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Monday, July 9

i want everything. Part 1

I have not been blogging like I used to. There was a time when I was addicted to memorializing all things that drifted through my life. Then I got distracted.

One of the things I have been wrestling with, and probably could have worked through best by actually blogging about it, is where I should go with this art thing.

As one of my fellow art show peeps likes to say (over and over and over) none of us makes anything anyone needs.

Well, unless you consider adorning yourself or your surroundings with things that cheer or inspire you as necessary. But I digress.

So, I tried making all sorts of small items, my philosophy being that everyone who comes to an art fair wants to go home with something. I took it upon myself to be the maker of said items. I made cards and magnets from the scraps of paper left over from bookmaking. I scaled down my journals still one more size (to 4 X 4 1/4) For a couple of years I made bookmarks out of cord and beads. As I added trinkets, I dropped items that used to define me. Specialty books. Large journals. There was no time for them.

It is true that the cards and magnets often paid my expenses, but there was an added cost. Me. I hated the production aspect of making them. And it started to sap my joy. At the shows, it began to rankle when a customer would wander in, praise my work, admire the workmanship, whatever, and then come up with a $4.50 card. Over and over. Little purchases. It took an hour or more to make a hundred bucks. Now don't go thinking that sounds like a fine hourly wage. There is time spent making the thing, packaging it, ordering the supplies to make it, keeping the A/C on in the studio while I glue up the little bits. I didn't think I could make a living on books alone, but I knew I wanted to stop playing around with trinkets.

Funny thing about epiphanies. Sometimes it is an instantaneous, maybe even spontaneous, blinding flash that makes you sit up straight and shout "Yes!" That never happens to me. With me, it tends to happen after the Universe taps me on the forehead enough times to produce a furrow and I eventually sit up and hiss "What??!" The last one I experienced came after the 412th person buying a collage card told me they were going to go home and frame it. Tap, tap.

I love collage, perhaps by necessity. I am unable to draw or paint or take a photograph that makes a spine tingle. But I can take bits of this and that and make something nice to look at. Something artistic. I didn't have enough confidence to do it on a large scale, ergo the cards, the cards that others were going to frame. I could charge $4.50 for them, but did I have the guts to make up and frame a larger piece and smack a price tag of $75.00 on it?

Of course not. At first I made up a few and charged much less. Testing the waters. And I made up a whole bunch that were not framed, just matted and backed and neatly packaged in clear sleeves. There is a theory in art show land that the back wall sells the booth. In other words, hang big, pretty pieces with big pretty prices on the walls and then offer them unframed at a third of the price.

People bought them. I perfected my matt cutting technique, ordered some more clear bags. I got better at it. Now the collage were made not just of papers, but they had wire and fibers and charms and twigs in them. Little spirals of paint. Bits of sheet music. Grasses. I was having fun. They flowed like syrup from a maple tree in April. Made me smile.

And I realized that there was no sense in taking on art as a profession if you were not going to fall back into its colors and shapes and shadows. Might as well get a mail route.

I decided to stop making trinkets. I made more collage. Designed a wine journal. Got text blocks for baby books and diaries from Hollanders. I became an artist again. Poverty be damned.

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