Lets talk about the F word…

This is a new kind of post for me, straying away from my usual topics such as new art works and the process of making them.  This post is about the F wordotherwise known as Failure.  

Over the past few days I have been reflecting on that word and what it means…

The first place I encountered the essence of the word was at the blog spot Beautiful Hello, in her post “Things I am afraid to tell you: confessions of an artist.”  It turns out a community of bloggers have gotten together to promote reality.  In other words, make a conscious effort to  keep it real, show some vulnerability…depict real life and some of its challenges rather than the presentation of reality that can be readily found in the blogging world.   Her post is honest and heart-felt.  It reflects on the days that we do not feel so successful or creative as artists or people for that matter, days that we have all experienced.  I think it’s great to share those days, it’s human, it’s real and it gives the reader and writer some acknowledgement that their not so successful days are normal and experienced by all.

The second place I witnessed the word was in the documentary film Undefeated by Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin. I went to a documentary film festival this weekend in Leuven with some good friends and we decided to see that film as we all have an affection for sports movies that depict the underdog.  It’s a film that chronicles the season of an inner-city Memphis football team.  It portrays the successes and failures of the team and everyone associated with it.  It should be seen by everyone.  Maybe you don’t like underdog sports movies, but this movie is more about life rather than sports.  Here is the trailer for it.

Finally, being in a bit of a creative slump myself this weekend, I decided to spend much of my time learning more about starting a art/craft business rather than miserably trying to force out anther artwork. It’s the direction I want to go in when I leave Brussels.

Anyway….

I came across this video on Etsy by artist and craftsman Becky Johnson.  The video is about an hour-long, which is why I could not embed it here, but it is well worth watching if you are interested in being a full-time artist.  The basic premise of the video is how to diversify in order to survive financially in the craft/art world. Becky gives some tips on the ins and outs of selling your wares, but what I thought was refreshing was her take on success and failure.  Our society determines much of our success by the amount of money we earn and in this consumer society failure is not appreciated.  The message conveyed in the video is that based on that determinant, most full time craftsmen would be considered unsuccessful.  However her point is that there is “an economy beyond money that we have to understand” and part of that economy is investing in people in your community…which is an important part of the making things by hand culture.  Wouldn’t it be great if we all adopted that outlook?

I have failed at plenty of things in life both significant and insignificant, my driver’s test, art projects, plenty of exams, owning a home, being married, and friendships.  Despite how painful and costly failure can be, it has always brought more opportunity, a new job, a loving relationship, new friends.  So after I have shed my tears and reflected about  my bad decisions, and lamented over the money I lost, I like to grab failure by the throat and give it a big F*** you, learn from it and move on.

Take care and thanks for reading.

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Thinking about: Getting my act together!

Today I sat down to do some work.  A few days ago I had started an altered book and had some good ideas swimming around in my head  and wanted to get started on some of the pages.  Sigh….. Well, if you look below, you’ll understand why I am sighing.

Yes, exactly, I know what you’re saying…Girl, how can you work on anything??  Well, it’s real easy, I just pile things up.  However I realized today, by piling things up, I don’t get anything finished because I get distracted by other projects.  Looking at this conglomeration, I see three projects I have not finished:

  • My altered book
  • Recycled bike inner tube bracelets
  • and the storyboard for a graphic novel idea

I can literally spend an entire day going from project to project, never really finishing anything.  Do any of you have the same problem?? Please say yes, even though maybe you don’t  🙂

Well,  30 minutes into my altered book, and I got an idea for the bracelets, so I shoved everything aside, got out my sewing machine, and started sewing….BAHHHHH!!

So I stopped.

And decided enough was enough and got organized…

I worked for an hour, despite hearing the little whimpering cries of my artworks to forget cleaning and work on them.  I let my paint  pallets soak, put everything back in their proper boxes, and scrubbed my table top.  Just so you know, I am a clean person, I shower daily (unless it’s the weekend) and floss my teeth regularly.  I just have a hard time putting things away because I get so excited about working on stuff.

HOWEVER…today I had an epiphany…because I work in a cluttered mess, I never finish my projects.  So now that my work area looks like this:

I’ll be less distracted and work on things for a sustained period of time, and yes…FINISH them.

SO, today was a momentous occasion, I cleaned, I worked, I finished something and……. I’ll write about what I finished another time.

I would love to hear about any organization tips you might have for all the little lose art supply stuff you have floating around or for how you keep your studio organized in general…send pictures, I LOVE to see other people’s creative space.

Thanks for reading and take care!

Finding Time to Breathe

Lately, I have been just trying to find enough time to breathe and my art has consisted of the examples I have done in art class, like this one…

This is a photo of mine printed on photographic paper on an inkjet printer.  The first thing I did was take some bleach and flick it with a brush on the photo.  This created some distress marks on the picture.  When I went to wash the photograph, to stop the bleaching process,  much of the black ink that was in the tree got washed out and I smeared it with my hand.  To get it to dry faster, I ironed it on a high setting.  If you do this, do it in a well ventilated room and put a piece of paper over the photo or you could ruin your iron.  Ironing it caused it to crack.  I repeated the bleaching, washing, ironing process a few times.  I ironed on some small bits of plastic and then added some packing tape transfers.   I titled it “Evidence”

This is what I love to do, experiment, and keep asking “what if?” as I am going along.  When I finished, I knew that I had started to “breathe” again.

Take care and thanks for reading!

 

 

Try Happiness

I start every day with a walk, a little 1/4 mile walk to the tram stop.  It’s a great way to start the day.

Lately I have been doing a lot of walking.  I love to walk.  When I first got to Brussels 7 months ago I wandered, not really walking with a purpose.  I explored my neighborhood and found new ones.  Eventually I had a Sunday walk, which included a stroll through an outdoor flea market and a pass through the Grand Place (the big city square in Brussels).  It was a great way to pass the day……

Then winter hit, crummy weather, dark by 4pm…meh, The days were grey and melancholy.  It forced me to join a gym, a loud bass filled techno gym where you are bombarded with TVs..but it kept me moving…barely.

Now spring is pretty much here and I have started to walk home from school. It’s roughly 7 kilometers or 4ish miles.  It takes me about an hour and 20 minutes.  OK, that’s all great, but it does amazing things for me mentally.

I think when I walk.  Sometimes I get really sad as I am walking, but my forward motion helps me move through it.  I also get so happy that sometimes I cry and that such a great feeling.  Walking helps my creativity and my thought process.  When I have to make a big decision or work through some particular issue I walk.  As I was walk walking home today I was thinking of this photograph that I took in Paris a few weeks ago…..

While I was out for my Parisian stroll, I came across this little boy on his scooter with the most profound statement stitched on his scarf: “Try Happiness”.  Wow, he came into my life at the right time.  We crossed paths at the right time, both doing something we love.  It’s easier sometimes to be unhappy, happiness takes work.  And now, during this particularly stressful time in my life, when all I want to do is wallow in self-pity, I think of this boy, his scarf, and know it is time to take a walk.

Take care and thanks for reading!

Thinking about: Josh Ritter Video

I was turned on to this video the other day by Josh Ritter.  It’s a sweet song, that hits home for me BUT…..the video is an AMAZING art work.  The video consists of a series of paper cuts that are photographed and then put together using stop animation.  Check it out here: http://vimeo.com/36873964

This got me thinking about some paper cuts I started not so long ago.  It’s a great medium, very graphic, inexpensive, and limitless in its possibilities. All you need to get started is an exacto knife, cutting matt, a piece of medium wheight paper (I use Canson Colorline paper 150 gsm) and a lot of patience.

Here are some of my paper cuts so far….

My first paper cut:  “Plain Jane”

Once I got he hang of it (kind of), I tried some that were more complicated:

   “Boy and Cat”

and finally this one: “Akward”

It becomes quite an obsession once you start, so make sure you have lots of time and lots of paper. After posting these photos I got to thinking that I should transorm some of my other work into paper cuts…hmmmm.

 Good luck and thanks for reading.