Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cleansing My Palate

At least once a day, someone comes into my studio/gallery at Crestwood Court and marvels: "ALL this work is yours? You did all this?"

Well..., yes. But I didn't do it yesterday. I agree it's varied: hand-altered Polaroid photos, Infrared photos, mixed media pastel paintings, everday ceramics, silver jewelry, and most recently, votive candle scupltures from hand-made paper.

The work in my studio represents years of work. I work everyday. EVERYDAY. Hundreds of thousands of hours of work. The good art goes in the gallery or an art fair or, I hope, someone's home or office.

The bad work goes in the trash. My critics may disagree, but I am ruthless in examining my work. I toss a lot. A lot. One day, I'm worried someone will find the cache of rejects and marvel with distain: "YOU did all this?" Yuck. My reputation will be ruined!

I think one of the things that people are surprised about is the variety of work in the gallery. Many artists have one style, one body of work. They are known for it. That's what they do. It's successful. They stay the course.

I have a couple of bodies of work that I'm known for -- mostly notably hand-altered Polaroid photographs. I love that body of work. It continues to evolve and grow. As long as I can find film, I will work with medium.

Sometimes I have to break out of it, though. Ten years ago, frustrated that I couldn't thrown a clay pot, I took up ceramics. I love the mud. I'm not great, but it's a medium I can use when I need it. I've been heard to say that as a potter, I'm a very good photographer! But my berry bowls and ikaebonas are very popular and I'll be putting new items in the gallery this fall.

I'm working on a special new project that demanded hand-made paper. Sure, I could buy it, but it's so much more special if the papermaking is part of the completed piece of art. Most recently, I've picked up silversmithing. I'll make jewelry, sure, if just to feed my own habit. But I want to incorporate silver into mixed media pieces. So I have to learn it.

Most of us artists have visions far beyond our abilities or talent. If we're brave, we will try to give those visions life. The more and varied skills the artist has, the greater the chances that the vision will materialize in a vibrant piece of work.

Sometimes working with a different medium -- making paper or throwing a pot instead of making photographs, for example -- is like eating a light sherbet between two dinner courses with strong flavors. It's like cleansing the palate. Creating a different art form is a way of clearing out the creative dust and making room for new ideas.

Working with more than one medium broadens my artistic vision and keeps work fresh and exciting. That means constant learning and experimenting too.

So yes, all this work is mine. It's okay for an artist to do more than one thing, isn't it? It's okay for ALL of us to be more than one thing.

4 comments:

Dianne Poinski said...

Thanks for this post Jeane. I am tossing around an idea for something a little different with my work but worried it would not be consistent with everything else. I think you just helped me make a decision.
Thanks,

ChaoticBlackSheep said...

I am totally in agreement. I will admit that much of my work is rather scattered, but I just don't want to be pinned down and limited in my scope of what I can and cannot do. To me, it is about being able to explore and give voice to an idea using whatever media is best-suited.

DJ said...

Yep! It IS ok for us to be more than one thing...
I have over twenty paintings sitting in my studio that will prolly never see another home. They are all different parts of me at different times. But they make me happy. One style is just not me. If that means I don't get gallery representation in my lifetime, so be it. I will continue to happily mush paint around in my little space, just because I gotta.

RMCotton said...

I LOVE IT!!
I have always been told by art teachers that my interests are too broad, so I have tried to narrow my focus a lot over the years. I have recently begun to revisit my inner child and do things I haven't allowed myself to do in years. And you know what? It has made me HAPPY and MORE creative. You can see some of my latest creative projects at http://www.rachelmcotton.com/

People will buy your work if it is authentic. To me that means being who you are in each moment. We are ever-changing, so it only follows suit that our art be ever changing as well!