playing around

for the past year or so i’ve been in a “playing around” or experimental/educational phase with my art, trying to not put pressure on myself to make things that will sell or to try to sell whatever it is that i’m making. this is a very different mindset about my creativity than i’ve had most of my life, as my art and craft has usually been a side hustle to make me money, with a very direct correlation between the time i spend making it and how much i can receive by selling it. i’ve always been focused on producing a “product” and been concerned with what would appeal to my audience, even when it came to my more personal art.

and it’s not that i don’t eventually want to get back to selling – in fact, that is actually the end game, to revive my art business so i’m making a significant part of my overall income from it – but for now i wanted to give myself the space and freedom to investigate new styles, new media, new techniques, new thought processes about art-making, and for the first time in my life really develop an art PRACTICE. like, show up every day (or close to it) in the studio and see what happens. instead of just feeling stuck and saying i’m having creative block or that inspiration isn’t there – which usually results in me just throwing my hands in the air and not making anything for a long time – i’m showing up daily in hopes that inspiration will eventually find me right where i need to be, in the studio playing around with my art supplies.

each day i try to do SOMETHING, anything. a page in one of my sketchbooks. a small canvas or wooden board. a collage. or even just painting collage papers of different colors of paint, practicing mixing colors. most days it’s some kind of sketchbook page that may or may not be an complete composition. maybe it’s just a scrape of paint, or using a brush i’m not accustomed to using to see what it can do. or i’m trying colors next to each other. or seeing what i can use around the house to make interesting textures. most of it doesn’t look like anything cohesive, but hopefully will add up to knowledge in my head about how to do things and one day i can put all that together into a finished piece.

so far i’m doing pretty great for march, in terms of showing up for myself in the studio.

one of the things i’ve been playing with is this large 2’x4’ wooden panel that was repurposed from a discount-store readymade wall art piece. i don’t even remember what was on it originally but it now has a layer of gesso, then a layer of paper ephemera collaged down with gel medium, a few experimental image transfers using gel medium, and now several different layers of paint, sanded in between. i have NO IDEA where it’s going or what the final look will be but i’m having fun playing along the way and am really loving what the surface is looking like, with many layers of paint and paper showing through here and there.

i love my orbital sander. the funny thing is, i didn’t even remember i had one until a month or so ago. i remember a long time ago having a palm sander but i used it until it died. i guess i bought this sander – or maybe someone gave it to me? – to replace the dead one but i honestly had completely forgotten i had it until i went poking around in my shed and found it in a plastic bin with a bunch of other tools. (after the shed collapsed during hurricane ida and a bunch of stuff got ruined because it was exposed to the elements, i started trying to store everything in plastic bins in case it happens again.)

so i’ve been experimenting with different sandpaper grit to see how much paint comes off and what different effects i can get. but honestly, this wood panel will probably get several more layers of paint before i have any idea where it’s going. but i’ll be excited to see where it ends up!

if you want to keep up with my daily art playtime, i’ve been posting occasionally on my instagram page for my art biz. every once in a while i will post a story too. and one day i’ll get brave enough to start doing some reels or maybe even – gasp – a live! i’ve always really resisted the need for artists and makers to put so much of themselves out there but i am also simultaneously addicted to social media so i guess why not? i suppose we’ll see. but for now, my IG has snaps of my sketchbook pages and the occasional small canvas/boards i’m working on. they don’t look like much at this point but hopefully it’ll all come together soon.