Things are getting more and more eccentric at Casa de la Swain. Changing styles in my textile work, falling in love again with painting and photography...and then there is the ever illusive quest for continuing creativity through working with Eric Maisel. Still on the road teaching, posting now at the Ragged Cloth Cafe and taking the pledge to keep handmaiden up to date.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Artist's Life

Before I launch into the new year plans, I thought I might take a moment or two to give you some thoughts on living the life of an artist. This is not a pretentious statement on my part, simply the thing I must do....create.
While most of us share this compulsion, some of us aren't as obssesive as moi and find a balance between friends, family and a social life. I try, believe me I do, but never quite succeed. Art is my passion, the blood that flows through my veins. This often causes total anxiety.....what if I run out of ideas, how can I keep up with the business of art and the making of art. The photo below shows me in one of these anxiety ridden moments. How do I separate who I am from what I do? And does that even matter? Isn't it enough that I have found something that brings me peace, joy even if it is often filled with constant questions of how to make meaning in my life and work. Sigh! Never satisfied.

I talk to myself or write in my journals about how to get more work done. I admire those of you who can work in a smaller format but can't seem to get my images to that size. Big, visial impact seems to fit my imagery so I will never produce a large body of work. No problem I accepted that fact ages ago. However, it doesn't keep me from admiring the smaller work and wondering how I could do it. An artist life is all about compromise. There are always questions to answer and the answer is different for each of us.

Here are the answers I have found for myself. Some you have heard before but I present them to you again as the new year approaches.

First to approach my work with flexibility, the ability to see it in many different ways, ambiguity if you will so that the work won't become a chore. Second, to retain an introspective stance. Constantly learning, continually questioning, what if? Looking inward for those blocks that make me question change. Third, being disciplined about the work. ( I admit here and now this has been a bad year for discipline.....fell completely off the wagon around April.) But discipline is the key to growth and craftsmanship; knowing this and maintaing it are two different animals. Remember this is a new year so I hope to correct my laziness. The remainder I will simply list in order and allow you to see how they apply to your life as an artist...with a few possible lines from me.

Honesty...while it is easy to sell out to what the market/public/what other artist are doing is that being true to your vision?

Self-centeredness....knew that would bring a pause to you but you have to put your art first and remain centered in a place that allows you to access your creativity at any moment. Not what you thought, right?

Self-direction....while it is good to discuss art with friends, learn a new technique to add to you work or any number of other possibilities, you cannot allow external forces to be the motivation for your work.

Resiliency.....when it isn't working, don't give up. Try a new approach. Trust your resources. Keep you head down, your arms up and keep on punching. Try to work through the doubt and possible depression that the failure of a much anticipated piece might bring. There is always another idea working its way through the grey matter.

Finally, and aren't you glad, non-comformity. Sure we would all like to be as rich as Thomas Kincade but what price glory? Go against the grain....walk off the ledge into the unknown...that is when you will truly discover your identity as an artist....your style and your bliss.

Many thanks to all of you for the birthday wishes. It made my day very special hearing from all of you. What a wonderful community Diane has created for us. Our community is a true sisterhood of artist, regardless of where we are on this incredible journey. It is an honor and pleasure to be in such good company....go make some art.
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1 comment:

SewIknit2 said...

I'm trying really hard to apply myself to relaxing and just ENJOYING the creative side of (sewing) life!
I say I'm *passionate* about my sewing/knitting/crafting, but OTHERS say *obssessed* and you know what? I think THEY are RIGHT!
Its good to share and enjoy, but also to go your own way and do things yourself too, artistically.
Happy belated birthday too.