Day 3:
Art Comes from
Learning and Working


I received this email after yesterday's post on making choices. It was  helpful for me to read, and I think might be helpful for some of you, too.  I'll share my thoughts after you read it. 

I have reached the same fork in the road that you have - I am 52 and starting to realize all those things I wanted to make and all the wonderful things I have bought to make them are still sitting here.  I have a sewing room with fabric and everything else you could think of and I have a mixed media, collage room, with everything you can imagine.  I am very lucky (or I used to be  this economy is tightening our budget quite a bit), but I have enough stuff that I could make things the rest of my life and never have to buy another thing.  But all I continue to do is, buy more stuff, look at all the great things that other artists have made (I can spend hours doing that) and also reading their blogs and thinking I wish I could be like they are.  I am reaching a point where I am going to have to force my self to get started and when I say force, I don't mean it in a bad way, but I always sabatoge myself by thinking of a household chore or an errand to run and then I can get back home and make things, which never happens because by the time I get it done is when everyone starts getting home and I am busy with helping them and spending time with them and before I know it, it is time for bed and I still have not made one thing.  I am really mad at myself and have decided that I am following you, I am going to make different choices, I am going to take the time to nourish myself and put art in my routine - I have plenty of time to do it if I just start doing it.  I am asking myself what do I want to accomplish in the next 5 years and another big stop sign for me is not being good enough, but as you say I have to be fearless, that sounds so good to me - now if I can pull it off.  Making art has been my dream and I am going to start making that dream come true, with your encouragement of course.


I am here with you because I need to clean my slate too!!  Thanks for being brave and putting it out there because I totally understand where you are because I am in the same place my friend.

What you see online 
is someone's best foot forward.   

They are not showing you their disaster works or their failed experiments. Or their messy workrooms.  Usually they are showing you their best works and their workrooms on a day after major cleaning.  Here's a better side of my sewing room.  There, don't you feel better? 

  


Our Art Is Not In the Other Artist

When we look at other people's work we see them using wonderful things and we think, I want to do that, too.  And that's okay.  But what we are seeing them do is work after becoming very experienced with a medium.  We are not seeing their first work ever in that medium.   And you cannot expect that your first work with a particular medium is going to be wonderful.   

The magic is not what the other artist is doing.  The magic is when we take our unique point of view and we express it somehow. We don't want to make work that is a copy of someone else's.  We want to make work that gives us joy and hopefully interests other people, too.   


If I tried embossing copper my first try would look wildly different than Maureen White's work, who has been working with the medium for several years now and makes some stunning embossed metal pieces

 

Our Art Is Not in the Art Supplies

We think when we look at other people's work that it's the supplies that bring the magic.  If I buy the exact paint/glue/crackle/clay Artist X uses then I will be able to make great work, too.  But the magic is in the experience of using those supplies, and the way the artists have honed their use of the supplies to express their vision.   We are not seeing their first attempt! 

 Inktense pencils I bought  because  
Sandy Mastroni's work makes me smile.  
My first attempt was somewhat sad. 

Our Art Comes From Learning

Tools are tools, whether they cost $3 or $3,000.  It's what we do with them that makes magic.  It's US.  But we have to let ourselves be learners.That doesn't mean throw all your art supplies out.   But maybe it does mean limiting yourself to one medium for a while.   Pick the one that makes you feel most at home while working on it.   And let yourself really get to know that particular paint, clay, pencil, whatever you're using. Or even if it's really hard, the one that makes you feel best when you break from the day.  

Our Art Comes from Starting

Here's what I do sometimes (something I learned from Flylady) to get myself going.   I set a timer to get myself OFF the darn computer.   I let myself have x amount of time to check sites.  Then I set a timer to work for so many minutes.    When I go down to the creativity zone, I say, "Today I will make imperfect art."  There, I've let myself off the hook from the get-go.   Then I work for that amount of time.  Usually by that amount of time I'm engrossed and don't want to stop. 

There's a lot in your email - those of us who are parents have a lot on our plate keeping a home running.  And we are surrounded with our to-do list when we work at home.   Sometimes we hop on the computer to connect with the outside world.  It's wonderful.  But sometimes real life friends are just the ticket.  I would suggest finding some art buddies locally to "work out with" artistically.   ;-)  

Guess, what?
I still have to sort my supplies!  

Any thoughts from other artists?

10 comments:

  1. How did I miss day three? Oh yeah...more real estate drama. (But we ARE getting the house.)

    Your points are so dead-on. Especially the bits about "It's not in the supplies!". I rationalize that the things I drag home "to make something with" is okay because most of it came from a thrift shop. While that IS a great way to make something from almost nothing, sometimes the effect is The Tail Wagging The Dog. I end up making something because it's there and easy for me and interesting, rather than perfecting a skill I want to learn but find difficult.

    It's possible you've given me too much to think about! If you hear my head explode all the way up there in Maine, say a prayer. :~)

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  2. No exploding brains allowed, Jan. ;-)

    The whole idea of upcycling materials is wonderful but it can also be a major storage problem. And collecting stuff and supplies doesn't make art. If you buy ahead too much it clogs the arteries and sometimes the materials themselves have a shelf life. That's happened to me with a few things.

    I've stopped buying items at the thrift I can use to make into something else. Other people are really good at the whole assemblage technique, me not so much. I would like to study that some day, but right now I need to focus on what's at hand. :-)

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  3. Oh, Gosh! Dixie
    This is the PERFECT post...I can SOOOO relate to it!
    I too bought some Derwent Inktense colored pencils because Sandy made such ADORABLE dolls!
    How funny is that! I even bought them at 40% off at Hobby Lobby...what a buy!...but...they are still sitting there...waiting for me to 'try them out' Ha! Yes, I keep buying and wishing and hoping that 'some day' I will do all those wonderful art projects that I see on wonderful blogs (like yours too!) and make crafts to my hearts content. I laughed a lot reading your blog post here. It's not really funny, but it is true. I have actually been organizing drawers and closets and dusting things that weren't done while I cared for my mother-in-law for almost two years. That is now in the past and I am seriously trying to get my life 'back together again'. And, like you, I have my handicap son, a blessing at times and at other times...well...you know. So, we plod on, trying to make the best of everything. There are a lot of brave souls out there and I commend them for their bravery.
    Have a very lovely Thanksgiving, my dear!
    hugs,
    Teresa Swanson

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  4. Hi Dixie I don't know if you remember me probably not but I used to be Izannah manic. I was so excited for you and the chance that you had to go up to that store and take all those pictures of that Izannah doll. I mentioned I wanted to see her at all angles with up close detail. You went back and got those pictures. You will always have a soft spot in my heart for doing that for me. I'm sick today and usually am rarely on the computer but now that I'm down with a minor bug I thought I'd surf and I found your site again and wanted to say Hi and wow you've been buisy. Everything looks great and it's neat that your teaching classes now. I loved what you just wrote. I sooooooo relate to everything. When we moved to the country to get the kids out of the city and to fufill my dream of being a REAL gardener. Life was heaven. I have five kids I had this image of a happy family working together and learning together out in the best nature had to offer. Now that reality hits I force the kids out when I have the nerves to tolerate the how much longer and so and so's not working ....and mom he stole my weed pile. My summers are full up to the brim with little time for anything but yard work and just barely keeping up with the house. But what about my art what about the God given talent that I've been blessed with..... I think guiltily of the parable of the talents and imagine God looking down disapointedly asking me where it's buried..... I think of your comment if everything's important than nothing is and I think that has been me all along. So how do you weed out the less important? I want to do everything but in choosing everything I can't really get good or master anything. Thank you for what you wrote. Have a wonderful holiday season Dana Kelly (Portraitess)from the old cofee with tea ebay group

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  5. Hi, Dana! I remember you well! You make such wonderful creations. I hope you will join Maida Today - see the link in the sidebar. It's a group for doll makers.

    Here's the thing about kids. It's important for them to see mom and dad pursue things that show they are individuals. I only have two kids and it's hard. You have to carve a little time for yourself or you end up resenting the little buggers if it's always about them. Plus they need to learn it's not always about them, too. So pull out the playdough and some paperclay and have a family sculpting time. Designate a section of the yard that you don't have to mow. I don't do gardening much and I used to. I can't do everything. I have to pick. Good luck, Dana! I was happy to hear from you and hope you will join in with Maida. Make something really simple that brings *you* joy in the meantime. Hugs!

    Dixie

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  6. Dixie, I guess I'm about a year late... Bu this post was fabulous and is exactly my musings of the month! It's 10/2012. I love the penny rug analogy to take who you are, what you have and make something beautiful....this encapsulates my inner mantra of art making. It's the main driving force in my choices of material, subject and end vision. Thanks, Dixie!

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    Replies
    1. Penni - I had to read this post again as it is applicable to ME. Thanks for commenting and letting me know it was helpful!

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  7. Argh, Dixie, I just wrote a long post on the penny rug analogy, and my iPad deleted it before I could send it. I'm too to tired (it's 11 pm) to rewrite it. In short, thanks for this post. My feelings resonate closely, this year 2012 .

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  8. Ditto to everything above. It's nice to know I am not the only one.

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  9. Ditto to all of the above. It's nice to know that I am not alone.

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"Do not let what you cannot do
keep you from doing what you can do."

John Wooden




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