Instead of setting a long list of “resolutions” this year (because we all know what happens to those), I’ve decided to choose one word that will be my inspiration for the year ahead. My word is “learn.”
I plan to learn as much as I can in as many aspects of my life as I can: new Zumba choreography for my classes; new techniques that will push my art forward and help me provide fresh inspiration in my art classes; new skills that will improve my full-time work as a communications professional.
I’ve already learned something from trying out a new approach in creating the tissue paper artwork that you see here. The lesson is: When something isn’t working the way you thought it would, don’t give up, keep trying, go back, rethink, redo, keep going.
I think this applies to everything I do in the studio and in life in general—and it is a lesson I need to learn over and over.
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.)
Each year for Christmas, I like to “surprise” myself with art books as gifts. I order the books way ahead of time, wrap them and put them under the tree. I then forget what I ordered and when I open the gift with my name on it on Christmas morning–surprise!
The book has exercises in it to get you going on creating these maps. But when I sat down to work on this big piece of paper, using some squeeze bottle craft paints, I had no intention of making a map. However, the notion must have already seeped into my brain because this sure does look like a map.
I don’t think I’m finished with it, so it might not look anything like this when I’m done. I may even tear it up and use it in collages. I just find it fascinating what the brain takes in and what the Muse does with that information.
Oh, I’m loving today. I’ve spent the day focusing on being creative–finally. Didn’t have any major errands to run for once in a long time. So I filled the day with sushi making (not too pretty, but delicious), art making (love these papers, but not sure what I will do with them yet, and learning a new routine for Zumba. Now, that’s what I call a Saturday!
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.”
This week I took another major step forward in creating and revising my artist statement, with the help of other artists at Part 2 of the Artistic Cartel Meetup sponsored by the Artful Phoenix in North Attleboro, Mass.
Recently, it became even more clear how important a good artist statement is. I applied to get into a juried show and was rejected. When I got the general generic email about why my artwork didn’t make it, I emailed back asking for specifics. The exhibit’s coordinator told me that in addition to looking at the quality of the work and how well all the entries come together as a cohesive exhibit, jurors rely on the artist statement to truly comprehend what an artist is doing. The statement can make or break you when it comes to getting into a show, the person said.
Wow. Scary, huh?
I don’t know whether I’m done with my statement, but at least I feel that it is in better shape than the one I had before and better than the one I sent with my entry form for the show that rejected my work.
My struggle has been trying to nail down what I’m doing as an artist. If I had my choice I would just say something like–“I do what I want, when I want, depending on how I feel that day—kind of like a chef walking into a market, seeing what looks good that day and then deciding what she will cook.” But I don’t think that would do. So, here is what I have now as a statement. I would love your thoughts and feedback. What do you think?
I am driven by an unrelenting curiosity and a desire to play with a variety of mark-making materials and concepts revolving around the spirit of women. These givers of life are beautiful, powerful and mysterious beings, who deserve to be honored and explored in every medium possible.
As I create art, I leave open my journey, allowing myself to receive what comes to head, heart and hand. My aim is to immerse myself in the process of creating, to explore the colors, subjects and materials that most excite me in the moment. Opening myself often leads me to create acrylic-based mixed media collage pieces that showcase women.
The openness of being present also leads me to create artwork that reflects my fascination with the rejuvenative nature of circles as well as the unspoken language of patterns—from the Kente cloth of my unknown African ancestors to the patchwork quilts created by my Alabama grandmother.
Most of my pieces are imbued with a texture that invites viewers to come closer to see the work and possibly touch it, thus creating a connection between viewers and me.
(Above is a drawing from my sketchbook, Sharpie marker on paper, “Three Divided.” Click on the image to see it large.)
I’ve been working on this mixed media piece for several weeks, first by playing with lines that turned into trees. I collaged the trees on canvas, then added the lady in red because I find it difficult to NOT include the spirit of women in my artwork. I let it sit, looking at it off and on, waiting to see what it wanted. This weekend I felt that it wanted silver circles that shimmer in the daylight and seem to disappear at night. I may or may not be finished with this. I’ll wait a bit and see.
Do you do that, too? Wait for your art to tell you what it needs and wants? Or am I the only crazy person?
Last Saturday I began to work on four paintings. This is one of them. I’ve had this flat unfinished canvas painting for a few years. It had a boring sun on it and a horizon. I thought I’d try to breathe some life into it during Art Every Day Month. I added more color in acrylic paint, scratched some lines into it with the end of my brush handle. Those lines began to look like people to me so I enhanced that. I’m not sure I’m done yet, but I like it.
(I’m posting this late tonight because I’ve been out enjoying the beauty of family life. My husband, 12-year-son and I went to a basketball game. We laughed a lot. So beautiful to watch my son enjoy himself so much. The mental picture will make me smile for a long time.)
Today I’m thinking a lot about what I’m doing as an artist—again. This is, in part, thanks to my husband. He’s very honest when it comes to my art making.
I’ve been too busy with work and life to create. I finally sat in my studio early Saturday morning determined to get back into things. I started out by not planning to make anything in particular. I just wanted to scribble on paper, move around paint, etc. And, who showed up again? One of the gown-wearing ladies I always paint.
That was fine, I thought. But when I looked at the entire piece that I created I decided that it was a hot mess. It’s out of proportion, the colors are all wrong, and the focus of attention is in the wrong place. There are so many places where I should have stopped and not overwork the piece, but I didn’t.
I asked my husband, “this is a disaster, right?” I knew the answer. “Yeah,” he confirmed. The truth sucks! It’s important, but sucks, nonetheless.
Then he went further by again probing why I keep painting the same figure. I, of course, still have no answer. He challenged me to push myself to paint something else, noting that when I do I come up with some really powerful work. I just smiled, fighting all the urges that arise when an artist feels criticized and questioned.
In my heart and head, I know that he is right. I should explore other things. Is it that I’m just creatively drawn to this lady in the gown? Or is it that I’m afraid I can’t do anything else, so it is more comfortable to always end up drawing her?
Fear. Hello, old pal.
I don’t know the answer, but I will continue to think about it, and perhaps try other subject matter.
The images above show my creative process leading up to my little “disaster.” (I was so sure that this would be a spectacular piece that I wanted to document it. That assumption likely was the start of the problem.) I finally cut up the piece and kept the one part I like most–the lady. 🙂
I’m working on this piece on a large sheet of scratch paper. I keep a piece of paper on my craft table beneath my work as I paint and draw. The idea is to let the stray marks and brush strokes randomly create the beginning of some new artwork; one creation sort of gives birth to another.
I’m almost finished with this mixed media piece. I just have a few details left. I think I’ve captured the feeling of passion–that quiet warm glow that sneaks up on you from behind. 🙂
As I was painting this afternoon I could feel that passion–floating, pulse quickening, loss of time and surroundings. Art does that to me.
I went to the Danger Zone last night: The Art Store. Michael’s, to be exact. The place where I lose my mind, where I go in for just a tube of paint and stand holding a $27 Martha Stewart paper punch shaking and trying to resist buying it as if it were crack. DANGER. DANGER. Everything from every shelf screams at me, calls my name: “Pick me! Pick me! No, pick me! Take us all!” No! Well, OK, some of you come with me.
Here are the supplies I ended up with in preparation for making Christmas ornaments for a holiday color challenge and swap that I signed up for. The colors to use are red, green and gold. I, of course, couldn’t stick to that. So I’ll make the requisite ones for the challenge and then make some others for friends. Stay tuned to see the results, which are due by Dec. 3.