Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Balance and Focus in Mixed Media

I hear it all the time..
mixed media artists complain.. 
usually in a jocular  manner,
with a funny meme..
that they have a million projects left undone..
that they don't know what to do next..

that if somebody tells you you have too many art supplies,
 ignore them, you don't need that kind of negativity....

Mixed Media painting, The Rain Makes my Hair Curly, Caterina Giglio

the jokes I think mask the 
true feelings..

 they feel unfocused..
or even paralyzed about all the choices
they have in mixed media..

there is sense of imbalance and lack of productivity.. 

I have even noticed
  a prejudice against mixed media artists,
 the impression is that we are all over the place
and lack direction 
and consistency..

so I have a few thoughts and tips to perhaps ease the 
dial in the focus,
and silence the critics..

both real and imagined..

1. Clean the Clutter

Have you ever found yourself working in the studio on a clean desk and by the time you finish the project, the desk is covered with papers, paint, tools and debris, and your work space is a little tiny corner of the table?
Of course you have..
well... studios are just like that..

Artists are natural magpies. We love the odd bits, the small pieces of twine, the stones, and feathers, but when it all takes over, it becomes less of a shrine and more of a disability.
So rotate your things, put all product on shelves, 
keep your art tables as open as possible for working space, and have product available on a caddy or rolling cart... in close proximity in some way.
Cleaning the studio is a weird way of engaging your muse..
but it always works
and I find she likes nothing better than a clean space to create chaos..
the universe abhors a vacuum..
trust me it will be filled soon..

Mary shrine, Caterina Giglio

2. Make Notes

While you clean, destash, or organize, ideas will begin to come to you. I keep a notebook in my studio for this and I jot the ideas down in my book. I often come up with great inspirations when I am working on a deadline or a new collection.. 
and rather than stop, I just make notes
in my book to remember later what I want to create in the future. 
Capturing ideas will help free the mind, assist focus and allow the opportunity to finish the current project. 

Mixed Media painting, French Angel, Caterina Giglio

3. Set Priorities 

Figuring out what comes first and what takes priority is easy when I am in the studio, because so many things are on deadlines. 
Articles, shows, even my art journal is a monthly journal.
If you do not have deadlines,

 create them .. 

Make a journal and get a spread done daily, weekly or monthly. Set dates and try to finish projects by a certain time. 
Priority setting is a tool for balance and everyone can use it.
Using a priority on projects will build a sense of accomplishment with each creation, and accomplishment fuels direction.

 Many have a misconception that art is simply fun and we just play all day, it IS that but it is also work, it is simply that we LOVE our work..

Mini Concertina books, Caterina Giglio

4. Limit Social Media

Let me add email and texts to this list. I check my emails three times a day. I limit texts to information, and I set work times in the studio. Taking breaks for a cuppa and to check in on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest is just like being at work on a real job, because it IS a real job,
and when we treat it that way, we maintain a sense of balance and consistency 
which is always good for creativity. 
It is when we show up
in the studio and work
that the inspiration flows..

While Social Media can inspire us, it can also inflame, and upset us, so limiting it is necessary for 
creative health and well being..

Assemblage, Wish You Were Here, Caterina Giglio

5. Set Rules on Buying Product

I spent most of my life in retail. I was a store manager, corporate trainer and merchandiser. I have seen many products and styles come and go.. so it is easy for me to watch the latest and greatest pass by. Let's face it, there are no end to products in art. Crackle Paints, Gelli Plates, Stencils, Gelatos, the list goes on and on, and they will be replaced by the new and better. 
I love using new products, but I set limits on buying them. Once a month, once a quarter, every 6 months. It really depends on the budget. 

Having too many products can be paralyzing, and smothers the creativity. 
The muse is childlike and using a new product on occasion is a regenerative treat.

Mixed media painting, Caterina Giglio

6. Cripple the Critics

I became a mixed media artist, 
because I was frankly  BORED with painting. I had been using watercolor, acrylics and colored pencil all my life..
I have been painting and drawing as long as I can remember.
 I wanted to find a new way to express myself. As I create books and work with fabrics, I find my enthusiasm and creativity expands. 
When the inner critic begins to nag, allow the muse full play.. the critic wants chaos, boredom and inactivity...
the critic is a liar, you can do it..

 the muse just wants to throw paint on paper.. 
build textures,

let her..

The critics that want everyone to decide on a label... 
painter, sculptor, book maker, are simply
unable to cope with a remote control, AI world. We are not the ones out of touch.
They are.
We are not all over the place.. we are in the 

Art is no longer simple..
it is complex, multidimensional, multidisciplinary and fuses many media
and products.. we simply have to use the keys to set direction... 


imagine how excited
Leonardo Da Vinci would be
to be an artist in this age..



Evelyn said...

What a wise a beautifully (like everything you do!) written piece. Such good and encouraging advice...from someone who leads by example! Thanks for sharing! I'm going to go clean off my work area!! 😍


suziqu's thread works said...

An excellent post Cat! Yes it is a fine balance between letting our muse run to experiment and play balanced with direction, discipline and organization.
I love clearing my table and putting away as I find new and forgotten materials then as well as new inspiration for new projects too. You are so right in disciplining ourselves with new products as the search and acquisition of these is precious time away from creating.
Thanks so much for sharing this!
xx Suzy

suziqu's thread works said...

PS I love your little books and wondered what was the (metal?) backing for the gorgeous little cloth and image heart?

Randi Kuhne said...

Were you thinking of me when you wrote this? Great advice!

Hastypearl said...

No one eats the same food every day, or wears the same clothes. Life is full of options and so is art. Every different media that we explore carries on with us . It's like a delicious many layered cake. It (art) just tastes better with different flavors. Great posting, Caterina. 🌻🌻Laura

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

Thoughtful advice! So many misconceptions of the artist life ... we all have to find our own way to our own art making. I sure get excited with a gift card or even better a box with forgotten scraps!!

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

As I am someone who prides herself in both organization and a clutter free work space, I applaud you. People sometimes say they can tell a person by the style of their art. That doesn't happen with true mixed media artists.

Unlike you, I can't draw or sew by hand, but that doesn't stop me from using other skills. And like you, I don't seem to care about what I work on next, because each new thing is an adventure.

People ask me how to get out of a slump, and I tell them to clean their work space. They will always find something that sparks their interest by the time their studio has been decluttered.

I see SO many new products I would LOVE to try, but I have so much stuff now, I can't justify buying anything else. My art budget is $60.00/year, so I have to be careful how I spend it. My downfall seems to be gorgeous fabric, even though I never seem to use it after I get it home.

You are a true inspiration to mixed media artists, and you have truly found your place in the world of mixed media art. Being a contributer to Somerset has helped launch your career and turned you into a household name. I am just delighted to say I "know" and am inspired by you.

froebelsternchen said...

I really hope you will write a book soon - your advices are fantastic and the way you write is art in itself.
I just noticed that I do the most of the things already. Maybe this is it what helps so much, since I can not understand that so many of my friends ask me if I do nothing else than making art . They cannot believe from where I take my time for it. I work in the living room, so I have to clean up every evening- and even though I have limited time I make something every day. Running 2 challenge blogs and being extra in another DT in addition force me to make art for special themes... sometimes I don't like that themes - but I learn something from every challenge. You are a very wise and very talented woman - I am in awe of the portrait and I love the whole wonderful blogpost with art and uplifting words!
Thank you!

Carol said...

This was such a helpful and inspirational post. Wonderful ideas and thoughts. Thanks for sharing so generously.

Nathalie Nayer said...

bien dit!

Blogoratti said...

All very sound and practical ideas. I believe mixed media is not going anywhere and you are right in that art is no longer some simple task but a variety of different elements being infused in the modern era.


Dorthe said...

Oh Cat,
yes the same in so many places, all over the world, when speaking with other Mixed Media lovers and creators , we have so many similarities :-) And I`m so happy ,to be a part of this big , fun and loving group of people .
You my dear inspire so many of us, with your beautiful words, and creations, and I`m happy to know you .
The art showed here, are so very beautiful, I love your painted faces, and the gorgeous mixed media pieces !!
Hugs , Dorthe

Kelly M. said...

Caterina -- Great post and although we may have read or heard similar thoughts over the years, it's good to be reminded periodically -- or else we lose track and drown in the mire of the "authoritative voice" that tries to define and dictate. I love your journals and thanks again! Kelly

Anonymous said...

Sorting is how I think of it, and get most of my ideas. Thankfully I no longer worry that I am all over the place - it's just who I am and I can resist the urge to buy the shiny object which I know I will never use...I do need a bit of chaos around me to create, hence the sorting, and that's just fine by me. Wonderful and strong face. xox

Caterina Giglio said...

Hi Evelyn, you are so kind, thanks so much and I am so delighted that you enjoyed the post

Caterina Giglio said...

Suzy, something tells me that you are already a master at this!! thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, it means so much!! xox

Caterina Giglio said...

P. S. Suzy, it was a plain metal heart ..

Caterina Giglio said...

Laughing out loud, Randi, you are too funny!! No, just observing on Facebook!! xo

Caterina Giglio said...

So glad you enjoyed the post, Laura, and you are right, it is delicious to mix media!! xox

Caterina Giglio said...

Oh!! I do too, Mary Ann, it is thrilling isn't it? But it sure is not the norm, and I think it fosters productivity!! x

Caterina Giglio said...

Hi Dr. E. yes, I was thinking that many of us are on budgets and that is great, because when we don't have a huge budget we are forced to prioritize what we really want!! I know how you love having organization, like me you thrive on being able to locate what you want. Thank you so much for your very kind words, I do appreciate it and Stampington has been very, very kind to me!! x

Caterina Giglio said...

Susi, thank you so very much, you are so dear and kind and I imagined that you follow these steps. As far as a book goes, I will take that under advisement, I never considered writing a book about the practicalities of art and that might be something that people would be interested in reading, thanks so much for the ideas. I love your art and admire that you can flow so easily from each challenge, very inspiring!! Thank you for watching and for your kind comments, I so appreciate you!! xox

Caterina Giglio said...

Hi Carol, thanks so very much, I really appreciate you taking the time to comment!! x

Caterina Giglio said...

Merci beaucoup, Nathalie

Caterina Giglio said...

Hi Blogoratti, thanks so much, and thanks for stopping by, I so appreciate it!

Caterina Giglio said...

Oh, Dorthe, I feel the same way about you, you provide so much inspiration and I am so pleased that you enjoyed the article and my art work, thanks for stopping by and once again, offering such a lovely comment! xoxo

Caterina Giglio said...

Kelly!! so nice to have you stop by, I just saw that you posted and I will be over to visit your post. Yes, nothing new here, but I so often hear that people struggle and so thought I would offer a reminder. Thanks for coming by and hope all it well with you!! x

Caterina Giglio said...

Corrine, I just knew that you were in focus on this and understand exactly what I was trying to say, thanks my friend for chiming in here!! xox

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