Tuesday, February 23, 2010

recovering a sense of possiblity

A line in chapter 5 -
"We startle ourselves by saying yes instead of no to opportunities."

I must say, I did rather startle myself by accepting new representation - bringing my gallery count to 7. What was I thinking? Especially right now, when I am having a difficult time finding inspiration and struggling to create enough work. It was a leap of faith. I had such a great summer and fall and was really in a rhythm - like a well oiled machine. Then... well we all know that from time to time, other things get in the way and I was derailed for awhile.
Now I am hoping that I will get that groove back and be able to create enough good work for my galleries, for my blog and for a group show, which I also agreed to. Another yes.

Kate too took a big leap which will open up a plethora of new possibilities in both her creative and computer careers.

The idea is to embrace those possibilities, believe that you can live into them and have faith that because you are open to the new, that synchronicity will be your partner and guide the way. I have lived long enough to experience God working to open those other doors when you think all has been shut to you.

I guess I believe deep down that I can and will succeed in getting back on track. My dry spell is not permanent. The flip side it knowing when to say no. And knowing what to cut out. I have long debated about the wedding/live event paintings. Sure, its neat. Its a cool thing for people to watch art being created from life. Its a good exercise for me. BUT... its so hard. Traveling (via air) is the worst. It wreaks havoc at home. Its exhausting. Lonely. And I worry that its a novelty and not really furthering my career. I have been declining any events out of state. I am still doing events that are within driving distance. And I've managed to work fast enough on recent ones to finish at the event so I do not need to continue work at my studio. Obviously, I can't decide if its worth it or not. I could really focus on it, and promote myself and do quite a few events but I don't think this is my time of life for it. Not while I have a young child at home. Now I feel like I am disappointing others! Where is the chapter on guilt?

-- Robin

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Catching up again! (from Kate)

Well, despite my early warning that I may not be able to devote much time to this blog, I feel guilty about neglecting it.  I haven't done much reading in the book, but as Robin alluded to, just pivoting around the book has been a good catalyst.   I haven't been able to write much about what's been keeping me so insanely busy and distracted over the last few weeks, but now I can!

I had been interviewing for a job in San Francisco with a very interesting company called Linden Lab.  The artist part of me was quite intrigued because they make a platform for a virtual world called "Second Life" in which everything, essentially, is artwork created by 'residents'.  And I was drawn to their very generous and creative team too.  Part of me wanted to get back to the bay area to be near to family and friends there, and to also be more connected to the plein air and other art stuff in Marin - a rich community and very friendly.

Then, just after a first round of in-person interviews in January, I spotted a job posting within my current company here in Austin and thought it sounded good, so applied.  The more I learned about the team and the projects, the more I liked this option.  Then, the capper came when the hiring manager offered to allow me to work out of the Berkeley office if I wanted to after six months or so - whenever I'd have ramped up sufficiently on the job and connected well with all the team in Austin.

So I accepted that job on Friday and then felt this surge of relief about staying in Austin, which surprised me.  I think I'd been holding everyone at a remove because I didn't know if I was staying or not.  Now I have at least six months and that justifies reconnecting, so suddenly I feel open to people again - and it feels a bit like waking up from a restless sleep.  I happily signed up for a painting weekend with Plein Air Austin in April and joined a few gals from my new team for a "drink" (grapefruit juice for me, margaritas for them) at 5 on Friday.  It was lovely and I thought, hey, it's like I'm a real person again!

I'm curious to see how all of this will play out, of course.  And it will be a direct impact to my art life - one of less disruption, I think.  So seems to be I got the best of all worlds really.  Imagine that? :)

A couple of other thoughts here.  I don't know if readers will understand how they are connected to my creative process and artwork, except that everything that I get really interested in becomes material in some way or another.  So, recently read Temple Grandin's latest book called "Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best life for Animals" and was totally absorbed and motivated to think more deeply about what goes on for non-human animals and how they are thinking and feeling.  I've always been an animal lover and interested in what makes them tick, what is ethical with our stewardship or relationship.  And the book really takes on a lot of that. What would it be like to be a prey animal?  What can we do for dogs if they can't be roaming around with us all day for miles and miles? 

So, having that on my mind, I attended an equestrian competition in Waco yesterday.  Where normally, I'd have been focused on whether I understood what made for good riding or not and whether I looked as though I fit in, I found that at first I was captivated by the shapes and gestures of the horse and rider, but then, after being there for a bit, I was really bugged by a few things.  One, they were blasting rock music into the arena.  (I asked my friend why, and she thought it was because it kept the audience from being bored.)  I feel like the riding is completely interesting without the cacophony.  And started thinking about how the horses probably were unnerved by it too.  Then, as the women did their various riding exercises (reining), their teammates on the bleachers yelled out whoops and "yeah girl" and the like.  Again, wouldn't that be totally nerve-wracking for the horse?  Thirdly, the Baylor mascot being a bear, there were huge yellow bear eyes painted in several places along the railing of the ring.  Now, if I'm a prey animal like a horse, I would find that disturbing too.

I'd love to see how the horses might perform in a nice quiet arena with no bear eyes glaring at them.

Since I have no budget or expertise to do that kind of experiment, how do I address that concern?  Write a letter to Baylor?  Do a painting?  Seems rather impotent.  Hmmm.  Something to ponder.

--- Kate 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

hip and happenin'

Welcome back. I found this cool template and changed our blog! I even managed to remember enough html to edit some of the template. I liked that this had a journal feel and isn't the standard, out of the box blog. We are, after all creative types!
Check out some of the fun designs available at btemplates.com

off track

We both seemed to have slipped off the path to higher creativity this past couple of weeks. I think for me, I began painting through the block and stopped just thinking about it. I am still not satisfied with my work, but I am at least learning, creating and experimenting. I have begun to get excited about each new day's attempts and that in itself is an accomplishment. I feel like I am on the cusp of something new and improved.

Kate and I had our coffee house meeting this morning and are back on track to read and live Chapter 5. Now... back to the easel!

-- Robin

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

ebb and flow and the pas de deux

I'm quiet for a week and then suddenly have all kinds of things to write about.
Today I had an artist's date of sorts and went to a Studio Spotlight at Ballet Austin. Dancers performed some pieces from the new production, The Bach Project. It was quite interesting and a nice "teaser" for the real thing. I would like to go more regularly to the ballet, and symphony, and so on, but ticket prices are so high!
But that is another topic. What I am thinking of tonight is one of Stephen Mills (artistic director) comments at the end when asked by an audience member about his creative process. It was quite interesting to learn about how another artist might develop something so complicated as a dance.
To me it seems impossible. As does writing music. But many elements are based on classical ballet, or classical music. They are modified and tried in new ways. And it is a process to develop, just like in painting.
I was somewhat surprised too to learn that some days Mills said he might work until 2 a.m. when things are flowing... and on other days, he wanders around with nothing to do because he cannot force creativity.
Quang Ho, famously talented painter, even had a post on his Facebook page about the time and struggle even he experiences in the creation process.
So, it seems that in all genres creativity can ebb and flow. Its nice to know that I am not alone, not in the visual art world or among the larger pool of creatives working to express themselves and beautify our world.

-- Robin

ps - talk about bumping up against deadlines... Stephen Mills said he'd just finished the ballet last week! And only got the music for one piece very recently too.


Something I read in the previous chapter talked about criticism. Ms. Cameron meant unsolicited comments or reviews, but it made me think of critiques we artists often seek out.
I think its important for artists to get feedback, but its equally important that the feedback be from safe sources.
I have a small group of other artists and family who I can count on to give me encouraging, thoughtful critiques. My advice to other artists is to have select group also and not get into group situations in a studio or class where the abilities and communication skills of the other critics might be questionable.
You want feedback that you can work with. Not just praise either. If you are questioning a work and don't like it, then its good to get someone else's perspective. They can maybe lead you to what is wrong. We see the painting for so long that we might miss the fact that one color is distracting or that a hand looks like a rack of beef.
So choose your critics wisely and in turn, offer genuine critiques yourself.

-- Robin

chapter 4: recovering sense of integrity

This week I am struggling to get my ideas onto canvas. I have worked through whole paintings only to be disappointed with the results. Then I start over. Its as if I forgot how to put the paint down. And then I start thinking "what is the right way to do this?"
As artists, we all know there isn't a "right way" - I mean beyond the technical specs of the paint and surface, there isn't a single correct way to create a painting. People use anything from a size 1 brush to slinging paint to express themselves. So why am I thinking there is a method that I am missing. I keep looking at other artists I admire and wonder, how did they do that? Where did they start? What was on their palette?
I don't think this is a sense of recovering integrity. Though I am dedicating more time to my artwork and creativity. I am trying to focus and work even though I feel like a beginner.
And why do I feel that way? Is it because of my long break? Or am I on the cusp of something new and improved?
Lets hope for the latter. I want to improve and grow.

-- Robin
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