Category Archives: Pictures

Size and Relative Dimension

This is where I make my art.

Over the past few months, I’ve been seeing pictures in magazines and posting on different internet platforms that show an artists studio. This studio could be a room in their home, an out-building, or a rented commercial space in which they create their artwork. There are times in which I find myself both green with jealousy and completely baffled at the exact same time regarding these spaces of artists and creators. Jealous when I see such lovely spaces, totally dedicated to the pursuit of creating art. Studios with big steel sinks, kilns, banks of windows, racks on which to dry prints, paintings or fabric, big, long tables with vises where large three-dimensional pieces can be constructed, as well as sections where multiple sewing machines can be set up, with adequate space to lay out, cut and store fabric and sewing supplies. Shelves upon shelves for storage of everything a given artist could possibly need or want to create their own unique pieces of art.

This all makes me green. Very, very green with envy.

Some of the photos look impossibly perfect to me though. Some look tremendously styled, with items placed here and there, ‘just so’. It makes me wonder how art can be made in such a place. Then I remind myself that photos are styled to look good, so that people will actually want to look at them and go ‘Oooooh! Ahhhhh!’ and dream about their own creative spaces where things can be ‘just so’ for them as well. Those photos are an idealised vision of what a studio could be, can be. The photographer is an artist after all, telling a story with their art.

Over the past few years, I’ve carved out what my husband affectionately calls “The Midden” My work space is at one end of our flat, with a fairly large desk, facing out onto the lake just a few hundred meters away. My tools, materials and supplies are tucked-away in boxes, bags and stashed here and there in baskets and cupboards. I have a small set of drawers to use as well. All in all, it measures a few square meters at the most. All of the artwork that I have created in the past few years has been created in this very small space. Papier maché, clay, painting, drawing, sewing, bookbinding, weaving, sewing, embroidery, appliqué, etc., has been done sitting at a small desk looking out on a lake.

When compared to the photos that I’ve been looking at, my studio space seems small and rather shabby by comparison. I mentally berate myself, telling myself that a ‘real artist’ would have a better workspace, a ‘real’ studio, something rented in an old building, where lots of other artists worked. My work would be taken more seriously then, right?

I don’t think that’s true. The idea just runs roughshod through my head, especially when I’m feeling a tinge of ‘green’ coming on. To be truthful, my physical surroundings, when it comes to the creation of my artwork is important. I need to be able to do the things I want to do, to create the types of artwork that I want to create. I’m not wealthy and my childhood taught me important lessons about ‘making do’, and my internal creative drive has made me fairly adaptable to a variety of creative workspaces and conditions.

What it all comes down to for me is that the vast majority of my creating takes place is within my own mind, and that doesn’t take up much space, so the relative smallness of my physical workspace doesn’t seem to matter in comparison.

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

Wringing Meaning from Turnips

I’ve established the beginnings of my own personal, artistic vocabulary during the course of the Creative Experiment. I talked a little about it in the previous post. There is always a fear for me in revealing what my artwork means as a whole, and what each individual part means to me on a personal level. My fears are many fold. The first among them being the feeling that I’m ‘over-sharing’ and that the vast majority of people could not care less about my artwork or its meanings. The second is that I will be viewed as wrong, broken, mentally and emotionally unstable, and just weird. The third fear is that by giving voice to the meanings behind specific elements of my artwork, that somehow they ‘lose their magic’ and become useless objects.

I’ve been told more than once that I would, ‘share my life story with the person sitting next to me on the bus’. I’m a chatty person by nature, sometimes overly chatty and I am painfully aware of this. I view it as one of my biggest faults. Living in Finland has helped me to (most of the time) be more aware of my tendency to talk too much and/or remedy the situations as they arise. It seems like it would be a natural think for me to want to talk about my artwork endlessly with anyone who will listen. But strangely, it’s the one thing I tend to become tight-lipped about. Talking about it seems grandiose, as if I actually thought well enough of myself to want to have attention called to it and to me as a person. I do think that most people really have no opinion about my artwork, and that’s fine. I’m down with that. Not everyone is into art and art creation. We all have our own ‘things’ that we do, use and participate in.

Talking about what my artwork represents and what the elements mean, requires me to reveal parts of my mental and emotional states that can at times make me look…not so great. I spend an inordinate amount of time inside my own mind, poking around, rummaging through my thoughts, feelings and memories. Couple this with my imagination and add in my compulsive need to be making things with my hands and you can see why I’m an artist. No one wants to reveal the most sensitive parts of their being to people who may reject them, especially if it’s happened at points in the past. Once bitten, twice shy, you know?

I know that magic might not be the best word to use, but it works for me. It actually has a lot to do with the artwork I create and why it’s created in the first place. Perhaps I should say, why my artwork needs to be created instead. It almost seems to me that the artwork that I create is imbued with my thoughts, emotions, prayers, wishes, needs, etc., and that by speaking them out loud, I break that spell and render the art useless, meaningless and hollow. That seems like a profoundly bizarre thing to think, but here we are.

All of the above being said, remember the picture at the top of this post? It’s me. I’m tiny. I’m small. I’m happy. I am fragile. This is me before the world happened to me. Before I was too loud. Before I was too obnoxious. Before I was told that boys don’t date fat girls. Before I was told that I was too much. This is what’s left of being truly and completely content. This is who I am when I look inside myself and see who and what I am. I create myself over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again in the hopes that I can get back to that contentment. In the hopes I never forget what it was like to feel like that. This me keeps getting smaller and smaller the older I get, so she needs protection. I put her in safe places. I put her in boxes. I hide her in drawers. I give her tiny blankets. I give her tiny pillows. I give her guardians.

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

Another interesting video from The Art Assignment. I particularly identify with the the night sweats and insane amounts of self-doubt.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LNiJK3rK9s

Katie in Finland: Grocery Shopping in Finland

katie in finland logo

In this episode, Katie and Berin talk about how they grocery shop in Finland without a car, versus how they shopped in the United States. How shopping is more of an activity that’s incorporporated into walks and trips to other events us contrasted with the station wagon-cramming mega-shops they used to make.

Download MP3 | Stream on YouTube

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