Art-making is all about practice - develop good skills in your chosen media, develop good work habits, and put it all into practice, again and again and again and again. For me, the discipline - the commitment to keep practicing no matter what setbacks I encounter, what blows my confidence may sustain - this is the hard part. I love the work. But sometimes the internal dialogue of excuses to avoid just going to the studio and doing it can be overwhelming.
Recently I was introduced to a wonderful little book: Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles and Ted Orland. It was published in 2001 but is still readily available ('Art and Fear' at B&N.com) . Practically every paragraph rings true for me.
Many self-help books for creative people are actually discouraging to read, as they catalogue all the bad habits standing in your way and make you feel like you'll never get it right. What I like about this book is that it actually encourages you to keep going and suggests how to stay better focussed on why you want to do what you do. I'm trying to set a practice (that word again) of reading a bit every day, with the idea that when I get to the end, I'll start over.
I'm happy to say that so far this fall has been a time of intensive work and progress in the studio. The summer was another matter, but it is done (Where did it go?), and I've moved on. May this phase continue!
My work has been improving steadily since I began practicing (!) the techniques I learned in July's Long Beach workshops. My vessels have become lighter in weight and at the same time sturdier and more stable. I'm very pleased.
I'm also starting to play with some sculptural variations based on the vessel form. I used to make needle-felted human figures, but I really don't enjoy the needle-felting technique. So I'm excited by the possibility of making figures via wet felting. Nothing elaborate so far, just these little owl-ish creatures. But I hope there will be more, and better, to come.