I’ve been on a roll carving woodblocks the last few days. Above is a shot of finished blocks propped up on my easel waiting to be printed. If I stash them away I won’t remember to print them and they’ll never be finished. So I leave them out in plain sight where they call to me until I get out the ink and make them into prints. If only there were a few more hours in the day…
I also started a new block. It’s not yet finished but here is the sketch (detail), stage one (detail) and stage two. I’m having the best time with this one.
The change to Fall seems to have energized me in the studio. How about you? What are you working on this week?
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.
I noticed this week that I’ve developed a bad habit about my studio practice. I work with full intensity without taking any breaks until it’s time to leave to pick my son up from school. It’s a joyful intensity and the work is pure pleasure.
But it’s a tiring pace…and there is no real need. At the moment I’m not on a deadline. My next print show is in June and I have plenty of time to get ready. The work-till-you-drop focus is a creature of my own making.
So today when I got to the studio, I called my mom. I made a cup of tea. I did some work. I took a few minutes to stare out the window and take some deep breaths. I gave myself a short lunch-break. I built a few minutes of doing nothing into the day.
A strategy of more nothing will take me some practice. But I’m hoping this way I can keep all of the joy and banish some of the exhaustion.