In my never-ending quest to get the studio straightened out, I came across a doll I bought years ago from a craft store. I’ve used these in the past to make packaged voodoo dolls as gifts for friends. I decided it was time to make another.
I found the original “packaging materials” on my computer, but figured it was time to change the design a bit. I also added some wording about propping it up next to the cutting board next time you chop onions (why not?). And even though I’m not planning to sell these or make it a commercial item, I put a new “product name” on the label after discovering that my original choice is, of all things, a registered trademark belonging to Dow Chemical.
On back, I added a description of the contents, a bar code, the obligatory “Made in China” and a warning about use by children. I thought it added a nice authentic touch.
I have some narrow sleeves that were originally intended for bookmarks. And I have some other, tinier sleeves just perfect for a few starter insect pins.
Voila. A finished Payback Magic Voodoo doll that almost, indeed, looks as if it could’ve come from a tacky dollar shop.
Some of my blogging friends have been doing things like Worktable Wednesdays or finding other thematic days to highlight their studios. I thought I’d join in. Muddled Monday came to mind, but it’s not Monday. Disarray Daily is more all-purpose. Although Freaked Out Friday might’ve worked as well.
I need to get stuff done. I have a show headed toward me. Thanks to my various maladies, I feel muddled and very, very tired. Pretty much all the time. I have been doing things, but not finishing much of anything. I have quite a few half-made prototypes and projects. I keep telling myself this is good — better than no projects at all! Still.
I decided that I need to pick one thing and focus on it as best as I can. Just start working through the list. First up is a flag book called You’re Not Paranoid. I made one similar to it a couple of years ago, and decided to make a more polished small edition. This is my prototype copy. I took Karen Hanmer’s advice and used a heavier weight paper for the flags than the spine. This ensures a satisfying tactile experience when opened.
A few other things in the pipeline: a small edition foldout book about germs with petri dish covers; a Board Book for Bored Children that will require a disclaimer that, no, I’m not really suggesting children play with matches or bleach etc; a book about memory made with a dollhouse window in a box (still being assembled); and an accordion consisting of layers of transparencies. Still not started, but being contemplated, is something with a skeletons in the closet theme. And I haven’t forgotten the vending machine minis, although I haven’t been able to do much with them at the moment. I feel overwhelmed.
Most of these projects keep winding up piled on my table. Often all at the same time.
Reminds me . . . years ago a friend came to visit. He was a sculptor whose work emphasized open space and clean lines. After sitting down in my studio, he began to look noticeably uncomfortable. Beads of sweat formed on his brow. He needed to go outside.
I couldn’t keep my hands off the sharks. The bottom just didn’t look quite right. So in a fit of industrious exuberance I added more. The next morning, I wished I hadn’t. It’s not awful. I just preferred the other version.
I’ve been rereading one of my favorite art books, Drawing the Landscape by Chip Sullivan. Its intended audience, I believe, is aspiring landscape designers and architects who want to learn to draw, which wouldn’t include me. But I love street views and maps, and this book is so quirky and full of good advice. It’s hard not to like an art book—one meant to be used as a textbook, no less—that tells you that a proper art studio needs to include a comfortable place for reading and napping. “Perhaps a couch with a bookshelf nearby.” He then goes on to describe napping and reading as essential parts of the creative process. I hadn’t looked at it in a long while, and was surprised to realize it even included a few examples of book art at the end. He cites his earliest artistic influence as Mad Magazine.
I’ve been going through one of those physical periods of frustration where I haven’t been able to do much. Rereading a favorite old book like this has been like comfort food.
From the section on the creative process:
“There is a certain degree of magic and mystery to creativity, but if you understand the process, it may come easier. First, you must be open and receptive to your imagination. Creativity is not one of those things that comes effortlessly; it is not instantaneous. It takes a lot of work, and artists strive for it constantly. Creativity is 90 percent hard work and intense preparation. Ideas implanted in your mind linger for a long time; they’re nurtured, then explode into a burst of creative energy. . . The creative flow is very much intertwined with perseverance.” (My artist friend Joan also blogged about this very thing a while back.)
A practical consideration is how does an artist persevere to create when lacking in physical stamina and fighting off other forms of physical limitation? But I keep trying to actively feed my head with ideas. Favorite books are good nourishment.
Pictured: The couch in my studio, which is actually a covered plastic love seat. The framed print above the road sign pillows is an example of Joan’s artwork. The deer crossing sign next to them is papier maché.