We live in an uncertain world. I turn on the radio or watch the news and what I hear makes me sad. Makes me despair. Our world seems to be in chaos, and as a result, our lives mimic what’s happening around us. The news seems to be all about doom: the war in Ukraine, the inflation, the price of groceries, the price of gas, the rise in the price of … and of … I listen in the hopes that someone will report a happy event, not of someone’s death, but of someone’s birth. Someone’s creation. Someone’s happy moments. But it doesn’t happen – or not as often as I’d like. And because of that, I don’t listen to the news often. When I’m in the car, when I’m curious to see if anything has changed in the world. But politics remain politics. People remain people. And it seems that reporting good news is often not news, it doesn’t sell.
We all need to do what we need to do to live in this world of ours. To not just survive but thrive. Live life as we’ve never lived before. Remember? For me, once again, that may mean reading a good book to take my mind off things. Or stitching on a new piece. Creating something new or finishing something I started a while ago. My studio is where I find respite and inspiration and peace. Frustration too some days, I’m not going to lie. It’s not all art and fun and exploration.
The view from my studio door is a balm. When I walk through that door (imaginary in my case), I find an invitation to let go and permission to come out and play. Try. Experiment. Explore. Make stuff. Good and not so good. Some days – downright bad.
We dismiss bad art as a waste of time, of materials. We get angry at ourselves because we spent time on something that means nothing. It’s not usable. It’s crap, garbage, or whatever we call it. What we forget is that to make good art you have to make a lot of bad art. We have expectations – of ourselves and our art. We expect to create good stuff all the time because we put that pressure on our shoulders. Social media doesn’t help. We do not see other people’s mistakes, we only see what they want to present to the world. “There is no B-roll in social media” meaning that everything that is shown is what we’d consider good. And so we compare.
Unreal expectations are easy to come by; unfortunately, expectations based on illusion lead to disillusionment. I think I mentioned this before: “expectations based on the work itself are the most useful tool the artist possesses. What you need to know about the next piece is contained in the last piece. The place to learn about your materials is in the last use of your materials. The place to learn about your execution is in your execution. The best information about what you love is in your last contact with what you love. Put simply, your work is your guide: a complete, comprehensive, limitless reference book on your work. There is no other such book, and it is yours alone… Your fingerprints are all over your work, and you alone know how they got there … The lessons you are meant to learn are in your work. To see them, you need only look at the work clearly – without judgment, without need or fear, without wishes or hopes. Ask your work what it needs – not what you need. then set aside your fears and listen.” From Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland.
I taught a monoprinting workshop on Saturday, and even I, with hours and hours of experience in monoprinting under my belt, created some really bad stuff: the paint was too thick, too thin, too dry, too something-or-other and it did not work. One of those pieces went straight into the garbage, others are there … percolating. I have a pile of those percolating pieces. For every successful piece, there may be an unsuccessful one. Or two. Or three. And that is a good thing to remember.
The images above are ghost prints in monoprinting – some from not-so-good-to-really-bad prints :) but the layering process helps and adds to them so now I have some interesting prints to work with.
I start this week with new thoughts and ideas. I look at my studio – messy as it is – and feel energized. I start this week with some stuff to finish. I will concentrate on those for now until a thought sparks an idea that moves me to start a new piece.
I wish everyone a good week full of fresh ideas. And until I write again, keep creating! Thanks for reading.
PS: If you are interested in Create2Flourish, registration will open on November 21st. Check the link for more information. I look forward to welcoming you to the program. Share with friends!