• Anti-Goals, Part Deux

    On: January 14, 2011
    In: Art Biz, Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 1143
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    Comedy and Tragedy, Which is Which?

    Ya know, I think I really got me onto something with those Anti-Goals from my last post. I wrote mostly in jest, but then again, not really, as those are behaviors and thoughts that I struggle with and it was good to name them with high irony. And while I don’t think I’m alone in my difficulties, I must work through them alone in person in realtime in this life.

     

    What’s that quote about happy and unhappy families? Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy, first line…. Being “unhappy” in one’s own way, even if it seems mundane, means needing singularly specific “happiness apps” as remedies, which requires close and personal attentiveness.

    Point is, once one knows one’s devil-enemies, the playing field and/or battleground cannot help but change as well. And that, too, demands a tricky and confusing mobility of soul, not to mention of thought and behavior.

    No wonder it’s so hard to attempt to change for the better! Everything is changing anyway, my mind, my mood, my give-a-shit…what the hell does it take? How, oh how, to sustain Positive Change through All Change? I loosely quote the insightful potter Annie Chrietzberg, “What don’t you get about the change-yness of change?” Exactly.

    Well, I get that I am a Contrarian. I get that I need to take on both sides – the Either/Or – before I resolve to the Both/And or The Third….which brings actual change to sticky places. Once The Third is perceived, duality crumbles and all manner of 4ths, 5ths, 6ths…..Infinite-ths arise. It gets juicyfun again, too.

    Continuing in the vein I started last post, I need to counter those snarky S.M.A.R.T. goals, whose very left-brain linear clarity propels me smack into petulant inaction.

    I tried making my Anti-Goals S.M.A.R.T. by identifying their Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound components. That led to Action Items like this one: Raise FreeCell Win Percentage from 34% to 35% by end of the week. What a beautifully written goal, but just as unmotivating as any.

    Instead, I found it edifying, even cleansing, to propose S.T.U.P.I.D. goal criteria and here they are:

    S.T.U.P.I.D. Criteria

    S = Self-Sabotaging
    T = Time-wasting
    U = Unhealthy
    P = Punitive
    I = Impossible
    D = Diffuse

    This is my happiness app, doing things like this – though it is ultimately about the liberation of getting out by going through.

    I pretty much find both the S.M.A.R.T. and S.T.U.P.I.D. criteria examples of the Either/Or camp and now that they’re resolved a tad – because I am more aware of what I want and of what I don’t want to aim for – I get to boogie around in the Both/And arena hopefully discovering what I truly need to do, be, attract, attain and what discipline and order I need to bring to those practices and tasks. If that’s what I get out of this, great, but if I get something else, I’ll deal.

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  • Being A Social Artist

    On: August 24, 2010
    In: Art Biz, Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 781
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    Social Media Marketing for Dummies Book Cover

    Oh, my, such a lot to explore here, but I will try hard to stick to my major idea: For me the idea of being a Social Artist who Markets Her Work means attempting to be a living oxymoron. I just don’t resonate with it.

    Or didn’t. Or I’m a work in progress, learning to live the BOTH/AND instead of the EITHER/OR. Nowadays I find it interesting to ‘put on my Big Girl Panties’ [my new favorite saying from this summer] and get myself out there, even if I concurrently break out in metaphorical hives.

    This unnatural, learned behavior was hatched in October 2008 when I ran across Alyson Stanfield’s Art Biz Coach site and book, I’d Rather Be In the Studio! The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion.

    Fast forward to the present, having collected Alyson’s wisdom through her book, artbizconnectionsalon, online classes, blog and website, phone sessions and even a couple of live workshops she happened to conduct in Northern CA (lucky me!) I – who couldn’t make an attachment to an e-mail back then – now find myself blogging, chatting, friending, following, tweeting, linking, posting, commenting, messaging, convo-ing, listing and re-listing IN ADDITION to making art and more art, entering exhibits, opening my studio, contacting galleries, joining art associations, attending receptions, and in general authentically livin’ the dream I dreamed my whole adult life. The mysterious other things that artists do out in the Art World have been revealed…they are just not exactly what I thought they would be and I am learning to pick and choose.

    The Isolationist INTJ me still gets plenty of solace and creative communing one-on-one with my Muses, of that I make sure. But I have come of artistic age in a new time when the gallery walls are transparent, the artist’s rep looks a lot like me and I have the virtual means with which to share my artistic entirety – images, words and connections – in a way that strangely suits me.

    There are no longer Gatekeepers: we know our fans and collectors and they know us. We expect it. Though I sit here and you there, you, dear Reader, are a real person! You can talk back to me, you can tell others, and so it goes virally along.

    Being a Social Artist, even one who Markets (read: SHARES, and thanks, Alyson,) isn’t quite the oxymoronic existence I once felt it to be, and even if I have my reluctant moments, I have definitely learned how rewarding it is dive in the pool and play.

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  • Fairy God Cub

    On: September 18, 2009
    In: Art Biz, Artmaking, Community, Studio Journal
    Views: 980
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    Here’s the bookend to my last post about Ratty Got Her Wings, a second sculpture of mine accepted into the Santa Cruz Art League’s upcoming exhibit entitled Beasts on Broadway: Animals Galore. (The SCAL is located on Broadway in Santa Cruz, hence the show title.)
    Introducing the Fairy God Cub! It’s another animal sculpture “with a twist” completed under the tutelage of Tiffany Schmierer of Skyline College last summer.
    What I love about this one is the vulnerable (sheepish?) expression of the baby lion and of course those strap-on costume fairy wings. All fantasy protectors should engage us like this. Here’s another shot of the wings:
    The interesting thing about wings¬† is,¬† as far as I can tell, angels have feathered bird wings and fairies have diaphanous insect wings. So, am I right? Any of you out there really informed about this? It’s the sort of detail that makes a huge difference between a general interpretation and getting a sculpture that reads in all the right ways.
    What ever did we do before Google Image searches? I remember using picture encyclopedias, but even they could fall short at times. Or maybe I am just a lot more specific and picky than I used to be. Yeah, that’s it!
    All I wanted today was a short and sweet post about the short and sweet Fairy God Cub.
    May you glimpse your own inner kid-self playing dress-up and donning, along with the wings or the cape or the mask, magical powers in spite of very real doubts… and for the time being becoming protected and fantastic.
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  • "Dear Artist, Congratulations…"

    On: September 13, 2009
    In: Art Biz, Artmaking, Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 1367
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    Thus began the letter from the Santa Cruz Art League. It said that my work was accepted into their upcoming Beasts On Broadway, Animals Galore exhibit, which was juried by George Rivera, Executive Director of the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara, CA.

    Well, triple yippee to that! This letter is also heaps sweeter in ways beyond its YES! to my art and my efforts to take it into the world for Show and Sell. It says YES! to rats and YES! to pertinacity.

    Here’s one piece that will soon be a Beast on Broadway. It’s titled Ratty Got Her Wings. I made it this past summer while studying at Skyline College in San Bruno, CA with the inspiring and wise Tiffany Schmierer. (I put 2,500 worthwhile miles on my car in order to receive her inspiration, guidance and feedback! I can’t wait to share this good news with her.)

    Rats are one animal that get a bad rap over their historically, and admittedly not undeserved, bad rep. Yet to categorically reject all rats is, well, Rattism. You can find lots of positive action websites dedicated to easing that prejudice. Look, there goes one now.

    My piece is more personal than political, though. Rats, even pet ones, just don’t live very long. Two-three years. This life-size rat sculpture is for all the gentle females that came to be cared for and then leave my sons: Zelda, Kiwi, Latte, GL (short for Greased Lightning,) the One-Who-We-Can’t-Quite-Remember-Her-Name-Right-Now, and dear Moose. They are buried in a group in our redwood grove with a sign, RaT pAcK, posted on a nearby trunk.

    Ratty Got Her Wings is my way of saying a heartfelt thank you to those animals. I’m certain that the intimate knowledge of their bodies and movements allowed me to fold that love into the sculptural form I had in mind. Here are two more detail shots of the piece: Oh my, that dreaded snaky tail and a perky face because a rat knows you,just like a dog does.

    So, what about that acceptance letter’s ratification of pertinacity (a $2 word for doggedness)?

    Like Weight Watchers, I have joined the Santa Cruz Art League at least four times since I moved here in 1989. I’d join for a year, desultorily put something in the everyone’s-included Annual Members’ Exhibit, never quite figure out what else I could do to become involved there, feel awful artistic angst and let the membership lapse. In a common case of sour grapes, I mentally thought of it as The Fart League, which surely is neither clever NOR original. Last year, however, I joined with some goals in mind and I knew that if I did not see them realized, I would understand why, not feel bad and move on to other venues for my work.

    I think that a more professional grade of doggedness led me to both better art and better ways to present it and it is what ultimately got me into the animal show at SCAL. To my way of thinking, it is decidedly all connected

    In one way or another, though, I have been perfecting my art my whole adult life. But I have been effectively perfecting how I package and present that art less than a year. (Read my last post about my business card saga, just to hear one story about this.) One of my undeniable artbiz mentors is Alyson Stanfield. And now, as I wind up an online blogging class with her and Cynthia Morris, I can say a personal but public thank you to them. And to the other students I have struggled alongside, who I have come to know through their questions, humor and writing: Dear Artists, Congratulations!

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  • MOOve Over, Old Biz Cards

    On: September 8, 2009
    In: Art Biz, Studio Journal
    Views: 2024
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    Back in the day, when I first started thinking of myself as an artist, I ordered some business cards. They were black on white and not any more useful than the social calling cards I ordered as part of my High School Grad Package: Elizabeth Ann Hawes, engraved in a treacle-y script. (Who’s she?)

    I remember fully believing that the business cards themselves proved my legitimacy. And, sadly, I have done this at least 5 to 555 times. New endeavor? New box of cards! Change of medium? More new cards! They mean I really mean it, right?

    I handmade my cards in the 70s, each one lovingly inked and water-colored. Personal. Artsy. So labor-intensive I did not really get to the art.

    In the 80s, I scaled the corporate ladder and was issued new cards for every promotion and different bank I represented. Commercial-Loan-Officer-Wannabe-Artist, at your service.

    In the 90s, I drew a crane graphic (last name Crain!) and printed them on ivory Avery tear-apart bizcard sheets. Cheap, but rough-edged and flimsy. Fortunately only seen by a few.

    I also had boys to raise. Need flash cards for your times tables? Use the backs of those old cards! How about a bookmark? A glue holder? A flip book? Something to clothespin on your bike to make your spokes rat-a-tat? A House of Cards? Here…use these.

    Yet it finally has worked the other way round: I am an artist because I make art. Oh, and I guess I could probably use a biz card instead of writing on paper scraps and trying to accurately recall all the ways you can contact me or see my work/words online now. Never mind the phone and street address.

    For the past few years, I have printed a small run of cards to match my annual Santa Cruz County Open Studios Art Tour postcard. That felt right: it featured fun recent art and my name, phone and email, all on the front. And last year’s card, as you can see, even had a ‘halftone screen’ of my studio on the reverse, which I used for titling/pricing in my exhibit. I thought it was pretty innovative at the time.

    So much has changed in the past year, I feel like an adolescent who has grown two inches in two months. Last July I added a sticker to the back of my old cards (better than using them for flash cards) but even it was out of date sooner than I planned. The “website” will now be this blog migrating to (shhh!) WordPress…and the Etsy Shop is now open with even a few sales… and you can click from this blog to there, if you’re curious.

    Enter MOO Minicards, snappy graphic snippets of your own works, which I first saw in February at Alyson Stanfield’s Hollister Workshop with the delicious art of Princess Simpson Rashid on them. I envied them mightily and bookmarked the MOO.com site.

    It took six months, but I have my own delightful group of 100 MOO Minicards now and they are a joy to give out. Last weekend I hosted “Art on Bay Avenue” at my house with my work, Connie Williams’ watercolors and Annie MacHale’s weavings. (They both use MOOminis and differently than I do.)

    I had a small wooden bowl of MOOcards for my visitors and it felt like offering everyone their favorite candy. No sales pushiness, just an outright gift from me to them, given and taken with love and delight.

    I had also bought, assembled and displayed the MOO Mosaic Frame. It is a compelling way for visitors to take in your body of work at an informing glance. It functions quite well as a visual Interpretive Message. We just can’t expect even those who have made the effort to come to your exhibit, to ‘grok’ the totality of what you’re puttin’ out, never mind hoping they have the time to page through your portfolio or stand in front of your digital picture frame as the images glide by. All-at-Once Eye-Bites are in order and the MOO Mosaic Frame does that well.

    When a dear collector bought an elegant face jug I was really proud of, I tucked both a photo greeting card AND a MOOminicard of it in the bag. It felt better than right. It felt natural: as natural as hand-lettering and watercolor-washing my cards in the 70s, but with five ways to continue the conversation with me on the back. (And S, if you’re lurking here…I dare you to leave a Comment.) Now that’s a two-way gift!

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  • The Focus Pull

    On: August 19, 2009
    In: Art Biz, How To's, Studio Journal
    Views: 764
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    In the world of filmmaking, when the camera changes focus during a single shot, (say from Mrs. Robinson’s half-stockinged leg to Benjamin in the background, conflicted and staring) it directs the viewer’s attention in a powerful narrative manner. I want to borrow this focus pull concept and play with it a little in the realm of this blog. Let me steer our collective attention beyond the deliciousness of thinking, making, showing and blathering about ceramics and creative process for just a bit.

    You see, I went and signed up for another of Alyson Stanfield’s oh-so-valuable online classes: Blog Triage, and it started today. This class is different for at least two reasons right from the start: One is Cynthia Morris, the co-instructor, who adds another mindful mother lode of experience to the work at hand, and Two is the fact that the class assignments will, like as not, play out here with all of you, dear readers, and not just in my private office or studio.

    Case in point: the first assignment asks for me to essentially pull focus and blog about what I expect to get from blogging and just who I would like to be reading my posts. This request creates a heady funhouse mirror effect on me, but I know the point of looking at things from other perspectives is to be more than self-referencing, that the meta-awareness generated is gold for the narrative comprehension.

    I have read and followed some blogs for years…I just did not know they were blogs! I guess I thought they were highly entertaining, active and personal websites, which, after a fashion, they were. As a blog consumer, I enjoy warmth, humor, community and an artful turn of phrase, even profundity, in the writing. I usually want to think or learn something too. I want to connect and feel moved, to sense the passion and pulse of that living human on the other end. Even if I never comment! Please don’t ask me to separate the trivia from the minutiae: if I read about your capricious kid, your trip Down Mexico Way or your braided body hair, I want to be invited along with you and not merely asked to stand and admire! P.S. You are allowed, nay, encouraged in, your detailed techie-nerdy passions, though. Su embebecimiento es mi embebecimiento.

    Now that I have a blog of my own, I’m expecting myself to generate at least the level of excellence I find engaging as a blog-sumer. I need to keep me entertained! It is harder than I thought, too, but not because I bore easily. I figured my understanding and meaning-making would come in the doing, and it has.

    Here’s what I like so far about SoulCeramics:
    ~I am gaining a much clearer and confident artistic voice! I prefer to play with words and ideas, layering many concepts and kinda quirky references into my writing, and, funny thing, I like doing that with my art too. Neat!
    ~Love, LOVE, LOVE being able to make hyperlinks to some of my obscure observations…..it fosters greater understanding all round. (Thanks to my phenom-son Roger!)
    ~I am forging a powerful community of readers and commenters who tell me in many specific ways how they enjoy and benefit from my musings. I am meeting like-minded folks, not all artists, a lot of them bloggers about hiking or beer brewing or Silicon Valley in the Early Days.
    ~I am proud to invite others to my blog…and I had not thought that was the case until today.

    But, who do I want to attract here? Can I even describe this micro-demographic? Starters are starters, so here is a first, impromptu attempt:
    ~Family, friends, colleagues….everyone I already know.
    ~Ceramic artists, heck, all artists, really. I love cross-pollination.
    ~Thinkers and readers.
    ~Lurkers and Laughers (having been one at times.)
    ~Pranksters and Cosmic Thieves (put these in to wake you up….if you’re still reading… I know this is a long post….)
    ~Folks who can give me good support and professional connections, whoever and wherever they are now.

    So, some things once seen cannot be unseen, and pulling focus has revealed a plot twist. Blogging about blogging has changed my blogging. Good for us!

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  • Art Reception Food

    On: June 16, 2009
    In: Art Biz, How To's, Studio Journal
    Views: 1593
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    June is a good month for outdoor arts events and receptions and I have been to plenty of them in only the past few weeks: First Friday in Santa Cruz, The Santa Cruz Art League’s 90th Anniversary weekend, Capitola’s Art at the Beach, and two sponsored by the Pajaro Valley Art Council of Watsonville, both devoted to sculpture: one in the gallery and one of garden sculpture at nearby Sierra Azul Nursery. (And I am honored to be included in both of their exhibits.)

    I am not a veteran of the art opening reception circuit, because they were always an acquired skill in my book; one I just had no compelling need for. First off, an artist makes art, and I have been way too distracted by that alone for decades now. And, while I have looked at plenty of art in plenty of cities, visited artists, attended salons and dutifully read my art history and biography books, I kept forgetting to get to the Openings.

    What I have learned by steeling myself and actually showing up at these functions (rather than taking the introvert’s way out and being ‘busy’) is they are only very subtly about the Art. HA! I knew it! They are really about people getting slicked up and celebrating themselves. Food, Drink and Music are always involved. The Art attends and then just sits mutely in the corner, avoiding the crush and watching the avocado dip turn black (as Dick Cavett once said he generally did.)

    Depending on the venue, the reception food and drink can either be for purchase, totally or partially catered, sponsored by varying donors/advertisers, or even consist of a potluck brought by the artists themselves. Sometimes it is a combination of them.

    Well, when I signed up to bring sushi to last Sunday’s mostly-potluck reception, I really intended to bring honest-to-goodness California Rolls. They are not expensive and it’s possible to whip out a huge trayful in no time. But it is so done. So when I Stumbled Upon (and it looks like you’re getting lots of sites to click over to in this post) a blog about a kid’s birthday party where both the activity and the party favors were faux sushi made from Kellogg’s Rice Krispie Treats (and I probably should add “TM” after that and all the rest of the ingredients) which are then rolled around Pull-n-Peel Twizzlers, Rainbow Twists, Gummi Worms and wrapped in Tropical Tie-Dye Fruit Roll-ups, I was enchanted and immediately changed my offering. It was still “sushi” right?

    Be honest, were you fooled by the photo up top? Or did it look a little garishly photoshopped, even though it is not? (And you should see it when it is posterized, highly saturated, extremely hued and contrasted! Positively bilious.)

    A platter of Faux Sushi is a sticky sticky sticky affair to manage, but pretty in a Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow 6 and Yellow 5 sort of way. If you have extra lumps of RKT mix you can make the nigiri with Swedish Fish wrapped to the top, as in the foreground. Not surprisingly, they tasted really sweet, too. One almost needs to wash them down with Fruit Punch, for the full kid’s birthday party effect.

    So, how did they go over? I thought they were an artsy party funfood offering, but I don’t really know. I arrived with the early crowd, set them on the dessert table and never went back. I spent more time looking at the art, talking to friends and associates, and moving away from the too-piercing flute of the live jazz band to find out.

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