Fear: An integral component of my creative process

I spent some time yesterday working on a list of ideas for blog posts. I outlined a blog post and began to flesh it out, with the intention of polishing it and then posting it today, but that’s not going to happen, not today anyway.

Yesterday evening, I began the painting stage for one of my dolls. Well, they aren’t really ‘dolls’ in the traditional sense anymore. Yes, they can be ‘played with’, but they have morphed into something else, more sculptural, more abstract…I’m still trying to figure it out for myself at this point. I still personally call them dolls though. The painting stage for my most recent collection of dolls is started after the gesso and sanding is completed. I had decided some time ago, that I wanted to explore using painted paper, and then adhering it to the surfaces of the doll. I wasn’t sure if this was going to be more Eric Carle or more hanging wallpaper.

I’m not sure how I actually pictured the paper looking, but this was not it.

I was confident in my ability to create the painted paper. I was drawing on an art lesson taught to me by a fellow art teacher while I was working within a larger public schools art program. In a nutshell, you use acrylic paint and paint it onto newsprint. It creates lovely paper that can be cut or torn and used for collage work. I decided to use pages from a book. I used glue stick to attach several pages together, creating a large sheet (35  x25 cm, give or take) that I could paint on. Much like the art lesson, I stuck to colour groupings like tints, shades, warm, cool and analogous. I chose blues for the background (base) layer of colour, and then will create collage work over the top of it. I can work back into the painted paper with coloured pencil and with additional paint. When completed, I will cover it with a semi-gloss sealant. That’s the plan.

While working last night, I began thinking, “Oh man. I’ve got a bad feeling about this…” after I glued down the first, and essentially easiest part of the paper to the main doll torso back. It thought it looked horrible. The book paper was getting soft and mushy. I had to be so careful as I attempted to burnish or even press the painted paper down to the relatively flat surface. I chose to use a straight-up PVA glue for adhering the paper to the gessoed surface of the doll, because I had used the exact same glue to make the gesso. Somehow I thought that they would adhere to one another better.

I’m kind of feeling ‘meh’ about how this looks. I keep reminding myself that this is the background for a collage and that there is more to be added to it.

I struggled to get the paper to do what I wanted it to do. By the time I was beginning the wheel-houses for the hip joints, I was so frustrated, I thought about peeling off all the paper and sanding it smooth, and starting over with paint just painted on the gessoed surface. I thought about letting it dry and then sanding off the painted paper. I thought that I could just create a whole new abdominal section for the doll. I was really pissed at myself. I should have known that the book pages were too thick and spongy to work with, especially with paint and glue. The paper seams show; great big, stark white lines running through the paper where I cut it. The curved wheel-houses looked like…merde.

Was I drinking last night? Did I suddenly forget how to use glue and paper? The wrinkles! Oh, dear, sweet, merciful gods!

I wasn’t just soaking in fear, I was drowning in it.

Wow. You can hardly tell I just took a two day photography seminar. This looks like I had my eyes closed when I was gluing and cutting the paper and taking the photo.

Evidently, I forgot how to use scissors and X-Acto’s correctly last night. I’m sure a little paint will fix this right up!

I went to bed thinking that I had just totally screwed-up several weeks worth of work and that I’d just have to chuck this piece in the bin and start over again with a completely new doll.

I actually found myself thinking, “What will people think of this totally bunged-up piece of crap that I have created?” It was at that point I had to stop and take a critical look at my thought process as well as the now dried artwork sitting on my desk, because fear was getting the better part of all of my attention, and it didn’t deserve it.

Okay, let’s look at the physical process of creating the paper and then adhering it to the surface of the doll. Yep. It looks a bit chunky and busted, however, it didn’t dry as wibbly as I had feared. Those white edges! GAH! They are mocking me! Mocking. Me. Well…I do have more paint…and coloured pencils…so I thinking I can at least minimize their appearance. The wheel-houses…oh man…they are just crunchy…sloppy…the curves look like…MERDE! GAH! Can some paint help? Yes. Maybe some careful sanding? Perhaps. Okay, let’s look at the helmet portion that I also got paper glued to. It’s…okay…better than the torso section, but there are some seriously boogered sections where I had to attempt some surgery with an X-Acto knife and it looks like crud. The paper rumpled. Can paint minimize it? I think so.

Will these solutions all work? Maybe? I’m sure that some will work better than others and that while I’m attempting to fix all of the things that I view as problems or mistakes, I will add to my personal creative efficacy in the process.

Fear is weird. It can propel you in a myriad of directions, sometimes all at once. You can stop completely. You can plow through it. You can get stuck in it. You can cut loose things that aren’t working, and move on without them. Or, you can spend inordinate amounts of time trying to make something work that will never work. I suppose that the most important take aways fear as a lesson can teach me, is I need to adequately process it and most important, learn from it. Fear of making mistakes, of screwing things up shouldn’t be a reason for never making an attempt in the first place. This has been a very hard lesson for me to learn, and not just when it’s attached to my own artistic creation. I don’t think fear should ever necessarily disappear completely either. At this point in my life, I think I’m just going to have to look at it the same way I do my clinical depression; fear is something that is always going to be there, something that I will have to do battle with, in varying degrees, and in multiple places, for the rest of my life. That’s just life.

Now, back to work.

Wading Back Into the Pond

It’s been quite a long time since I have made any kind of post on this website, and it’s long, long overdue. So much has happened in my life since I was last active on my blog, so much in fact that I don’t think I want to write a huge long series of posts detailing the events of the past few years. I think that the image above kind of addresses some of what’s been going on in my life, and where I’m pointing my life.

I’m still in the process of planning what I want this blog to be. I do know that my artwork and my teaching will be big parts of it. I’d actually been hemming and hawing for the better part of a year about getting back to writing for the website, but I hesitated at every turn, thinking that I needed to have some all-powerful, all-knowing “Plan” for what I wanted to do, and if I couldn’t come out of the gate with something all-new, super-duper and ultra-fabulous, then it somehow wouldn’t be worth starting to work on a blog or building my website. The problem with this kind of thinking is that it implies that I only would be writing and posting for an unseen and unknown audience of people I didn’t know, and somehow felt the need to impress, aaaand that’s not who I am.

During the past year or so, I’ve had a little snippet of a David Bowie interview in the back of my head on repeat.

Never play to the gallery. (laughter) I think…that you never learn that until much later on I think. But never work for other people in what you do…always…always remember the reason that you initially started working was that there was something inside yourself that you felt that if you could manifest it in some way, you would understand more about yourself and how you coexist with the rest of society. And I…I think it’s terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfill other peoples expectations. (Shaking his head slightly) I think they produce, they generally produce their worst work when they do that. And if…the other thing I would say is that if you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel your capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth and when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.

In the end, the blog, the website, my artwork, they are all things that I do because there is something that I want to make real, so that others can see it, read it or hear it. Yes. I am putting all of this out there in the world for others, but I need to do it first and foremost for myself, so that it is as true a representation of me as possible. Others expectations of what create, well…those should not influence me and what I choose to create.

My plan right now is that I write at least one post per week. I may post more though. I don’t know how exciting it will be, but I’m fairly sure it will be weird.

Our 4th Anniversary in Finland

Four years! In this episode, Katie and Berin reminisce about how they came to live in Finland and what their first day in the country was like. They discuss why they would like to stay, and talk a bit about how they plan to celebrate on the actual anniversary day. Rakastan Suomea!

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Explaining “Fake News” to Non-Americans

In this episode, Katie and Berin discuss the real and imagined problems with journalism in America. They talk about why news is so sensationalized, how it can get away with being factually inaccurate, and where that’s led American culture. It’s a mostly apolitical show, covering just the facts and the law with just a smattering of opinion and personal bias.

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  • Petri Nurmi
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How To Ruin A Vacation [Proof of Life 3×37]

It’s Rally time in central Finland, and Jyväskylä is packed with tourists! In this episode, Katie and Berin talk about vacations and tourists. They discuss the cringey sense of entitlement some Americans seem to have when traveling. Do people from the US behave this way because they’re trying to cram a year’s worth of leisure time into just a few days? Observations of tourist behavior, and the way Europeans seem (to us) to approach vacations are made.

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How to Talk to Americans

In this episode, Katie and Berin compare and contrast Finland and the United States some more. Discussion includes slang terms and expressions, the need for personal space, and how Americans have managed to weaponize basic manners and etiquette.

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  • Petri Nurmi
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Summer Vacation in Finland [Proof of Life 3×35]

In this episode, Katie and Berin talk about the Finnish heat wave and their summer shopping spree. They discuss how satisfying and meaningful it is to acquire that one “just right” right thing, rather than a lot of random mediocre things. There’s also a conversation about unicorns.

Why I Paint My Nails
http://berinkinsman.com/2018/07/14/why-i-paint-my-nails/

Vito Unicorleone
https://www.instagram.com/p/BlLSisRBNhB/

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Comparing the US and Finland [Proof of Life 3×34]

In this episode, Katie and Berin talk about little differences between the United States and Finland. They discuss food, coffee, dining out, tipping culture, and more. Hopefully, Finns will appreciate how great they have it, and Americans will understand that there are other (sometimes better) ways to do things.

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Favorite Finnish Things [Proof of Life Episode 3×33]

In this episode, Katie and Berin talk about things they’ve come to love about Finland. They discuss their hope that Finns don’t take these things for granted. It’s also their hope that Americans can appreciate that there’s sometimes a better way to do things.

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The US Immigration Crisis, Explained [Proof of Life 3×32]

In this episode of the Proof of Life podcast, Katie and Berin talk about what’s going on at the US/Mexico border. They try to sift through the rhetoric and get to the facts about illegal immigration, indefinite detention, and kids separated from their parents and placed into tent cities and empty warehouses.

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