Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rules Were Made to Be Broken

Today I read a blog post by Seth Apter of The Altered Page on blogging tips for artists and found it interesting, so I am sharing it with you.  Give it a read, I think you might find it interesting too.

One thing Seth said really stood out for me. It reads:

The idea of posting interesting content, day after day, can be daunting to many artists, who would often rather be in the studio than writing blog posts. However, if you think of your blog as an extension of your creative endeavors, the two activities can seamlessly combine.

Spot on. What a great way to think about writing, as an extension of your own work. I will share this advice with my non-writing artist friends to see if it will help them overcome their writers block.

Later in the post he advises to always include an image with your blog post. Advice I have heard often before, especially since we are visual artist, but a rule I choose to break for a variety of reasons.

First of all, I get overwhelmed from the visuals that confront me on a day to day basis. It’s like a visual vacation to see only the text and let my imagination make up the visuals, if they are even necessary.

Also, blogging in and of itself takes time. To feel like I must include an image each time overwhelms me with guilt and guilt is something I am trying to eliminate from my life.

But more importantly, it takes time to get a good image, time I don’t always have. Work is my main focus, allotting some of that time to a blog photo is not something I am willing to do. Granted, if you are selling from your blog good images would be a necessity, but I don’t fit in that category.

With my blog I am thinking out loud and learning from others in the process. At the same time I am fine tuning my own voice and growing as an individual and as an artist. But in order to find my own voice, I must listen first and foremost to myself. And sometimes that means I’ve gotta break the rules.

May you swim upstream a little today!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Failing Forward

I just read Julie Fei-Fan Balzer‘s great post about being rejected and it inspired me to revisit the subject again because it is so darned important.

When I was a budding artist I thought the work I did was SO FANTASTIC, that I would blow everybody’s mind with my creativity. So when I was rejected, it was a crushing blow. The first time I was rejected from a show I cried for hours. Now, bazillions of rejections later, being rejected is a tiny blip on my radar screen.

Why? Well, first of all, I no longer place such importance on one piece.  Nor do I have such lofty feelings about my work. I like some pieces better than others, and I know some are indeed better than others, but each piece is just one part of a collective whole. I’m not banking ALL of me on any one piece. So, if it doesn’t sell, isn’t selected, gets a bad review or…. (fill in the blank), it is okay as it is just one small part of me.

Don’t get me wrong, I am completely devoted to my work, but I have come to learn that what other people think about my work has nothing to do with how I feel about it.

Why do we artist put so much pressure on ourselves to be the cream of the crop each and every time? Let’s face it; we can’t win every race we run. Or hit home runs every time we are up to bat. Why can’t we just be happy by being the best that we can be in that one moment?

I think this is where rejection and failure earn their keep.

They teach us that tenacity trumps talent and to keep on working.

That we need to face our fears and forge ahead, especially in doubt.

That we need to take risks and have the courage to fail.

That maybe we should throw caution to the wind and just do it. Right or wrong, let the chips fall where they may.

Or, that maybe we were swan diving into the wrong pool and to research more carefully the things we apply for.

That we need to hone our skills in all aspects of the business of art.

And, through it all, they help us find our own voices and grow as individuals and as artists.

They are just part of the process and are wonderful teachers, if we listen carefully.

I am so very glad to have spent time with both.

How about you?

I hope you have a creative day!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Gleaners

It is impossible for me dig potatoes from my garden without thinking about Millet’s The Gleaners. Impossible, I tell you. Which is a good thing. I always feel connected to the art world and women throughout history. Nature’s bounty teaching me life’s lessons.

Recently I was talking with my Mom about a farm that was down the street from my suburban LA home (yes, there used to be many farms in So Cal) and she told me that we were allowed to pick veggies from the fields after the farmer was done harvesting. How about that, I was a gleaner and didn’t even know it. More of life’s lesson. Fantastic.

Here are the first potatoes we have picked this season, some of which we had for dinner last night.

And the original inspiration.

The Gleaners by Fran├žois Millet, 1857
And just in case you wanted to know more about the practice of gleaning, here it is:
In this depiction of the rural life of nineteenth century France, we see three female figures gathering the leftovers after the harvest. This practice – known as gleaning – was traditionally part of the natural cycle of the agricultural calendar undertaken by the poor, and was regarded as a right to unwanted leftovers. Although the practice of agricultural gleaning has gradually died away due to a number of historical factors (including industrialization and the organization of social welfare for the poor), there are nonetheless still people in the present day that we might understand to be gleaners.

I hope you glean much from your day!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Show and Tell Sunday-A Budding Artist

When I was 7 or 8 my Mom let my sibs and I buy a packet of seeds to plant in a makeshift garden in our suburban LA home.

1 Packet.

Hmmm, what to choose, what to choose.

While my sibs picked radishes, pole beans and carrots, I picked gourds. Gourds?

I should have known something was up at that point.

I think what was up, was that I was a budding artist. I didn’t want to eat what I grew; I wanted to enjoy something visual way beyond summer.

And here I am, a bazillion years’ later, living part-time on a farm with a real garden, and my favorite plant is still gourds. Pumpkins too, but they’re just part of the family.

Some things never change.

And now we are at that time of year when I stroll through the gardens daily just to see what has appeared since yesterday. Sort of like an egg hunt, but with pumpkins and gourds.

Here's what today brought.

young jack and gourd cross

winged gourd

warted gourd

blue hubbard and white pumpkin cross


I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Until then, may your day be blessed with treats too!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Swan Diving Into the Wrong Pool

Life has a funny, funny way of helping you out
  -Alanis Morissette

A while back I told you that I was applying for a residency and had my fingers crossed for good news. Well, the good news is that I didn’t get it. Yep, that seems like the wrong answer, but I mean it. I am so very happy that I didn’t get accepted.

If I had, I’d be packing up and leaving right now for the 2 month stint working on a new body of work. Instead, I am home (very important to a home body such as myself), working diligently in my studio on the pieces that I already have in my head and need to get out.

Also, if I had, I wouldn’t be able to watch Summer slowly fade into Fall from my small house on the farm. My favorite time of year in one of my favorite places on earth.

I got excited by an idea, and instead of working through it in my sketchbook, (which is sometimes all I need to do to work through an idea and then be done with it) I had a momentary lapse in objective thinking that made me swan dive into the pool, the wrong pool.

And the universe jumped in to save me from my own mistake. Thankfully.

Did it smart a bit? Maybe a touch. But I am so HAPPY that it worked out this way.

And, rejection helps toughen the skin. Who doesn’t need that from time to time?

Life indeed has a funny way of helping us out.

May your day bring you wonderful surprises!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Q and A Mondays- Finding Your Own Voice

A friend of mine started grad school this past year and periodically asks me for input.

Recently we were talking about her thesis, which isn’t due for a couple of years, but it’s never too early to start thinking about that, me thinks.

So I suggested she start brainstorming with words. Just start yelling them out, (writing them down too, lest they slip out of her mind) and see what words appear. I suggested she do this often to see if any words reappear. After a while a trend will indeed appear and that would be a good place to start, with these random words and thoughts. From there she can build upon them to find out what she wants to say with her work. Like a road map for her art.

How about you; How have you gone about finding your own voice?