in her book, THE ARTIST UNIQUE, encourages everyone with the impulse to create to REACH. Reach beyond their comfort zone. Reach beyond what they know or think they know…and explore what MIGHT BE. That is an impulse that has motivated artists through the centuries. Picasso was famously quoted expressing that if he knew what a thing was going to be before he made it, why would he bother making it?
A good question. Inspired by Carmen’s book…I wondered about creating a POD of artists willing to press their comfort zones. I asked Carmen if she’d like a small group of professional artists to use her book as an inspiration to create. But! (you may object) YOU are professionals. Art is easy for you. Ha! A misconception if I ever heard one! Art. Making art. Creating. It takes courage to step into any mystery and muster the courage to discover a new thing or behave in a new way. Art is no exception. And being a professional artist just sometimes makes it harder because the bar for something “looking good” is raised.
A small band of courageous souls: Carmen, herself. Me. Liz Kalloch. Christine Mason Miller. Christen Olivarez. We all said yes to picking a method or artistic expression with which we were little familiar. Or not familiar at all. Explore it. Create something…and give it away. That was the structure.
Carmen’s book is a buffet table of yummy artistic options. I picked the one that I’ve resisted all my life. The expression that made me most uncomfortable and the one I had the least experience with. Dimensional work: Polymer Clay. I didn’t even have any. I had none of the tools. This was a fresh effort and the first foray into it was dismal. So clunky I was reluctant to take a photo of it. Ah. But I did. Because documenting failures along the path is an excellent way to imprint the truth that Edison freely shared: there are no failures, just a bunch of ways that lead to a solution.
If you were to pick something about which you have an interest or curiosity but no demonstrated skill or talent: what would it be? Featured today is one of Carmen’s lovely works. Pictured on Monday will be my first effort at understanding how to work with Polymer Clay. Reach! Reach a little today.
Carmen Torbus. A name familiar to me through industry peers. In the last year Carmen and I have become more familiar with each other as friends on Facebook. Her just-released first book was a real celebration. I was intrigued on many levels. Carmen always defines herself as a “self-taught” artist. Each time I would see that qualifying description I would have an instructive conversation with myself. I would try and remember if I’d ever see any other artist qualify themselves as a “on-the-job-taught” artist or “university-educatied” artist. Ah. Yes. Those initials after someone’s name do indeed provide some sort of validation, don’t they? And, in fact, as those conversations unfolded in my own soul I met the “prevailing wisdom” of our culture. That wisdom most often reflected in the question, “Who taught you that?” or this question, “Where’d you learn that?” Generally it seems more acceptable to hold a body of knowledge if somehow has handed it to you through book and lecture and memory and rote. When I followed the threads, the “bread crumb trail” of knowledge it often ended up at someone’s door whose answer was, ‘I made it up,” or “I thought of this myself.”
So. Carmen Torbus has written a book based on her own discovery and exploration as a self taught artist. In this book, THE ARTIST UNIQUE, she’s not claiming to make people into professional artists. Rather, she is extending the invitation to discover a unique artistic signature that comes through art. Through discovery. Through doing something that you previously did not know you could do. In these next few days I will be sharing with you my experience of discovery. Using Carmen’s inspiration – I reached out to a media that I am not only unfamiliar with, but am actually uncomfortable with. I have to confess that the area I chose to explore I have dismissed for decades with the explanation, “I’m simply not very good with that.”
What a surprise was in store for me when I was willing to suspend my judgement, read the invitation that Carmen Torbus offered in her book, and proceed. At the outset, it appeared to just be about art. But at the end of the story, I recognize it’s a model for much larger things.
Journey along with me over the coming few days, will you?
Calendar and our awareness of the clicks of the seconds on a timepiece are all structures which we have built. They are agreements we have made with the larger “other” of our communities so that trains can pass and have semblance of order – for example. Or so that we all know when to say to someone, “Happy Birthday to you.” So on this day of longest light…I offer some inspiring quotes intended to get you thinking… about what is and what seems.
All the spheres revolve about the sun as their mid-point, and therefore the sun is the center of the universe. Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 – 1543)
We take our understanding of the universe and our earthly seasons for granted. But for Galileo – his observations were a matter of great controversy…
The doctrine of the movements of the earth and the fixity of the sun is condemned on the ground that the Scriptures speak in many places of the sun moving and the earth standing still…It is piously spoken that the Scriptures cannot lie. But none will deny that they are frequently abstruse and their true meaning difficult to discover, and more than the bare words signify. One taking the sense too literally might pervert the truth and conceive blasphemies, and give God feet, and hands, and eyes and human affections, such as anger, repentance, forgetfulness, ignorance, whereas these expressions are employed merely to accommodate the truth to the mental capacity of the unlearned. Galileo Galilei ( 1564 – 1642) The Authority of Scriptur ein Philosophical Controversies – Condemned by the Inquisition)
For the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities, and are often more influenced by the things that seem than by those that are. Niccolo Machiavelli (1469 – 1527)
I cannot say what loves have come and gone, / I only know that summer sang in me/ A little while, that in me sings no more. Edna St. Vincent Millay (1923 written)
Sunglasses are the twentieth-century equivalent of fans and veils. People use sunglasses to hide themselves. There is a particular art to taking off sun glasses, of choosing exactly the right moment to reveal yourself. Jane Seymour (from Guide to Romantic Living, 1986)