No one ever said it was going to be easy.
As I spend a morning with a good friend and fellow artist I hear her say what I’ve voiced a million times in frustration, ‘This is so hard!’ Not the creating, not the art making. That part of things comes as natural to us as breathing.
All the rest of it is the tough stuff, the hard stuff.
Then, with barely a pause, she states, ‘But I don’t want to do anything else.’ It’s like listening to myself speak the very words I routinely tell myself. A personal mantra that, as it turns out, is used by another.
Our time together sent me digging through my notes, searching for what follows below. I wrote this eleven months ago, it remains relevant today and I expect it will continue to do so into the future. A part of me wonders if, after reading it, my friend will feel she could have written it herself.
Inspiration hits, I follow it through to a full-fledged idea and then, into the studio to make it a reality. If only that’s how it worked but…it’s not that simple. Alright, it sometimes happens that way but not nearly as often as I’d like.
For the past number of months I’ve been exploring fresh ideas, experimenting a bit and developing new skills. My forms are still organic and I continue to be fascinated with the sphere, but my focus is on repetition, texture and, most recently, contrast through colour and surface treatment. While I trusted my instincts that this was what I needed to be doing, I wasn’t sure if I was on the right track.
I wanted a part of my current sculpture project to be black. A black that wasn’t paint. A black that didn’t hide the fact the I was working with wood. A black that, from a distance, identifies form as a two dimensional silhouette. A black that was the wood and not something that sits on the surface. I wanted simplicity that also offered a sense of depth and complexity.
How do I make the idea become reality?
I just finished three weeks out of the studio. Vacation is great, but man am I ever happy to be back on the tools. Actually I was ready to return to the studio about a week into the trip. I suspect if you were to ask, my husband could probably tell you the exact day based on my level of agitation. But hey, when you’re in the middle of vacation, you’re in the middle of vacation. The studio is miles and miles away and that’s the whole point! Do something different! Have an experience! Refill that well of inspiration!
Turns out the ‘forced’ time away from my usual, and much loved, daily routine was incredibly valuable.
Here’s what I already know. I know that when I’m working on a sculpture, getting ready for an exhibition or pursuing an idea I’m all-in. I eat, breath and sleep art…my art. The ideas come fast and furious, the days are too short and I live in one space, the studio. It feels like it will last forever, this all-encompassing arena of creativity. I warn myself about burn-out and mentally caution about asking too much of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually. But when you’re ‘on’, you’re ‘on’ and when the valve is open all the way the flow is seemingly never-ending.
Here’s the thing though, once the deadlines are met, the exhibitions have come (and gone) and goals are realized, then what?
Without the art there is nothing to share, nothing to talk about, nothing to feel, nothing to connect us. Marketing, self-promotion, website development, brochures, social media posts, the list goes on and on. All of that is well-and-good and a necessary part of every artist’s career. Strip all of that away however and what remains is the studio. A solitary space that drives everything. The studio is more than just a workshop filled with tools, it is the heart of what I do and everything is driven by its pulse.