Friday, April 23, 2010

Is there an age limit on this?

I often listen to the University of Arkansas student run radio station on my drive from the studio to home. The other night I heard this exchange between two DJs:

DJ 1: Hey, the band Blue Oyster Cult is playing at the Arkansas Music Pavilion on May 22nd—we should check it out.

DJ 2: Blue Oyster Cult? Are they still around? Man, they must be older than dirt…

Hmmm. I own their first album. So what does that make me?

I looked it up—almost as old as dirt. Sigh.

So this got me to wondering about age and creativity. I will admit that on bad days I worry that it is too late for me and I will never achieve the goals I have set for myself as an artist. There’s too much to learn, too much practice time to make up. And in our youth obsessed culture, who cares about an artist that’s older than dirt?

On good days I realize that every layout and logo and billboard and nightlight and kitchen tool and piece of dinnerware I have designed, as well as all the classes I have taken, clients I've dealt with, threads I have woven, stitches I’ve sewn—not to mention all the art I have seen in museums and galleries—informs the work I do today. All that experience makes me the artist I am—and that is unique and good.

Hopefully the good days outnumber the bad...

For inspiration I give you the story of artist Carmen Herrera, who sold her first painting at the age of 84 and now at 89 is collected internationally. When I read this story in the NY Times I clipped it out, saved it. Somehow I knew I would need it someday.

Older than dirt, take that.

So I leave you with a recent video of the Blue Oyster Cult. By the way, you have to play these songs very loud. So loud in fact, that your mother comes storming into your room demanding you turn it down because the mirrors in the downstairs bathroom are rattling and she just can’t take anymore…

Monday, April 19, 2010

Green with Envy

I Love a Surprise • Hand Dyed Fabric • 28" x 15" • ©2010 Jennifer Libby Fay

Blog Triage Class: Lesson 5 Curing Blog Envy. Assignment: Find a blog you are envious of, analyze it, use what you learn to make your blog better.

The Year in Pictures is a “record of photography (and a few other things) that have captured the attention” of gallery owner, James Danziger. First, you have go there right now and watch the Weekend Video. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Wasn’t that fantastic? Weekend Video is just one of the aspects of this blog that keeps me enthralled. Mostly, I love the surprising nature of its content. Yes, Danziger often manages to surprise me and I’ve been trying to figure out why. Maybe it’s because he features photographers like this, or this. Or it could be the fascinating people he knows, the places he goes, or maybe his historical commentary. In the end, it sort of doesn’t matter. If it has captured his attention—I want to know.

So here’s the envy list—
• he writes elegantly and engagingly about subjects that interest me
• I always learn something
• sometimes he makes me laugh
• I have even cried
• his personal posts are as interesting as his photography posts
• the images are outstanding
• the blog design is simple
• he writes consistently

But I think there’s something else, that je ne sais quoi factor—I can’t quite figure it out. After you spend some time over there, I would love to know your thoughts...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Call Me From Heaven

Call Me From Heaven
7" x 5", Mixed Media

There are about six blogs that I read religiously. I put them in my bookmarks toolbar and check them out when I have time. As I mentioned, I am taking a class in blogging. For our assignment to answer the question, “who is my ideal reader”, I went to each blog and asked myself, why do I read it, who else reads it and what makes me return to read again and again?

One of my favorites blogs is written by Danny Gregory. I first found his book, The Creative License, at my local bookstore on the “staff picks” table. The recommendation went something like: I wish everyone would read this book. If you ever wanted to draw, it will change your life. That was good enough for me. I read the book, cover to cover. Then I went back to the beginning and did exactly what Danny told me to do, step by step. If you want to start drawing or make your art more often, trust me, the bookstore guy was right, it changed my life.

Oh, but there was more. His blog is FILLED with information on drawing! There are links to cool sites, videos… Then he wrote new book, The Illustrated Life, a collection of sketchbook pages from artists all over the world—with podcasts! I devoured every word, spent hours exploring. Meanwhile, I learned personal things about Danny and his wife Patti and son Jack. I knew that Danny’s life had been touched by tragedy. He explains in his earlier book Everyday Matters, how he started drawing again after his wife was paralyzed in a subway accident. Every. Day. Matters. he says, and you believe him. There were posts about what Patti was doing and I remember the posts when his son, Jack, was deciding whether or not to go to a high school for the arts. I watched vacation videos. In other words, I felt like a friend in that weird blogosphere sort of way.

So the other day I went to check in on Danny and was devastated to find this.

Tragedy, again.

I was heartbroken, knocked sideways, lost.

Then, do you see? towards the end of the post, he says,
“In the days following Patti’s death, I lost my appetite, my ability to sleep, my concentration, my will. I hesitated to pick up a pen. Nothing seemed to matter, let alone the everyday. But then, after some time spent staring into space, I began again to draw. And I must and will continue. Drawing brings me meaning. To abandon it would betray Patti’s memory and myself. I hope that if you are hesitating to draw, beating yourself up because you’re not good enough, telling yourself you have no time to spare, feeling distracted and down, remember that, though life can be plucked from us at any moment, it is full of wonder and beauty. Keeping an illustrated journal is the perfect way to capture and treasure the gems that lie all around us. A few minutes a day make it all worth while.”

Always generous, kind, loving, smart, talented, and wise…that’s why I, along with thousands of others, read Danny’s blog. I know that nothing can take away the pain of losing Patti, but maybe there is some small comfort in the many messages Danny has received from his readers. They are the best kind of readers of all.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

People? Reading my blog?

My Studio at the Fayetteville Underground

I finally pushed the button that lets everyone read my blog. So far, I am pretty sure no one has, but if you had been in my studio yesterday, I think you would have found it amusing. A studiomate came by and asked me what I was doing. I told him I have a blog that only I can read and I am working on it. “You mean it’s an invisiblog?” he said. I started laughing—at myself, at the process—and all the angst (well, most of it) went away.

Today I find myself hoping you’ll find this space and read it! What a difference. I feel excited by the possibilities. How did I do it? I signed up for the Blog Triage Class lead by Alyson Stanfield and Cynthia Morris. Having the structure, lessons and support of a class really made it all possible…thank you!

So now that I have pushed the button, I am wondering who “everyone” is?

Friday, April 9, 2010


Years ago during a career counseling workshop, I took the Myers Briggs Type Indicator personality test. After the class was over, the counselor came over to me and said, “In all the years I have been administering this test I have never seen anyone score so high in the Introvert range…almost at the very end of the scale.” she paused and took a deep breath, “If you really want to achieve any of the career goals you have mapped out for yourself, you are going to have to address this issue.” I think I mumbled something brilliant like, “Okay.” “Well, good luck,” she said, and walked away. I wish I could remember her name because I’d like to thank her. I think she’d be gobsmacked to learn I have a blog. Frankly, I am myself.

I know I am a shy person. But it’s not that shy people don’t have anything to say…we just worry about whether you want to hear it or not.

So what will we talk about? Art, textiles, surface design. I can tell you about my work and maybe some other things that capture my attention. We’ll see how it goes. I am glad you are here. Shy people secretly love company, at least this one does.