Monday, December 20, 2010

Amy Goodwin: Inspiration in my own studio

I was talking to my best friend about some of the many artists within my own studio building, ArtSpace Maynard, who really inspire me. I talked about it for a good clip and finally she said, "Blog about it." Of course! So this is the first of what I hope will be many posts about what I'll call artists in my own back yard.

When I walk into ArtSpace I have to pass by the studio of Amy Goodwin. I'm always happy when I see her light on because it means that I can go in to "fuel up"—get my creativity revved up— before heading to my own studio.

I want to say that Amy is a real artist, but people come at that word "artist" with so much baggage that it seems a little trite to use it. In fact, she'd probably roll her eyes at me if she read it. I'm better off describing what Amy does that defines her as such and makes her work so wonderful.

Amy Goodwin plays—she plays lots. Walking into her studio you'll see four, five, maybe six projects in various stages of completion—most completely unrelated to each other. From encaustic paintings of swimmers, to bold-colored patterns, to flocked plastic animals, nothing is out of her creative reach. Her art is never forced or tedious. It seems that she often works with no particular goal in mind, like she's just going along for the wild, beautiful ride. And to me that's just perfect.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dream One: You had a whole lot of fun...

My last posting was about getting some sleep to tap into the creativity of your dreams. Now we get to the dreaming part.

I have some dreams that are my equivalent of flying, too many to list, and some you'd have to really know me to understand why they'd be like flying. But one dream theme that makes me sail is hats.

Usually in the dream I'm visiting a very cool hat shop and trying on hat after hat. It's a bitter sweet dream because as I'm putting on and loving each, another part of me is envious and starts thinking, Why didn't I come up with that. It's a great idea. And when I wake up, I still have those pangs of envy. Silly, right? I mean, I made those hats in my sleep.

I had a cool hat dream not that long ago, but in this dream, I had designed all the hats. They were all either teal or this beautiful, rusty red that I have. There was one hat in particular that stood out in my mind, and I'm setting out to make it now. Lucky for me, in the morning I drew up a sketch of the hat—I wouldn't have been able to keep the energy of it alive otherwise. I'm not sure if I'll actually be able to make it, but if I can it will be a lot of fun.

So here's the sketch. I hope to be able to show the finished project sometime in the future. Cross your fingers!

Creativity Tip: Get some sleep!

It's a simple thing to say, but it's easy to get caught up in doing things you love, and not take enough time to get some shuteye. I'm certainly guilty of not getting enough sleep, I have a toddler, after all. But once in a while I'm good to myself and it really pays off.

For me, the more sleep I get, the more I dream—and I'm blessed with pretty cool dreams. Once I get to eight hours, ordinary becomes extraordinary and I'll occasionally move into the lucid dream state. That's always a trip. But along with all the coolness come some really great images or ideas—impossible things never before thought of. Dreams are good like that—they don't care about reality.

So if you find yourself in a creative slump, try loading yourself up with sleep—a lot of it. Sure, eight's nice, but see what happens when you head in toward ten.

Also, write those dreams down quick—they'll slip through your fingers before your first cup of OJ. Write them down even if they have nothing to do with your art or anything your interested in. Dreams are kind of vain—they like knowing that you care enough to remember them. Jotting them down is the best way to get your head to start paying attention.

So, if you're showing up blank at a blank page, go get some sleep. Make time for it. It's important. Let me know what you see.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I Hate Fashion

How can I say that, right? Here I am, trying to convince people to wear something on their heads. Something that will supposedly make a statement about them, right? Let me say it again I hate fashion.

Ask my mom, she'll tell you—there's not much that I hate more than being told what to wear. And that's exactly what fashion is about.

Yesterday I found myself waiting at the hair dressers, flipping through magazines. I don't often get a chance to look through fashion magazines, so this was my chance. What's in, what's out—I both hate it and am drawn to it, like a bad accident.

So here's what I'm going to say to you. I might tell you about a hat trend (since there seem to be many these days), but I won't sell you on that. I think people should choose to wear stuff they like, stuff that makes them happy. That's pretty much it. So go out there and buy things that make you feel like yourself or the you that you want to be, not the someone that everyone else is trying to be.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I'm a Pen

It's not fun, but it happens. I was complaining to my studio-mate about a commission that I have, and he told me that what I was complaining about he and a friend referred to as "being a pen."

Here is how you become a pen: Someone commissions you to make something. Then they tell you all the details of how it should be made—exact distances from this to that, exact colors, a brim no wider than 'X', but certainly not less than 'Y'. "But be creative, after all, it's your art." Right.

Here's the problem with asking someone to be a pen: It's all you get. I'm an artist. I like to create. If someone asks me to make them something and gives me lots of creative freedom, I feel I owe it to them to go beyond their expectations. If they are simply using me as hands to create something they've got in their own mind, I'm only going to deliver what is asked of me. Why should I go above and beyond?—It's obvious that they're not interested in my creativity.

And yet, here I am, a pen. Why? The woman really needs a hat. She's got a tough little head to fit, and in the end I feel for her. Let's hope she likes it.

Don't ask me to be a pen, let me be a paint brush.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Making a Wish

I was just reading through an old sketchbook/journal and found a tidbit that I like. I was writing about making wishes—which I never much believed in. In fact, when I make a wish I tend to make my request so ridiculously vague that it has to come true. The wish is something like I hope I get what I deserve. I suppose that could be a double-edged sword, but as I said, I'm not much of a believer. In my journal entry, though, I found something new, a different approach that makes me look at wishing a little differently. It says When you get a chance to make a wish, make one for someone else—wishes are too self-indulgent. How long did that sit in my journal? Why didn't I hang on to it?

Let me see if I can remember to do it now. It seems like it would be helping me to push a positive attitude out into the world, and how can you go wrong with that? So all those opportunities to wish—eyelashes, railroad tracks, tags sticking out of your shirt, sneezing—let's put them to better use.

I wish for you whatever you deserve.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Try Not to See Real Stuff

I use my peripheral vision to see things. I let things creep into my brain from the side. I find that the stuff I think I'm seeing is actually more interesting than the stuff I'm actually seeing. So if I see something cool out of the corner of my eye, I linger there a moment, ask myself what it might be, then I let myself look at it.

The asking of what it might be allows me to hang onto that creative moment even when it's over. From there I may sketch what I saw. That sketch might turn into something, or it might not. That part doesn't really matter so much. It was the openness—that's what mattered.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Why the Movie "Autumn in New York" Sucks: a Milliner's Perspective

"Have you seen Autumn in New York?"
There was a time when I hadn't seen it, but then enough people mentioned it to me and I caved. We rented it and I watched, waiting for the fantastic millinery presence.

I can't judge the movie for it's cinematic characteristics—I'm easy to please and rarely dislike a movie. So I won't tell you that it was predictable and kind of schlocky. I will say that the millinery portion of the movie was a disappointment.

First point of contention: The client in the movie, played by Richard Gere, asks the character of Winona Ryder to design a hat "inspired by the curve in a woman's hip." Nice. I couldn't wait for it. What she delivered resembled absolutely no part of the female anatomy. When your client asks you to interpret something, you do it. You don't just say, "That's not really what I feel like doing today, so how about this big pile of sticks instead?"

Second point of contention (please forgive the extended background information): In asking Winona's character to make a hat, Gere was actually trying to lure the young milliner into going to a fancy event with him. So she was unknowingly designing a hat for herself. He tells Ryder's character that his date couldn't make it but he happens to have a gown that will fit her perfectly. Curious. Time comes for the event. She's got the fabulous dress, great shoes, an interesting shawl... Wait a second. Where's the @#%&! hat? She's not wearing it! You have got to be kidding me. And they don't even mention it. That she didn't wear the hat to the event says two things: One, that the Gere character didn't take her millinery work seriously, and/or Two, that the creators of this movie have it's details loosely tied together with cobwebs.

As a milliner, I took great offense to the product of labor not being shown. But hey, it's a movie, right? I shouldn't take a work of fiction so seriously. But now I've watched it, so if you come to me and rave about it and ask me if I've seen it... Well, expect an earful.