to make four three or four and you’ll pick your favorite one because then you’ll be happy I’ll be happy everybody’s happy but if I’m trying to make something that I think you’ll like because you say I would like it to be this size and this color palette or similar to this work right I’m not going to recreate something I’ve already done but um and then and of course the the outcome is to oh you don’t like any of them okay then you need to find somebody else make you a convention you know what I mean like I can only create what I can create I can’t get in their head and they if they have a vision of what they want in their head then they should either pick up a paint brush or you know come with a more open mind.

Like I don’t know it’s uh that’s just one of and that’s one of those other art things you know like if I don’t make highly rendered portraits if I don’t make uh you know some specific type of art that somebody else makes then I’m no good

Oli: Yeah yeah like like a lot of people fall into the trap of um they’re sourcing their inspiration from the outside in instead of the inside out so based on you know your journey I guess and what you’ve learned what are some things that people can do to kind of become more aware of that problem first of all but also to ensure that what they’re doing is actually authentic to them is there some kind of barometer or a way of knowing?

Claude: I will say that um there is a value to looking at other people’s art not to reproduce it but to analyze it and say I like this why do I but why do I like this and I you know I have done that and when I look back on my art over time the art that I like is colorful but then again I like black and white you know so sometimes I work in black and white but it’s colorful but really it’s about shapes I love color I love shape and when I look at all of my art you’re like wow okay yeah she likes color and I like shape and rather than saying I like this painting I’m going to try to do this you could say I really like this color palette what I’m going to mess around with this color palette I really like you know when I look at these maybe I like these three or four or five pieces of art what is it that I like about them are they you know very dark and heavy and they have a sense of you know depth do they have what is it about all of them collectively and you have to get like is it the feeling that they give you is there a particular the way they use line oh I wish I could use line like that well you know start messing around with line get four or five different kinds of pens and markers and you know brushes whatever and start messing but figure out not oh I you know I like Vincent van Gogh what do you like about it do you like his yellows do you like his color palette do you like his rainy little brush marks?

Like what do you like about it and then play with that like it’s all about discerning what it is that attracted you in the first place yeah right and then making but you got to make that your own yeah um and there and there are times when people you know something will happen an event will happen in my life or somebody will say something and it’ll just spark a curiosity in me and I’m like oh and you know sometimes I’ll um sort of type it into my phone send it to myself as a message just so that later when I have the opportunity, I can post that on my studio design wall or write that down at my cutting table, at my sewing table, at my painting table, like whatever it is, because for whatever reason, that comment or that event or that thing that I saw, or that conversation that I had, will inspire something.

And that’s, I mean, my recent series happened that way. I was having this conversation, I’m a Reiki master, so I work with energy healing with clients. And when I am in a session, I am surrounded by spirit guides, like I feel them.

And many of my clients will say, it felt like there were six hands on me. And I’m like, yes, you know, like, I don’t do this by myself, I invite them, and they come and they help me. And I don’t tell them that until after the session, because I’m gonna make sure they’re okay with the whole, but then at the end I go, this is the woo-woo part, because I present myself as like, I’m a professional.

This is one of the jobs that I have done in my life. But I had this whole conversation with a client about it, and she was like, sometimes I feel like there’s somebody in the room with me, and I was like, it could well be your spirit guide. You might wanna just like sit, meditate, and like ask what their name is, or ask them to show themselves, reveal themselves, do something, whatever. And now I’m in the midst of a series, and I’m calling them sentinels, because I feel like these are my spirit guides. They’re just sort of coming out of me into, I’m making them in collage, I’m also making them in fiber.

And they’re just arriving. And that, I mean, that comes from inside of me. I just start cutting, and I’m sort of putting, and things will drop to the floor, and I am like, okay, so we’re not using that right now.

And it sounds crazy, but I feel like they’re looking after me, not in a big brother kind of way, but in a, you are loved, you are supported, you are cared for, you are protected, you are all of these things. We all have them, you get quiet, you start to feel them, and you start to feel them when you edit out the noise. Because if you took your whole day, and you started to say, what parts of my day felt really great today, and what parts of my day I would not have missed if they didn’t happen, right? And when you start editing and editing, and reducing the amount of sensory input, and mental clutter that we all accumulate, you get so real with your art. And that’s when I can really edit it down, that’s when all of a sudden I’m like, why am I looking black and white right now?

You know why? Because my life was overloaded, and when I edited and edited, I needed to simplify, and that’s when all of a sudden I’ll get a series of black and whites that come out of me, and it’s almost always, right after I’ve had an overwhelming period of time.

Oli: Like there’s so many amazing things that you just shared, and it reminds me of this other kind of myth around the creative process, which is just that the creative process is just about one person in isolation expressing something that’s existing in them already. But actually, it’s much deeper than that, and the stories you’ve kind of just shared, a good reminder of that.

So it’s not actually about our independence in the world, and we’re just expressing something that we already know. The creative process actually is about interdependence, and I always find, like normally if I’m doing something artistic in scare codes, it’s writing, but I find when I’m in the writing process, I might set out with an idea about what I as an individual want to do, but then as I am writing, I will kind of see things in the world around me as I’m going about my business, or somebody might say something, or you’ll see something here, you get all this kind of serendipity and these synchronicities that feed the work, and it becomes a process of not just you putting something on the page or on the canvas that already existed in you, it’s more about you responding to what life is teaching you as you’re going through that process.

And as you do that, if you can listen to what’s out there, then you’re more likely to do this thing of making your unconscious conscious through that, but it’s the interplay between what you think you know about yourself, and what the world is telling you at the time, and what you’re ready to listen to because of whatever’s going on inside you, or whatever is about to emerge. I don’t know if that makes sense, but…

Claude: Well, you know, as you’re saying it, I’m thinking so many artists, they go like, I need to find my personal voice, my personal voice, you know? And they get stuck on this, like…

Oli: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Claude: Like they only have one, right?

And I’m a firm believer that my personal voice today is a culmination of my experiences, what I’ve seen, what I’ve done, where I’ve been, who I know, what happens to me today, like that’s my personal voice today. It is going to change.

My personal voice 20 years ago, wildly different because now, where I am, one, where I am in my life, the experiences I’ve had, the… I don’t wanna say like accomplishments, but like the art that I’ve made, like the things that I have worked through, the problems that I have solved, that’s it, that’s your personal voice.

And it’s kind of, it’s… You know, people who are trying to find it so that they can get to the destination and make that for all of time, they’re missing the point, that you can’t, there’s so much more, and it will change. And if you’re looking for a destination, then art is gonna be very hard for you because there’s no end point until you are no longer able to make art.

Like that’s it. And even then, your personal voice will change because then you are now a person who made art, has all those experiences, and for whatever reason, you wish you could still make it. Sometimes it’s age, sometimes it’s physical limitations. Who knows, doesn’t matter, but chasing the personal voice is like, no, it’s right there. Like it is what it is to get. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. You don’t have to look for it.

It is whatever comes out today.

Oli: Yeah, that’s the thing, right? So people who are chasing this personal voice, actually what’s going on by the act of chasing, they’re not listening to what’s already there because for whatever reason, they don’t want to accept that because they’ve bought into some cultural thing, that their voice needs to be more tortured or that they need to have something more profound to say or whatever it is, they’re judging the voice that’s there.

They want it to be something else. And so they go on this kind of wild goose chase trying to find something that doesn’t exist or can’t exist.

Claude: That’s it, it’s the wild goose chase.

Oli: Yeah.

Claude:  And your personal voice exists today as it is, but tomorrow it may be different. And a year from now, it will surely be different.

And if it’s not, then what you really need to do is start making the rest of your life more interesting and get on a journey of experiences. But honestly, you can’t go through any day without having an experience.

So just take it, take it for what it is. and commit all of it to this point in time, you’re gonna make whatever art you’re gonna make based on your personal journey, right?

And that’s why it’s your personal voice, but it’s not stagnant, it’s not one thing. And all these famous artists, it’s like, oh, Starry Night, Sunflowers, Haystacks, that’s Vince Amego, and that’s what he did. But that’s what’s been curated for you to see that he did by so-called experts, right? I went to the Met, and this was several years ago, and they had Leonardo da Vinci, but it was like his sketchbooks, right? He had things where you could see he was trying to figure out, how am I gonna draw this hand, right? Because he’d have to figure, and then five or six different hands around it. You know, that’s what he was doing at the moment, but then he had architectural drawings. Then it was his other science that came in there, and it was his personal voice, but they curate and they say, well, only this one is worthy of making famous and showing to people, but the reality is, if you saw their entire body of work, you know, like Picasso didn’t just draw strange-looking heads where the ear was coming out the top and like the face was blue. Like that’s not, you know, he also did sculpture.

He also, he did a lot of things, but they’ve said like, well, this is what’s remarkable, and that’s what we’re going to tell everybody. This is what we’re gonna connect to that artist, as opposed to you saying, at this point in my life, this was the type of art I was making, and I see it now, right? My life was very disconnected. I was struggling with, you know, maybe a stressful job or whatever, and I can see that in my art, but now as I’ve gotten older and wiser, this is what I make now, and it just seems more cohesive, and this is how my life feels right now, more cohesive.

And then I don’t know what my life’s gonna be like 10 years from now, so I don’t know what, I can’t predict what it’s gonna look like. It’s going to be whatever the personal voice is at that moment.

Oli: That’s so powerful, and it’s so true. Like our voice is a reflection of where we are right now, right? And if human beings are being real, then they will continuously evolve, they’ll continuously grow, there’ll be new things coming up, new things getting stripped away, and so the voice will keep changing.

But I think probably because of the way that art is curated in museums and stuff, like you just said, it makes people believe, especially like if they’re trying to be an artist or a writer or whatever it is, it makes them believe that they can only have one voice or one dominant voice that they express themselves with, and so everybody actually, not everybody, but a lot of people, are trying to put themselves in a box, but actually by putting themselves in a box of the personal voice or whatever it is, they just end up removing themselves from the process of growth that will actually allow them to create something that is meaningful to them, and hopefully by extension other people.

Claude: And I think right there, we circle back around, oh, I found my personal voice and this is what I make, and they make it and they make it and they make it and they make it until they hate it. And then, guess what they do? They procrastinate. It goes right back to it, and it’s kind of like, it just means you’re done.

You’re done with this, move on, and go explore something else, and you’re not gonna know how it turns out, and you be okay with that.

Oli: Yeah, how does identity feed into all this, do you think, like the way that the artist identifies?

Claude: Well, you mean as far as, I mean, I know some people who are afraid of calling themselves an artist.

Oli: Yeah, I suppose, sorry, there was a bit of a curveball that question, but so what I was thinking is, if somebody reaches the end of the line, they’ve just become so attached to a certain genre that they just keep making the same thing over and over again, basically, maybe a bit of variation here and there, but they ultimately become identified with a certain way of working, and so they can’t see a way out of that particular medium or that particular genre, whatever it is, because if they get out of that, then they actually lose themselves as they know themselves now.

And so, yeah.

Claude: Here’s what they lose: They lose the people who liked what they were making before.

They never lose them, they cannot lose themselves. If they say, I feel complete and I am moving on and I am going to go do something else, right? We’ve all done that in life.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. This relationship is over, this job is over, this house, I no longer live there, right? We move on. And if you’re done, you’ve made landscape paintings for 20 years and you’re the thought of making another one just does not inspire you, right?

Yeah, yeah. Then go do something else. It’s still your personal voice. At that point, they are more attached to what will people think if I completely change what I’m making as opposed to… Yeah.

And I’ve said this, oh yeah, I used to work like that, but I don’t work like that now, I work like this, right? And if you lined it up chronologically from where I started to where I am now, you’d see a progression, but then you’d also see, I think it’s like in the evolutionary process where all of a sudden there’s like this weird anomaly and like a major thing happens, it was like, and the dinosaurs became extinct, you know? And there’s some of those leaps in there too, because then all of a sudden, when I learned certain things about the properties of paint, it was like I completely abandoned one thing and you’re like, wow, this was a quantum leap, that happened here. But then from there, there was a progression. And if I were to change mediums, there’d probably be some backpedaling because all of a sudden you’re like, oh, I don’t really know what this does and it’s not gonna turn out so well until I get a handle on it. But then maybe there’s a quantum leap. It’s, I think it’s like any journey, you know?

Some parts go easy, some parts don’t. And as long as you are making progress in a direction that is teaching you something, and by that, I don’t mean like, oh, my work got better, better, better, better, better. It’s, I learned what to do with this. And then the next time I tried that same material, it was easier and you could see there was more freedom in the work. And then you could suddenly, once I really understood this, now I feel the joy and you can sense the emotion of joy in the piece versus the hesitation because I don’t really know what this is gonna do and I’m experimenting and it’s not all pretty, like that’s for sure. But you have to just accept, yeah, people don’t like to be wrong, people don’t like to fail, of course not. You’d rather be right more often than you’re wrong. But in our experience, if you’re worried about being wrong or failing or not being famous, which, you know, some of them didn’t get famous until they were dead.

So, it’s not going to have, you know, really, it’s not going to, it’s not going to bother you either way after that. But like, I think of like, Hilma of Clint, right? Like, she stored these massive paintings. I went and saw them at the Guggenheim. They were massive. And they were amazing. And they were abstract. And I guess in her time, right, she was a woman, she was an artist, she was making abstracts, like all of this was very not accepted in her affluent society. She hid them in a closet. They were discovered after she was dead. I’m thinking like, yeah, I don’t want that to be my art legacy.

I don’t want these to be one sold at a yard sale or, you know, nobody discovers them until they empty out the closet when I die in 105. You know, like, it’s silly. Like, just put it out there.

And the people, honestly, the people who love you will, they will, they will support you, especially if you’re honest about it. Oh, I, I’m just learning how to paint. And so I made this, this was my first attempt. They’re going to be like, oh, okay, you know, good job, like good for you going to be, they’re not going to be like, well, it’s not the Mona Lisa. Okay. And, you know, well, that’s already been painted.

So why would I paint that? And I think that’s, that’s we’re editing out the wrong people, you know, the people who aren’t supportive, the people who are going to look down on you because your work isn’t where it’s going to be 20 years from now. You got to edit those people. Don’t ask, don’t one, maybe don’t show them your work to don’t certainly don’t ask for your opinion. And if they’re the type of person who’s going to give you their opinion anyway, like take it for what it’s worth.

Okay, an uneducated opinion. Thank you very much. Have a nice day. Yeah. I mean, it’s easy to like, you know, beat ourselves up and be hard on ourselves. Life’s hard enough, right? There are enough people out there who are looking to judge and criticize.

Don’t don’t surround yourself with those people. It certainly doesn’t help your artistic process.

Oli: I think it’s like we said, it all feeds into itself is like a two way street. So the more time you give yourself to do this practice of self care or whatever we want to refer to it as the artistic process, the more you understand yourself, the more you know what you have to offer.

And the more you will be able to have real relationships with other people, which means that you’re becoming from a stronger foundation. So you’ll keep the real ones around, and you’ll tell the other ones to a GTFO or at least just ignore them so you can get on with this process of learning and growing and live in the life that you need to live.

And it’s all ultimately rooted in the same mindset, which is that we’re either learning or we’re just trying to stay the same and to not really get anywhere.

Claude: Yeah, and that’s where I think the satisfaction comes. I mean, how many times have you done something? You’ve accomplished something even on this podcast, right? You’ve done these things.

And, you know, you click that button and you’re like, wow, I did that. And you’re super proud of yourself. And it wasn’t, and it wasn’t the easy thing that you’re super proud of.

You’re like, this is the thing that I like, toiled and struggled, and I was uncertain and I solved problems. And I did these things. And man, I did that, you know, and I look back on that even 20 years ago, the first thing I made, fairly awful, really. But I was like, wow, I did that. You know, and then the next thing I made was still fairly awful. Oh, I did that, you know, like this is totally different than what that was. But I made this too. And you just kind of have to give yourself a little grace.

Nobody starts out as an expert. And, and, but if you’re, but enjoy it, you know, like that’s the thing, right? What, what, how and why, like, what do you, what are you interested in painting? Are you interested in painting landscapes? Are you interested in doing portraits? Are you interested in doing abstracts?

Are you interested in collecting trash off the beach and building amazing sculptures? Because I have seen people do that. It’s like, what interests you, right? Why do you want to do that?

Right? Is it I love to be out in nature and that’s why I want to paint landscapes outside. And then how are you going to do it? Oh, am I going to use acrylic paint? Am I going to use oil paint? Am I going to use watercolor?

Am I going to use charcoal and a pencil? What, why and how? What do you want to do? But really the important thing is why do you want to do it?

Because if you don’t have a why, like, I want to be an artist because, and your why is like, because I’ll be famous. You can’t really control that. Sorry. That’s the bad news.

You can’t really control that. But, but like, what do you want to do? Why do you want to do it?

How, how are you going to get there? And if you can answer those three things, like, go play and enjoy yourself.

Oli: Yeah. And I think actually, that word enjoy or just joy in itself. That’s kind of the ultimate feedback that you’re doing the right thing, I think. I think if you’re feeling that joy in the creative process, and it ultimately means that you’re, you’re learning and you are growing. When we’re growing in that way, there’s always joy that comes with it.

I find in my own life. And so if we’re constantly hesitating and holding back and trying to be conceptual and just do things we already think we know, then actually the amount of joy in our lives will go. But also the quality of our work will diminish because this is stagnant.

Like we said, we’re not evolving and we’re not flowing. We’ve been talking a while, the time’s gone quick, but have you got, how would you sum up all this? So there’s a lot of themes, a lot of threads.

It’s all kind of interrelated. But what’s the main takeaway from this conversation, would you say that you want to share with people?

Claude: I think that there are a million things you could tell yourself to stop yourself from learning, from being happy, from finding joy, from making art.

There are all the reasons. You’re not good enough. You don’t deserve it. You won’t be good at this. You, I love this one. I can’t draw a straight line.

I say to people, if you want to draw a straight line, they make rulers. But you know, like you could tell yourself a million things, but honestly, if you were to say to yourself, what would make me happy right now? Right? I have this time to myself and I want to go make something. What would make me happy to try right now? Because when you are happy making art, it shows. I have seen artists who are grumpy and who make the same thing over and over again, because that’s what’s expected of them.

They’re making it out of obligation and their work falls flat. And when they, you know, and then all of a sudden I’ll see something and I’ll say, oh wow, that’s from this artist and you know, I know some of them and they go, yeah, I just, I don’t know, like I just, I just got in a mood and just hit me and I just started doing this and I’m like, this is great. Like do more of this. This feels joyful.

This feels free. This I feel positive energy from and they’re afraid because they’re, well, I’m known for this. Like, you know what, I don’t expect that on my deathbed and thereafter that people will be like, she only worked in this way. And so the, you know, it’s going to be one of those like, look over the span of her life, she went from this to this to this to this to this. Here’s this full body of her work, just like the full body of her life.

Like let your art reflect your life, but make your one, take care of yourself and make it something that makes you happy. Makes you happy. Because in the end, whether it sells or not, whether it hangs in a museum, it won’t matter if you spent your life being tortured over it.

Oli: So powerful is so simple. By the end of the day, art is, there is a very personal thing, isn’t it? But if we do it right, there’s a chance it’ll touch other people as well. But at the end, that doesn’t really matter.

What does matter is that it helps you to get where you need to be. And in a way, you’re, it sounds a bit cheesy, maybe, but in a way, you’re already there. It’s just allowing yourself to be there so you can do it and then do more of it. So, wow.

Claude: Give yourself permission, right?  Give yourself permission to be happy. I don’t know why. I don’t know why we do otherwise. Honestly.

Oli: It’s crazy. But that is how it is.  Most people, they don’t give themselves that permission. Something you said a few minutes ago that was quite powerful. You said there’s no obligation.

And I thought that was, you know, that’s really true as well. So in the creative process, there is no obligation whatsoever to be doing the same kind of thing you were doing yesterday or a week ago or 10 years ago. You can start fresh any moment that you actually want to.

And I think that that is such a powerful thing for just life in general. And I think what you shared in this conversation, ultimately, you know, whether it was intentional or not, there are so many overlaps between the way that we live and the way that we do art. And it’s very personal in both cases. But the more attention we can give to feeding into that process in our own lives, the more likely we are to actually be able to give something to other people in their lives. But either way, it doesn’t matter because we’re all going to die one day.

Claude: It’s I know you want to live a tortured life and then die, or do you want to live a super happy life? And, you know, be yourself. And, you know, part of that too, I think is I’m going to be myself. Parts of me are pretty vulnerable. And if you don’t like what I do, and that’s the thing, be your own best friend, right? If you don’t like what I do, you can say so. But I’m still going to look at it and go, This makes me happy.

When I look at this, this makes me happy. So you can have any opinion you want, because there are plenty of paintings out there. And I think any one of us could go to any museum and find something that we really like and something that we would stand back from and go, Huh, I just don’t get it. But then it wasn’t for me. They didn’t, they, you know, that is just not my thing.

And that’s okay. And so if people, there are people who walk right past my art, when I was hanging in a gallery, they’d walk right past it and no comment. And then there are people who would just stand there and then lean in and then, and I’d say, Well, if you have any questions about this, feel free. And they would be mesmerized hearing about the process or the materials or anything they’d ask, you know, they’d ask some questions, but it takes a little vulnerability.

Again, that’s a, that’s a hard one for humans to just be like, Hey, I just put my soul out in front of you. You know, please Yeah, yeah. Yeah, some people will. They’re not usually very happy people.

Oli: But And even if they do that, you know, it’s not going to do any damage really, if you think about it. Um, have you, um, I know you’ve just given you final words, but have you got any final final words about where people can find you? And you’ve got a YouTube channel as well, right? Where you kind of share a lot of this kind of stuff.

So can you tell people about that?

Claude: So, um, if the lowest level of contact you can have with me is to follow me on Instagram. CLAUDE, that’s my first name, Claude, middle initial B, Larson, L-A-R-S-O-N. I have a YouTube channel, Claude Larson Art.

So you can go there. I have a bunch of videos. Just, um, I try to be helpful.

I try to be informative. And I am big on like permission to experiment. Here are some experiments that I did, or here, you know, I’m working on scaling up. So this is what I am doing. You know, like, so if you’re also working on scaling up, or you just are working on mark making, whatever, you know, I have all these videos. And, um, I have a website. So Claude Larson Art, seemed to have a brand starting to form here.

Um, ClaudeLarsonArt.com. And I send out a weekly newsletter, and you could receive my blog posts. My blog is on there.

So if you wanted to visit it, but I mean, you could have it sent to your inbox blog posts. If I make a new video, you would get that. If I release new work, you would see what that’s about. And I generally make a video about work so that you can hear about the process. Yeah, that’s, you know, pretty much how to, how to get a hold of me. I’ve also written a book. That’s a different website, Claude B Larson LLC.com. And you can hear about that.

It’s really all about finding your own personal success.

Oli: Wow. I’ve seen some videos on YouTube. I really love how you deconstruct this whole creative process. So if people, you know, like this conversation, I think they’ll definitely like YouTube. But thank you for coming on in and going over all this with me. Maybe in a few months, I’ll get you back on them and go even deeper if that’s cool with you, but no pressure, obviously.

Claude: That sounds great. This has been a very, it’s a fun conversation about things that are important to us. Right? Like, that’s the thing. Like some people aren’t into art. Okay, you don’t have to be.

But you know what? It’s important to me. It’s important to me.

Like, otherwise, I wouldn’t spend my time and treasure on, you know, buying supplies and spending time in my studio. Right?

Oli: Well, that just means we’re practicing what we preach. So we talked about something that’s personal and that works for us. If other people like it, that’s cool. And if not, well, we can go jump out the window or something like that. So, Claude, thank you so much for coming on here. I’m banging on the table and making loads of noise.

Claude: Thank you so much. Bye.


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