Wednesday, February 23, 2011

No Rules or Expectations......

For the last couple of weeks I have been trying to do things a little different. I have been paying more attention to how I spend my time and even more important, how I feel about what I am doing.

A few weeks ago I mentioned the relief and joy I felt after getting off the computer and back in my studio for a little hand coloring time. The awareness of how great that felt has helped fuel a deliberate attempt to seek out more ways to slow down.

One day I even laid down on my couch in the middle of the day (gasp!) and took a nap! While I was sleeping, Starbucks called and left a message to let me know they had found an extra $10 on a card I had registered but no longer had. No problem, they would just transfer it to my other card. Take a nap, make $10!

In keeping with the theme of mixing things up a bit, last week I began to play around with hand coloring a photograph after altering the surface of the print with a couple of different treatments. These are early and interesting experiments and there is a good chance nothing will come out of it, but I have to tell you, a creative light bulb of sorts has been illuminated.

With this new energy and enthusiasm, I spent an afternoon this week making "Artists Trading Cards" (aka ATC's) with talented artists JJ Jacobs and Merle Axelrad Serlin . I always felt that this was the stuff only "real artists" did, but since one of my experiments last week involved gesso, I felt a little more qualified to join in and create.

In addition to the glue, scissors, paper and paint JJ provided, I brought along some poppy images I had been working on the night before. I printed these out on a sheet of Moab Moenkopi Washi paper, a delicate, beautiful paper (and another experiment). 

What followed were a few hours of playtime. That is really the only way I can describe it. No rules, no expectations, no worries....... 
  I am looking forward to spending more time in what Melissa Dinwiddie calls the "creative sandbox"........Something may even come out of the great "gesso experiment" of last week. You never know..........

Friday, February 18, 2011

Still Not Sure.......

My First Booth
During Second Saturday last weekend, a friend from my days on the art festival circuit stopped by. It had been a couple of years since we last saw each other so we spent a few minutes catching up.

Soon we started reminiscing about the shows we did in horrible weather, van problems and other stories from "the road". I miss the special breed of artists I met doing the shows, but I also know I am not ready to go back out there.
In the rain

Two years ago I decided to take a year off from "the circuit". Last year I went to only one art festival and it looks like that's what I am doing this year as well. It still feels a little strange to be home most weekends in the summer. That was my life for so many years and sometimes I feel like my memories are turning a bit nostalgic and the reasons for taking a break are not quite as crystal clear as they once were.

In the rain #2
I really have no idea how long this break is going to last or even if it's actually "a break". I am sure there is a part of me waiting out the current economic uncertainties, but I am also wondering if the art festival model is still a viable means of earning income for artists.

So much has changed in the last few years. Without even mentioning the Internet, making a living selling at art festivals was already becoming a questionable pursuit. One reason for this is a saturation of the market. Here in California, you have a choice of several shows to attend on any given weekend in the summer. Art festivals no longer have the air of being a special event. The focus also started shifting away from the art and more toward wine, music and kids bouncy houses.

Lake Tahoe (got very very windy)

Then there is the Internet......If you are not one to risk a sunburn or a run in with an inebriated "wine taster", why not look for art in the comfort of your own home? While I still believe most people are reluctant to make purchases of original art online, there are many who are very happy picking up a high quality print from one of hundreds of websites offering just that sort of service (with a money back guarantee!)

So where does that leave me? Missing my friends and grateful that I was able to meet so many people that  appreciated what we were offering out there. What I am not missing is obsessively checking every 15 minutes to see if it's going to rain or be 115 degrees outside, (like I could do anything about it anyway). I also don't miss getting up at 3:30 am for dark and cold early morning set ups. (Looks like my reasons for the sabbatical are becoming clear again.... no need to continue.)

When my friend was leaving my studio after our visit he called out "hope to see you on the streets soon". I quickly found myself explaining to other visitors with quizzical looks on their faces what he was referring to.

On the street.....
Still not sure when or if I will ever be "back on the streets" but it's not a decision I have to make today......stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Virtual Tour of My Studio

I think I am having a little too much fun with my video camera.

I have shared pictures and stories about my studio a few times, but thought it would be fun to post a very quick video. Nothing fancy or professional about it, but for many reasons, I feel the need to document this space and then share it.

My studio is in a very old, but pretty cool building. It has been on the market for over a year and I found out last week that the price was reduced by $800,000! Sounds like the owner is very motivated to sell. (Actually the "owners" are the children who inherited it when their father died last year.)

If it sells, it may take awhile, but I am sure the rent will eventually be raised to an amount I won't be able to afford. The other possibility is the new owner will come in and just gut the building. We don't know and I don't want to speculate. This is a time to stay in the present and be grateful for my space with the amazing light, spotty air conditioning, leaky roof and overloaded circuits......

Many of you have stopped by for a visit before, but for those of you who have not.....Welcome! Turn on your speakers and if you receive this post as an email and can't see the video, click here:

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Ship is Back Up........

After launching Photo Artistry Workshop last week, I basked in the glow of accomplishment for a few days. I am excited about the new site and all the wonderful people that have signed up. (This is an ongoing site, so it's not too late...)

Anyway, after feeling pretty good about the way the whole project was turning out, I started to feel something else. I think I crashed a bit. Of course I did. I had been working nonstop at my computer for days. That's what happens when you finally come up for air, but there was something else...

On Saturday I received the current issue of Artful Blogging in the mail. (If you don't know about this magazine, I highly recommend that you check it out.) Flipping through the pages, I began to feel a stirring of sadness, envy and confusion. It didn't take a rocket scientist (or even a therapist) to figure out what was wrong....I needed to make art!

It was time to take off the "geek" hat I had proudly worn for weeks and get my butt back in the studio. The transformation of mood and energy was amazing.

I made a couple of prints of these dogwood blossoms that I shot last spring and spent a few glorious hours hand coloring and listening to music. It wasn't just the work that helped me. I had immersed myself in a technological pond that was not only hard on my spirit (and my back), but isolating. Just to be in the building and around other people felt good. Very good.....


Balance is overrated and I don't do it well anyway, but I feel like I got my ship back up. That's really what it feels like. I can get so carried away doing one thing that it's like a boat that slowly tilts (I am sure there is a nautical term for that) one way and then it takes some force on the opposite side to bring it back to a neutral position. Once again, that force was a brief but joyful interlude hand coloring in my studio.

The next few days will be spent once again working on videos and other content for Photo Artistry Workshop, but I am going slip in a few hours working on my own images as well. I can't help others create if my well is dry..........everyone knows that, I just needed a gentle reminder.