Friday, August 28, 2009

Constraints of an Artist

When do you decide enough is enough? As an artist, how do you define yourself; and, what standards have you set, if any? Recently, I have been presented with some opportunities which, previously, I would have acted on...for whatever reasons. Whether it was to get the "creative juices flowing" or to network or to get my work "out there" (wherever that may be...if you find out, let me know) or to get published or to "flex" my creative muscles (I have enough muscles I'm learning about) and so forth and so on. You get the idea. We all have our reasons. As legitimate, fun, or exciting as they may be. However, there comes a point in time when these decisions can be detrimental to your art, in such a quiet, subtle way, you may not even realize it, like me.

I found myself confined by the restraints of all the rules each of these activities were built around. My work was becoming stifled trying to keep up and being a good "team player". The culmination of these rules was creating a rigid framework for me, with very little room for me to maneuver.

This evolution began earlier this year by removing myself from the company of anyone negative. You know those people, always carrying the DRAMA sign around. With them, more DRAMA follows. Or, those with such closed, narrow perspectives, things must be done their way. How about the people who can't help but to make a snide, sarcastic comment about someone? Art should be fun, shouldn't it? Working with someone who makes art work was not someone I wanted to have around.

Then, the Hoffman Challenge Deadline came and went, by my own choice. (Discussed more in a previous post entitled "Studio Time" on August 9, 2009.)

Followed by these past months of deciding against submitting my work into publications and participating in shows and other events. Each carried their own set of reasons, working against the image I envisioned and was working towards:

Time Factor: It would take months before my work would be returned to me, with no guarantee of publication. I already had other ideas for these same pieces. Perhaps, at a later date, when my new line is complete, then, I might reconsider it.

Backseat Important Projects: Well, work that was important to me would need to take a backseat for fun, profitable pieces that needed to meet the pressing deadline.

Work Not Returned: This never sits well with me. A couple of shows stated my work would not be returned, regardless if they used it or not. What would they do with it? Give it to someone to promote their own business? Have it stuffed in a box in a dark, dusty corner, crammed with other artists' work, crying out to be seen and appreciated? I don't know; but, I didn't like it.

Losing Artist Rights: One show indicated I would need to give up all rights to my piece and its designs. Ghastly!

My real defining moment came with this last item that I began questioning, "At what point is enough?" How much of myself, as an artist, am I going to have to sacrifice? At what price? And, is that price worth the cost?

So, at what point do you stop "playing the game" or doing what's supposedly "good" for you, for your art? What are you willing to accept and not accept, in the name of your art, and, yourself, as an artist? Perhaps it's a never-ending process, like our work...

Clipart from

...but, for me, I have become more defined as an artist.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Beauty Pageant Winner - Ms. Aquamarine

Standing just 8.5" in height, as waves of blue, silver, and sand brown hair cascade down her back, Zarina graciously accepts the winner's sash of World's Ms. Aquamarine! As if drawn from the night sky by Neptune himself and strewn across her sea gown, starfish light up and dazzle her bodice. She seemed destined for this moment.

Members from the highest ranks of the underwater community traveled on the currents, some thousands of miles around, to witness this spectacular event. A cheering audience of seahorses, dolphins, sea nymphs, lobsters, walruses, oysters, and a few rarely seen deep sea divers fill the grand, historic arena which once was a luxurious cruise ship that tragically sank over a century ago to the sea floor. Since then, it has become a historic monument when Sea Crab Legs won the 1856 Olympics in the Mile Dash Race against Humprey, the Humpback Miniature Whale who was easily dwarfed by the mighty Alaskan King Crab.

Newly-crowned Zarina will embark on her journey and begin to fulfil her obligations as Ms. Aquamarine beginning tomorrow. The royal herd of sea horses will take her back to her hotel as she glides along in her glimmering oyster carriage.

(This is one of the pieces I recently found, made some additions to, and will auction her off on eBay, starting Saturday, 8/29/09 or 9/5/09. Pictures of her back which is adorned with silver goddess charms and colored beads can be viewed in an earlier post from February 2009. You can search for it by typing Ms. Aquamarine. Please note, as each one of my recently found pieces is completed, it will be posted here, along with the date and place it will be put up for adoption. All pieces will be dated and signed.)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Studio Time

Spending time in my studio becomes a Zen-like experience and calm for me. Hours pass without notice while I rummage through my art books, fabrics, and vintage findings. On the side is a hot cup of steaming tea. I love how the swirls of steam dance above the mini-ocean of the black tea leaves.

Soon, there will be a larger space to work in. For now, my studio is a small corner of my living room. Vintage suitcases stacked neatly on top of each other protect treasures that will one day add distinctive flair and history to my creations.

Guess what I found? Boxes of art dolls I previously created some years ago. Early pieces. Some were finished, or so I thought, while others are UFO's (UnFinished Objects). I've decided to begin working on them again to make them "better". When is a piece ever really completed? Do you think if you look back on one of your pieces years from now, will you still be satisfied? Do you ever really meet your best? Personally, I don't think so. My best is always evolving. I don't think I will ever be able to reach it.

Since missing this year's Hoffman Challenge, I gave myself the freedom to develop the pieces in the directions they were evolving in. Originally, 8 promising little lives were all standing by, all waiting to possibly be selected to compete. One by one, they were disqualified. This year, they just weren't meeting the criteria outlined in the rules. It didn't feel right to make them become something they really didn't want to be.

After going round and round in my mind, deciding what I should do, it finally came down to this: Instead of trying to make them "fit" into categories that weren't them, allow them to become who they inherently are. Even if it doesn't meet another's expectations, that's okay. There will always be another opportunity. What's important is you need to follow your path instead of following someone else's standards. Their standards aren't necessarily the right ones for you and vice versa. That's why God put us in different bodies, so we can travel on the paths he set out solely for us.

So, here I am with 8 little devine beings plus the boxes of dolls found in our attic. Into my studio I go, searching for ideas in the boxes and books and drawers, to add to these pieces. Once done, I'll place them on eBay or Etsy but haven't decided which one. Perhaps both. A new wrestling match now begins...