Monday, February 24, 2014

Creativity Takes Courage...

steps to prepare paintings for hanging in a show
...and TIME and good TOOLS!
One of my goals for 2014 is to blog regularly. I like this challenge because it is giving me a reason to reflect a lot.   Recently,  I came to appreciate courage, time and good tools needed in order to create and show your artwork.

Last week (school vacation) I was at my studio after a long stretch of days painting...a record number really (including weekends and snow days). I was busy doing the final preparations before I hung my most recent show. There is nothing like accepting an invitation to show your work (without much advance notice) to get you really motivated to paint like mad for days and days and weeks and weeks! It takes COURAGE to believe you can get a lot of work done in a short amount of time, and courage to commit to share your work with the public come the due date.  It takes courage to be open to judgment... to be vulnerable to your audience. Personally, saying a painting is finished takes the most courage of all...because it is like saying I think this painting needs nothing else and is good enough to call finished. For me, sometimes the act of finishing a painting can result in ruining things that are going well in the work because it is when I am least relaxed making art. It is the scariest period of painting for me. The process of starting is the most relaxed, fun and creative. I need to add "figure out how to manage fear of finishing paintings" to my 2014 "to do" list.  I will add to the courage list...driving in snowstorms to get to my studio!

It was funny that as I was busy removing tape from edges of paintings, sanding those edges, touching them up with sealer, labeling, wiring the work, that I listened to WBUR's NPR's , On Point with Tom Ashbrook.  The topic was TIME!  It was really fascinating listening to the topic of time and how, at some points, time seems to stand still and how you are hyper aware of every second and how, at other periods, time whizzes by at lightening speed.  I am not a huge fan of winter (though I do enjoy skiing and snow shoeing on a sunny day and find the cold weather is the perfect time to hunker down and make a lot of art in my studio), but this winter has literally flown past. Perhaps time has flown by because I have been in my studio more days than not and doing what I love. I'm not saying I don't have many days where I get frustrated, paint over a painting that I felt good about the day before, and contemplate switching reality, I know I will never quit making art as it brings me pure joy in the truest sense of the word.  The more I paint, the more I want to paint.  It's addictiveI find that I am most creative when I am unaware of the time and am in a "play" kind of mode with my work.  Don't get me wrong, you do have to work at the practice of making art and it is often after a period of struggle that you make a breakthrough.  You also have to work at the business/marketing, etc side of art...spending lots of behind the scenes time doing things like marketing (including managing a website, keeping up with blogs and social media, researching selling venues, bookkeeping, education, materials management, etc. Mostly, you need to work at making TIME for art.

The photo strip above represents some of the behind-the-scenes preparations for a show:  planning, measuring the space, prepping edges (removing tape, sanding, painting), wiring work to hang, planning the groupings to hang, getting to the studio a lot despite snowstorms and life's other commitments, setting up and photographing work, titling, pricing and writing up artist statements and list of work, packing up work for transport (always challenging for me as I tend to paint too close to the hang date which means I have some wet paint), etc.  The photos also show many of the TOOLS I rely on to prep and hang a show are: a good camera, tripod, black velvet for backdrop, boxes, bubble wrap, light stands, sandpaper, sharpies, hammer, level, pencils, tape measure, hanging wire, hardware and hooks, a car that is big enough to transport your work, etc. One tool I have to give a shout out to is my most cherished old clam knife that I'm pretty sure once belonged to my mom.  I use this to remove the blue painters' tape that I put on the edges of my paintings while I create the work.  That tape often gets seriously gunked up with paint and sometimes is left on longer than the recommended 3 month time period and gets seriously stuck to the edges.  This knife helps me to get off that tape.  The blade is the perfect sharpness and weight and the handle makes it easy for me to have a secure grip.  Perhaps I should take some TIME and market these knives to artists?

The Workhorse
A new tool I discovered this round which saved my hands even more wear and tear (winter and oil paints are already tough on hands) and will be added to my must have "favorite tools" list is:
available through Amazon - worth every penny
Super soft, finger-friendly picture wire

What are your your favorite tools for making art?

Next blog of my new work from the show!

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