shell game

   Ask anyone who has ever challenged me to a target shooting contest and they will agree that I am a crack shot….. and most certainly, a crack pot. I can pick off soda cans from a cheer-leader style pyramid with the accuracy of a navy seal sniper. Moving targets are a different story.   I want to be a real artist, well what the hell is that?  What is good?   What constitutes talent?  Why do people want to buy this and not that?  I may never figure it out and I’m not sure that I really need to.  Perhaps there is no true answer.  Success is a moving target with an unpredictable trajectory and I would like to be able to hit that target so square that I can put the struggle to rest, relax, and create without self-doubt.

   I make art every day.  I am driven, impelled, inspired, preoccupied, to make art everyday.  For me, the making of art can come in many forms.  I make pots and quilts which are to be sold to support my art habit, but creating also comes in the form of trying to grow a great tomato & out-smarting the raccoons who will come & eat it.     The ongoing struggle to be an artist  is hopelessly tied to the questions of  “Am I any good at this”?  “What am I doing wrong”?  “Will I live long enough to accomplish the vague goal of being good“?  Who the hell knows, not me.   I have successfully sold my work for many years now and that is a great feeling.  BUT, there is a BUT, making art is what makes me happy, BUT, unfortunately for me, success is hopelessly tied to the approval of others.  I don’t think that you get the title of “real artist” if you worry about bullcrap like that.  BUT, how can you be sure that your work is good unless it’s good enough to compel people to plunk down some cash & take it home?  I don’t see art as a luxury per say, but I guess it doesn’t fill the same sort of need for people as walking around wearing a factory-made mass-produced cliché that says “look at me I have enough money to look like all of the other people who need an expensive trinket to be important”.  BUT, I guess this sort of thing does keep the child laborers in Chinese work camps busy.  Sometimes I entertain myself by turning things over to see where they are made…. try it, look at food in the grocery store too.  Those really fancy cookies, the ones with the cool smooth icing… China.  Are you kidding me?

   My quilts are expensive, yep, can’t argue with that.  I hang my work at shows and listen to people tell me all day long, over & over, and  most sincerely “your work is beautiful”, “oh, this is amazing”, “I love your work”.  Ok then, BUY it.  People waste money on all kinds of crap that are meaningless possessions forgotten & destined to Goodwill in relatively short order.  The joy that ART brings lasts forever. That is why they put it in museums, so people can come & see the amazingness of it forever.  I have collected a lot of artwork, and every time I look at one of my purchases I think “wow, that is so cool, I can’t believe somebody made that”.  I want to support other people who make art so that they can keep doing it.  Creative people  come up with the ORIGINAL ideas that make life better.

   The economy is in the tank, yep, I get it.  The next time that you go out shopping,  I ask you to consider for a moment, buying things you need from a local artist.  There are thousands of them in your neighborhood and you can find their work at craft shows every weekend and at small privately owned shops on main street USA.  They are making some things you need, and some things you don’t.  But, if you need something to cover that blank space on your wall, hold your morning coffee, or keep you warm, why not get yourself something handmade that will inspire you to think “wow that is so cool, I can’t believ somebody made that” every time that you look at it?

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  1. katdazzle on September 1, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Defining yourself as an artist
    The 20th century view, first articulated by Marcel Duchamp, is that artists define themselves, with no other external forms of validation required. I believe this to be true. From the time I drew my first squibble with a broken yellow crayon and sat back on my hunches to admire my work I knew I was an artist. Why? Because I made art. Which to me means I took nothing and made something. That’s all. That simple.
    Why do I make art? Because there is nothing else in the world that feels as good as creating something. Many people have tried to analyze its meaning. In the early 20th century Sigmund Freud pioneered the study of art in its psychoanalytic form by considering the artist as essentially a neurotic who deals with his psychic pressures and conflicts through his creative impulses. Maybe. Freud may be right about some artists and some art. But sometimes I just see something so beautiful, I have to capture it. So it becomes mine. It’s a way for me to push the beauty through my veins, to become a part of it. But that’s only sometimes.
    According to Jung, art and other forms of creative endeavor could access the ”collective unconscious” and provide considerable insights on not just the process of creativity but also the cultural elements in the mind that are carried across generations. In Jungian psychology art as a psychological process would be an assimilation of the cultural experiences of the artist so it is accessible to an wider community.
    Humans have been making images of humans as long as we have been able to use our hands. There is nothing else I want to paint, draw, sculpt except humans. Once in a while an animal but mostly humans. I am fascinated by the behavior of people and I like to express it in art. I think it helps me sort it out in my over cluttered brain. Maybe I am taking notes.
    “What makes one an artist? My friend asks because she is timid about calling herself a “real” artist. I have always agreed with Duchamp. If you say you are an artist, you are. No validations or explanations needed. It’s because being an artist is a state of mind, not an action. It’s like if you say “I am hungry.” Art is a feeling. A compelling urge to create something from your observations and ideas. I have heard people say that you are a real artist if people buy your art. If sales defines you as an artist, where does that put old Vincent van Gogh, who only sold one or two paintings during his lifetime but is one of the most recognized dead artist in present day?
    Do you really want to put that kind of power in the hands of mere mortals? Just because someone has enough money to buy your painting does NOT mean they have the wisdom and insight to knight you a “real “ artist. Leave that power in the hands of the proper owner- YOU! Only you know the burning desire you have to create art. Only you can hold that branding iron in the fire and sizzle your skin with the courageous act of branding yourself an artist. Go ahead! What are you afraid of? You can be a bad artist or a good artist. But be an artist!

  2. smalamed on September 1, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    “NUFF said

  3. Lynn on September 4, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Sandy you are an “artist” and Kathy i love your post and make me feel as if I am also an artist…you are a kind inspiring lady…many thanks to both of you for being such good friends!!

  4. kat on October 19, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Being an artist is like being in an addiction recovery program. We make, furiously, compulsively, focused only on our vision. Then impose on ourselves definitions of artist that are narrow and conflicting. The only other profession I know that requires an apology, is stay at home mom. I have been guilty of both. And I have practiced both with passion. Finally I now say it proudly. Your worth does not add up only to the total of your sales.

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