Monday, March 23, 2009

It's Officially Spring!

It's finally here! The season of unpredictability! Unstable weather conditions prevail. One day it's 70 degrees F, and the next, 35! Rain may give way to snow, or even thunder snow, while flowers begin to bloom. I have a small patch of daffodils in bloom close to the house. The iris is pushing out of the ground and the cuckoo pint is tall and green.

The bird population is beginning to shift. The junkos have gone and the dreaded grackles are back. In a couple of weeks I'll be listening for the distinctive sound of the Orioles. We will fill the feeders with oranges and grape jelly and watch for flashes of brilliant orange as they come to partake of the sweet treats. Much to look forward to in the next few weeks as the light continues to increase and the landscape changes from brown to green.

Warmer weather, more hours of sunlight, and new growth always energize me, both physically and creatively. Sometimes it's difficult to corral the ideas floating around. I try to travel with my camera and/or a small sketch book, but don't always manage. Sometimes, the tiniest little thing will inspire a thought process that takes me on a journey I never would have imagined. I can't wait to see where this Spring takes me.

Do others find the Spring season more energizing? Is there an increase in your creativity?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Why is it Difficult to Claim the title of Artist?

As I've been reading blogs and tweets and articles, and talking with other artist friends, I have noticed that it's difficult for some creative people to refer to themselves as artists. There's a tendency to apologize for being creative, and spending time in creative endeavors. This strikes a chord with me, because I, too, still fight feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.

I remember having a conversation quite a few years ago with another artist friend, about whether we were artists with a capital "A" or a lower case "a". I'll give us credit for the fact that we were even talking about being artists, as I felt that just referring to myself that way was somehow unthinkable. Years later, it seems somewhat sad that we even contemplated a difference. Which brings me to the question, what is the mystique of calling oneself an artist? Why is it so difficult to claim the title?

David Bayles and Ted Orland, in their book "Art and Fear" talk about the "view of artmaking today - namely, that art rests fundamentally upon talent, and that talent is a gift randomly built into some people and not into others." In other words, the artist has been given a gift and is able to create great works of art because of this alone. Prodigies are rare, but as a culture we've all bought into the image. Speaking for myself, it leaves me with feelings of insecurity, and wondering if I'm "talented" enough.

Intellectually, I know, art is made by ordinary people. People who work hard to learn the basics; who produce a lot of work that ends up in the waste basket. While talent might be a step in the proverbial direction, it's really an issue of passion. When the desire to create overcomes the fear of not being perfect, one can make marks on the paper, or put brush to canvas or cut the fabric. When I'm not thinking about the end result, but focusing on the process, I learn something. What I'm producing in that moment may not be the best work of art I've ever done, but the knowledge gained from creating it will be put to use on the next piece. It's the passion that makes me want to go the next step, create the next piece. It may end up as part of the trash tomorrow, but today, it's what I do.

So, what about others? Is it difficult for you to call yourself an artist? And if not, have you always been able to? I welcome your comments.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

How Do We Balance Social Networking and the Business of Work?

I've just entered the social networking system with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Information moves almost instantaneously. I can "instant message" with any one of my "friends" who happen to be online through Facebook, or through my computer's camera on other networks with family and friends anywhere in the world. I can find and network with those who might have mutual business interests and I don't even need to leave my house. The world at my fingertips!

While all of this is wonderful, and somewhat miraculous to my baby boomer mind, I also feel a little bit like my "network" is beginning to sweep me off my feet and carry me down stream. I'm having difficulty keeping up and wondering when some people who post often to Twitter, etc. get their work done. Finding people around the world to network with is great and offers unlimited possibilities to build a business, but how do others balance the actual work production of art for sale (which is why one networks, isn't it?) with marketing and connecting?

I'd certainly be open to suggestions as I'm finding it a difficult balance. How about it . . . how do YOU find the balance?