A few days ago I came home from this beautiful spot. But I’m still there in my heart and mind.
I hope you’re ending your summer dwelling in sunshine and saltwater!
I’m happy to report that I have been busy finding words. And I’m equally pleased to say that I’m just letting them come; getting them down on paper with no judgments, no revision, only small amounts of inner critic. It’s that honeymoon phase during which you can tell yourself it doesn’t matter if it’s good, bad or otherwise…it’s only word finding.
I’ve also been working to finish studio projects that have been hanging around for a while. The thistle detail above is from a series of four woodblocks that I’ve just finished carving. This seahorse too:
I now have two sets of woodblocks to print and then those small bodies of work will be finished. It’s the natural rhythm, I thnk, to finish up projects as the summer ends and be ready to begin fresh work. (I may have to do some more seahorses – I love them!)
What new work will September bring? What are you busy finishing before autumn?
I am an artist who loves images.
I am also a writer who loves words.
This month I’m spending time with my writer self, opening up some doors in my mind that have been closed a little too long. Time to throw them open, clear out the dust and find some words.
So I made this is the studio this week to offer myself some encouragement.
After writing The Proper Care and Feeding of your Artist last week I realized that if we artists are going to ask for more support from friends and family we need to define our terms.
For example, I wrote that if your friends and family don’t know how you measure your success as an artist, they should ask you. This means, of course, that you have to have your answer ready.
So let’s do our homework:
1. How do I define my own success as an artist? What kind of recognition/sales/etc. do I want to achieve (if any)?
For me, my success is more about living the life of a working artist than about making any certain amount of money. I love that I get to have a studio and spend most of my working hours making art. The fact of working as an artist is a big part of feeling successful for me.
2. What kind of feedback do I want?
The answer to this is very person-dependent; I want different feedback from different people. If the person in question is a fellow artist I’d like something different than I would if the viewer is a personal friend or family member.
3. Have a ready answer when a friend or family member asks what they can do to support you. Would you like them to go on an artist date/buy something small from your Etsy shop/text you now and then during the work day to remind you that you’re not alone? Be prepared so that when they ask you have your answer ready. Again, you might have more than one answer depending on who is asking.
For my part, I’m thinking of making The Care of Feeding of your Artist a printable manifesto to hand around to people I know. If it comes together I will share it so you can spread the word too.
Let’s make gathering support for artists a mission! We need it and we deserve it.
Lately I’ve read a number of posts from artists who wish their family and friends were more supportive of their lives as artists. This got me thinking … perhaps part of the problem is that our loved-ones aren’t always sure how to offer the right kind of help and support.
So for all our family, friends and fans here are some ideas to transform you into the best possible support for the artists you know and love:
How to support the artist(s) in your life
1. Remember that art helps the world and that your artist is working hard (just as you are) to make the world a better place. Even if your artist’s work isn’t to your personal taste you can always offer encouragement by saying, “it’s so awesome that you are making the world a better place with your art.” This means an enormous amount to us… for reals!
2. Text your artist just to say hello and ask how their day is going. We are alone all day in the studio with no human contact and love to receive some virtual hugs and kisses during the day.
3. If your artist offers inexpensive ways to purchase their art (such as art prints, cell phone covers, etc) please buy something. You can always give it to someone else as a prezzie or even stick it in a desk drawer if it’s not to your taste. But these small purchases are so encouraging to your artist and so appreciated.
4. Offer to visit a museum or gallery with your artist. I almost always go to the museum by myself and would love to turn it into a fun social outing. Most museums have good coffee shops too.
5. Artists know what kind of feedback they want about their work. Please refrain from offering unsolicited commentary about your artist’s style or subject matter. If your artist is a figurative painter it isn’t helpful to say things like, “you might sell more work if you painted animal portraits.” This might be true, but please know that if your artist wanted to paint animals, she’d be doing it already. If you’d like to give feedback, ask what kind would be helpful (if any).
6. Please remember that you may define success differently than your artist does. Asking us if we have any pieces in a museum or if we’ve found gallery representation yet can make your artist feel shame and discomfort if what they’d really like is to make more sales in their Etsy shop. It’s a bit like asking an actor if they’ve won an Oscar yet. Instead, ask your artist about the progress of their specific goals (and if you don’t know what they are, it’s okay to ask).
7. Art supplies are very expensive. If you are planning to give a gift to your artist for their birthday or at holiday time you might ask them if there is something they’d like for their studio. Also, gift cards from art supply shops make wonderful presents. Or ask, “is there an art book you’ve been drooling over that I could give you as a gift?”
Lastly, to all the wonderful friends, families and supporters of artists… a huge thank you! Honestly the hard and lonely work of making art wouldn’t mean much if it wasn’t for all of you. So while you are busy taking steps to appreciate your artist, please know that they appreciate you too!
It’s July 1st today; my kid has started camp; summer has officially begun.
There will still be work this summer. I’m beginning a new series of prints (more on that later) and will be busy in my studio.
But the sun shines and the air is warm and gentle. It’s time to channel my inner Henry James and make the most of these lovely afternoons before they are gone.
For me this means, heading outside to find a spot in the leafy shade with a hefty book and a cold drink. My son and I have decided we should lie on the ground and look at the sky every day. I think a root beer float will happen sometime soon.
But mostly I hope summer will mean more nothing…quiet, peaceful, restful nothing. Lots of moments of not much. Easy does it.
How about you? How are you planning to make the most of summer?