Friday, 27 June 2008

Artist's Block, Motivation and Challenges

I am just blogging today about how I feel about being an artist and what motivates me to create. Well, I am not even sure if that first sentence is going to describe the rest of what I will write here. Never mind, here goes.

People often speak of artist's block, when I was training to be an artist one art teacher said to me two things that I remember. You are only as good as your last piece of work, the other was that you should as an artist create everyday. I don't know whether this has motivated me, it probably has.

I have been wondering what artist's block is really about for me. I don't normally have a shortage of ideas. In fact my problem is that I usually have too many to cope with. I never will have enough time to do all the things that buzz around my head, not if I lived to a century or more. So it's all about choice.

I started to participate with many challenges on the web. I did this as a way of keeping in touch with other artists, this important for me. I live in a rural area and I dont see any other artists at all, I wish I had a friend near by who I could talk to about my passion, someone who is also passionate about textiles in all it's wonderful forms and possibilities. I doubt if that is going to happen, but I live in hope.

Well, thinking about the reason why I joined all these challenges, it's not for the challenge so much as the meeting of people. Ok, I am struggling a little at present keeping up with the challenges, but as I said, it's all about choices. I have decided I am going to have to make some serious choices soon because running a challenge myself aswell all these fingers in pies elsewhere it is going to mean I won't get as much done as I would like to. You try some things and if they don't work for you, you move on.

I wonder what the motivation is for others, I would really like to know. I get a buzz from making for someone in particular. It pleases me to make something for someone else. I don't know why this is. I often think, I am going to make something for me, but it doesn't hold the same motivation for me as it does to make for someone else. I think this is why I enjoy making cards to swap.

So where do I go from here. I need the interaction with other artists, artists often find themselves so isolated. They work long hours to create and this is usually done in isolation. I like to get feedback, but on these challenges and other sites it is feedback which is always far too polite to be really useful to me. What I mean is that I haven't yet had anyone make a neutral comment about my work, let alone a negative one. Having been through art college I was trained to expect criticism. In fact at the end of every week we would have critique which was extremely useful for everone. I miss this honest opinion. I know that my work has changed even since I have been involved online, it has become far too twee for me as it goes. This isn't because of the online community, it's more that I suppose I have been testing out ideas in being commercial. I think I must have been thinking about the tourist industry and wondering what I could take from my surroundings in order to make art. It's become far too chocolate box for me. Well, where do I go from here?

I am thinking about starting another site, but one with a big difference. A site where artists can put there work to get honest useful but polite criticism. I wonder how many people would like to join? Good question. I think I would have to moderate it well. I don't want others to feel that they will be attacked verbally in anyway. I think that I would have to work out some guidelines. I think it would be nice to create this site with someone else to help, two heads are better than one. Well I think I will sleep on this idea for a while and maybe I might just try it.

If anyone out there reads this and feels that they would like to get involved perhaps they would let me know. Tricia


Ati. Norway. said...

Hi Tricia,I feel like you. I live her without a soul to tell what I am doing. they don't understand why I cut fabrics and sew them together again :)with stitches by hand. Everything goes much faster by machine! And my felt pieces are so useless, what will I do with them???
I have no idea,I just make it !
That's why I like to swap too. to see other work in 'person'is very important for me.
Your other question about an other blog. Is it not possible to use the Group for this?
I always have been on courses where we got feedback and critique, it is very useful to grow further.
I can't help you with a new blog, my english is too poor and I am too old, but I would like to join !

Tricks said...

Hi Ati,
Thank you for your thoughts these have been very useful, I might give it some thought about using the group for this, not sure, but thank you for your input, it's good to know what others think.

So we are not really alone in what we do, we are both doing what we feel we should be doing but it's just that there are a lot of people out there who don't understand why, lol. that's funny when you think about it.

Never mind we understand why we do it, I think, lol. Cheers Tricia

Anonymous said...

Hi Tricia - This is tricky for me. I dont have an artistic background, so I am not well versed in the art of critique, and I was raised in the 'if you cant say anything nice, dont say anything' school. So anything i say tends to be positive. plus I am not really good enough myself at anything to feel like i have the expertise to critique others work. I know what I do and don't like, of course, but saying 'i dont like that' without being able to give a reason, or suggestions how to improve is probably not very helpful, is it!

I have actually decided not to participate too much in challenges/ swaps etc, because I tend to work better without pressure - the thought of having to send my work to someone is too nerve wracking to contemplate.

I feel the isolation too, though, and that is where blogging comes into it own, for me. I enjoy being part of this community.

I agree with Ati about it being part of your group. Also there was a discussion on stitchin fingers (in the design group I think) where someone posted a photo of her work and she got some useful constructive criticism, in a non threatening way. I learnt a lot from it.

Tricks said...

Hi Paula,
I do appreciate your constructive comments, for someone who says they do not have expertise I think that you write very well.

We can all give criticism, most of us associate that word with a negative meaning. Put it together with the word I used earlier constructive and it holds a different meaning entirely.

I know it's not just about saying whether you like something or not. I do think that most people can look at something a say if it can be improved and sometimes they can actually say how, purely because they are looking at something from a different perspective. We all look at the world through different eyes and it can be a combination of eyes that can give an artist insight into their own work.

I hate working in isolation. When I was at college studying I used to think it would be great to do my own stuff without tutors pulling it apart but now I long for that input.

I suppose I could see how many people in the group would like to participate in a discussion like this. I'll have to give it more thought though how to structure it on such a simple site, the Yahoo groups doesn't give much room for development.

Thanks for your thoughts Paula they are really very useful. Cheers Tricia

Helen Suzanne said...

Hi Tricia, I know too where you're coming from but have reservations about the viability of doing that kind of site.

I don't think the blogging/web forum scenario can address the need for critic in it's educational constructive sense. It's a different beast. Like you I've never seen neutral or negative constructive comments on textile blogs. It's almost ingrained now to be against the rules. The universal nature of the web means that people join everything and there are no levels of achievement, skill, enthusiasm or experience dictated in order to be part of it (thankfully). This of course is great and fantastic. The college experience of constructive criticism that artists crave is part of an environment driven by a mindset which sets requirements for entry into the club, has a hierarchy system of those who tutor and those who are there to learn. Students are in a mindset to be expect crits and buy into the whole authority thing which allows that crit to be a useful tool. Even when students crit students there is a permission given because the accepted educational system says it's safe to do so. They have a responsibility and an accountability within that group, so the vulnerability is catered for.

You can guess I'm thinking that it would be an almost impossible thing on the web to get that kind of "honest" involvement. One of the reasons may be that there is no way to control the quality, authority, validity of web crit unless it's attached to a physical group of people on a course say. But then it becomes a closed and selected group with a goal other than to get crit. The crit becomes a sideline benefit of something else.

Oh I dunno... rambling probably but I hope it makes some sense. I'm very frustrated by it because I'd really like to have you and others just down the road to meet in reality. That kind of support is invaluable and I too am very much isolated.

Tricks said...

No, I think you are absolutely right Helen, this is the problem exactly.
I did watch a forum a little while back, I say watch because I didn't feel part of it for some reason, perhaps I didn't involve myself enough but I think it was called Ragged Cloth or something, I havent seen it for a while and I have a feeling it may have disintegrated for one of the very reasons you have said it wont work. The last time I read anything on it I have a feeling someone was very unhappy with what was being said to them and I do feel it got personal. I don't know whether that same person was the moderator, I'm not sure.

I think that I was really thinking aloud when I wrote a need for a site with some constructive criticism.

As artists we are isolated and I should have realised it was going to be like this because I was warned of exactly that by one of my tutors.

Surely, if enough like minded people are interested in having some sort of informal group to meet and discuss work then it should be possible. Whether it is a critique or whether it is just a way of expressing opinions about your own and other's work the serious feedback that we can offer each other should be invaluable.

I do feel that a dialogue should exist between artists and that this dialogue can offer some kind of support to what we are trying to do.

Perhaps if we discuss the possibilities we can shape what a group like this could be like and then work out a foundation to what we really need. What do you think?

I feel it is all about how we word things, perhaps Critique as we know it is too harsh a word. Perhaps we can find another way of describing what we are looking for. That could be the starting point: What are we looking for?

Oh well, I might be rambling now so I'll leave it there, but I hope we can continue looking at it. Thanks for the discussion Tricia

Tricks said...

I would like to make a correction to my comment above, The Ragged Cloth does indeed still exist, I don't know why my subscription stopped. If you get a chance to look at it Helen, let me know what you make of it. Not sure it is exactly how I would see a site of this nature, but it could help with a template of sorts. Tricia