Last week Karen, Judy, and I gathered to have the final swap in our Talking Stick Art Doll Round Robin. A bit of time has passed since our last swap. At that time we exchanged the doll heads which now had bodies attached. In this final swap our original doll heads were being returned to us completely finished with bodies and any other embellishments that the last artist felt would complete the doll.
This art doll was fairly complete and I couldn’t think of anything else to add to it. After several weeks had passed, I decided that Karen’s Talking Stick Art Doll would receive a place of honor; a shrine in which to reside.
Below are pictures of Karen’s doll inside the shrine, the back of the shrine and the side of the shrine.
The fortune says “Keep true to the dreams of your youth.” The mirror chip is to keep away bad spirits.
The figure on the side is a tree spirit.
Here is my completed doll as it was returned to me. Isn’t he great? Karen created the body and crown. Judy did the final embellishments and the feet. I love those feet!
And, finally, a picture of the three Talking Stick Art Dolls; our little tribe.
The talking stick art doll round robin was a great experience. It gave each of us an opportunity to try some new techniques, to test our creative muses, and most important, to play and have fun.
To read about the inspiration for this swap, go here
Midwinter Solstice or Yule is the time of year when we experience our shortest day and longest night. On this day the rebirth of the Sun god Yule is celebrated and evil winter spirits are expelled.
Winter solstice is considered a mysterious and powerful time as the sun begins to make a return journey across the sky. Bonfires are lit to simulate the ascent of the sun and lamps are illuminated in homes with evergreens to simulate summer.
Winter solstice is a time to look back on the year’s achievements. It is a time to use the darkness to dissolve old, outworn attitudes and defenses and to become vulnerable and sensitive. With the fire of new light real joy arises.
Build a fire or light a candle. Clear your mind, slow down your breathing and watch the flames burn for a while. Let the flames burn away old habits and thoughts. Think about your achievements for the year and clear a space for new goals and new intentions. You may not know yet what the “new” will be. At Imbolc (Candlemas or Feast of Lights) it will stir and reveal itself and keep the wheel turning.
Last Monday in the Boston Globe’s Business section “Business Filter” a small, one paragraph article titled “Customers Hate You” caught my eye.
According to a recent Marketing Daily report 62% of Americans say companies don’t care much about their needs; 62%. That is up from 52% in 2004.
And what does that have to do with you? Well, if you sell your work at retail art and craft shows, it seems to mean that you better pay attention to your customers. Though the Marketing Daily report targeted large companies and corporations, I think you can extrapolate this to the art and craft show circuit.
How often have you gone to an art and craft show, walked into an artist’s booth, and have not been acknowledged with a simple “hello”?
Have you ever wanted to make a purchase or perhaps place a special order only to get some strange vibe or attitude from the artist which caused you not to make the purchase?
Now I’m not saying we, as artists, can’t have a bad day. Perhaps in the run-up to the show you’ve come down with a cold and go into the show feeling less than ideal. Perhaps it is a slow show; people aren’t buying or people just aren’t coming to the show.
Yet when that potential customer walks into your booth, as much as you may not feel like it, you need to acknowlege the person and put on your best “game face.” It doesn’t mean you need to turn into the proverbial used car salesperson. It does mean, however, that by simply saying “Hi. If you have any questions feel free to ask” you’ve welcomed this person into your booth.
Most customers welcome this simple recognition. You’ve acknowledged their presence. They know you’re aware of them. And then you can back away. Simple conversation may follow; a question about your work, your inspiration; whatever. It doesn’t guarantee a purchase. However, you’ve made a positive impression and perhaps they’ll take your business card for future reference.
And in these days of stress, anxiety, and customers feeling their needs aren’t being met, a positive impression really can go a long way.
Well, perhaps “addiction” is a bit of a strong term since I’ve only done this once. However, the soldering class I took last Thursday was quite fun. This form of soldering involved using a 60 watt soldering tool, copper tape, flux, and lead-free solder; not the traditional metalsmith soldering with an open flame. I’ve experienced that type of soldering and was not entirely comfortable with it.
The class I took was taught by Patti Euler of The Queen’s Ink and was held at Ink About It in Westford. It has been quite some time since I’ve taken a three hour class where the goal is to leave with a finished piece.
The goal was to make 1-2 ornaments or focal pieces for a necklace. Here is what I created:
Constructing the ornaments was the easier part. Getting comfortable with the soldering gun and the solder itself took a little adjusting. Yet once I got the hang of it, the process was really fun. Fortunately, I like the organic look and didn’t stress over the less than smooth soldering lines on my ornaments.
There was something else I learned in this class; to let go and just “do.” Because of the short length of time to create the ornaments I was forced to go with my first decisions and to not labor over and think too much about what I was doing. That is something that I have a hard time doing; just “doing.” It was a great lesson in what I learned to do (solder) and in what I learned I must do more of: play, let go and just “do.”
Cats are the connoisseurs of comfort -James Herriot
With the end of the year approaching it seemed like a good time to list 13 of my favorite movies (in no particular order.)
I recently started reading Eric Maisel’s newest book Creativity for Life. Maisel’s books are always insightful whether your art is writing, acting, singing, fine arts or crafts.
In the first chapter, Maisel defines creativity as having three elements: loving, knowing, and doing. In other words, people are artistically creative when they love what they are doing, know what they are doing, and are actively involved in making art.
Of course we know that on any given day that is sometimes easier said than done. We all have moments, days, weeks, months, and maybe years where we ask ourselves “why am I doing this?” We tell ourselves we don’t know what we’re doing. We avoid getting our butt into the chair.
In this first chapter Maisel does an excellent job of describing just that conversation. We tell ourselves we love what we’re doing and then become dismayed when someone else creates something similar and receives sudden recognition. Perhaps we set our standards so high and compare ourselves to the masters in our field that nothing we do can compare. We kill our self-esteem and question our talent.
Maisel poses several questions to consider when you are beating yourself over the head in this situation.
What do I mean by creativity? How is it different from talent? What do I mean by talent? How do I define talent?
Do I believe that I can be more creative? In what ways? What must I do to be more creative?
Do I love my art enough; do I feel passionate about my art? How can I test whether I love my art enough? (Can you imagine yourself doing anything else?)
How can I increase my love for my art?
Do I work hard enough on my art (in hours and in giving it consideration)?
What does it mean to be talented in my field? (Think about skills and abilities needed in your field, how many are needed to do good work, do they matter equally, and are any absolutely necessary.)
How talented am I? What are my strengths and weaknesses? Do I possess the skills and abilities needed?
If I feel I lack skills and abilities, do I consider them innate or can they be acquired through learning or enhanced through practice?
Have I developed strategies for mastering my “disinclination” to work?
Maisel then provides nine strategies to consider:
Examine creative blockage: Does anxiety, guilt, fear or ignorance keep you from manifesting your full talent?
Work on a mighty theme: What is the biggest, most ambitious project you’d like to tackle?
Affirm that you can create or perform: Write or speak your affirmations. Affirm that you can do what you attempt.
Carry your work differently: If you disown your work or treat it indifferently, it has no life within you. Be enthusiastic, curious, disturbed and obsessed about your work.
Change formats: If you work on a small-scale, make something large. Work within set limits or outside those limits. Shift your perception of the limits of your medium and the limits of your talent.
Turn things on their ears: Work in a different style. Change color palettes. Break habitual ways of thinking, seeing, hearing, and doing.
Discover ways of working more deeply and effectively: What distracts you? How do you handle distractions? Fend off and dispose of these distractions. Recognize how you work best.
Track your creativity: When you sink into uncreative periods, remember the three components: loving, knowing, and doing. Choose a project and dive in. Learn a new technique. Visit a museum or gallery.
Make every effort to bring passion, knowledge, and will to your art making; you will become more creative and manifest your talent.
On Friday I visited the icons & altars 2007 show at the New Art Center in Newton. icons & altars is the New Art Center’s 14th Annual Benefit Exhibition that features the work of 98 regional artists who were invited to create an ‘icon’ or ‘altar’ that was social, personal, spiritual, or cultural.
Some of the art pieces, such as Claudia Arcia’s doll which was suspended in a woven basket, were jarring and made me wonder “What inspired this piece?”
Some pieces were subtle and possessed an air of innocence, such as Lorey Bonante’s ballet slipper and small bird encased in beeswax, Alyssa Jone’s “Good Fortune” which featured a collection of Chinese cookie fortunes on wood with a large copper mesh fortune cookie at the center and Mark Cooper’s “Mask” which had a simply drawn face (that reminded me of a teddy bear) surrounded by miscellaneous shapes and doodles.
Other pieces incorporated nature themes or nature itself such as Maddy Bragar’s “Diablo,” Kelly Burke’s “The Mystery of Faith,” and Marja Lianko’s “Garden Games #3; Morgan’s “Untitled (Fish)” and Judith Motzkin’s “Cairn.”
Unique use of material can be seen in Sharon McCartney’s “Morning Sermon” (mixed media on vintage linen), Ceci Mendez’s “Correspondence” (insides of security lined envelopes) and Tracy Spadafora’s “Sweet Memories (14 Bottles).” Remember those wax candy bottles?
And probably the most humorous (to me) was Leigh Medeiros’ “You Can’t Have Both” that featured a large cake in the center of hard board.
It is always a joy to visit small galleries and exhibitions. They are sometimes more casual and feel less “sterile” than visiting a large museum. It is also a great way to view the works of local artists and perhaps find a piece of art work by an “up and coming” artist.
To view the online slide show of icons & altars 2007, click here