Line Collection, 2008
I have a question for all of you: I have been thinking a great deal about my "mission" and my "business." Although making art is very important to me, even more important (in a life mission kind of way) is my commitment to helping others develop and strengthen their own creative and unique "voices." That's why I teach in the ways I do, and why I usually end up doing the other consulting in arts ed fields that I do.
I make, exhibit and sell art in order to have credibility to my main "audience," which at this time in my life is other artists, often it seems, other women artists who work in fibers. And, because personally, I NEED to make the art I make to feel whole and fulfilled at a spiritual level. But, in honest truth, my driving motivation is not making the cover of Art in America or hanging on the walls of the American Museum of Craft or turning up on the Today Show as some kind of superartist. I don't have that kind of ambition or singlemindedness! I have entered enough juried shows to know that I can sometimes get in and that it has more to do with what show and what juror than it does with the quality of my work. I have a style and a body of work that is evolving fast enough and consistently enough that I don't feel stale or stuck. And I think what I do is a pretty good example of an artist finding her style and voice.
As I sort through the expenses and income of the past year (and I do need to make a living doing this or some other work) I am thrilled to find that the workshops here at El Cielo Studio have been successful both creatively and financially. And, that those workshops that are less technique oriented and more conceptually dealing with artistic and creative growth are the ones that seem to be the most in demand.
I have had the idea of perhaps also offering some kind of "creativity coaching" or maybe even an on-line course that would help emerging and developing artists locate, develop and strengthen their one-of-a-kind visions -- finding a style or "voice" that has at its foundation their unique perceptions and process of work. The point would be to move some of these emerging artists more quickly along the path from being dabblers and workshop junkies and pattern followers to finding their own most powerful areas of creative "production," whether their goal is selling, exhibiting or just for personal enjoyment. My work with children and teachers for the past 35 years has had this kind of approach at its core, based on my early work in the "Integration of Abilities"course, the children's theater work, and late Learning about Learning, with my mentors Jearnine Wagner and Paul Baker.
What do you think? How could I make this work? Do you think there is a potential market for this kind of coaching? It would differ from traditional coaching in that much of the work would be hands-on assignments, with the "clients" sending images of their work (or posting them) for feedback, direction, analysis and critique. I think that some kind of "group setting" for this kind of work will be best, because sometimes the things people need to see and recognize about their personal approach and individual style is best seen in contrast to what others are doing. So some form of on-line group with lists, photos to post etc, seems called for. However, with a recent book study group that I set up on the social networking site NING, it's been obvious that MANY people (of a certain age anyway) have a resistance to using more complex internet interfaces, and don't feel comfortable about poking their way around to learn new interactions. Maybe an orientation session would solve that problem?
Anyhow, this is as excited as I have felt in a long time about a possibility for my work. I'm getting those tingly little feelings that either mean it's a good idea, or that whether it is or not, I better try out a version somehow and see how it flies.
I plan to participate in a new online course/group, the Artist Breakthrough Program, offered by Alyson Stanfield, ArtBizCoach, with this idea as the core product to plan during a 28-day online format (if I get accepted). That should give me more experience in the nuts and bolts and possibilities of the online group, too.
Anyhow, I'd love your feedback and comments. If you were going to take part in this kind of thing, how would you like to see it work?
Texture collection, 2008
Meanwhile, back from future plans to the world of almost-right-now, I have a new session of Independent Study starting at the Southwest School of Art and Craft. I am planning on opening each session of studio work with a short creativity lesson session and a quickie demo of a new or underused surface design technique. The school's facilities for doing large dye and print work are superb -- each participant will have a full 4 foot by 8 foot print table for her or his work. If you live in the San Antonio area, consider signing up for this 6-week course on Friday mornings, through Feb. 28. (And there are a few spots left still in the next two El Cielo Workshops -- Feb. and March. )