Sunday, March 1, 2009

Copy cats and bad cookies, the long post.

I was just told by a little bird that this blog is actually being accessed. Hip-hip-hooray! It has been a month full of computer and computer related woes. The computer is now good as new, the website is finally repaired (they called it bad cookies, is there any such thing?) and the links for the blogs seem to be working. If you are still getting a jumbled Tangerine it is most likely due to your browser not supporting the fonts I originally used. If things are still a little goofy I apologize, there might be a few glitches in the matrix that need sorting.

Tangerine continues to amaze me. It is like a person; it grows, changes and it surprises. I've met so many wonderful people and all that great energy has an effect, a real good and positive one. Classes are filling up easily and in April the new workshop schedule will be full of new opportunities. It will also be full of treasures from France! I have decided to bring back as much as I can cram into my extra suitcase.

Now that the technical issues seem to be solved (oh happy day) I have something I want to address that I feel conflicted about. I would like to share my thoughts because there has been much buzz and some hurt feelings.

Copy Cats...

I come from a fine art background. In art school you learn very quickly to grow a thick skin and find your own voice. Morning critiques can be brutal and it is very easy to be overly influenced by other students and your instructors. Hedi Earnst and Viola Frey convinced me that I wanted to be a large scale ceramic artist not with words but by blowing me away with the power of their work. Arthur Gonzalez made me want to create work from ash and tears. Then there were the "Sad Kitty Ranch" girls who really paved the way for what art you see on Etsy.

It is very hard not to dwell within a community of artist and not absorb them. The challenge is to take the inspiration and use it as a tool for growth rather that a detour from it. How do you do it? Well, in art school you are told not to when you are, and it bites. You are also helped along the way, to see what it is you are trying to capture and bring into your work, or why you feel stuck and using energy that belongs to someone else. It is a process you just have to move through.

When I first started selling art in the 8o's I created a series of small bears made out of polymer clay. This was when Sculpy and Fimo were hard to find and came in one color. I painted my bears with shoe polish because it stained them perfectly and gave them the right amount of gloss without a second step.

These bears were purchased from me by the dozens, by the same person. At that time I was just happy to have the extra money until they showed up in gift shops. There was nothing I could do. They were molded and mass produced in resin by a well know company. It broke my heart. It would have flattered me but I was consumed with my idea being swiped, It felt like a pirate ship came in and cleaned me out.

As artists we have to decide for ourselves how our moral compass will work.

I decided to let go of the bear anger and go to art school. I wanted to know what it is that makes us want to create, and some of us live to create. I needed to feel legitimate and to find out if this was my path.

When I am stuck or bored I seem to absorb what I see and read and it shows up in what I make. When I am focused I am my own person the work flows. I don't feel good when I am not making my own art, and I feel on top of the world when I am.

I never teach anything that I don't willingly want to share and let go. It isn't fair to you or your students to say here are these tools and techniques, let me give you something wonderful but don't go out and use it.

If you look back to the history of art there was one person who filled his mouth with berry juice and used his hand as a stencil. He wanted to let someone know he was there. Many followed, then there were some who started using sticks, juice and soot to create crude drawings to document a history we can never imagine. We are not doing anything different. We are all just humans using what we have to leave a mark of our own.

The mark you leave will tell the story of who you are. You may be a collector, or a person who is inspired by the beauty of another artists work and you want to use their work as a "Start Here" place. Maybe you are one of the people who creates a new tools or techniques. What each of us brings is important. We are all made out of the same matter and we create with the same matter, the combinations we find and what they mean to us are what makes it our own.

Making art has a flow you have to step into it and move with it. We don't make art just for ourselves, we make it to share.

Make Art = Be Happy, that was the education ten years of student loans bought me and it was worth every penny.

If you have the time to worry it to pieces, judge what others are doing, get angry and frustrated by what is being made around you, then you need to be making more art and eating good cookies.


Iva Wilcox of Iva's Creations said...

Amen sister! Great post. Nothing is new, it's only how we as individuals interpret it. I like your Make art = be happy. It is how I operate these days. And I could use some good cookies too, only if they are small and no calories! ;-)
~ Iva

valarty said...

What a beautiful and touching post. I just love it! I hear much of the artist bickering too of who had the idea first but you are right. Each of us has our own moral code to answer to and hopefully it allows us peaceful sleep at night. Valerie