Thursday, August 29, 2013

Getting Back in the Studio

July and August are hectic months when I rarely get into my studio. 
July is Summer of Art at Otis College of Art and Design. Long, intense hours of teaching. But it's my favorite teaching assignment and each year I find myself saying: "That was my best group of young artists, ever!"
I say it every year. And every year I mean it!

Summer of Art student work. Final project: "Object with Meaning"

Summer of Art student work, final project
Summer of Art student work, final project

(To be honest, I haven't always said that. A few summers ago several students and parents pushed me to believe that I was DONE with teaching. But that's a 'nother story.)

And then, August is camping at the beach.
Camping at the Beach - nothing better
Summer of Art and camping are over now, and I'm back in my studio, relaxed and ready to work. 

After a slow start earlier this week, the inspiration is now coming fast and furious. I'm finishing a series of paintings, and have plans for a new series. An unexpected installation piece is taking shape on my studio wall and on my work table there's a long list of thoughts and projects. Pretty cool.

They say you can't wait for inspiration, you just have to get in the studio and get to work. Put pen to paper, or brush to canvas, or camera to eye, and begin. Something will happen, that's the promise.

And then, there are those days when inspiration is everywhere. When it's easy and you can't turn it off if you wanted to. When, even in the bathroom, sitting, thinking of nothing . . . 

Inspiration in a bath mat
 . .  .  a ragged, dirty bath mat catches your attention.

Nothing else to do, but go back in the studio, and be thankful for inspiration, no matter what the source.
Angry Frilly Fish Puppet

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I'm Not Looking for Friends (Part II)

I've been in writing groups, critique groups, and volunteer organizations. I join these groups to do work, not to make friends. I have something to offer; the group has something to offer me. I'm not looking for someone new to chat with; I don't want to help anyone solve their problems; I'm not interested in their issues. Be my friend, or don't be my friend - it makes little difference to me. (From the Part I post)

A few months ago, I joined a critique group through the Los Angeles Art Association and Gallery 825.  Critique is work that I love. Difficult, fulfilling work. This new group was a rough start for me. Not because the critique was difficult, but because other people seem so much more interested than I in sitting around and making friends. Why do I get so impatient with that? I just want to show up and get down to the critique (or writing, or whatever!)

But sometimes friends just happen.

At a gallery opening, I found myself standing next to Jane from my critique group. Empty plastic wine glasses in hand, we had nothing else to do but chat. A gallery opening can be its own type of work: standing around, pretending to be cool, while desperately checking out anyone who is giving the slightest glimpse to your artwork on the wall - exhausting. But I tried my best, and Jane and I talked.

Then, a few weeks later, she asked if she could take my picture.

And darn it all, I made a friend in spite of myself.
Jane's good, huh? Check out more of Jane Szabo's photography at her website 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Homeschoolers taking pictures at Union Station

So, I led a photo walking tour in downtown Los Angeles with a bunch of homeschoolers. First stop was Union Station.

We introduced ourselves, then I said, "Go take some pictures."
(Ok, I said more than that. But not really.)

And they did. (Go take pictures, I mean.)

After a while, we regrouped and looked at some of their shots.

We huddled around our cameras.
We "oohed," we "aahed.

We discussed.

We held a mini-critique right in the middle of a train station.

Then I said, "Go take more pictures."

And they did . . . .

And just like always . . .

. . . they amazed me.