Tuesday, December 18, 2012

art is work

I just finished reading Jen Cushman’s post at Create Mixed Media on the process she went through to write her “Making Metal Jewelry” book. I know Jen personally. She’s a talented jewelry artist and journalist and I know the book will be wonderful. The parts of Jen’s post I was especially interested in were all the deadlines she had to meet to ensure the success of her project.

I too live in a world of deadlines. I split my time between being an artist four days a week and a designer and project manager for a small design firm the other three days. Our focus at the firm is hospitality venues and our specialty is restaurant design. I’m fortunate that my job involves a lot of creativity but the deadlines come fast and furious and it’s crucial that they be met on time. I can’t imagine telling my boss or a client that I wasn’t feeling especially inspired today so the design for their project isn’t finished. In addition, I’m getting ready for a exhibition of my art work at a local gallery and yes I’m creating with a fast approaching deadline…the reason I haven’t posted in a while. This is not a complaint; I’m thrilled for the opportunity to have a show.

But this post really isn’t about deadlines. It’s about something else and to tie it all together I need to switch topics and talk about inspiration. There are so many articles and books written about where to find inspiration. Some of it I get. I think every creative person has moments when the well of ideas is empty or they feel burned out by the constant need to churn out work. And there’s nothing wrong with taking a break, getting some rest and letting the creative juices flow again. But the idea that there’s a magic or quick and easy fix, for instance, turning on your favorite music, taking a walk, etc. mystifies me (although I also do those things to clear my head). Being an artist is work just like any other profession. Think about what you do for a living, you know, the thing that pays your mortgage or rent and puts food on the table. To keep that job you act responsibly; you show up everyday, on time, meet your commitments and do work. Being an artist, writer or holding a position in any creative field is really no different. Saying that “art is work” may seem dreadful to some and while it may bring incredible enjoyment and satisfaction it still takes time and consistent effort to achieve meaningful results.

So if you’re waiting for inspiration to strike, the heavens to part and the scrolls of creativity to be laid at your feet, well, you’re probably in for a long wait. My opinion may not be terribly popular but I have to agree with the painter Chuck Close who said, “Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work.” Now my interpretation of what Chuck is saying is that you have to “work at” being creative everyday. It’s the “act of doing” that sparks inspiration and sometimes it doesn’t come easy.

The idea many have that being an artist means we have a leisurely cup of morning coffee, see a movie in the afternoon and meet friends for dinner and a glass of wine is not reality. What's real for most of us is that we have to suck it up and get back in the ring (even when we think we have run out of ideas) and I think it’s that attitude that allows inspiration to truly manifests itself.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

night shots

I often read on other artist’s blogs how their husband or wife or significant other is not interested in their art. Artists are a strange lot and not everyone can have the same passion for creativity. For some that may be a good thing. Many of us like to be alone in the studio however we all want to be understood by our partners. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones. My husband Gary totally enjoys my artistic lifestyle and is very supportive. To help me have more time to do what I love, make art, he began taking the photos of my work for my website and for the galleries that represent me. What started out as a task has turned into a real interest for him. And as time goes on I see that interest turning into a passion. A week ago he took a class in night photography at the local arts center and here are a few of what I thought were some very cool pictures.

the art museum

the canopies above

cactus shadows

a fountain with a long exposure looks like smoke

illuminated panels

canopy tie rods

and my favorite...window in a concrete wall

all photos by Gary Smith

Sunday, August 26, 2012

ready, set....

I'm often asked if welding is enjoyable. The short answer is yes, most definitely, but the amount of time spent welding is pretty small compared to designing, cutting metal, grinding and general setup. Here's the latest piece I'm working on and you can see the amount of preparation needed before I actually pick up the welding gun. I guess it's a lot like pinning fabric pieces together before you start sewing. That's where the fun begins and it's so worth it to see the final results. I just hope nothing moves....

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

how did you score?

I try to limit my time on the computer or else I’d never get any art made. But every now and then I’m glad I did search around because there are some really wonderful blogs out there. Lissa Hunter’s is one I consider worth mentioning. It’s thoughtfully written about thoughtful subjects. Just last week she wrote an interesting post on evaluating your art by using the same criteria as they do for certain subjectively scored sports at the Olympics such as gymnastics. Here’s what she suggests:

Score your work by using a 10 point system in 3 categories:

1st scoring criteria: Execution
  1. Is it made well?
  2. Does it use the materials in an appropriate manner?
  3. Do shortcuts show?
  4. Is it well designed?
2nd scoring criteria: Artistic Expression
  1. Does it look as if you, and only you, made it?
  2. Is it derivative of your previous work or the work of someone else?
  3. Does it “say” what you intended?
3rd scoring criteria: Difficulty
  1. Was it challenging to make this work?
  2. Did it turn out exactly as you expected or did it surprise you?
  3. Did you learn something from it?
  4. Were you unsure at the beginning whether you could pull it off?

I am totally intrigued by this concept and think it would work for all visual arts including jewelry, sewing, assemblage, etc. and as a reminder of things I should be thinking about as I design I intend to post this list in my studio. Who knows I may even try it out on a future project. At the very worse it may expose some weaknesses but at the very best it will let me know what I’m doing well. Either way it will help me to critique my art with less emotion and be more mindful about the process. If I do an actual tally I’ll let you know the results in a future post and if you try it please let me know how it worked for you and maybe how you scored.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

when creativity and humor combine

I was in Jerome this past weekend and saw this car parked in front of the restaurant where I was having breakfast. It never ceases to amaze me the funny things people can come up with as evident in this hood ornament. I just got the biggest kick out of it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

studio visit

I was super excited when Jason Horejs the owner of Xanadu Gallery who represents my art work here in Scottsdale visited my shop and studio last week. It actually forced me to "finally" clean that last 10% of my studio that never seems to get organized. But more important I got the opportunity to explain and show him the process I go through in creating my art. Jason wrote a very nice description and included pictures of his visit on the gallery blog....http://www.xanadugallery.com/wordpress/index.php/studio-visit-xanadu-artist-jeanie-thorn/...please check it out.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

there's metal in the air

Lots going on in the Phoenix area regarding metal. First SNAG, Society of North American Goldsmiths, is in town for their annual conference and last night Mesa Arts Center had their opening of an amazing metal arts show.

The Mesa Arts center has a wonderful gallery building, it's really museum like in it's atmosphere, but totally festive. On opening night there's music, last night there were steel drums which was very fitting, food and a great turn out.

I could have taken photos of every piece of art on display but I found that it really interrupted my enjoyment of seeing the show. I don't like the idea of viewing the world through a 2x3 view finder. So I snapped a few photos to share....

I really like these pieces by Polly Smith and included her artist statement.
Close-up of Copper Pond by Polly Smith

I really loved this piece for it's combination of metals and I especially like the idea that jewelry can be both adornment for the wall and body. It's actually a concept that I am exploring with my art right now.

So if you happen to be in the area check out this fabulous show.