Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dusty Roads

I've been plunged into thought again today when visiting the shop of fancifuldevices for the hundredth time. Her work is so powerful, and lately she has managed to accomplish what I cannot seem to get to- that ragged, severe and primitive look of 19th century hard-done-bys.


The trouble is (and has been for some time) that I don't find a great affection for most of the pieces I make. Sometimes the things on my desk and in my bead containers make me do a little dance because they're so awesome, but I'm happy to admit most of the time things come out either too fancy or to neat. I love the materials I have and the ideas they generate, but when I put them together, they just don't end up as I want them.

This is the stuff I've made over time that I love, that I would choose to represent my intended style- they're my favourite designs so far. Not my ideal on any level, but satisfactory:

Interestingly there are no cuffs in there- I looked through my archive and the only cuffs I could find that I'd be happy to put my name to these days are actually shots of the backs of cuffs.

But these images below are things others have made, things that I wish I'd made:

Francis Willemstijn

Sebastian Buesher

Babette Boucher

Rachelle Varney

Suzi Tibbets

Rebecca Purcell

I've tried a few times to clean out my supplies and only have around me the materials that I want to create with. I figured if there were only pure' things in my kit it would make it easier to make something I was happy with. The other day I starting thinking about my new collections- namely Victorian Artefact (19th century styles made to look as if they'd been found in an archaeological dig) and Evil Georgian- which is Georgian style fashion from a super villain's point of view.

But even when I clean out things I find myself landed with bits I can't seem to let go of. I can do something with almost anything, and i must have this conversation with myself:

+ ooh no, I can do something with that
- yes but it won't be the thing you WANT to make

+ but it'll look nice and someone will buy it
- but that's not the point! I'm an artist, I'm making what i like and I'm just lucky others like it too!

The problem is I've made things in my past just because people will buy them. but I don't like working like that anymore. I'm not a merchant, I'm not a fashion house. I'm an artist that makes art you can wear and occasionally art you can't wear (at least not without difficulty).

The struggle to create what's inside my head has never been harder- usually I give in to the process, let it go where it wants to take me. This time I feel I ought to instill some kind of discipline over it. It's hard for me as I've never been a disciplined person, prefering to go with the flow and let the universe provide (and it does, faithfully) but I wonder if a change in approach is needed in my work given that the usual attack isn't winning. I don't exactly look at my pieces and think 'what a load of crap' but I don't feel an overwhelming pride in them either.

Do I ask too much of my art? Is it reasonable to expect to be moved by everything I make, or is that just the romantic dream/nightmare of every artist?

I'll be moving house in the next couple of weeks, and when I'm settled in the new place I'll be learning new skills, namely soldering but hopefully pit-fired ceramics and Precious Metal Clay as well. Hopefully when I am able to actually sculpt some elements, things will come to form easier.


Jen said...

Ah Penny! I hear ya and raise you two! ;)

I'm finding that by amassing photos of things I love as the first step but then really looking at them and deciphering *why* I like them is key. Second, take something you truly swoon over, say that first necklace by fancifuldesigns (and tres swoonable stuff that girl makes!) and recreate it. The trick is to do it exactly for the first go around. At some point in the construction, something is going to trigger a "this doesn't feel right" moment. And here is where *your* aesthetic, your art is different and may be the thing that you are looking to change. Take copious notes. Then put the replica away. Put the photos away. And create something with that new neural network still buzzing. See if it matches more closely to your mind's eye creation. And then let me know if it works. :)

Jo Archer said...

I think every one feels like this Penny, but it's a good thing. When you are constantly striving to attain a certain look that you love from someone else, then you keep being creative. Being completely happy with what you make is anathema to creativity.

If it's any consolation, you are my inspiration, the way Fanciful Devices is yours. Everything I make often looks vapid and twee, when I what I want to do is create the sort of look that you do.

Eileen@Star'sFault said...

Love youir photos, everything is seriously beautiful. I am also drawn to the more gothic, tarnished textures, inages and findings. There is something about them, etherial, soulful, that I can't resist.

Blessings ~ Eileen @ Star's Fault

Susan Shaw said...

I agree with Jo - it is the constant dissatisfactoin with our art, the fact that we still haven't actually managed to produce our vision, that gives us the motivation to keep creating.

Maybe what you are missing is the imaginary story behind the piece - where did the bits come from, why did the 'original owner' put the items together, and how did it mae it's way to you (tragic accident, lost at sea following an encounter with a giant squid...).

MaygreenFairies said...

Wonderful, wonderful blog, so glad I stumbled across your Etsy Shop, your jewellery is stunning. I look forward to my next visit. Mandy x

Little Brown Sparrow said...

Thank you everyone, for your wise words!

Jen- yes! I have that part in the back of my mind that forbids me from copying another artist, but replicating it just might help. I learned to draw as a kid by copying Warner Bros cartoons, so it might work in the same way.

Jo and Susan, you're right- it is the constant 'failing' that keeps us going. I think I would really get bored if everything I produced was amazing to me! :) I used to have stories to go with my pieces, Susan- maybe that's why I don't feel the satisfaction I used to. Thank you!

Maygreen- aw, thank you! Those albums in your blog are amazing!

Vicki's Bit-o-earth said...

Wow! All I can say is, this is a feast for the eyes!!!!

layers said...

I Love ALL the jewelry here-- I will be back for more viewing--

olga said...

Hi Penny,
I've just sent you email regarding this post to the address I found on your flickr profile page.. I really hope it's your current address.. is it?

fanciful devices said...

Hi! Um... that's me!!! Wait as I forward this post to all my friends... wait, I have no friends b/c I spend all day making and obsessing over bits and things! is very inspiring to me lately, check her out.
But really, just take a break! Read a book, throw a couple dinner parties. Then, you'll see some little trinket in the vintage section of etsy and think, "I wonder if I could throw that on a chain and call it a necklace?" And next thing you know, you'll be bent over a pile of supplies, having forgotten to eat for 10 hours.

Thespa McLaughlin said...

I have the same problem you have. I love those distressed and darker versions of things I want to make but can't seem to put all together. Love all those bits and pieces you've had a hard time letting go of. I would save them. But then again I save everything, LOL. Good luck! Have a happy day!

Jen Crossley said...

Your work Is sensational,I think we all feel the same way about finding our own look that makes you a true artists,it is hard not to be influenced by other though sometimes

layers said...

I have back for a second viewing and had more time to read what you wrote about-- I love your collections-- and jewelry-- and I think we are our own worst critics-- we are all hard on ourselves from time to time-- but that is also what keeps us marching on-- searching and growing and having small breakthroughs from time to time.
donna watson

Blood Milk said...

o i love that mini compass and mini mirror?
can't wait to see what you'll do with them!
i love your jewelry, we must have kindred hands.