Friday Fugly
2 hearts are fuglier than one!

Hey, it's time for friday fugly! This time you get not only my fugly, but my bead bud Frances’ as well. I merely attempted to use Cindi B's new off-set handle heart press, but Frances makes me look like a piker, cuz she attempted the same thing using boro. Bad enough to attempt a tricky new press with a hollow bead, but with a new type of glass you're not used to?

This resulted in some awesome fugliness!

two attempts to make large pressed hearts. CiM valentine on the left, boro on the right—not sure whether frances used two different reds or not, but I attempted to photograph these beads to show off the pretty red transparent in the center of her bead. [1]

I've alluded to the pleasure that I as an artist (and other artists/craftsworkers etc) have in documenting our outstanding failures. Being able to do—laughing at yourself—is a gift, part of my very good fortune in having my identity as an artist nurtured from a young age.

This was really driven home as I read skimmed Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. As the title implies, the book uses very spiritual language (though to be fair the author tries to be inclusive and suggest alternative imagery for the agnostics and atheists in her crowd) so already is not a great fit.

This is not the book's fault, which is set up as a 12 week program designed to give those folks not comfortable claiming ‘artist’ as a part of their identity the tools to achieve that comfort. The author, both in this book and a cute cartoony version of the same (How NOT to make art or anything else you love) teaches her would-be artists to unblock their creativity, which in addition to a couple of exercises somewhat similar to things I already do (art ‘dates’ —sacrosanct time to create) and journaling to get/clarify ideas (for which this blog basically serves, as well as documentation).

I have many of the usual artsy hangups, but blocked creativity is seldom one of them.[2] If I'm having problems making something, or avoiding an arty type project it's usually because I haven't figured out how to achieve (technically) what I want to do. One of my favorite writers said that when she was blocked it generally meant she needed to do more research. I'd say this more or less is my problem too, 90% of the time.

But I have another, even greater advantage, a gift, like the fabulous nearsighted sharpness of my youth, that I only vaguely realized I was most extremely fortunate to receive: that of affirmation, from earliest childhood that yes, I was an artist. I've thought of myself this way pretty much all my life, and am profoundly grateful that my parents and teachers fostered this opinion, or, at least didn't contradict it. All through my childhood I got to hear ‘you're so talented’ and ‘you have such a vivid imagination’ (admittedly the latter sometimes came with a bit of ‘and your head is always in the clouds, too...’)

Considering some of the wretched dreck I made, I truly was lucky. There is a certain amount of ‘oh, they've been told by family and friends how artistic they are, and now they think they're all that and a bag of chips.’ I'm sure this problem exists; but I strongly suspect that that discouragement is far more common—and dangerous. After all, eventually, if you get into the wide world, you will learn there are other artists and writers better than you, and no matter how good you are, there's always room for more improvement.

But the negativity fairies are cruel, and rob people of art for years—sometimes, their entire lives.

[1]Alas I didn't quite shade the beads completely, but a bit of gimp smudge got rid of those nasty specular highlights. I also thought myself most extremely clever by styling Frances bead on a stem to make it stand upright in the snow. Yeah, this was pretty lazy, what with just making do with snow and my cell phone.

[2]So, of course, right after I wrote this, roughly a week two weeks ago, then I stalled out on every front. Ah, hubris. But then I realized: if I'm trying to do something a little beyond what I can comfortably achieve—I believe this is called working out of your comfort zone—I have to have the wherewithal (courage? confidence) to face that significant possibility of failure. Well, turns out if I'm not feeling well, I don't make much art. And I'm just getting over an infection, or something, that's so mild that I really only noticed it because a) I was sleeping more b) [bodily function {redacted}] and c) I simply couldn't face some beads that seemed “too hard”. But finally I started feeling better, and yesterday, I made the beads I've been wanting to for the last couple of weeks;) Which brings me to another advantage of being older—after making art for 30–40 years, you begin to recognize, if not the precise problem, then classes of difficulties like it, and have likely developed strategies for dealing. Which, frankly sometimes means putting the thing away for awhile and coming back to it. In my case, that can sometimes be measured in years.