Sharing the artist’s journey

by Libby on May 30, 2008

I thoroughly enjoyed Wednesday night’s Craftcast Master Class with Seth Savarick. The topic was “From Imitation to Inspiration”. As you might guess, an exploration of the stages of artistic growth, or as Seth put it “the journey to authenticity”, is clearly a subject I’d find interesting .

There’s something so affirming, or perhaps I should say reassuring, about hearing that you’re not the only one going through something. When the girls were little, I found it particularly reassuring to hear the same comments I’d made to my children coming out of the mouths of other mothers (often something I’d never dreamed I’d have to actually voice such as “please get the straw out of the maple syrup” Bad example, but you get what I mean.) There are so many parents around you every day that the affirmation of a shared experience is a pretty common event.

As artists we generally work alone and don’t bump into those kind of shared experiences casually. The communities artist have built through the internet have really helped us to connect to other artists and share the journey. Wednesday night’s class was a wonderful opportunity for learning and sharing. Seth had obviously spent a lot of time analyzing the stages common to artistic education, growth and development. He put the process in a historical perspective as well. But what resonated most with me was he spoke about his own journey as an artist.

Seth’s comments about having to step back and ask himself “why polymer clay?” really struck a chord with me. In the context of the class, the question wasn’t so much about the allure of the material, as it was about whether the marriage of the material and techniques he was using was appopriate. We get so caught up in experimentation and the allure of some techniques that we forget to ask “Is this the best use of polymer clay?” There’s even a small element of identity involved. Sort of a compulsion to use polymer clay in applications where it might not be the best choice of medium because I’m a “polymer clay artist”.

Recently I found myself applying black gesso to a baked piece of polymer clay, coloring it with colored pencils and then covering it with a layer of translucent clay. I definitely had a moment of thinking “why am I doing this to polymer?”. I liked the result, but it’s probably not a technique I’ll take too much farther.

I’m planning to listen to the recording of the class. Seth covered a lot and I know I’ll find other points that will speak to me.

Thanks to Alison Lee for putting the class together and thanks to Seth for being so genuine.

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{ 2 comments }

Lora May 30, 2008 at 1:37 pm

Oooh… great topic Libby. Wish I’d known about the master class. I’ll listen when she gets it up to the archives.

I can really connect to the question “why am I doing this to or with (insert medium here).” It’s a question that has to be asked when working with metal clay too. Often times new users will want to do something, make an attachment, create a particular design that is simply not suited to either fine silver or especially metal clay in particular. If one knows the medium they’re working with very well, they’ll understand it’s strengths and weaknesses and exploit each to their own advantage. When they don’t… well learning experiences are a good thing. I’m having one this weekend myself with polishing chain and a flexshaft. Somewhere in the back of my head, I know they don’t play well together, but I insisted and they rebelled and now I have a whole lot of extra work to do. Live and learn.

I know you’ll get through your creative block. Sometimes you just have to sit and vegetate, and allow the creativity to spring forth of it’s own accord.

Lunes May 31, 2008 at 8:00 am

Libby – I envy you takign part in such wonderful classes. Here in Europe they are few & far between!