Productivity is never pretty around here. Making art is like childbirth to me. I start out hopeful and full of promise. At some point it makes me sick (I call it the “ugly phase”), but I keep going, knowing it’s worth the struggle. And toward the end, I will do anything – endure any torture – to get this thing finished and out of my space.
I have been finishing three new comissioned pieces – I just returned from installing one, and two more are awaiting delivery this week.
Meanwhile, my studio is ashambles. Unlike childbirth, there is no nesting going on here, just complete violent, creative chaos.
As I came back into the studio this afternoon, the amount of stuff I have strewn everywhere is insane. Paint, dirty brushes, bits of cut paper all over the table and floor, awaiting placement on some collage or journal.
Project ideas, notes scribbled on lined paper that was torn out of some book. Scissors, glazing medium, screwdrivers, nails, art supply catalogs, plastic bags, ideas for teaching art projects…
But it means I have been making art, and that is good.
The A/C went out last week, just in time for summer’s last stand. Fortunately, I am married to quite a handy man. He’s helping me out by installing a fan today. Come on, cool weather, I need you.
And, athough I’m exhausted, I’m really thankful for this hot mess of a studio.
Sometimes in life I get very focused on the goal, the outcome and the purpose. I forget that the point of all of this is the journey — our little experiences that make up life.
The same is true for my life in the studio. Sometimes I spend too much time thinking about the finished product, rather than clearing my mind and thinking only of the materials before me. When I do get to that point of clarity, my work is better, more creative and a purer reflection of my intent.
I made this prompt for myself a while back. It hangs on my screened porch at the entry of my studio, reminding me that the true point of my art is the process itself.
One of the strangest dichotomies of being an artist is the constant need to “express yourself” and the constant fear of “putting it out there.”
I’ve been making art for a long time, and I still struggle with this. Sometimes when I enter a new juried show, or approach a gallery about showing my work, I get a little knot in my stomach about how I’m going to be perceived, and wonder if I’ll be accepted or rejected. (Just keeping it real). I do something similar when I’m making art sometimes, too, especially if it’s outside of the box. I’ll have this great idea, and then talk myself out of it before I even start (my “censor” gets the best of me). But I have also learned that when I have that feeling, it means I’m stepping out of my comfort zone, and that’s a good thing. I’ve just got to push through the fear and cross into the unknown.
On Thursdays, I have three adult students that come to the studio to paint. They’re all at different experience levels and backgrounds, all with different interests. One common thread we’ve all found is that sometimes it’s just hard to get started. The potential that a blank canvas holds can be exhilarating and daunting. The drawing is on the canvas, but there is no color yet. And then you jump in.
Michelle has been working on a gorgeous painting, using the palette knife to apply her paint. She was telling me today how she once took a class, and admired how one of the other students seemed to effortlessly apply the paint with a palette knife, and how she felt like she would never be able to do that. But now, after giving it a shot, (and some practicing), she can, too. And she does it well! This is still a work in progress, but she is doing an outstanding job of layering the colors with her palette knife, finding that balance of creating a realistic image while keeping the expressive scrapes of the knife.
It was also fun to watch Jo and Tatiana today, as they got started on new paintings. At first, the blankness of the canvas was a bit intimidating, but once they started, they were so happy with what they had done.
And I was very impressed with them, too — look at those colors and expressive lines!
A good start. (Thanks, ladies for letting me share your works in progress – for letting me put it out here!)
So now I’m going to log off and submit work for a new show – one that pushes me into the unknown. Wish me luck.