Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thoughtful Thursday-Learning from Art Lessons

I wrote Art Lessons to share what I have learned about making art over the last thirty-plus years. I have said about the book that I have only written what I know to be true. And now, having done the writing, I find that I am better able to absorb the lessons myself and act upon them.

It took me a long time to be able to comfortably say, "I am an artist." More and more I have become sure in my saying it and in my understanding the breadth of the identification. Being an artist means I make art. Being an artist means there is always a part of my brain and my heart that are engaged in the process whether consciously or unconsciously. Being an artist means that I approach everything with the same commitment to care and harmony whether it is writing a blog post, setting the table, or preparing a meal. And being an artist means that I need to find ways to structure my life so that I spend the most time I can doing creative work.

Last Saturday I attended the Independent Publishers of New England Conference in Southbridge, MA thanks to the encouragement of Pam Fenner of Michaelmas Press and the IPNE board. In the past I have attended events for publishers and found them informative but also overwhelming and discouraging to varying degrees. Happily, this time I left feeling positive and full of ideas. I'll be writing a series of posts about my experiences with publishing over the years, both with publishers and on my own, but the gist of the matter is that I want the control and the immediacy of publishing myself but when the book is done, I am ready to move onto the next project instead of promote the one I just finished. My goal for Art Lessons is to keep engaged and active with it while continuing with the rest of my work.

Art Lessons is a book I believe in. I think the content is valuable and I am pleased with it as an object. I like its size—small enough for a bedside table or my purse—

the intimacy of its words, and the simplicity of its cover. This belief, and my keeping Gertrude Stein's words which begin one of the essays: "Let me listen to me and not to them" in my mind, seem to be letting the releasing process flow.

My decision to do this book the way I have means that there is no place for it in a commercial context (except the Harvard Book Store where Paige M. Gutenborg, their book-making robot prints the book). The per book cost is too high to give percentages to bookstores or other retail outlets. To start, I am relying on the people who know me and my work online to begin the process. I have created a sales page on my website.

Because I want to encourage reading and conversation, I have a special offer to book and art groups, or any gathering of friends. If you purchase 10 copies of Art Lessons, I will do a free Skype or phone conversation with your group. If you do buy the book and like it, I would encourage you to help by letting your friends know about it and by writing a positive review on the Art Lessons page at the Harvard Book Store. Thanks always for your support. The feedback and connections I have made through the blog and other online avenues helped encourage me to write the book.

Preview and purchase Art Lessons

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