Monday, July 26, 2010

The Only Path to Serenity

Cake • Dye on Paper • 15" x 15" • ©2010 Jennifer Libby Fay

Years ago, at the height of the self-actualization movement, there were a lot of people yelling, "Don't try, DO!" at hapless workshop participants who just wanted…well, looking back, I'm not sure want we wanted, but the sentiment became so ubiquitous it turned into one of the most famous advertising slogans of all time, Nike's "Just Do It". Now, every time I even think to myself, I'll try that, I can hear the refrain, don't try…

Being a first born, recovering perfectionist, I don't have so much of a problem with the doing of things. If I feel reasonably competent at something and know how things work or if I've done it before, I'm not afraid to step up and do. My problem is trying things. Trying something for the first time, something new, something I don't know if I am good at, or worse, something I know I won't be good at—that is difficult. No thank you, I'll sit this one out.

My mantra should be, "Stop doing and try!"

Many have written about perfectionism as a creative block. We all know that working on something until it is "perfect" can destroy the passion and flow of a project. My problem is a dark cousin to that, I don't want to begin working for fear things won't turn out. This can cause procrastination, a reluctance to try new things and a predilection to work safe.

Happily, one benefit all those self actualization workshops is that I know these things about myself.

July Colors • ©2010 Jennifer Libby Fay

With that in mind I TRIED a few things last week. I mixed some new colors, modified and experimented with them. Then I modified some more. I made a mess, lost track of the formulas and just kept going. I added layers of dye to "perfectly good" pieces—some got better, some, alas, did not. But that's okay because some great things happened. I gained more knowledge of my materials, which is essential for improvement and I am pleased with the results, even the "mistakes" were research. It was a week well spent and that is a victory.

from the Tao Te Ching:

Fill your bowl to the brim
And it will spill.

Keep sharpening your knife
And it will go blunt.

Chase after money and security
And your heart will never unclench.

Care about people's approval
And you will be their prisoner.

Do your work, then step back
The only path to serenity.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Prizes Will Be Awarded

Secret Chord at the Art Center of the Ozarks • ©2010 Jennifer Libby Fay

It has been difficult getting my head to fit through the studio door this week. Fortunately the swelling has gone down some since Saturday. That was when Secret Chord, the piece I entered in the 16th Annual Artists of Northwest Arkansas Regional Art Exhibition, won two prizes! First was the postcard award which meant that the image of Secret Chord was used for all the publicity for the show. It was on the postcards that were mailed out to announce the show, the poster, the program, and in the Arts Center of the Ozarks newsletter. Definitely cause for swelling of the head, but that wasn't all. I was awarded the Gwen and Harold Long Memorial Award which came with a lovely certificate and a white envelope with prize money inside. Can you believe it?! I am so pleased, happy, over the moon, floating and, considering the last thing I won was a bowling trophy, I think this is pretty spectacular.

I wanted to write this post earlier in the week but whenever I get excited like this I have a hard time ordering my thoughts and forming complete sentences. It's as if the party happening in my head is distracting to the logical, thinking parts and they can't concentrate. Or maybe they are at the party and have their cell phones turned off, I don't know. What I do know is that I am grateful to so many people for making this all possible. I am grateful to the Fayetteville Underground Artist Committee for liking my art and giving me a studio to work in; to my husband for supporting my dreams; to everyone who encouraged me when I was doing the work—no matter how much I argued, whined and complained; to all the people who come to the Underground and tell me they like my work; to those who leave lovely comments here at this blog and on Facebook (I tell you what, it is such a thrill to get comments—who knew such a seemingly small thing could be so fun?) and especially to the people who purchase my work, your conviction makes this all possible.

It was my wild dream that Secret Chord and her sister pieces, Evensong, Take Me There and Standing in Awe would all be purchased by one collector. I remember thinking it was crazy to even think about it, how could that happen? And then it did. Three of the pieces are already in their new home in Houston, Texas and Secret Chord will follow just as soon as she is done showing off.

There is much in this world to be sad about, but for a few moments today, won't you join my party? Do something special for your self. Make some art. Buy some art. If you do, I'd love to hear about it, just leave a comment below. And thank you all for reading this blog!

Friday, July 2, 2010

On Vacation

Jennifer on Vacation • ink on paper • © 2010 (the amazing) Jan Gosnell

Having fun. Wish you were here!
xxxooo Jennifer