Friday, November 27, 2009

Part 3 and Art Behind the Scenes

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 Procrastinatio

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 ha

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 co
urse 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 m
yself 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 an
d 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 t
hat coming either! So much for plans.

I watched fellow artists and other studios bite t
he 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.

Poppets watched.

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 P
oppets. 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.


Kelly said...

You mentioned two things that made me laugh out loud...only because it is so true and I know from personal experience.

a general direction is much better than a plan


time flies when your hair is on fire

I've heard, somewhere, that life is what happens when you are making plans and that God laughs when we make plans. I like the idea of moving in a general direction.

I mean, my general direction is pretty broad right now...I'm headed towards Stability. But had I been able to plan my life (and I think I tried)...I would not be here, and I would be missing out on the love of my life (a small, unplanned (by any human), three year old).

You are a great artist and I think that it is neat that you are realizing all that you are. I think that, sometimes, we have to dislike something that we are a part of to actually step back and remember why we are a part of it.

Self-reflection is a great tool.

Kelly said...

Oh, and the little pink poppets with wings are freaking fabulous.

Lindsey said...

wonderful post, a lot I can relate to right now. Unemployed and starting my own business, I make daily lists but must be careful to be both specific and add some mundane things so that I remember to look and cross things off my list.

I love your art and the poppets and I'm thankful for them too :)

vandaluna said...

Hi Lisa:

It has been quite the past couple years. Many changes. We only have right now. We plant seeds for our future in the now, but any control we perceive over the seeds we plant is just an illusion.

Fascinating your relationship with the poppets.

Happy Thanksgiving to you!


lisa said...

Thank you. It seems like yesterday that Orion was three. Now he's seven. The games we play are different, but the spirit is the same. As with my other children. Aubrey and I laugh every day. Keep your general direction. It sounds good. And enjoy today. Take it from someone who didn't, for a long time. Enjoying the day works much better, in the short run and the long.

Lindsey: good on you. You are brave indeed. I did the same---unemployed, nearly twenty years ago.
It's your job. Do it as you would were you employed and being paid a vast salary. Serve yourself well and with respect.
And don't be afraid to be afraid. It's scary stuff, doing it yourself.
I'm here if you need a chin up.

Laura: I know you get it, having weathered plenty of storms yourself. Thank you

Loraine said...

Someone recently asked me if I thought my past mistakes made me a better person.

I said no- deciding to be a better person is what makes me a better person. It's not something that happens once and *poof* you're a better human being, it's constantly making those conscious decisions. I know... duhh..

And then there's the whole thing about the definition of "better person..."

It's not just about doing what's "morally" right. It's about recognizing where you're prone to fuck up, and trying to figure out how not to before you're so screwed you can't fix it. I've tried lists, too. Horrible. Absolutely horrid experience.

I'm at a crossroads right now, where I really need to throw my life into one particular direction. I've never done that before- I'm one idiotically scatterbrained human- and I'm a little (okay a lot) frightened of failure. I have some amazing people to help me. I have the unwavering support of the people I love. And I cannot bear to let them down- or to let myself down all over again.

Wish me luck, and thanks so much for sharing your experiences and of course, for those of the poppets.

spacedlaw said...

I am glad that Poppets are here to look after you.
To try and make you smile a little, I made of list of things to do today (maybe)

# Procrastinate
# Procrastinate with ardour
# Procrastinate with devotion
# Have meal
# Have a nap
# Procrastinate
# Procrastinate with utter care
# Procrastinate without ambition
# Enjoy a meal
# Enjoy a cuddle
# Procrastinate
# Procrastinate with insistence
# Procrastinate with abandon
# Enjoy life
# Enjoy its vacuity
# Procrastinate
# Procrastinate with glee
# Procrastinate with predilection
# Go to bed
# Make a list up for the following day.

Carl V. Anderson said...

"a general direction is much better than a plan. Plans rarely work out.
Keep working, he said, and just watch and see what happens."

There is so much applicable truth in this post that I hardly know where to begin. I've begun to find with my overwhelming job that the quote above is really the way I work best. I am by nature a procrastinator. Always have been. I don't just procrastinate the 'work' stuff, I even procrastinate 'fun' stuff. I don't know where it came from. My parents certainly aren't that way and yet they never were the kind of people that pushed and prodded, so I cannot blame them for it...damn!

I have to maintain a real balancing act with list making. If I use a list as a daily, this is what I have to do, then it works out great. If I start to go overboard then I end up doing just what you mentioned...making lists and doing a lot of planning becomes another way of putting off the more difficult and unpleasant work that I don't really want to do in the first place.

You would think after 41 years on this Earth I would have learned to live in the skin that I am in, but I still find myself trying to cram myself into some kind of highly organized box rather than discovering a creative way to make my strengths work for me and to use them to fill the gaps where I am weak.

I appreciate your honesty about the road that Poppets have led you on. I've often wondered about that as I saw that all take off. It could be easy to become known as this artist who makes Poppets, which is great, but you do so much more than that and have done so much more than that. I've always wondered about how the business aspect affects the creative and the struggles you've went through certainly seem like what I would have suspected. I don't know if you would agree or not, but you appear to me as someone who has faced that monster and tamed it.

I love the fact that you've become an inspiration not just for your creativity but for the fact that you continue to press on and do what you want to do, create art, regardless of the circumstances. The fact that you too are doing what we all have to do, some tightening of the belt and making the best of what we have, makes me feel even more like we are all in this together.

I am looking forward to the day when the economy takes an upswing and things recover. I do hope that we all take the lessons learned from this time with us though, as I believe we will be farther ahead of the game that way and will have more satisfying and fulfilling lives.

Despite the changes, I am daily looking to enjoy that specific day. While I cannot spend the money I used to, I have learned to appreciate what I have so much more. And I know that whenever I can purchase something that I am doing it because I saved for it and really want it and that makes me cherish it all the more.

Thanks Lisa, I really appreciate this post.

lisa said...

spacedlawyer: Thank you. You did make me chuckle

CarlV: I always appreciate your input and insights. We seem to be following parallel paths in our human curriculum these past years---don't you think?

Carl V. Anderson said...

Yes we do, and although it is sometimes a rocky path, it is ultimately very exciting I think.