I don’t know how other artists create-I think about creation all of the time because it mesmerizes me. I used to be a potter and I can’t think of any way better to learn about how to create than sitting at a potter’s wheel with a very malleable substance such as clay. The thing about clay is that it changes while you are working with it. Touch is the most important sense-you begin to see with your fingers, to understand what it wants. It is a partner to be danced with, to be coaxed, to improvise with. As a result spontaneity is the key.
Making pottery for some reason naturally morphed into making collage. Not digital collage, but with photos I take and print on my printer and then alter. Paper is very visceral in its texture, very alive. It breathes and changes, it yellows with age. It feels alive. And, most importantly for me, it can be wet and wiped creating even more texture using pigment ink, pastel and watercolor. What I learned from making pottery I have applied to making collage-create spontaneously by taking a visual cue and feel from what you have just done, and then later refine. But the real take away is that creating is not a static process: it is ever evolving-evolving in the collage itself, evolving second by second or planting a seed to be taken into the next one. Creation is like nature: it is nature. It must be imaginative and aware of a process that goes from nothing to something-like a flower.
So why Randomly Speaking? One day I decided to use a lot of random bits of photos that were left out of other collages. But this time where the pieces went wasn’t planned. I mixed them all up in a box face down so I didn’t have a say in the matter as to where they “should” go. The only rule I had was a predetermined pattern of how I would glue them onto my wood base. The result was Country Bloom. Of course once I had the base layer I altered it adding in figures which I made by using stamps. The thing I kept wondering is how could such a random process create something so harmonious? The pieces seemed to be placed just right. I added to them, but what came through was exactly what should have-a randomness that I couldn’t have consciously created. Creation grows and I am still as stumped by it, though in constant wonder. It makes me want to delve deeper, deeper into intuition, into the feel of the thing, deeper into who we are with this conscious drive to create.
In July on a very humid, hot day I was sitting on my bed when I was slapped by a freight train of a revelation. As revelations are wont to do it hit me out of nowhere. I wasn’t looking for it or even thinking about it but slam me it did. I’m a survivor in spite of my delicacy and fragility. I have survived sometimes in spite of myself and when I didn’t even care if I did or not. Being a survivor means no longer being a victim and I had to adjust myself to that and at 62 years old at that. No longer was I living at the whim of others, no longer did I have my future dictated by some unknown person telling me if my art was good enough to be in their show.
I had been pondering my situation long and hard regarding making a living off my art and how impossible that seemed, that the gallery circuit was a dead end or worse even a huge circle where I went around and around with no defining point. Don’t get me wrong. I have had some success along the way having my collages accepted for shows and other things, but essentially I was dependent on another person’s judgment about the worth of my work, about the worth of myself as a creator and human being.
For a while I had this gnawing feeling that I was missing some very important thing. The times are changing when it comes to artists and galleries. It is 2020 and there has to be a new way of thinking about gallery space and what a gallery is, and about the fact that the artist is a victim of who is rejecting your work. The pandemic has drastically altered our idea of space and how art is bought and sold. So it was crazy to me that one day while I was on Facebook an add about Art Storefronts appeared on my feed. Kismet. I delved in. They were saying all of the things that I had just been thinking…stuff about empowerment that could sound very hokey and trivial except it isn’t. Artists need to take as much control over their work and future as possible. After very careful thought and back and forth going over the pros and cons I became an Art Storefronts member. I have just finished my website and now go onto the really hard part…marketing. For it really is all in the marketing and that scares me. But what scares me the most is where I would be without this platform because it is amazing. And just as crucial is their unbelievable customer support. They get it. I have never met a group of people more eager to help and their kindness and encouragement has been a solid support during the times building my site when I didn’t have a clue.
So all of this ramble to say that I have taken the first step toward that ikky sounding word empowerment, but really there isn’t a better word that I can come up with because the power part of it, the being dependent only on myself for selling my art is pretty damned liberating. If I fail to sell my art it is on me, and while that can cause my stomach to drop I wouldn’t have it any other way.