Monday, January 25, 2010

wasting time

Why is it that when I take a break from the studio (or rather, life forces me away) it is so difficult to get back in and thoroughly working? One would think I would be jumping at the opportunity to get back to work. Actually I am jumping at the opportunity, but then the excitement stops there.

The procrastination sets in- I will decide I need to research more and read more before working again. I will start on something mundane instead of diving into a project I have been really wanting to start, like organizing closets, etc. While reading and researching is definitely important to the artistic process, it still must give way to actual studio work. It can quickly become a comfort zone that is keeping me from getting anything of value accomplished.

I really think that there is a kind of pervasive fear that settles in when I stop working. Fear that my work isn't or will never reach my standards. Fear that my ideas are not being pushed enough. Fear that my work will never show, or I will somehow destroy it in the process. Fear that it won't be liked. And insert a plethora of additional fears here. This is the other side of the proverbial "artist ego". We often love our work because we also hate it. Or have hated it at one point. I have said on many occasions that my relationship with my work is like a semi-dysfunctional relationship with a lover: We fall in love, then break up, get back together and try to fix things, break up again. However many times this happens depends on the piece and the only difference from an real life dysfunctional relationship is the happy ending. Eventually, we resolve our differences and the piece is ready. In the meantime though, I have built a serious emotional history with the work.

This doesn't actually happen with every piece. But most often, the pieces that I have "broken up with" on more occasions, turn out to be my favorites.

I have seen some artists that seem to work evenly from start to finish, calmly problem solving all the way through. I might get there someday. I have already learned (the hard way) not to have a temper tantrum in my studio and throw things. (If you were to look around, you would find a strange number of objects splashed with droplets of black ink). And I have learned to set aside a piece for any number of days when I feel the emotional frustration increasing to the "your going to ruin it stage". So perhaps, I too, will be zen one day.

I'm digressing. And I really don't know what my final point is about the fear, except that it is very real. And, in the beginning, those demons can block out the euphoric memory of finishing a piece I have worked so hard on.

My guess is that every artist has to somehow shove that fear in a corner to get started. Quiet it down, but let it be heard just enough to make sure you stay on your toes while working. I have read from several well-known painters that some of their best work occurs in the mistakes. So, in my mind, the fear actually has a purpose as long as I actually get in the studio.

So, speaking of- that is where I am finally headed today.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Making myself talk (art, of course)

"new beginnings" 4"x 6" (sold)

Generally I belong to the camp of people who choose not to make New Year's resolutions. I tend to check in throughout the year and make lots of little resolutions as I go. But this year, a few resolutions just sort-of "happened". And they all belong to the "being social" category of life.

It began when one evening my partner said " I really want us to begin seeing friends more. It is driving me a little crazy that we never go out and socialize. We need a community". My partner is a social person. I am not. at all. Literally, I could go for months without seeing anyone, contentedly holed up within my own little schedule. I even go out of my way sometimes to avoid people. Not that I don't like people- once I actually get out, I enjoy myself quite a bit. I just have to be pushed. So, I promised him that I would make an effort to invite friends over and go out more.

Then I realized this probably should also carry over into my art life. Happy making studio work, I only show work when someone approaches me to do so. Now there are many reasons for this (some shyness, some not thinking I have enough work yet, etc) But most of it is, I am just uncomfortable talking about (and selling) my art. I LOVE talking art, just not mine. However, every successful artist I have spoken with has told me to go to openings, meet people, talk to people and approach galleries. Oh the horror! So many opportunities for awkward moments and social faux pas. Yet here I go, New Year's Resolution #1 and only: Get out there and talk.

Beginning small, of course, don't want to set myself up for certain failure :). So the goals are to:
1) go to at least one opening per month. The actual opening. Not just quietly sneaking early on a weekday to look at the work.

2) update my blog at least every Monday. I love doing this, but it is amazing how I think I never have the time. and yes, I know today is Tuesday, but today's excuse is my sister left town yesterday evening and we were hanging out. I started off with a bang this past spring and have slowly gone down to one post a month, if that. This includes taking regular photographs of my artwork. Not waiting until every 6mos.

3) contact at least one gallery per month. Here's where I am the most afraid. But even with rejection, it is great practice to finally get to a few that say yes.

So there it is, in writing. Now I am accountable, even if just to myself!

On another note (but still in the talking subject), I shared a booth with two artist friends at the Keep Austin Bizarre Bazaar last December.(you can see all the work at I was very unsure what to expect, as I had never done an art fair before. This one was pretty small, so nice for a first go at is plus my expenses were kept down with sharing. Other than freezing my butt off- I had a great time! Great conversations with people about both my art and art in general, had quite a few friends come by and say hello (thank you!) and sold some work. Final verdict: exhausting but worthwhile.

Again, met many wonderful people. And a few who freaked out :). Below is the piece that one lady saw while walking by and exclaimed "EWWWWWWWW! THAT'S SO WIERD!!!!" Evidently, she does not share my love for insects :).

"wonderment" 4"x 6" (8x10 framed)