Wednesday, August 24, 2016

New Work and What Drives The Need to Create

Forest Future
15" x 18" collage on paper

Towards the end of July I decided that I was only going to post once a month to my blog. It seemed to me that writing about my work and showing it online wasn't working. I questioned if I would continue making art if I wasn't writing about it and if I wasn't showing it to anyone. I was very fearful that the feedback I was receiving was fueling the art making. I decided to stop blogging and to see what happened. Here is what I found out. Maybe it will help someone?

I learned that the work and the writing is connected but not exactly in the way I thought. The writing itself is important to me because it keeps me connected to actually making the art. It doesn't matter where I write so long as I write about my art in some way. I found that not writing gradually begins to lessen my interest in making art. Not only that but I lose clarity and don't generate ideas about how to proceed, about how I am progressing, and about what I want to do next. Writing seems to cement that process. 

I also found that the writing seems to support the other interests that I rely on. Those outside interests, that often have nothing to do with art, feed the artwork itself. When I wasn't writing as much, I wasn't as aware of my interests and connecting them to my art, if that makes sense. 

Lastly, I found that while I love feedback, it isn't absolutely necessary for me. I love hearing from people (and staying connected is very necessary) but in the end, that can't be the reason why I want to create. And it isn't. As a related point too, everything I read indicates that people have to see your work in order for the entire process of art making to be complete. I do believe this but don't know how to (or haven't tried) to address this aspect of the creative cycle.

It's tough. Writing isn't for everyone. It seems to be important to me though particularly in how it is connected to and integrated with my art practice, such as it is. The thought that I make art because I blog about it is scary. That idea loomed rather large in my mind and I didn't want that to be true. I am hoping that a month away from blogging has shown me that this isn't the case.

And in case anyone reading is wondering, the above piece was inspired by my recent trip to the mountains. California has a terrible problem with the trees, pine trees in particular. The drought has weakened them so much that they are greatly susceptible to infestation from insects. The insects are slowly killing the trees. You look out at the forest in a panoramic view and see spots of brown everywhere. And there doesn't appear to be an immediate solution in sight.

If anyone has an opinion on the above, let me know!
Thanks for reading and commenting.


  1. This is timed just perfectly. Another blogger I have enjoyed for several years has almost stopped blogging due to the time it takes and has gone the typical Instagram and Facebook route. I think that is fine and use them myself, but I felt a definite feeling of loss because the short quick blurb which goes along with those formats takes away all connection to what makes that artist tick.
    I enjoy your blog very much. I feel as if you have allowed me to step into your studio and be with you. You have made me think of different viewpoints and I have grown. I also have enjoyed the comments from others. They go beyond the absolutely nice, but more quick "beautiful" or "very lovely" So, my friend, will the once a month blog be a wrap-up post of your monthly activities?

    You captured the brown areas really well in this piece. The Santa Fe area was hit by a beetle which caused thousands of pinions and firs to be cleared, and this really reminds me of how it all looked at its worst. We have friends who had to pay big bucks to have over 500 taken away from their 30 acres. Devastating what droughts can do.
    Then my sympathies go to those poor, poor, people in the fire or flooded areas.
    Keep writing a post the way you do and once a month is fine as long as you don't stop.

    1. Julie,

      Thank you so much for such a thoughtful comment. I sure agree that while FB and Instagram is nice, the Blogger format really allows for a greater interaction and the possibility of greater insight. I like reading the same sort sof things that you do: what the artist is thinking, what their sources are and how they think about and use their materials. I like connecting with people in this way even if it is every now and then.

      The writing proved to be so important to what I like to do. It's necessary for me to both think and write and then to add my art to that process. It all has to work together. So, I'll continue with the blogging for now (which is a way of writing and communicating with people you can't meet) and see how things go. Funny what you find out when you change something.

      The tree situation is awful isn't it? I got a good look at it last week. We have changed our environment so much and then add to that naturally occurring processes, and you have a recipe for disaster. New Mexico is in just as bad shape (or worse) than CA. All of us in the Western states are in trouble:(

      Thanks again for the visit and comments. I appreciate it!

  2. What a treat it is for me to read your blog post this morning. Just as you have realized you need to write about your process and how the final piece is achieved, I have realized there was definitely a chunk of pleasure missing from my life without being able to read your blog. You make so much sense, and I follow you so easily (your writing is succinct and clear), that there has been an empty spot in my unwritten list of what I enjoy.

    Not only is your artwork instructive and intriguing by drawing me into the composition and core of thoughts behind it, there is also something in it that is for me, inexpressible. Like all abstract work, the viewer must bring their own thoughts and experiences to their visual appreciation of a piece. I can admire all the concrete aspects and maybe even explicate them formally, but there is an unknown something that draws me to it, in addition to the well conceived, composed piece. I think it might be that I am responding to your innate desire to communicate something deep inside of you. Maybe it is to awaken others to what you understand. Your art can be a conduit for helping others "get" a topic in a way that news stories can't. Your honesty and artistic capability, visual and written, are in need of more exposure. I am excited for your latest revelations and will continue to share your name with others.

    As an aside, we live on opposite sides of our country, yet here in the Blue Ridge foothills and mountains we are seeing continued stress on our trees from environmental problems, man made and otherwise.

    1. Carol,

      First, I am so glad that you enjoy my writing. It's always gratifying to know that someone is reading and getting something from what I write.

      I liked you point about art being a "conduit" for understanding a topic. I really think we need lots of forms of expression: writing, visual arts, music, performances of every kind and whatever else can be done. How else can people get their ideas out there? Expression of any sort is so vital. I particularly enjoy abstract art because as you wrote, the viewer can bring whatever they want to the final understanding of the work. To me, it's a win-win both for the artist (their idea gets out there) and for the viewer whose own ideas are validated by looking at the work. Expression is for everyone.

      There are environmental problems all over the world. We've really tipped the balance and are approaching some huge catastrophic sized problems.

      Thanks you as always for your visits. Your observations are important to me!

  3. Hi Libby!
    It's taken me awhile to respond to your post as I've been thinking a lot about what you've said. You were concerned I understand that writing about your work and showing it online was not working for you. I know that my I find it hard to "keep up" and post as often as I would like. There is only so much time a person can allot to blogging and I feel very often that I am always BEHIND. But, you don't mention time as a factor. You questioned whether you would make the art without the writing.

    You concluded that writing is vital to your art-making process as it commits you to actually MAKE the art. In other words it's integral to your system of creating. I think it's wonderful that you have discovered this. Your introspection has identified that both creative processes need the other to complete your efforts.

    And, not only is writing essential to your art it is critical to your other interests as well as it is another pipeline for ideas.

    When education started "integrating" curriculum years ago the different subject areas were designed to meld and mix into one another. If a class studied rockets, for example, the teacher needed to plan math assignments, writing experiences, art-making, reading materials, field trips, music, etc. with that theme in mind. So students would build rockets (art), write about a trip to the moon (language), draw and measure the length of an Atlas rocket on the playground, read many books on this subject, and so on! Nothing was ONE lesson...the theme could last a week, a month, a semester. It certainly was motivating for the students and fun, too, for the teacher once all the planning and preparation was complete. But, easy or quick it was NOT!

    I mention this because what you are doing is integrating two HUGE subjects! They fit together nicely and do work, but writing by itself is a huge area and can consume so much time, as does art-making. You have paired these two colossal areas each of which is massive on its own both mentally and physically.

    I think it's a wonderful pairing... writing is such a powerful element, and your skill is unquestioned. Art is equally compelling. It can express what cannot be expressed any other way, and here, too, you excel. These two things give you an avenue for expression to a wider audience. It's important to share in the wider world. Numbers are not important. Just knowing someone on any given day opened their Inbox to your post, and they took it in visually, read your words and knew there was someone out there with the same issues and a great sense of humor who wanted to hear from you if you so choose to write.

    I used to feel the pressure to blog every day for some reason. I don't know why! But, when I couldn't I went to once a week...then sometimes much longer than that. I do what I can do, the rest is out of my hands. I sincerely hope you keep going even if you cut back the frequency of posting. You obviously adore writing and art - it would be a shame to give up both or one for the other. The frequency can change, but hopefully not the doing of it.

    1. Carol,

      Always happy to receive your comments. It's nice to get a teacher's viewpoint! (And I am glad that you are the teacher and not me! I couldn't do it!)

      It's important to know yourself isn't it? And oftentimes you don't find things out about how you function unless something changes. That is what happened when I stopped writing. The writing really helps me connect to everything else. I just didn't know it.

      Your description of the changed curriculum sounds a lot like home schooling. I've wondered a lot though whether or not the approach would work for everyone. I almost feel that when you try to master several things at once, mediocrity ensues! You never really master one thing well. But there is merit to the idea. Think of how many different disciplines are employed just going about your business of the day. And not everyone learns in the same way. Again, I don't know how teachers do it.

      Why do we feel the pressure to blog I wonder? You feel it too obviously. I like knowing that someone is reading but it isn't always enough to know that your words are out there. The feedback is integral to the process and getting that feedback isn't always under your control. I did find that out eventually! I wonder what actual writers do about this? If they need that feedback also?

      I appreciate very much that you took time to think about my post. Everyone has things that they do and are committed to ding so the fact that you spent your time thinking and writing has meaning.

      For now I am committed to continuing to post. I dislike becoming disconnected to my art. The writing and observing and recording is part of the process for me, like it or not. I'd sure like too to know what everyone else does, how they stay connected. Maybe a post for another time...:)

      Thanks again for your help. I appreciate it!

  4. Dear Libby - I am so glad you are going to continue to post. I am so rarely on just isn't my favorite way of communicating. I know many are leaving the blogging arena but something gets lost in just posting a quick note. You know I have always enjoyed the thinking process that goes behind each piece you do. Just like this one about the pine trees becoming weakened from the drought lends meaning to your work. Which goes beyond the superficial to more caring work. So glad to see those circles you often use too. Have a blessed week. Hugs!

  5. Debbie,

    I do agree with you-there is definitely something lost in translation when you just post a quick snippet. I don't see anything wrong with having a variety of ways to communicate-different forums for different audiences. So, for the time being I will just continue on:)

    I am so appreciative that you are able to read the posts and that you enjoy them. Imagine writing something and knowing that other people are reading and enjoying what you have written. That is a real treat!

    Take care and thanks for the visit.


Thank you for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it! I reply back in an email if you are signed in and I can see your address. Otherwise I will post the reply here under your comment. I tend to cut and paste my emails too so that others can experience the back and forth which I think is integral to blogging.