Understand The Mind Of Artist

Art Student, Chiamaka Okenwa, answers the question, ‘What runs through the mind of an artist before the birth of a true masterpiece?’ This is a question that plagues everyone, especially in today’s chaotic world where your identity is easily lost.

The answer to this question is what I have set out to find in my visit to ‘Identities’, an exhibition at Denk Spaces. At the entrance to the gallery was a display by the exhibiting artist Erasmus Onyishi. What had at first appeared to be a mere tangle of wires and clutter took form upon more careful observation as a colony of ants marching up the wall. This mixed media piece, Openly Closed, was perhaps what opened our minds to the existence of other forms of art apart from realism, a concept we had been more or less closed off to.

Stepping into the building, eyes began to fill with wonder. Each separate work was a colorful and vivacious expression of the same, special theme: Identity. The exhibiting artists had identified themselves through their work by their choices of color, line, texture and form, and each work appealed to all of us in different ways. One of Henry Eghosa’s expressive works, depicting a woman in the process of dressing in traditional attire seemed to whisper, our culture is our pride. Stephen Osuchukwu, in his dignified rendition of an elephant herd, drew focus to the matriarch elephant whose leadership position is almost synonymous with its identity. This female cow is the oldest and largest in the herd and is responsible for leading the elephant herd. Their survival rests on her broad shoulders. On deeper reflection we realize that, perhaps, we are a sort of matriarch when we are given leadership positions.

Obinna Makata, in his work Beauty Deeper than Cosmetics II, leads us to realize the need to maintain our own unique identities in a world where society dictates what to wear, how we should look and, ultimately, who we become. Another work of his, Of Race and Identity, tells us Africans that we do not truly conform to the label [Black], but our identities are rainbows of color, because there is a splash of something special in each and every one of us. His artful employment of Ankara emphasizes individuality. Just as each Ankara pattern derives its beauty from its unique pattern, so we derive our own from our difference in identities.

Promise O’nali, whose novel style would identify him in the farthest corners of the world, gives us another take on the term, identity. Because who are we, really? It is something to be deeply reflected upon. His works, in a cool and simple manner, induce the viewer to observe the intricacy of man’s journey through life, and the constant battle to maintain his true self.

At the end of this truly inspiring and eye-opening exhibition, I returned almost on a different plane of mind. I had taken away one general lesson. In the words of Mr. Nnoli, “Art is always involved in our lives… It opens the door to our individual creativity.”

And indeed, I have truly been inspired to open those doors, and reach for the magic in more creative ways.

 

All About Clowns

Once upon a time, clowns were benevolent figures of laughter and joy.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, American children followed the animated antics of the Bozo the Clown on television each week. The cartoons were introduced by local presenters made up as the carrot-topped Bozo. One was Willard Scott, later to become weatherman with the NBC Today show. Willard Scott was also the first-ever Ronald McDonald, making his debut appearance in a 1963 TV ad for the burger franchise.

Flash forward ten years, to Cook County, Illinois (interestingly enough, the location of one of the first McDonald’s restaurants). A character calling himself Pogo the Clown is a popular attraction at community events. Meanwhile, young men keep going missing…

Underneath the clown makeup and clothes is a psychopath named John Wayne Gacy. In between appearances as Pogo he strangles to death 34 victims. He doesn’t wear the clown outfit when he kills, but his alter-ego of Pogo forever shifts the image of the clown in popular consciousness. Almost overnight, clowns become scary, with Gacy paving the way for numerous portrayals of bad clowns in literature and film, most notably Stephen King’s It.

King’s novel came out in 1986 and was a huge seller. In 1990, his nightmare creation, Pennywise the Clown, was brought to the small screen in a miniseries. Also in 1990, a Florida woman, Marlene Warren opened her front door to a brown-eyed clown bearing flowers and balloons. The clown shot her in the face and drove off in a white Chrysler. The clown’s victim died two days later. The killer, a woman, eluded capture for over a quarter century, but now she’s serving time for murder.

The nineties and noughties saw chilling portrayals of The Joker, the green-haired prankster in the Batman franchise, by the likes of Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger. Plus we met Krusty, the degenerate clown in The Simpsons.

But it wasn’t until 2016 that Caulrophobia – the fear of clowns – reached truly fever pitch. In the latter part of that year, the world was gripped by a wave of ‘scary clown’ sightings. In the lead-up to Halloween, social media sites received numerous postings about sinister-looking clowns who were reported lurking first in forests, then in a host of urban locations in the US, UK, Australia and a number of other countries. It got so bad that the president of the World Clown Association, Randy Christensen took to YouTube to condemn people dressing up as clowns to frighten people. “Whoever is doing this crazy stuff is not a clown,” stated Christensen, a Minnesota-based party clown. “This is someone who is using a good, clean, wholesome art form and distorting it.’ Christensen added that members of his association had suffered job cancellations and felt under threat following coverage of scary clown sightings.

It all got too much for McDonald’s. On October 11, 2016 the burger giant announced that its mascot would be keeping a lower profile as a result of the incidents. A spokesman said the hamburger clown was cutting back on appearances at community events as a result of the “current climate around clown sightings in communities.”

There was a kneejerk reaction from other corporate entities like Target, which took clown masks from its website and stores. Schools as far apart as Ohio, USA, and Otago, New Zealand, banned clown outfits and masks.

Cut forward to Halloween night, Monday October 31, 2016. Caulrophobia had taken such a terrifying hold in the United States that large numbers of both householders and the parents of trick or treaters had firearms at the ready that night.

Fearing vigilante retribution, most clowns kept a low profile that witches’ eve. Not so in Orange County, Florida, where two men needed medical treatment after being attacked by a group of 20 people in clown masks. But other than that, Halloween night 2016 seems to have been a bit of a fizzer in the scary clown department, given all the hype leading up to it.

Flashing forward now to May 2017. A bald, bespectacled man fronts a court in Nova Scotia, Canada. He is Dale Raincourt, aka Klutzy the Clown. He pleads guilty to the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl over a six week period. The judge jails him for two years and bans him from ever working as a children’s entertainer again. Another nail in the coffin for bona fide clowns trying to earn an honest living.

Then in the fall of 2017 came the big budget cinema production of It. Pennywise was back, scarier than ever! The film proceeded to do very brisk business indeed at the box office, with the biggest attendances ever for a September-October release.

So where does that leave the benevolent, child-friendly clown of yesteryear? Well, a lot of them have hung up their clown outfits and wigs for good. Others have strategically re-aligned themselves in the marketplace, promoting themselves as “balloon artists” and avoiding all use of the “c” word.

And poor old Ronald McDonald has been put out to pasture in most parts of the world. On a recent trip to Thailand, I did encounter his life sized effigy outside a McDonald’s in Bangkok. He had his palms pressed together in a “wei” greeting. Alternatively, he might have been praying, appealing for divine intervention as the clown joins the ranks of vampires, zombies and other denizens of our worst nightmares.

Author of this article, Anthony Maguire, has written a novel called True Madness, about a killer clown who terrorises a female TV reporter. Watch out for a blue-haired clown on the book stalls and websites!

 

How To Create Great Figure

Whether you consider it using flow charts, whiteboards or even just free association, Mind Mapping has been around for some time now. People have used it for taking notes, brainstorming, and problem-solving. A Mind Map is a tool used to visually organize information or ideas. As a writer, it can be used for solving writer’s block or creating a workable outline. Today I am going to show you how to create a character sketch.

Character sketches can be very basic or incredibly detailed. It can include eye and hair color or blood type and your heroes first kiss. Many writers go online and look for pre-made character sketches that include hundreds of questions that may not apply to your work. This is where the idea of a mind map comes in handy.

For those who are not familiar with the process, don’t worry creating a mind map is not complicated. It can be done on a piece of paper, a whiteboard or using software programs. It doesn’t have to be expensive. There are several FREE programs that will do an excellent job, including xmind.net, mindmaple.com, and freemind.sourceforge.net. Some of these programs have paid versions, but as a writer, the free versions will do everything you need.

To create a mind map on any subject there are 4 basic steps.

Step 1 – Start by writing a single concept in the middle of a blank page.

Step 2 – Add related ideas to this concept and use lines to connect them.

Step 3 – Branch off each of these ideas to expand and create new thoughts.

Step 4 – Use different colors, symbols, and images to make each branch unique.

To help visualize this process I will use one of my own characters as an example. Every character you create will be different, but if you use these points as a starting place, it will be much easier.

My starting point is always very specific. I use my character’s name and a photo of what I think he or she will look like. Why do I add a photo? Because as the saying goes, “a picture IS worth a thousand words.” Personally, I put the name and photo inside a red circle at the center of the page, like a bullseye.

I add new ideas to focus on around my character. Each idea is placed in its own circle and connected by a wavy line. Why a wavy line? Because straight lines are boring and analytical, I am trying to tap into the creative side of my brain. I will also use a different color for each circle and the line that connects it, for the same reason.

I focus on six main points with each character. These include Family, Friends, Work, Skills, Physical and Secrets. At this point, it might be hard to come up with a photograph for each category, but you can use symbols like a question mark for the section that says Secrets.

This is where the fun begins. Under each main point listed, I include 5 additional sub-ideas. For example, under Family, I would list Mother, Father, Siblings, Other and History. Each of these would also have their own circle, and I would color that circle the same as the primary idea Family.

I can already hear someone saying this won’t work for me, my character’s parents are dead, or my character is an orphan. So? This is only to spark ideas. If the mother is dead, this will remind you of that and be a memory for your character to ponder about. If she’s not, you can describe what he liked or disliked about her the most.

The same idea applies to Siblings, if he has them he can tell stories of when his brother did this, or his sister did that. If he never had one, did he ever wonder what it would be like to have a brother or sister?

You might wonder why I included the word Other. Whether your character’s parents are living or not at some point someone else had a major impact on his life. That could be a babysitter, a scout leader or a teacher. All of us are created by those we have interacted with.

History would include things like who was the black sheep of the family, are all the women in this family short, have there always been anger issues? These are the things the character himself may not even realize affect his (or her) way of thinking.

I could write an entire article on how your character’s family affects the way they act or think or believe. That’s kind of the point of a mind map, you can go as deep as you want. By keeping it simple, (one word at a time) it allows your mind to keep filling in the blanks. Don’t believe me? Just say the word Mother out loud and see what images and thoughts pop into your head.

Most of the categories I listed are obvious, but I do want to take a moment to talk about Secrets. Every person on the planet has them and if you think you can create a character without them, you are sadly mistaken. It could be as simple as they never learned to swim, or as dramatic as they killed their own sister. This is also a good place to include habits. For example, if you wrote Taps, it could remind you when he gets nervous he always taps his fingers. If you wrote the word Ring, you would know she twists her ring when upset. You don’t have to write the whole reason why she twists her ring just write the word to keep your imagination going.

Key points to remember:

1st point – Keep is simple. One word at a time. You are not writing the story you are capturing ideas to include in the story.

2nd point – Use color. Bright, vibrant colors stimulate the mind. The more stimulated the mind, the easier it is to be creative.

3rd point – Use curved lines to connect thoughts. Why? Because if you just use straight lines, the brain gets bored quickly.

4th point – Add images whenever possible. Why? Because if a picture is worth a thousand words, then 10 pictures are worth ten thousand words. By using a word AND an image you engage both sides of the brain without limiting your potential.

Once you start using mind mapping to write, ideas will flow one after another. It’s actually very hard to have writer’s block if ideas come so fast you can’t keep up. It may not solve all your writing problems, but it will make things easier.

 

First Time Going To Night Club

For every one of us, there might be a first time to enter a nightclub. Most people may have heard many stories, as well as seen the hype, and now they are ready to witness it directly.

However, before they go past the ropes, these are some tips to consider:

Q: What advice can be given to first time club goes to get inside faster and to take full advantage of their first experience at a nightclub?

A: The best thing to do is pay for a VIP table. In doing so, their first time experience will linger longer in their memory than an alcohol sticker shock. They should remember, though, to come early, bring their ID and have fun with every wow factor offered by the local venues.

Q: What additional pointers can other give them in terms of etiquette when standing in line outside the club and inside as well?

A: They should always be polite to have good relations with the staff. They should not request for anything that is not legal. Otherwise, they will be removed from the club.

Q: Will the saying “money talks” work in a nightclub? Will a tip offered to the staff or security help them get in faster?

Honestly, it will not let them go too far. For faster entry, getting table service is a more effective strategy. Or else, they should plan ahead to get themselves on the guest list.

Q: To get on the list, will it be best to speak with a promoter/club host first or talk directly to the club? How will this work?

A: Speaking with the club promoter/host is the best thing to do to make sure they will be taken care of. It will be easier to establish relationships, since hospitality is what motivates people. A promoter will get these first timers on the list and even help in getting their table set up. They will have a VIP host all through the night and to assist them the whole weekend.

Q: What should club goers expect during celebrity-hosted nights? Will they expect fans to be there for the red carpet? Do celebrities mix with the crowd?

A: During celebrity hosted nights, an ideal spot on the dance floor will let them fully view the night’s events. The red carpet can be too fast that it might be over without realizing what the flashes are all about. Many people say that celebrities seldom mix with the crowd, but some have seen it happen. Perhaps it really depends on their mood.

Q: What are the regulations when it comes to taking pictures/videos inside nightclubs?

A: GoPro’s and large camera equipment are usually not allowed. Anyway, smart phones, nowadays, are capable of taking good quality pictures to share on social media, and are acceptable at all venues.

Once you become a nightclub expert, you can now hit the venues in the right way. The above mentioned tips will let you have the best time ever.