Tag Archives: art

Artist’s Block

I apologize for my lack of writing for the past months, after Christmas we gave up the idea of ever finishing our renovations ourselves. So we hired them out so the past few months have been a blur of sheetrock dust covered craziness. We lived for most of the renovations in just our kitchen and joining dining room with two little kids and a large dog. During that time we got two large blizzards and between 2 and 4 feet of snow. Needless to say it was a long winter.

Ironically today I feel like writing about how to overcome artist’s block. To me art is writing and painting but also all endeavors and tasks infused with creativity, including the mundane practical ones. It’s that newness and inspiration that can be brought into so many things in life. It’s magic. As artists, and as human beings we all know the high of that feeling so well.

And we also know the despair and discomfort we feel when that feeling has abandoned us.

Writer’s block or artist’s block comes from the belief that art comes from you. This is not how creativity works. It may seem like that’s how it works sometimes, but that’s an illusion. If you ever suffer pain from feeling uninspired, try to notice what your thoughts are telling you about you. Likely they are saying something like “I’m not as good as I thought I was.”

If you aren’t inspired right now, fully accept your lack of inspiration. Don’t judge it as a bad thing. If you don’t know what you should do next, fully embrace and welcome the feeling of not knowing. What does it feel like? Does it feel like emptiness or numbness? Or does it feel like fear? Where in your body do you feel it?

The problem is, we don’t often take the time to ask these questions. We instead beat ourselves up for being a fraud or lazy or whatever else, and then that feels so awful that we can’t help but distract ourselves with something else. Maybe we look at other’s art, not for inspiration and our of an inherent love of art but to compare ourselves with others. Maybe we get into an argument over what art is or what art is not. If you are looking at art and having lots of thoughts about how you stack up with the artist, you are feeding the artist block monster.

The artist block monster is your own ego, and it’s the creativity killer. Creativity comes from the you that is not your sense of you. Creativity doesn’t know what income bracket it falls into, what it’s horoscope sign is, or what color hair it has. Creativity comes from the you that doesn’t know it’s separate from other artists, nature, the stars, the universe, or the dust bunnies under your couch.

There’s a space of not knowing, a space of emptiness, a space of no thought and that is the space that invites in creativity.

There are no artists, there are just people through whom art comes through.

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Why I Photograph Each and Every Bead I Make

Have you ever bought something “handmade” online or through a catalog and received something that looked nothing like the photograph? I have and it almost never makes for a good shopping experience. The magic of handmade items is in the tiny details that make them unique. Those tiny differences are still there even when two pieces are very similar. Those small details really do matter and are a big part of why a piece “speaks” to us or does not.

I recognize the fact that I lose a lot of time and profit by thoroughly photographing each bead I make. I currently have thousands upon thousands of bead pictures on my computer that someday I will need to take the time to sort through. I was told that I couldn’t clog up my hard drive with photographs because I’d never be able to take so many, but I have managed to do just that. :)

However the alternative would be completely unacceptable to me. Not only would I risk disappointing my customers by having them receive something that wasn’t what they ordered, but I’d be reducing my beads to just a few cookie cutter designs. Instead I’m free to make each and every bead just how I like. My designs are free to change, evolve and improve over time, and I’m free to use rare kinds of glass that is no longer produced. I’m free to try new designs and new variations whenever I like, and sometimes they are one of a kind pieces and other times they may become series that I make for years.

I let the glass “speak” to me, in hopes that the results speak to my customers as well.

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Growing Up in a “Disadvantaged” Area

It’s funny to think that I spend all most of my time making art and pretty things because I was raised to be VERY practical. My parents did not introduce me to art or teach me to appreciate beautiful things but they did make sure to teach me the value of hard work. My mother never wore jewelry, makeup or nice clothes. I grew up in a single wide trailer but there was never any feeling of shame or lack about that fact. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I learned that rural Maine and our home in particular were something many people would look down upon.

I’m very thankful for the people who did introduce me to art. My elementary school started an art program when I was about halfway through and the teacher we got was wonderful. I was lucky enough to take private sewing lesson from someone who creates the most artistic quilts I’ve ever seen and does other amazingly original fiber art projects. I then went on to high school where I had another excellent art teacher and was lucky enough to have art class everyday all four years of high school.

That said I don’t regret that I wasn’t raised in a city with lots of art museums and culture, or that my parents weren’t highly cultured people or even artists themselves. They encouraged me and helped me to pursue my interests even if they knew nothing about them. Anything more than that would have been unnecessary.

My rural, practical upbringing was an amazing gift and though most would look at Washington County Maine and see a depressing place lacking in opportunities, I realize that it was the very thing that gave me such a valuable and unique opportunity.

How exactly? If my parents had had a perfect beautiful home they never would have let me set up a torch and kiln and melt glass in it as a teenager. Keep in mind I had taken no classes, watched no youtube videos on the subject because we had dial up internet at the time and I had no idea what I was doing. My closest previous experience was probably with 4th of July sparklers. Dad was willing to risk his old workshop/shed that he and mom built out of logs however.

If my parents had had high hopes for their honor roll student going to an ivy league college they never would have let me live with them while I figured out how and if I could make a glass bead/jewelry business grow straight out of highschool.

If as a teenager I had had activities and parties and a fantastic social life I never would have had the time to devote to learning lampwork.

And of course there are many more reasons just like this.

Today I don’t live in a fancy home and I have to drive a long time just get groceries or go to the doctor. I don’t own nice clothes not because I don’t like them but because I work from home. Even when I do go out in public, everyone else is dressed in jeans and flannel for the most part anyway.

But in return for those small sacrifices I have a job not only doing what I love, but the very job that I dreamed of doing from the time I was a teenager. I live debt free in a half renovated 1860’s farm house with unlevel floors so I can be sure to continue to do what I love. And I live in what I believe is one of the most beautiful places in the world so I am never lacking for inspiration.

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Buy Art Not Brands

Do you ever think about what your dream home would look like if money
were no object? Would it look like luxury home photos in magazines?
Would you be surrounded by expensive furniture and whatever art and
decor that was trendy and expensive at the time? Would you want things
like a pool and a tennis court even if you don’t really like to swim or
play tennis? Or would it be a completely unique place all of your own?

I’ve recently been thinking a lot about what makes us want something,
and why sometimes we find ourselves wanting things that don’t really fit
us as individuals. Sometimes we want things because its more about them
helping us fit in rather than those things fitting who we are.

Lately I’ve seen multiple articles like this about Etsy’s most successful seller. http://www.inquisitr.com/1863026/thr…libaba-claims/ I’ve started to completely rethink my approach to selling art.

Common advice to artists is to become a brand. Basically this means to
somehow magically make distinctive art and become famous at the same
time. This is great advice because our society is brand obsessed. Even
as artists, we are brand obsessed. Etsy’s most successful seller created
a brand that is so big that now she must have her designs mass
produced. She’s definitely a brand but is she an artist?

Is it really Etsy’s problem that they have to find a way to survive and
thrive as a huge popular website that serves a culture that is brand
obsessed? Just like food brands would have never taken corn syrup out of
their products before documentaries like Food, Inc, got so popular,
Etsy won’t change before the culture does.

I believe that big brands are as to artists as huge farms are to small
local farms. The reason that so many people desperately want to sell
their art and work for themselves is to avoid having to work a soulless
unfulfilling career, but ironically many of those soulless careers are
working for a big brand. I think marketing is often approached by other
artists as a way to get their art seen by more people and bought by more
customers over other artists. I can give you advice on how you
personally can get an edge over other artists by finding the right
keywords and optimizing your listings for search engines, etc, but that
can only help one person be able to quit their regular 9-5 to sell their
art.

Other artists aren’t your competition, brands are. If we can work to
sell art itself to people instead of just marketing our own art and
trying to find a way to tell everyone how great your work is without
sounding egocentric or stepping on others toes or spamming all your fans
you’ll create real change in the world. The hands that make products
for a brand don’t belong to the minds that dreamed them up and in that
disconnect the “soul” is lost. Art has soul. Art that is created in the
mind and made by the hands of the artists that belong to that mind, that
are ONE with that mind, that art has soul.

The problem is that as a culture we don’t put a monetary value on that.
We dismiss that “soul” as oh you made something cute, oh she is crafty.
Oh he does art for a hobby. Then we turn around and put a huge monetary
value on something mass produced or even made in a sweatshop because it
has a brand name. Someone put a lot of money into advertising and
product research to make you aware of that thing. They spent a lot of
money to make you believe that if you own and display that thing that it
will enhance your ego or impress people you don’t really care about.

A masterfully crafted craft or piece of original art is not something
that you throw away when the trend has passed. Rather there is no trend
to come or go but the thing has true value that is more likely to
increase then quickly diminished with time. The less well known the
artist and the more original the art, the less brand like it is.

Trends in fashion are the most ridiculous waste of resources because
essentially a trend is started by a few brave people who discover they
want to be different from everyone else and everyone else wants to be
different too so they all end up looking the same. Then it’s on to the
new trends. Trends are destroying the earth. Instead buy an original
piece of art that speaks to you, that you love and be original.

Before you purchase something ask yourself? Why do I like this? Do I
like it just because I like the brand name? Do I like it because it’s
popular? Do I value it because I think it has value or because my friend
thinks it has value? How much is this actually worth considering the
materials and time spent on workmanship? Whose hands made this and who
designed it? Are they the same person? If not how greatly removed are
they?

  

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New Murrini, Angler Fish

New murrini, an angler fish. As freaky and
awesome as these fish are why don’t they have a cooler name? Murrini is
made by making a large design and pulling it out into cane that when
cooled is then sliced into chips that you set and encase in
the glass beads. Making this reminded me of 4th grade when we had to do
reports on various creatures that live in the “midnight zone” of the
ocean. Some other lucky kid got to do a report on an angle fish and I
got assigned this… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bathypterois_grallator I’m still pretty annoyed about that.

Beads to come soon!

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