WHAT IS YOUR ARTISTIC PRACTICE?
Artists have a lot in common, yet we all have idiosyncratic ways of working and subject preferences, depending on temperament, choice of media, work-life balance, and our environment.
Just as others have prepared wonderful sites devoted to artists’ studios (many of which I trawled through while planning my own studio renovations), so do many writers and academics investigate this most absorbing topic of artistic practice.
Mason Curry explores the processes of famous artists in his book: Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, an engaging selection of truly bizarre behaviours demonstrated by writers, painters, musicians and inventors. I feel reassuringly normal by comparison.
However, for those of us neither blessed, nor cursed, with fame, our artistic processes are no less fascinating.
I have a friend who likes to rise early, say 4am, and work in her studio for hours, stopping only for breakfast. Her day is not complete without swimming, regardless of the season or the weather, and her work is steeped in stories drawn from ocean and land.
My late father, on the other hand, preferred to paint at night, often working doggedly until the early hours. Part of his ritual was the meticulous cleaning of brushes and the arranging of his paint tubes and workspace, without which he found it impossible to function.
The bulk of my production occurs in the studio between 9am and lunchtime. Because I use many different media, and because I love variety, I tend to work organically in short bursts, often moving from one project to another depending on drying times, my energy levels or, perhaps, the precession of the equinoxes. I enjoy working with natural materials, especially as they begin the process of decay.
The fibres in this photo are from a palm spathe, broken down by the weather.
The mid-morning break for a cup of tea on the veranda is a requirement, often followed by an amble along the beach. Those littoral walks provide materials for my art and time to think over plotlines for my novels. Something about the gentle rhythm of walking fuels the creative process and offers answers to many a problem of structure and resolution as I pace along the sand.
Weaving is my evening occupation, accompanied by TV or music and the exploration of media sites, where I derive motivation from the wonderful works on display.
I'm chronically untidy and my studio is chaotic, is far too small (I need a converted warehouse),
and has spilled over onto my dining room table where an accordion book awaits paint, a collage anticipates the glue gun, and a tiny woven seascape is hoping I find a use for it. A palm inflorescence nest and rust-dyed calico complete this motley collection.
I have a long list of projects, some of which are in progress, others ongoing, some I have yet to begin. They include (but are not limited to):
Collage Textile art Weaving Making vessels of kelp, native flora, clay, and fabric Paper art Stonework Jewelry.
At present I’m preparing fabrics for a textile stitch pot
which I’ll begin just as soon as I’ve finished a spirit vessel with its inserts of beach stones and dried kelp.
(I also made the little basket containing the stones, weaving it with dried palm inflorescence and lomandra twine.)
I’ve harvested a quantity of kelp stalks from the beach and look forward to making a woven vessel, probably in between making these other items!
I’m such a Gemini!
How do you, my readers, approach your artistic work lives?
Do you work in a studio or on the kitchen table?
Do you have specific rituals which are indispensable to your process?
What media do you prefer?
I’d be fascinated to learn about your methods, so please add a comment either here or on other social media. Mutual support and sharing offer some of the greatest joys of the artistic life.