Monday, April 9, 2018

How You Are A Part of My Creative Process

As an artist I thought I would write this post to help educate the non-artists out there about how I think about my art after it is gone from my inventory---sold or donated or gifted.  But first a word about the creation of it.

 Making art is a very personal journey.  We take inspiration, skills learned, tools and materials gathered, and time found to put together an object that we call art and hope that others will call it that too.  If we are fortunate to have someone pay us money for one of those heartfelt creations we are honored, flattered and affirmed. With a little doubt thrown in. 

What is that doubt about?  For me it is that little voice that asks if I charged too much (too little?) and if that buyer will continue to think their purchase was worth what they paid.  Will they cherish that art or will it be a regretted purchase that in time is relegated to a closet or drawer somewhere---or worse to the trash bin!

 When you buy a piece of art it doesn't have to hang in your home or in the same place in your home for the rest of your life.  My mom used to rotate her artwork on a seasonal basis, and depending on how those seasons made her feel.  No hot colors in August and no cold ones in January.  Joyous life in Spring and cozy warmth in Winter.  And over the couch is not the only location for artwork.  I have art down my hallway and in my bathrooms and enjoy it no less in those spaces.  Give each piece of art new life by putting it away for a while and then displaying it again with a fresh outlook.  For my own collection it allows me to see things in the art that I might not have noticed or felt before.  Feel free to display an eclectic mix of art together in a room.  It doesn't have to match the furniture.  You just have to like it.

Many artists have self doubt about what they are doing and why.  Even though I feel a passion for what I do and feel like my pieces are successful in my own mind, I still have that niggling bit of doubt that anyone else will think the same.  This is one reason I enjoy showing my work to various groups or friends.  Any positive comments they might offer are so rewarding and in some ways motivating.  Just like with any job a person has, positive feedback helps us do better and continue our work with a positive attitude about it.  When someone is actually interested in paying us money for what we create that is truly a gift to our psyche.  For a while it is elating and inspires us to continue doing what we are doing with our art.

But then time goes by and that doubt starts to creep in again.  Do they still think it was worth buying?  Are they still enjoying the artwork and are they satisfied with having paid money for it?  Will they continue to honor it and keep it safe and display it for others to see?  Do they even like it?  We all know that we make purchases that we regret when we get it home or down the road at some point.  We think, "why did I ever think I liked that....?"   It is my profound hope that this doesn't happen when someone buys a piece of art.  Those purchases are kind of special in that there is emotion and admiration and originality that is all wrapped in the price you pay for someone's art.  You are buying something created just for you and no one else. It speaks to you.  It is personal.  At least I hope it is.  Of course there are those that buy an artwork because it matches their living room furniture.  Then they redecorate and no longer "like" that artwork.  Hopefully they pass it on to someone who might have a more personal connection to the art and will honor it and thus honor the artist. 

Because I have that artist's doubt in my life, I can't tell you how much I appreciate and cherish when someone tells me that they have one of my pieces and still love it.  The fact that they even remember it is my work is enough for me to feel good about it.  But if they still love it---that is the ultimate!  Knowing that my work stands the test of time and that people continue to notice it in their spaces and connect it with me and are glad they have acquired it is reaffirming, supportive, and keeps me going to the studio and being creative.  I don't know if people realize how good it is for an artist to hear that they still notice and enjoy an artist's work, but I'm here to tell you that it is definitely worth your effort to tell the artist that.  I have gotten notes and emails from people who noticed my work at a national level quilt show and were so struck by it that they remembered it and made the effort to let me know they liked it.  That is so gracious--and so appreciated.  Some artists may respond very humbly and just quietly accept your comments with a mumbled thank you, but rest assured they will remember it and it will boost their confidence.  I am grateful to those who have told me about the work of mine that they own and how much they continue to enjoy it. 

We are not artists so that we can make art for our closets.  We want to share it.  We put it in shows and galleries, we post it on-line, we show it to friends and acquaintances.  We put it out there and because it is a part of us that makes us vulnerable. When the response to it is positive we feel good about it.  For me it means that I am justified in spending time, effort, expense and creative energy in my studio creating art.  I will do it anyways because it is a passion, but justifying those things makes it a whole lot easier!

So thank you to those kind people who think of complimenting the artist and sharing with them your positive thoughts about their work.  If you live with it and enjoy it we would love to hear about it.  If you admire a piece on display somewhere we (the artists) would love to hear about it.  If you see the work in a magazine or at a show and really enjoyed it, let the artist know.  You are what gives me some of the inspiration that goes into my work.  It helps me put into it the joy and happiness that a fulfilling occupation provides.  I'm not "fishing for compliments" here or hoping to get a bunch of half-hearted flattery.  Just some good honest sharing about the art you enjoy with the artists who make it if you should feel so inclined.

I hope I have impressed upon you the value of positive reinforcement to the creative process and how you play a part in that process. 
Now go forth and enjoy art!

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