Thursday, March 31, 2011

No Such Thing as Mistakes: 4

I feel so energized by making this piece that I just want to... I don't know. Shout? Scream? Dance? The Muse is present. I'm going to try to ride this wave as long as I can. I have no idea what I'll do when this project is done. And I have no idea when I'll know that it's done. Maybe is just keeps on going. Maybe it doesn't matter.

I'm trying to just keep trusting my instincts on this—avoiding thinking too much about what I'm doing, just letting it make itself. Well, I suppose that's not completely true—I'm also letting the designer in me work. Parts were unbalanced, the flow was being interrupted. I used some simple techniques to check the design. Maybe they can help you, too.

Tip one: Turn the piece upside down. See how you like it and whether it appears to need work.

Tip two: Look at it in the mirror—a different perspective really helps.

I hope the Muse is visiting you, too. Go make stuff.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

No Such Thing as Mistakes: 3

When I wrapped up today, this is where my collage was. It's still not finished, but I'm making good progress.

Some patterns have developed in it that I don't like (like that 'X'-shape in the middle) so I'm going to have to go back in and see if I can fix that stuff. All in all, I remain really excited—about what I'm making, what I'm experiencing, what I'm expressing (however vague), and that I'm even doing this again.

No Such Thing as Mistakes: 2

When I left the studio last night, this is what the collage looked like.

Parts that I thought were important are disappearing. Things that didn't seem to mean anything are deciding to announce their presence. I went to this piece thinking I had nothing, and now it's telling me all kinds of stories.

I was liking the top portion, but the bottom portion was feeling a little disconnected. I started fixing that this afternoon. Oh, and I have to admit, I'm doing this as a total hack—I'm using really old acrylics that I had been thinking about FreeCycling, but thought they might be a lost cause. I use only one brush for paint (I use another for the Mod Podge—that's right Mod Podge!—that I'm using). I also have a bad habit of not changing my water as it gets junky—superstition maybe. You're not getting any apologies from me.

Funny for my studio-mate—he hasn't really seen this side of me, but he announced that it was "totally creepy and really great all at the same time," or something like that. I have to agree—it's totally creepy. And I love it.

No Such Thing as Mistakes

Let me start by sending my apologies to those who come here strictly for hat news. I'm doing other creative things, too, and want to use my blog to share them. My title says that there are no mistakes, but here I am, starting with an apology. I guess that's a kind of mistake, but we'll ignore that for now.

Every so often I get into a mood. I mentioned it once before. It's a strange feeling. As it builds, it starts to feel like all my neurons are exposed—like I've had three cups of espresso, and no dinner. It's kind of cool and kind of scary all at the same time—like a wild dream.

Finding myself in this mood I went to the studio. I picked up a few hats but felt completely uninspired. So I decided to take a look at the wall of demons that I was working out.

I went to a piece that seemed to have no destination, and just started working. I decided today that there were going to be no such things as mistakes. So everything I did was going to be okay. I don't think I've ever allowed myself that before. I just went with it and it felt great. I started collaging pieces on here and there, not really knowing where I was going or what story I was making. But making the piece made me feel a little free of the knot in my chest. I returned to the studio later in the night to continue. I tuned into some of my melancholy friends—Belle and Sebastian—for example.

This is going to be a series of posts showing the progress of the piece I'm working on. Sadly, I just realized that I don't have a photo of where this piece started this week. I can tell you that I started it yeeeeears ago, and it has just been waiting for me. I thought it was in the "demons" post, but oddly, it's not there. Hopefully the repetition won't leave you feeling bored, that my goal in life is to be an echo. I think it will be interesting to watch where this thing goes. I have no idea.

I've been enjoying making it so much that I have to say that I'm really glad I wasn't inspired to make a hat. I needed to make something much deeper.

If you're one of the many artists out there struggling to be creative—stop. Just go make something. There's no grade. Nobody cares. Don't make it for anybody else but you.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Catherine Evans: Studio Inspiration No. 2

Catherine Evans is another artist in my building whose work I admire. When I describe her work to people I usually say something like, "It's not the kind of thing one could easily hang in their home, but it's the kind of thing that needs to be made and seen." Is she a painter? Yes. Is she a sculptor? Yes. Is she a recycler? Absolutely. All the work is abstract and seems to have some element of repetition. She uses tons of recycled materials—old soda bottles, bottle caps, yogurt cups.

When I see her work, my auditory system gets triggered—there's a rhythm to what she makes. I hear the high keys on a piano, fog horns, branches scraping against branches. I love that.

Catherine has a solo show in our gallery going on right now. She also got a grant to offer a couple of workshops. The first workshop was working with marker on a type of composite-wood panel. There's a large piece in the show that was done with this technique. It's a great piece. I made sure I was at the workshop. So I got to make a little something inspired by her work, and that something ended up as a gift for someone the very same day.

The materials were left out, so yesterday, when the studio was quiet, I went and made another. This time, instead of the conversation that bubbled through the air as we worked, I had silence and my own breathing. The circles that I was drawing stopped being circles. I briefly imagined them as hats as seen from above. Then I saw people below them. Then they just became people in a space or across the globe. No two are alike. Well, actually, two of them ended up the same, but these things happen. They're at opposite ends, anyway.

It was a nice little meditation and I liked that something that started as random circles started to mean more to me.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Friday, March 04, 2011

Learning to Rewrap my Head

A good customer-turned-friend came to me with a challenge—teach her how to wrap her head. Now, I'm not really known for head wrapping. That is to say, I don't sell scarves, and rarely do I wear a headscarf these days. I did, however, back in my lazy college days, wrap my head in fabric to avoid having to style it—yup, I was la-zy.

My friend's needs are more pressing—she's going to lose her hair. The good thing is that she already loves to wear hats—heck, she loves to wear any stylish accessory. And she wears everything so boldly that I wasn't surprised when she came to me speaking of African head wrapping. The visit to the studio went well. We laughed as we tied.

During the visit, I recalled speaking to a woman who had approached me at a show. We were talking head-covering because she happened to work with chemo patients. She explained a technique to me in which you use part of an old T-shirt as a wrap. It sounded great, but I never got around to trying it.

Back in my studio I had one T-shirt—kept there in the event that I needed a shirt change. I grabbed it and cut it as I was told to—straight across below the sleeves. We proceeded to work a little with it. It wasn't a great solution for someone who really adores adornment, but it would help in a pinch.

After my friend left, I picked it up again. I put it on and sat with it for a little while. Then the answer came to me—it needed a little filling out. Then it was just right. If you can find a T-shirt with an interesting pattern, even better. Pair this with a pair of big earrings and a bold necklace, and suddenly you're wearing it and looking like a queen.

I decided I'd make a video of how I put it on, both to show my friend and to have as a resource to anyone else out there who might find themselves in a similar situation. You'll have to forgive my appearance—it was nighttime and I was already in my pajamas. (Let me just add how much I hate seeing myself in videos.)

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The Waters of March

I love this song. Aside from this Brazilian version by Elis Regina and Tom Jobim, there's a really beautiful version of the Waters of March (as Águas de Março) with English lyrics sung by Susannah McCorkle. It's a song about life and all that it holds. And, well, it's March, so I thought I'd share.

Hopefully spring will return to Massachusetts. I'm tired of walking carefully and daydreaming about warmer weather and buds on beech trees.

The Envelope, Empty

The other night I had a dream that I mailed an envelope—an empty envelope. Sounds perfectly boring, doesn't it? But it wasn't. This was no ordinary envelope. It somehow managed to contain all of me in it—my thoughts, wishes and ideas—all that I wanted to express and share with the world. And I mailed it, far away. There was no address on it and no return address on it for me to be able to get it back.

These are the strange things that come into my mind as the pain of creativity tries to find its way back to me.