Friday, March 27, 2015

artist date

I have been holding myself accountable for making time for an artist date each month. The idea comes from Julia Cameron's The Artist Way, a book I've been using (and ignoring, and using again) since I was in my 20's. The idea is to get yourself out of your usual creative routine in the studio and go do something creatively fun, even indulgent. I actually scheduled a year's worth of artist dates in to my calendar back in January, so I have a monthly reminder.

Coming up with a "good" artist date with yourself-- and it has to be with yourself, no one else can tag along-- can be difficult, especially for me. I want to create a beautiful, inspiring, and revelatory experience for myself, which is waaaaaay too much pressure for a date, any kind of date. I have to remind myself every month that these dates are about forming a habit of taking time out to try something a little different, not necessarily about a single trans formative experience.

Yesterday I was especially desperate, a feeling that I have been experiencing a lot lately. Desperation may not be the worst feeling to have, but it ranks in the pantheon of worst feelings. I was feeling desperate because every idea I had for my date seemed boring. I was in super judgmental mode and I could not make a decision. Finally, I did what all desperate people do when they need an answer, and I simply asked google what I should do on my artist date.

I ended up bicycling to our local Rose Garden, which is about to go into full bloom. I went with Julia Cameron's suggestion that I color a mandala. Then I spent an inordinate amount of time looking for a mandala that I liked. Which made me feel desperate again, and decided to just make my own a la Maria Ramon. I made it with my Prismacolor pens, which have to be the best coloring tool on the planet. It was very satisfying, and fun. Exactly what an artist date should be.

The experience of trying to come up with the exact right date for myself brought me back around to the general problem I have of trying too hard, being a perfectionist, and then freezing myself through judgement. It's torture. When I got back to the studio in the later afternoon, one of my new, big tall pieces was waiting for me. I decided to be completely crazy and just give myself an hour to complete it. No thinking, no processing, just go. I needed to undo a creative clusterfuck I created a few days before when I was inspired by some fabric that was pale, almost translucent yellow with some white designs on top. I worked on the idea with a piece and then undid myself with judgement. I don't know how this one will turn out, but I'm happy I just did it.

Do you keep a regularly scheduled artist date with yourself? Do you know it's something you "should" do, but don't make time? Tell me about your experiences with the artist date.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

the big work

With my new work, I have a new desire to make big things. Big giant bowls, big wide plates, big tall vases. I've always tended to work small (figuratively, I mean that figuratively, really) and that's always worked for me. But my desire has suddenly changed. And still, despite my deep desire to make bigger stuff, I set myself a challenge last week to make some small pieces, including some really tiny "stash" boxes and tumblers. My thinking was to make some items with lower price points for broader appeal, and to also have some items where I might feel freer to experiment. With smaller pieces, maybe the stakes wouldn't be so high.

By Wednesday of last week, I was cranky, and I wasn't sure why. I felt bored, which was making me sad. I felt like I was hanging out with my new boyfriend who was totally excited by me the week before, but now he kept checking his phone while I was trying to talk to him. I have no idea why I always characterize my relationship with clay as if it's my boyfriend, other than it always lends me an apt metaphor.  By the time I went home that evening, I was utterly exhausted and felt like I was coming down with something. I've squeaked through the entire winter season without so much as a sniffle, and maybe I was due to go down. I went to bed at 7:30, which is awesome even when you are feeling fine.

The next day I felt completely healthy, but I wasn't all hopped up to go to the studio, and I realized it was because I had no desire to finish the work I had started. The small things, as it turns out, do not make me feel freer to play. The surface is so small, it makes me feel confined. I can't get into the details or highlight them because of the scale. Once I recognized that, I realized that right now, I can't worry about things like price points, or broad appeal, or making anything "low stakes", whatever the fuck that means anyway. I just need to make the work, and listen to that voice in my heart.

I am continually surprised and bemused that no matter how much I "know" something, like the importance of listening to the voice in my heart to guide my creativity, the storyteller voice in my left brain can easily override it without me even realizing it. That left brain voice is sooooo clever. It actually knows that if it disguises its voice to be all whispery and feathery, instead of being panicky or snide the way it usually is, I will probably mistake it for my creative voice and listen to it. And it got me.

Also, whenever I try to make something with the idea that somehow it will magically fatten my bank account, it always falls flat. Always. You would think after 15 years of being in business, I would know that, but sometimes the only way to know is to learn it over and over.

19.5 inches high
13 inches high

17 inches high