Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reckless Abandon

Yippee-skippee! Plunging in with reckless abandon is the key.

Stop over-thinking, stop being so tight with the materials. Just WASTE IT ALL!

I added up the costs for all the glass, paint, color laser photos, gold leaf etc., and decided that wasting it all wasn't the end of the world--and that being stingy and tight was costing me dearly. Stingy and tight pertain not only to the materials, but also to my willingness to let it all gush out. Even the ugly shit.

So I coached myself all day yesterday (yes, outloud) to simply proceed with reckless abandon. Have a thought? Do it! Have another? Do it too! Use up the materials, squander them! That's what they are here for.

I discovered again that my process has to occur through my hands & eyes, not my head.

Just do, do, do... (so what if I make a ton of ugly stuff in the process?).

And last night I started getting that feeling of little tickles in my belly and chest, which grew to a kind of trembling all over.

I found the path! My new line is begun!

Oh man, that wall was a tough one this time.

Now, to go forth and experiment, grow it, refine it, and grow it into what it wants to be.

I'm excited and happy again.

Yippee skippee!

UPDATE:

Huh. I am digging deep into a buried closet where (behind skis & poles (which I got out and placed in a position for USE!) & boxes & old linens & carefully stored grandma-linens & old coats...) all my photos are stored, unseen since I put them there with the intent of organizing them years ago. I had a sudden desire to dig out some photos from the past to maybe use in this current work.

And then I remembered my horoscope I had read for this week by Rob Brezny:

"We should not think of our past as definitely settled, for we are not a stone or a tree," wrote poet Czeslaw Milosz. "My past changes every minute according to the meaning given it now, in this moment.” I suggest you make abundant use of this wisdom in 2010. According to my reading of the astrological omens, you will have unprecedented power to re-vision and reinterpret your past. Keep the following question in mind as you go about your work: "How can I recreate my history so as to make my willpower stronger, my love of life more intense, and my future more interesting?"

Well then.

It seems I've found the stream. Synchronicity waves to me from the shore.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My head is sore...

from beating it into the wall.

Not that I am comparing myself in the least, but I keep seeing in myself things I've read about in which artists (usually men) get withdrawn and sullen and grumpy when they are working on a new painting or whatever. And their wives stay out of their way. I get it. Luckily (for them) I don't have a spouse, and my kitten doesn't seem to mind. He just purrs on my lap or bites my nose and toes (or whatever tender morsel of flesh he can find) and keeps himself occupied with The Bird Channel on Kitty TV (window seat).

I've had one hint of a direction that I like, but now I'm stuck. And I'm halfway through my allotted creative retreat time. The time pressure is a big part of the problem I think. If I had the three weeks I'd originally planned, I think I would relax into it and not try so hard. Waste more materials trying stuff. Waste more time trying stuff.

Well, I guess that's my answer. Waste more materials. Just slop them around following every subtle glimmer. Stop over-thinking it. Over-thinking takes as much time as just doing.

Ok, thanks. I appreciate the advice.

UPDATE: I'm just back from spending $86 dollars at Kinkos on experiments. Now let's see how I can frivolously play with them!
(kind of excited to put my frivolous hat on...)

Monday, December 28, 2009

phase two

"I suck, my work sucks, I am a one-trick-pony, my ideas suck, whatever was I thinking?"

Welcome to day three of my creative retreat.

I am SOOOO glad I remember going through this last year.

Otherwise, well, otherwise it would be just as hard but I would not have the same feeling to reference from last year.

I hope I can nudge my way through this time too.

Yesterday was very different, did you notice?

Sheesh.

Welcome to my world.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Dove straight in

Well, apparently I dove right in. Yesterday I went for my jog then came home and started mucking around with the materials. Everything I did looked pretty crappy. Well, really crappy.

But today I may have a glimmer of a new direction. It looks VERY different than my past work.

It requires a camera. I lost my camera over Christmas. I ordered a new one. It's not here yet. But I'm playing with some old images in the meantime.

It is afternoon and I am still in my jammies, haven't washed my face or brushed my teeth. Just can't stop experimenting.

I love this. I love this feeling.

No jogging today because I've developed shin splints. I figure one day off should be enough to cure 'em, no? Ah well, ice and ibuprofen. But ice requires that I sit down and actually massage with ice for 20 minutes, 3 times a day. I'm feeling WAY too impatient for that. But ok, I will.

Soon.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

My wish for you all:
Lap up whatever goodness you have in YOUR Christmas.
Not the pictures, not the disappointments of not living the pictures.
All the sweet little moments that are there.
At the very least, love how the air feels on your face.
Lap it up, people. Let it run down over your chin. Let it run down onto your shirt. And lap some more.
Love,
Melinda

Thursday, December 24, 2009

fresh pallet

Yesterday my magnificent assistant Premium T. packed up the last 3 orders to ship, and I hired her son as well to take down all the show displays and clear all of the detritus from 2009. I got out all the new materials I want to experiment with and put them on the clean work table. They wait; tidy, organized, and are as curious as I am about how they will be used.

How is it possible that I spent the ENTIRE day yesterday preparing for The Shows in February: The Buyers Market of American Craft and The American Craft Council Show. I will be doing both shows this year, to the tune of around $20,000. Yes people, you read that right. Last year I did only one of the two, The Buyers Market, but that show is wholesale only so although I came home with a big stack of orders, I came home beyond broke and had to do some serious juggling to have the materials to ship orders to get paid so I could buy more materials to ship more orders and try to pay my mortgage and bills in a not-to-delinquent fashion, and my assistants were generous enough to postpone their pay checks... In other words, it was one tough time. This year I am doing both shows. They each are geared toward wholesale and attract buyers and gallery owners from all over the country. This is what gives me the entire years worth of work. But the ACC show also has 4 days dedicated to retail, and if things go as hoped and planned, I'll recover my show costs and be able to come home with the money to get the year started again NOT in debt. Hence the 2-show February.

So yesterday I was on the phone and the computer for HOURS, arranging hotels, flights, train travel, booth pipe and drape, electricity, various contracts, and the outrageous drayage costs (did you know it will cost around $1500 for the union workers to pick my pallets up from the loading dock where my shipper drops them and bring them with a forklift to my booth location? It entails, all told, maybe 30 minutes of "work" on their part. I'm all for unions helping disempowered workers, but their hourly wage and benefits are in a different stratosphere from mine. That is nearly as much as shipping the entire load from here to there... (well not really, but still).

And then there is the shipping: arranging pick up (what kind of truck? lift gate? pallet jack?), drop off at the advance warehouse, delivery to the show, storage of the second show's pallet, shipping to the second show's advance warehouse, then from the warehouse to the show site. Then home again. With all the right dates for all of everything! (last year I made my flight reservation for a day later than planned--thank goodness it was for the return flight--a recovery day and night of sleep in the hotel was actually welcome).

You see? Very boring details are involved in the "glamorous" life of being a self-employed artist-type. And by reading this, YOU got to share a part of the extremely boring details!

So yesterday while my house/factory was being put back in order, I was arranging for the start of another year.

And today that is mostly done (need to confirm shipping quote and contract) and I woke to a clean & tidy house, a warm purring fluffy kitten, and clear cold blue skies.

I cried yesterday though, when T. and I looked at the calendar and realized that I only get one week of my planned 3 week retreat. There is no way we can be ready to ship by January 28th unless we light the fire of production soon. I had SO looked forward to that extended creative time! I hope the angel of creativity visits me, and visits me soon...

And THAT is the fresh pallet I will step up to day after tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

the in-between

Transitions have always been the hardest thing for me: making the transition from cozy inside to jogging outside, from sedentary to active, from thinking about cleaning the house (paying bills, doing laundry, cleaning the litter box...) to actually doing it.

It is NEVER hard once I've begun. It NEVER takes but a short time. When perceived as a moment-to-moment thing (living in the present as one says) it is just fine. Often actually pleasant. And brings such a feeling of accomplishment.

And yet, the transitions remain difficult for me. I don't know of anyone who would consider me lazy, but getting the ball rolling or changing the direction of that ball roll often seems nearly impossible.

It's as if I am in an orbit around one particular planet, held in stasis by gravity. When I want to send myself off into a new direction it seems to take enormous energy to escape my current orbit and the gravity that holds me there. In order to accomplish that I have to muster up my strength, batten down all the hatches, leave the predictable and comfortable, and fire all rockets to extricate myself. Ripping myself away. Once I've done that I am kind of at a loss. Now what? I'm free, I can define my next reality. But what? A couple vague notions. And vague notions won't fuel my rocket ship.

I'm in-between.

Although that might be the definition of freedom many long for, it contains some significant discomforts. What next? What if there IS nothing next?

As I finish up my year of production I find myself pacing about, not knowing what to do with myself. Orders are filled, shows completed. I comfort myself with tasks that have long needed doing which have been shoved aside for "later" when I have time: the afore mentioned bill-paying, laundry-doing, organizing and purging of former mistakes and no longer needed "necessities". I'll tackle some of those today, and they'll temporarily fill up that looming emptiness. And then I'll force myself to stop. There is never an end to the distractions I COULD use to avoid the emptiness looming in front of me. The blank slate, the proverbial blank canvas.

Can I do it? Will I find access to the next planet of wonder? Do I have the courage to keep nudging myself away from the comfort of the known?

Thank goodness there are enough little tasks involved in tucking this past year in to postpone that challenge a couple more days. Then there is Christmas. Then. Well then I'll jump into the emptiness.

For today and tomorrow, while I am busy finishing up safe little necessary tasks, I'm feeling that cold empty space coming closer.

Delicious, exciting and terrifying.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

thinking ahead

Tomorrow is my last studio show. Next week we pack up, organize the inventory that's left, and clear all surfaces for for the next scary/exciting phase.

I will sequester myself into my own artist retreat. Cloister. Isolate. Be non-responsive. Go deep inside. No distractions.

Last year the big snows gave me that, and it was one of the most thrilling times I remember. 3 weeks of pushing through walls and walls of habit, self-doubt, emptiness, fear, and a profound desire to run back to my comfort zone.

And I kept pushing.

Out of that, a new creative process began to emerge, which became my new line for the year. It was a glorious, manic, consuming and totally joyful process once I found my way into it. But it required every bit of that time. Time to first clear my mind, both of the knee-jerk "need" to sit down to produce and fill orders as I do every single day, as well as time to clear my mind of assumptions and expectations. Time to battle all the insecurities, the total blankness, the terrifying LACK of creativity. Time to make some initial stabs in the dark that are utterly devoid of spark and point to no possible path (not to mention ugly and hopeless...). Time to patiently keep gently nudging, nudging, nudging... but with a quiet mind that has given up its fight. Time to stop nudging and just watch, look, feel. Time to quiet enough that I can begin to catch the faintest glimmer of light waaayyyyy off to the side of my vision. Time to silently stalk that glimmer, not even breathing for fear it will disappear. And yet, breathing steadily and walking toward it with confidence.

Being willing to "waste" expensive materials in the process. Not to mention time.

That is the process I will soon invite into my being. I'm scared again of the blank canvas. I am trying to slow myself down now, in preparation. That is a project all in its own. I've been going so fast the past weeks. Well, the past year, actually.

So I'm off to yoga to practice.

Quiet.

Breathe.

Wait.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ahhhhhhhhhh....

Rest. Blessed rest. Early to bed, late to rise, moving slowly through my day. Return to jogging & yoga. After the last weeks of running on pure adrenalin, the surrender to collapse is an amazingly delicious indulgence. It was worth it, I feel proud of what we've accomplished and completed.

My magnificent assistant T. and I worked an impossible number of hours, got all shipments out, and by the time the first customers arrived on Sunday there was hot ginger-lemon cider (with or without the splash of cognac!), and nibbles, and everything was displayed beautifully and priced, and the house was CLEAN (somehow that gives me the greatest pleasure after weeks of not being able to see the floor for all the packing peanuts, dust balls, and whatever else I choose to not know about).

This Sunday is the second show, but the glory is that it is already set up! I am finishing a few more pieces to fill in, completing a few special requests, but basically... this week has been about learning to breathe again.

Why don't you all come on over this Sunday and enjoy with me? The cider is REALLY good!

Friday, December 11, 2009

getting closer

My assistant T. and I are both running on fumes but have made really great progress. There are housecleaners here to expose the floor from under weeks worth of packing peanuts and I don't want to know what else. I spent hours last evening tidying all the boxes and piles of work in progress, and all the stuff we use to make the work. T.'s son is coming to install the shelves and set up the lights, another dear friend is picking up nibbles and drinks. We are still completing work, but by golly, I think there will be a show here on Sunday!

And still 3 more last minute gallery orders to ship.

Then I plan to remember how to sleep, jog, and go to yoga classes, and play with my kitten, and, oh yeah, sleep?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

is it even possible?

Is it even humanly possible that work will be completed, the house will be clean (for the first time in... seems like forever), hot lemon-ginger cider will be hot and gingery & lemony, nibbles will be artfully arranged, and the work will fill the shelves all sparkly and appealing, and customers will come pouring in the door? And there will actually be something lovely for them to buy? And that on that particular night I'll go to bed early and sleep in the next morning until I FEEL compelled to get up?

Is that even humanly possible?

YES WE CAN! (repeat after me).

VERY busy, trying to accomplish the impossible. Studio sale this Sunday (and next Sunday, but we are taking one at a time). AND we are still getting gallery orders shipped out.

Lordy, lordy.