In the Studio Today

Change is hard.  It seems to me that in order to fundamentally change some aspect of one’s own patterns of behavior, one needs to change — or at least tweak — just about every behavior.  Even if one cannot “have it all” in life, I’d love to believe one can have some taste of “all” that one longs to have or experience.

In artmaking, we’re guided by complex longings and intentions and objectives, even if they are not fully present in our awareness as we work.  If any aspect of my art work is not satisfactory, I have learned that very often the resolution of this challenge has little to do with what is going on in the studio.

Right now my studio is brimming with work-in-progress for two shops, for an exhibit, and for commissioned work.  The ironing board’s set up to prepare hand-dyed silk fabric for felting.

On the work tables, a long and complex nuno scarf is partially laid out.  The colors are very subtle: soft pale peach tones mixed with muted greys that become hints of lavender here and there — like last night’s sunset.  This scarf is going to take a long time.  I think of it as the work I need to do “to get to the other side.”  It’s a piece that is designing itself; the colors are the tones needed to somehow balance my creative sensibility.  In crafting the fibers all along the edges I’m trying a few new techniques, ideas that have been following me around in my imagination like a puppy.  In this work, I’m very aware of how much an awareness of time has dominated my studio decisions in recent days, as I’ve felt obligated to be productive.  And while the need to produce can combine with the limitations of time to spark creative and technical leaps, it can also stifle deeper exploration and synthesis and quash creative joy.  Balance is always tricky, in whatever occupation we pursue.

It’s a luxury to entertain such considerations in one’s work, I know.  The trade-off of this luxury includes the fact that artists work long, long hours to bring our work to life.  Not all of the work we do will sell, and we live with this uncertainty.  Everything shows in our work: our confidence, or lack of confidence; our exquisite joy and abundant lavishing of time in details — or our despair and boredom with repetition.  Some of the buzz and energy of artmaking is created because of the continual dialogue between the realities of the need to produce and the longing for transcendence.   On the best studio days, these merge.

Published in: on October 11, 2011 at 1:22 pm  Leave a Comment