During my holiday break, I have been deeply engaged in creative play.
One inspiration was a friend of mine, who, as we were discussing ideas for creating work for a spring exhibition, she told me that my idea sounded “safe.”
My initial reaction was to immediately reject her words, but I also realized that she was right. I tend to fall back on a particular subject matter because I’m comfortable with it and can predict the successful results of creating that subject matter. (Although sometimes it is hard to know whether it is comfort or a calling that leads me there.)
So, to get me out of the comfort zone, I’m playing with ideas that are not necessarily connected to what I traditionally do. I’ve chosen to play with materials and techniques (pictured is a watercolor piece on card stock) that are unfamiliar to me.
So far it has been exciting and my mind is racing with possibility.
I’m working on some ideas for creating my next art class. I did this face using a Sharpie marker and colored pencils. It’s not perfect, which is OK because I’m trying to get over striving for perfection. Instead I’m focusing on the process and learning.
What are you working on today? Leave a comment and share a link. I’d love to see.
I’m looking forward to this new year. I’ve set my business and creative goals so I’ve got a clear vision of where I’m headed. I’m already off to a good start with some new paintings that I’ve been working on during my winter break.
One of my goals as an artist is to create work to enter into juried art exhibitions. This is not so much about getting into a lot of shows. It’s more about facing the possibility of rejection (which happens a lot as an artist) and not caring about that. I’m treating the themes of the shows as homework to guide my creative process.
An upcoming show has “heritage” as its theme, so I’ve enjoyed thinking about what that means to me and how to visually present the idea. Sometimes it helps to have a prompt when facing that blank canvas.
I’m taking my time, focusing on the process, and letting the work sit until it tells me where it wants to go. Hopefully, the process will take me in new directions this year, away from the safety of what I’m comfortable with as an artist.
What are your creative goals for the new year?
(The painting here is a detail of a mixed media work on a gallery-framed panel. It is just a start.)
I love taking bits and pieces of things–paper, wood, anything–and putting them together in different ways. My late grandmother was an expert at this, whether it was putting together a meal, a quilt or a decorative wall covered in magazine pages.
My collage work stems from my earliest memories of that on some unconscious level. And, these recently created fashion brooches–created from bits and pieces of wood and sometimes mixed with other items–do, too. I’m honored to have some of them selected for sale in the Attleboro Museum of Art’s gift shop.
Happy New Year! Happy new opportunity to create and to tap into the gifts that we have all been given–be it the gift to create art, to dance, to make someone smile, to love.
Coming to the end of a nice winter break, I finally, finally dragged/pushed myself into the studio to try to get done the work I had promised myself that I would be doing every single day of winter break because I would finally have the “time.”
Well, so funny, this “time” business. I seem to have much more of it than I fool myself into thinking that I don’t have. During break I had plenty of time to watch the “Twilight Zone” marathon; plenty of time to watch back-to-back episodes of “Will & Grace” and “Roseanne” reruns; plenty of time to eat too many portions of the potato salad I will spend the rest of winter working off; but strangely, the “time” to get into the studio was not made.
Procrastination is a bitch. Luckily, I did make time enough to read a great book that showed me this very clearly: The War of Art. I highly recommend this book to any artist. The main point of the book is that we allow so much resistance (in many forms) to stop us from creating and using the talents that we have been given.
The best way to stop it is to just show up and do the work. So, today, that’s what I did. I just showed up at the crafting table, got out a piece of paper, poured some paint on it, and started swirling the paint around. It took great effort to fight off the resistance, the voice saying, “What the hell is this you are painting? It looks like crap!” But I did it. I just worked. No judgement. Just brushes and fingers, painting to the quiet music of the wind blown snow. The result is what you see here above, “Transcending.”
A new year. A new day of just showing up to do the work and letting what happens happen. And then tomorrow.
It has been too long since I’ve checked in here on my blog. I have been busy with several craft fairs–’tis the season. Now I’m trying to get back into spending more time in the studio and sharing what I’m working on.
This weekend, I had the challenge of trying to make a tree topper for a Christmas tree at the place where I co-facilitate an art workshop. The clients there have painted wooden ornaments of various shapes for the tree, so I tried to design something that would go along with that theme.
This is my version of a star, made with Popsicle sticks, a Styrofoam circle, blank CD and plastic jewels. I didn’t finish it on purpose, so that the clients can add their own hand decorated Popsicle sticks to this. It was fun to try to do this from scratch. Not bad for my first tree topper. It will be interesting to see if they like the concept. Either way, it was great creative exercise.
It was filled with art-brainstorming and art making. On Saturday, my art buddy and I went into Boston to a salvage store that has great items and inspiration for art projects. I’m blessed to have a friend who gets just as excited as I do imagining what we can do with the most mundane objects. No scrape of cloth, paper or metal is safe from our imaginations.
I spent today in the studio whipping through ideas for art projects. I’ve been given the opportunity to facilitate art workshops–for the first time ever. This is all new to me and came out of the blue, but it feels like I’ve been waiting for exactly this for a long time. I have always wanted the opportunity to do something truly meaningful with art.
I don’t have it all worked out yet, but I’m leaping and trusting that just the right ideas will come to me. I’m trying to design workshops for adults who don’t consider themselves “artist” (of course, we are all artists, aren’t we, in one way or another?). The projects need to be crafty, easy to do but not childish, interesting to both men and women.
These are challenging guidelines, but I feel so alive just thinking about all of this. I love the rush of trying out these new projects! Can’t wait to share them with others.
I’m open to ideas. Please feel free to share anytime. And I’d be happy to share how I did the projects you see here. Speaking of sharing, a big thank you to a fellow artist who donated her fabric scraps to me. I used them to create the flowers on mat board that you see here. Thanks, Molly. She’s a very talented fabric artist. Check out her blog.
There’s an old saying that goes something like, “If you want to make God laugh, make plans.” I have to admit that I never really liked that saying. I think God is a lot nicer than that and more accommodating of our dreams. But, that’s another story.
The saying came to mind this weekend as I worked on a new mixed media painting that I had definite plans for. I knew exactly where I wanted it to go, spent all morning Saturday trying to drive it there. However, it laughed at me and went its own direction. So, I just had to follow along.
Here is where things are right now. I don’t know if this is where things will be next weekend when I revisit this “unplanned” painting. The repeated symbol is the Adinkra symbol for love, harmony and fidelity. I placed a circle between the two symbols to connect them. I may go back in and broaden the circle until it covers the entire painting, which is about 18 x 24.
So, here’s a new saying, “If you want to make the Muse laugh, plan your art.”
When I was in college one of my art teachers required us to sketch in our sketchbooks once a day. Being the typical college student, I procrastinated–even with art. I put off sketching in favor of…what? I have no idea. Inevitably the sketchbook would be due and there I would be wide awake the night before–pulling an all-nighter, sketching! So ridiculous when I think about how precious having time to actually sketch is now. Ah, youth is wasted on the young. But I digress.
The habit of sketching every day is such a valuable tool for keeping the creativity going. I’ve lost sight of that in the past several months as I’ve been busy with work and life in general. But with the start of the new year I’m trying to reconnect with that basic. I’m using a lined notebook to try to sketch something, anything, every day, which will also reconnect me to the daily practice that really got my artwork off the ground when I first connected with the Creative Every Day Challenge.
I’m using a lined notebook instead of a traditional sketchbook because the paper is not special, therefore, I’m free to do whatever I want without thinking every drawing is some precious masterpiece. I tend to freeze up when I have a really nice sketchbook (too nice for me to “mess” up, the internal critic (that bitch 🙂 ) always tells me). Above is one of those drawings–just a random pen drawing that came to me as I stared at the blank page with no ideas and began to simply add triangles. Those triangles then turned into a crown, which, of course, begged for a goddess.
As I took an afternoon walk this weekend in the cooler air, it was such a pleasure to see the beautiful changing leaves of fall. And as I thought about fall, my mind began to wander, and I began to think about trees (the theme for October’s Creative Every Day Challenge) and how they let go of their leaves as the seasons change. That led me to think about how we all need to let go of things and let things that hold us back from change fall away. This image came to mind, so I created this in my sketchbook. It’s called “Falling.”
Weekends slip by so quickly. And this one was no different. I saw “The Amazing Spiderman” with my 13-year-old son–13, still hard to say that. I like going to the movies with him. It’s the only time he allows me within his protective-bubble-personal space for long periods of time, now that he’s a teenager (of which he reminds me often).
I worked on some projects that I’ve long procrastinated over—finally created the necklaces that my friend has been waiting for. Hope she likes them. And I shortened a necklace for a client. It’s so nice to cross promised projects off my list.
I found time to do a quick pencil sketch (above). I may totally change this with some collage work. I haven’t decided yet. Well, I know the hands–my weakness–still need work. So I’ll have to revisit this one again.
I also made another necklace (below). The necklace is in honor of an in-law who died far too soon–although I think that could be said of any age when someone dies. I only spent time with her on two occasions because she lived in Africa. She only spoke the native language and French, and I only speak English, but each time she communicated well–though she was very shy–in smiles and laughter.
As I created this necklace, which is made from beads (stones) sent as a gift to me from her mother directly from Africa, I thought of her and tried to reflect my vision of her as I designed—her earthiness, the beauty of her nature, the lasting impression she made with a will as strong as stone and a personality imbued with soft shades of loveliness that always managed to radiate the brightest joy. The last two beads at the end of the necklace are two black beads–a reminder that everything comes to an end, fades to black. The toggle that closes the necklace is a flower–a reminder that more beauty awaits us in the afterlife. Rest, Dear One.
I recently did more work on this 8 x10 mixed media collage on canvas. It’s called “Entry.” Originally, I created it while contemplating entering it in a juried show at an art venue that has rejected every single entry I’ve offered for shows over several years. I don’t have the stomach to send in another entry to receive yet another form rejection letter from that particular venue.
I know that rejection is part of the risk we take as artists, but I can only stomach it in small doses over long periods of time. So I just used the theme of the show to inspire this piece—just for me, just for the sake of creating.
Isn’t it interesting that no matter how many times we are accepted, which has been the case for me this year with three show, it’s the rejections that stay with us? Each one seems to join forces with that little critic that always whispers over the shoulder things like, “Why are you using that color?” “Do you really think this subject matter is interesting?” “Do you even know what the hell you’re doing?”
I’d love to hear how you deal with rejection. Does it freeze you in your tracks? Does it piss you off and fire you up? Let me know.