Passion vs Profit

There are many ways to structure a creative life.  I admire those that can make a living IMG_0395from their pen or brush.  For me, anytime I have attached profit to my creative endeavors, the business of it all can suck the very joy out of the process. In my experience, it takes at least as much effort to market and sell my work than making it.  Now in my 60s and retired from teaching for over 2 years I am asking myself “How do I really want to be spending my remaining precious time on this Earth?

This dialogue has cropped up again in the wake of my first holidayDSC00500IMG_0397 show of the season.  Yes, I walked away with a few hundred dollars in my pocket but was it all worth it? I could have made that money easily with some substitute teaching (which I don’t mind) and been far less exhausted.  By the time I crunch my time in my studio, schlep my stuff to the venue, sit and sell (hoping for good attendance), make my booth fee, schlep home and unpack, ask myself “Where is the joy in all this?”

IMG_0501Thinking about profit sabotages both my spontaneity and my passion, like a relationship gone stale. I have one more show and then that will be it.  My Etsy shop will remain up.  It will generate a few sales and act as a portfolio of sorts.  After the first of the year, I will be selling my big kiln as there will be no need for it.  If someone wants to buy my work, great, otherwise I will enjoy donating it to others and make just for the joy of making.

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Thinking “Inside a Box”

cell-1496385_1920Gas molecules will fly all over the place unless held in a container.  That’s what I’m like .  Unless I am contained in a structure, I am all over the map.  As a result, I can feel inefficient and anxious. Ironically it appears that in order for me to “think outside the box”, I need to be in one

For most, they have a structure imposed by a job, school, and/or family responsibilities.  That used to be me but 2 years ago I retired from teaching and now it’s up to me to create my own structure.  In other words, I get to be my own parent.  Scary.chest-2648225_1920

I make several kinds of visual art, play music, sing in a choir, and write, plus take care of an aging farmhouse on rural property.  I’m doing a little of this and a little of that.  As a result, my work is all over the place with no real sense of focus & accomplishment. I am “showing up” but irregularly without a clear set of goals. So after bumbling around for a while in this new found frontier of freedom, I realize that in order to function effectively I need to create my own “box” for myself to save me from chaos.

IMG_1647Recently I sent for books on the subject. Currently, I am reading ,  Goal Setting for People Who Hate to Set  Goals.”   This small book by Keith Ellis is helping me prioritize & set measurable goals step by step.  Today I am going to sit down, write out my goals and create a visual flowchart to follow.  For me, unless I write things down and have a visual posted in a place where I see it consistently, all will be a wash.

Some successes thus far: I have started to get up an hour earlier.  That helps a lot.   I also for some months now have been following a modified version of the house cleaning and organization system on flylady.net.  My house is way more in order and clean than ever before by just following her simple systematic approach.   I function much better in a clean, orderly environment.

If you have any tricks to stay focused and organized, I would love to know!

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A Time for Play

I’m in between right now.  That means I am in a lull between past projects and ones yet to be revealed.  This is a perfect opportunity for play which often leads to inspiration. One of my guilty pleasures is taking a selection of cast off junk and combining it into something artsy.  It’s akin to child’s play- no expectations, just fun.

I’ve been eyeing an round, rusty old grill on an equally rusty burn barrel at the back fence line of my property.  Last week I decided to see what I could do with it.

3 tone Plate2I was especially happy that I could incorporate the pieces of a favorite ceramic plate that I made years ago and then recently broke.  Also included are some old springs, washers, a silver bracelet, a hawk feather, jute, a scrap of copper & a couple of glass moonstones for eyes.  It’s now hanging on the outside of my studio. I call it ‘Grateful God.”

A BLESSING

May the light of your soul guide you

May the light of your soul bless the work you do with the secret love and warmth of your heart.

May you see in what you do, the beauty of your own soul.

May the sacredness of your work never weary you.

May it release within you wellsprings of refreshment, inspiration and excitement.

May you be present in what you do

May you never become lost in bland absences.

May the day never burden.

May dawn find you awake and alert,

Approaching your new day with dreams, possibilities and promises.

May evening find you gracious and fulfilled

May you go into the night blessed, sheltered and protected

May your soul calm console, and renew you.

John o’Donoghue

Anam Cara

 

Why I Write As a Visual Artist

d73458fbbe781b9b5b5e94dede7541f3-writing-help-on-writingI’ve kept a journal off and on since I was a junior in high school.  It was an assignment in my English class.  Long after the assignment was over, I kept on as I found it to be a way to clarify my thoughts and anchor myself quelling my teenage anxiety.

Away at college, I added to my journaling by writing letters to friends, often 3 to 4 double-sided pages.  I poured out my hopes and fears as a young adult on yellow lined legal pads. Never during that time did I consider my writing to have any type of creative value. My major was in the natural sciences and didn’t give language arts much if any thought.

Fast forward 40 odd years to my 60’s, now a retired middle school science teacher and a practicing artist, piles of journals stored in boxes in my attic.  Then, last fall I picked up a pencil and started reading & writing poetry every morning as an alternative to reading and listening to the news.  The 2016 election was driving me crazy.  Much to my surprise,035572205f481fafaa1112f666ff3c24 poetry started emanating from me.  Not only was the process satisfying creatively, it started becoming food for my visual artwork.  As time passed, my writing has continued to rescue me from the darkness of the world events. (I choose not to write about them either).

In January of this year, my blog followed the poetry.  Originally it was going to be a way to document my visual art processes, but it has turned into a platform to showcase my writing, photography as well as my artwork.  Again as with poetry, the satisfaction of writing a blog surprised me.

Julie Cameron of the Artist’s Way series suggests writing 3 full pages every morning.  She calls them “Morning Pages.”  Years back for a while I tried to do that.  Though I did receive plenty of insights, the 3 full pages exercise were just too prescriptive and forced to me and I began to avoid the process.

quotes-writing-william-h-gass-600x411Now I believe just write- daily in whatever form suits you.  For me sometimes that can be a few lines, an entire poem or just editing something I’ve written the day before. Anything to tame the squirrels running loose in my brain. It’s a creative act that can be achieved with the immediacy of pencil and paper. You don’t need paint, canvas, a studio, clay or kiln.  It’s a relatively quick process. Paint pictures with letters, words, and sentences.  When you aren’t inspired visually, find inspiration & clarity in your written expression. Free your psyche to give your visual art more direction than it’s ever had before.

Perspective From a Creative Eddy

IMG_1416The studio is cleaned and I am occupying myself with small tasks
IMG_1418 that have gone by the wayside in favor of loftier goals.  That would include painting my hallway, mending, making greeting cards, and doing a bit of experimentation with using my slab roller (for clay) as a printing press.

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photo courtesy empiricalzeal.com 

Taking stock of my situation, I am in a creative “eddy.” As a kayaker, I find that the sport and rivers offer so many metaphors for life.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term, eddy, it is “ a circular movement of water, counter to the main current, causing a small whirlpool”.  You find these on the back side of rocks or behind a point that extends out into a river.  Sometimes you get sucked into them inadvertently, and other times you purposely “eddy-out” to get out of the flow of the river to rest and regroup
Continue reading “Perspective From a Creative Eddy”

Evidence

cave-paintig-490205_1920Some of my favorite art is the cave paintings from Paleolithic times or the rock paintings from ancient Native Americans & Australian Aborigines.  There is an ongoing debate about the purpose of this primitive type of art.  I believe it was about story telling or merely leaving evidence of their existence, much like tracks.  These images were made to be viewed by other people.  A simple hand print on a wall is powerful. It says “I was here.”rock-art-375225_1920

When I ask the question to myself, will my art have a lasting impact on the world?  The fact that I wrote or made is enough.  It proves that I

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Horse & Raven
Horse & Raven

was here.  It tells part of my story, of my experience on this earth. Fame is not in my destiny but evidence will be. It is part of me I leave. If someone happens to connect with my work, I am most fulfilled. 

I got this off Austin Kleon’s blog that inspired this post.  His take on the subject is worth a visit.  Keep on keeping on…….img_4441-768x614

 

 

Straight Lines

This little ditty was inspired by another blogger who had taken the time to read my post on Escaping Perfectionism and liked it.  So I  returned the visit (he has a very nice blog by the way).  In his ABOUT page he said he could not draw a straight line.  This got me to thinking about this commonly said phrase implying one has no artistic talent.  Exactly, what is so great about drawing a straight line? What a boring thing to aspire to.  This one is for you Cristian!

STRAIGHT LINES

You say you can’t draw a line that’s straight

MARVELOUS!

That’s what rulers are for

 Do zig and  zag and loop de loop them

And think of straight no more.

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