Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Art as Play

17" x 14" ink, watercolor, and gouache on heavyweight bristol paper

This painting reminds me of a time, some years ago, when I decided to paint a masterpiece, I felt ready, I felt willing, I felt inspired to make a masterpiece, but try as I might, nothing would come. I stared at the blank page, pen, brush, pencil poised. I showed great discipline. I felt great energy. But still, stubbornly, the page remained blank.

Luckily, I let myself off the hook, declaring that if the creative process can't be steered, then I would try letting it steer me. Half an hour later, I had unpacked my sewing box, ostensibly in an effort to organize, but instead I had become absorbed in a collection of buttons, fingering them and sorting them, enjoying their shapes and colors and textures. Part of me worried that I was wasting time, but I tried not to pay attention to that part of me. I was having fun.

Next I unpacked beading supplies, and for several days, spent all my spare time stringing beads, taking pleasure in color.

And finally, I found myself drawing and painting again, making this, the first of what became dozens of paintings in a new style: intricate, colorful, increasingly fanciful. And fun. That was the missing piece in my determination to paint a masterpiece. I forgot that art is play. I've posted some of these play-paintings, and I'll be posting more, but this is the one that got me started.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


mixed media (ink, pencil, crayon, watercolor),
on 100% cotton paper, 8.5 x 11"

"You're not charging enough for your work."

How many times have we, as artists (and designers, and freelancers), received this dubious compliment? I suppose if we are busier and poorer than we can sustain, it's a comment worth thinking about. Otherwise, it implies a "should." Be very wary of "should"s, people, whether generated by the restlessness of your own mind, or by someone else's.

My response, regarding my daily collages, has been this: As soon as I sell one, we can talk. This may sound flip, but Cay Lang, in her excellent book, Taking the Leap: Building a Career as a Visual Artist (by far the best practical guide to being a professional artist I've come across thus far) backs me.

Says Lang: "At the beginning of your career, you want to place your work inside the standard price range for the type and size of work that you make, and at the lower end of that price range. The advantages to this strategy are many. By pricing the work low, you will begin the process of getting the work moving. More people will buy it, which means more people will want to buy it, and you will start to develop a following. Pricing the work low creates room for the prices to increase, which makes you look successful and places your work in even higher demand."

Truth be told, I'm not so much strategic as going on gut instinct. I know no better incentive to make more art than hooking up with people who want the art I've already made. But it is difficult, I'll admit, to part with these pieces for just $45 (which includes not only the minor masterpiece in question, but the cost of the envelope, postage, a cut for Paypal, plus gas and my time to and from the post office,). Taking all of this into consideration, I made a promise to myself: Once I sell my first collage, I'll raise prices.

Well I sold my first Daily Collage this week (#32, see below). Additionally, I received word that another sale is looming (the buyer is in the process of choosing her favorite). As a courtesy, I've given this second buyer until the end of the month. I'm extending that same courtesy to you.

Here's my NEWSFLASH: True to my promise, the price on Daily Collages will go up from $45 to $65 beginning August first. (Shipping, within the U.S. anyway, will still be included.) [Note from the future: these prices are out-of-date, and Paypal "Buy now" links have been removed, at least temporarily as I make adjustments.]

Consider yourself fairly warned!

You can see the whole Daily Collage series, as a slide show, in the order it was created, here. And in their original blog entries here. If you want one that isn't labeled with a "buy now" button [or if you want more information], email or post a comment and I'll set up a Paypal link for you.

#32 - SOLD

Monday, July 14, 2008


48" x 36" oil on canvas
email for more information

Have I told you that I'm a writer? I'm starting to wear that label with a bit more confidence, now that one of my essays is due to be published in a book. (More on that as the release date approaches, not for a while yet.) In the meantime, I'm working on a book proposal of my own, have been, in fits and starts, for years. I'm in the grueling last big uphill push before the homestretch now. Though the project weighs heavily on my mind, and I'm anxious to have it done, it's all I can do lately to strap myself into a chair and work on it for even ten minutes at a time.

Maybe I'm afraid that if I look too closely, I'll decide the whole thing is junk, or that I don't want to write the book after all, or that I can't possibly do it because I'm not nearly smart, talented, dedicated, or knowledgeable enough to pull it off. I can't put my finger on the source of this anxiety, except to say: It's one of those things in life that simply feels dangerous—like a car speeding toward an imagined impact—even when it's not.

I traded phone time today. For forty minutes I listened and supported while L. talked through some things. For the next forty, she did the same for me, calmly and quietly witnessing while I typed (and griped) and made more progress on my proposal than I have in weeks. Just goes to show you: Sometimes all you need is an airbag.

I'm starting to believe I'm actually going to complete this thing, which gets me excited to sniff out the next creative project to engage myself in. One that comes to mind: finding a show for my big (bigger, anyway — see above) oil paintings. They're beginning to stack up.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Vivid dreams lately prompt me to share a couple mixed media drawings/paintings I made some time ago about sleep and the creative experience of dreaming:

Road to Dreamville

This one comes out of thinking about that very fleeting instant at the beginning of sleep, when we've relaxed enough to sense all the adventures and companion adventurers glimmering before us in our potential dreams. In that moment, all that remains is to release, to let go, to allow. Sometimes, there is apprehension in that moment.

mixed media (ink, watercolor, pencil, crayon, gouache, pastel)
on 8.5 x 11" 100% cotton paper

Perchance to Dream

The title says enough on this one. No apprehension in this dreamer.

mixed media (ink, water color, pencil, crayon, pastel)
on 8.5 x 11" 100% cotton paper

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Something To Think About...

I found this recently in a stack of old sketches and doodles...

8.5 x 11" ink on paper

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Another Belated

In my zeal to show you the final collage of the series, I didn't realize I'd skipped over the next-to-last and the next-to-next-to-last.

I realized something was missing this morning, and unearthed the two forlorn pieces.

Oh, will you ever forgive me?

WIthout further ado, here they are:

(You can see the whole series as a slide show here.)

#58 - No Love Lost

#59 - September Playground