Crazy crazy tired this week thanks to a teething toddler (4 teeth coming in!) and some general insomnia. Not to mention I tend to grab “me time” by reading late at night which does not help (but is oh so enjoyable).
Thinking about signing up for the West Austin Studio Tour coming up this April and thought I’d post a virtual studio tour here today. Don’t mind the dramatic lighting, these were taken in the evening while trying to catch a few more minutes of work with my toddler.
My drafting table where I spend hours standing…
Lots of shelves- bottom ones are delegated to toddler toys 🙂
Anyone who knows my toddler (or the proverbial energetic toddler) knows why I need a sitter to actually focus on artwork… but I do try to keep a kid friendly space so she can join me sometimes. She loves to add her own art to the mix. here she is looking very inspired and covered in marker.
…And our faithful shepherd “guarding” the door (actually waiting for birds to land so she can chase them) :).
Hopefully my brain cells return next week along with some much needed sleep!
I finished up my last post a little abruptly last week, not desiring to linger too long on my melancholy state. But I wanted to wrap up the thought process a bit more eloquently by quoting a link my friend and talented jewelry designer (http://www.etsy.com/shop/delisadesigns) sent to me on the topic. It is a portion of an interview with Chuck Close- I’m quoting my favorite parts below, but you can find the entire link here:http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/12/27/chuck-close-on-creativity/
“Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will — through work — bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great ‘art ida.’ And the belief that process, in a sense, is liberating and that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. Today, you know what you’ll do, you could be doing what you were doing yesterday, and tomorrow you are gonna do what you did today, and at least for a certain period of time you can just work. If you hang in there, you will get somewhere.”…” for me, the most interesting thing is to back yourself into your own corner where no one else’s answers will fit. You will somehow have to come up with your own personal solutions to this problem that you have set for yourself because no one else’s answers are applicable.”
– Chuck Close
very well spoken. And in that mental space I focused back on work last week, because of course I’m not going to waste sitter time! Still working diligently on my large piece in progress, which was the perfect piece to just immerse myself in. It’s still very much in the thread by thread “planned” working stage… but, working methodically put me back into a creative space and this weekend I had some time to tackle four smaller pieces in progress. Since the sewing on these goes considerably faster, I get to the spontaneous stage after only weeks, not months of work. This phase is totally in the moment and about “handling” the work- I cut into, paint, drench, stuff… whatever feels like the right thing to do in the moment. I have ruined things this way, but more often than not something surprising and enjoyable happens. The only caveat is I must be in the kind of emotional space that gives me the freedom to allow ruin.
A little over a year ago, not long after my daughter was born, I was seized by a terrible fear of wasting time. Suddenly every moment I had (not filled meeting the needs of my family) that wasn’t used for art felt like a painful loss of time. I found myself deeply regretting the previous year and a half I spent more focused on other work besides my own art growth. Realizing now that I had so little time every moment builds on itself to something greater and much much bigger in the end.
Yesterday, as I handed my crying 18month old to the sitter and shifted into the studio I had to remind
myself of this feeling and vow. I instead was seized by a deep melancholy and questioning of my pursuit of art-making. Why am I so single-mindedly focused something that does not support our family (actually losing $- bc I pay for a sitter), takes me away from my children, and takes an enormous amount of my emotional energy? I think that my family hopes/assumes after a period of time there will be more $$ to be made. However, working towards that as an artist is no guarantee of anything. Of course I have goals/ideas about when I would like to show more, etc… but suddenly it all seems so hopeless.
I really don’t have a solid answer to this question for myself- though I believe the answer lies somewhere in the emotion I was so overwhelmed with last year. There is an intense need to resolve something within myself and communicate something I cannot communicate in any other fashion that fuels such a desire and drive.
I do shift sometimes and make crafty items for fun. Every time I do this someone makes a comment at how easily I could sell what I just made. If it was money, than of course this is what I would be doing (and just like I used to be an LMT as my “day-job”, I just might need to do this as well someday). Yet after I ponder this for a little bit, I always end up back in the studio working slowly on whatever abstract piece I am trying to resolve. I find myself once again jealously guarding my art-time lest it be taken over by any other endeavors.
There have been times where I have either chosen out of a sense of responsibility or been unable to make art. I remember these times so clearly as being haunted by a constant longing of something unfulfilled. Nothing could seem to cancel out this emotion.
Without continuing to ramble much further since this is an ongoing question- I did come to the conclusion for now that while I don’t have the answer to what it is I am trying to discover, the temporary answer lies in the process itself.
So, this isn’t exactly what is happening in the studio, but more around it- however, I do believe it all relates to what eventually happens during the art-making process. Since my little one was born, and really more recently than before, I find I have been slipping more and more often in to the lazy habit of escaping through pointless tv, a silly movie, or a book that takes pretty much none of my brains to read. Not that I have a terrible life to escape from- it’s more the tiredness that comes with having a toddler around the clock and a teenager who is recently trying out the MO of “maybe my Mom won’t find out”. I’ve got to keep on top of that kid these days. This coupled with the general tedium of domesticated life- cooking, dishes, laundry, errands… blah blah blah. Unfortunately, falling into this habit just dulls things further- contributing to what I believe is the general “dumbing-down” of society. Or at least me. Three things have recently brought this newly acquired bad habit to light.
1. An article recently sent to me from a friend from the huffington post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/blackberry/p.html?id=2507024
beautifully written and heartbreaking to read as a parent, it was still pure deliciousness to read itself. Reminded me of the pleasure of reading quality contemporary writing.
2. Working my way (again) through the Victorian era classics on my kindle app.
( I just delved into another classic work after spending the last 6 months on junk. I’m not talking about quality contemporary literature, I’m talking about pure junk- as I am quite embarrassed to admit. )
One of the things I notice again and again is characters spending their evenings in the study reading, studying and generally practicing the “expansion of the mind”. This practice was of course pretty exclusive to those of gentleman class and specifically the gentlemen themselves, but this still stands out for me over and over. Old and young, this was highly praised and encouraged- to be able to converse intellectually, have a sound education and be aware of what was happening in the world. Many people still practice this level of keeping up, but I do believe that society no longer encourages this as a whole, instead being very much wrapped around escapism and the act of “checking one’s brain”.
3. Another close friend and fellow artist (www.boxheart.org) posted today on his Facebook page a quote from Rilke and a quote from Paul Cezanne:
“I believe in the logical development of everything we see and feel through the study of nature and turn my attention to technical questions later; for technical questions are for us only the simple means of making the public feel what we feel ourselves and of making ourselves understood.”
Art History!, Art Criticism!, Learning from the writings of brilliant artists long gone! A few years ago I wrote a stellar paper about Cezanne- I think he is amazing. This served as a refreshing reminder to delve back into my library of art history and art writings.
At any rate, I don’t condemn the need to escape into silliness occasionally. But when it becomes a habit it slowly deadens the mind… which I think is an especially dangerous thing for any artist to play with.
My wonderful friend, author Robert Stikmanz, is celebrating a unique milestone of his life (3000 weeks birthday!!) in the most fantastic way- by bringing together a diverse community of visual artists, writers and musicians to celebrate with him. Visit http://www.confabule.com to look through the many talents he has brought together! Oh, and I’m in there too with my piece “Pathways #1” ;).
Overall I would say the show was a success! I was happy with the placement of my piece and the turnout was great. Didn’t talk to as many people as I would like- which is my fault- my shyness got the better of me in the crowd.
There is the toddler and me in front of my piece. Not my favorite picture, but the only one where the little was still for 2 seconds. She wanted to just run wild the whole time, so here is what my husband did over and over while I had a chance to look at the artwork and mingle a bit 🙂
I got lucky that since we didn’t get home until Friday afternoon, my sitter was able to move to Saturday. Meaning I still got studio time! Fresh from the trip and being re-inspired by looking at others’ work, I had plenty of new ideas to begin sketching and working through. “scream & lace” is being temporarily put aside- toddler ripped it while I was attempting to sew in the car, plus I’m not thrilled about how the small version is turning out. Sometimes the idea makes more sense in the intellect, not the heart- which for me translates to a work that does not move well from my head onto the paper. I believe it still contains a seed for an idea, just needs to marinate longer before becoming what it needs to be. This made room for some new ideas that felt more immediate and sincere to emerge. Working on those now and in the coming weeks.
I like to spend my time making vs “businessy” stuff, as I’m sure all artists can agree. So of course it drives me nuts when I have to use my precious few studio hours a week on somewhat art-related things that have nothing to do with making art. But sometimes the only time my brain has a chance to focus is when the toddler is with the sitter, hence using up studio time. Last week it was taking the car in to have the back door latch replaced so I could drive my piece to Houston (it had gotten so bad that the door would randomly swing open while driving. not good.). Yesterday I spent first hour finalizing our stay in Houston & making sure all the animals were taken care of, etc. Oh yeah, and sending some wallet sized images of my work to the printer as last minute business cards. I laugh at how unprepared I am for these things sometimes- I never think about it until the last minute and invariably my husband is sitting across the table from me with an exasperated look on his face saying “so you’re going to do all this today. for tomorrow”. I respond with “I know, I’m learning a business lesson here, for next time :).” But I never do, and the same items are last minute again. I should add that my husband never procrastinates, is great at business & amazing at thinking ahead of all the details and scenarios. If I could afford him, I would hire him! As it is, he spends those talents keeping us fed and taken care of.
Back to the business cards though. When I dropped off my piece Saturday I met a lovely artist named Claire Cusack who promptly handed me her business card, asked if I had one and if I had a gallery that represented me. Ummmmm, no. and no. honestly I haven’t even thought about it, I’ve just been so happy to have a few hours to work every week. And make art because I love it and it keeps me sane. Not that I wouldn’t mind though, I just am not there, I guess. Obviously I’ve thought enough to make a website and a blog, plus apply for occasional shows, but I’m thinking these are the types of things that take one from the “emerging” status to “established”. Either way I suddenly felt terribly underqualified.
On the bright side, it was great practice for the opening tonight so that when the same scenario occurs I don’t mutter something unintelligible and awkward, as I have been known to do. My husband is also a great salesperson and cringes when he hears me talk of my work. Yes, opposites definitely attract. But I will have lovely wallet sized cards of my work with my website handwritten on the back. classy! (Actually, they don’t look bad at all!)
Fortunately that only took up the first hour of studio time yesterday and I spend the remaining 3 hours prepping three smaller pieces for work. The first 2 (1 is pictured in progress above) are part of a small new series called (working title here…) “screams and lace”. The third (below) is another version of “float”- the other of which is in the Recent Work section of my site. Now that part of my studio time was heavenly.
And now we are officially on our way to Houston. I’m loaded with books and movies on the iPad to hopefully keep miss toddler busy and my sanity intact :).
Oh, and my little is exactly 18months today! that’s got to mean good luck for tonight, right?
Well, the drive to Houston to drop off my work actually went well! An that was quite surprising, given that I had a real shit week. I mean pretty much everything that could go wrong did… to the point that it almost became funny. almost. Also given that I took both my toddler and teen with me since my husband was still in India.
I was having some anxiety on the way down considering I applied for the show through a site and really didn’t know anything about it. It is hosted by the Assistance League of Houston, which appears to be a well-run philanthropic organization in Houston. However that tells me nothing of the show. I’m sure anyone who happens on this blog has been to some terrible art shows. I certainly have and was terribly afraid that this might be one. I was so happy to be wrong! It is an a lovely space and more importantly when I arrived much of the art had already been dropped off- all of it was good and some was great. I went from feeling anxious to feeling very honored to have been chosen for the show.
Now if course I have moved on to other anxiety, like what if my piece falls & the glass on the frame breaks, or much more likely, what if they place my piece in a terrible location in the show. I’ll find out next week at the opening.
Spent some time tiring out the toddler so she’d sleep all the way home 🙂
I actually really love the first few weeks after Holidays are over. Things are quiet and generally undemanding, and I find that feeling of getting reorganized and “back to business” very satisfying.
However, since I was out of town for most of the holidays things were a little crazy this week & included a good “lesson learned” moment in the studio. I am happy to say that my piece, “Impending” is included in the Texas Art 2013 show opening in Houston next week! Which means I needed to get it to the gallery this week. Unfortunately, I didn’t get back into town until this past weekend and wasn’t able to pick it up from the framers until Tues. So of course it was extremely painful when the shipping costs were calculated, & UPS said because of the size that even with paying they couldn’t guarantee that it would get there by Friday. Another shipper could, but it would cost me $300 each way, yikes!! So let’s just say I am throwing the kids in the car early Saturday morning to drive 3hrs each way to hand deliver the piece. It could be worse, at least I can drive there. Here is my piece all wrapped up- more than able to make the drive unharmed 🙂
So, I learned a) to arrange to ship pieces the week before, and b) to get a shipping quote & adjust prices accordingly before the art show catalogue goes to print. Otherwise, 100% of the price gets eaten by framing, shipping and gallery commission costs. $0 for hours and hours spent creating.
Beyond that, I am still working away at my 32″ x 32″ piece. Did I say it would be finished by February? Haha! I really meant June. Here is another portion :):
It’s been a busy holiday season, but for the first time in forever I was actually organized- thanks to the “notes” lists I made on my phone starting in July!
Here’s what I’ve been up to:
Little handmade holiday gifts
Taught myself how to make stuffed animals for the little
prepping lots of paper for future pieces
Along with slowly working on the 36″ x 32″ piece that will hopefully be finished in the next 6 months, finally had an inspiration for another medium sized piece that had been sitting
and finally… a long holiday vacation to visit my family, complete with snow!
now ready to focus again and get back to uninterrupted work… happy January!