Arts Awareness Monthly E-Newsletter | July 2014

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Welcome to the July 2014 edition of Arts Awareness E-Newsletter delivered to your desktop each month. If you know someone who may be interested in receiving this newsletter, please let them know how to sign up through


This quote by Nobel Prize winning author André Paul Guillaume Gide was particularly relevant last weekend as the country celebrated more than two hundred years of independence. The American colonial resistance to British rule led to the creation of the Declaration of Independence, bringing forth the changes and paving the way for the country to move forward in a way that was more aligned with the hearts and minds of the colonists. It was the resistance—breaking through the tensions—that created the momentum and the creative freedom they were seeking. Artists use a similar process every day as they create their work. They use artistic tension—cultivating and creating resistance in a sense—in order to achieve motion, feeling, and meaning in their expressions. Each work of art is yet another opportunity to explore the world from a new perspective that comes both from the innermost aspects of the artist as well as the interaction of the materials and elements themselves.
Tension is a natural part of our everyday lives. We find it everywhere. The word tension gives us a general sense that it’s bad and something we don’t want, but it can actually be a positive force in our lives if used to create momentum. While we generally try to keep tension to a minimum, it’s necessary to move things forward. Just as we soon lose attraction to works of art that have no sense of building and releasing tension, we lose our sense of anticipation and potential energy without it in our lives.

The resistance will help you find the thing you most need to do because it is the thing the resistance most wants to stop.
~ Seth Godin

Even though we don’t all see tension in the same way, it’s truly what makes things interesting and moves us forward to accomplish more. Finding the right balance is the key—between using the tension to create momentum and staying too long within it creating limitation and weariness.

  • Artists use their imaginations to experiment with breaking points—how strictly they stick to the rules, how resourceful they can be with their vision, and how far they can stretch their ideas—finding the extremes from where things don’t move to the opposite where they fall apart.
  • By exploring contrasts of their art form—dark/light, dissonance/consonance, rough/smooth, loud/soft, angular/horizontal or vertical, long/short, large/small, symmetrical/asymmetrical—artists have infinite possibilities from which to create their visions.
  • Artists can use tension by knowing how to break the rules—getting away from complete order—creating tension from the sense of uneasiness that causes.
How wonderful that we have met with a paradox.
Now we have hope of making some progress.

~ Niels Bohr

Tensions are a natural part of life. The dynamic tension that comes from the contradictory aspects extremes of tension and ease is exactly what gives birth to change and ever-evolving dreams, beliefs, and insights. In fact, the artist knows that the end result without the back-and-forth dance of this powerful pairing is indecision, lack of progress, and inflexibility. The goal is to live these tensions creatively, not getting stuck in one end of the spectrum or the other.

Work like an artist to create your life. Dance in the rain; finger paint with spilled milk; plan a staycation when you have no money. Create motion, feeling, and meaning in your own personal expressions. Create your own personal Independence Day celebration with or without the 1812 Overture and celebrate each opportunity to explore the world from a new perspective.

Interesting—Check it out:

Tension on the Line: the secret to hooking readers (Writing Lessons from the Front) by novelist Angela Hunt explores the ways a writer can create momentum with the right amount of tension to maintain the interest of the reader

Julie Taymor: Spider-Man, The Lion King and life on the creative edge. This video filmed at an official TED conference features Julie Taymor, director of productions such as Frida, The Tempest, and The Lion King, who candidly describes the tensions inherent within her creative process.

These eight short blog posts by Gary Ewer from Songwriting News and Articles from the Essential Secrets of Songwriting Website explore the importance musical tension/resolution in all components of a song to entice an audience to keep listening

Using Creative Tension to Move Forward. This blog posted by Blair Peterson on the LeaderTalk website presents the tension of a gap between a vision and reality in moving schools into the future. LeaderTalk is a group blog written by school leaders for school leaders.

Tension is ... a prerequisite for creative living.
~ Agnes E. Meyer
Contact Dr. Patricia Hoy for media appearances, to book her to speak at your event, or to engage her workshop or consulting services—

Guest Speaking—Corporate, Education, or Arts Events—that provides motivation for launching the beginning a project, keynote theme inspiration, or setting the foundation for a goal to be achieved.

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About the Arts Awareness Newsletter:

This newsletter is meant to spark ideas and develop a deeper understanding of artistic processes and their use in leadership, everyday life, and work. Content, which comes from personal experiences and a variety of sources, is based on the Arts Awareness concepts developed by Patricia Hoy. Questions? Comments? Contact Patricia at or 901-229-1955, Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA.
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