Monday, November 12, 2018

Messing Around With Something New

 I came to a realization through therapy recently:

I hadn't had real live, actual fun, creating art for a long time.

I know that sounds odd to people who have been following this blog for a number of years, but it's true.

Looking back about nine years, I realize I started selling my ceramic art too soon. It wasn't really ready for public distribution, but I had a reason: I was told I needed to bring in money. Not just needed, though. I had to make money at it.

It wasn't an unreasonable request, even though it wasn't framed as a request. More of a threat, honestly. But even so...

Practically speaking, making art costs money. Making ceramics costs an inordinate amount of money, and that's no exaggeration. The clay, the raw materials, glazes, brushes, the potter's wheel, the plaster table, the banding wheels, the cost of firing, the kilns, for God's sake! All of it costs money. Much more than most people realize.

My ex never let me forget how much it cost, and was relentless in driving me to make money at it. I didn't realize it, but it slowly started to suck the joy of creating art down the drain.

Again, he was right in that what I did should have paid for itself. It was the constant moving goalposts which ultimately made it less joyful and satisfying for me. It was, "You need to sell over here," and when I did, it was, "You're never home!" And on and on. Classic crazymaking behavior.

Situations like that make the act of creating new and interesting art difficult, and the art you love to create becomes an anchor around your neck. Uninspired and uninspiring.

Losing my studio put a stop to everything, and the next year was taken up by both the aftermath of the divorce, processing the Jerry Springer/Real Housewives nature of it, and unexpected serious health challenges. My surgery made it impossible for me to lift anything over 15 pounds for several months. For someone as active as I am, it was sheer torture.

Looking back, that forced break from art helped to clear space in my head for something new.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to connect with a local ceramics studio and start making ceramics again. This time, though, I'm primarily making for myself. I'm trying new techniques, pushing old boundaries and above all, giving myself both time and the permission to make crappy art. I'm in a place where I can learn from a teacher or several teachers again, and that spurs my growth and makes me eager to get to the studio on class nights.

Which brings me to going back to drawing, something at which I have become extremely rusty!

One of the goals I have is to re-engage in making fine art in addition to my Halloween wares. I've had a sketchbook around for a while and hadn't gotten around to using it, so I decide to bust it out and just start sketching ideas for both fine art and some new Hallowe'en things. Some of it is absolute garbage, as is to be expected, but some shows promise. Like all muscles which are achy from disuse, I anticipate my drawings will get better with practice.

In order to stretch a little more, I got a set of watercolor markers. I've never worked with watercolors, let alone brush pens, but it's been a fun, loose way to get back into drawing. Again, I'm giving myself permission to make bad art, and that's freed up my head tremendously!
Merging what I'm learning from playing with drawing and watercolors with my interest in working with acrylics is going to create some new, and above all, fun, things.
I've made it a goal to use one page in my sketchbook every day, and for the most part, I've been able to do it. It's odd to be working in watercolor when I've never done it, but the results haven't been terrible.
It's not earth-shattering or groundbreaking, but it's a step in the right direction. It's part of rediscovering and reclaiming who I was before I allowed things to go sideways and let someone else determine my worth. That's a mistake I will never make again.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your story. I met you many years ago and am a proud owner of a Shellhawk creation. I too struggle with the art vs. cost/time dilemma but have a day job that allows me fund my projects. Lately however I feel like I've lost some of the joy and have been considering a break. Can haunters/Halloween enthusiasts have breaks? Some would argue that theres a full year between cycles but we all know that Halloween is every day. If I'm not creating something, I'm posting about something. There's always a pressing need to press on. It's not like anyone is asking me to. Like you, I feel like I need to step back, reassess, and then decide how to continue. Good luck on your journey and I hope to cross paths with you again some day.

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  2. I remember you! We met at Halloween and Vine in Petaluma.

    I think it's important to allow ourselves the break - the pause which refreshes, if you will. It's OK to not make something for a little bit, to play with other ideas, or to just take a walk in the cool Fall air and just enjoy the moment. I think that's where our best ideas flow, in the in-between.

    Take a breath, my friend, and enjoy the smell of the wet leaves!

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