Now, I have made no secret of my hoarding tendencies (or where they come from) but I don’t often discuss this very real, very common problem that happens when you make stuff – a lot of stuff – and then have nothing to do with it. Nothing. And it’s awful. For this reason, most of the projects I do on this site have some practical tie in. Purpose. Function. If I want to make something purely decorative, it’s usually a seasonal item and takes little/no money to make. It’s like I need to give myself permission to make art for art’s sake, and permission is rarely granted. At least, that’s the way I have always felt...
Then, maybe six months ago (following these painted gift bags), a flip was switched and all I want to do was make stuff for the sake of making. Painting in particular. I just want to mess around with paint. All day. All night. Most winters I struggle with some not-unserious seasonal depression, and since I started painting last December, it was totally manageable – and the only think I took on was painting. I’m not dismissing all sorts of other helpful habits, but when you know something has a positive effect on your mental health, that’s a big deal. Huge. It says something to me. Paint and Me: We are supposed to be together. And because I only let myself do it when my other work is done/semi-done, I don’t feel bad about it at all. I don’t even want to post them on the blog or show them to other people. They are mine. And I love that. And I don’t feel guilty about a lick of it…Until now.
And why do I feel guilt?
Currently, I’m turning out an average of 5-10 pieces a week. That doesn’t mean they are good, that just means they exist. Multiply that times 30 weeks deep in this run, I now have hundreds of these things. Most of them 80% done. And it never stops. I’m accumulating these papers and canvases at an unreasonable rate. And it’s not a cheap habit. And then they just sit there on a shelf waiting for a friend to randomly say, “We need more art in our house – do you have anything?” and then it’s weird because I can’t go into someone’s home without looking at my work. I don’t even like seeing my own work in my own house, so why would I want to see it in yours? So it stays at home, tucked in a cupboard, accumulating. I don’t feel guilty about any of it except for the accumulating part. It’s just taking up space. It has no function.
So, this begs the question: What to do with it?
In the back of my mind I think I could sell some (emphasis on *some*) of the work, but probably not for a lot of money for a lot of hassle, and I’ll admit upfront, rejection is a big deal. I would be absolutely heartbroken if I put all my stuff and it didn’t sell. Years of blogging has thickened my skin to general criticism and rejection, but knowing that nobody wants this thing that is important to you? Yeah. That’s not easy. It never will be.
Last week I was at an art show – one of those tent style street fairs where people weave in and out. I was wandering around and admittedly, I was thinking, Okay, maybe I could do this. Maybe I could do this. Maybe I could seek some stuff. Maybe I could do this! And then I wandered into a booth and these two women were talking about how ugly/unattractive this one artist’s work was. And while I wasn’t crazy about his work either, I was livid, absolutely livid that the artist had to stand there in his booth hearing them saying that. Here, he had laid his heart out on the table, only to have someone else trample it because it didn’t match their couch cushions or their idea of what is “good.”
The weird thing was, he seemed okay with it. He was used to it. That stuff is just the nature of the beast. You have to be willing to swallow mass rejection before you can make a sale. He knew that, and he was up for it anyway.
Back in art school we had to do daily critiques on everything, and I mean everything, and you would get really comfortable with the idea of other people not liking your work, but, it was always coming from someone who was putting themselves up for critique too, so words were measured. You watched your delivery. When strangers reject what you hold dear, it hurts in a different way. I have such admiration for people who know how to weather that sort of storm, and one day I hope to be one of them. I’m not there yet, but one day, I hope to be. If not for my own personal growth then for the sake of my closet space. There is no more room at this inn!
So, my question here is, do you use your creative abilities to make things? And if so, how do you address this issue of accumulation? Do you give your stuff away? Do you sell it – and if so, where? Or do you just keep it around for your own benefit? Or do you just not make stuff because you don’t know where to put it? I am confident I am not alone in this struggle, so I’m hoping we can identify some new ways to work around it. For real. I’m all ears!