Tag Archives: art

More On Uncertainty

sketchesI came across a great quote by Henry Miller that alludes to uncertainty, though Miller uses different terms.  I knew I had to share it here.  The life preserver analogy is especially powerful to me; again, no risk, no art.

“I had to learn to think, feel, and see in a totally new fashion, in an uneducated way, in my own way, which is the hardest thing in the world.  I had to throw myself into the current, knowing that I would probably sink.  The great majority of artists are throwing themselves in with life-preservers around their necks, and more often than not it is the life-preserver which sinks them.  Nobody can drown in the ocean of reality who voluntarily gives himself up to the experience.  Whatever there be of progress in life comes not through adaptation but through daring, through obeying the blind urge.”
–Henry Miller

*Quote via Brain Pickings.

 

Uncertainty

paperstrips_kairosSpecifically, embracing uncertainty.  Something I’m working on, because I’m generally not a big fan of uncertainty.  Uncertainty is… uncomfortable.

colors_kairosI do believe, however, that uncertainty is a vital part of making art.  Starting something new, how are we to know what will come of it?  “Is it going to work?  Where will it lead?  Will it be total shit?  Why am I even doing this?…”  That is the sort of thinking that tends to take over when I start new things.  It’s a vulnerable feeling.  But here’s the thing:  without risk and exploration, things dry up.  Art requires movement.  It requires progression.  It requires risk.  It requires action.

beginnings_kairosMost of the time, the experiments don’t work out.  Every now and then, they do.  Sometimes, they trigger a cascade of work that can last years.  But it all starts with willingness to embrace uncertainty.  So, that’s something I’m working on right now: setting some time aside to just play with different materials, play with different ways of thinking, play with failure, even.  Cultivating uncertainty.

experiments_kairos

Above: Some of my current experiments (playing) on mylar.

Studio Shots

It’s been such a gray and rainy spring! But that hasn’t stopped the work in the studio… in fact, it’s been a wonderful year for the plants this year. Above, some mustard gone to seed.

The hummingbirds have been busy disguising their nests with this moss that grows on the old plum trees behind my studio.

This lovely thing fell to the ground during the last wind storm. I’m looking forward to drawing it.

This pile of embroidery thread is waiting to be woven into some paintings… paintings that are only in my head at the moment. I’m looking forward to the hours of summer, and seeing if some of my new ideas work.

In The Studio

I thought I’d share some current works in progress from my studio. This piece above will be put together in the end as one piece. I’ve been inspired by other artists who work large on multiple panels. Here, I had these small 10×10 inch panels lying around, and I thought I’d use them as a little test run… and that’s my medium setting up in the muffin tins. Working large uses so. much. medium!

This is a pretty crappy photo- taken late in the day with my lights on. But you get the idea. I’m really loving the metallic paints from R&F. So lovely when they are scraped down- this design is done in the german silver color, and it has a lot of variation, like a patina.

On to the next layers!

Hunting the Unseen

A few days ago we had a low, low tide- the kind of low tide that only comes once in a blue moon (literally, this time…), and so we all bundled up and headed for Maverick’s beach by the harbor. The sky was dark, the clouds low and threatening. It was windy. But I was so glad we went out.

There is so much beauty in these gray and blustery days, and this particular day, we had the pleasure of seeing what is usually hidden by the sea. We walked on rocks usually submerged. We could see the kelp anchored to the rocks, starfish clinging, and crabs backed into the deep cracks, staring out at us, as if we had crashed their party, and they were utterly annoyed. The beach becomes unfamiliar, foreign, and all the more beautiful for it.

It occurred to me that this is often the work of the artist- hunting the unseen; making it seen. Finding unnoticed beauty, and bringing it to the light. And sometimes a low tide is just what we need…

Here’s to 2010, a new year, and a new decade. May it bring you all light, love, and prosperity!

Long time, no write

Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve been writing a ton. But I certainly haven’t been writing here, have I?

It’s been a wonderful, yet incredibly busy fall season for us around here, meaning me and my family. I continue to struggle, as we all do, to fit it all into these 24 hour segments we call days… and have yet to find the formula that allows me to do it all and stay present enough to enjoy it.  Such a work in process… and I guess that’s where I’m at these days, trying my best to give myself to the priorities that I’ve set for myself and then seeing the beauty and accomplishment in the messy incoherence that ensues. I figure if I can do that, I’m in pretty good shape.

Well, this is my habit, to take stock toward the end of the year. Not a bad habit, but it can turn melancholy if I let it, so I won’t. A few of my favorite things that I did this year- that sounds more cheerful.

I attended the IEA retreat in Carmel Valley… What a fantastic group of artists. Such a beautiful place.

I developed a body of work that I am in love with… a rare thing for me; I am so critical of my own work. The slow down in sales has facilitated my spending more time on and with my work. So there is a silver lining.

I participated in NaNoWriMo in November… 50,000 words in thirty days, with only a few vague ideas in my pocket- it felt like jumping off a cliff, and I survived! I created my parachute on the way down. Challenging, invigorating, terrifying. I’ve never written that much in my life. My daughter did it too- I couldn’t have been prouder.

So what did I learn the most from? Definitely NaNoWriMo- hands down. I’ll be taking every skill I practiced back to my studio. For example: you don’t always need to know where you are going to get somewhere. Let surprises happen. Let the work take charge instead of bending it to my expectations. Spend time with the work every day. Sit down and work, even when it’s the last thing I feel like doing. Trust that I have something to say. I usually just have to get quiet enough to hear it myself.

I’d love to hear from you- what did you do that was new this year, and what did you learn from it?