Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Artella's Questions for the Artist

Well I had some fun last week. Artella is featuring various artists in the Daily Muse and last week was my week. What fun! They ask questions and you have to figure out what your thoughts are an a variety of things. So here were the questions and my answers:

What are your favorite books, movies and music?

Lately my favorite books have all been art related. Anything by Keri Smith, the 500 series by Lark Books (such beautiful photography), Rice Freeman-Zachery's Living the Creative Life, and Mumaw and Oldfield's Caffeine for the Creative Mind. Lots of creative inspiration in these books! My favorite movies of all time are ones directed by Akira Kurosawa, Yasujirō Ozu, Frank Kapra, Werner Herzog, Robert Altman, and Horton Foote. If anyone out there loves these directors and has another favorite director that that I haven't mentioned, please feel free to educate me! Music? Well, I'm an old Dead Head through and through, but lately I've really gotten into the healing effects of binaural sounds. Curious? There are quite a few websites devoted to this unique sound experience, so my advice would be to "google" "healing binaural sounds" and I'd be very happy to answer any questions you might have on the subject.

Your Zines and Yahoo group often seem to pair happiness and art. How did you first become interested in that combination?

I was once doing some research on creativity, generosity, and the brain chemical which makes us happy, endorphins. I had an idea that there was a connection so I thought I'd see what was being written about this combination.

I found there were a group of psychologists who called themselves "positive psychologists" and they were doing research into positive emotions. They also had a lot of exercises which were part of their research. I found that a lot of these exercises could be turned into art challenges without much trouble. The more I did this, the more interesting it got, the happier I got. Kind of a positive spiraling effect!

Anyway one of their big findings is that the more we practice our strengths (the things that make our souls want to dance) the happier and more resilient we are. So that when life throws us those curve balls which it does fairly regularly, we are actually stronger and more able to cope.

Do you have some ideas for finding time for creative pursuits in a day or week filled with job, family, home care and so on? By the time I finish my daily rounds, I'm ready for sleep!

Back in the days when I worked for THE MAN in New York City, the end of the day was pretty much a vegetation time for me. I would be so beat after a long day of working in the highest energy place on the planet (I'm sure of this) that I would barely be able to fix dinner. My husband felt the same and since he was typical "boomer" he would want the TV on after dinner. So I found artful ways to amuse myself back then during that post dinner TV hours. I found I could draw, paint, sculpt little things, stitch, and string jewelry all while the television chattered away. I could even "watch" Monday night football that way! No one felt ignored, least of all my inner artist!

What is your favorite organizational tool for your studio?

The best thing invented for the artist/pack-rat is the clear plastic container, clear glass container, and clear plastic ziplock bags! The main thing is the "clear" part! Organization is so much easier when you can see what it is you are organizing. Simple shelving helps too, so that you can keep all your clear containers right where you can see them.

An issue that consistently pops up in the Daily Muse and the Artella Cafe is about time. Specifically, how to find the time to do all of the creative projects that we want to do and take care of all of the other responsibilities and activities we do on a daily basis. There never seems to be enough time to do all of the things we need to do. Do you have any suggestions or tips on how to deal with this problem?

Great question! I think a lot of us could benefit by doing some time management work. Maybe a collaborative round robin altered art book on favorite time management techniques! What do you think? Any way, I'll give you my favorite time management techniques:
* Figure out when your most productive time of day is. Find ways to free up a little time for yourself during that period. 20-23 minutes of creative time just for you in what the psychoimunologists say we need in order to maintain our health. If you are a morning person, you could get up 20-23 minutes earlier, if your big creative push time is when you are at work, schedule yourself a coffee break or lunch break at that time. The idea is to carve out some time for your inner artist. You won't be sorry, I guarantee it.
* Make sure that you have some way to do art-to-go. Create a bag just for art projects that can travel, like an art journal, stitching, knitting or beading to go.
* Make commitments to do the artful things that make your inner artist do the happy dance, like specific art swaps and exchanges. Sometimes committing to someone else to create something you would love to create is just the push you might need to make it happen.
That's just three ideas, but I think a round robin altered art book on this subject would be really great. Anyone want to play?

Did you start out in your current art form or is this a new twist in your journey?

My current art form? My goodness, I'm not sure what that is. Puppets, zines, book binding, art journaling, dolls, assemblages & mixed media sculptures. Lately I've gotten into stitching little colorful hand made baskets and even bottles with cloth wrapped mop yarn. I love it. I'm using lots of cloth and fiber that I've collected over the years for my dolls and puppets, but it's a bit like building a coil pot, but instead of clay this is fiber and cloth. I stitch, wrap and coil slowly as I go. Actually I love the rebellious slowness of it! Have you notice how fast things are getting these days? I'm totally into SLOW!!! Slow food, slow walks through a wilderness area just up the road, slow talking, and of course slow art! I love anything that slows me down so I can really be in the moment, right now.

What's your secret to balance "chaos", necessary for working with order, also necessary for working?

I think the biggest secret to balance "chaos" with order, is knowing just THAT, that chaos is necessary for creative efforts. Society will give us plenty of pointers about bringing order to chaos, but really giving ourselves permission to create some chaos seems to be key to managing and balancing the two! Once you give yourself permission and really embrace that aspect of the universe or your art room, then things start to fall into place. Sometimes it's the denial of the necessity of chaos which actually makes it overwhelming and that creates a lack of balance in our lives.

And of course Artella wants the life story as well, so here's a tiny bit of it. I was raised in Taiwan where I developed a fascination with asian food, street theatre, dragons & art, was educated in the US, and am now living in a fishing village in Nova Scotia, I tend to find life an amazing unfolding delight.

I make puppets, jewelry, artists books and other sorts of folk-arts. I share this magical, artful life with my husband, two cats, two dogs and any relative or friend that drops by.

The welcome mat is always out. We will put on the kettle and have tea or coffee and watch the waves. (We've seen whales from the dining room window.) Just give us a shout.

And if you can't come to Nova Scotia you could always drop by my website or my blog, where you can always find the Happiness and Art connection!

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