build creative confidence

Art Journal page by Cate Prato, online editor for Cloth, Paper, Scissors.

Do You Like Your Art? Day 22 of Build your creative confidence

Do you like you art? Hmmm, that might be a tough question for many of us to answer honestly. One of my favorite magazines and e-newsletter is Cloth, Paper, Scissors. I always appreciate the perspective of online editor Cate Prato and her humbleness and transparency about what she is creating. Yesterday’s newsletter headline posed the question, “Do you like your art?” along with her honest assessment of an art journal page.

Here’s what Prato wrote in her article yesterday:

Do you like your art? Does it make you happy? Would you buy it if you didn’t know it was yours or pick it up and take it home if it was left out for free?

I ask because most of the time, I don’t like my art. And I wonder if I’m alone.

I know part of the problem is that I don’t make enough art. You’d think that with a job like mine, I’d be making art all the time. But usually I’m spending so much time writing about art that I don’t have much time to make it. (Don’t get me wrong-I love writing about art and art techniques.)

I also know that I don’t usually take the time to evaluate my artwork. I look at it, feel dissatisfied, think, “If only I’d done this,” or “I shouldn’t have added that,” or simply, “Ugh.” But I never really analyze what went wrong or what I could do to make the piece of art please me.

A lot of people get over this hump by doing art every day or by art journaling. I’ve tried doing that, but life seems to get in the way. I need structure, and a way of giving myself feedback–and recording it–that I can sustain from day to day and project to project.

Creating Art at the Speed of Life: 30 days of mixed-media exploration

Prato goes on to recommend a fun new book by Pam Carriker called Creating Art at the Speed of Life: 30 days of mixed-media exploration. If you are a fan of mixed media or art journaling or want to give it a try, check it out. Then she describe her experience with one of the lessons in the book. The article continues…

I decided to try the one color at a time lesson, the objective of which is to use a variety of media in one color to create a cohesive, monochromatic journal page.

It’s been hot as blazes in my part of the world lately, so I decided to focus on a yellow palette and call the page “Summer Afternoon.” I created a spread with a sheet of watercolor paper and started with a wash of Golden fluid acrylic paint in yellow oxide topped with a spritz of Dylusions Ink Spray in Pure Sunshine from Ranger.

After the paint dried, I used a No. 2 pencil to write “summer afternoon” over and over again across the page, then glued on some found papers. I had a photocopy of a picture of my grandmother and great-aunt sitting on a blanket from back in the ’60s. To me, that’s what “summer afternoon” is all about, so I cut it out and used it.

There seemed to be a lot of space to fill, so I stamped over the page in white ink and then drew a sun umbrella to shade the ladies. While I was digging through my found papers I spied some fabric daisies and glued them onto the journal page with gel medium.

I wanted to include the quote by Henry James, but hate my handwriting, so I stamped it on. I wanted to do more with the top of the page, but just couldn’t think of anything to balance it with the bottom.

When I decided I had was done, I filled out the evaluation “form” on the right-hand page. I really liked the way I created the monochromatic color scheme; yellow is not a color I’m usually drawn to, but once I was focused on it I realized I had quite a few supplies that have a yellowish cast.

My least favorite part of the collage is the top. I really need something up there. Maybe I should have started the quote higher? Next time I would plan out the words more carefully and take my time.

How will I use this exercise? I think sometimes I’m afraid to “go big” in my images, patterns, and writing. Plus, I tend to fall back on the same color schemes. I’ll use the lessons I learned here in future collage work and art journaling.

I really think Creating Art at the Speed of Life is a terrific tool for any artist who is exploring media, needs structure to keep at their art, and wants to get better.

By using it, I may even come to like my art more often.

I love that last line about how she may come to like her art, given more practice, more exposure and more evaluation! She even goes on to ask for feedback from readers on what they would have done differently… GASP! How scary is that, to ask for feedback? I am going to talk more about that in my next post, but for today, I want you to think honestly about the question she asks.

Lesson 22 – Do you like your art?

Today’s activity is about honesty – specifically being honest with yourself. Get your journal out and answer the following questions. No one will read the answers. Don’t just answer them in your head, I want you to write the answers, spilling your real feelings onto the page.

1. In the context of Prato’s article, she is describing mixed media art journaling. What kind of art do you create currently or would like to create? Remember, this could include painting, drawing, writing, theater, stand-up comedy, song writing… like Prato – go big in your imagination.

2. Do you like what you create? Be honest, state what you do and don’t like about your artwork.

3. Are you willing to ask for feedback from others? Why or why not?

4. If you are not making art, what’s your lame, sorry excuse that you tell yourself? (Mine is usually about not having enough time…)

5. If you had plenty of time, money and inspiration, what would you make?

9/10 of the battle towards supreme creative confidence is being okay with what we create. Just okay. We don’t have to like all of it but we do need to learn to see, to notice and appreciate the parts that we genuinely love. We can hold onto those pieces, and let the rest go.

My art journal has some really ugly pages… but they were about practicing technique, using new materials or just using up leftover gesso. I am okay with ugly pages. I am okay with throwing stuff away but I also know I need to make more time to like my own art!