The business end…

Time is ticking along and I have been busy, busy, busy as usual.  After I finally recovered from being crook and the Hedland Art Awards it was down to work to finish off my entry for the Australian Print Triennial (which I am lucky enough to be attending in person at the end of Oct – woohoo!).

I decided to go with something I had never tried before…I made a mobile out of my prints.  I am not sure why but the idea just kept coming back to me again and again so I had to go with it.  Whether it gets accepted for the Triennial or not is a whole other story but I am really glad I gave it a go and looking forward to making a whole lot more mobiles. The balancing of the pieces and the way they dance around with a breeze just makes me ridiculously happy.

I also decided to enter the Gippsland Print Award so a print of my ‘Locally Significant’ is now winging it’s way across to Sale.  The print is of a Pundul Tree – these trees are locally significant in Hedland.  But I like the idea of it being exhibited in Victoria where I used to know and take care of plenty of locally significant plants and trees.

Now I am onto another grant requirement which is finishing off my artist’s website – I am booking a photographer friend in to take some photos of me doing my thing and then I will get the website finished over the next month or so.  I have also just finalised my dates for my printmaking workshop that I am running through HARTZ – it is really just all happening at the moment.

And during this time of arting, entering, altering and thinking it has come home to me in a big way that my little art business Moon Stars Play has come to the end of its life for the time being.  The more immersed in my art I get the more time it takes and at the moment that is where I need to be.  But I’ve taken time off from it before and come back to it afterwards so I guess we’ll wait and see what happens in the future! In the meantime it is head down ploughing through the business end of Stepping Up!!

The Regional Arts Fund is an Australian Government initiative supporting the arts in regional and remote Australia, administered in Western Australia by Country Arts WA. Stepping Up is auspiced by HARTZ (Hedland Arts Council) Inc.

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Winner?

I couldn’t write this week gone – I was sick as a dog and apart from not being physically capable of much I was also in a bad headspace.  Mostly that came from actually being sick – I don’t get sick a lot and I am not very good with it when I do.  Particularly when I have stuff to do…which I guess is always.

Last week was the Hedland Art Awards opening and it is a big night for local artists (well for those of us who managed to get selected).  I should have been excited and anticipatory and full of good, happy thoughts…instead I was snotty, miserable in mind and body and just wanting to go away somewhere and quietly die.

But I struggled along because it was the right thing to do and because for the first time in the history of me entering the art awards I knew that I had submitted an entry that to me was real art.  It held my dreams and tears and the making of this artwork had taught me so much about myself – this artwork reflected my soul.  So on top of being sick I was actually really nervous because for the first time ever I figured that I could actually have a shot at winning something based on merit and not just pure luck which is how it would have felt had I won something in the past.

So there I was, struggling not to cough during the speeches, struggling with nerves and boom – they announce my name – I had won the sculpture category with my book.  I started shaking and couldn’t stop – I went into automatic mode and even remembered to thank everyone.  I smiled when people congratulated me and strung some words together for an interview that I hoped made sense.  Then we went home and I popped something on facebook to let everyone know because a lot of my people weren’t at the opening.

And the whole time my head was just buzzing.  I had always thought that there would be some sort of euphoria associated with winning but all I had was buzz.  I know I was sick but it was more than that – it was more about what did this win mean?  The feeling only amplified when I was reading peoples comments or accepting their hugs and congratulations.  And what I boiled it down to is that to everyone this is a symbol that I am doing something right – a tangible reflection on my work that people can understand (even if they couldn’t understand my work).  Now apparently I am a winner.

But the truth of it is completely different.  It feels good to be acknowledged and the money will come in handy for sure.  But am I all of a sudden a winner?  No – not at all.  Because if I am a winner that means that some other artist is a loser and that just isn’t right.  What I am is an artist who was lucky enough to have caught the judges eye in this particular exhibition and that is an experience I hope every artist out there gets the opportunity to have.  But am I different?  Will I all of a sudden be a different person?  A different artist?  No – not at all.  And that was the cause of my buzzing head – I needed to win to really understand that it didn’t matter if I ever won…my art is enough.

The Regional Arts Fund is an Australian Government initiative supporting the arts in regional and remote Australia, administered in Western Australia by Country Arts WA. Stepping Up is auspiced by HARTZ (Hedland Arts Council) Inc.

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I’m having fun!

Art is fun right?  Something you do to relax…to unwind and take your mind off the real world.

This has never been the case for me…ever.  I create because I feel compelled to, because I feel I should.  I get immense joy from it and after I finish a piece I can see I’ve done the right thing by making it – by pulling something out of me to make something that only I can.  But I wouldn’t call it fun by any means.

Lately however that is changing.  I seem to be tripping from exhibition deadline to deadline and something weird is happening each time I go through this process. The normal sense of overwhelmed panic still surfaces but then another voice pops up in my head saying…well I’ve done this before and got through it before so I reckon I can do it this time.  Then there is the frustration when things don’t turn out the way I think they should but now too another voice is popping up saying…but whatever I make usually turns out ok so why don’t I keep going and see.

Now I am anticipating getting started on work rather than just responding to deadlines.  I am actually a little sad that this artwork is the last ‘official’ one that I need to complete this year.  I am really, really curious how this artwork is going to look – I want it made just to see what it looks like out of my head.  I can’t wait.

So I would never consider my art and my processes relaxing and I can’t imagine I will ever unwind while creating.  But…my art is starting to become more enjoyable for me rather than just something I have to do.  I think I am starting to have fun with it…it is my own special version of fun but I think I can live with that!!

The Regional Arts Fund is an Australian Government initiative supporting the arts in regional and remote Australia, administered in Western Australia by Country Arts WA. Stepping Up is auspiced by HARTZ (Hedland Arts Council) Inc.

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Artist or Business? Or both?

So much is changing for me this year and a lot of it relates to the Stepping Up grant and my year of professional development.

I thought at the start of the year I would have so much more time because I wasn’t working in a paid job anymore.  I would have time to create fabulous artworks all around the place and time to run my small art business and do fabulously well at that so it would be in expansion mode and make me some more money.  Then of course I would become a fabulously organised mother and housewife in all my left over spare time…creating a neat and tidy home with bills paid and homework completed in a timely manner.

Ha ha ha ha….and then ha ha ha ha some more!! What freaking time was I thinking about?  How was I meant to fit so much more into only an extra 20 hours a week?  And the flip side of achieving part of what I set out to do in my year of professional development?  I have grown my confidence as I set out to do and I am no longer dabbling around the edges with my artworks – I am throwing myself in with both feet.  This is great – nothing to complain about there.  But more complex artworks mean more energy and time still…of which I barely had enough to begin with.

So I start looking around the edges of my life…wondering what can drop off to give me more time and energy.  I wrote about this last week too when I dropped off facebook for a while with fabulous results.  Now I am eyeing off my business Moon Stars Play.  My pride, my joy…my time consuming little business that does make money but also takes a whole lot of time and energy…which I have to then take away from my original art and my family.

I haven’t actually considered dropping off Moon Stars Play yet but the expansion plans are out the window at the moment…and I think that if I won tattslotto I would hand over management of Moon Stars Play in the blink of an eye…something I would never have considered in the past.  At this stage I haven’t thought about dropping off management of my family…but give me time!! 🙂

But seriously – was I expecting at the start of the year to consider giving up one dream to more closely pursue another?  Not at all.  But then was I really expecting how much joy and happiness I would get from pursuing one dream so closely and with most of my heart?  Not at all.  I will keep trying to juggle everything for as long as possible (as so many other fabulous people do as well) but if you like my stuff and you are interested in running a small arts business with plenty of room for expansion…please apply here!!

The Regional Arts Fund is an Australian Government initiative supporting the arts in regional and remote Australia, administered in Western Australia by Country Arts WA. Stepping Up is auspiced by HARTZ (Hedland Arts Council) Inc.

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Brain drain…

So here’s the thing – I don’t actually have a lot of spare room in my head.  In fact I find my head space quite exhausting usually.  I am one of those people that doesn’t ‘turn off’ at all and sometimes even struggles just to ‘turn down’ to an acceptable level let alone to a place where I can relax.  I know this isn’t that unusual – I know heaps of people who are the same.  I’ve tried meditation and long walks on the beach, exercise and goodness knows what else.  And I have found that I can manage the noise in my head but never seem to be able to really settle it down.

So living with that is one of those things I do.  But things have been changing for me lately – after the great epiphanies episode of the Cossack Art Awards I had been thinking about other things in my life that I don’t like or that I don’t do well…I was on the hunt for, well I guess, more epiphanies!!  And I think I found one even though it was completely by mistake.  Because I had a rapidly approaching deadline for an artwork submission that I knew I was going to struggle with I let my nearest and dearest know that it was head down, bum up for the next coming few weeks.  But this time I took the additional step of withdrawing from facebook for the same period. 

Now I have a problem with facebook.  I wouldn’t call it an addiction necessarily because I am sure I can stop at any time. 🙂 But working by myself and in a field where pretty much everyone who could be considered a colleague are nowhere nearby I find that my facebook business page is my support base in a lot of ways.  I tell everyone what I am up to and get lovely feedback, I post photos of my work and people make lovely comments and when I am having trouble I write about that too and get lots of lovely support and positivity back.  Besides all that artists are expected to have a facebook page nowadays…it is one of those marketing tools that we simply must have…like instagram, twitter, tumblr, pinterest (and the list goes on…).  But it doesn’t stop there with me because of course I feel compelled to support others so there is checking to be done, and I hate to keep anyone waiting so as soon as a comment or message comes in I am racing to respond, and then let’s face it – some days when I am bored it is just fun to flick through and see what is going on in other people’s lives.

But what does my addition to facebook have to do with my already busy head space?  It turns out quite a bit.  It turns out that for a mind like mine that never settles down the constant interaction with facebook just adds layer upon layer of noise that I never really noticed.  And now that I’ve taken it away there is space again.  Space to notice what people are doing in the park when I am hanging out there with my kids rather than just using that time to look at facebook.  Space to notice what is going on in the doctor’s surgery while we are waiting rather than loosing myself in facebook.  That space to observe is giving me time to connect back with my everyday world and making me realise that I was seriously disconnected – a lot more than I realised.  And as an artist that looks to everyday life for inspiration it is kind of necessary to make sure I am connected with my world on as many levels as possible. 

I know it is about balance – I know facebook can be used as a tool and that the rest of it is up to me to control.  But the thing is the further I get into my art the more I realise that I quite like my life and it is a pity to lose it by disappearing into anything that isn’t actually real or doesn’t make me more whole.   If I am striving to be more authentic in the art I make for myself I guess this means being more authentic about how I live my life as well.  And perhaps if I keep learning more about myself with each piece of art I make then I will find that mental space and quiet that I need and seek…and then there will be space for things like facebook in my life after all!

The Regional Arts Fund is an Australian Government initiative supporting the arts in regional and remote Australia, administered in Western Australia by Country Arts WA. Stepping Up is auspiced by HARTZ (Hedland Arts Council) Inc.

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Epiphanies…

I haven’t been on here for a while.  Mostly it was because I have had my head down working on an exhibition piece as the deadline is looming.  But also it is because I had stuff swirling around in my head and I couldn’t make sense of it.  Then on the weekend everything clicked into place…I had some epiphanies.  Or at least things started to make sense for me.

It started with at the Cossack Art Awards.  My entry this year had nothing to do with what I thought would sell and what the judges might like.  This is pretty much new ground for me because what other people think has always in the back of my mind when I create.  I was sitting there as they were making speeches and the normal butterflies started to kick in but then I had the strangest feeling and I settled down completely.

I looked around the walls at all this incredible artwork that 300 different people had submitted and I was suddenly sure I had made exactly the right artwork for me…even if nobody else ever liked it.  It was something I had to make no matter how it was judged – I was happy that I had and I would make the same artwork again in a heartbeat.  It was the best feeling ever – very liberating and freeing.  I realised that finally I am making art just for me and I guess what that also means is that I have stopped seeking the approval of others.  My work matters just because it is – not because someone else likes it.

That shift in perception got me thinking about other things as well.  The artwork I am working on at the moment is all about the different houses I’ve lived in during my life.  As I was writing about these places the phrase ‘happy place’ popped up.  I had also found myself using this phrase about locations that were in my exhibition at The Art Vault.  When I was driving back from Cossack I suddenly understood that it wasn’t so much a ‘happy place’ as a ‘happy space’.  What is the difference?  I keep searching for locations where I want to live and settle down because I want what I had in those happy places for both myself and my family.  I keep stressing about if it is possible to find somewhere that we want to live, that has the right sort of work, school, house and whether we could afford it even if we could find it.  But what if it isn’t the place that is important…but the space.  And what if that happy space for me is about the things I had in those places…openness, personal space, opportunities to do what I love, warmth, freedom and fun rather than where the house, street, town, state etc was.

If I look there is a pattern – it wasn’t the physical location but that I was happy there.  And if I understand what makes me happy now then I have the ability to recreate that pattern and make that happy space in any place.  But if I just keep swapping locations…or dreaming about perfect locations…it is never going to work.  So if I have a key to creating that happy space…like making art for example…and that all of a sudden I understand that I can do that just for me and that happiness is within my control and outside of the influence of others…talk about a freaking happy place / space / epiphany!!

The Regional Arts Fund is an Australian Government initiative supporting the arts in regional and remote Australia, administered in Western Australia by Country Arts WA. Stepping Up is auspiced by HARTZ (Hedland Arts Council) Inc.

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Picture perfect…

I just received a heap of photos of my prints from my exhibition.  It is funny how you look at things differently even after a few weeks.  I am much kinder to myself and my prints as time marches on…I will probably love them in another year or two. 🙂

Once I have brightened them up a bit I will start rearranging this website (another grant requirement) and then getting some new photos of me to add to the collection.  I had an interesting experience when I was in Mildura of someone saying to me that after seeing my photo on this website that in real life I appeared much more…mature!  I think that is French for old!!

Either which way it is time for some new photos.  I am not generally worried about doing the whole pose thing but it has been a long, long time since I’ve posed for a professional photographer.  In fact I think when I graduated from uni in 1992 would be the last time…see – I really am old!

AFP002 Amanda Firenze Pentney In the beginning US 2015 hand coloured linocut

In the Beginning (Red Cliffs Secondary College Art Wing)

The Regional Arts Fund is an Australian Government initiative supporting the arts in regional and remote Australia, administered in Western Australia by Country Arts WA. Stepping Up is auspiced by HARTZ (Hedland Arts Council) Inc.

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