Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day #92: Feeding the Soul of the Artist

Perhaps I have been under a rock, but I recently read (and re-read) "Art and Fear." This is an amazing read! I had read some excerpts from the book, but now I've read the whole thing. Twice. I highlighted, underlined, and scribbled in the edges. I want to take passages and blanket my studio wall for inspiration. It was like deeply nourishing food that tasted like chocolate. Make sense?

Recently, artist Patrick Dougherty visited Richmond's Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Patrick builds giant, outdoor installations of native plants -- mostly saplings. I was fortunate enough to attend his artist talk, which echoed so many of my underlined passages from "Art and Fear." I was pretty jazzed up about that! A few days later, I had the pleasure to volunteer for a few hours as he built (with the helping hands of many, many volunteers) "Diamond in the Rough." 

I really enjoy his work (end result), but I equally enjoy his process. The level of community involvement required is a work of art on an entirely different level.

As an artist, I sometimes feel like I am working in a vacuum. It's me and a roomfull of raw material that I am responsible for transforming into my work. Yes, yes, at least I have puppets to keep me company, right? (And Pandora...let's not forget Pandora!) Sometimes I even have assistants come in. Sometimes my kids join me (then I can guarantee nothing much will get done). But it's really still all up to me.

Sometimes you can be your own best friend. Other times you can be your own humongous roadblock.

I feel fortunate that there is a component of my work that involves going out into the world and physically sharing my work. That is my real end product. Yes, I can make puppets, but they need to perform or what's the point?

My point today is that getting the nourishment and support you need is part of the work of the artist. Things that feed my inner artist: time talking with other artists (thank you), walks, exercise, libraries, nature, climbing trees, yoga, Carmina Burana, reading to my children, chopping vegetables (really, it's true!)...


  1. That is a fantastic excerpt! I want to read this book. Thanks for the hot tip.

  2. Now I'm curious, I've never read that book. And excited to see the new display in the gardens! I knew that was coming up but it'll be even more exciting to see now that I know you had a hand in the creation! Creating is a hard process to share, because so much of it is internal, but I think you do pretty well at sharing it and I like how much you try to let people in on the process.
    If it helps any, I made a puppet for today's project, and I was thinking of your worm puppet experiment the whole time.

  3. You should totally read the book! All artists! Everyone!