Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Revising a Display

Last Saturday I had a table at the Healing Arts Market in Newburyport. It's always a treat to find that something that was difficult in the past is now easy in the present. Way back when, I did a lot of art and craft fairs with my calligraphy. I had framed pieces and small matted quotes and sayings. I always felt awkward standing, or sitting, with my work and talking about it. Now I enjoy it. All the years of teaching and talking have made me less shy. I still feel a slight hesitation at that first moment when someone has slowed her pace but has not decided to commit to serious looking. I banish all thoughts that I am predator ready to pounce on prey (the person did after all walk in the door knowing what would be there), take a breath, and plow ahead and introduce myself.

I have come to see the connection between the making of the work and the getting it out into the world. In both, there is the process of the initial expression and then the revising. In the studio the second step takes several forms. With writing, it is reading and rereading and editing, often with the traditional red pen. With some work, a piece is completed more or less organically and the next step is a simple "Yes this works, I'll keep it" or "No it doesn't, I won't." Other times there are stages to go through and changes to be made. The thing I like about all of this is that I control the whole process and it can happen anytime I want.

Once the work goes out into the world, it needs people for the revision process. In teaching, I need the classes to test my ideas and see where they can be improved. In giving a talk, it is the same. I have a good sense of how it flows when I practice, but it is in front of a group of people that it becomes a two-way communication even if I am doing all the talking. At the Healing Arts Market last week, it was also a learning experience and one I was glad to have as I look forward to this weekend's two-day Open Studios in Amesbury, MA.

I thought it would be fun to write quotes or words while people watched and brought my favorite Pentel brush fountain pen for paper and acrylic paint and brush for rocks.

I won't do this again. While I did enjoy it, it took too much time and attention away from the main reason I was there—to introduce the work that is the center of my creative life—the Spirit Books and the printed books—Art Lessons and The Wondrous Nearer Drew. I found that the response to The Wondrous Nearer Drew with its colorful cover was good but Art Lessons seemed easy to bypass. In addition to its small size, it is mostly text except 7 pages of calligraphy. I think most people were not interested in taking the time to read it to get its flavor. I don't know if this will be helpful, but I made a sign with an image of an opened page that will hopefully help draw attention to the book.

I had copies of Handmade Books For a Healthy Planet and some sample books to promote the fact that I give workshops for book groups and other gatherings.

I also had a series of little booklets made from brush drawing practice pages with quotes added. I had a few hanging from some twigs in a little vase, others tucked into a container, and a few laid out on the table.
People would look at one or two but I think were daunted by the task of going through them all to see if here was a specific quote they wanted. I am going to try to accompany them by a list and see if that works better.

I look forward to the weekend and meeting new people. If you are in the area, please stop by.

Amesbury Open Studios
I'll be in the Transportation Center at 68 Elm Street.

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