Pandemonium, Part 2

Welcome to the second installment of “Pandemonium” – the return to my creative energy and in many respects a renewal and awakening of my artistic voice that has slowly become silent over time. For those of you who are reading about this journey for the first time, I encourage you to visit my first post Pandemonium (part 1) which explained, on a very personal note, why I found myself needing to create this piece of artwork.

I have to admit that I was overwhelmed by the response from my previous posting, the resounding support and encouragement! So many of you commented, emailed or messaged me to express in one way or another that you were in the same place in your creative life – stuck by constraints, feeling held back, or this ‘funk’ that you’re stuck in and needing to rediscover your artistic voice. It made me realize that yes, I’m not the only one who needs encouragement to stay true to our passions, a reminder that I’m not alone on this journey. I think that so many of us get caught up, and in some regards a little jealous, of seeing how creative everyone else is on social media. These other artists who are making this fabulous art, their creativity just freely flows and everything is perfect… And then I look down at the project I’m working on and just sigh, thinking how it looks like a piece of $*@# and there is this empty lack of motivation hanging over me. That’s the beginning of the slippery slope, which begins to snowball into self doubt about my work that eventually cascades into “Is this just a HUGE waste of time” or “I’m such a horrible artist, I can’t make anything creative.”

It’s those sentiments that so many of you shared with me that you’ve experienced also, or are experiencing right now. I want to tell each and every one of you reading this right now that YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!! Part of being an artist is going through that self doubt, that questioning, that frustration. It amazes me how we, as artists, create from passion and feelings deep from our souls and place all of that emotion into the projects that we’re working on but we are many times afraid to vocalize that vulnerability. Maybe it’s like creating our artwork, either during the process or when we’ve finished our piece and we take that step back and really look at it and think “Is anyone going to like this?” and all of the sudden you feel like the only person who exists on this planet LOL It’s in that exact moment that you need to remember that we all share that struggle, and as artists it is our responsibility to help elevate our other creatives instead of trying to see everyone as “the competition”.

One thing that I wanted to mention before I share the evolution of “Pandemonium” is that no, I’m not turning my back on being an artist – I couldn’t even if I wanted to! I know that I will always be an artist, it’s in my blood and I know that it’s what I was meant to do. Unfortunately, like many of you out there, that doesn’t always pay the bills. In the past I’ve worked in an industry that once thrived but has slowly over the years dwindled down to what I sometimes feel is just a remaining group of large conglomerates who are only focused on the bottom line of making a dollar and in the majority of cases do not support nor respect the working artist.

An example of this type of relationship that I like to give people is to imagine if you were a contractor going in for a bid on a project. The client has these beautiful ideas that they share with you, which gets you excited to work on this project. They then begin to tell you the tight deadlines that they expect you to meet, which means that you’re probably going to have to sacrifice some of your personal/family time to meet those deadlines but it’s possible. Once some of the details have been hammered out, the awkward conversation of compensation begins… And that’s when your prospective client proposes that they will pay for all of the materials and expenses, but would like you to work for free. But in exchange for your hard work, they’re going to share your project with all of their social media followers and you can use this as a great example to add to your portfolio! Where is the equity and respect in this deal? If someone could please explain it to me, I would be forever grateful so that I could understand how this became the norm in a particular industry.

My frustration with that part of of the industry is that we as artists allowed this to happen by falling under the false promises of working for free/in exchange for product with the expectation that we would be wildly promoted and that exposure would elevate our careers, or the crazy idea that we could have a line of products bearing our name to never have either materialize. This frustration led to the realization that contributed to my artistic ‘funk’ that I had previously written about. I have had the privilege to work with a handful of manufacturers who are are absolutely amazing, the diamonds in the rough that I like to call them. And I will continue my relationship with them into the future for the simple fact that they give me the freedom to create basically what ever I want and love it. As a community of artists, we need to respect and value both ourselves and fellow artists by having the courage to say “NO” when this type of exploitation (for lack of a better term) is presented to us as an industry standard because in every other industry that exists, this is NOT the norm and is not tolerated.

Another way to think of this is when you’re selling your artwork/creations at an art fair and you have that one customer (we’ve all experienced that) who is interested in one of your pieces and when they see the price says “I could make this so much cheaper.” Being naive back in the day when I first starting to sell my work, my instant reaction would be to decrease the price or take some type of discount just so I could make the sale. It took awhile for me to realize that when I allowed this to occur, what I was actually doing was diminishing my talent, time and skill that had taken years to develop in creating a finished piece of artwork. Like many of you, it took years for me to have the confidence to politely reply to that customer “Great – I hope your project turns out for you” with a smile. I’ve found that there is always that person out there who will fall in love with my work, and respects myself as an artist and the dedication to my craft that has no problem paying the price I place on my artwork – and those are usually the people who turn into repeat customers. Stop thinking of yourself as a used car, and realize that you need to present yourself to the world as a Mercedes or Bentley! When you walk with confidence and present yourself that way, you will attract the same in return.

At least for myself, I had the realization that to be a ‘great’ artist means that I need to create and not replicate. To continue to grow as an artist, I need to follow that feeling in my gut and make work that I am truly proud of without regards to how many likes I get on Facebook or new followers on Instagram. It was need to create and ultimately evolve myself as and artist that was the catalyst to making Pandemonium. Through sharing all of this with you in both of these posts, I’ve found that questioning and doubting myself is simply part of the creative process and most importantly, I’m not alone in experiencing this. And I’m taking this renewed energy and passion forward to my new artist endeavors…

In my last post, I shared with all of you the process of creating the fabulous layers, textures and colors to build the background of Pandemonium. For this post, I’ll be sharing with you some of the techniques I used for creating some of the embellishments and decorative elements that I’ve added. One of the fun embellishments I’ve added to the piece is a photo transfer I created on metal a few months ago and you can see the full tutorial here. I made a few different photo transfers for that tutorial and they’d just been laying around without a home so I decided that I would add one of them to this piece because it went with the theme and I love how adding a resin finish to the top just makes the image stand out. I added some texture and color to mount the piece, with a brilliant finish of Art Alchemy Waxes on the top. This product product produces an amazing result – the luminosity changes with each view! I like to lightly melt the wax with a heat tool because it brings out even more of the metallic shimmer in the wax.

Since I was already adding some resin work to my project, I was trying to create some type of element to put over the piece of vintage railroad track because it looked kind of ‘naked’ and through a little bit of contemplation I thought that adding a piece of resin paper over the track would be perfect because it would add some floating text and, because of the resin, would be transparent so you could still se the track beneath. Making resin paper is so fun and easy, and I have a pile of papers I’ve created with my left over resin from jewelry projects. For this piece, I tore off a piece of printed tissue paper and lightly antiqued the paper. Once dry, I crumpled the paper, flattened it back out, and then added a layer of resin to the top. Because the resin soaks through the tissue paper (making it transparent), the side of the paper facing up stays glossy but the under side becomes matte because it was laying on my craft mat to set. Simple fix! Once the resin had set on the flip side, I flipped the paper over and then just put a layer of resin on the backside. Due to the placement of this resin paper onto my piece, I added a couple of layers of resin on both sides just to give the paper more stability for when it gets incorporated onto the piece.

Another embellishment that I’m adding to the piece is this antique key that I picked up at a flea market. Although it looked great by itself, I felt that it needed a little something added to it and decided that creating a simple peyote stitched wrap of beadwork with crystal embellishments in a coordinating color would be the perfect touch. I had debated about just adding some texture with a paste, but I was in the mood to do some beadwork because it had been awhile since I’d picked up a needle and I think it was the perfect choice.

The reason I decided to add the key was to coordinate with the vintage door plate that I’d added to the upper left corner previously. I love to add little details into pieces, and if you look closely into the keyhole you’ll find some old watch movements. Where the door knob once was, I replaced it with an old mercury bulb that I’d had in my stash for awhile just because I love the look and feel of the bulbs! And the look of the bulb matches the train track piece just to it’s right at the top of the piece. The door plate rests on top of colored and textured piece of cardboard with mica and micro beads added for more dimension. I’m still contemplating about adding a couple of found objects onto the screws holding the plate into place so tuned to see that progression.

While adding the watch movements to the door plate, I pulled out a few other watchmaker objects that I’d recently acquired at an antique show. The small viles hold small watchmaker parts like gears and watch hands, which I bundled together with antiqued wire set on top of metal mesh. The small watchmaker’s tin was placed onto the canvas in the same manner and actually opens up – right now it’s empty, but I’m going to add something inside once I decide what would be perfect to hide inside!

Here you can see the lower half of where my Pandemonium has led me so far with some of the embellishments that are featured in this post that I’ve added. You can also see the paintbrush that I added to the side of the piece, which happened by chance because I’d forgotten to clean out my brush after using it and the bristled turned into a rock so instead of throwing the brush away (or try to resurrect it LOL) I though that I would instead incorporate it into the piece instead. Sometimes our mistakes make the perfect addition to what we’re working on!

Thank you for being a part of this creative journey with me – for the support, encouragement, and curiosity of knowing where this process is going to take me! I am humbled by those of you who have reached out to me knowing that my words have had such a profound affect on so many people and that I am not alone on this ‘healing’ journey of returning to my creative roots as an artist.

See how the Pandemonium journey continues in Part 3