I live my life for the gift of a single Rose…
Being yourself by doing more of what interests you is a sieve.
We all come to the arts saying “Surprise me please”. Live up to the challenge! It’s a treasure hunt. Let the sieve do its work. It doesn’t need to be about looking to see who got screened out, let your audience find you. I’m looking for who got screened in.
ps. It takes less energy to be myself and grow than it does to make myself into someone that I’m not.
I am a Hermit crab. My shell defines me… My home, where I live, the people I see everyday, are more familiar to me than my own face. I reflect what I see and I become what I reflect. I am a Hermit crab.
My son is 3 weeks into a 5 week workshop at Arcosonti, a community in the Sonoran desert. It’s an experience that has special meaning to me because I spent 7 years at its sister site, Cosanti, working as a technical foundry artisan for Polo Solari. It was formitave to say the least… Design, aesthetics, social philosophy, substance abuse, friendships, marriage… eventually the first critter (the one that’s now sunk back into it all) fun stuff. I wore that place like a shell and I’ve carried it with me for 2 decades, I can’t help but wonder how it’ll effect him…
One of the lessons this week that had impact was the notion that underlined a basic balance between two different roles that are at play in the studio.
Explore: Play, explore, question , challenge yourself.
Seems pretty obvious…
Explore: The engagement of curiosity and play in studio life. An artist’s willingness to explore reflects in a dynamic body of work that easily attracts new and returning eyes.
Exploit: The work that draws directly on the lessons learned from exploration to effectively disseminate ideas, shifting back and forth as nessassary to effectively feed and sustain a functioning studio.
My hang-up is that I appear to prefer the chaos of “exploring”, all the challenges, the ups and downs, all the BS (I seriously suspect it’s a manifestation of a personality disorder. I need a certain amount of drama in my life to feel normal. Over the past few years I’ve enjoyed removing a majority of it from my daily life, but it still shows up… TaDa!) Unfortunately, I don’t have the same problem with “exploiting “. I do my micro-batches of 8 to 20ish, figure out what works and what doesn’t, and then move on (aka. loose interest once the project is dialed in). It could be a side effect of working without any real goals aside from just making the work. I wish I had more interest in standing still long enough to effectively exploit what’s been explored, but I feel that I’m in a race to get ideas out of my system before I just can’t.
Blah blah blah… We all know that we need to show up everyday in our studio to keep the ball rolling. It’s not as much a habit as a lifestyle. Lately, dispite making work in my head all day while working in the field, I havn’t been setting aside large blocks of time to devote to doing the dirty work out in the ceramic studio. It’s not an excuse to not do things, rather, it’s a reason to make sure a few important things get done.
This summer I wanted to concentrate on putting some real, tangible effort into learning how to dial in a few details. Pulling the rims as they were being thrown needed a hand cut foot to resolve the form. That meant I needed to figure out how to actually hand cut a consistent, good looking foot. Not only did it need to look good, but it has to feel good. It always comes back to balance. With your eyes closed, it has to feel good in your hand.
I was told decades ago, that any process that you want to learn, start by doing it 100 times and then see where you stand.
I know for a fact that this is a valid stradgy and it works, but I learned quickly to cheat, I’m not looking for shortcuts, I’m looking for anything that can start getting results while going through a learning curve. What I’ve found that gets results for is working through the process in multiple cycles of small batches (in this case making 12 to 24 teacups at a time) before stopping to evaluate and make changes and then diving back in. Its still safe to assume that it’s going to take a 100 plus to dial a new process in, but course corrections happen more effeciantly and organically using shorter cycles.
There’s a lot of loss (ok…it’s mostly loss), but that’s the process. What more integral to the lesson than loss is the editing. Some happens during the process, but most editing needs to happen after the kilns cool. Often the mistakes that we make have nothing to do with our skill stacks, the mistakes grow out of our assumptions. Our assumptions of what’s going to engage or just please someone (or even ourselves) before the work is finished.
Often it’s better to just sit back and relax, using our intuition, challenge ourself, applying what we know, and see how it works out.