I’m heading toward a landmark birthday and realizing how many years have gone by with me not creating art the way I dream of. So I’m pushing myself to spend time each day, even if it’s only a brief drawing session, creating some art.
In October I had made a small fish picture using plastic mesh I’d collected from fruit and veggie bags. An artist friend had commented that I ought to enlarge it. I had tacked it on my wall and I’d often think about adding to it. So yesterday I plunged in and extended it by connecting some additional squares of plastic mesh I had saved. I added more seaweed and more fish. Originally I had liked the layered effect of seeing a fish peeking out from behind seaweed, so I added a lot more seaweed at the bottom with another fish layered in between, and then more fish swimming around above the seaweed.
My oldest son’s reaction was, “I like your paintings better, but I suppose some hipsters might like it. ” Admittedly it didn’t wow me either. One of the problems is that it’s a bit puckery now and the edges sort of curl in places. Being plastic I don’t think I can iron it! ( I’ll have to wrap my head around a solution for flattening!) I like the textural effects, but of course my color pallette was limited to the plastics I had encountered in the food marketplace, so the background is a pale yellow which really doesn’t give much zing to the piece. I had imagined embellishing it with buttons and beads, but after yesterday’s work session I felt as if I’d spent a lot of time on something that’s never going to look right because it doesn’t lay flat. I felt as if I had wasted my afternoon, when I only have a few days of vacation left.
After berating myself and my efforts, I remembered that there are going to be failures and less than masterful creations, and they are stepping stones. I didn’t waste my afternoon, and I didn’t waste expensive materials. I learned that I’ve got some more problem solving to do to master working with these particular materials, and it’s ok to either move on, or play with it some more, or cut it up and reinvent it. In the end it may be salvageable and worth embellishing, but I need to give it some more time hanging on my wall so I can look at it and ponder the possibilities.
A couple of months ago I bought a drawing book called Wreck This Journal. Although I had dipped into its pages once or twice, the past few days I’ve really enjoyed drawing in it for extended periods of time. Some of the prompts are brief, and some take an hour or more to complete. I enjoyed tracing my right hand and then turning my hand shape into new critters. I also got really inspired by the prompt which admonished one to draw outside the lines. I found myself relishing the experience, and realized there might be other ways to interpret the prompt than the way I had approached it. I’m going to work on this prompt again in another sketch book, because I want to try some other possibilities with this idea. This journal is “seriously” about fun and playfulness! Art can be serious, full of important content, and reflection, like Mark Rothko’s life and paintings. However I think art should also be fun! Play and experimentation with ideas and materials are definitely food for creativity (at least for me!)
I get so busy with day to day household chores/errands, teaching responsibilities (facilitating other people’s art experiences), and running my kids around to their various activities, that I almost forgot what it is to be an artist. I’m working to manage my life and my time better to do the things that are most important to me. So….2013 here’s to you!