Poppets in Studio
Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.
To reiterate, my disclaimer (in case you missed it the first time.):
I was asked by attendees to make my lecture available in print somewhere. I told them I'd put it here. This is sort of an abridged version, as you know I tend to take small side trips in all directions when I'm on a topic. But the gist of it is intact. It's a lot of material, so I decided to divide it into the segments, as in the program.
Everything said from here on is based on observation and not research (unless otherwise stated.) I’m not advising. I'm no expert. You go on and do whatever the hell you want to do. You’re going to anyway. Or possibly you ‘re way ahead of me. Possibly you already know everything I have to say. In that case, bask in the affirmation and enjoy the pretty pictures. That’s what they’re here for.
In December I’ll have been a professional artist for 20 years. I’m a self-taught artist. If someone asked me to sum up what the experience has taught me (and occasionally people do), I’d say something like the following:
Part the Third
Lists Are a Form of Procrastination
Back to that advice thing, for a moment. Ray Bradbury told me (did I mention that I'm one lucky human?) that a general direction is much better than a plan. Plans rarely work out.
Keep working, he said, and just watch and see what happens.
Events rarely happen as we imagine they will. Planning can be a form of procrastination. Here's one way---writing something down on a list releases us from responsibility. We no longer have to remember it, we can put it out of mind, we can dismiss it.
True enough, there are applications for lists. A daily to do list can be helpful, notes are fine and good. A reminder to call someone or email or look something up is helpful. Margin notes are good. References.
But there's a limit. Only you can know if you've crossed it. A good clue is that you're spending more time sorting through your lists as doing the tasks on them.
Another is to tally up what you've done for the day/week/month. If you've spent more time writing, rewriting, sorting and such, than hands-on work, something is off.
What has worked for me is to set aside a time for working on lists. Fifteen minutes at the end of the day, fifteen minutes at the beginning of the next.
Life is messy and unpredictable. Shit happens.
No one expects the Spanish Inquisition.
I made lots of lists and plans. I set specific goals for myself. Too specific. It works infinitely better for me to have a long-term direction and small bits of tasks per day. Otherwise, I can get lost in the planning and time flies by.
The time will go by anyway.
I didn't plan to make Poppets. They sort of happened on their own. It was a conspiracy, sort of, created by Poppets and their collectors. In the course of a year, I was no longer an artist in my garage studio, working quietly away with music and coffee. I became the owner of a small mail order business.
And all that goes with.
I found that I was spending very little of my everyday making art. Running a business requires a lot of time and energy for administration. So I hired people for that. This made things different, not necessarily easier, because it made the company bigger.
I had lots more lists. Notebooks.
I found myself resenting the business. It started quietly. There's this expression---if you boil a frog slowly enough, it won't realize it's been cooked.
The frog thing is a myth, but a good metaphor. It applies to a lot of things---health, deteriorating relationships---things get gradually worse until we accept the worse as 'normal.' Not realizing that they're out of hand until we're in the soup.
Hmmm. Soup. I was in some for sure.
My apron had been my uniform for years. Old jeans, t-shirt or baggy sweater, apron, coffee cup. I found myself not putting it on anymore. I no longer identified myself with the artist.
I no longer identified myself as the Visionary. I felt like a fraud. I didn't see Poppets as art.
I was wrong. I'd become so caught up in the plans that I lost my direction. I was no longer living in the present. I was investing all my time and energy into a future that might or might not arrive.
Silly fucking human!
It wasn't the Poppets fault. They hadn't changed. I had.
Then my personal life exploded. Whoosh! Time flies when your hair's on fire. Didn't see that coming.
Still reeling, the recession kicked in. Shit! Didn't see that coming either! So much for plans.
I watched fellow artists and other studios bite the dust. Scary. Things got really lean for us. We began to look like the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar. We learned to live on a lot less.
We learned to appreciate what we had.
I got lots of notes and emails from collectors who said they loved my work as always, but couldn't buy. I watched more of my friends---gifted artists---selling Tupperware and their book collections.
So much for plans.
But things could be much worse. We had Poppets. Collectors could still afford Poppets.
So I turned Poppets into little pieces of art. I changed how I saw them. Or they did.
I put heart and soul into them. Everybody wins. Collectors still get the satisfaction of art. I still make enough money to eat.
We learned that Poppets took care of us. We made lots of adjustments.
Now, we spend a lot less than we used to. We don't waste and we take little for granted.
I don't know how this will all play out. It's not over yet.
I do know I'm grateful for the direction. I'm grateful for Poppets, and I wear my apron every day.
Things will change. You can count on that. I hope to retain the economy I've learned. I hope to help teach you to be flexible. You don't need as much as you think.
Don't mind me. Listen to Ray Bradbury---do your best and watch and see what happens. It's a ride.
--Open for discussion. Would love to hear what you think.
Here are some behind the scenes photos this week:
I like the work of Steve Archer (book) It seems to work well with mine.