As the thanksgiving holiday winds down, and I reflect on all of the things that I am grateful for, it is plain to me that my artistic community is high on the list this year. What a wonderful cast of characters you all are! And I can’t deny that this (neglected, ahem…) blog of mine has been an instrumental part of building that community. So, thank you, thank you!
Above: I’ve completely hijacked the table in the house, filling it with cuttings from the fields… Slowly, with paper and pencil, becoming drawings for future paintings. Another thing I am grateful for: tolerant family!
Meet my new best friend in the studio. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get on board with a torch. I’ve procrastinated about it for months, and didn’t realize that underneath that procrastination was fear. Until I was in Carmel for the IEA retreat in October, and was faced with a bevy of torches, waiting to be tried. It was the last morning, and a wonderful demonstration had been given by Pamela Blum. We were invited down on the floor to try out some of the techniques she had demonstrated, and I found myself hesitating around the torches. I hadn’t even realized I was afraid of them until that moment. Linda Womack saw me, and must have sensed my trepidation; she rescued me with a two minute lesson that has cured me of my torch phobia!
I went out as soon as I could and purchased a basic torch, with a few necessary frills: an adjustable nozzle, and an automatic ignition trigger. It’s a Bernzomatic propane torch from Home Depot, and it cost about 35 dollars.
I don’t know how I got along without this thing before! It works so well for every application, that I haven’t pulled out my heat gun a single time. It is much more gentle than the heat gun, and doesn’t move the wax around nearly as much. I can even fuse lightly while a large piece is upright on my easel. I think it produces a glossier surface than my heat gun did, too.
And the best thing about it is- its fast.
Well, maybe the best thing about it is that I haven’t lit my hair on fire yet. So far, so good.
In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine receives light without darkening me.” An idea is not diminished when more people use it.
(from creative commons website)
I love the quote above. Such a good reminder. In this time that we live in, when there seems to be a mad rush to define everything as private or corporate property, it can seem a little odd, or risky even, to just….. well, give things away. And I’m only human. What if someone “steals” an idea from this website and uses it for their own work? I can get carried away by that worry, from time to time. I’ve also talked to other artists who fear something being taken from them when they post their images or techniques online. But that in itself implies that we all “get” our ideas and “produce” our images in a vacuum. The fact is, we are all, every day, influenced by ideas and images out there. We can’t help it.
Notice I put the words “steals”, “get” and “produce” in quotes- these are all concepts of ownership. And it really begs the question: are we the static “owners” of our ideas, or are we only the temporary guardians of our ideas before the go out into the world in their viral fashion, and produce more ideas?
I am reminded of something that my favorite drawing teacher once told us- that we each have our own mark, our own hand. For better or worse, I could try and try to make a mark like you, but it would always still look like my mark. It would look like me trying to make a mark like you, but me still being me, it would most definitely be my mark.
An important and intriguing thing to think about: how do we walk that line between individual protections, and protecting the open sharing ideas, which fuels all creativity?
Sometimes, you have to almost kill something to make it work right.
I had that thought last week, staring at my oregano. Meet my oregano:
Last year, I planted this in my garden. It did well, growing tall and blossoming late in summer. By fall, it started to turn brown and sickly looking. With my kitchen scissors, I trimmed it back, hoping this would be enough. And still, it continued to get worse. So I took a deep breath and cut it all the way back to the ground. Not being a very experienced gardener, this always scares me when I do it. Sometimes the plants love it, and sometimes they just die. All winter it seemed as though the oregano was dead.
But spring arrived, and it came back about eight times bigger than it was before my hack job. I’ve just been amazed, and as I stood the other day looking at it after clearing the weeds away, it occurred to me that one of my paintings was in a similar state of need.
I’d put hours and hours into this painting, and it just wasn’t working. It bothered me every time I looked at it, and every time I looked, I found something else I didn’t like. This painting was sitting in my studio, daring me to do something about it. And I’m a pretty experienced painter, but it always scares me to risk destroying something to try and make it work.
I reminded myself that I had nothing to lose , because, though I loved parts of it, I didn’t love it as a whole…
Here it is, with it’s new layers obscuring the parts that bothered me, and ready for new imagery to be put on.
I like it better already.
This stop action video made my morning. So creative.
After many hours in front of this here computer, I am now deliriously tired and sporting a cracking headache. Not only that, but after wrangling with my art,business, and image files, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is all a mess. To put it nicely.
But there is hope. I am currently reading two books: “Taking The Leap” by Cay Lang, and “I’d Rather Be in the Studio!” by Alyson Stanfield (who writes the art biz blog, over there in the sidebar). They have very similar information, but are written in different styles. I think they compliment one another rather well, so I’ve been hopping from one to the other, and comparing advice. They have good information about setting goals, getting organized, approaching different markets, and prioritizing. Exactly what I am needing.
The result of my hours on the computer is that I’ve managed to track down, extract, and format images of paintings I have here in my studio. I’ve updated my Artspan page to reflect artwork I currently have for viewing and sale: nests and encaustic paintings. Just click on the Artspan link in the sidebar under “My Artwork”.
Now, if I could just get the rest of those files organized…..
I just want to quickly draw attention to the new links in my side bar. One of my goals for this year is to become more savvy about the business side of being an artist. I’ve resisted for years, and still have a tendency to think of the art world as mysterious and inpenetrable. But I am at a juncture in my career where I just need to learn this stuff and take care of business. Literally. So I’ve added a few links here, and there will be more to come.
I do love the idea of the new year, and though I’m not much for “New Year’s resolutions”, I do find it an excellent time to take stock, looking both back and forward. This past year has brought me so much to be grateful for, it’s difficult to quantify. Some of it is material: A new studio steps from my back door, amazing local food grown by our hardworking farmers, a new kitty, a trip to Thailand, artwork sales. Other things, less concrete, but perhaps more valuable: my priceless relationships with family and friends, many moments of creative inspiration and productivity, laughter and health, experiences had and lessons learned. Looking forward, I can carry all of this into the new year. Instead of the new year feeling like a time to “start over”, I feel like it is a time to build on the previous year. Even the so-called mistakes have their hidden value, if I reflect on them in a positive way. The past few months have been tumultuous for many of us- politically, or economically, or personally. The new year is a great time to glean the goodness of 2008, and carry it forward!
May your paths be lit by the light of inspiration in 2009!