Posts Tagged ‘artist tools’

Studio or Workspace?

I need to vent, are you ready to read? Ok, here goes…

How I long for a studio, at least that’s what I think I long for. It’s so romantic thinking about working in a space that’s all my own. Ahhh, the thought of being able to spread out, high ceilings, concrete floors, my favorite wing-back chair sitting across the room waiting for me to sit and view my latest piece. To hang my canvas on the wall and paint away (and not having to worry about getting gesso on the curtains or the carpet), sigh. Do you know what I mean?

Right now I crammed into a 6’ x 10’ space (hmmm as big as a cell in a prison) that houses a desk for my computer, printer, monitor, shipping supplies. Two bookcases full of books about art, photography and the like stand side by side next to my desk, and in front of those sits my electric guitar and its amplifier, that I play when I’m bored or uninspired to paint.

workspace 1

art projects and they like all get done.There is a window (thank goodness!), to the side of the window is my easel. Behind the easel on the other side of the room (so to speak) is my work table which houses EVERYTHING I need to do my work with and a “space” to do it in.  When I’m finished with a painting, or need perspective, I have about 2 feet 10 inches to do it in. Under the work table are boxes of frames for shows, storage bins for my work, other things like jars and cups for cleaning my brushes. Next to my table is a night stand that houses all of my brushes, palette knives, charcoal, conte crayons and pastels. Least I forget that above my work table there is a shelf where I keep paint, sketch books, handmade paper, ACEO paper etc. Behind that is the staircase leading to the basement (that’s why it looks like there isn’t a wall behind my equipment). Across from my space is the kitchen in all its glory. The hub of the house where eating, homework,

workspce 2

Now did you need to know all of that? Yes. Because I am outgrowing my “space”. Some of you might be saying, “Well you’re lucky you have a space, I’m stuck in the living room” or “ I’m stuck on the sofa” or “ I’m stuck in my bedroom” etc. Everything is relative, as they say and I am so stuck in this space. I could, IF I wanted to, make a space in the basement (it has no windows, and it’s not a finished basement and it smells kind of musty and it’s dreary down there) I wouldn’t use it. If I had a studio space out of the house, would I go there? Probably not. I’m the type of person that if it’s not in front of me to stimulate and inspire, then it’s not around at all.

Actually there’s no real solution to this situation, but I wanted to air this for you to think about where you work and if it “cramps” your style. Do you go into your workspace and dread being there because you have no room to move? I thought about down-sizing my materials, but like I said…out of sight…So, all of that being said, for now I am staying in my “space” and will continue to expand and grow out of it and complain, but I have done some of my best work in that cramped space and everything I need is there. What would I do without it?

What’s your space like? Is it inspiring or is it a dreaded cramped space? Let me know what you think and what you have to say about your creative zone. I would love to hear from you!

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"Muse, Muse Where Art Thou?"

TORCH

An inspiration

rides on a barebacked white horse

against the wind,

bearing gift-wrapped kindling

for an unlit fire,

salve for blistering hands.

An inspiration

lies awake at night

pondering the possibility of true love

with an unknown factor

who might change the outcome of the picture

completely.

An inspiration sits quietly in blue or red

for a place to live, alms for the poor, a marriage to

a blank canvas,  it never meets.

An inspiration fights at times,

just to stay alive.

________________

I wrote that poem many years ago in response to a friend who  had lost her inspiration and could no longer produce work she was proud to call her own. For whatever reason, her muse left on horseback one day and she was lost.

She told us she felt “vacant” as if part of her moved out without a 30 day notice.  She said she was forced to find another tenant to fill that space or she’d be bankrupt, so she started drinking. Sad as it was, she found a tenant that was far too eager to take up residence in her domicile and eventually forced her to allow a rent to own contract and bought her out in a few years. She was young but no longer had the will to keep going. Her art left her for good that day. A year later, she was found dead in an alley, apparently murdered.

It’s sad that we give up and walk away from the very thing that keeps our spirit alive and free, creativity. We often give up for reasons that seem confusing to others. I, along with countless others just shut down and don’t wait around for the door to open again, a door that will bring in a new and refreshed tenant who will gladly live in that sacred space inside us. What makes the muse move out without notice in the first place?  How do we produce one day and the next find an empty apartment?  Fear has been the basis of my “shutting down”, fear of success, fear of failure. That tag team can creep up on me like the enemy they are and ambush, leaving me tenant free, standing in a vacant room. And then there’s depression.

In her blog ” Case-notes from the Artsy Asylum” Susan Reynolds has posted an article about depression in creative folk, and cites this study: “Arnold Ludwig wondered the same thing. Lucky for us, he didn’t get distracted from Psychology and swept up in clay (you can probably guess who did that).As a result he’s now a professor, and a researcher at the University of Kentucky Medical Center. Also an MD – so he’s just the guy to find out more about this.

And he did! In fact, it was a study of 1004 men and women over the span of 10-years. His group was made up of a wide variety of accomplished people in just as wide a variety of professions, including art, music, science, business, politics, and sports.

In the end, he found:

  • between 59 and 77 percent of the artists, writers, and musicians suffered mental illness  especially “mood disorders”
  • compared to just 18 to 29 percent in the less artistic professionals”

There are times when the Muse taps on the window asking to be let in, but we often don’t pay attention to that tapping, and instead go out and buy new locks and install them on the door by feeding our anxiety about not creating. Instead we scramble for something to take its place such as love, sex, alcohol, drugs and depression often fill that space.

Is there hope?  Yes. A friend of mine went to a career counselor to find out what she could do about this lack of inspiration. She was given several tools to try and decided on one that spoke to her. She purchased space for a want ad in the local newspaper. Her ad read something like this:

“WANTED: Muse for hire. Willing to pay any price to get the position filled. Needed for full time (24/7), year round work. No hiring process, no interview. Just show up if interested. Immediate start.”

It was just a small $5.00 ad, but it was something that served two purposes. She was able to realize just how desperate she had become trying to find that muse or at least another muse and how much her ability to create meant to her. Her ad was answered when she read it the next day in the paper. Although her artistic muse had left, another muse answered the call and gave her inspiration to write that ad. The drought ended and she was back at the easel that night. Now I know that was just too simple, but it does happen. Some of us wait for years for that muse to come knocking or calling to rent that apartment. For others, it returns in another form and still others it just never comes back.

If your muse has flown the coup, try bringing it back by venturing into another creative outlet. Think about something you’ve always wanted to try, like throwing a pot on a potter’s wheel or making a necklace out of jump rings or simply take a local art/craft class. Work on a project you’ve put off, read, go buy yourself a new pen or notebook, carve out a work space for yourself and sit there even if  you don’t do anything.  Remember that fear of failure and fear of success? Ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?” You can make plans for a dinner party, see a movie, paint a room. Rearrange your work space, or go to the local art store and look around. Find another avenue for creativity to seep back into your life. Sometimes I’m frozen and can’t do any of these things, but I have learned to not panic. I write and play my guitar. I write this blog because at the moment the paintbrush and canvas have stopped speaking to me. In order to keep that door ajar, I do something else. Once you stop thinking about the creative block, you open the door for your muse to come back.

Inspiration can come and go at a moment’s notice, or with no notice at all. Thinking outside of the box, utilizing other creative venues can be of greater value than looking to fill that empty apartment with destructive tenants. Think of the price.

“Artists are visited by the Muses, or tormented by their own passions and demons.” (Wes Nisker)

“O! for a muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention.” (William Shakespeare)

Please leave a comment on this blog. I would love to hear from you.

“Creating an Artist’s Resume”

Building an artist resume can seem like a daunting task. Remembering dates, shows, gallery or cafe names, remember the name of a show you participated in; the list goes on. But some artists might not know where to start to build a resume. “What’s supposed to be in it? How far back do I go? Do I have to list everything I’ve done as an artist? What if I have done nothing and am just starting out?” These are some of the questions you might be asking. I know I asked those questions while perusing internet sites and magazines for shows to participate in. Almost all of them required an “artist’s resume”. I had no idea where to start. Hopefully this article will help you break down the necessary components of the resume to make it seem less intimidating.

Remember these points:

  • You are not seeking a job. This resume will not be like the usual employment resume as it has it’s own special structure.
  • This resume is about achievements as an artist and not a thesis or what you hope to accomplish, the special meanings behind your work
  • You are writing this resume to sell yourself as an artist to potential gallery owners, jurors of shows, curators.

Carol Michels, states in her book “How to Survive & Prosper as an Artist (selling yourself without selling your soul)” ‘The following are suggestions for structuring a resume and the order in which categories should be listed:

Name, address, phone number-how else would they contact you if they are indeed interested?

Place of Birth-possible good icebreaker, you never know where people have been!

Birth Year-if someone judges you and your work by your age, you might want to think twice about being involved with them on a professional level.

Exhibitions- List the most recent first and working backward. If you were awarded, list that in the awards section. This will list all shows you have been involved in. Was it invitational or juried? If there have been more than three solo shows, start the Exhibitions category with those.
Commissions-List the name of the project, the sponsor (insitution, person or company) and the date of the commission.

Collections– List the names of the institutions, companies, museums, or galleries that own your work as part of a collection.

Bibliography-Any and all publications that have mentioned you or featured your work.

Awards and Honors– Any awards or honors you have received for your work.

Lectures/Online coursesList any and all workshops, courses anything you may have participated in as an instructor, no matter how small you think it is.

Education– Any and all art related degress you have acquired. Make this the LAST category to convey the message that your accomplishments have meant more than that piece of paper that states you’ve passed classes.

There are many different kinds of resumes depending on your experience and background. If you do not have a degree, but have a lot of experience in the art world, do not include education as a component of the resume. Use your best judgment and knock them over with your presentation!

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them on the blog under comments. I would love to hear from you all!