31 Nights and San Diego Convention Center. Interview with American artist Michael Bell in his weekly section MBELLART on Yareah magazine. Interview by Isabel del Rio
I.R.- Hi Michael. How are you? How about your 31 Nights Presentation at the San Diego Convention Center? A positive experience?
M.B.- 31 NIGHTS is a creation of mine that literally is the KEY to unlocking your creative process. It’s also a truly innovative way to measure your own growth as an artist over the course of thirty-one nights. Here’s a video clip with some examples from my workshop:
M.B.- As for San Diego, Isabel, it was also absolutely amazingl! Motivational and each of my presentations were JAM PACKED, which I love!! There’s nothing like presenting to a packed house. It raises my energy level and helps me to deliver exactly what they all came for – inspiration – and helping others find their own key to unlocking their creative art-making process gives me all the juice I need to keep doing what I do. Since the convention I’ve received offers to present my 31 Nights Workshop in Utah, New York and Los Angeles, while also doing some keynote addresses to artists and arts educators at the Secondary and College levels.
I’ve created 5 different levels of 31 Nights. Here is a page of mine from Level 1 (on left), and a page from Level 5 (on right). Look at my own growth over time!
M.B.- Level 1, The Portal is what I urge everyone to try first. Its 31 Nights in self-portraiture, as observational drawings or as photographs, all based on 31 inspiring prompts as titles for you, the artist, to connect with on a personal level and re-interpret however you want. From there you can head to any of the next five levels which explore progressions, secrets, darker sides of life and the artist’s private world. Over the course of thirty-one nights you will see epic growth in your technical and conceptual abilities.
I.R.- Can you tell us some quotes that they said to describe 31 Nights?
M.B.- Sure, and I will say this, there’s truly nothing like it when people come up to you afterwards to tell you “I wasn’t sure if it was worth the thousand plus dollars I spent flying all the way out to attend this National Art Education Association Convention this year, but after seeing your 31 Nights presentation it was worth every penny.”
I.R.- One of your panel discussions at San Diego was “The Power of the Prompt.” Briefly, what is that power?
M.B.- “The Power of the Prompt” is a powerful teaching tool that guides art-making and learning. It’s the power an inspirational prompt can have that directly contributes to why we create what we create, why we do what we do. It’s about the process vs. the product and builds our capacity for creative thinking and personal confidence. Inspiring prompts can also help artists find their own “voice” by conceptually finding ways to connect with a prompt in very personal ways in order to “draw a line from your life to your art that is straight and clear”, which I’ve always said is the most important job of any artist. The power of the prompt can be explored through prompt based sketchbooks as visual journals, prompt based curriculum at schools, skill and technique prompts and by creating personal work that is based on heartfelt, real-world causes as “the prompt.”
Some of the real world causes myself and my artist colleagues have connected with through “problems as prompts” include: “Walk a Mile in my Shoes” – Creating handmade sketchbooks annually for the women and children of the Los Angeles Good Shepherd Domestic Violence Shelter; “The Empathy Project,” which was sparked by the Amanda Todd portrait I created for Carol Todd, mother of the Port Coquitlam, B.C. teen who committed suicide after years of bullying and being cyber-stalked; 30 works for Human Rights in collaboration with artist friend Eric Fischl for his AMERICA: NOW AND HERE Project; Celebrity Portraits for Safe Passage and for Bright Steps Forward; ManneqArt; Haiti Houses; Memory Project; Relay for Life; Croy’s Cause; Havenly Blue Foundation…the list goes on and on. There’s definitely power in the prompt. It all began with my creation of 31 Nights. Look for a book on my 31 Nights creation coming soon Isabel.
Anyone that wants to purchase a 31 Nights Presentation CD can do so online at: http://www.mbellart.com/naea2014.html
Anyone interested in booking me to do a 31 Nights Workshop near you e-mail my studio at email@example.com
I.R.- Enjoy your week, Michael.
M.B.- Great to be back Isabel. Enjoy your week and my best to you and Martin.