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Here and There

What brought me here today:

I’ve been thinking a lot about my continuing evolution as an artist. That happens when you arrive at my age. Realistically, I have more living behind me than ahead of me. Looking back at where I started my artistic career, and then comparing it to what it has become today is only natural.

I was so completely positive when I was in art school that graphic design was all I wanted to do with my life creatively speaking. Looking back at my much younger self I have to laugh. The complete naivety and total belief that I would have what I wanted if I just worked hard enough at it. It makes me wince a bit inwardly. I was such mess with so much learning yet to do about the world and myself.

Starters take your mark:

Like many artists, I started drawing. I loved the illustrations in the story books that I had. My father and older brother were both talented artists. They encouraged me and gave me instruction when I needed it. I tried to draw like I saw famous artists draw in art history books. Drawing was a lot of fun when I was was little.

As I grew older, other art instructors and artists became more important to me as a baby artist. I discovered the artists and cultures that inspired me. When I was in art school, we were encouraged to discover (create) our own unique style in the illustration courses I took. I never felt as though I really had a style pinned down while I was there though. My style needed longer to evolve.

After art school is when my own style began to develop. I would say by my late 20’s I had a creative/design style. It was also within this same time period that I began to pull away from working two-dimensionally. My artwork became more sculptural. I began using a needle and thread again.

A-ha moment:

In my late 20’s I began seeing a therapist for some mental health issues that were becoming hard to manage on my own. The therapist had an office in a local church. The waiting area had a large, semi-abstract, fabric banner hanging on one wall. I remember looking at the banner closely over a few weeks. I liked it quite a bit, but couldn’t put my finger on why exactly that I liked it.

It finally occurred to me one afternoon that it was the materials I was drawn to. The entire piece was made from felt. There were beads and sequins sewn onto it. And a lot of embroidery work. It reminded me of some vintage Christmas ornaments that I had seen as a child. They’d been made out of felt too. With beads and sequins on them. I loved them.

I drove from that appointment to a craft store and purchased felt, stuffing, needles, thread, etc. Everything I would need to make…I wasn’t quite sure. I just went home and started cutting and sewing. Soon, I had created a doll. Then another doll. And another. Then a lot more.

Contents may shift during transit:

I never looked back. As of this year, I’ve been creating dolls for twenty-one years. That’s not to say that I’ve totally given up on working with two-dimensional media. Over the past few years, I’ve been working on larger scale paper mâché dolls. These pieces have lead me back to using a lot of what I know about drawing, painting, and illustration. In fact, I view a lot of my dolls as illustrations in three-dimensions.

The years I’ve spent living and creating artwork in Finland have left their mark. I work with more recycled and up-cycled materials. I’ve discovered that second hand shops are a treasure trove of art materials and supplies just waiting to be discovered and used. And I’ve also learned that I can create artwork in a fairly small space with a limited budget.

The move that is getting ever-closer is not going to be fun, and I know it. There is this part of me that’s kind of eager to get it going and over with. Because that means that I can begin work on several different creative projects that I had been postponing. Part of me also knows that my artwork will change yet once again as a result of the move. And I’m curious to see what the changes will be.

The only constant:

I’ve been enjoying the artwork that I’ve been creating in the past few weeks. They aren’t a wild left turn for me in a creative sense. But they are different enough to make me stop and ask myself why I’m creating them. For me the question seems to come back to the question, “What inspired me to create this?

Sometimes the answer is easy. It’s because I like a shape, or am attracted to a colour. Perhaps the answer is that because I want try out an idea for a dress pattern. Sometimes the answer is harder to pin down. Right now, my dolls have more heads because I feel like I could use the extra brain power right now. Part of it is that I like making sets of tiny heads, each smaller than the previous one.

Is it really greener over there?

Sometimes, I wish that I could hit on a type of artwork that would sell well, to a wider range of people. I sometimes view my artwork as kind of ‘all over the place’. Yes, there is a style. But most of it just doesn’t seem to make people want to purchase it. I sometimes compare myself to other creators who have a much larger clientele and thousands more followers and feel like a failure.

Part of me is quite jealous of their success. They have found that idea, that concept, that item that they can create and market to a wide variety of people. And they get money for it! Cool! Meanwhile, I’m banging away on a ten year old laptop and gluing additional heads onto my already not-selling dolls.

I have to stop and ask myself the problem that I’m solving for. Yes. Making more money from the sales of my artwork would be super-duper nice. However, I do not create my artwork with the sole intention of making money. It’s around number three or four on the list of my prime intentions. Expressing myself completely and totally as an artist through the creation of my artwork has always been number one on my list. It’s my prime mover.

So, what now?

I go back to work. I have to finish Honey and Bizzy. I just started their stands. They need their hairdos completed with some ribbons. And I’m still mulling over hats for some reason. Don’t ask me why. I have no idea.

Thank you for reading, and I will see you again net Tuesday.