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Frustration

Depression adjacent frustration:

During the past two weeks, I’ve been wrestling with an ever-deepening sense of personal and professional frustration. This frustration is laying on a great number of the same emotional buttons that can spin me off into a major bout of depression. In my previous Tuesday blog, I wrote about knowing where the traps are, so that they can be avoided. It took me a few days to figure out what was going on, but I got there eventually.

Honestly, I think it was my husbands own anxiety that helped me figure out what was going on. He was showing me something that he had done to alleviate some of his pent up emotions so that he could leave some of the anxiety behind, and move forward. I could tell as he explained what he had done, that he knew it wasn’t exactly normal. What he did made perfect sense to me. That’s when the light went off inside my own head.

Clinical depression:

I’m open about the fact that I have clinical depression. It began when I was in my teens. Then morphed into something that I thought was almost a bi-polar disorder in my early twenties. By the time I was in my late 20’s, my depression was completely unmanageable on my own. I began therapy. And then began taking antidepressant medication. While at first I was reluctant to try medication, after every other avenue was explored, they proved a life-saver for me.

When I was a young, I always knew that the depression was waiting for me at the end of any period of happiness or relative stability. It’s presence was always felt. Right beneath my feet. Waiting to grab hold of me and yank me straight down into the cold, empty, blackness. It sucked.

Side effects:

My current medication is one that I like a great deal. Some of the side effects are not the greatest. The most annoying being weight gain. My husband is the chief meal planner and cook. And we’ve been leaning heavily on a more plant-based diet with chicken and fish as out main sources of protein. I’ve also reduced my intake of all the delightful sugary foods that I adore. I’ve not eliminated them.

This has helped with some of the weight gain. But it’s still there. We walk and take the bus everywhere we need to go. This also helps a lot with my depression.Especially when I think I don’t need it, a walk to the store will do wonders in making me feel better. That’s not to say I would ever stop taking my meds and go on walks in nature to “cure” my clinical depression. But I will use lovely walks in the sunshine in conjunction with my meds to manage my clinical depression.

Present day:

My depression adjacent frustrations have arisen regarding the lack of traffic on my website, including my online shop. The lack of traffic and declining sales have just begun to frustrate the crud out of me. Realistically, I know what a teenie-tiny fish I am in the great ocean of internet art sellers. I have no illusions of grandeur. My frustrations are rooted in not knowing exactly why my website and online shop receives so very little traffic.

My previous Tuesday blog post talked about how I was trying to figure out the art of marketing. All the while knowing exactly how bad I am at it. Add to this the fact that everything that I have built here is the product of me trying to find the best options I can afford, everything I learned from the staff at Työbileet, and the mind of my ever-patient husband. In fact, if you click on the Työbileet link, you will find a short video of me. (Yikes.)

Love and…meh:

The frustrations I’m experiencing regarding the lack of website and shop traffic has required me to sit down and re-evaluate the methods and modes of marketing that I’m currently using. While I love Instagram, it’s not the right place for me to truly market my artwork. I love that I’ve met fantastically cool, creative artists who I can talk with about making art. It’s been a positive experience for me.

That all being said, it hasn’t driven a lot of traffic to my website. Nor has it lead to a sizable increase in sales for me. Part of this has to do with exactly what Instagram is. It’s a corporation. Corporations exist to make money for their stockholders. If I’m not paying a fee for being able to post on Instagram, then more than likely, I’m being used for other purposes. Oh. Yeah. I’m making money for their stockholders.

All hail the algorithm:

I know when Instagram’s algorithm has changed. Once every sixty to ninety days, the traffic to my posts gets a hard throttle by the algorithm. Along with that hard throttle, I begin receiving more “incentives” to purchase some manner of a business account. More and more posts pop-up in my feed that are artists or artisans with six posts and two hundred followers who have paid to advertise their accounts on Instagram.

Then Instagram starts asking me about advertising and upgrading my account. It’s not that I don’t understand how advertising works. I just don’t think that my advertising euro is best spent on Instagram. For me, it breaks down to what I’m using the platform for.

Useful to a point:

Like I said previously, I’ve met some incredibly cool and talented artists on Instagram. I view it as a place where I can see other artists and their artwork and talk with them. It’s not a mutual admiration society, but it’s akin to that kind of concept. And that is not a bad thing! Especially during the pandemic, it’s been beneficial for me to be able to talk to other artists and share our ups and downs. And yes, there are a lot of sincere compliments that are exchanged as well.

Investment:

Well, I think of it more along the lines of ‘Where do I want to invest my euro?‘ I’ve talked in the past about wanting to start a Patreon. And even flirting with Etsy. What I realized was that not only does the price-point for the marketing need to be right. That it also has to feel right to me, personally and professionally.

Seriously? They have to feel right? Well, yes. They do. This is partially due to a major identity trait of mine. No one can force me to do anything I do not want to do. It can seem like a total no-brainer to do a certain thing. But if I don’t want to do it. There is nothing that will make me do it. Nope. Never going to happen, Ever.

Decisions to be made:

I love the idea of having a Patreon. But I have to be honest with myself. I simply do not have the time, space and money to start a Patreon right now. Nor do I feel as though I have nearly enough people interested in my artwork, or my techniques to the point in which they would give me money every month. Even if it were only a euro or two. There is also an element of creative control that I feel as though I would be giving up as well. And right now, this just feels wrong to me.

Etsy has been the nine-million pound gorilla sitting in my studio space staring at me. I’ve made an attempt at selling on Etsy about ten years or so ago. It wasn’t a fabulous experience. This being said, I do know more now. And have a great deal more online experience, including my own website and shop. Along with that ever-patient husband.

For me, what it all boiled down to was: what did I want to get out of having a presence on Etsy?

Key questions:

What am I going to use Etsy for?

What is my end-goal?

The answer to both of those questions were similar. To get more eyes on my artwork. And a potential at getting more traffic on my own website and my own online shop. Any sales that might be made on the Etsy platform are gravy for me.

Part of the research that I did was looking at artists who sell their work on Etsy, while at the same time maintaining their own website and online shop. I wanted to see what artists that I admire are doing. Many of whom have much better sales and web traffic than I do. There was also a significant amount of article reading as well. Then a huge brain-dump lunch with my ever-patient husband.

So…now what?

I’m going to open up at Etsy shop. It’s will have specific pieces of artwork that are not offered in my online shop. I’ve gone through my inventory and made decisions about items I will pull from my own shop as well. This will take some time for me to get up and running. Remember, I’m still got all kinds of other irons in the fire that require regular tending!

I have no delusions. Etsy will not be a magical fix. I’ve done my research. As well as making sure that the decisions I make are ones that not only ‘feel right‘ but are also things that I can accomplish. Mentally and emotionally I am in agreement. My frustrations have been quieted, and my clinical depression managed.

Thank you for reading, and I will see you again next Friday.

 

 

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One of Four

Uncovering meaning:

Long-time readers of my blog know that the meanings of my artwork evolve during the time in which I’m actively creating it. I may have an idea of where a piece might be going, but try hard not to become too attached to a specific theme or direction. The four box dolls that I’ve been working on started out as one thing in my mind. Then they decided that they were going to go off in a completely different direction. Not wanting to force myself on them, I let the art direct me creatively.

I generally work in even-numbered groups while creating my art. There isn’t any other reason than, it feels right to me. A group of four dolls, that will be contained in frames/boxes with hang tabs-like looking elements, is what I call a set. All four items belong to the singular artistic expression. They belong together.

My initial idea was to have the dolls contained within the frames/boxes (box frames?) each represent a type of doll that I would have wanted to purchase when I was a child. The types of dolls that were sold like this when I was a child didn’t appeal to me. Barbie dolls didn’t fit into how I played with or created by own dolls. Nowadays, I see so many different types of small dolls in stores that I would have saved my money to purchase. As a creative maker, it seemed obvious to fuse what I wanted and didn’t have, with what I could create myself now.

Where we parted ways:

In retrospect, I suppose it was silly of me to attempt this. Evidently, my subconscious thought the same thing. As I continued to work on the four box dolls, none of the ideas I came up with seemed correct. “Oh! I’ll make this one a scientist!” Why?! I never wanted to be a scientist. Or, “I could make this one an astronaut!” Again. I never, ever, ever, ever wanted to be an astronaut. Did I want to fly the Millennium Falcon? Damn skippy I did!

Then I thought about perhaps using the dolls to show different stages. You know? Like maiden, matron and crone? Something akin to that. But that didn’t fit, or feel right either. The four dolls kept staring at me and trying to tell me what they wanted to be, but I wasn’t listening. I liked the idea of showing different stages, or pages…perhaps chapters of myself. But I just wasn’t sure how to do that. Or even why I would want to do that.

Then I figured it out.

What I was trying to say:

We never remain completely the same over the entirety of our lives. Individuals are continually learning, growing and changing. There are times and places within out lives where we were really “into” something. We go overboard reading a specific author, or listening to a musician. Perhaps we cannot get enough of learning about a time in history, or a type of research in science, or going to the theatre. Most of the time, these hobbies and interests peak and fade. Sometimes we just lose interest. Perhaps a new interest has been sparked for us somewhere else.

There are times in which our interests can be folded into our individual life goals. A hobby can become a career. Or a passion about a subject can drive a person to choose a major for study at university that will aid them in future employment.

When the interests that I had as a much younger person met the real world, changes to how I pursued each of them changed. The interests and aptitudes evolved to fit my own talents and abilities, as well as what I was willing to do to attain them. My mathematics were never going to be good enough for me to be a veterinarian. It was a bad fit. Animals are a great love of mine, but being a vet wasn’t ever going to be a good fit for me as a career. For one, I can’t deal with the incredible sadness that comes with the death of an animal.

What the four box dolls could be changed as I thought about who I was in my early life. How I chose to pursue my passions and further my knowledge. Each of these dolls represents a distinct part of me, in that, they are tiny snapshots of who I was when I was five, or ten, or fifteen, and 20-ish. The passions, interests, hopes, dreams, and goals that I had when I was so much younger haven’t left me. They have merely been folded into my personal identity. They are who I have become.

One of four:

There is one of the group of four box dolls that has had staying power for me. It’s become a cornerstone of my personal and professional identity. Through every imagined future career or profession, art was always there. Being an artist is something that has never, ever left me. It’s my personal boon and bane. The life preserver that sometimes confuses the holy hell out of me. Even when my professional art career isn’t going as well as I had hoped, my passion for it has never dimmed.

However, there has been a change in how I see myself as an artist, and how I ‘thought’ being an artist would be in real life. Part of that has to do mainly with the fact that I’ve not yet fully discovered the place in which I and my artwork fit within the larger world conversation of art. Artist? Crafter? Artisan? (As I typed that, I actually rolled my eyes.) I feel as though I will always struggle with this question. It’s just nagging imposter syndrome. And it’s terrifically annoying.

Long story longer:

Each of the four dolls in this set will represent different aspects of who I was when I was a certain age. I have chosen the descriptor of ‘aspect’ as it relates better to the overall concept of personal identity that seems to permeate every piece of artwork that I create. The interests and aspirations of these former me’s are still very much alive within me. Each adding their own acquired knowledge and expertise to my work as an artist.

Names are hard:

I struggle at times to give titles to my artwork. The dolls seem to be easy to name by comparison. As of right now, I’ve been calling this set “The Four Box Dolls” which sounds rather lame if you ask me. Perhaps a better and more apt name will come to me after the entire piece is finished.

So, now what?

As always, I need to get back to work. I have three different pieces of artwork in process. This is way too many if you ask me. I feel stretched thin mentally speaking. There are other pieces that I want to start work on, but will hold off on that until I have the three pieces directly in front of me finished. If there were only more hours in a day. (Sigh.)

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.

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The Art of Failure

No one enjoys failure. Frankly, it sucks. A lot. It’s something that everyone avoids as much as humanly possible.Living a life free of failure isn’t at all possible. As much as failure sucks, it can be an extremely good teacher. Even if the lessons are hard to completely understand.

One of the many things that I like about being an artist is that it’s taught me to be okay with failure. I have no problem failing at getting an idea to work. Sometimes, the failure is an incomplete understanding of how the materials will work, or work together. This kind of failure is small. It takes place on my desk. Where no one is watching. So no one ever has to know. My failures can remain just between me and the failure.

Social media:

I create a lot of artwork. My husband describes me as ‘prolific’ when it comes to creating my artwork. During the past three years, social media has become in increasingly important part of the overall creating and marketing of my artwork. I post every day on social media sites like Instagram. And a little less often on sites like Imgur. I have come to rely on social media to advertise when I have new items in my shop, new blog posts to read, as well as when I have a sale.

My main Instagram page is dedicated to showing my art creating processes. Even though I show a great deal of my creative process, I never show everything. These photos are curated to a certain extent. Thought given to exactly which photos I think will show my artwork or artistic process in the best possible light before posting.

I have several different series of pieces going right now. A series of brooches that have tiny dolls in them. Another small series of four 12 cm dolls that will be displayed in small niche-like frames. And a series I’ve simply been calling ‘the bottle dolls’, which are larger, and more complicated paper mâché dolls, with lots of moving parts. Of the three series, I’ve been seeing the brooches as a creative failure.

What initially went wrong:

It’s not that one big element during the creation of the brooches went wrong. Rather, it was a series of smaller failures that, as they began to accumulate, began making me interpret them as a failure. Each of the failures required me to create a solution that would either fix or hid the failure.

Right out of the gate, the first failure was a design flaw. Originally, I wanted to have the lids of the brooches swivel on a wooden peg to open and close. Laminated carton board was what I planned on using for the swiveling lid. The carton board was too thin, even when laminated to five layers thick. It just tore apart when I attempted to put a hole in it for the wooden peg. The key problem was that even when laminated, the carton board wasn’t strong enough at .5 mm width.

I changed the design of the lids to a lid with a lip that would be more secure. It’s second nature to me to leave about .2 mm between moving elements of my paper mâché artwork. So this is what I did for the new lid design for the brooch. But, I had absolutely no intentions of using paper mâché on surfaces of the brooches. I was only going to use gesso. The finished lids were too big. They wouldn’t stay on the brooch base.

Fixing the problems:

Okay. I needed to fix the lids so that they would stay on the brooch. Initially, I didn’t think this was a big problem. My first solution was to simply attach a thin (.2 mm) strip of felt to the inside of the lid. With this added, the lid should have stayed on the brooch.

Well, that didn’t happen. The lids just kept falling off. With no lid, the teeny- tiny dolls inside the brooch just fell out. This problem was insanely frustrating to me. I set aside the brooches for more than a week to think about possible solutions. There was only one option; I had to remove the felt that I had glued inside the lid.

I used new X-acto blades, a pair of tweezers to remove the felt and glue from the inside of the brooch lids. Doing this created another problem. There were bits of felt that I couldn’t get off of the painted surface of the lid, no matter how much I scraped and tweezed. Sanding would have been an option, had the plastic window not already been attached to the inside of the lid.

Quickly multiplying problems:

At this point, the insides of the lids looked like absolute garbage. I was seriously ready to make a tiny bonfire out of the lot of them. Part of me thinks it was sheer stubbornness that kept me from doing exactly that. If I were to give up at this point, I wouldn’t have learned anything from the mistakes. And there was the time and materials wasted. That all just chaps my butt something fierce.

My next solution was to glue in thin strips of paper, where the thin strips of felt had been. The paper and glue would add a little thickness and hopefully the lids would stay on. Nope. Didn’t work. The lids still fell off. And the glued in paper looked so absolutely disgustingly horrible that I thought I might actually cry.

I had mixed a lot of the paint colours for the brooches in air-tight containers. I decided to use the paint to hide the lumpy, horrible looking paper inside the brooch lids. After three coats of paint, they started looking better. I think that each lid needed between four and six coats of paint before I was pleased with the look.

Tiny windows:

Originally, the plastic window of the brooch was designed to be sandwiched between layers of carton board. I put this aside with the swivel lid design. Instead, I had cut the plastic sheeting to size and simply popped it into the underside of the brooch. Part of me thought that perhaps it could be free-floating inside the lid. But I soon saw that I needed to permanently attach them with glue.

I chose Gorilla glue to attach the windows into place. It was so, so, so the wrong choice! As the glue dried, it formed tiny, frothy, orange-tinted bubbles that I could see! It looked disgusting! While using the paint to try and hide how horrible the glue and paint looked, I accidentally smudged some of the paint over the plastic. The horrible glue mess was covered up! It looked pretty okay. So I painted over the plastic to hide the ugly glue on all of the brooch lids.

Problems with plastic:

Again, I feel as though I was going from one problem to another with these brooches. When I cut the plastic for the brooch lids, I made sure that each piece of plastic fit snuggly inside the lid. Once each lid had a piece of plastic, the Gorilla glue was added and the plastic popped-into the lid. It should have been easy.

What I didn’t realize until the Gorilla glue was already set, was that in about four of the brooch lids, the plastic didn’t lay completely flat up against the lid opening. This meant that the lid would sit crooked on the top of the brooch. So now, I had crooked plastic, weird, frothy, orange-tinted glue visible, and the lids would still not stay on the brooches.

What the in the cinnamon-toast-hell do I do now?!

Honestly, I just was so mad at myself. I made so many extremely stupid mistakes with these brooches. There were parts that looked great. The dolls were super-cute. I liked how the inside linings in felt looked. Decorative elements on the surfaces of the brooches I drew in coloured pencil looked exactly how I wanted them to look.

Those stinkin’ brooch lids though! They looked so amateurish to me. Somehow, they didn’t feel up to the caliber of my previous artwork. But as much as the brooch lids were frustrating the hell out of me, I just kept working on them. There had to be a solution to the problems that I had created myself.

The first stage is acceptance:

I accepted that there was no way to completely solve all of the problems that I saw in the artwork. There are flaws in all of my artwork that only I see. I had to allow myself to finish the ten teeny-tiny doll brooches and then to move on. Otherwise, I was going to trap myself in a negative feedback loop.

Yeah, the lids do not look like I planned them to look. On the positive side of things, the part that I feel doesn’t look great is on the inside of the closed brooch. And after all of the problem solving I went through, all the lids stay on the brooches now. That was the biggest problem I was solving for after all.

Lessons learned:

As I said at the very beginning of this blog post, failure sucks. No one likes failing. Especially when it’s in front of a lot of people. Perhaps on social media? It’s embarrassing. These mistakes made me feel like I knew absolutely nothing about how to create artwork. But, perhaps that’s a good thing. We all need a little dose of humble pie now and again.

Each of the problems, failures, etc., that were made during the creation of the teeny-tiny doll brooches taught me something about my materials and techniques. And also a lot about the questions I need to ask myself while still in the early design phases of any new kind of construction technique.

I also had to try and cut myself some slack regarding some of the specific problems like the plastic.  I haven’t been using plastic for very long in my artwork. There is still more to learn regarding its’ use. In retrospect, I should have used at least one layer of newsprint and glue on the surfaces of the brooch and lid as well. This would have made sanding a must, giving me a smoother surface to work on. Giving myself some slack sounds easy, but it’s harder than it sounds. I’ll get there, eventually.

Shop worthy?

I’m a working artist. My artwork needs to be sold so that I can pay my bills. The time, energy and materials that went into creating the teeny-tiny doll brooches would be wasted (in a monetary sense) if they were not to be put into my shop. Knowing that there was one element (the underside of the lid) that still makes me roll my eyes while sighing heavily meant that I had to come up with a middle-of-the-road solution.

My solution is to reduce the price. You can see each of the brooches in my shop here. They are each one-of-a-kind, tiny pieces of completely imperfect, handmade artwork, based on specific objects, people, history and culture that goes into all of the artwork I create.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.

 

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Time and Meaning

There never seems to be enough time to get the amount of work completed that I want. Even when working every day of the week, there is always something that isn’t as far along as I would like. Or feels stuck in one specific stage of creation. Having more ideas than time in which to create them is better than having all the time in the world and no ideas at all.

Four bottle dolls:

These four dolls epitomize my feelings of being stuck in one specific stage of creation. Application of the sealant to all of the paper mâché surfaces takes such a long time to complete. Just last night I finished the arms and legs. Once they were completed, I decided that the bottle-shaped torsos required additional coats of sealant to better match the surfaces of the arms, legs and heads.

I use a mixture of water and Eri-Keeper glue as a sealant for my paper mâché pieces. It protects the painted surfaces extremely well. The difficult part of using this mixture is that it takes multiple layers to achieve the surface look that I’m after artistically. Eri-Keeper isn’t as shiny as acrylic semi-gloss or gloss that I’ve used in the past.

When multiple layers of the Eri-Keeper sealant are dry, they take on a sheen like an M&M candy. Incidentally, it’s when I want to actually take a bite out of my artwork that I know I have enough layers of sealant applied. For some pieces, especially small pieces, anywhere between six and eight coats is sometimes enough to achieve this effect. I’ve applied about two dozen coats to all of the pieces of the bottle dolls.

Button components:

The button components were made earlier in the week. Making them didn’t take very long. I think I completed them in around four hours. The most difficult part was creating shapes for the button components, then bending and shaping them over and around the different forms. Then they were left to dry over night. After drying thoroughly, they needed sanding, painting and sealant.

I’m still using the air dry clay from Flying Tiger. It’s the best air dry clay I’ve ever worked with. Many air dry clays I tried to use with students in my art classroom have been total rubbish. They crumbled, dried out and seemed to break with the least amount of handling.

By contrast, the Flying Tiger air dry clay stands-up to some rough handling. Including a tremendous amount of shaping, via sanding. Strange as it may seem, it actually took several hours longer to sand and shape the button components than to actually make them!

Doll stands:

The idea finally came together for the doll stands a few nights ago. Once I started cutting patterns and working with the cardboard, all four came together incredibly quickly. These stands will not be covered with paper mâché. Fabric will be used to cover the surfaces of the stands.

I learned a lot about using fabric as a covering for some of the pieces that I showed at Matara earlier in the year. Hopefully, those lessons will serve me well when I begin the fabric work on the stands.

New meanings:

Part of the learning for me as an artist is in how the artwork begins to become its own ‘thing’ as it’s created. This applies to how the physical artwork is created, as well as the thoughts, meditations and ideas that come about as a result of the act of creation. It sounds strange, but that’s how a large part of my personal creative process works more often than not.

I saw the influence of kachina in the ways I had formed the heads, arms and legs of these four dolls. I say ‘influence’ in the design of some of the parts of the dolls. The meaning behind the kachina that the indigenous people of the southwestern United States create is NOT something that I would ever attempt to copy or emulate. I would never use a culture and a history that is not mine as a stylistic choice.

What I did begin to think about was how I as the artist imbue my artistic creations with an element of my own identity. That part of my identity that I do feel is connected to the divine. These four dolls are specific to me. They’re like my own personal guardians. This got me thinking…

Lares:

I remembered reading about how the Romans had a classification (?) of guardian deities or spirits that were called Lares. These lares didn’t have specific names, but they were associated with ancestor worship, hero worship and protection. You can read more about them here.

The concept of the lares gives me latitude to decide what exactly I would like my four bottle dolls to be. If these four are to be akin to lares, then what or whom will they protect? And how can I show that in the artistic representation? There are so many possibilities swirling around in my mind. I’m sure that the four bottle dolls will help me along.

Well, crud:

Today I learned that an art workshop that I was to teach this upcoming Tuesday has had to be cancelled due to COVID restrictions. I cannot say that I’m not disappointed. Teaching art is my second favourite thing to do besides creating art! The person who contracted me to teach a Worry Doll Workshop has rescheduled the workshop for early May. So, I’ll still get to teach! And it’ll be so much easier to wheel my suitcase full of supplies to the venue! Right now everything is sloppy-squishy-slush!

Now what?

Well, for one thing. I’m going to add the last half dozen coats of sealant to the torsos of the four bottle dolls. Then I’m going to start planning the colours for the insides of the torsos. Oh! And I need to make a pattern for the clear plastic windows too! Well, you all know what happens after, ‘now what?’ I get back to making art!

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday!

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In Between

My artwork never travels in a straight line. The way in which I’ve been creating since the completion of the Creative Experiment has been the greatest influence upon that. I would also add that I’m a fairly impatient artist. Wanting my artwork to ‘get done faster‘! This is especially difficult when working with glue and gesso.

Half of the artwork that I’m currently working on seems to fall rather neatly into the above description. At times, I need to remind myself that completing my artwork quickly isn’t the main goal. My artwork needs to take the time it needs to help me create it and myself.

Bottles:

My fascination with Erittäin Heino Suomalainen bottles has been documented several times in my blog. They were used for the legs of Blue Doll #10. There is just something about them that speaks to me on a creative level.  Perhaps it’s because they are so distinctively shaped?

About a week ago, I decided to cut one of the bottles I had on hand in half. Then add paper mâché and gesso to the surface. One bottle, cut in two, became two bottles cut in two. Part of the reason for my doing that is because I wanted to have options for the artistic ideas I wanted to use.

Here’s the interesting thing; what these pieces are becoming is not exactly what I initially had in mind for them.

Between:

Just as it’s difficult to satisfactorily describe how I “just know” what do create as an artist. It’s equally as difficult to explain how I change the direction of a piece of artwork mid-creation. Again, it comes down to something similar to “I just know“. Which, even as I type it seems as if I’m not being truthful. Because I don’t always know.

Between the “I know” and “I don’t know” for myself as an artist is the place in where the creative decisions are made. My knowing and not knowing exist simultaneously. With a lot of space between the two, linking them. This in between space is where every artistic outcome is completely possible. Being ability to navigate this strange space is where the artwork is created over and over and over again. Each time with a different end product. My job as the artist is to choose one final shape and bring it in the physical world.

For anyone looking at the final, physical artistic creation, this is what the artist wanted to make. For me, it is only one of infinitely different outcomes. Knowing this propels me as an artist to go back to that in between space to explore more options for the artwork that I create.

Evolution:

The original idea I had for these bottles didn’t seem like it was ‘enough’. The imagined finished piece wasn’t what I felt it needed to be. Within that in between space, is so much stuff. By ‘stuff’ I mean basically everything. There are portions of this space that I actively attempt to bypass too.

There are hard and fast reasons for bypassing some of these places within the in between space. Some of it has to do with styles, some with design. And there are some things that are too emotional. So I just bypass them. They aren’t locked away. I see them. They are acknowledged. I just choose to leave them floating around.

One of the designs that I had been bypassing were fixed, rigid legs. From what I can understand about myself creatively, this comes from a deep childhood desire to have some of my own toys have articulated heads and limbs. These design elements are ones I find so satisfying to look at and manipulate that they have become fairly standard in my doll design.

What’s in that bypass?

The fixed, rigid leg construction for the four bottle dolls just would not let me go. No matter how much I thought about it. This type of leg was the answer. I let go of my fear and just decided to go with it. Then, I started looking at how I would design and create the heads for the dolls.

The “I know” part took over. Each of these dolls would have geometric forms for heads. Period. No more thinking about it. It’s just how they much be created. I made a few sketches to see if I really, really wanted to make heads like this. And the answer was yes.

As I began creating the arms and legs. Then the heads. Some of the bypassed places in that in between space began to come to the surface of my thoughts. That’s when it hit me. What I was beginning to create was similar to the memory of a doll-like toy I’d had when I was very young. The toy kind of freaked me out a little bit. But I liked it a great deal. I was cheap and plastic. More than likely, it was tossed out before I was 10 years old.

Sticky thoughts:

I knew this had to be true, because I had the “I know” feeling. Again. I cannot explain it well. It’s a physical sensation. It’s mental too. Ha! While writing this, I gave it all a test. I thought about the pieces I’m working on. Pulled in the bypassed plastic doll memory, as well as the bypassed rigid, fixed legs. And yep. Totally got the “I know” feeling.

For quite some time, I have believed that the reason I make the artwork that I make, specifically dolls and toy-themed artwork, was because I was making them for the child I was. That somehow, I would have chosen them as my toys instead of mass-produced dolls and toys. But I think it may go a bit deeper than that.

Why specifically would I spend so much time in an extremely specific and short period of my childhood? While the above reasons are true. I think that a greater portion of my rationale may have to do with control. Control of who and what I am. How I think. Where I go. Who I interact with. Perhaps control is too limiting a concept. Perhaps autonomy is a better descriptor.

New meaning:

All of the above being said, and to make a long story just a little longer, I feel as though I’m working in the correct direction with regard to the four bottle dolls (as I’m calling them right now). Working on them is helping me to create myself. Or perhaps know myself in a greater sense. Man. That in between space is wild. I never know quite what I’ll find in there!

Abrupt change of topic:

Gesso. While I’ve been working on the four bottle dolls, changes have been made to my homemade gesso recipe. I decided to try using chalk instead of plaster in my mixture. I’m quite pleased with the results so far. It’s far easier to sand than the plaster based gesso. There are still places in which the paint surface is bumpy. But I’ve found some solutions to this problem that I will be trying in an upcoming batch of gesso.

I’ve also added some talc to the mixture. I like how it gives the gesso added body. And it makes the gesso smoother to paint onto the surfaces worked on. I’ve also finally realized that I need to actually create a recipe for my gesso that can be replicated. Presently, I’ve just been creating the gesso from ‘feel’. As in, it needs more water, it’s too thick. Or I need to grind the chalk a little more, it feels to lumpy.

So…now what?

The concepts and designs of the bottle dolls are working well. And in a direction that I find extremely satisfying. I’m getting my gesso recipe closer and closer to what I want and need it to be for my artwork. OH! And of the four boxes for 12 cm dolls and the 10 tiny doll brooches have been painted! I’ve set them aside so that they can dry completely (five to seven days) and then I can add more paint and drawing to the surfaces of them.

So…yeah. My work is progressing. In the physical world and the emotional world.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.

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Important Parts

There are a myriad of components, mental and physical, that I enjoy during the creation of my artwork. The interesting part is that not all of these parts are enjoyable. But that’s life, isn’t it? To me, what’s the most important is that I learn something valuable during the creating my art. The physical artwork may be sold. But the experience is mine.

No one likes to make mistakes. They are time and materials wasted. As an artist that posts a lot of art-in-process pictures on my Instagram account, showing a failure is embarrassing. It’s humanizing, but still embarrassing.

(To see pictures of my work in progress, you can check out my Instagram account here.)

Brooches:

If you’re a reader of my blogs, you know that there is a certain amount of creating that I do mentally. The ideas go back and forth between paper and my brain until I sit down and begin creating. A great deal of the materials I use are ones that I’m very familiar with. So it’s not difficult for me to mentally turn the piece around in my head; creating it virtually.

My problems with the design were three fold. First being that I didn’t take into account how small I was working. Methods of laminating carton board with glue work well when creating larger work. Lids for the brooches were 5.5 to 6 cm long with a frame of between .4 to .6 mm. The laminated carton board was so difficult to cut cleanly with an X-Acto knife. And it wouldn’t stand up to sanding either. It just smushed-up and fell apart.

Second, the super-simple peg hinge was just not robust enough to handle having the lid slid back and forth repeatedly. This movement also highlighted the fragility of the laminated carton board. Two of the lids simply tore at the hole made for the peg hinge. And there was no way to mend them satisfactorily.

The third and last design problem was that I hadn’t taken into account what the finished pieces were intended to be. Brooches are meant to be worn. And they will get a certain amount of jostling around when worn. My original lid design was not secure enough to prevent the tiny doll inside from potentially falling out and being lost.

Fixing the brooches:

For a while I toyed around with ways in which I could repair the flimsy lids and peg hinges. All of them would result in creating more work to cover for the mistakes I made. To make matters worse, these cover-ups were just not any good. From a design and engineering perspective.

I had some book board left-over from a class I took last autumn. It’s .2 mm thick and stands-up to sanding. Cutting the board was a bit of a challenge. So many curves! I made sure to take my time, as well as several breaks when I found myself getting frustrated. I added a lip around the outside edges of the lids as well. So in the finished product, the lids will stay put. No little lost dolls will occur!

Large rectangular boxes:

Yes. I made a mistake with these four pieces as well. While the mistake won’t require a tremendous amount of additional work. Part of me is just angry that I made such a stupid mistake. Especially since it was one of the very first of the lessons I learned working with cardboard and carton board!

I use carton board as a veneer over the corrugated cardboard in my work. The reason being is that when corrugated cardboard gets wet, it begins to break down. It gets ripply, and stays that way even after drying. My theory is that the gesso I make kind of freezes the rippling into place when drying. Seeing the rippling surface is distracting.

Adding the carton board veneer just keeps the underlying corrugated cardboard from getting too wet. And it preserves a (relatively) flat surface to paint and draw on. My plan for these four boxes is to line them with felt. Veneering them seemed a waste of time and materials. Long story longer, I should have veneered them.

Why? Because in addition to being ripply, they took twice as long to dry than if I had veneered them. Each of the boxes has around eight layers of newsprint and glue on top of the cardboard. The glue saturated the un-veneered corrugated cardboard and took twice as long to dry completely. Around 48 hours.

Fixing the boxes:

Well, there’s nothing much to fix at this point. I still intend to cover the insides with felt. There will still be a plastic window over each of the fronts of the boxes. I have several different designs I want to try for the boxes. These boxes are meant to protect and display the doll. But I would like to make the doll removable as well.

My bigger problem with these pieces is what to call these specific types of boxes. The design of the box is influenced by action figures (dolls) that can be purchased at stores. The hang tab isn’t meant to be used as a hanger. A separate hanger will be added to the back of the finished piece.

Are they shadow boxes? Box frames? Just frames? Display frames? Packaging? It really bugs me that I can’t settle on a name. They are an integral part of the finished piece. Not simply a frame to display it on a wall. Even though that is one of the things it can do. Weird.

New gesso recipe:

I’m also trying out a new gesso ingredient. Chalk. To be specific, ground-up sticks of chalk I purchased at the store. The reason I’m experimenting with chalk is because I’ve been having problems with the plaster forming nodules within the liquid gesso. I tried sieving it. I also tried squeezing it through cheese cloth. Both had limited success.

The nodules that the plaster formed made sanding miserable at times. I couldn’t quite get rid of all them either. Meaning that I had to figure out how to either make it part of the surface texture, or minimize it through the painting and surface decoration.

I’m still trying to get the chalk ground the way that I want it to be. A mortar and pestle has been cobbled together, utilizing a thick, clear glass container and an empty bottle. The coarsely crushed chalk is added to the glass container and ground finer with the bottle. Any small nodules of chalk that do make it through the process can be easily crushed with my finger while wet. Or sanded off when dry, leaving little evidence of their existence on the surface of the art.

Now what?

Well, I’m at that monotonous stage of adding layer after layer of gesso on each piece. It’s not a whole lot of fun. Usually, it takes about ten minutes before I find a working groove, and can just pick-up, paint, put-down and repeat over and over again. The lessons I learned with regard to the brooches will be very helpful to me in the future. Especially considering that I’m having a lot of fun creating the teensie-tiny, itty-bitty dolls. And see more of them in my immediate creative future.

(I kid you not. I just got an insanely cute idea for these teensie dolls. Damn. How did I NOT see that idea before!)

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.

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Working Tiny

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working on tiny dolls. The Tic, Tac, Toe dolls (10 dolls) were completed. Then I began creating some tinier dolls (3.5 cm). And then some even tinier dolls (2.9 to 3.3 cm). At some point in the future, I will create even tinier dolls (2.5 cm? 2.2 cm?).

It could appear to some people that I have a compulsion of sorts. Scratch at an artist or other creative makers and you’ll find something similar. Calling it a compulsion sounds a bit uncontrollable. Admittedly, there have been times that even I feel an uncontrollable need to create. But it’s more complicated than that.

So, for people looking at my artwork, and for myself. I’ll outline my creative rationale for the teenie-tiny doll army I seem to be creating.

Where do they come from?

My fascination with tiny dolls started very young. Liddle Kiddles and Flatsie dolls in particular. There was a line of Liddle Kiddle Dolls called Jewelry Kiddles. For the Jewelry Kiddles, you got a teeny-tiny doll that was housed inside a little locket like container. This was attached to a necklace, pin, ring or bracelet.

Some of my earliest memories of are of these dolls. I was so young when they were sold, that I have a feeling that they may have been hand-me-down toys from my older sister. She never seemed to really be into dolls as a kid. So this scenario is a likely one. Well..I also had a rather nasty habit of simply claiming things I wanted as a toddler. So I suppose I could have simply pinched them from her as well.

These dolls absolutely fascinated me. They were just so absolutely tiny! They seemed so incredibly precious to me too. It very well could be that my twin loves of dolls and miniatures was born through them.

Not a recreation:

As you might suspect, teeny-tiny dolls in the hands of a three to six year old child have a way of getting lost. Only two or three of my Liddle Kiddle and Flatsy dolls are around today. Their clothing long lost. And their hair a total mess.

As a visual artist, I have no interest in re-creating those dolls. You won’t see me making moulds of their faces. Or painting them on canvas nine meters tall. It doesn’t interest me creatively to simply make another Shirley Strawberry or Cleo Cola. What those dolls do is inspire me to create my own tiny dolls.

The teeny-tiny dolls I’ve created recently are the dolls that I so achingly wanted to make when I was a little five year old girl and lost my last Jewelry Kiddle doll. I’m soothing that part of me that knows that I’ll never see or hold that tiny little precious confidant doll that I would talk to and share all my little kid problems with every again.

Entrepreneurial POV:

After all of the personal (emotional) intrinsic motivation is laid-out. From the standpoint of a small business, my main objective is to sell my artwork to obtain money so that I can pay my bills. It’s a pretty simple equation. As an art-creating small business entrepreneur, I’m not marketing a labor-saving device, a tasty new food product, or even a novel new service.

What an artist offers is an object that is purely ornamental. Even superfluous. And while there are customers who do purchase my dolls simply because they find them attractive and want to have them. There are other potential customers that see the purchase of a doll as not making sense. This may also have something to do with thinking of a doll as a toy as well.

The potential customer may like my artwork, but feel it has no place within their lives. Creating an object that serves a specific purpose, like a brooch or pin (to start with) may entice potential customers to purchase a piece for themselves, or for someone they know. This might also result in additional referrals from people who do not purchase my work, to people they feel may wish to purchase my work

Resistance:

It’s been about a year now that I’ve been pushing around an idea in my mind. Creating some kind of pins, or brooches that have my small and tiny dolls as a major component. The major reason for my resistance is that the concept removes the component of play from the doll itself. It becomes an accessory.

I was gifted a doll pin when I was little. It was so disappointing that I couldn’t actually play with the doll. It wasn’t a doll anymore. My frustration pushed me to remove the pin back. In fact, I had to destroy the pin back in removing it. But the doll was free. That was all that mattered to me.

The appeal of the Jewelry Kiddles for me was that the doll was removable. The doll could also be returned to it’s little protective plastic see-through locket for safe keeping as well. There was something kind of magical about that for me as a little kid. As an adult artist, I wondered if I could create something similar.

Is this giving in?

Creating tiny dolls, actually teenie-tiny dolls that are specifically for pins or brooches — I think what I have in mind is more along the brooch type of description — is that ‘giving in’ to the market? There isn’t a hard and fast, yes or no type of answer to this question. Perhaps it’s simply better to say that my views have evolved.

If you’ve been following me for a while now, you will have seen some of the artwork that I created for the Matara Käytävä Galleria. This exhibit space pushed me as an artist to create artwork that could be displayed vertically, instead of in the round. I began to experiment with how to integrate my dolls into frames and shadow-boxes. The whole experience opened up many creatively interesting ideas for me to explore.

I realized that part of my fascination with placing my dolls behind glass (or plastic as it were) stirred-up all kinds of different emotional responses within me. Some of which could be traced back to those Jewelry Kiddles dolls. To be honest, I was disturbing myself with my own art. And I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing.

Now what?

Well, for starters, I’ve begun the brooches themselves. As with all my artwork, they seem to be equal parts planned and highly experimental. The brooches are being made from recycled materials and will be paper mâché. Pictures are of the various stages of my progress are posted daily on my Instagram.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.

 

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A Place for My Brain

(Update: I have created an Instagram Highlights containing photos with captions of my Daily Journal, as well as my sketchbooks and gallery notebooks. You can find them under the title Sketchbooks.)

Using a sketchbook is something that I’ve done since I was in high school. The way in which I use them has changed as I’v changed at a person, as well as an artist. A sketchbook, in my view is like any other tool that an artist might use. My use of sketchbooks has been is something I keep flexible, so that it can continue to be functional for the ways in which I create my artwork.

The type of book:

To be honest, expensive sketchbooks, filled with lovely white paper make me extremely nervous. There is something about them that just makes my brain shut itself off. I can never seem to relax and just draw in them. There is this feeling that I’m going to somehow ruin them by using them.

For many years, I used a small, spiral bound Mead brand notebook. It had lined pages and a few pockets that I could put things in. The large spiral was handy for keeping a pen clipped inside. So I always had something to draw or write with. The covers always had to be dark green too.

I filled these sketchbooks with an endless stream of sketches and ideas. My sketchbooks became even more personal as I also used them for a tremendous amount of personal diary-type entries. The writings fed the artwork, and the sketches fed the writing. Showing my sketchbook to anyone was far too risky a proposition. So it was off-limits to everyone. Even my friends.

Evolving tool:

After becoming an art teacher, I began keeping separate sketchbooks. One for my personal artwork. And another for the ideas I had for potential student art lessons. Dividing the sketchbooks into two distinct entities kept my personal artwork a personal expression of myself as an artist.

The sketchbook for potential student art lessons was something that I could easily share with fellow teachers. Most of the time, this art teacher sketchbook was also crammed full of articles, snippets of this or that, sometimes even partially completed art lessons.

My personal artwork has been greatly influenced by my work as an art teacher, and vice versa. There were ideas that migrated from my art teacher sketchbook to my personal sketchbook, and the other way around as well. I didn’t want to limit myself. Sometimes ideas died after transfer. While others found a creative place to grow.

Currently:

After moving to Finland, money was a little tight. I was surprised at how much the type of notebooks I wanted to purchase to use as a sketchbook cost. Loose-leaf, gridded notebook paper was much more affordable. My knowledge of book binding, as well as some rudimentary sewing tools, went a long way in helping me to create my own sketchbooks.

My sketchbooks aren’t complicated. They’re simple saddle-stitched, pamphlet books. I found an inexpensive brand of large-format, colorful card stock to use for covers. Recycled carton board is used to reinforce the front and back covers. Each of the sketchbooks I make have around 30 pieces of loose-leaf paper folded in half (A4 folded to A5). If I use an inexpensive white drawing paper, 15 pieces of paper are used.

Multiple books:

I have several different small books, some for sketching, some for writing and yet another daily journal. At this point, I’m in the process of figuring out how I want all these books to work together. Presently, in addition to my sketchbook, I also have a book of the same size that I’m using to plan exhibits of my artwork.

Most of the time, I use a few large rubber bands to hold these books closed and together. Especially when I take them outside of the apartment. Making some sort of folio-type cover, perhaps with some elastic bands inside of the folio, is something that I’ve been wanting to make. It seems a little more professional than the wad of rubber bands alone!

The design for this imagined folio isn’t anything extremely fancy either. A cover that will protect the enclosed books. As well as something that allows me to easily swap in and out different books is what I want. Because I like using as many recycled and up-cycled art materials, I’ve been looking around at the second hand stores I frequent. Hopefully I will find something before long.

So, now what?

It’s important to have a place to put your thoughts and ideas. The older that I’ve gotten, the more I believe this to be true. Being able to write and draw and be alone with your own thoughts is important. Writing and drawing allows an individual to reflect, as well as react to the events occurring in their lives. It’s can be quite therapeutic, as well as possibly a lot of fun. The drawing part I mean!

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday!

 

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Inspiration

“Where did you get that idea from?”

“What was your inspiration for this artwork here?”

Inspiration:

I’ve always felt incredibly fortunate as an artist to never run out of ideas. There always seems to be something I want to try or explore. Fortune has seen fit to grant me with far more things that I want to create, than things than I have time to create.

Part of any perceived fortune is completely by design. I have structured my life around the creating of my artwork. Right down to choosing a husband who recognizes how important this is to me. And leaves me to do my own thing, as it were.

For several months, I’ve had this itch to create a larger, paper mâché piece using a chess and/or checkerboard as a base. Both literally and figuratively. I started putting those ideas down onto paper and fleshing them out last week.

Combined ideas:

This may not sound intrinsically interesting. Big deal. I want to create artwork with a checkerboard pattern. Whoop-dee-doo. But inspiration for my artwork is never neat, tidy to to the point. Ever.

Thought processes:

Most of the time, while I’m working on a task, my mind is wandering all over the place. Thoughts and ideas rise and fall in my consciousness. Some stick around for longer than others. There are some that are quickly sketched down, for fear they might be lost. Some of the ideas just will not leave, for whatever the reason.

Everyone does this. Letting your mind wander isn’t uncommon. It’s not some ultra-special, unique ability. People who are not artists might not pay a whole lot of attention to where their mind wanders off to. Or take the time to write down interesting inspirations. They may feel no need to do so. You could say that paying attention to what your mind is getting up to is a thing that a lot of many creative people do.

Dada has had a great deal to do with how I process my ideas and inspirations regarding the creation of my artwork. Nothing is disregarded. I mentally sift through all of the information I come across. Odd juxtapositions have always fascinated me. Couple that with my constantly asking “WHY?!” and it’s no wonder I create art.

Different ideas; same container:

What begins to happen, is that different ideas and inspirations start mixing and mingling with one another. Those that that I might think wouldn’t necessarily ‘go together’ do in fact, go together. They morph. Growing larger and  become more plastic. And before I know it, they’re all smashed together into a final idea for a piece of artwork.

Chess:

Let me walk you through this chess/checkerboard piece I’m currently working on. I couldn’t creatively shake the pattern of a chess board from my thoughts. Ignoring it simply made it far more insistent and even a little angry at me. So, I started sketching.

By sketching either the idea is purged from my mind. Or it becomes a full-fledged piece of artwork that needs to be created.

Many, many years ago, while I was in art school, I had used checkerboard patterns in my lithographs, etchings and woodcuts. It was nigh-on one of my most consistent visual themes. Like any imagery utilized by an artist. It ran it’s course and I stopped using it. That is, until last week.

I found myself returning to some of the ways in which I had drawn those checkerboard patterns. But this time around, I knew it was a chessboard. Not a checkerboard. Huh. I’ve never played chess. I know nothing about it other than the names of the pieces, and Bobby Fischer was really good at it. Oh, the queen can move anywhere in a straight line on black. So I know a teensie bit.

Dolls:

Part of the reason I think I’d been thinking about chessboards or checkerboards, is that the miniature dolls I make, each have their own stand mounts. They do resemble chess pieces. So…I did a little research about chess. (Thank you Kathy for teaching me to do research as an illustrator.)

I now know more about the regulation sizes for chessboards and chess pieces. Again. I still cannot play chess. Nor do I have any inclination to learn to play chess.

Getting messy:

Okay. This is where things start getting messy and weird. And hard to adequately describe. Anyone who has seen my artwork knows that I have a distinct style. Not so much creepy-cute, but weird-cute. To put a finer point on it, it’s really Dada-cute if you ask me.

My ideas and inspiration so far are chessboards and chess pieces, my own miniature doll creations, as well as my own particular style of artistic expression. Enter inspiration #3E, The Yes Album.

The Yes Album was released in 1971. When I was one year old. Some of the songs were recorded the year I was born. It’s easily one of my favourite albums of all time. It’s one of those albums that I can turn on and off in my head at will. Perhaps I’ve burned it into my synapses?

Your Move‘ and ‘Perpetual Change’ were running through my head while I began my sketches for this piece. I’m not an idiot. Your Move has a chess theme in the lyrics. So, I suppose that this is where the chessboard/chess theme may have come from. To be honest, it could be something completely different that inspired the imagery.

Then it all gets way more confusing:

My personal artistic style is very much influenced by objects and toys from my early childhood. Fisher-Price toys, Liddle Kiddle dolls, paper dolls, etc. Sesame Street, The Muppets, The Electric Company, were also major contributors to my artistic style.

Once I had the main two basic visual themes — the dolls and the chessboard. I started to mess around with the three-dimensional visual expression of that. Because, honestly, a chessboard with my dolls isn’t at all interesting to me. It doesn’t make me want to learn to play chess.

I started adding things. Creating recesses. Round pegs. Square pegs. Then I added some cake. And some flesh. Then some dirt. And grass. Flush parts. Hidden parts. Wheels. A pull string. A drawer to store the pieces in.

And still weirder yet:

This part is the hardest to explain or describe, because I don’t really know exactly what it is I’m attempting to recount. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. So, I’ve started adding all these extras, drawers and cake and grass and dirt, and so forth and so on. Two questions come to mind: why am I doing that, and how do I know what to add and where?

The short, snarky answer is, “Because I just know. That’s why.” Another somewhat less snarky, and even less adequate answer is, “Because I feel it’s right.” Insinuating that there is some semi-emotional component to these additions. Each of these answer dance around the real reason. I’m basing my choices, all those additions to the main visual imagery, on a fleeting pre-language, non-visual ‘sense’ of contentment/pleasure.

Here’s the even weirder part. The ‘feeling’ that I’m taking about isn’t in any way attached to any known memories of mine. But I can physically ‘feel’ it. I know when I’m feeling it. I know the sensations. And I have absolutely no flippin’ idea what is is, where it comes from or what it’s related to.

My working theory is that the ‘feeling’ must come from when I was an infant. My own memories only become fairly solid around the time I turned three. Prior to that, it’s choppy and blurry. There must be some kind of psychological explanation for this ‘feeling’ that’s the result of some study of individuals.

So…?

This piece of artwork that I’m creating isn’t just one thing. It’s many different ideas and inspirations that reach back to when I was a toddler. All of the things that I have named as inspiration are part and parcel of my personal identity and the culmination of my fifty years of experience on the planet. I’m a single, solitary person, with a never-ending stream of conflicting ideas and thoughts. All of whom are smashing together to create new meanings for myself and those who view my artwork.

To merely identify the individual parts that make up the whole piece of artwork is to deny the artist the uniqueness of their own lived experience. These objects as metaphor are alive inside of me. All at the same time. Working in unison to make me who and what I am at this moment in time and space.

In my artwork, a doll is never, ever just a doll.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.

Links

The Yes Album (1971 Original Recording) I love the way that the bass is recorded on this album. There is something about the way that the bass dovetails in with the drumming, especially the snare drum that I just totally floats my boat.

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Challenges Not Anticipated by the Artist

Hello everyone! I’ve been absent from my regular Friday blog posts for a little while haven’t I? There are some extremely good reasons for this. ‘Busy’ doesn’t come close to describing it. However, my brain is still tired and my thoughts a tad on the mushy-side. So please bear with me as I attempt to explain my short absence.

Work, work, work:

December 2020 and these first two weeks of January 2021 turned into some kind of ‘perfect storm’ of many, many important deadlines and events for myself and my husband. Some of them were the regular holiday-related events. Others were a bit more complicated. Involving a lot of paperwork and scheduling. Oh! And I forgot that I decided to run a sale at my website shop.

I had begun the physical work or creating several entirely new pieces for an art exhibit at the Käytävä Galleria at Matara here in Jyväskylä in October 2020. By December, I was working non-stop at finishing the artwork for the show. Working on them occupied all of my time. It’s all I did from the time by rear-end hit my desk chair in the morning, until my husband told me it was time for bed.

It needs to be noted that I could not have completed the artwork for the exhibit without the tireless mental and physical support of my husband. He absolutely did yeoman’s duty in getting his own work (business, creative and the running of the household) done. In addition to the additional paperwork. AND taking care of me while I created artwork!

Then he went and helped me hang the exhibit! Damn. I knew I married the right man.

Art exhibit:

The artwork I created for Käytävä Galleria at Matara will be on exhibit until 5 February 2021. All of the pieces are for sale except for two. I plan on adding the pieces to my online shop the week after I take the exhibit down in February. The two pieces that are not for sale are ones that I feel additional work completed before I could offer them for sale.

I will be returning to Matara on Monday 18 January to complete a few repairs to a piece that was damaged slightly in transport. Pictures and videos of my artwork will be added to my Instagram and my website, so that those who are unable to see the exhibit in person.

Important lessons:

First, let me say, DAMN. Creating a body of new artwork for an art exhibit is hard work! I’m no stranger to creating pieces of artwork for exhibits either. I

specifically decided to create all new pieces of artwork for this exhibit. Initially because any artwork displayed needed to be hung on the wall. This alone would have been enough of a creative challenge. But there were additional challenges that I had no readily been aware of.

There were two major differences in the way in which I found myself thinking and physically working on the artwork. #1) I was creating an entirely new body of artwork from scratch. #2) I am the only artist being shown in the exhibit.

Clearly there were going to be some lessons to be learned. Important lessons that will potentially aide me in the creation of additional artwork for subsequent art exhibits in my future.

Let’s look at #1:

Being  a solo art exhibit, there was a great sense of freedom and control. I could create whatever I wanted! Creating entirely new pieces of artwork would be fantastic! Ideas that I had been putting off, or pushing to the side could be explored. New materials and techniques could be utilized too. Whoo-hoo! Cool! Let’s get started!

One of the largest challenges for me from the beginning of the physical art creation was the fact that I was working on multiple large pieces at the same time. Over the past few years, I’d unconsciously continued utilizing one of the parameters of the Creative Experiment: Do not start a piece of artwork until the one you are working on is completed.

This became problematic, as each of the pieces of art I was working on for the exhibit needed to be worked on simultaneously. I managed to work on several pieces at the same time during some of the initial stages of construction. Mostly during the cardboard, newsprint and glue portions of creation.

Endless juggling:

As time wore on, and I was working on more details for each individual piece. I was having a harder and harder time putting one piece down to work on one of the other pieces. My mind would become so wrapped-up in working on a single piece of artwork, that I would spend too much time working on it. While leaving the other pieces alone.

To combat this, I created a graph with a section for each piece of artwork. The graph detailed the specific work that needed to be completed for each individual piece until it was finished. This did help quite a bit. But I think how I used the graph requires some finer tuning to be more effective for me as a creative.

I plan on working on these challenges while creating the artwork for an art exhibit that is a little less than a year in the future. The different challenges that I experienced creating my most recent artwork and readying it for exhibition will no doubt be of help!

And now, #2:

Showing my artwork in a solo exhibit is something I’ve only done once in the past. That was at the Jyväskylä Kaupuniginkirjasto (translation: city library). That exhibit contained pieces that I’d spent the better part of two years creating. The fact that it was only my work displayed was new to me.

Prior to the exhibit at the library, I’d only participated in art shows in which I was one of many artists showing their artwork. One of the more comforting emotional aspects of a group show is that you’re not alone. There are other artists there showing their work. You don’t have to shoulder the success or failure of a group art exhibit alone.

While my husband was helping me hang my work yesterday, all I could think about was how panicked I felt about showing my artwork. It went beyond “Will people like my artwork?” and on to “What if my artwork falls off the walls?” and then further on to “What if people purposefully damage my artwork?” and then finally, “What if people who dislike my artwork then start telling other people how much they think my artwork sucks?!

It may sound strange to someone who doesn’t create artwork on a regular basis. But taking my artwork and hanging it up on a wall and letting other people look at it can be an emotionally terrifying experience. When I say that there are parts of me across town hanging on a wall for people to look at and judge. I’m not kidding around. It makes me feel very vulnerable. And at a loss of control.

Closer examination:

If you’ve been reading my blog posts for any length of time, you know that the challenges of detailed above will be more closely examined over the coming weeks. Coping strategies will be formulated and practiced so that I won’t feel at the mercy of my emotional and physical responses.

Methods of planning out my physical art creation and work will also be implemented. In fact, I was outlining what I wanted to start working on earlier this afternoon. I spent a half an hour running them by my husband before I took a much needed nap under layers of warm, toasty blankets while I watched more snow fall outside the window.

So now what?

Well, I have a lot to do! There is now the time to start implementing some changes I want to make in how I create my artwork. In addition, there are things that I have been pushing back that I can now start outlining and working on. I’m looking forward to seeing how everything pans out muself.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.