Friday, December 18, 2009

CONTRAST: Exploring vs Accomplishing Stuff

Three things recently got me thinking about the contrast between exploring and getting things done, and how we need both:

1. A conversation with a designer who said they thought the difference between art and design is that the artist creates from their life and passions while the designer tries to get out of the way. (Way oversimplified, but it hints at this contrast).

2. Several introverts in my life have told me (or exhibited in action) that when they don't get time alone they become frustrated, judgmental and see things in blaringly negative ways.

3. I recently picked up part time work installing audio and video systems, and I've liked it because we get things done (as opposed to my other work which is with people in which I see progress but rarely see finished products).

People are different and need different amounts of exploration and accomplishment. Artistic pursuits require more exploration, as do startups, and certain types of research and programming. Even then, however, a back-and-forth rhythm and a level of tension between exploration and getting things done is necessary and good. Spend too much time in either place and you get stuck or withered, strained and stretched or arrogant and lazy.

In some ways I think I've hit the rhythm best in my songwriting. I spend a fair amount of time exploring as well as time editing. And even when it comes to accomplishing things (for instance getting a song finished like the one I was recently commissioned to write) there is still some exploration involved. I've found the end result is better when there's a little exploration allowed even in the accomplishing phase (and some clear boundaries and goals put around the exploration phase).

This post was pretty exploratory, maybe I'll come back to the theme and accomplish a succinct, applicable model for this exploration-productivity contrast with some suggestions for tracking and implementing healthy rhythms in this area in your life.

Or maybe it was just a landscape I passed through quickly on the way to the one I'll be exploring in more depth...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mountains and Cold: Traveling Towards and Through

Christa and I are leaving Texas headed towards Virginia in our little black escort with 256k miles on it. The sky is wavy gray, pressing downwards on a highway full of semis, Dodge Rams and tire shards. It's cold. It's good to be driving. I miss the road a little. Tried out a couple new songs this weekend and the Texans liked them.

I just got the test copies of the JRL Farewell Concert CD back. I like them and I'm ready to ship them out, so if you want one to give away or keep, you can get it on the store page of the website.

We made 25 copies of the collectors' edition, (18 available) which will go to whoever orders them first, so if you want one, act soon. The collector's edition includes signed copies of the 8 pieces of art created for the project (one piece of art for each song).

Thinking about Christmas: Hope we can really celebrate what needs celebrating this year and also care for the people for whom this time of year is really hard. In a lot of ways the JRL project was about paying attention to hard situations and disconnected people, and hoping, praying and singing for hope and change. Maybe some of that original vision will come through with the Farewell Concert recording and will get to people who need it.

A Christmas song on itunes and amazon

I've got two singles on itunes that you might not have heard elsewhere. One is a Christmas song that I wrote for a compilation last year. It's kind of sad, and called Christmas Card.

The other is called "West High Street." It's the newest recorded song I've got available (except for what is available to CSM members).

This link should take you to these songs if you use itunes. You can also search for Jonathan Reuel and the song titles on amazon and download the songs from there.

Jonathan Reuel - West High Street

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Just to Be Loved art

Here's a collage I made starting with an old photo of Christa as a kid with her dad. Her art started early. I like it because there are hints or seeds in that picture of who she would become and some of the themes of the song.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Art for Better Days

This illustration/collage was created by Megan Garver for the song "Better Days" as part of the JRL Farewell Concert recording project.

It's great because the concert itself was a massive collaboration with around 20 musicians, artists, helpers, etc, so it makes sense that the recording has artists collaborating on it. Plus it's been a really fun way to work towards bringing music and art together, which is a longtime dream of mine which was recently reawakened.