Thursday, March 27, 2008

Spring Cleaning

I am once again in the process of tidying my studio. I tend to keep my work bench clear, putting away the many jars of paint, the piles of tools, the stacked containers of buttons and other findings, on a regular basis. I also sweep the floor regularly. But around the edges, framed works are stacking up, there are some teetering piles of junk mail waiting to go to the dump, and miscellaneous items have gathered in rather frightening number on most of the seldom-used horizontal surfaces. Time to clear out a bit.

It is mostly a matter of stowing the framed pieces in an orderly manner, sorting the misc. items- making some choices about keeping, tossing or donating- and then the payoff: making a great purging dump run. I also see that I need to tidy my files- not as satisfying as the results are not immediately visible but it is going to be dreary weather for a few days and that is good weather for such an activity.

I must confess that I am not a tidy person by nature. When I was younger, I was rather a slob. I love the term the British use for such a female: slut; but it has such a definitely sexual connotation in the US that I cannot use it... and I hope I have mended my sloppy ways enough to not have to. It has been an uphill climb.

One big factor in my reformation has been the many reality-tv programs featuring truly frightening slobs and their pigstyes. How sad that people have gotten so overwhelmed by stuff that they will suffer the humiliation of having their lives dissected on TV- okay its cable but still!- just to have help dealing with the mess. And then they have to agree to let a third-rate interior designer do-over their place once the junk is gone. But perhaps as they say, "a kick is as good as a kiss" to someone in this much distress.

As for bringing in more stuff to clutter up the home or studio- I had an epiphany several years ago. I was at a flea market and I saw a beautiful stoneware bowl. I could almost hear the music swelling in the background- "Oh, sweet mystery of life, at last I've found you...." My reaction was so overwhelming- and so out of proportion to the item- that it made me pause. I took a moment to analyse my emotions and found an image in my mind of a table laden with bountiful, delicious, beautiful food. The stoneware bowl itself was the centerpiece, luscious food spilling over the rim. Many candles shed a golden light. Around the table were many friends, all of them there to share the bounty of my life and to bestow upon me the bounty of their love and esteem.

Wow! Quite a semiotic burden for one bowl, large though it was.

Then came the epiphany: I could have friends over and serve them delicious food with the bowls and plates and platters I already had. That what I really wanted was the friendship and the love and that no piece of craftily modeled and glazed clay was going to provide that. That realization has put a real crimp in my yard-saling and flea-marketting but there you are. Better that than to end up like the Collyer brothers or on some reality-tv humiliation fest.

So, time for a good spring cleaning. I will meditate on and be grateful for the bounty in my life, the gifts I have been graced with, and my friends while I tidy, dust and organize.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Moving on

As much as I love the Mid-Hudson Valley of New York, my home; it is time for my art to move out of the area. I have been showing at galleries in salon shows, juried competitions and invitational shows within a 25 mile radius, as well as an annual studio tour, but that is just not enough anymore. The clamor from the various framed pieces stacked up along the walls of my studio had become annoying so the other day I shipped 10 of them down to Poughkeepsie for an invitational show at the Barrett Clay Works gallery and 1 lucky piece got to go down to North Carolina (the piece in the image above:"A Child's Garden of Entropy: Evidence of Entropy Mounts," bricolage, 2007.) I hope most of them don't return and that they go, with my blessings, to good homes.

The first time I sold a piece it was a wrench. I know, I know; I'm trying to earn a living with this work so that means I must sell. A conundrum all artists face. When I do illustration work, I am only licensing the reproduction rights to the work; and with scanners and digital cameras the original art never has to leave my studio- it just goes *poof* into the ether and arrives at the client's in mere seconds.

Not so with my gallery art. The original must go. Sometimes it is a piece I have barely had time to appreciate. Oh, let me be honest- it is a piece I have not spent enough time admiring, preening in that mirror of my abilities. Show me an artist whose work is not such a mirror... Anyway, sometimes I barely get the piece finished before it must be submitted. If and when it is returned to me after the run of the exhibit, it is almost as if I am seeing it for the first time- "I did this? hmmm..." And it joins its siblings in the stack. Sometimes it is a piece I secretly hope will not be sold but needs must, I cannot live on beauty. Those are the heart-wrenchers, the best work, the most authentic work.

So, fare thee well my art, my heart's work- just send the check right away...

(to see some art that is really ready to move on: visit Etsy and search "sellers" for "pmlaw" Thanks.)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Business in the Corner of My Eye

I recently became a member of a business-oriented networking site,LinkedIn... think of it as FaceBook for grown-ups. I am a business- Thrums End Art Studio- but I am definitely small potatoes. My art, my design, my ├Žsthetic is not slick or flashy or corporate, but it is powerfully authentic. I do tend to not approach things straight-on, I prefer to seek the nibbly bits, the tender edges, the raveled sleeve and work from there. I prefer clients who appreciate that approach even if they are sitting in a stainless-steel and glass tower in a Big City and I am sitting in my studio with its red door and turquoise window trim amongst the trees. We are having a conversation and I hope LinkedIn will introduce me to more interesting people with interesting things to add to the conversation.(And who might even have some paying work for me...I do have my banausic side, afterall.)

I am not able to compete on the trading floor of the big guys. I am not the person to hire to make your huge, 100 page, massively interactive, corporate website, I am the person to hire to make the website for the poetry you write at 4am. Or maybe to purchase beautiful art for your corporate offices.

So, why am I on LinkedIn? Because maybe there is someone out there who does wake up an hour early to write poetry or bake cakes and they want a quirky, delightful website to celebrate it. Or maybe there is someone out there who is designing a project and needs beautiful, insightful illustration.

I don't know- I am willing to do what it takes and I think I have something to add to the conversation- even if it is disguised as ruminations on a handmade mirror in a hand-painted interior.......

Monday, March 3, 2008

Nascent Spring, II

The other morning I looked out the window on my trip downstairs to feed the Ravenous Beasts and saw a Robin perched on a snowy branch. I took a few steps and then came back to the window- a Robin! For birders- this is an "FOS"- first of season, and very welcome it is indeed. Later that day I saw it plucking the small (now no larger than 3/16",) shriveled apples from the Sargeant Crabapples and downing them. Every other year these two petite (8' tall, max.) trees bear large crops of 1/4" apples and I worry that they will go to waste. Like most worries, it is groundless- this is the time of year when the fruits will be stripped, after they have been bletted and sweetened by the cold of the long winter.
This morning I heard another FOS- the doleful song of the Mourning Dove. But it was music to my ears. These lovely creatures have been silently surviving the winter but now the blood is rising to greet the spring. I have also noticed Purple Finches and House Sparrows checking out the many birdhouses, flitting from house to house- sometimes being driven off by the new occupants.
We have survived February, and dare we whisper it........(spring is coming...spring is coming...)