Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Going off the radar

I like to take pictures of my current work, and keep the people around me updated on my progress. I don't know why this is necessary, because honestly I don't see what interest people have in my day to day progress on art work. I just do this, like any other Instagram addicted hipster, to annoy people around me with my day to day ins and outs. To me documenting my progress and my work is much like taking a picture of that day's coffee and sandwich. It is more for me, than for the random passer by.

Despite the fact that I am making these records of my work, and my methods for me it gives me great pleasure to see people like and comment on my work. I don't know why I seek this kind of praise. It is like getting praise for showing up to work. This is my office job, but for some reason I look for praise from people for doing the work could just as easily have been done if a cubicle if I had chosen a different major.

I love to flood my newsfeed with all of these samples, and then check my timeline to see if people are appreciating what I am doing. It is sad really. It is a far cry from my original artistic motivations. When I was in school I made art for the philosophical statements that it made. I tried to make smart art, art that made you think, art that was inspirational, art that showed you a different perspective, but this streaming media has changed my way of making art from being intelligent to people pleasing.

I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I like to make people happy. I like to make them laugh. On the other hand I also liked to make the intelligent art too. I liked thinking about the way art could function as a way to enlighten the minds of others. I like both of these kinds of art. I just don't have an outlet for the philosophical kind of art any more. This makes me constantly worried that the people pleasing kind of art is not pleasing people.

I worry constantly that what I am making is not serving its purpose of bringing a smile to people. This is why I am so addicted to my stats. The figures and numbers are somehow supposed to tell me the satisfaction rate of people with my art. So I continue to dump pictures and updates through social media to constantly check up with people to see if they approve of my current work. It is a sad spiral, and an addicting one.

Sometimes, because of all of this,  I lose sight of the third kind of art. The art of love. I grew up in a home where for birthdays and holidays we liked to make for each other some special hand crafted gift of the heart. My parents are carpenters and so we would go out into the shop and make things for whoever. We would make works of love.

Some of my favorite and most remembered gifts I have ever been given were not purchased but made by my Dad for me. When I was 7 I got a little stool that had a storage compartment under the seat. When I was 12 he helped me build an armoire and nightstand for my birthday. He would make these expertly crafted gifts, that were beautiful, and exactly what I needed. It was also something that I got to share with him. These pieces of art were made with love.

Now, I make painted art for my loved ones. I don't have access to a wood shop like I used to, but I still get to make for them things from the heart. Those special gifts from my childhood taught me how to fill my art up with love, so that even if people don't learn anything from it, or it isn't the most pleasing to the eye, my loved ones will still feel my love for them in it when they receive it.

This leads me to my current radio silence. It is the time of year that I start getting ready for Christmas. I make works of art for most of the people on my list now. I spend the whole year thinking about them and what they may appreciate. Then come the end of summer I get started, so that my entire list will be done in time for the holiday. Since, however, most of the people I give gifts to follow my social media I will not be posting progress of my work. I don't want to ruin the surprise for them.

So what I will be posting will be few and far between as I work my way through my Christmas list.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

That Glaring Mistake

I hate that moment when things start to fall apart. That first mistake that leads to the point where you just want to throw your work across the room, and pretend that it didn't happen.

This can happen to me at any point, and about anything. I hope I am not alone in this, and that wanting to forget your work had even happened gives you more peace of mind than dwelling on the fact that you put in so much effort, and then in the end one mistake messed things up completely. Or that a mistake that wasn't such a big deal in the beginning got progressively worse and worse till no band-aid will fix the mess you have made of things.

Both of these kinds of mistakes happened to me this week. Not really art related, but I broke my kid this week. Not in the physical sense, but in the emotional sense. We had gone to a park that was further away from home than normal, and on the way home he fell asleep in the car. Normally I would still give him a nap when we get home, but he wasn't acting tired so I just let him go without.

Unfortunately, that is where things began to spiral out of control. That one, not so great decision, to let him skip his nap, lead to further, not so great decisions. So later in the afternoon he got super grumpy. Turns out he had actually needed that nap in the first place. This lead me to think that, though it was late for him to be taking a nap that I should just give him one anyways so that he would stop being such a grump. Then the nap got a little long, and I began to worry that he wouldn't be able to sleep at night. So thus precipitated another stupid decision, of waking him up to have dinner.

This train of events, and poor decision making lead to spending the rest of the evening with a child that had a horrible mental break down. A couple hours filled with uncontrollable unconsolable sobbing was what all of these mistakes lead to. That one mistake of a decision to let him skip a nap lead to an atrocious night.

The other mistake this week was on my current watercolor portrait I am working on. It is a picture I have of my great-grandma when she was young. I have always love this picture, her with her bobbed hair cut, and cute little tilted head smile for the camera. It is great.

I have never been really confident in my ability to do a good portrait picture. So when this piece went well, I was pleasantly surprised. It was amazing to me that I have improved as much as I have in this skill set. I began to feel confident that this was going to be one of my best portraits yet. The paint was going down nicely and my line work was solid. I really had nothing to complain about.

Then it happened. I had finished the face and hair, the most difficult parts of the work and decided to move onto the blouse. Since this is a picture of my great-grandma in her youth, this picture is obviously in black and white. I had decided to make it a color picture, to practice my flesh tones. I hadn't really decided at that point what color I was going to paint the shirt. So on a whim I picked a red tone and started filling in the space.

This was not a good idea. It was a mistake to take action before I was completely sure what I was doing. Many times, our greatest mistakes are not the ones where we accidently smudge a line or sneeze while trying to do some detail. Our biggest mistakes come when we act without thinking. The color I had chosen looked exactly like the way I felt about it, garish and discoordinate with the rest of the piece. It was too bright and didn't match the careful tone of the rest of the piece.

It was too late to get rid of that color. It kind of broke me in side. This part of the piece that should have been so easy was ruined not because of my lack of skill, but because I didn't take it seriously enough. I had been so concerned with the details of the face, that when it came to the simple task of making a shirt I messed the whole piece by not giving it as much attention and care as I had with the rest of the piece.

I was able to fix the color and make the blouse look okay, but it still bothers me. When I look at this piece now I will only be able to see the muddied colors of the top and the poor detail quality because the paper got over worked. My mistakes will always be visible to me.

Seeing our mistakes on display like this teach us to not make them again. The sad thing is that I cannot go back with the knowledge I have now and fix it. All I can do is make sure that in the future I use what I know now to avoid the mistakes of the past.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Getting Back on Track

Sometimes I can get a bit distracted. There are lots of things that can distract me from my work and my goals. It has been great to get the commission pieces that I have had the last couple of months. I always love to have something new to work on, but this meant that I had put to the side the other things that I have been working on.

Before I got my commissions, I had started work on a portrait of my great-grandma. This was a planned exercise for me to practice portraiture in watercolor. Now that I have finished these commissions, it has been weeks since I have touched the portrait. Not that this is a bad thing. Sometimes taking a break from a piece can help you to gain more insight into how to make it better. It just makes me feel bad for ignoring it for long.

I have made a list of works that I want to complete by the end of the year, but I have been distracted from those goals. It is important to come back to goals. We can get distracted with life all of the time, but if your goals are important enough for you to complete them you will make time to work on them.

I don't know if I will be able to finish all of the things that I have lined up for this year. I have quite a list of things that I want to get done, and we are closing in on the holidays where I will have even less time to work on stuff. What is important is that I work toward my goal no matter what. Even though I may not get it done, I will have gotten more done than if I had given up because I was afraid of the work. I will not be discouraged by the amount of work I still have to do on my goals. I will get it done when it gets done.

Life can happen. It does all of the time, and when it does we have to make adjustments. We cannot be prepared for everything, and as humans we have the ability to adapt to the changing circumstances of our lives. By adapting my work time line, to compensate for the time I spent on the commission's, I can be flexible enough to make my goals still realistic.

It is interesting looking back at my original goal for this year, and seeing all of the changes I have made to them along the way. We still have four months left of the year, I wonder how life will influence them to change in the future.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Have to, Need to, Want to

There are things that we have to do, and things that are expected of us, and then there are things that we want to do. But the days when the the things that we have to do and the things that we want to do are the same thing are the luckiest days. I happen to find myself in one of those lucky times.

The work that I am doing is making me so happy. I don't really have much to say beyond that. It is completely satisfying to have things to work on that I want to do. It probably the most beautiful thing in life.

In the end it doesn't really matter what you do but that you enjoy what you do.