January 26, 2014

Finding your Niche

detail of cross stitching
Apparently finding your niche is all about specializing in your own individuality, or so the countless articles I've just read declare, including this interesting one from the Huffington Post.

My problem is I want too many things at once.
It happens in my art and in my everyday life. I just wrote in my journal about wanting to make a painting that was both lush and bare at the same time. I'm all about dichotomies; the control and repetition of cross stitching, the aggressive messiness of painting. Separately it's about trying to combine everything I know into one piece, which I already know doesn't work, but I keep trying.

I envy artists and designers who are so focused on that one thing they do well.

They've found that niche and are working it to death. 

And they're making money off it because I suppose the appearance of that kind of obsessive dedication is more appealing than a little bit of everything for every one. Case in point, I just read a wonderful, inspiring article by John Gravois of Pacific Standard all about the oddly successful niche of selling toast in San Francisco.  

Toast.  
So simple and to the point. 

Why can't I be that smart?
I have so many things I'm trying to do at the same time, if I don't have a list to check off each day I get lost. Right now I am working on two separate to-do lists, one for artwork and one for everything else. The everything else list runs the gamut from food shopping and going to the bank, getting the computer fixed, to looking for that masking fluid I'm not sure I still have. The art list includes appropriate boxes to check off each time I work on a particular project: watercolors, collages, cross stitching, laundry meat rope, & spray foam paintings. 
It doesn't seem very conducive to finding that niche but I am working hard......


works in progress. part of my cross stitch project

the plan is to attach the smaller pieces to create sculptural forms,

like I started to do here. hard to see but this is three dimensional

each piece measures about 4-6 inches



detail

detail









January 23, 2014

Art Wrestling in 2014

It's been just over one year that I've been publishing my blog.

After my recent two week interlude without a computer, of all the time sucking online activities I've decided to eliminate from my life, my blog, I'm happy to say, is not one of them.

What started as a simple way to connect myself to the ever growing online community has turned out to be a very fun and useful extension of my work and life.

When I began I was just entering my second year as the owner and director of The Art House Gallery. It was a huge part of what I was wrestling with on a daily basis. Part of my intention was to expose the experience of running a gallery, and part of it was to regularly share my artwork. In fact I think my first post (which has since been deleted) said something about making new artwork and writing something once a week to start.
That of course never really happened. I didn't even post any images in the beginning. If you've been paying attention you know that I'm much more naturally inclined toward the inconsistencies of life than in rigid routines. Most of what I publish comes directly from my writing journals which I've kept for years and which are generally all over the place.


I'm a juggler, a wrestler, a mother, an artist, a thinker, a worker. I've been a teacher, a curator, a director, an exhibitor. I balance food shopping each week with stretching canvas, cooking dinner with mixing paints, cleaning the house with organizing my art studio. This is what I do everyday. Occasionally I open up a shop or a gallery or start a group, but I always come back to my artwork.

The Art Wrestler is about all of this. It's about the balance between the everyday, mundane and repetitive; and the creative and sublime.

I know there are others who can relate.

Daybook by Anne Truitt is an inspiring book of this sculptor's published journals all about raising a family and being an artist


During a studio visit I conducted back in 1999, when I owned my first art gallery, Catherine Street Gallery, I met with a wonderful artist living in Brooklyn. She had a lovely detached home at the end of the block that she shared with her husband, her kids and her dog. Her studio was in the attic at the top of the third floor, and as we climbed the three flights of stairs we passed by all the commotion and mayhem that made up her life. I remember leaving there hoping that I'd never have to juggle that many things in life to be able to do my art and make a living.
Ha.....ha, ha. How naive I was to imagine I could escape the chaos of life while still being a part of it.

Another inspiring book. If you look to the right you'll see a quote from here that's become something of a mantra for me
   

I don't know who's reading this, but I hope you find it worthwhile enough to keep reading. This year I'd like to include some guest writers and artists to keep things interesting, perhaps a few interviews, and more behind the scenes from my art studio.

What are some other things you'd like to read about???? Send me your comments...

I often get comments that don't end up here either by email or facebook. If you comment directly to the blog at least we can all share in the conversation.







January 18, 2014

what we do matters, even if we don't post it, pin it or write a blog about it

watercolor & mixed media collage
I am so happy to be able to write this on my newly refurbished iMac....AAHHH

For the past two weeks my computer has been on the nod. 

As in (if you didn't know), to quote the urban dictionary, "this dope is wild, it had me on the nod". Or in computer talk, it was so slow the mouse only stopped spinning occasionally to take a nap.

It has been an eye-opening experience. I cannot believe how long I have been wasting time on this thing. Although I managed to check emails and messages once a day on my iPad, which is no substitute by the way, I haven't been away from my computer for this long in, I'm sad to say, years. Even with heavy withdrawal setting in at day two and three, I can't even believe how much work I got done! I am amazed at how different life used to be, and how quickly those changes have worked themselves so seamlessly into my life. Instead of my usual habit of wasting hours every morning at the computer I actually went into the studio and got to work. Instead of getting bored around dinner time every night and browsing Facebook or some random blog post or youtube video,  I did the dishes and read a book. Gee, what a revelation! Why is it so easy to get sucked into this thing? Part of me understands this idea of showing the world everything we've been doing every minute of the day, but really...admitting you have a problem is the first step. And especially for artists, we're getting exposure for our artwork in a way that was never possible before so it becomes a little easier to justify the countless wasted hours.

Speaking of exposure, I often question my work with that philosophical question, if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it does it make a sound. If no one sees the work I do, does it exist, and more importantly is it worth doing at all?

Doesn't visual art require a viewer at some point to complete the visual nature of it?


I just read a quote by Dominique de Menil
     "stored away, objects remain inert.
     Art...needs attention and love to become alive.
     We are all familiar by now with the famous statement of Rothko:
     'Art lives by companionship'."

After two weeks without my companion, I can tell you, what we do matters, even if we don't post it, pin it, or write a blog about it. Getting your work seen is important, of course, but if you're not in the studio actually making the work, what's there to be seen?


Here's a small sample of some of my work from the last 2 weeks...
Included are watercolors, drawings and collage:


studio view