Friday, April 26, 2013
W is for...
W is for WORKS IN PROGRESS and for WHAT IF. With the economy in such a mess for the last several years I've been happy to be able to supplement my income by selling some of my artwork. I have a job with fluctuating hours but instead of being a victim and feeling sorry for myself, I decided to use the down time to work for myself.
My whole life I've worked with fabrics, textiles and art materials. I've been sewing since I was 9, I made all of my own clothes for years and designed theater costumes for almost 25 years. There is something about fabric and cloth that brings out the best of my creativity. One of my favorite challenges last year was buying a 12 yard bolt of plain white muslin fabric and seeing how many different projects I could turn it into using textile paints and embellishments.
The hardest part for me is to stay focused. There are so many ideas going through my head every day and I have a bad habit of starting new things and not finishing them right away. This is not good if you're making items to sell. A table full of half finished products just isn't marketable. I always have WORKS IN PROGRESS. Right now is the season for outdoor festivals and events and I have a number of them coming up over the next few months and then the harvest and holiday fairs begin.
Every project I begin makes me think of a half dozen more that I would love to design. I keep an idea book in my purse where I jot down ideas, make sketches and doodles so that I don't forget. Inspiration comes from the most unlikely places sometimes. I have a 45 minute drive to and from work and at times something I see, it could be a billboard or a bumper sticker, will trigger an idea. I can't write while I'm on the freeway, so now I turn on my mini voice recorder when I get in the car.
Every project starts with WHAT IF. I will put together a pile of "raw materials" on my bed or on my work table and imagine WHAT it can become. WHAT goes with WHAT, WHAT mood or idea do I want the finished item to communicate. WHAT IF the doll could be a mermaid or a princess or an African storyteller. Or WHAT IF the quilt could be a picture of a beautiful sunset or a lighthouse with the ocean in the background. WHAT IF is the seed of creativity. When I was a little kid playing with my friends, our make believe games always seemed to begin with WHAT IF. "WHAT IF you be the pirate and she's the mermaid" or "WHAT IF the front porch is the ship and the lawn is the ocean." Children's playtime is so critical to the development of creativity. Our children need more time to imagine the WHAT IFS in their lives and less time being handed prepackaged, virtual worlds imagined by someone else.
My current WORKS IN PROGRESS are items for Mother's Day next month. I have two show coming up. I have a lot of dolls and other items that are ready to sell but I want to add some fresh seasonal ideas. In one of the business classes I took a few years ago the instructor said "you either sell the public what they want or you make the public want what you sell." Knowing what the public wants can be a challenge and I'm still and artist so I have to be true to myself. I try to do a little of both. Knowing what category my art business falls into is important and adding a few popular and commercial items helps make sales.
In order to make myself stay focused and get more done I have been disciplining myself and making myself stick to a color palette and a theme for each project. For my Mother's Day gift items I have narrowed my focus to a color palette of blues, yellows and white and decided on a country garden theme. You have no idea how difficult this is for me because I could take this in so many directions. My mantra is 'stay focused, stay focused, stay focused'.
My piles of 'blue, yellow and white raw materials' are cotton fabrics, ribbons, lace,
and decorative papers. I wanted to do yellows and blues for a change instead of the traditional shades of pink most often used for Mother's Day.
So, now it's back to work for me. I will share my WORKS IN PROGRESS and my finished projects over the next few days.
W is for WORKS IN PROGRESS and WHAT IF.