Help! I’ve “Fallen” and I Can’t Get Up

1 10 2014

Alright, I give up. It’s fall.  Some people call it autumn, but it’s fall to me.

Fall, as in:

  • Fall-ing temperatures
  • Fall-ing leaves
  • Fall-ing from grace
  • Fall-ing out of favor
  • Fall-ing flat on my face

 

Fall also (when I overlook the overcast skies and remind myself that Daylight Saving Time always returns in the spring) means:

  • Fall family holidays on the calendar
  • Fall Into Fine Craft – my only craft fair exhibition this year
  • Fall Ball – the World Series, which might/better feature my team, the Washington Nationals
  • Fall menus –  happy husband because it’s pumpkin pie season
  • Fall television season – we LOVE TV

 

Yes, fall is like the rest of life – good and bad, happy and sad, here and then gone . . .

Hmmmm . . . okay.

 

Even though I will never be your fan, Fall, I will try harder to focus on your (few) positive attributes.

  • You’ll be refreshing, not cold.
  • The leaves will not be dropping; they’ll be dancing in the wind.
  • You’ll be my third most favorite season, not the one I dislike most, next to winter.
  • You’ll bring feelings of nostalgia; it won’t be melancholy.
  • I’ll step lively, not drag my feet, so, this autumn, I won’t be falling.

 

Happy October, everyone.





The Good, the Bad, and the Snarky: How to Speak Arts Festival

24 09 2014

I’ve seen this list - 10 Things Not to Say to an Artist or Crafter - being shared around Facebook by quite a few artisans and artists (although none I know would ever refer to themselves as “crafters.” – blechhhh!) It concerns me that some of us might think we are owed more courtesy than we display; so, I respectfully offer you the list, with some responses that might cross our show-addled minds and some gentler and possibly more productive replies:

 10.“I’ll just get my friend to make me one of those.”

BAD:

Clearly, you are too boorish to HAVE friends, much less talented ones.

BETTER:

Oh, you have a friend who’s familiar with (insert your medium or technique here)? Who is he/she? I’ll bet we might know each other!

 9. “You know what you should make . . . ”

BAD:

Yes, a sign that says “Don’t tell my muse what to think.”

BETTER:

Well, I have had great success and I get immense satisfaction out of making (insert your art/craft here), but I’m always open to an on-the-fly idea . . . you never know what might spark my muse.

 8. “Do I get a price break if I buy two?”

 BAD:

Did you get lost on your way to the garage sale?

BETTER:

My show prices are non-negotiable. I will, on occasion, offer special pricing to my collector clients, as a way of thanking them. I’d be delighted to add you to my mailing list.

 7. “I can make that myself.”

BAD:

Can you make yourself pipe down?

BETTER:

I’d love to hear how you handled (insert media-specific issue here). It’s always so helpful to hear how others resolve problems like this.

 6. “Why does it cost so much?”

BAD:

Because questions like this require that I buy ibuprofen by the case.

BETTER:

The raw materials in my work include (quick list of basic supplies), my education, my life-experience, my time, my inspiration, and my willingness to show a part of my soul to others, in the hopes that they find some beauty or meaning relevant to their own lives. That’s how I value my work.

5. “How do you make this?”  NOTE: I kind of like getting this question. A little bit of inside info can help someone better appreciate and understand the value of a piece.

 BAD:

Magic.

BETTER:

I start with (very basic list of supplies) and an idea – something inside me that needs to be expressed.

4. “Will you donate your artwork to our event? We can’t pay you, but it will be great exposure.”

 BAD:

Are you nuts? I need to sell my work to pay the rent or I could die of exposure this winter!

BETTER:

I support selected charities with monetary donations; it is my practice not to donate my art. Best of luck to you in your fundraising efforts.

 3. “My nine-year-old makes this kind of stuff too.”

 BAD:

What art school is the precocious little bastard attending?

BETTER:

How nice that your child has recognized her calling so early; I must have been at least thirteen before I settled on making my living as an artist. 

 2. “Kids, this is what happens if you don’t go to college.”

BAD:

Yep, cause if you go to college, all the creative joy will get sucked right out of you.

BETTER:

Matter of fact, I graduated from (insert alma mater here). My art is infused with and informed by my education.  My house is paid for and furnished with the money I earn by doing what I truly love.

1. “I can buy that at Walmart for $3.99.”

BAD: 

If you know Walmart’s pricing structure, you are way outside my client demographic!

BETTER:

Have a lovely time in the funnel cake line . . .

Oh, well, sometimes, you just can’t do any better.

I am thrilled to discuss my work with anyone who’s interested enough to spend their time with me at a show. Circumstances might require that I excuse myself, temporarily, to attend to others in my booth; but I do not take folks’ attention lightly. This is not to say that I think we artists are fair game for intentionally rude people. We should absolutely take no crap.  We just need to be sure we’re not taking the wrong attitude into a discussion.  Look for the good, ignore the unintentional slight, and direct the truly rude ones to the funnel cakes.





Time for a Palette Cleanser

17 09 2014

Have you ever had the joyfully gluttonous experience of a major multi-course dinner? If you have, you know the value of that little sphere of frozen citrusy goodness that appears between the chicken and the meat courses:  the palate cleanser.  That small gesture of refreshment – that complete break from what has come before and what is about to follow – amplifies the deliciousness of both.

Fine arting is a lot like fine dining. To keep the experience exciting and fun, we need to refresh our appetite, from time to time; otherwise, we can find our senses dulled and the delight we usually feel in our studios has turned to tedium.

For a long time – many months – I feared I had lost my passion for my chosen medium, enameling. I had works in progress that I couldn’t look at; the kiln was long cold; maybe I wasn’t an artist, after all . . .

When I mentioned my doubts to a few very good friends, who happen to be very fine artists, they suggested I try different media – just for fun. They encouraged me to play in their toy boxes – to experiment with their materials and working styles – just for the fun of it.

Boy, was it fun!

It was also refreshing. Without even realizing it, I found myself back in the middle of my begging-to-be-finished enamel works, looking on them with a very different perspective.  As I put the final touches on the things I’d been neglecting, Miss Muse is whispering in my ear (okay, she’s hollering) about all sorts of new enamel works to be created.

tourmaline detail 1

 

Feeling a little bit stale? Cleanse your palette and your palate. Squeeze a few bright new colors from some fresh tubes, pick up a crochet hook or a pen or a box of scrap wood – dive into the toy box for a while.  When you clamber back out, you just might find your old familiar tools are, once again, your very favorite toys of all.

counter sift

 





It’s an Investment

10 09 2014

9-10 14

Remember, when you were a kid, and some well-meaning relative gave you a savings bond for your birthday?

What kind of crappy present was that!   You had to wait for it to mature.  If you were patient, it would pay big dividends.

What the hell was that all about?  Remember how disappointed you felt, how confused, how downright pissed off?  If that person had loved you, she’d have given you something you could use NOW!

Siblings fall into that category, I think.  As the only child for over two glorious years, I was none too happy when my mother brought home and proudly presented me with an interloper –  my sister.  She interfered with my being-spoiled-rotten time; then she made it very clear that I was not, in fact, the smartest little girl ever (she was – and still is); and then she made me feel uncool and incompetent for my first-born-ness  .  .  .

and then, it happened.

Maturity – mine as much as hers.

Dividends of the highest magnitude.

Today is my sister Phyllis’s birthday.  I want to thank my mother for the gift she gave me on September 10th 1956 – the one I had to “grow into”.  This is a gift whose value continues to appreciate.

Thanks, Mom.

Happy Birthday, Phyllis.





Share and Share A Like, Wait a Love

3 09 2014

It’s the time of the year when being out “in nature” is appealing, even to the normally non-outdoorsy types. (Note: there are some folks, like the man I married, who are militantly anti-outdoor; I’m not talking about his kind.) The gentler angle of the September sun, a bit less heat and humidity, and the fact that the kids have been cooped up in school for a few days conspire to get people out of their houses and into the woods – or the park, at least.

The appearance of these nature novices can be alarming to the true lovers of the forest,  soul mates of the trees, friends of the little creatures of nature;  and they can be startled – and annoyed – by the presence of interlopers who do not properly revere the sanctity of Nature   .  .  .  (Insert derisive snort, here.)

This person summed it up, albeit rather gentler than some:

The field was quiet and empty, the lovely sounds of the babbling creek, birds softly chirping……………Then comes the Loud Family. “Linus stop that, Sissy don’t eat THAT. Come here, come here, come here, now! Where did you drop the ball? Put THAT down, yuck!!!…………………” Ah yes a beautiful day at the creek.

I get it.  I understand the desire for a quiet visit with a favorite brook, tree, or rock.  Yes, there are noises that can take out of the moment, BUT – and this might be shocking news – children are little creatures of nature, too.

It is hard for kids to learn how to appreciate nature, especially if their parents spend most of their energy scolding the exuberance out of them.  While we crave the peace and sanctuary that it offers, we must remember that it is critical for kids to learn to truly love the beauty of nature. If we don’t share nicely – if we jealously guard our “peace and quiet” – when we are gone, so will be the wilderness  .  .  .  because no one will have learned to care. No one will have been raised up to love Nature as we do.

Ooooh . . . listen. Is that the sound of the suburban pre-school warbler   How beautiful to see one in a wild habitat!

k01_0002





Labor Day Blues

27 08 2014

This is a strange time of year – the cusp of autumn.  Change is palpable; it is in the air. It is exhilarating for some and stress-producing for others.

Autumn is not an easy season for me. As the days begin to shorten, I find my mood darkening with the atmosphere.  As many as there are like me, there are others who anticipate winter’s chill and bluster as a time of magic and wonder. (I do not understand how this can be, but I have witnessed it in otherwise perfectly sane friends.)

Knowing that I do not like “football weather,” pumpkin chai latte, or the loss of Daylight Saving Time, but that I am powerless to stop their onslaught, it’s time to find a way to get out of this funk.

Change is part of life – it’s really a definition of life – so, in my sixtieth transition from summer to fall,

I am going to embrace the change of season.

I am going to revel in the transient beauty of painfully brilliant blue skies and a sun that seems to be glancing sideways at Earth, casting gold streaks across everything in its path.

I am going to delight in the scratchiness of a wooly sweater.

I am .  .  .

Oh, who am I kidding, I am going to sulk until April!





Please Be Patient

20 08 2014

The Oxford dictionary defines patience as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.  We commonly use the word patience, when we really mean perseverance, especially in this often-used statement:

“I wish I had the patience to do that.”

Last weekend, I heard that, more than once, at a fine art and craft show. Have you, while gazing at some complex bit of beauty in a booth, overheard such a comment, had a friend say it to you, or perhaps even said it yourself?  There stands the artist, whose soul is on display as surely as his work, and, BAM! – someone has reduced his effort to just being able to “wait it out.”

Really?

I got the chance to visit a fine artist in her studio, last week, to observe her at work.  While I could learn many of the component tasks that go into creating her work, I could never – no matter how patient I might be – do what she does. This is not self-deprecation; I am merely stating a fact. The bases for this assertion are many, but let’s just go for the big obvious ones:

  1. Her muse speaks to her, alone. No one can copy another’s creative spirit. (Yes, we can copy work, but that’s not the same, and you know it!)
  2. She has devoted time and intellect to researching, experimenting, documenting, refining, and pushing the boundaries of her chosen medium.
  3. She is fearless in her work, because she completely trusts her vision of a piece and her ability to realize that vision.

Those things – creative fire and genius spark; desire, diligence, and artistic acuity; technical skill; and mad courage – are what we really see in the finished works of master artists and artisans. I think where patience enters the equation, perhaps, is when an artist merely smiles in response to, “I wish I had the patience to do that.”

 








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