Onto more of art of a different kind. As I near the final stretch of this three hundred sixty-five day project I haven’t used nearly enough of the supplies in my studio, which as I pointed out a few weeks ago was the inspiration for this project. I have several cigar boxes that I bought without having a project in mind. I also have quite a bit of hardware. Old drawer handles, knobs, light switch plates, etc. I seem to be on a roll with the lock and key designs. I have a fascination with vintage locks and keys. It makes me wonder if it has anything to do with that love of hiding as a kid, or the more likely cause, my horrific claustrophobia. I got locked in a bathroom when I was five, big old wooden door with old-fashioned key lock. It seemed like an eternity before my Uncle Johnny climbed through a second floor window to rescue me. I think it may have contributed to some control issues as well. I’m OK as long as I have the control, or the key. It’s funny how you can have these moments when you remember something in your life that takes you back, and you can realize as an adult how it contributed to the person you have become. I would consider myself a very introspective person, I like to analyze the who’s and why’s of myself and other people.
The cigar box I used today is wood, I managed through a lot of trial and error to cut a hole big enough to set a vintage keyhole into. Once I had managed to get the hole into the box I covered the front in some vintage wallpaper and added a little bit of copper leaf. The inside of the lid is a quandary for me at the moment, how to cover the hole in the inside of the lid but allow the keyhole to remain open. As for what else will occur with the box remains to be seen. I’m just not sure where I want to go with this one. As for last night’s project, my altered art piece, I have a piece I want to add to it that I can’t find at the moment, hopefully tomorrow. I’ll post photo of the finished project when I have it completed.
Tonight an exercise in thinking outside the box. I am someone who has spent their entire life trying to do things the “right” way, for the most part I have been successful. I’ve touched on this subject once before, many, many blogs ago. That need to be right and do right interferes with my creative process. When you are a person who is compelled to follow the rules, creativity, which by nature has no rules, can be difficult. Obviously I have skills in traditional art, I can draw, I can paint, but what I can’t do is get past my own limitations on the “right” way. It is an issue that I struggle with on a continuing basis. Paintings that get ruined because I think they aren’t “right” or “perfect” enough, so I change something organic and beautiful into a muddied mess. I’ve completed only a few other altered art projects along the way in this blog, and tonight decided it was time to face my demons once again. I look at the altered art pieces of other artists and absolutely love them, in fact I think the more nonsensical the piece the more I love it. There’s a childlike freedom in altered art. I would define it as art before you were told what art was “supposed to be”. Composition is of course as always important, but other than that there is freedom of expression, sort of “everything including the kitchen sink” art. I have several photographs of my grandmother Florence, that I love. The one in this project is from a costume party when she was seventeen. The original is in sepia tones so I colorized it in Photo shop. An old tin box from some postcards (recycling once again!), a photo of the window that faced our apartment in Paris, a couple of my multitude of sky photos, and butterflies, lots of butterflies. I’m not finished, a day that found me with a bad headache once again, so the components are here, the pieces will come together in the morning. It’s coming along nicely, very different for me, and something I think I need to force myself to do more often to loosen me up a bit creatively speaking.
Something I wrote last night sparked some interesting thoughts in my head today. Last night I made reference to my half painted canvas, which upon a coat of paint, was fully clothed. I thought a lot about that today. Sexuality is a subject that makes many people uncomfortable, not me. (Just ask my horrified children.) To be human is to be a sexual being. To give birth is a sexual experience. When I look at that “virginal” white canvas that I started with yesterday I cannot help but think how much life it gains when paint is laid upon it. I give birth to my art. It becomes vibrant and alive. Think about it. How much great art has been produced through the ages due to love, to lust, or because of frustration? The human condition immortalized in paint, in charcoal, in photograph. The Mona Lisa’s smile, the lusty vivacious work of Georgia O’Keefe, even the loneliness of strangers in a diner in Hopper’s “Nighthawks”. The virginal blank surface that has yet to experience life, it is the artist who is tasked to recreate emotion through color and image. The connection between the work and the artist as a human is singular. As I thought about these things today I realized that my own hesitancy, my own cautious approach to laying the paint upon a surface as a young artist has been replaced with a love for richness, for texture, for color. All reflective of the life already lived. I was timid in my younger self, afraid to put too much paint on the surface, afraid of revealing too much of myself. There is a confidence in aging, a wisdom that the young artist can never have. Even the most skilled artist as a youth will find that the work will grow as the life experience grows as well. Love, heartbreak, loneliness, regret, laughter, joy; the list of emotion is endless, the effect on the artist is immeasurable. I need to respect my own process, my own growth and life experience, to leave more of myself on the canvas.
Tonight a face. I love faces. I didn’t want to sketch a recognizable face, but to draw for practice, for the enjoyment. This is a woman who doesn’t exist, created by my hand.
I did it, well half-assed did it. I put two things up on my etsy site, neither of which was my “fine art”, by which I mean paintings, drawings, or prints of those. I do intend to follow-up on those, but am still in the “how do I do it?” phase. I need to find a print shop to get prints made, and I need to find an inexpensive place to order mats from. As for other work that I was going to put up, it’s the shipping that is delaying me. Just when I think I have it all figured out I go to the post office and find out I charged too much for shipping and need to issue a refund. It happened to me several times over Christmas. I don’t care if it’s a dollar less than I posted, I issue a refund. I have too much Catholic guilt to hang onto money that belongs to someone else. Flat rate shipping sounds fabulous in theory, but I found it was cheaper to send things first class. I also need to find boxes to fit things that I want to ship in. Basically my life is a postal nightmare. I wish everyone who liked my stuff lived down the street and I could just drop it off. Just one more problem to solve.
I feel like I had a decent artistic day. I started to work on one of the orphans from this project, feeling all guilty that this little painting was sitting upstairs half painted, like some half-clothed Dickensian character. I sat and began to finish the piece, hating every minute of it. Why? Because I never really liked it in the first place. So I changed my mind, painted over the whole damn thing, and I didn’t feel a bit guilty. (after all fully covered in paint is fully clothed right?) I prepped the canvas to do an entirely different project tomorrow. Meanwhile I grabbed a new canvas, and just painted. Another episode of “As The Brush Speaks”. I didn’t think about it, I just worked. Eventually something began to appear as though out of a dream. I am a great lover of fog. Yes, fog, always have been. I think it is because I always liked hiding. Hiding is good when you are shy. I read a book when I was a kid called, “Fog Magic”. It was about a little girl in New England who could step back in time through the fog to Colonial Days. There were times as a kid that I wanted to disappear. Fog envelops everything around it like a cloak of secrecy, it appeals to me. On the canvas a secret forest of fog and color began to appear, I began to think of fireflies, and bright spots through the haze. A place of peace and tranquility. Once it began to take shape I continued the path. I think I came up with a place I would like to be.
Three days in and I’m finally finished with this project. As I said last night I will never be able to charge enough to cover the amount of time I’ve spent on this project, but I had a few mishaps along the way, as well as some areas where I rethought the way I was doing things. I’m pleased with the finished project. In all there are thirteen pages in this miniature accordion folded book. Each about the size of a business card. It has a velvet ribbon inside to keep the accordion in place, and the same ribbon to tie it shut. I’d really like to expand on this idea. The one I created for Dan has photos of us, and more personal notes and quotes. As I thought about the piece today I thought it would make the perfect vehicle for a romantic proposal. I may offer them with blank pages for personalization, places for photos, song lyrics, anything that someone might want to add to make it a really special gift.
I admittedly have still not really bitten the bullet and put any of my art up for sale. Dan and I talked about my artistic insecurities again this morning. I really don’t understand what’s fueling these feelings at this point. I’ve produced a lot of work I love including what I did tonight, but I can’t seem to shake the insecurity. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a good cook, actually a really good one. Last night we had dinner at the winery. My food was good, not great, but considering how fussy I can be it was really good. I got up this morning determined to recreate last nights meal, only better. I didn’t hesitate, it never once occurred to me that I couldn’t do it, I recreated that dish and it was better. I am completely fearless in the kitchen. I want that fearlessness when I pick up a brush as well as a spatula. I’m going to put at least five pieces up tomorrow. I need to force myself to get over the hump. I know that as I move forward there will be judgement and rejection, it’s part of the game. I just need to find that belief in myself so that what anyone else thinks won’t matter so much.
I am still in the midst of the project of last night. As so often happens to me, I have fallen in love…with this project. I am spending entirely too much time on it to ever see a profit, but I honestly don’t care. I love creating, I love drawing, I love painting, I even love sanding wood. When I find a project that really appeals to me I can very easily get lost in it. Dan often remarks to me that I need to consider my time when I am calculating a price on a piece that I’m going to sell, but it just doesn’t work that way. I never think of myself as an “hourly” employee when I work. As for price, well, every piece is priceless to me. I probably won’t ever get paid back for all of the time I’ve spent on art, but I earn so much more in pleasure and satisfaction. Some things are so invaluable that they can’t have a price. There is no cost to be placed on my thoughts, my visions, my inspiration, there is only in the end the work. My satisfaction comes from knowing that someone else buys the work, loves the work, and shares the work with the people that they care about. Somewhere out in the world something I created is possibly the thing that someone else in the world treasures, and that is payment enough. For this piece I can only hope that it speaks to some romantic soul who wants to express them-self but doesn’t have the words, or the creativity.
Speaking of romantic souls (me), I met my husband twenty-eight years ago today. It was like a bolt of lightning then, and the sparks are still flying now. I’m calling it quits for the night. A romantic dinner for two at one of the local wineries awaits me. It means my project won’t be finished for another day, but for now my priorities and expressions of love are elsewhere.
Photos of project in process, one finished card, and my beautiful flowers from Dan from this mornings Temecula Farmer’s Market.
Back to one of my favorites yet again. I came up with an idea this morning for a Valentine Day project, it involves my paper burning technique, as well as many other smaller components. It’s again one of the small cardboard soap boxes that I saved from the recycling bin. I used the burning technique on the box, I also took the original hole in the front of the box and cut out an additional piece to create a keyhole. The inside is still a work in progress. Inspired by a gift I made for Dan a few years ago. I made him a small book of the 100 reasons that I love him. It was filled with photos, poems, small copies of some of my work, and little pockets will notes inside. The inside of this box will be a series of cards that pull out in an accordion style. The cards will also have small illustrations, quotes about love, and space for personal thoughts. My plan is to finish the piece tomorrow and place it on etsy. I think any time a gift can be made so personal it makes it that much more special. I want to create a gift that can have some beautiful art, inspiring words, but to also give someone the opportunity to add their own creative touch. A small gift packed with a lot of feeling. I’m not a jewelry girl, or for that matter any expensive gift. I love the gifts that my kids make, a music compilation, a drawing, a photograph that they took, and from Dan, letters. There is nothing I love better than thoughts on paper. Tonight the beginnings of what I think will be a really great project.
Back in the saddle. I had a good day today. I had planned on painting in oils, but as I’ve mentioned in the last few days, I’m fighting something. I also have chemical allergies, thanks to too many years of using art products without correct ventilation. I decided for once to err on the side of caution and not expose myself to any fumes today. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do as an alternative, but a quick trip to the Goodwill helped make the decision. One of my little secrets are resale shops, not only do I use them to find odd pieces for projects, or small furniture pieces, I also always take a look at the art for sale. Most of the time, actually 99% of the time, I think the art isn’t very good, usually extremely amateur paintings, framed jigsaw puzzles, or mass-produced poster prints. However, some of that art is very nicely framed, and that’s why I buy it. As is the same with most starving artists I have no money for framing. Good matting and framing can cost a lot, its money I just don’t have. Since most of the frames are standard sizes it’s relatively easy for me to find a piece of my work to fit, or to take a blank canvas and create something on it. That’s what I did today. My original intention was to make a print of one of my paintings with my home copier to fit in the frame. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out that way. The painting that I wanted to make the print of was too small and enlarging it wasn’t the answer. The opening in the mat board was roughly 5 3/4 inches by 12 inches, an odd size to say the least. As I promised last night, I wanted to paint. As I said earlier, not the day for fumes, so I went with watercolors. A few months ago I did a quick sketch of a photo I took at Monet’s house in Giverny. It was of a gardener standing lost in thought as he contemplated the tasks at hand. It was one of those moments a photographer dreams of where a perfect subject appears waiting to be captured. It is one of my favorite photos from our trip. I measured out the size of the mat opening on a piece of watercolor paper and taped it off with painter’s tape. A quick rough sketch, an hour of watercolor painting, and a matted and framed painting, all for $7.99 and a little God-given talent. I’m really happy with how this piece came out, I feel like I got a little of that lost self-confidence back.
I had a real crisis of self-esteem yesterday. I think it was reflected in my work last night. I’ve been spending months building my artistic self-esteem project by project, and in one bad afternoon I allowed myself to undermine months of hard work. I thought a lot about that today. I don’t want to give power to those feelings of inadequacy. I’m disappointed that I let those old demons out.
I again find myself having a day where art got pushed to the back burner. I had a lovely afternoon with Gabby (my nine-year old friend). We did homework, and then we made banana bread muffins, and a couple of deep dish pizzas. I have promised myself the full day tomorrow to paint, and I fully intend to keep that promise. For tonight one more mirror pen and ink. I wasn’t up to much, still struggling against something, still have a headache. Grabbed some vitamin C today in hopes of keeping the flu away. Either way I’m painting tomorrow, promise.
Bad day today. Still battling something, not sure what, but woke at four with a headache, then again at five, and finally gave up at about six fifteen this morning. Worse yet I was battling some inner demons. Remember “not good enough”, the evil little tormentor that resides inside my brain? Well he made a return appearance today. I haven’t heard from him in a while, but he must have managed to slip out of his hiding space while my head was pounding. I started out the day investigating print and matte prices in order to sell my work. I was feeling confident, and artistically self-assured. I took a break to take Brian to urgent care. (Sitting in a cesspool of illness I’m sure did a lot for my already not feeling good self) I came home with an even more horrible headache. I decided to look at local art groups with the idea of joining one. I began to look at the work of some of the members, and worse yet began to look at their credentials. That’s when the self-doubt began to creep in. I read the educational pedigrees of these artists and felt inadequate. I thought I was past the chip on my shoulder, but I think maybe I had just learned to turn a deaf ear to the voice inside my head. Today it was loud and clear reminding me that I have had no training. Shortly after that exercise in self-destruction I began to organize my work from this project. I opened a separate file on my computer and began to sort through what I felt was “good” work, and copy those pieces into that file. I came up with forty-eight. I have been working on this project since the thirteenth of April and could only come up with forty-eight pieces that I felt were worthy. I went to Dan and told him how disappointed I was in myself. He immediately disagreed, and told me how much he admires what I have been doing, and that the work was good. After I talked to him I revisited my work, the number grew to one hundred and four. I have come to understand that my new-found artistic confidence is more fragile than I realized. I need to remind myself every day that I have talent, that not every piece will be perfect or turn out the way I want it to. It was a long struggle to get where I am, I’m not willing to lose the progress I’ve made. Tonight I attempted a watercolor portrait that honestly I am not that happy with. It falls under the “I should have left well enough alone” category. It seemed to be headed in the right direction, and then…self-doubt. Not good enough, add more paint, try to subtract more paint (tough with watercolor), in the end I added ink, in the end I think I should have left it alone. Tomorrow is a new day, a day to start over and remember that confidence I was building. One step back, two steps forward.