Keith Artz— Visual Artist

keithWhat is your creative mission?

Draw people’s attention to the issue of homelessness through my art work.

What do you love about what you do?

I love to tell a story and elicit emotions about a group of people and issues which most would prefer to stay hidden. I can make them look squarely at the problems without initially getting involved.

What have you learned from your successes/ failures?

I learned that I, too, have some prejudicial issues with some of the homeless people I meet and/or paint. I feel uncomfortable at times, entering their world to even say, “Good Morning”. I’m trying to figure out why. Fear, my shyness, not wanting to ask of permission to take their photograph for fear I’m taking advantage of their plight?

How do you keep pushing ahead after a difficult challenge?

I have so many ideas for new pieces of art that if I get stalled or face a real challenge with one, I start the next. I am prone to the disease of depression, and when that monster is awakened, my creativity is blunted. But oddly enough, it is also my therapy. I have no choice but to move on, because to stop would make matters worse.

Have you ever encountered resistance from family, friends, or the world in general? How did you overcome those kinds of blocks?

The only resistance I’ve had with my art is from other artists who scoff at people who paint in a realistic style. They want me to “loosen up” (read; paint like them). My reaction is that I paint the way I do because I CAN and imply that they can’t. I’ve decided that I love what I do and I do it well, so why should I change to meet someone else’s expectations.

How has your art and creativity healed you?

I am a right brained person living in a left brained society, and often find it hard to fit into the analytical world. As stated above, I am prone to the disease of depression and find my art and creativity a sanctuary where I can ‘zone out’ in another world of my making that does not include the weight of sadness or self consumption. My studio is my place of dreams, healing and salvation.

What are your NFA Bullet points? What steps would you recommend for anyone who wants to kick some ass and get their creative dreams off the ground?

Tough question. I barely have my own ass off the ground so advising other is f*ing tough.

I’ve been an artist for many years but my really creative dreams, of late, didn’t just come about because I willed them to. They came about because I was swimming one day with a snorkel. The snorkel allowed me to swim face down and breathe whenever I wanted. Because I was in the water, there was very little outside stimuli, and there was a hypnotic black line to follow at the bottom of the pool. This gave me an uninterrupted hour to let my mind wonder. It was here, every Wednesday, that I escaped into the world where I decided that all things were possible. Over time, I figured out how to make those dreams become real.

Now that my ass is off the tarmac, I’m really enjoying the ride. Now, you don’t have to go swimming, but place yourself in a space with little outside stimuli, other than perhaps some soft music, and allow your mind to be free. Start with one idea and let it explode. Don’t erase anything too early from your mental blackboard as being too weird, uncool, f*ed up, or dumb. The idea may be all of those, so what could you do with that?

The “Pet Rock” was all of those, and it was an overwhelming success. A word of warning about background music, play only instrumental music that is not a song with words. Your brain will want to sing along. Even if you never heard the words to a song your brain will try to figure out what they are. Also, don’t listen to the William Tell Overture, or Porccini’s Dance of the Hours, if you are over 35 years old. Your brain will remind you of The Lone Ranger, or the words, “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah, Here I am at Camp Granada”. You can’t be creative with either of these kidnapping your brain.


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About the Author:

Jeff Leisawitz burns with a mission—to inspire writers, artists, musicians and random creative types to amp up their creativity, heal their hearts and shine in the world. Author. Award winning musician/ producer. Internationally distributed filmmaker. College prof. Photographer. Speaker. Consultant. Not F*ing Around—The No Bullsh*t Guide for Getting Your Creative Dreams Off the Ground is Jeff’s first book.

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