#28. Post-show challenges (or, getting back in the saddle)

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“New Territory” 53×65″. mixed media on Fabriano paper. ©2014 Karen Rand Anderson

There’s a huge sense of relief after delivering a body of work to a gallery, and leaving it there with the gallery director… the next time you see the work, those paintings (or whatever it is) that you’ve pretty much lived with every day for months— are all installed in a stunning space, beautifully lit, waiting to be seen and experienced by others. [I’m truly fortunate to have my work currently showing at The Alexey von Schlippe Gallery of Art, at the University of Connecticut. The Gallery is dedicated to the memory of the late Alexey von Schlippe (1915-1988), an innovative and accomplished painter, born in Russia, and former Professor of Art at the University of Connecticut at Avery Point.] 

When people begin showing up for the opening, with wine in hand, saying complimentary things, congratulating you, it’s a grand feeling, for a couple of hours.

It is wonderful, if stressful, to spend months getting ready for a show, have it be installed, and then have a big opening. You see old friends, talk about your work, get congratulated. And then…. it’s over.

There is a post-opening grayness that settles in a day or two later. Getting back into the studio and trying to pick up where you left off just doesn’t happen, at least for me. That said—I’m immensely grateful and happy to have my recent work hanging in a beautiful gallery for six weeks, and it is a great feeling. (Of course, it would be icing on the cake to have the work sell.) But—getting back into the saddle is a challenge. Time to make new art. In order to make it happen….(it’s inevitable….) it’s the perfect time to… clean up the studio. ’Nuff said.

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#27. How To Be an Inspiration Machine

INSPIRATION… Some mighty useful and charged-up thoughts from Leigh Medeiros at All CreativeLike. Here’s one that sparked me: “Pay attention to your thoughts, then choose to speak and share only the ones that are purposeful and considered. The power of words cannot be underestimated when it comes to inspiration. Being a conscious editor – of our written and spoken words – is key.” A really great post which I wanted to pass along to you!!! (Thanks for your wisdom and continuing inspiration, Leigh!) To see more about Leigh and her amazingness, check out my blog post about her: #5. Getting All CreativeLike

All Creativelike

9391593778_d2b6961ca7_bAh, inspiration. That abstract yet ultra-important thing that activates your heart space and jump starts your creativity.

If you’re anything like me, you make it a regular practice to seek out stories of inspiring people – people who endure challenging things with immense bravery, or who come up with clever solutions to impossible problems, or who entertain us in the most unique, uplifting ways.

When it comes to artmaking, inspiration is most often found in the works and words of others.

It’s the turn of a phrase, the pinpointed observation, the juxtaposition of two colors coming up against one another, or in the brilliantly executed pirouette. Any of these things, and many more, help us get our creative juices flowing, so it’s not a stretch to say that if it weren’t for inspirational people, our lives and creative practices would be very much diminished.

So what does it take to become an inspiration? How do we act in ways that…

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#25. What to do with OLD ART? (suggestions welcome) part I

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View of branch/fleece sculptures in my studio at Vermont Studio Center, 2008

All that art that has been made…. A blessing and a curse. Why do we make it? (That’s a rhetorical question.) Years of art-making = a lot of old art. The worst is the big stuff, the awkward mixed-media sculpture, the fragile stuff, the found object assemblages, the large paintings, not to mention the framed things under glass.  

It’s shocking how it multiplies.. the older the artist gets, the more old art there is.

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“A New Bamboo Cross Statement” salt-fired porcelain, black bamboo.
16″ diam. x 18″ h. 1977 ©2014 Karen Rand Anderson

Some years after graduating from art school (where I majored in ceramics) I stopped making art. For 10 years, when I became a wife, then a mother, from 1985-1995, I focused on life without art-making (however, there was still plenty of old art to haul around.) And then I reclaimed who I was, who I am. I started making art again (it saved my sanity) and the work slowly began to pile up— pastels, paintings, figure drawings, then mixed media collages, and assemblages, and then sculpture, and then graduate school, and whoa!~ ! 

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“For Love or Money” mixed media under glass, 24x35x3″, 2004. ©2014 Karen Rand Anderson

I recently had to take full responsibility for many years-worth of my old work, loads of old art which I had conveniently forgotten about, stored at my old home. The past several weeks have been a stressful marathon of clearing out my old home and studio, which was just sold. A bittersweet event. Though I have not lived there for the past four years, the place still harbored a lot of my old art (and art books and art supplies, not to mention memories) My ex-husband and I designed and built it, in 1995, and the amount of artwork that was still there was overwhelming. 

It was not only my own work I had to determine what to do with, but that of my two daughters— also artists, both prolific (think large paintings, some of them in the 6×8 foot range, and art school portfolios, and more that I just CAN’T throw out… )  

The questions always remain— is it good art? Maybe, some of it. Meaningful? Maybe to me, on some level, but to others? And does anyone want this stuff? And what the hell does one DO with it all??  

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“Door to a Mystery” found object/mixed media assemblage on canvas, 52x58x7″. 2007 (it made great bonfire fodder.) ©2014 Karen Rand Anderson

I did the sacrificial bonfire, tossing bad paintings and sculptures that I once thought were.. well, pretty good.. into the flames. The work was at one time meaningful, as a record of personal creativity, but not worth keeping. In the end, lots of stuff went to the dump. (And my garage, and my basement, and into a storage unit…not to mention my studio, which is overly-full at the moment.) 

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“Very There When Here” mixed-media sculptural assemblage: found objects, natural materials, oil painting. 18x46x10″ 2004. (it found a home at the Stonington dump.) ©2014 Karen Rand Anderson

I also discovered that some paintings were “borrowed”, or lifted,  from my home studio after I moved away… they just disappeared. (there were various people coming and going from that locale. I still am not sure just how much was taken. I keep remembering various pieces, wondering.. hmmmm… what happened to that one?) 

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“Gestation” 33×44″ oil on canvas, 2006. (“missing” painting) © 2014 Karen Rand Anderson

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“Energetic Tryptich” 30×36″ mixed media on canvas, 2005 (“missing” painting) ©2014 Karen Rand Anderson


 

 

 

 Some paintings have been donated to non-profits, like Art Connection RI and to galleries with permanent collections, like Alexey von Schlippe Gallery of Art.  

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“Spaghetti Sauce Still Life” 24×30″ oil on canvas. 2000. (donated to Art Connection RI, a non-profit which connects art donors and community services) ©2014 Karen Rand Anderson

I’ve donated art countless times to good-cause fund-raisers. (I’m pretty much done with that. I’m tired of being asked to contribute my art, with no recompense, to raise money for “a good cause”) Some pieces have gone to friends who really loved them. 

 

 

 

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“The Lucky Heart” acrylic, mixed media, found objects on canvas 12x38x6″ 2004. ©2014 Karen Rand Anderson (collection of a friend)

What do you do with old art that is taking up space? Give it away? Donate it? Burn it? Take it to the dump? Put it in storage? If you feel like it, add to the conversation. 

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“Nesting Fleecebox” drawing: gouache, acrylic and graphite on paper 30×30″ 2008
sculpture: charred paper, bronze wire, acrylic, black birch branches, sheep’s fleece. 34x27x12″ 2008. (Collection Alexey von Schlippe Gallery of Art, University of Conn.) ©2014 Karen Rand Anderson

 

#21.Clean sweep: reblogged from Danny Gregory

Oh boy!!!!! A terrific post about “cleaning up the studio” and the rest of life from the amazing and remarkable DANNY GREGORY. Some deeply inspirational ideas and hot tips on everything from old art supplies to outdated software and stagnant work habits.

A little Madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King

~Emily Dickinson

Danny Gregory

watercolor stages

Because it’s finally March and spring is allegedly on the horizon, I decided to clean up my studio. I swept the floor, wiped down all the tables, emptied the trash cans and water buckets, and vacuumed the chartreuse carpet the dogs nap and chew dried bulls’ pizzles on.

Then I decided to go deeper. Remembering the old carpenter’s homily, “Look after your tools and they’ll look after you,” I pulled all of my art supplies out of their drawers, boxes and Ziplocs and gave them a proper going over. I scrutinized each tube of watercolor and acrylic to make sure the lids were firmly screwed on, rolled them up from the bottom, and separated the ones that seemed too hopelessly hard and dry. I filled all the pans on my watercolor boxes with fresh paint and left them to solidify. I examined every brush and gave them a wash and…

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# 9. New territory

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Territory: Terrain. Ground. Land. Place… Striking out into new territory implies leaving the old one. Exciting, intimidating, courageous. Over the past six months I’ve made a conscious shift from the sculptural mixed-media work and text-informed drawing I had been doing for some years to landscape painting. In my distant past I painted (didn’t we all?) — everything from figure + still life to landscape. Later on, around 2006-7, I was exploring the idea of landscape through abstraction and energetic expression– not painting places, but playing with shape, color, line, etc. and turning it into landscape. Now I’m re-exploring landscape informed by intuitive mark-making, layering of color, gestural brushwork, and spontaneity, and referencing place. It’s a revival of my love of nature, beauty, land, vista. And a departure, a welcome one, from the emotionally-driven, personal narrative work of my (fairly recent) past, which focused on relationship, using metaphor and/or symbolism, specific imagery, objects and text. Which is not to say that at some point I won’t go back (or forward, as the case may be) to doing sculptural work again. I love the hands-on manipulation of 3-D stuff, especially burning paper and sewing it with bronze wire  as well as playing with all sorts of materials for collage and assemblage. (Bring on the glue!)

Landscape, to me, is more than painting pretty pictures. It speaks of place, wayfinding, “carving a path”… In the words of author Dominique Browning:  (“Slow Love Life”)– “We don’t find paths, do we? We carve them, into what seem like impenetrable terrains, never certain where exactly we are going even when we are certain we are fooling ourselves.” At this point,  I’m not certain of where I’m going, or whether or not I’m fooling myself. But I’m in the studio, being brave, consistently challenging myself even as I ask “why does the world need another landscape painting?”

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Although, I can answer that too: it’s about the energy of the work, the intention, the quality of place, mark-making, and letting go of the desire to shock, stand out, or say something “profound.” It is, for me now, the experience of creating the painted surface, infused with passion and beauty. The word “biophelia” comes to mind : “an innate love for the natural world, supposed to be felt universally by humankind” (Also: Bjork’s  project .)

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So– I’m striking out, one stroke at a time: curious about where the path is leading, where I’ll be going this year to find even newer territory, and leaving you with a question: Are you making radical shifts this year, in your life/work/medium/concept? Is your territory new or comfortably old? I welcome your comments– after all, the real reason I’m striking out here is to expand my tribe, my vision, and my work, and hopefully yours as well.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“Barrington Summer House”  30×30″.  mixed media on canvas © 2014 Karen Rand Anderson

#5. Getting all creativelike

I am extraordinarily grateful (dare I say indebted? ) to the amazing Leigh Medeiros. As a truly gifted artist, writer, blogger and more, this woman somehow manages to do all of the above while also inspiring and empowering other artists with boatloads of brilliant advice, ideas and support. For instance, if you have any issues with time management (duh) you may want to read this blogpost. (I printed it out and put it on my fridge. And in my studio.) She conducts inspiring interviews with remarkable artists  and writers. She offers online and on location classes  and also fabulous free information.

If you are an artist seeking a little support and connection, some great advice and inspirational tips, I highly recommend that you sign up for Leigh’s All Creativelike Newsletter and you’ll begin to see what I mean. Her energy and ideas are contagious.

Image“The creative life can be a challenging one to walk with its lack of road map, constant detours, speed bumps and potholes, but along with those tough moments come the most inspiring, energizing, life-changing experiences a person could ever dream of. That’s why the creative life is the only kind I want to live. And I want to help you learn to live yours to the fullest too.” Leigh Medeiros

Honestly, I can’t figure out when, or if, Ms. Medeiros sleeps. But her advice, not to mention her unflagging support of the people with whom she connects and cares about, is priceless. I’m just giving credit where credit is due. Thanks, Leigh, for the terrific and inspiring possibilities you bring to light for the rest of us, and for providing some sort of artist road map. (How DOES she do it??)

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image/manifesto ©2013  Leigh Medeiros