I think I must be deep into New Artist Syndrome. I love making art. I love going out into the desert to collect my wood. I cannot help but see how each stick fits into a piece I envision as I pick it up, drop it into my sack. I spend time unpacking each bag I collect, sorting wood into potential uses.
These can become my batons. Perfect to smooth into a piece of wood ready to clutch in a hand. Maybe the crystal will go here in this curve.
Other pieces go into my collage box. They have character, texture. One shapes into the curve of a cheekbone, ready for a primitive minimal face on barn wood. The complicated spiral of cliff rose root will be a focal point.
I separate out the ones for wall hangings, the ones for stand-alone pieces. The intriguing lines of a twig destined for a mobile. So many sticks, so many projects to engage my time in my studio.
I can see my art improving. My eye has become more discerning. I only fill up one extra-large yard waste bag instead of the two or three I found six months ago. I have more projects in mind.
And my skills. My papier mache joints fit into the piece better. I mold them into the overall lines on the piece now. And, they stick together better than they used to. In July I was happy when 50% of them held the first time. Now I only need to add a dab of papier mache to one of 5 joints for it to hold in a wand where it can be handled roughly.
And my pieces are achieving a sophistication I didn’t have at first. I am truly proud of each of the 29 wands sitting in my living room. Yesterday’s mask makes me smile as I glance at it. I made a small mobile to hang in the high school bathroom yesterday. It hangs with grace over the sink.
But problems crop up. I remember an artist friend warning me of “constipation.” She warned me, “The hardest part of being an artist is distributing the works you complete. They need outlets. Your shelves will never be big enough to house all you produce unless you find a way to get them out into the world. Twenty-nine batons with their Alabaster stands languish is a box. How do I move them into the world?
I now have a big box of once-worked wood. Lumps of papier mache stick to them. Some are covered with acrylic I rarely use these days. They are the remnants of July’s masterpieces, now discards.
What to do with those 29 beautiful wands? I planned an evening where I could share some of them with friends. Nobody showed up. I do a promotion in the Sedona Artist Market. No interest. I brush them off and stick them on a shelf in one of the galleries where I rent space. They sit there month after month.
I plot more and more ways to sell my art, but so far nothing works. I am getting discouraged. I know even Picasso, Calder, Monet started somewhere. Their original pieces must have languished in storage as they further developed their reputations. As they broke new ground their art was misunderstood, unappreciated. And I cannot compare my skills to theirs. I understand this feeling is a symptom of New Artist Syndrome.
Some of my friends advise, “Ann, you are so energetic, so prolific. Why don’t you just take a break from creating art for awhile, wait for your stuff to catch on.” I cannot do that. The endorphins some find it daily exercise I discover in daily art production, regular creativity. I feel cranky, out of sorts when I do not spend time creating each day.
I understand factors work against me. This fall, with the election, nobody bought art. Uncertain times do not call for expanding your collection. Now it is snowing in Jerome. Tourists are just not out there.
I have not yet lost faith in finding my market. People who see my art unanimously praise its beauty. They comment on my ability to pull out the artistry in my sticks. My studio echoes with “wows” and “oh my’s” when visitors enter. The problem, like the truly great artists who experienced this frustration in their careers, is that nobody yet thinks they might want a rustic collage to hang in their den, a graceful wand of Palo Verde on their mantles.
I attach hope to whatever gets dangled towards me. This week I have sold enough to pay the rent for one of the galleries where I display my pieces. There are still a couple of weeks remaining in January. Maybe I can earn enough to pay both rents. And next year, who knows.
"With all the beauty surrounding me here above the Verde Valley, how could I not create more beauty?"