Thursday, August 9, 2007

Budging the Mule!

A few years ago I had been making my fruit and vegetables from cloth for a few years, same designs over and over. I finally shutdown and couldn`t go any further, even though there was still customers ready to buy them. I made some patterns hoping that others would make them and satisfy those who wanted them. But I still got calls. I`m not complaining, and I was grateful for the work, but like a stubborn mule that will sit down and won`t budge, so was my productivity. I wanted to be grateful, I wanted to be thankful that anyone wanted my work, and in my head I was, but down deep, my creativity/productivity-mule sat not caring what I said to charm her.
No matter what I did, it was like going to the doctor`s office when I went into my workroom. Be thankful this is your job, I was but it wouldn`t budge, you have a great workroom full of supplies, not hearing me......what was I going to do? I had built up customers, made designs, but I couldn`t get to work. Month after month went by, I forced out a doll here, a needlepunch picture there, a hooked piece, but nothing continuous and with that wonderful feeling of creating things you feel right about.
I had heard on a group I was on about making things with no future in mind, such as what a customer may prefer, blue, brown, large small, what the latest trend was, but just making what I loved. This is how I started creating, I was making what I loved and wanted, albeit from patterns, and then people started wanting me to make them a certain color, a certain way, and it changed what I was doing. I became someone making things FOR others FOR money, with their vision in mind, no longer my vision. I wanted to make money , so I changed.Many years later something inside (my mule) sat down and said NO MORE!
I read books, I talked to people , I berated myself ,in search of the answer. I did The Artist Way by Julia Cameron , 2 times, I joined groups on the internet for The Artist Way, but I still wasn`t working. I had friends say maybe you don`t want to do this anymore, and I considered that, but that was never the question in my mind. I read "Getting Unstuck" by Pema Chodron, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. All affirming what I was going through. But still my mule wouldn`t budge. None of the conventional ways of problem solving were working.
So I let go, I did as much in my room as I could, feeling unsatisfied, and like a failure with each piece. I listened to Wayne Dyer say if you don`t know the answer to something , keep asking, that will keep it in the forefront.
I talked awhile back in my blog about going to a Arts Festival in a nearby town. This isn`t a show I ever go to,I had gone once and thought I`d like to aspire to it. This time it sent my head reeling. I was going through the stands pretty quickly looking for something of interest, modern art, contemporary art, pottery, jewelry, I didn`t belong here, people who pay huge sums of money for things come here. Why couldn`t I just look and enjoy others works? My head was stirred, I couldn`t look at the whole show in one afternoon, I was overloaded already. Overloaded and all stirred , a giant pot of soup, stirred furiously. I couldn`t make sense of my thoughts and feelings, I had to wait for the whirlwind to calm.
I thought.....these people all make what they feel they should make, what they want to make.....what they have to make. Nothing is stopping them. What is stopping me? Just ME.
Still no mule movement.
I am asked by a friend my thoughts of various website, what did I think of each website? How easy is it to get around in it? What colors do you like?, would I buy from this website? etc. She was working on her website and wanted my thoughts on websites. She sent me a very long list of antique websites, selling primitives, folk art and antiques and antique style work. As I`m looking and commenting, it hits me, I want to make antique style folk art, 19th century modern art. I had been making a few abstract paintings, I said for my daughter, who needed more color in her house, but never ended up giving them to her, but kept trying at it. I wanted to fuse what I love about antiques with modern/folk art of the 19thC.
What was attracting me , was early makers, the naive works,simple gentle. They had a rag bag, didn`t waste anything , made rugs, quilts, dolls, all for utilitarian use. Original designs mostly, because of many being so isolated on farms,small town ladies, winter idle fishermen.

[ By the mid 1800`s stamped patterns were offered by traveling salesmen. The decline of originality. Patterns copied from prize winning rugs at county fairs and oriental imports were for sale. Customers were easily persuaded to copy a design that had been judged a winner or approved of by aristocracy. Convinced this made the designs have more value than their original works.
That was the beginning of the do it yourself kit, and with it died the daring and gratifying feeling of creating an original. With it, went the confidence of the individual. Mass approval leads the unsure. The title "artist" has come to mean someone who is sure enough or crazy enough to stand alone against the masses. But often, in time, his audacity has changed public taste and what is approved of. ]
(this section taken from Rug Hooking and Rag Tapestries by Ann Wiseman)

Now to clarify, I don`t want anyone thinking I`m against patterns. I`m just saying there was a time when patterns weren`t readily available , and those who created had to make what was in their head. Copying,patterns, wasn`t an option.They could copy what was around them, but no preprinted anything was available. Some where along the way, salemanship convinced the creators that the preprinted "new" way was of more value and society didn`t argue the point.

I am hoping to work in the unfamiliar,(at least to my experience). I see so much of the same on the internet, people looking for ideas because this "originality" has grown dormant, (mine included). I want to stir mine up. Maybe nothing will be there when I dive for it, but I want to try.I hope you will check back to see what I`ve come up with.