Month: September 2014

throwing

I threw today – one half of two sets of dishes (the large plates and the small plates).  It was a lovely day for it, the plates got to sit outside to dry and my hands got muddy again.  My hands weren’t cooperating well, so throwing was much more of a challenge than it usually is, but I didn’t care.  My heart was singing despite the frustrations.

Probably, I should have taken pictures of the endeavor – pots drying in the sunshine.  Instead, I kept throwing until I wore myself down.  This was a good thing for me. A validation of sorts. Art will find its time and demand my focus, no matter what else drives me.

I needed the reminder.

motes of dust

Today was the first day in God knows how long that I had no appointments, nothing that had to be done two days ago, no one tapping their foot, waiting for my time.  This was a blessing of the highest order.  Don’t get me wrong, as I wrote in yesterday’s blog, I have a thousand things to do.  Chaos and mess surround me.  Stress and anxiety could kill me if I let them. But no one stands over me with a whip, demanding every second of my afternoon.  For once, all of the pressure and plans were self-inflicted.  Once I realized this, I gave myself a gift: I went upstairs with a book, and alternated between reading and meditating.

Stillness is awesome when I can achieve it.  Calm and quiet can nurture as much as food buddhaandspiritand water. For long stretches there was nothing but the words of the book, then for more spells I sat quietly inside this beloved space I will soon be turning over to the embrace of winter, listening to everything going on around me, opening my eyes to see tiny motes of dust dancing through the air – a ballet of sorts, just for me, feeling the dog’s heavy breathing as much as hearing it while he slept nearby.  As much as I want to sell my art, I was grateful for the lack of customers.  The stillness could gently recenter me without distraction.

That is my gratitude right now: for a chance to be still, quiet and empty myself of thoughts and worry.  I think I might steal another half hour… and then maybe I’ll give myself another gift, the chance to throw.

skills

I have been woefully far behind on my writing – blogging and poetry and novel writing.  Neglecting the written word puts me on edge, even when I know other things have to take priority.  More than any other form of creativity, I use writing to keep me sane and balanced.  Despite this, necessity demanded going forward with other work.  Monday and Tuesday I tore apart the studio and moved a lot of it to the house (Thank God for friends that helped!) – I can’t afford to heat two buildings this winter, so painting, clay and glaze have to move – and the non-art-oriented work that I have done in the days since gobbled up a lot of my time and all my energy.  I fell asleep eating dinner two nights ago, surrounded by chaos and upheaval.

Thankfully, at  gallery yesterday I was able dancingbymyselfto make the best of no internet service by drawing eight different pieces, paired with eight new haiku.  It was marvelous to lose myself in the flow of art for the first time in ages.  After a couple of weeks in business attire and wearing a consistent facade of professionalism, being an artist for a few hours felt like coming home.  Art and word will always be my sanctuary – maybe that’s why my drawings have been so wildly joyous, because while I am making them the chaos and instability of life, as well as the things I must do to keep making the art, all seem irrelevant.

At any rate, that was not the point I intended to make!  What I wanted to write about was one of the epiphanies (I had two) during my recent business trip.  I have said over and over again, for years, that I am only good for art.  There is some basis for this assertion: I have this engine driving me to create that cannot be denied, this work gives my life meaning in a way nothing else ever has, and my health stubbornly demands a flexible schedule. (Case in point, I was days recovering from my trip – not because of any fault on the part of my employer or the work load, but because my body seemed angry about being “on” for days on end.)

However, during those days away, I discovered that I actually have skills.  Marketable ones, even.  I knew it, but the realization fell upon me like a sack of bricks – each explanation, each moment I was doing the work that I had been hired to do because my employer did not know how, I thought, “Well, five years in business has taught me some things. I have learned some skills.”

I felt wildly grateful for that knowledge.  Art still feels like it’s all I’m really good for – it is where my bliss lies, after all. bowingratitude But, maybe, just maybe, the things learned during these years of thrashing toil and wildly uneven success trying to make a living on my own have been useful too.  I kept thanking God for this epiphany, for teaching me that there are other ways up the mountain.  These might seem like detours, pulling me off the path I thought I should be hiking, but all this experience and adaption is useful.

aching

anotherformeI ache for art.  Like a lover who has traveled too far away for too long, I want to be in front of my easel, to feel clay moving through my fingers, to see a face take form beneath the nib of my pen.

I yearn for story.  Like friends and family that I have been ignoring, characters keep reaching out to me, begging me for attention.  I want to give into them, but for now I am caught up in the embrace of other distractions.

I long to lose myself in the flow of work – this is a mediation, this is a communion, and it’s been absent from my life the past few days.  I have written many haiku, one really lovely longer poem, and drawn three works with dancing, loving women.  Each day, I have meditated for at least a half an hour, but I have not had the hours and hours of time dedicated to my work – in which my energies return with those with the universe – to keep me balanced.

Perhaps this is a blessing, this thwarted desire.  It reminds me that in art and words, I find my home.

 

 

changes

IMG_3617I am awake, willingly, and ready to go at 7:15 am.  My computer is on, I am dressed in business attire, complete with makeup and the boots of power.

The only poems I wrote yesterday were haiku and I failed in my goal of making a piece of art a day – having brought my pen and inks for just that purpose – even as I work on these other projects.  Still, I met wonderful people, spent some time with a dear friend and started to get some work done for which I will be paid.

If I weren’t inside this skin, I wouldn’t recognize myself this morning!  Although, keeping me down to earth is the strong and powerful desire to strip off the suit, put back on my normal uniform (clay-stained yoga pants and a sweater) and start getting muddy or covered with clay and ink.  I was dreaming my novel, the characters harassing me about their fate.  So I am still here, underneath the different attire and habits.

And, I know, that time will come again.  This job is very good for many more reasons other than just financial – most importantly, because it’s making me hungry for art.

The Garlic Festival

I should have taken pictures!  Only now, as I sit down to write about the Garlic Festival, did I realize thesimplepleasuresthat I didn’t take any photographs.  But, they just would have been of me smiling.  I am grateful beyond words for yesterday.

There is something lovely about spending time with customers, having people see your art and appreciate it.  Given how driven I have been on other aspects of my work – web design, research for a client, trying to get my cash flow analysis done (that is still hanging over my dyslexic head), having an afternoon to talk to people and eat good food was a fantastic blessing.

I love it when people fondle the pottery!  And I love it even more when these pieces find a new home.  My friend Molly helped me all day long – even packing up at the end – and I was grateful to her beyond words.  By the time I was heading home, I was exhausted and distracted, which would have been so much worse had it not been for her generous help.

The people who run the Garlic Festival and the other vendors are wonderful.  The food is tremendous.  Thanks for inviting me to attend!

 

Dismissed at a cooperative

Well, today’s blog was just handed to me. A woman came in, wanting to apply to this cooperative next year.  I told her how the jurying in process went for me last year, then began searching for some applications (telling her that I didn’t fill out mine until the day of jurying.)  While I went through a binder of paperwork, she waved her hand in my general direction and proudly told her friend (as though I weren’t standing right there, binder in hand) that I had to be a consignor or somethingtimchin_may2014_0044Her tone was so dismissive, as though my being a full time artist, or a member of this cooperative, could not be remotely possible.  She judged me solely my physical appearance – and seemed absolutely shocked when I asked why she would say that.

She became flustered, stammering, “Well, I don’t know anything about cooperatives.” However, she admitted to being in one a few moments later, using the information to cut me off when I tried to explain our levels of membership and consignorship.  She kept talking about me to her friend as though I were deaf or stupid.  It wasn’t until much later that she thought to ask what I make and how my sales have been.  To the latter, I answered honestly, even though it made her seem even more dismissive.  I wonder if my lack of sales at this particular venue made her comments throw me a little more than they would normally.  Just like I wondered if she would have treated me more like an equal, raised her eyebrows with a little less sadness, if the printer had not jammed while her receipt came out?

But, what surprised me most is that I called her on her assumptions.  Instead of just sitting here, wondering why she thought to define me so completely, I asked her why she spoke those words.  Rather than worry that I might look unprofessional in my dress and jacket, or that she is judging me because I am as round and soft as one of my Buddhas, or because I had days worth of sales receipts spooled out in front of me when she arrived, trying to update the calendar with neglected sales totals, I asked her why, specifically, she insisted I couldn’t be a member.

There is nothing wrong with being a consignor. In retrospect, that would have been the much smarter choice for me this year, but what, in specific, screamed to her that I could not possibly be a member here?  I never did get an answer, just an increasingly awkward social interaction.

Her work is awesome, I have seen it at the aforementioned other cooperative.  I sincerely hope she gets juried in.  Having her work here will be good for the store.

And, I am oddly thankful to her.  She taught me something about myself this morning.  Even with all the meditation and the prayer, I have grown impatient with people who prejudge me. Like Harlan Ellison, I cannot stand being laughed at.  Countless flaws dwell within me, I know, but I am not a bad artist, nor am I unprofessional, nor am I lazy, nor am I dimwitted.  I do not deserve being made fun of nor dismissed out of hand.  Thankfully, I no longer suffer foolishness lightly – particularly when I am the fool – and I am apparently willing to challenge it when it wanders out of someone else’s mouth.  dishes

So, I’m not as nice as I was yesterday, but I have discovered that when I broke down and asked her why she judged me lacking, she could neither define or defend her assessment.  All she managed was that short dishonest stammer.  After they left, and I fixed the register’s printer, I stood in front of my art for a minute.  I reminded myself that each piece was made with my two hands.  The serve as proof of my joy, strength and courage.  Even if my dress and jacket look bad, or my hair is curling more wildly than usual, or the random blemishes on my face deny my 44 years on this earth, or my focus on the missing sales totals made me seem less effervescent than usual, I am still a good potter and have art coming out of me, in tiny beads of word and image, like some kind of blessed sweat.

joy in art

10483983_295400057311713_1087486501397953590_nLast night, I had a list of things I needed to do.  One client needs her newest media added to her website, another needs me to finish researching, a third really needs me to do a couple of flyers and to update her website.  For myself, I need to finish the most depressing cash flow analysis in the history of time, every number of which generates another wave of hopelessness, make a list of what emergency things I need for my art to stay in business, and I have the book I just finished that needs editing.  Not to mention, this blogging and the other writing I’m working on have been impatiently waiting for their due time.

And, I should mention, I am exhausted beyond all measure.  The pain and disability that overtook me this summer has not loosened its grip one iota.  Each time I stand it feels like someone poured lava down my legs.  Some days I feel like I still have my mind, others I languidly wonder if my brains have been replaced by goo.  Too often, I have to use my left hand to pull the pen out of my right, because my muscles clamp down too severely.  Every step, no matter what direction I am going, comes at a great cost.  If I were a car, I would be running on vapors with a loose axle. I would never pass inspection.

This is the lowest I have been since my divorce and the second time in my adult life that everything  that I thought was worthwhile and useful about me has been stripped away.  The thing that got me through the first personal deconstruction was my art. I lost all my stability, I had all the love I had ever known repossessed like a car, I was told unequivocally that nothing I had ever done meant anything.  So much flowed from that loss: story, poetry, painting.  Each of the mediums in which I create took a leap forward, I became a better artist because art was the only thing tethering me to this world.

Perhaps that is why this summer has been so torturous, realizing that as much as it soothes me, as much as it gives me my sanity, what a fundamental part of my being creativity comprises – I lack the basic skills to make my art – or my writing – help feed me.  Or, and this would be so much worse, I am doing everything I should be doing but I lack whatever magic is need to make it work. It’s not like I am asking for the world, either – just enough to pay my bills, feed me and keep making art.  For four years, things were going fairly well, despite major setbacks, I still sold enough art to keep hunger at bay.  This year, though, I cannot give my work away.  Even my time doesn’t seem valuable to my own students, for they no longer want to pay for it.  If I am just ignorant and stupid, then those problems could be fixed.  However, if this is the economy or my art being out of fashion, then there is nothing I can do.  This is like a graduate course in acceptance and surrender.

Since I threw myself into this venture five years ago, I have been visualizing, demanding, pleading, begging the universe and still, here I am drowning in work I find difficult and disharmonious with my basic formatting and the work that gives my life meaning is not saving me.

I have no idea what I should do.  As usual, I want to turn to art, but lack the energy, focus and stamina to do much:  poems, the book on meditation, the pen and inks.  The thought of the wheel makes my heart ache.  Part of me wonders if I should try to give this up – but it is integral to me.  One thing I have learned is that whether or not I am selling my art, the need to create is interwoven into my DNA.  flyingfallingIf I have to, I will be able to give up pottery.  My hands will itch for the clay, but I will survive.  If my brain continues to rot inside my skull, maybe someday I will be forced to give up writing.  But, until then, I know words and images will creep out whenever there is a moment.  On nights like last night, I will forsake all the things I have to do so I can steal time to start drawing and writing.  The picture at the top of this blog came through me last night.  This one a few hours earlier.

Which ends the long preamble for my point.  Yesterday,  I was eating while the picture immediately above was drying, someone came to my studio.  I had thought we knew each other well enought that when she asked how business was, I could answer honestly.  Alas, she refused to hear any of my desperation or concern, she kept shaking her head and talking about how these drawings are so joyous.  At that moment, I had needed someone to hear my worries, so I felt thwarted and invisible, but after she left I looked at the drawings – particularly the one I had just finished.  The joy made me frustrated, it felt at odds with the emotions that no amount of meditation can completely stop from churning.  Later that night, hoping to give voice to how I was feeling, I drew the image that begins the blog.

So, as you can see, it came out joyous.  All of yesterday’s works (that were not garlic related) were drenched in the holy spirit and bliss.  Neither woman is plummeting to her doom, just flying or gently floating.  Gravity still has a hold, but something is keeping them up.  Just going through my instagram feed I saw an insane amount of joy in post after post after post.  During the divorce I painted things like this:

divorce_red

And now, when I’m just as low emotionally and much lower physically, I am drawing things like this:

IMG_3277and sculpting things like this:

IMG_3210and painting like this:

annunciation

Last night, after I drew her flying over that farmland and mountains, I sat there, starting at the art that had just launched out of me, prying the pen out of my claw, wondering what these images – and even the poems – are trying to tell me.

As I staggered off to bed, I realized that in a strange way these works made all the instability, rejection and internal suffering seem irrelevant.  Meditation has been helping me realize that I am separate from the drowning, even as I am gulping down salt-water.  But I had not realized what my art might be telling me.  Could they mean, with or without this studio and this level of creativity, things will be okay?

 

 

 

 

changes in the studio

A wonderful friend taught me a vivid expression this past spring: I am up to my eyeballs in alligators. Right now, they have gone far past the eyeballs. The pesky gators are actually dragging me by my hair toward the river.

I had thought I wouldn’t be writing this blog for another month, but events have conspired against me.  Thank God, I have a website design job, but that will be taking a huge chunk of my time in September.  Indeed, I am closing mytimchin_may2014_0009 gallery/studio next Monday and all of the week of September 15th so that I can do the work for which I have been hired.

In addition, the gallery/studio will be closed this coming Saturday so that I can do a demo at the Penobscot Marine Museum – dragging my treadle wheel and some finished pottery those crucial six miles up the road.  I believe I will be making mugs.

A week later, I will be closing the studio on Saturday for the Garlic Festival.  This is the only outdoor show I’ll be doing in 2014, which should tell you how much I enjoy it.  Please, come if you can.  The food is incredible, the music always good and the entire event helps Kids Peace.

At any rate, I have known for the past couple of weeks that I will be closing the studio completely – for lessons and events – in the dead of winter this year. Unless there is a fiscal miracle, I will not have an orifice from which I can pull the money to heat the studio and the house January through April.  Heating the house will be challenging enough.  In a fit of madness, I am reorganizing my living-room and spare bedroom downstairs so I can keep making art in the house.

At first, I was terribly resentful of all the the time and effort I am having to put into the other work – not just web-design, computer lessons, social media lessons but also the bookkeeping, advertising and other chores necessary to run a business.  The engine of art that runs within me is greedy for my time.  I descend into every greater weirdness if I do not write every day, much less work with visual arts.  Thankfully, I have had an epiphany this summer.  I have spent so many days barely functional as a human being, and yet I have still been writing, drawing with pen and ink, organizing my life as much as I can to facilitate the creative process.  As despondent as I have gotten, I have continued to get up every morning and make art.  Words have flowed from me even when I didn’t have the cognitive ability to handle work on my books.

I am no longer afraid that if I divert my attention for a time that I will somehow stop being an artist.  Working in the studio is glorious and wonderful, but if I work from the house that will not make me less of an artist.  This is who I am.  Whether the studio is open or closed for customers, I am still going to make art.

When I made that decision, I knew that the time in the fall, before everything freezes, will become a spasm of frantic transition.  Since I am not actually suicidal, I have to close the normal hours of the studio and be open by appointment or chance.  As much as I would like to think I am able to do everything with grace and splendor, I’m not. To get ready for winter, make the pots I need to before weather kicks me out of that space, and get the new web-design work done, I have to give myself a more flexible schedule. If I am there, I will open up the studio, but you will need to check ahead if you are traveling specifically for me.

While I expected these changes, I did not expect is that this would start immediately after Labor Day.  Yet here I am, on September 4th, writing this blog.

As of this moment: the studio/gallery will be open by appointment or chance.  Tuesday’s Clayful Evening will occur next week, not the week after (the 16th) and from the 30th on it will be completely dependent upon the temperature.  Please, I beg you, call ahead or check my twitter/facebook/google+ feeds.  After December 1st, the Clayful Evenings will cease until April.

timchin_may2014_0039Both Monday and Tuesday’s deals – Multiple Mondays (20% off if you buy more than one item) and Triple Tuesday (30% off if you buy 3 or more) will continue, if I am open.  Check my twitter feed, google+ page and  facebook page (like the pages, too, why don’t you!) to see if I am in the studio/gallery on a given day – I will post in my status if I am opening the studio – or contact me directly if you want to make an appointment.

Meanwhile, check my website for the other places where you can buy my art – I have a full list.  I will be updating it today after posting this blog! I am adding more possibilities for online buying this week – those will get their own blog entries, though.

Thank you for your patience and patronage as I make these changes.  I have never been more grateful for those who buy my art and encourage my madness.