Two weeks ago, Fabeku Fantumise and Jeanne Bessette hosted a call for artists regarding changing the archetypes around artists so that we think like THRIVING ARTISTS instead of starving artists. This call was huge and profound and has got me all fired up about a big project I want to take on. I had been talking just the day before with Kat Peters-Midland about this project idea and I was so into it, but left her house feeling more wistful than anything. I didn’t think it was possible on Thursday, even though the idea is a good one and I was excited about it. But while I listened to Fabeku speak, I became more and more confident to
GO IN THE DIRECTION OF MY DREAMS!
I want you to go there, too. This recording is free. But you do have to promise to share it with as many folks as you can think of. Help start a revolution! (FYI, the call is not work safe.)
First of all, no, I have no idea why I was up at 2 am writing this post. I thought I might get more work done while everybody is asleep and that I might sleep while everybody is awake tomorrow. I don’t know if any of this is wise, but Tim was ok with the burden it would place on him in yhe morning, so why not give it a try.
And that’s one of the things this post is about. Trying something even when you’re not sure it’s going to work out.
Now I want to share the two scary and creative things I’ve done in the past few months.
1. Became a foster mom.
I haven’t mentioned this topic here, because it’s my art blog, but it’s relevant to this post. Last year Tim and I were certified by our county as foster parents. Never having been a parent before at all, this was a huge and scary step for me. (Not for Tim. He was good with it from the word go.) I have learned in the past two months, however, that motherhood requires large quantities of creativity. HUGE quantities.
I had no idea.
Can I shower, have breakfast and answer all of my client email before the baby wakes up? How do I take a sleeping baby in the car to pick up the 11-year-old at school and get home before the baby has a poop explosion or needs a bottle? How long can I listen to the boy yammer on about his plans for a birthday party we’re apparently throwing him this summer? How many times can I take him to McDonald’s for an after-school snack before I feel like an awful guardian? (The answers are: no, carefully and quickly, as long as I have to, and two.)
And so on.
But you know what I learned this week? I can do it. I AM doing it. And I am doing it pretty well, if I do say so myself. There may have been a couple of times I wanted to cry or give up, but in general, I think I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. And even though I haven’t made one bit of art in the past 3 weeks, I look forward to the challenges these kids bring into our lives.
I took the chance. I made the leap. I let these kids into my life. And it’s good.
And the other thing:
2. Participating in an art community tradition in my city.
I’ve heard of the Masks at MOA for years and either was afraid, or kept missing the deadline, but this year, I finally got to participate. Basically, it’s a fundraiser for the art museum in which artists create masterpieces out of ceramic masks. The masks are then displayed in the museum for a month and the public bids on them throughout the exhibit. Some of the masks also sold during a Gala dinner, as well. All of the proceeds to towards the museum.
On First Friday last month, the museum was packed. I was so nervous…I enjoyed looking at all of the masks, but was so anxious to see my own piece displayed in a museum. I’d been in a gallery before, but a museum! That’s huge!
When we found mine, we saw that someone had bid on it. Not only that, but two someones had bid on it.
It was thrilling.
The exhibit is closing this week, so I went over there today to check on my mask one more time. More people had bid and the price was up to $95. I don’t know that I ever expected that!
I took a chance, made the leap, arted up the mask and put my work out there. And it turns out, I’m not the only one who loved my piece.
I can do anything, if I want it badly enough, but the point is in the trying. Even if it’s scary. The point is in pushing myself to see just what I’m capable of. You can do that too. Even if you’re scared.
It’s First Friday again, kids! As I was rushing around the house, getting ready to leave so I could open the gallery on time, I was struggling with making order forms for tonight. I was so aggravated and SO behind schedule that I vowed I am never leaving my own stuff till last minute ever again.
PUT ON YOUR OWN OXYGEN MASK FIRST
And I mean it this time!
So here’s some news:
Every month, when Fort Collins First Friday Gallery Walk visitors come into my studio, my painting “Nonstop Hilarity” is the one that makes people smile the most. At the urging of my husband, I printed it on a t-shirt and it looks awesome! It’s available now on my Zazzle shop if you’re interested. The image is also available on blank cards.
Tonight, during Gallery Walk, I’ll be taking orders for t-shirts, modeled by yours truly. 😎 If UPS comes in time, I’ll also have cards on hand to sell. I’m really excited about this, so stop by if you’re in Fort Collins. If you’re not in the area, you can pop over to the Zazzle shop and order your very own Nonstop Hilarity t-shirt!
I have other news and musings, about things like fracturing and/or spraining my ankle and watching a documentary about Henry Darger and the state of network tv and how intensely I feel what little humidity we get in Colorado now and then. But it will all have to wait for another day. I’m off to get the studio ready for guests tonight! If you’re in town, drop by!
The past week has been riddled with extreme lows and some pretty good highs. I’ll leave out the lows, as they were intense on both a personal and professional level and I’m still sorting them out in my head.
But here are the HIGHS! These little boosts of confidence are the things that are going to help get me through those lows and encourage me to keep making stuff:
The fabulous and lovely Bernadette was very excited about my handpainted serendipity ornaments when I brought them to PRAC last week. She selected 6 to purchase! Not only that, she encouraged me to price them better than I originally intended.
Mary Ann, one of the newest artists at PRAC, who is an amazing oil painter, loved my painting, “Eva”. As if that weren’t enough praise, she said it reminded her of Toulouse-Lautrec and Modigliani. Well, can you imagine a better compliment?
And if those two compliments weren’t enough, a CSU student emailed me today, saying, I am writing a paper for an art class about a piece of artwork done by a local artist. I was recently at the Poudre River Arts Center and really enjoyed your piece entitled “Eva”. She wanted some more information about the painting so she could write about it. This is blowing me away.Fran just said to me “I told you you’re talented. Maybe you’ll start to believe it one day!” (She is so good to me.)
Friday, I was juried (is that the right word?) in as an artist to the Poudre River Arts Center studios. I know that acceptance by my peers shouldn’t be a requisite, but for me, it helps remind me I am an artist. These artists are following their hearts, making a living at their art or doing art daily and they have STUDIOS in an ART CENTER with a GALLERY and that’s part of the Fort Collins First Friday thing…well, that’s way too cool.
I’ve been doing their website for a few years and now and then made some suggestions which have morphed into a position where I could be compensated for doing something I’m really good at. Long story short, they used to be more of a co-op, but now they have decided to create two positions — a marketing person and an operations person and the compensation would be studio space. I have really wanted to get out of the house more lately, as working at home can be a bit of a drag sometimes. I also want to give my art more serious attention; I thought that being in this type of atmosphere might help.
Friday afternoon I met with the artists, at the encouragement of Kat Peters-Midland, to be “interviewed” so the others could decide if I fit in with the existing studio artists. They were all really nice and seemed to like my work, although I felt very amateur and silly in their presence. (I’ll get over that, really.) An hour later, there was an email from Kat saying I’m in.
I’m very excited to have a studio, away from home, to work in. I think I’ll be more focused, as I won’t see my laptop across the room and worry about work that needs to be done, or laundry that needs to go into the dryer, etc. I’m super excited about finding a spot large enough to teach classes, as I’ve been wanting to do that for a while now and have a few workshop ideas bubbling up in the back of my head.
This coming week, i’ll go over to look at the spaces again and select mine, as well as to sign the contract. I think I move in July 1, but I’m hoping it will be a little sooner so I can participate in First Friday that month. I have so many ideas!
In the way of actual art-making, I have a few projects in progress, which I’ll write about soon. I completed a 9-month art therapy group yesterday, which also deserves a nice, thoughtful writeup. The photos in this post are from a swap I just did with Kelly and Venita. These two ladies make my heart sing. clicking on the photos will take you to larger versions, along with short explanations.
Today my mother called me when I was slammed with work. She does that a lot. It’s ok, because she’s mom and I love her. Usually I rush her off the phone with a promise to call later (which I always do), but today I listened. She was excitedly talking about Harlan Ellison and some interview she saw on The Sundance Channel. She was really excited about it, which surprised me because mom doesn’t go in for foul or crude language or free-spirited thinkers (unless they are saints). Mom, I know you know I’m teasing you, but this is true – admit it!!
In the interview, Ellison discusses this phenomenon where writers are asked to write for free. He is appalled by this practice; insulted, even. And he’s right. Creativity is work, just like doing dishes, paving roads or being the governor. And when you work at something, it’s only right you get paid for it. (I’m still working on a solution for the stay-at-hom moms out there, but I’m puzzled on how to approach that one.)
I build websites and consult on internet stuff for a living. I can’t even count how many people have asked me to do it for less money or for free. In the beginning of my business, I did it a lot. I am not doing it any more. It’s hard, because you want that business, but by doing things for cheap or for free, you are cheapening your work and the work of your contemporaries. This is the same for all of you artists who are patiently and quietly working on softies or paintings or collages or altered art and so on. Your inspiration is of great value to the world. Think about it.
And for those who are wondering, the smudge of lime green pastel is still on the sleeve of my hoodie. Which is good, because it helps me still believe I’m an artist, because there hasn’t been much proof of that lately. Also, I can’t find my camera. 😉
A few weeks ago, in my art therapy group (Creating Your Heart’s Desire), we did intuitive drawings on large sheets of paper hung on the wall. We used pastels, which I rarely use in my regular art. I noticed the next day that there was a smudge of lime green pastel on the sleeve of my hoodie. I was so excited and wore that smudge all day like a quiet little personal badge of honor. Unfortunately, I eventually washed the hoodie and the smudge is gone now. But today I’m wearing that hoodie again and I remember the smudge and I’m reminded: Yes, I am an artist. What a happy, freeing thought that is for me.