This will be our last question of the month, so we wanted to end with a question central to all that we do:
How do you have fun with art? What art activity makes you happy? Makes you glow with good spirits? Makes you feel good like a soaring piece of music?
What makes my heart soar and my spirits lift is when I get together with my art pal, who now lives in Walla Walla, and spend 5 solid days being creative together. Her husband cooks lunch and dinner for us so we just have to leave the basement and show up in the dining room! Eating and drinking well is definitely part of the creativity-joy-pleasure continuum. She and I have such a wonderful synergistic relationship that we stimulate and encourage one another's creativity.
Her studio is so large and filled with so much STUFF that I can't help but be energized. We usually assign ourselves one large collaborative project to start and finish while I am there. The final product usually is something to put in her garden or to adorn her home. We will also give ourselves a timed challenge where we select papers and mixed media items for one another and then go to work creating. I have been known to remove a framed piece of art from her wall (a large piece of art that she bought in the 80s?) and go to town on it, adding other materials into it to create a whole new collage for her guest bedroom! We listen to music the entire time, sometimes grooving on old favorites (Joan Armatrading, Rickie Lee Jones, Julia Fordham) but then she turns me on to new World Music as well. You can find us dancing and laughing and scolding one another: ("Who left this brush out with matt medium dried on it?" or "Did you get this ribbon from MY stash over here?")
It is certainly a love-fest: love of the creative process, love of the synergy and support and electricity that flows between us; love of being waited on by her husband in the kitchen (who teases us about not creating enough 'product'); love of the physical activity of going for walks to clear our brains and get the blood flowing or to pick up important crap at the local Goodwill; love of being healthy and alive and able to use all of our senses while being in the present moment. Amen.
My studio beckons with some sort of mini tornado mess left behind by the last project. So I delight in bringing order to the chaos and inevitably can’t resist putting the finishing touch on something. Then it’s as if a dance starts, Art Tango. The papers and pigments beckon. I put a little color here, a little texture there. Sew on a few beads, rummage around to find just the right piece of ephemera, use a stencil and molding paste to give some dimension. I feel like a delighted bystander to the process that unfolds when I just show up, let my eyes discover what gives them pleasure and my hands move on the Ouija board of the canvas to create art. . . . Time stands still, my body sings with delight, all seems right with the world. I feel renewed in the church of art. Life is good.
Marking a day in my calendar for creativity gets my creative juices flowing. I've turned half of my garage into my studio. Now, I could have my studio anywhere in my home, but when truly taking time to reflect on it, the garage is perfect, and on a sunny day I definitely have that garage door open to the garden view! The recent acquisition of an industrial chic workbench just calls for me to create (and it served as a bar at a summertime PAC party). The photos tell it all!
I would have to say that my greatest moments of joy come when I am experimenting with some new process that really captures my attention. This usually involves color, like when I am creating decorative papers and feel completely free to try new color combinations. I know when I feel this, and it gives me great pleasure as an artist.
I get excited when I come up with a good idea and can implement it. For example, I made some rose cards at ArtFest this year. A friend asked me how I was going to use them. I made note cards with the images but want to do more with the originals. They sat on my desk for a long time. Then a light bulb went on in my brain with an idea on how to use them. I glued each one onto canvas. Now, I'll add a textured, molding paste border, paint and voila- new paintings. I love to combine new techniques that I've learned. My joy in creating art is in the process- experimenting, designing and seeing a piece evolve into something I like.
The biggest rush I get from art making is when I'm learning to do something new or starting a fresh project...kind of like opening a new box of crayons. The anticipation of a workshop or project, hunting down supplies, making things with other creatives, not feeling the pressure of a deadline or final product--it's all fun. The antidote for the doldrums.
My current obsession is creating what I call my Curious Elements. It is the perfect blend of everything I love: texture, paint, rusty bits, and found objects. I audition pieces on my completed boards until I find just the right combination, then I attach them as creatively as possible. I can spend hours just moving my funky found pieces from one board to the next until WHAM! it can be called complete.
Everything about art makes me happy. When I do it I escape to that happy place. It's like another dimension. I am not the type of artist who over thinks things--I just do. It is like going to the place where the Creative Muse takes over. I particularily like to do art around my friends as I feed off their positive energy too!
Hanging out with the women of PAC.
Artist's receptions with friends.
Watching my young nieces and nephews make art.
Winning that blue ribbon at the fair for an art project.
I love the feeling of waking up and having a project I can't wait to get to. It usually means the piece has hit a point of coming together--the initial struggles and problems are solved and I'm pretty certain it's going to work, but there are still discoveries to make. That's when I lose all track of time and get fully engrossed in the pleasure of creating. Sometimes it's a dance of color as when I'm auditioning pieces for my prayer flags and have fabric scraps flying everywhere. Other times it's the sheer joy of watching strokes of paint go on the canvas or the relaxation of coming home after a busy day and settling into the meditation of hand stitching. At those time art becomes a spiritual practice that allows me to be fully present in the moment.
Art is always fun for me, whether I'm creating it or arranging it. I have a house full of what I consider artful things. Whenever I need a pleasant distraction I move things around and create what I consider my very own stage sets. I have lots to play with and when I'm finished playing around, I'm always happy.
I am thrilled when the artwork in my hands takes on a life of its own and I no longer feel in charge of the journey. I'm just a passenger for the ride.
Another thing that feeds my soul is making art with friends; and better yet, with children. The shared experience of creativity brings magic to the soup.
Thanks for reading along with our question of the month. You can find past questions and answers under the tab at the top of the blog.