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The process is the thing


Art gets done when it gets done - the process is the most important thing. That's probably a good philosophy for life, too.

Working on my new mixed-media piece at Northwest Encaustic this weekend, I was stressing myself out. I had paid $90 to work there all weekend, with the idea that I'd have a lovely "masterpiece" to take home at the end. Their studio rental fee is only $45 a day, which I thoroughly appreciate!

But I had grossly underestimated how long it would take to finish everything. And I'd procrastinated on the woodworking portion beforehand for so long that by the time I got that done I didn't have enough time to do any of the other stuff that needed to be done before I headed to the studio.

So when I got there I spent at least half the weekend doing stuff that should have been done before I got there - mainly pasting a ton of photocopies onto the board. I seriously had no idea that it would take so long to do that! And there are still scads more to paste down. The piece is pretty big, though (36"x48"), and the photos are pretty small, so covering it will take a LOT of photos. The photos I used are all old family photos. I'll talk more about the content in a later post.

By Saturday afternoon I started to freak out as it slowly dawned on me that I was not going to get everything done by 6 p.m. Sunday night. I tried to push myself harder, and yes, I whined. Note to self: Don't whine. Other people hate it, and it doesn't accomplish anything.

Luckily my new friend, artist Colleen Monette, had some wisdom to impart. She said the process is at least as important as the finished product. I looked at what I was doing and realized I was not enjoying myself. Instead I was pushing myself as hard as I could, straining to get the whole thing done by the end of the weekend. I needed to take a step back.

After Colleen offered that simple bit of wisdom, I calmed down. I realized that the feeling of joy that I get from making art is the reason WHY I make art. So there was no point in circumventing that joy. Art is not some deadline-driven corporate environment with a boss breathing down my neck. I'm doing it for the sheer joy of doing it. If I eventually get to where I can make a living with my art - lovely. If not - oh, well. That's not the point. I can still make a living in other ways.

The photo shows what I got done this weekend. The aluminum-foil halo turned out pretty nice. I was going for a Byzantine icon effect. There will be a hula girl clock inside the tinfoil halo. To make it I used shellac and India ink over foil, and then, to add texture, I used a sweet little tool that I believe is actually made for poking holes in pie crust. It’s my favorite encaustic tool.

The box over on the right contains some of the stuff that will be used on this piece, including the "chicken wire bra" - more on that later.

Next weekend this mixed-media piece will be done, and I'll post a photo. I'm entitling it "End of the Line?"

So, thank you, Colleen, for the sage advice: Enjoy the process!