As an artist, I was asked this question the
other morning. What role does artists have in society? In pondering the answer
to the question, I came back to my traditional viewpoint. Artist’s can make
statements on society and how we live without stepping on people’s toes. If a
person spouts out political or lifestyle viewpoints, they can cause a lot of
animosity and controversial behavior. It can really be “in your face.”
An artist can portray ideas and viewpoints
in a way that the observer stands back and looks at them and evaluates them in
a safe environment. They can look at different sides of the issue, in different
makes an artist role very significant in society. They can establish questions
and answers to societal roles and issues.
As an artist, I always try to make my
audience look at the world through the eyes of a child. I try to bring hope,
peace, joy, and understanding back to our lives in the form of simple values.
Values, whether time honored or progressive, brings stability and structure to
a life. That makes people feel secure.
As an artist, I feel I have a significant
role in society.
As an author of 2 novels and 15 children’s
books, I am often asked the question – What does success as an author mean to
you? It is certainly something I have thought long and hard about.
I do not believe that success means selling
a million books or writing the next “Great American Novel.” Rather I feel
success to me is in the process that took place in the writing. It was the
overcoming of the personal challenges of writing. The putting of thoughts on a
paper and trying to make them legible. The personal triumph of my 20th
edit and the challenge of it still not being right. The realization that I had
100 revisions planned by the time the 3rd edition was printed. The
constant striving to re-work the ideas.
My books are not anywhere near to being
perfect or correct but they represent to me challenges overcome.
define my success but these events. I may never be successful in anyone else’s
eyes, but in mine eyes I have found author’s success by doing the work.
As an artist, I tend to get into a rut with
my art. I go through times when I am excited to create and times when it is
hard. I know that is part of life, but it can be reality most of the time.
Keeping a normal workflow is hard for me. One thing that helps me keep on track
is providing challenges into my work. One way to do this is by entering art
contests. There are many contests offered by major brands, advertising
agencies, or art enthusiasts. Each contest has a set of criteria that must be
met. This offers challenge. I do not expect to win every contest and I
certainly do not do it for the money. I do it for the personal challenge. By
pushing myself into strange new situations, I advance my art.
If you are looking for new ways to improve
your current art attainment, try entering a couple of contests. You will be
Remember, do it for the personal benefit and nothing else. You will not be disappointed.
Diversity in life is the greatest thing
people have in common. Diverse lives mean diverse values. As a writer, if you want to relate to people
and get them personally involved with your writing, challenge their values.
Give your readers something to digest. I learned this principle with the first
book I wrote. It is the most appreciated book in the Lil Quacker Series written
for children. It is titled “Oldie Oldschool and the Chicks.” It is a comic
parody of values. Its characters have different values from old to modern,
conservative to liberal, men to women, and more. It looks at the crazy sides of
them all with Oldie Oldschool teaching the chicks. The fun side of using values
in your writing is looking at different viewpoints, lifestyles, and people. Situations
always change the accepted norms of the value. What is commonplace now, will
look absurd over time. By placing the value on unimportant things, a writer can
safely examine it. For example, in Oldie Oldschool and the Chicks, all values
were examined in the context of chickens becoming cowboys and cooks. It was a
safe environment to discuss conservative and liberal values. It made it
possible to laugh at both.
A writer who uses values as a writing tool
has a few decisions to make. The writer needs to decide what writing device
they will use with their values.
Promote a value.
Everyone has different
values. If a writer wants to entice different people to their beliefs, they
need to get behind the values they believe and promote them in their writing.
They need to stand on principal.
Oppose a value.
Sometimes a writer needs
to stand up and oppose what they don’t believe. If you want to make your
writing stand for something, people need to know where you stand.
Present opposing values. Show
your reader where values clash. By presenting both sides of an issue, a writer
can present conflict and move along their writing.
Be a distant observer. A writer
can take a distant view from the issues and show the values in a clear picture
from afar. People can see more clearly if they get the big picture.
Take a comic look at the
values. A writer can look at different values in their extremes. An
understanding of something can change when it is presented in its absurd
extremes. Sometime the truth just looks funny. Humor is the best remedy to look
at sensitive issues.
Once a writer decides the writing device to
use, they must decide the point of view to use.
Writer’s opinion. Is your
writing going to be an opinion piece? Are you taking ownership?
Story piece. Is the writer
going to use a story to show a casual view of the values.? Stories are very
Character values. Are the
characters in your story going to posses the values? Do they portray the
movement of the piece by their beliefs?
making these choices, a writer will be able to successfully use values as their
focal point for good writing.
As a writer yourself, you might be asking
why you would want to worry about values in your writing. I think the best
Relatability. A writer wants to
relate with his audience. A writer must present something that a reader can
relate with whether good or bad.
It brings up feelings that
the reader has or opposes.
Interesting. Everyone has
values. It is interesting to discuss what you believe. Most people have formed
strong opinions that they can explore. Readers will remain interested in what
you have to say.
Promotes writer’s conflict. The
best way to move an article or story along is with conflict. It moves a story
from one place to another, and from one level to another. Values naturally
brings conflicts into any conversation or written piece. Everyone has an
opinion and their opinion is right.
Provides an endless supply of
writing material. In a world of media and writing, the idea pools for a lot of
writing can be tough to tap. A writer does not just want to regurgitate the
same ideas. Values provides endless interesting writing material.
The bottom line is this – If you want to practice good writing – Use values as your focal point in your writing. It will produce marvelous results in your writing process.
It was always a dream of mine to write the
great American novel. A dream in which I am not alone. Many of us want to
captivate millions with a few dazzling words that move people.
One day I decided I would fulfill that
dream. I figured that in a day or two I would be at the top of the writing
That is when I quickly discovered that
writing is not a midnight miracle, but rather a long training for an Olympic
It is not by any sense of the word, quick
My first real long novel was The Pixie
Tales – The Gift. It was the first in a series in which I decided to write. It
was from this experience I learned that writing takes diligence.
In an Olympic event training, it takes
years of experience to develop your skill. Years of practice to use the skill,
and massive effort to complete the event. All that, just for a chance that you
might be noticed.
Writing is very similar. My first novel
taught me that if you do not prepare, work, rework, re-prepare, and apply hours
and effort, you will not have a chance to perhaps be noticed. What you do will
have to be intentional or reworked.
I soon learned that the writing process
looks something like this:
Pre-planning stage. Decide on a
topic, idea, genre, or subject to write on.
Outline the project. You must
get some idea where your going and how to get there.
Drafting stage. You just need
to put words on a page. You need something with which to work.
Rewriting stage. Writing is
rewriting. What you write rarely comes out perfect the first time.
Content Editing. You need to
get the plots, subplots, character development, and general structure right.
Grammar editing. If you don’t
communicate effectively, no one will want to wade through it.
Proof reading. It just doesn’t
always come out right the first few times.
Critiquing. You must critique
your work and let others critique it. It makes it stronger.
Rewriting. Writing is
Formatting. You need to format
the written word, and general layout.
Tweaking. You must fix the
little things and do the important things like the cover layout.
Publishing. A book needs to be
published if it is going to be a real book.
Marketing and advertising. You
have a book, but does anyone know about it? Marketing is just as important as
writing if you want your book to be read.
If your book is part of a series, you need to write the rest of the books.
More marketing and advertising.
This is not a midnight miracle. It takes
diligence and work. I learned that a writer needs to be disciplined. I
personally follow a simple plan.
I set aside time to work in my
I create a plan for each
project that sets aside time for each of the elements of the writing process.
I work the plan one element at
a time, in order so I do not get overwhelmed.
I pick myself up and dust
myself off every time I fall off the wagon. I start again where I left off.
Persistence and diligence win the game.
Why do it if it is difficult and hard? For
each writer it is different, but for me it is because of the dream. I just can
not walk away from my dream. I write because it helps me see the world and make
sense of it. If I explore different sides of an issue in my writing, it
clarifies it for me. If I explore values and opinions, character flaws and
lofty ideals, it somehow makes them real and brings them home to me in my life.
Writing gives understanding. It gives me the hope of seeing something clear
enough that I might write those words on a page that matter. I might say
something that is profound enough that someone will take notice. It is all
about the dream.
My first novel taught me a lot about writing and the Olympic training process it takes to write. If you have a desire to write the next great American novel, or just put a few words of the page, remember that the intentional writing process takes a lot of work and a lot of diligence.
Artists have always had to practice, experiment, test, and create. It can be intimidating to do it in public. A new canvas or a sheet of art paper can seem like a gigantic view into your world. It is hard to put it all on the line.
A personal art journal for journaling can be a safer and more reassuring approach. Something no one will see but you. A secure place to put down your thoughts and ideas without the world seeing.
If something works out, you can always recreate it for the world to see your genius. With secure peace of mind, you can confidently go about setting the world on fire with your art.
Remember, you do not have to do it all for everyone to see. The freedom of an art journal can make sure of that.
Creating art or admiring art has value that is far beyond the art itself. Some people call it by different names like art therapy or indulgent pleasure. I personally think that it should be called the hidden value of art. It is a well being tool that helps a person explore values and ideas that they might not be able to express or see in any other form. Exploring how you feel is important to such personal experiences as self-esteem, confidence, understanding feelings, exploring emotions, relieving stress, reducing anxiety, controlling depression or overcoming illness and disabilities. The hidden value of art includes many, many benefits. To be healed emotionally, physically, spiritually, or mentally is a miracle. Art can do it. For this hidden value art is of great importance in our lives.
Cherry Blossom and Teddy illustration by Kenneth Leon Roberts
A Personal View by an Artist.
Art appreciation is a term that requires
knowing the different attributes of various art processes, qualities, time
periods, styles and art techniques. It is an ability to appreciate the nuances
of various art pieces.
As an artist, I view art appreciation in a
little different light. I view it as a personal fondness of certain
characteristics that appeal to me or my audience.
One art piece can be marvelous to one
person and loathed by another. All as a matter of personal preference. To
appreciate it without liking it requires a informed appreciation of the
process. A true sense of art
Most art lovers, I feel do not go that far.
They have their likes and dislikes based solely on emotion and feelings. For that
reason, art appreciation in a broader sense is just personal preference.
As an artist, I always hope that someone
will appreciate my work just because it speaks to them. The truest meaning of
This illustration “Red Roses” by Kenneth Leon Roberts is a representation of the traditional red rose. Red roses are the symbol of love, and they are a classical way of saying, “You are someone special.” Nothing says, “I love you” better in the night than a bouquet picked just for you.