We just concluded a long weekend of an open studio event that attracts thousands of people to the arts district. I speak with many people about my work and the topics with which it engages. Many of the people who come through have come before and one asked about getting a print of a painting that she had liked on her prior visit. She said she hoped someday she could afford original artwork. It took me back in time to when I first made that promise to myself. I was in my twenties and visited the home of a coworker who I admired. She seemed so much more poised and polished than my awkward young self and I was struck by the original art that hung on her walls. It seemed so grown up, perhaps symbolic of that poise and polish to which I aspired. Someday I'll have original art I vowed. Well I have the original work, not so sure about the poise and polish.
That got me thinking of how we get a sense of the possible and how it affects the course of our life. During the same arts event our grandson and his girlfriend stopped in and I was chatting with his girlfriend about career paths. It too made me reflect on how little I knew of the options that were available when I was her age. The career paths open to women were less apparent in those days and there were fewer female role models to create that sense of the possible.
And yet, I had one tremendous advantage growing up. My parents loved their work so my expectation was that was the norm. I knew it was possible. My father was skilled at creating something new where nothing had existed. That too entered my world of possibilities and was reflected throughout my career. I came to my artwork later in life, at least in a focused way and I brought a career history that informed my sense of the possible. Just as my father, I had learned to create something from nothing and I trusted my abilities to create concepts that turned into carefully executed projects. And yet a career as an artist was new territory to imagine.
Many years ago I knew a man who was an accomplished artist who created large scale projects filled with symbols. I used to research thematic material for him to include and worked with him in developing marketing. And I filed away a sense of the possible. How do you create a concept with legs and how do you communicate it to the larger world? I was learning how to do that even though I hadn't yet claimed that as my possibility.
When I met my husband, he had a more established sense of himself as an artist. He decided to get a studio back when I would have still been dithering about the cost. Working in his studio I began to experiment, to work larger and finally to explore larger themes that spoke to me. I began with a small corner in his studio and gradually expanded until we finally got a studio next door and put a door between them. My own studio, a possibility that I had grown into.
Over time I have felt my way and occasionally I meet an artist whose approach arouses a sense of the possible in me and helps me to envision the possibilities that lie ahead. Often the artists I admire are those who create broader projects around themes, who speak with ease about their work and its meaning to them. It is no coincidence that is a path I too have pursued.
Admiration is a tap on the shoulder, reminding us to pay attention. Long ago I went to a psychic who told me that she interpreted images and thoughts, but their meaning wasn't always clear to her. If I felt a click with something she said, I should pay attention. I think the universe is full of those pay attention moments and admiration is a tip off to help us find our way.
We shape our work, our life and ourselves each time we watch and learn- incorporating what we admire into the framework of our life. Sometimes it is real art on our walls and sometimes a studio of our own with space and walls to support our own creations.