Welcome to Kathleen’s Art Blog!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

I just returned a few days ago from doing two presentations at the Synergy Conference at the same time as showing and selling my work at the American Craft Council show in Baltimore, then traveling immediately to Florida for the Palm Beach Fine Craft Show, and then an unexpected 2-day workshop at Ocean Reef near Key Largo. Needless to say, I'm exhausted, but not too exhausted to remain inspired by the ceramic work of Andy Rogers at Baltimore.  You may see his work at www.andyrogersceramics.com.  He came to my booth exclaiming about how much crossover there is between his work and mine and then I went to his booth and we talked for quite a while about images, techniques, and books -- giving ideas to each other and getting ideas from one another. 

I'm telling you this because even though I endeavor to get my inspiration purely from nature, it is impossible not to be influenced by fellow artists.  I mean this in a positive way. Andy was very open with me as I looked at the shapes of his pods, excitedly mentioning what good purses they would make.  I was very open with him as he saw and asked about how he could use polymer clay for little spikey parts of his organic forms. We BOTH benefited from being open about ideas and techniques.

This is a very important idea to me.  You as artists and craftsmen MUST be open, sharing, and eager to help other artists/craftsmen.  Believe it or not, it hurts YOU and the whole community when you are secretive about what you do.  In history, there were families of potters in China and glassworkers in Egypt who kept their techniques and recipes secret and it was lost to the world when everyone in the family died with the secret.  It's OK to give things away to the artistic competition because it actually keeps you on your toes and doesn't allow you to become too complacent about your work, doing the same old formulas over and over again. 

This is why I teach everything I do, at least eventually.  I may not teach a class on a new and exciting technique I only recently discovered and am still developing, but I will at some point. Because my work is so personal, no one else can or should want to do what I do specifically, so I do not feel threatened by teaching the techniques surrounding it.  After all, wise King Solomon said in the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible, "There is nothing new under the sun," so who am I to think that the techniques I use cannot be discovered independently by someone else, or be done even better by someone else?

It is also OK to "borrow" or get ideas from another's work, as long as you push it and move it enough to make it your own.  It is also courteous to give credit to that artist when it is appropriate.  But, the art we make should come from inside us -- inside our brains, inside our experience, inside our guts -- so we don't have to depend on someone else's ideas or techniques to make art.


Polka Dot Creations said...

Amen to that!

It was so nice to meet you at Synergy. I have been inspired to play around with new earring designs since taking your seminar.

VickieAFCA said...

You are SO right about sharing. How can any of us claim to have originated anything! Artists who keep things close to the vest are quickly leap-frogged by others who recognize we all contribute to the creative well and can therefore also dip in when we need to. Thanks for making the point. I must say, as a professional painter who is also hooked on clay, the polymer clay community is, in my opinion, one of the most open and generous.

whimsymoon said...

Absolutley lovely post! Very well stated!
I'm a doll artist and when I was starting out there was a doll artist that I met that made just incredible dolls! When she would teach a class on a certain doll, she held nothing back. I asked her about this....wasn't she afraid to share so much? She told me that she had noticed that people that were secretive about their work only "grew" so far....they were so busy trying to hold onto something with such intensity it never allowed them to go beyond what they thought they were capable of.
I have always admired your work....now I must say that I deeply admire you!
Continued success to you!

'Zann said...

Thank you so much for articulating so well something that I've been mulling over on and off. I hadn't gotten to the thought about secrecy stifling the evolution of one's art...great point!

Lorie McCown said...

Well said, and wow, you had a busy weekend. I heard the baltimore show is great. I enjoy the fellow crafters/artist at a show as much as I enjoy the attendees. Nice.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I just saw your work in the Polymer Cafe magazine my mother just bought. Your work is absolutely genius! I love to see when people do something innovative with a popular medium.
I myself have taken an interest in felting with dyed raw wool. I am developing my own innovative and unique style with that.
I also love your website.


halvmbs5 said...

"Give and you will receive, pressed down, full and running over." The creative well is infinite. Why is it our inclination to try to contain the infinite for our private (finite) uses? I suppose it is our fear that there will not be more, that we will only get so much before the well runs dry. ...As if creativity only came from within us.

I like this quote, "It is the creative potential itself in human beings that is the image of God." - Mary Daly

Rosie the wildwoman said...

Thank you so much for these thoughts. Sharing is caring about those around you and the world in general. There is no greater joy than to spread the light of creativity to everyone you meet. Your work is awesome!!!. I, too, have a thing for pods and for now....I make them in glass....and they speak to me..... Rosie the wildwoman

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