Friday, October 13, 2006

art takes time

Fall is always the busiest time of year for me. The year is divided into three seasons: "busy", "really busy", and "busiest". This year I am especially occupied with creating pottery because I’m filling the wholesale orders I took at the New York Gift Show in August, and everyone wants their pottery order in the store before the end of October. I also have retail shows for the holiday season to prepare for, not to mention putting together a fresh new collection for New York Gift in January.

I used to spend this time of year in a constant state of low-level panic, always trying to catch up, always feeling like I didn’t have enough work made, never satisfied with what I did accomplish. Actually, it wasn't just this time of year, but all year 'round. A typical work week was 10 hour days Monday through Friday, then sneaking in to my studio over the weekend to make more pots. "Vacations" were my own private hell where I would obsess over what I should be doing in the studio, what I wasn't doing, and precisely what I was going to do the second I stepped foot back in my dusty little chamber. My husband, Andrew, still refers to my studio as the "clay mines". Lovingly, of course. Everything else in life was sacrificed—relaxing evenings with Andrew, weekend outings with friends, my personal health and well-being--so I could see to my goals at the studio.

After years of reflecting on this problem, and gentle yet persistent prodding from Andrew to stop being an insane obsessive person about my pottery, I now understand that no matter what level of success I achieve, I’ll always be striving to be better than yesterday. I do not claim to have found “balance” between my work and my life outside my work. Yet, I’ve learned that stressing out trying to make pottery contradicts my basic values and keeps me from enjoying the things that are most important to me, including the very process of creating pottery. I now know that I will never have the perfect collection of work all at one time. There are always going to be weak spots that only I can see. Perfection isn’t even the point anyway.

Any artist will tell you that their best work seemingly comes out of nowhere. It actually comes from many hours or error, many days of thinking, months and years of imagining. Art takes time. True beauty--aesthetic, spiritual and beyond-- is born of trial and error. I believe this is true for all things that we encounter as human beings. It is the effort in achieving what is in my imagination and the experiments that are born from that process that make up the work that I do. As an artist that's all I can do, and I'm damn lucky to get paid for it.