Friday, April 22, 2011

Cut and Paste

This is my next mirror in progress. I am incorporating a drawing of a neighbor's lilly I started and figured I would never use for anything. The drawing already echoes the influence of stained glass. I keep wanting to cut space up in chunks, color it and mix it up. I love the richness of fabric design mixed with the colored pencil images and glass. It just works for me.

I'm resisting the urge to be philosophical about the whole thing. One co-worker told me I have to stop using big words. Some things can only be described with certain words or let me pontificate. (No apologies). This is what my life has felt like. Shapeless scraps in piles on the floor, broken pieces of situations and desires, disparate, disjointed...things I don't understand, insignificant and without overall form and beauty. Lacking cohesion, purpose, co-existence. But something happens when I start arranging, looking for clues and harmony, fluid lines of understanding. It all begins to be something. Rich and complex, pleasing, touchable, strong. I love what I am doing now creatively and it translates into a purposeful path that pulls together everything that has happened before in its wake. And some things don't need to be explained. They just need to be in their right place.

This brings me such joy, immediate pleasure, the outworking of the cutting, moving pieces around, drawing into blank space, creating my own textured reality. The only reason it exists is because I'm here to call it into being.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Common Thread

April 16, 2011
I was asked to judge an inmate art contest at a local prison about ten years ago, before I had any experience regarding anything about prison. Somehow I had the gumption at the time to say yes, and brave the barbed wire, the maze of airlocks, the open yard as a lone female and then the task of looking at the art. I was well compensated for the time I spent, and I thought little about it until I got another call last week from the same gentleman, now at another prison, who is again doing an inmate art show and for whatever ungodly reason still had my contact information.

Life's changed dramatically since then and I have repeated first-hand experience going into jails and prisons due to my son Brandon's arrest and now 6 year sentence. As a parent, as someone who did ministry and as a friend, I've been inside often. One thing I can say is, inmates, like us on the outside, when given lots of time and nothing else to do, yearn to express themselves in some meaningful way. When everything else that makes them human seems gone, when clothing is all the same, whether brown, orange, khaki, or whatever, talents take on an immeasurably greater importance. Talents that set apart. The above illustrations are an inmate's colored pencil drawings on envelopes. They are truly unique.

I find myself in strangely a similar position. My drive to start a business caught fire mainly I think when I found myself in the work-a-day world. I'm in a department of many people who all do the same job. There is something about being in a cube, saying the same things over and over, that makes me cry out for more-another means of defining myself. When I had all the freedom in the world to do it, I didn't really distinguish myself or try as I might. Now that that freedom is so constricted and my world is so defined by one activity, I long for the release of something wholly my own.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The New Stuff

I realize the departure seems radical. It was a process of trying, retrying, being inspired by different materials, thinking hard about what I was really about as an artist. I love to paint and draw, but I realized my natural affinity is for structural design and composition. I had hoped to marry the skills of craftsmanship with the esthetic of art, and still include drawing and painting in my finished pieces. I love interior design, art with function...that was the thing that always stymied me trying to be a fine artist. I know I have the skill, but I'm not sure I have the passion it takes to get behind an easel day after day. I also have the entrepreneurial streak. The jewelry and the mirrors I think are a more easily digested art product for the public. I probably will still want to find a coastal gallery that might handle my ocean minis, but for now I'm happy as a clam playing with design. My new business is CandyGlass,, and I have changed my facebook page to include my work, show dates if I have them, and links to Etsy. I'm still working on that site (it is a megahuge art and crafters site offering subscribers an online storefront in which to advertise, show and sell work). I love being a business!

The above photos are the necklaces and my mirror experiments. The portrait of Becky was inspired by Gustav Klimt, but I know I have a LONG way to go to approach his genius of combining incredible pattern and design with realism. I also love the posters of Peter Max. They were plastered all over my bedroom as a teenager. He is another design influence.

Work Related

I feel as though I have lost my audience. I started working for a dental distribution company and more or less lost focus. I am handling in my 50's what I'm sure most working folks do in their 30's-starting out at the 9-5 and seriously considering a career path. I was a stay at home mom for years, working odd jobs, parttime in my husband's business and selling some art, but not with a passionate focus on a path. Circumstances have put me there. This past probably year and a half has been one of the most intense self-searching and questioning journeys of my life. By the start of 2010 I had slowed my painting down and felt directionless. I finally asked a co-worker, whose profile fascinated me, if I could take photos and draw his portrait. That was last summer. I could feel the urge to do SOMETHING overpower me, but up until that point it was like my creative self needed rest and reflection. Another situation that occurred in the spring of 2010 was that I finally, after 15 years of purchasing a pattern and wanting to do it, I made a stained glass kitchen lampshade. Doing the lampshade spurred some new creative ideas, which I will share.

But meeting with my co-worker, George, to do photography, was one of the most unexpected afternoons I think I will ever spend with another human being. I don't know how or why, but those four hours challenged me and changed my path forever. I guess it was the fact that someone else really noticed I was in the wrong place, or at least I should be doing something else. A person with no real art experience, or even anyone who I thought would notice, let alone care, that I had any gifts at all. Up to that point we hadn't really spoken much at work, other than my needing help and reaching out to a superior. But my co-worker told me many things that day, one of which, he would be glad for the day when I left my job. I was rather shocked at that. I guess it was all so unexpected it sort of turned out to be the voice of God to me, or at least one of those "once I was blind, now I see" moments. His face was incredibly challenging to photograph-I thought it would be easy, but out of two rolls of film, only one shot was remotely useable. And that got me back to the drawing board. But it did more than that-it got me believing again, believing as I did when I first started, and even before school, that I could do this. Another thing that happened that afternoon...sharing memories of our childhood experiences and listening to very mellow oldies I hadn't heard in years took me back to the person I used to be, who had unfettered dreams and never even thought I couldn't do what I set my mind to.

So here I am, here I am again...this time thinking as a business person, letting myself be joyful in creation and trying brand new things.