I’ve been thinking about the importance of play in art.
I feel pulled in many different ways on a daily basis. There’s so much to get done – writing and organizing social media posts, updating my websites, applying for exhibitions and grants, nevermind painting. And what about family, bills, exercise, and a balanced life?
I noticed one of the first things to go in my art practice was the action of play, as in anything I do simply for the joy of doing rather than a means to an end. It rarely feels like ‘play’ when I’m trying to create a successful piece. I worry about messing up when time is so valuable, and I want the final product to be great. Yet I know that failure is a good thing. Some of my best works have come from creating something new when things didn’t work out.
I needed to get out of my studio and away from distractions to truly immerse myself in ‘playtime”. So last week I took a collage and paper-making class with Suzanne Siegel and Jane Davies. I set a goal NOT make a finished piece of art. The idea was to try as many new techniques as possible and to start a lot of work without trying to complete any of them. It was a success, and I’ve come home with piles of messy, weird, and uniquely printed papers and painting starts. Will I continue working on them? Perhaps a few, but mainly the purpose was to explore and have fun. Now I just have to bring that into my daily art practice.
What have you done recently for yourself that qualifies as ‘playtime’?
This past weekend, I attended a fantastic art workshop in Vermont taught by the artist Claire Desjardin. I have long admired her colorful, organic paintings and the loose, playful style of her work.
Taking a workshop is a great way to grow as an artist. But like learning any new skill, it can also be accompanied by frustration and disappointment. The key to enjoying your workshop experience is to go in with a creative spirit. A workshop is a great place to experiment with new ideas and make new artist friends. It is NOT a place where you can expect to do your best work or come home with finished masterpieces after having mastered the latest techniques. You will likely feel as if you are struggling. That’s because you are. It’s important to just dive in, take risks, and push on with this new approach. Pushing through the struggle rather than succumbing and resuming old practices that are comfortable is the whole reason that you took the workshop.
Another great benefit is that you get to spend concentrated artistic time with like-minded peers. How special is it to have protected time to create; time where you are freed from the concerns of everyday living. Traveling away from home to attend a workshop gets you away from ringing phones, laundry, bill paying, and other distractions. Set aside this opportunity and protected it on your calendar. Attending a creative retreat will help to nourish and replenish your creative soul.
Here are a couple more paintings I completed while at the Encaustic Immersion workshop led by Alicia Tormey. She’s a very talented artist, and very creative. She has developed some unique techniques that give her art a signature look that I’ve never seen anywhere else. Unfortunately, I promised not to reveal her secrets to the public, so you’ll just have to take her workshop to find out =). www.aliciatormey.com/workshops.htm
Actually, setting the world on fire would be a bad thing. I attended an Encaustic Immersion workshop this weekend instructed by the talented Alicia Tormey. I learned all sorts of new techniques including using a butane torch! So you can see why burning down the teacher’s studio would not be recommended.
Here’s a painting I did at the workshop. I used a kitchen sink of techniques including embedding paper, carving into and refilling with wax (intarsia), pressing objects into hot wax and coloring the imprints with oil paints, photo transfers and dripped wax.
It was a great group of women. I’m the one in the middle all in black. I highly recommend taking the workshop. It’s only two days, no art experience needed and it’s in beautiful Seattle. Click here for more info: www.aliciatormey.com/workshops.htm
P.S. If you start working with a torch, it’s a good idea to get safety shoes. Here’s a good resource: https://www.thebabbleout.com/shoes/best-kitchen-shoes/