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...feed your soul with art & creativity!

Friday, August 29, 2014

A-Musing ~ a book review

Every now and then I come across a creative book that I just fall in love with.  The Muse is In: An Owner’s Manual to Your Creativity by Jill Badonsky is my current creative love affair. 

Let’s start with it’s look and feel.  It has a slick cover that just feels good on the hand—a little different than most books.  It is a soft-cover but not flimsy.  It’s an unusual size at just under 7” x 9” that packs a punch.

The whimsical cover features a lime green and purple background showing the top of a head with what appears to be a hat made of clouds, a castle, a ladder to the moon and a sparkly, flowery, spiral-doodled fairy.  What a wonderful way to attract a dreamer-artist like myself.  Just seeing and feeling it made me want to pick it up and open it.  In this case, you could judge a book by its cover!

muse is in
Isn't this a lovely cover? (copyright Jill Badonsky)
Then the magic really began.  The slick, often full color pages just invite jumping in and puddling about.  Nearly every page is dripping with delightful ideas and inspiration to get creativity flowing.  Badonsky’s writing style is intimate and friendly, without being gushy.  It is informative and instructive, without being pushy.

There is something reminiscent in this book of SARK’s many creative books—which were some of the first full color (though in a different way) creative inspiration books I came across more than 25 years ago.

I have to admit that not since SARK, Orbiting the Giant HairballThe War of Art or A Whack on the Side of the Head have I gotten this excited about a creative book.  I don’t want to be a spoiler, but suffice it to say that this book feeds the hungry soul and is a dip into cool water for the thirsty creative.   It is in no way intimidating in its suggestions or ideas for expanding creativity.  And though the book has been out on the market since January 2013, I believe it will hold relevance for artists of all types, including writers, for many years to come.

Having a project management background in a former incarnation myself, I truly appreciate her Kaisen-Muse small step approach to projects.  Take baby steps.  And yes, I already subscribed to this idea before her (in project management terms we call this chunking) and others, including SARK, who talk about taking baby steps.  Still, I believe additional reminders to be kind and take small steps toward the completion of any goal or project is certainly in order for most creative types who tend to push-push-push in a labor of love without regard to the consequences—which often include flopping into bed for weeks at a time without being able to pull the covers off of one’s face.

If there is a drawback to this book, it might be that the font and font size used for the majority of the text feels small (although I am sure that it is at least 12 point).  I wish the font had serifs. Though it looks “cleaner,” it certainly is not easier to read.  For those of us crafters whose eyes now require assistance, I had to pull out my cheaters so that the lines of text didn’t swim together.

Beyond that one concern (which of course, is personal to me but might be of no consequence to other readers with better eyesight), this is a true gem of a book which I highly recommend to those who 1) sometimes want a gentle push into a new direction 2) need a kick in the pants to get creatively moving or 3) just don’t believe they have any creativity inside themselves.

I also recommend Badonsky’s website.  Personally, I’m off to purchase her first book, The Awe-Manac.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Umpteenth Iteration Wise Words on Art Studio Renovation

I'm renovating yet another space for my art studio.  Every time I move, I have to start over.  It's been a little over a year since we moved here and we started working on renovations in March.  It's slow going as we are making the changes in our "free time."
The inside of my Florida studio door!
I feel like this is the Umpteenth Iteration of my art studio.  Let me give you a better picture of this...when I first began doing art, I had a smallish desk that I worked at.  This evolved into a larger desk.  Then I moved to a different state. After a year at that location, I had a set of shelves and a door that I used for painting--oh, and a table, but I didn't really use the table much--it sort of was more my catch-all for stuff.

Then I moved (in state but closer to where I did most of my social and work activities).  And I took a week long painting retreat wherein I came home utterly inspired and altered my smallish dining room into a full blown painting studio--at this point I was mostly doing tempera and acrylic painting.

Then I moved (still in state but needed a place with a better cost of living situation).  And I altered a bedroom into my art studio--again, mostly doing painting, but also starting to collage and make assemblages from found items.  I also began collecting art related books.

Then I moved to a different state when my sweetheart got a new job.  I had a room and instead of painting, found myself doing more collage and assemblage.  Due to a gift horse, I was able to finally buy a glass kiln and get my glass art studio set up.  And began taking some stained and fused glass classes.

Then I moved to a different state due to a job transfer.  I made our extra room into my art studio.  I painted, I made hundreds of Artist Trading Cards, and did stained and fused glass creations. Continued taking stained and fused glass classes.

Studio in Maryland--focus on glass work and ATCs
Then we moved to a different state due to a family health issue.  I made one of the extra rooms into my art studio--I did everything--painting, collage, textile collage, assemblage in there.  And wow!  bonus, we had a second house courtesy of my sweetie's job and I set up my glass studio there--where I later acquired an enameling kiln.  Being within 40 minutes of Thompson's Enamels, I took MANY enameling classes and acquired enameling materials.
Studio at House #1 in Ohio, focus on EVERYTHING creative

While functioning out of these two studios, I discovered a wonderful little community art center that had studio spaces for rent at VERY reasonable prices.  I had begun making so much art that I didn't have room to store it all and I decided this would be a good way to start getting my name out there and selling my art. So I transformed the empty space into yet another art studio.  Then I added a second studio there as a classroom space.  And shortly after that the Pendleton Art Center in Middletown was announced and I was the very first artist to sign up for a studio--I rented the largest space with the most window area that I could get.  And I closed down the studios at the smaller art center and most everything from my two home studios. But first, I had to renovate the room--including painting the walls, putting in vinyl flooring, and installing counters and shelves everywhere.  It was a labor of love and I ADORED this studio.  (at one point I had art supplies spread out in five different studios!!)

My sweet studio at OCAC in Ohio
My lovely studio and classroom at Pendleton Art Center in Middletown Ohio *sigh*
I STILL miss it so very much.

Then we moved again due to a job transfer.  For about 8 months, I had no real studio space at my disposal and my studio at Pendleton was still rented. As I went and closed it up, we installed an outdoor storage building that we added electric to, added AC and installed my shelving and cabinets.  It was VERY crowded, and VERY buggy--many frogs, spiders, lizards and even at one point a small black snake.  Also the AC got jammed up with frogs (ewww!) so the studio was very hot!

The partially organized studio in Ocala Florida in the Froggy Station Storage House
I had just gotten everything moved into our two extra bedrooms (just couldn't take the wildlife creatures in my studio or the heat) and was just beginning to use the spaces, when a job change happened and we moved to a different city.
Beginning to organize glass room in the Ocala FL house after giving up on Froggy Station

Which brings me to the present. For this first year, most of my art supplies have been in storage although I have increasingly brought more and more stuff to the house until it's a fifty-fifty split between storage and the house.  Much of it is currently stacked up in the screen room we are renovating into my art studio.
Installing ceiling insulation in FL studio space
YAY!  AC installed. MUST HAVE otherwise too sweltering to work.
Lovely buttercream yellow walls, the turquoise door and the ceiling fully insulated.

This umpteenth iteration of studio renovation includes having to find 7 windows at a reasonable price, a door, insulation for walls and ceiling, drywalling, painting, installing ac, lighting and fans, and installing cabinets/counters and shelves.  I'm beginning to see the light at the end of this tunnel and it is fully my intention to remain at this location until I'm able to buy a home where I want to live and have OTHERS do the studio renovation.

I am now an expert at how to create and re-create an art studio and how to renovate it on the cheap (this screen room renovation includes two ceiling fans, a second hand AC unit, a free door, 7 used windows, insulation, drywall and outside siding.

I'm ready to focus all this creative energy into my art work and art businesses. Word to the Wise:  If you plan to renovate a room into an art studio, realize that it may not happen in a day, a week or even a year. Best practice?  Work with an empty room instead of trying to work around stuff stored in the room--even if that means renting storage space temporarily, the cost will be worth the savings in headaches and slow progress.  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I met my metrics today!

It occurred to me today that as an artist, I do not live by the same sort of metrics, benchmarks or standards that those who work a more traditional J-O-B or corporate position do.  Having been a member of the corporate rat race prior to choosing to be a full time artist, I learned to calculate my successes based upon my productivity as measured by the goals I reached each day.

This method of determining whether or not I was on par with what needed to be done or not was further ingrained by my choice of career as a project manager--which is basically a juggling act between time, money and resources to meet required outcomes.

As an artist, this sort of thinking is counter-productive.  How do I measure the success of my day when the many tasks I do on the significant number of projects I work to decide whether the day was productive or a success?

Not sure what I mean?  Well okay, I spent one hour today brainstorming for a new project, 3 hours typing up another project proposal, spoke with a shop owner where I consign some of my jewelry, did some dry wall work on my studio renovation, caulked a leaky ledge, around the newly installed AC and swept up debris from construction.  I also cleaned two separate pieces of furniture, re-secured all loose legs and edges, spray painted both items and fabricated the two pieces into a single display stand.  I scheduled a week's worth of social media.  I prepped 25 items for consignment.

That's in addition to doing some replanting of some plants in my garden, cleaning a flower bed, exercising the dog, and making dinner.

I realized that nontraditional as my days are--mostly unscheduled where the average worker-bee might not know that I'd been busy and not sitting on my chaise lounge eating bon-bons--I have had a busy day, and as I write this now, I realize, it still isn't over.  I'll probably do some art research tonight online and on Pinterest and Etsy.  I still have to do the dishes and fold a load of laundry, feed the dog and 3 cats and shower.

I am going to be kind to myself when I feel like I have not "done enough."  This sort of thinking is not conducive to self-care.  It also is a creativity killer.  I will learn to say, "I met my metrics today!"