Thursday, February 9, 2012

Working with Your Weaknesses

originally uploaded by Lynn_EL/UnaOdd.

As an artist I have struggled with many different weaknesses in my work, as I am sure most artists do. Until now I've been comfortable with my weaknesses, even complacent... explaining it as 'just the way I work'. Recently I have been working to change a lot of things in my life and the way I work and what I produce is one of these things.

I have identified at least two weaknesses, but I'm sure there's a ton more just waiting for me to recognize them!

The first one is my intense desire to experiment and try different techniques. In the process I usually produce a large quantity of examples that end up unused and taking up lots of space in boxes and baggies. The reason is both a mix of lessening interest as another idea takes root and a hesitation to put more time and energy into something when I don't receive immediate success in terms of sales and artistic recognition. The end result has been frustration as I ultimately see others embrace the same technique - taking it to levels of success that leave me feeling like I cheated myself and missed out on opportunities.

My second weakness has been my tendency to use my pieces as single, unconnected elements. I've been content to string a single bead or pendant on a cord or chain and call it my love of simplicity. While I still do enjoy a great element standing on it's own, I have also been forced to admit that I don't feel that combining various elements into a cohesive, strong statement has been a strength of mine. Once I start adding diverse elements everything starts to look and feel awkward to me. I admire artists like my good friend Genevieve Williamson for their ability to create strong, evocative pieces that appear deceptively simple, yet require a very perceptive sensitive vision, and a sophisticated sense of weight, balance, proportion, color, texture...on and on.

The piece in the middle is a new embracing of diverse elements created over the span of two years. Is it successful? Maybe not fully. What I am happy about is the fact that I'm struggling to bring the disparate elements in my life together to make a more cohesive, harmonious whole. It won't always be perfectly balanced or successful, but it certainly is feeling more 'together'.


  1. I really identify with your 'weaknesses. I've been despairing of moving forward. What is the answer? Recognising what you want to change has to be a big part of it, doesn't it? After that ...just more discipline? More willingness to push on outside the comfort zone? Finding someone to learn from? I'm sure we shouldn't ever lose the urge to experiment and play, though. Maybe it's a question of balance. By the look of that picture, you are certainly going about it the right way.

  2. I could have written this post myself. I too try different techniques. I guess I feel like if I can't own the technique in my own way, I move on. Until I find one that speaks to me. Sure I have piles of pieces in boxes and bins that will never see the light of day. I never was able to experiment this much in silver that is for sure.
    Like you, I feel I am not that great at putting pieces together. There is a lot to it. The right clasp, jump rings etc. I seem to love making components and letting someone else who is better at it make the final piece. So that is the direction I find myself moving in at the moment.
    Your work is really nice. I especially love the pendants with the nature elements.

  3. Thank you Ghost and Roberta!

    Yes Ghost, recognizing it is a big part of it. For me it was realizing that the way I was working was actually making me physically and emotionally distressed. Pushing your envelope can be uncomfortable yes, but I was already depressed and anxious due to my lack of discipline and focus. If a different type of discomfort could mean growth... well why not? I've always resisted learning from anyone, I wanted to claim my work entirely as my own. It may be time to rethink that. I'm taking a PMC class and vow to go in with a more open approach to learning.

    Roberta, that is a very interesting and valid approach! I've seen many handmade supply sellers do extremely well and I have touched on that idea as well. As to experiments piling up in boxes, there are quite a few I thought I'd never use but bringing them all out as a whole I'm starting to see common threads that seems to carry through my work - and I'm revisiting! :^)

  4. I have a few friends who have experiments piling up in boxes too. We have been thinking of doing a swap. Nothing like a new pair of eyes to show you what potential you have been missing!

  5. best of luck facing these. Just celebrate how cool your art is during the process and I am fine with some self-criticism. I do believe we are programmed to reason away our weaknesses ;') Peace and Hope

    1. Thanks Wayne. I think there is definitely programming! That's what makes it so hard to change when you recognize them. Peace!

  6. I see you stretching here and its fantastic! Get that necklace in the shop! There is such energy in terms of shape and color and the pieces just beg to be touched. I think you need to honestly consider your strengths as much as you consider your weakness.
    Thank you for the immense compliment you pay me. Please don't be fooled though, there is a lot of mess, angst, wasted bits and pieces and indecision before I complete things. Large necklaces might sit for months before I finish them. Sometimes I rush and realize after the fact that a design could be much better. But I'd rather fail (and I DO frequently) than not move forward.
    Also in terms of finishing designs I found it really helpful to write an artist's statement. I avoided it for a long time because I guess I was afraid that I'd find out I have nothing really to say or that it would sound pretentious or be to hard to connect words to the process but its actually been very helpful.

  7. Your post really resonated with me because I work exactly the same way, jumping to the next new idea before I've fully explored every single facet of the last big creative idea. I have lots of completed projects but many incomplete projects taking up valuable space.

    There is hope though because as I go through my old creations I'm becoming inspired to find ways to incorporate them into other media.