a little space

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(sorry for those who received an incomplete version of this earlier- i thought I’d finish in time but got busy and didn’t before it published)

Wow, I am about 3 weeks behind with blogging with now. Amazing how easily distractions can happen and next thing you know, lots of time has flown by.

Before I get to my regular post, I am very excited to share that my piece “a cold wind is blowing” won and honorable mention in the Providence show!

Beyond that, things have been extremely quiet in the studio…which has been lovely. There seem to be be no shows to apply for that match my work, which means that all I am doing is simply focusing on the work at hand. While applying for shows this fall and winter was fun, it’s really nice to just work on actual pieces again with no agenda around them. Which brings me to my recent thoughts while working…

Generally, my process is work work work, and once I have enough work to put up- then apply for a few shows and go back to work. I like to forget about those shows until I receive a yay/nay email, which keeps me from obsessing about them. Every now and then though, there is a show that I know is coming up and it’s happening at the same time I am almost but not quite finished with a piece or two. At least for me, this has never been a good thing, and I learn the same lesson over and over again. Which is NEVER rush a piece to be finished!

There recently was one show that I just couldn’t ignore. Because I had applied twice a few years ago and not gotten in- I get both emails & postcards telling me to apply for the upcoming show. And of course since I didn’t get in before- well, it’s like responding to a challenge! Anyway I had work that I quickly finished up so I could make the deadline without giving any of the pieces the all-important “waiting period” of one-four weeks of just looking them periodically & reassessing. Once again I didn’t get in- and up the pieces went onto the “waiting wall”. Sure enough, within a week two of the three were undergoing major changes because they weren’t even close to finished at all. This happens about 90% of the time… so this time- lesson learned! I will not rush to finish anything for a show that I don’t even know if I’m in. I need to write that 100 times.

Now that that’s over I am finally getting close to finishing my big piece I’ve been working on since October as well as a newer piece I’ve begun. As I said earlier, the quiet space to just work on them and think is just lovely.

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Happy surprises

We’ve been the sick house for the last week & a half- It started with the toddler coming down with a fever and while she’s happy & better now, I’m flopped in bed with a nasty cold. Haven’t worked on any art in over a week, so sad! I plan on dragging myself back in there tomorrow no matter what. (well, as long as the kids are healthy)

We had a long night in the ER with our toddler Thursday night & Friday found us all exhausted and my husband & I getting sick ourselves. BUT I had two bright & shiny spots arrive in my inbox on Friday!! small excepts of each message below 🙂

“Hello Jane,
Our administrative has informed me of your email stating you are unable to pick up “Impending”.
I apologize, but you should have been notified that it sold.”

Fortunately I emailed to say that I would not be able to make the drive to Houston on Saturday due to illness. That’s when I received both a phone message & the above email! I think it will seem real when the check arrives in the mail. For the moment I am just so so so glad I don’t need to pack up my toddler again & make the 6hr round trip to Houston. Huge sigh of relief.

The second email was:

“Congratulations Artist,

Your work had been selected for exhibition in the Providence Art Club All Media Juried Exhibition.
From almost 500 submissions, only 54 artists were chosen by exhibition juror Kristen Carbone.”

So excited to be included in another show! Made sure to drag my butt out of bed to drop off “a cold wind is blowing…” at the shop for framing. Have to get it to the gallery in Rhode Island by next week- quick turnaround!

why sewing?

Day three of being home with a sick toddler- I’ve read a million little books and watched about every cute kids movie under the sun- including The Wizard of Oz, which I am watching right now while typing this blog post.

One the questions I remember most about interacting with graduate students while working towards my degree was “why painting/video/drawing/sculpture(etc…)?” With an enormous range of materials at our fingertips- how does the medium we choose serve the work we are making? While sewing for me was a natural progression from craft into art with a new baby, the longer I work in this medium, the more I ponder this question. I have been jotting down little notes as I’ve been thinking and here is what I have thought so far that feels “right” about working in the way I have been:

“Sewing feels like an integral part of my work- part of it is the “feel” of the thread, the texture it brings to a line and how the paper changes as I sew into it. But is is also about the concept of sewing. Sewing gives me the language to connect with, embrace & re-verbalize domesticity in a non-satirical way. It is intimately about the role that I’m currently immersed in at this point in my life. It is a way to connect with the women in my family history… & billions of women over the course of human history”.

That’s it in a nutshell. Though I think this will be a three part series briefly elaborating on each aspect of the above statement- When I’m not multitasking with a sick little. (I’ll be completely honest- after 2 weeks of teething hell & now three homebound days of whiney/clingy sick toddler while watching mostly Disney/Pixar movies… I kind of want to stab my eyeballs. Not the best mental state for long posts. :))

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virtual studio tour

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…

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Lots of shelves- bottom ones are delegated to toddler toys 🙂

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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.

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…And our faithful shepherd “guarding” the door (actually waiting for birds to land so she can chase them) :).

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Hopefully my brain cells return next week along with some much needed sleep!

some well spoken words about process

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.

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Two new “possible” pieces drying

more thoughts

20130131-202551.jpgHard to not feel better when dancing with a toddler in puffballs 🙂

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.

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Expanding the mind

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.