Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Committing to Play

It is a commonly held idea that giving ourselves time to just play, to experiment without a particular goal or expected outcome, is important to making art. [It may be important to living a healthy life, generally, as well]. But many of us, through cultural conditioning, have a hard time with this. If we know it is good for us, then maybe that makes it easier. What are your experiences with play as it pertains to your art practice or to your life?

I feel that my art practice is a some kind of pivot point: there is some Old Stuff I am shedding, stuff I no longer feel compelled to work towards, and I'm excited to explore New Stuff. Though the idea is a bit amorphous at the moment, the thing I feel like chasing is PLAY. Creative play. What does that mean? What does it look like? I have no idea, but for starters I'm going to call it a state of mind. 

A little visual joke on one of my Moving Targets

As a teacher I say all the right words and give good advice regarding the necessity of play and experimentation, but am I really practicing it myself? I don't know if my work has become more work and less play, but something feels stuck or stale or in need of a re-think. 

I would like to commit to a practice of play, of noticing when I am in the playful state of mind while doing creative work, and when I am not. Are there activities that can induce the play state of mind? Are there some that squash it or smother it? (Yes) My working hypotheses are:

  1.  I will make better work if I am having fun. If I am really playing, I will discover more possibilities, more ideas, more ways of executing ideas, and ultimately my work will be better. I might make less of it (which is fine!), but it will reflect my sense of humor and my perspective more authentically.
  2. Cultivating and valuing that play state of mind will enable me to let go of the external voices - the imagined expectations of others - that seem to still be getting in my way (see this blog post).
  3. By learning how to play, I can help others (as a teacher), tap into their own playful side more effectively. Learning to play will help me be a better teacher.

 I do have fun in my studio at times, and I definitely have fun teaching. I just want to pay more attention to the play and fun aspects of it all and see if I can lean into that a little more.  

I would love to hear your thoughts and your experiences on this topic. 

Please comment below.

Here is a post from 2018 about Art for Fun. It expresses some similar thoughts through a different lens.


OK, I do get a bit silly while teaching. That is part of the fun!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

2023 Calendar is Here!

 Putting together images for my 2023 calendar offers a chance to reflect on the work I've done in the past year. As usual, it is various, and to my eyes all over the map. But it's my map, and I am sticking to it. I've decided not to apologize anymore for being "inconsistent" and trying new things all the time. You can read more of my thoughts on that subject here

In the 2023 calendar I've tried to choose images that reflect most of the scope of my 2022 explorations. However, I did find myself favoring the most recent work. I wonder if this is a common phenomenon:  is your favorite work is the work you've done most recently?

Download my 2023 calendar here.

Print it out and enjoy in the months to come. Here is a preview of the first couple of months.

Monday, December 5, 2022

Selling Prints and Products on Fine Art America

 I offer prints and products on Fine Art America / Pixels, which are print-on-demand sites, "FAA" in my shorthand. They are two sites, same  company, practically identical, but Pixels offers a few more products than does Fine Art America.

A few products available from FAA: acrylic print, throw pillow, tote bag, and pencil case

People often ask me if I like the way FAA sells my work. I read this as emphasis on THEY. Are they (meaning FAA) doing a good job for me? They, in this case, are not doing anything to sell my work other than provide a (fabulous, in my opinion) platform and process for me to sell prints and products.

In the question is embedded a little confusion about marketing. A gallery markets your work - they get the potential customers in front of your pieces and try to match buyer with artwork in a satisfactory fit. I see this as a kind of highly-skilled matchmaking. It takes experience, insight, and knowledge to match the right client with the right artwork. And it takes serious curating. A gallery will not show just anything - they will show work (and dedicate resources to) that they believe they have clients for.

FAA and other POD (print-on-demand) sites do not do marketing. They offer a convenient platform for the artist to offer prints and products. It is up to the artist to get the clients to the site. They also do no curating, so the platform is open to anyone.

Framed Print of "Line of Fire #1"

If you have work up on FAA or another POD site and nobody is buying it, it is not because the site is not doing its job. It is because you are not doing your job. Don't give up on POD if your work is not selling. Send people to your POD page via links on your website, social media posts, newsletters, etc., and see what happens.

This is a screen shot of my new website's navigation menu.

I personally love the POD concept. For me it means that people can have images of my work in whatever form suits them, for very reasonable prices. Not everyone who likes my work is in the market for original pieces of art. I love it that they can have phone cases, notebooks, tote bags, etc. as well as fine art prints at a size and price that works for them. It's not for everybody, and it doesn't pretend to be original art.

I would like to hear your thoughts on print-on-demand, and to know what kind of experiences you have had with this kind of platform.