The process of writing my artist statement: Week 1

For the next 20 weeks, I’ll be working through Alyson B. Stanfield’s “The Relatively Pain Free Artist Statement”. She suggests it as a 20-day exercise but I’m committing to what I can handle right now. I had the great pleasure of meeting her at a seminar she gave in San Francisco last year. I wrote a bit about it here. I highly recommend her book I’d Rather Be in the Studio and her seminars. I was really impressed with the way she really valued took her audience and personalized her talk to us.

I’ve been working with a creativity coach that’s been really good for me. I found her through Eric Maisel’s yahoo group, thanks to Deborah Griffin! My coach, Toni, is very positive and encouraging and also has a great way of gently reminding me to narrow my focus. So I’m committing to apply for my MFA to at least SFSU by the January 2011 deadline. This writing is my preparation for my statement of purpose and artist statement. There are some things in life that might be crazy, impractical, etc. and other people don’t think you should do them but you know that you must. For me, this is one of those things and I’m going for it. Years ago I bought a 1967 VW Beetle. I had no money, I even took an advance from my credit card, no not necessarily the smartest thing… but the decision to move forward on something I really wanted gave me power. I didn’t know exactly what I was getting into but I needed to move out of being safe and do something I really wanted for me.

Now on to answering Alyson B. Stanfield’s questions… I won’t be writing the actual questions but these are my art experiences… the big picture stuff:

Some early memories of making art involve my mom…working on a dried flower arrangement… which I actually won an award for in 1978. I remember being sick and not enjoying working on the project and feeling like my mom helped me a lot. I also remember working on a doll kit with my mom. I cast the doll in a mold and then painted it, it was kind of like Holly Hobby. I never finished it and was left with a really bad memory of “not finishing things”. I remember making puppets and having puppet shows with a friend, taking a puppet class, making felt cutouts for a December calendar that my mom hung on the wall. I remember writing a story in kindergarten and winning first place. I won a stuffed Snoopy and Woodstock, the teacher’s favorite cartoon characters. I was amazed that I had won. I don’t remember the experience of writing. I wrote “bubble” letters in the car on a trip when I probably was a bit older. The lettering was really interesting to me and I remember enjoying the process and being focused when I was drawing.

My dad built a sandbox and some play equipment in our backyard growing up. I remember filling buckets with heavy sand and making “trails” in the sandbox with my younger brother. This I remember being incredibly fun. We’d push the buckets all around the sandbox and we would only walk in the smoothed trail part of the sandbox. I think that memory is important because it’s something I did where I initiated the creation and it was really fun play.

I’ve come back to art throughout my life because I had an interest in something. I learned what letterpress was and I wanted to learn the process… to actually understand it, to create it myself and become really good at it. I wanted to learn how to make books initially because I wanted to present my graphic designs in a portfolio that I made. I would do art on my birthday as a way of taking care of myself, of soothing myself. Art has been a way for me to connect with myself. In my younger years, I would do art when I was single. It was very difficult to do it when I was in a relationship with someone else. It wasn’t until I met my now husband that I let myself really make room for my art. Now, I’m creating art on a much more regular basis and I keep returning because I have to and also because it brings me an incredible amount of joy. I can get really irritable when I haven’t been creating in a while.

7 Replies to “The process of writing my artist statement: Week 1”

  1. I was so pleased to see you posted AND to read your words and hear of your intention to be a part of the SFSU MFA program. What exciting things! I was in Oakland over New Years and I thought of you!!

  2. Wow, sounds like a great process to go through…a lot of self reflection as well…I’ve always found it difficult to write well and an artists statement is even more intimidating…like it has to define all of what you do!

  3. Ahhh, so nice to hear from you Julie and Linda! I feel like I’m back with old friends. 🙂
    Julie, I’m hoping to visit Mills MFA exhibition soon. Hope you had a nice time visiting your daughter. Linda, words are hard for me too. Your artist’s statement is constantly evolving too so it can always be a work in progress.

  4. yay, leah! so happy to see you returning to your blog! it IS so important to find that creative time. i know i need to do that more…to squeeze that into my juggle. i’m so proud of you for pursuing your dreams and moving forward with your application for your MFA. what you’ve started writing here sounds great. i’ll have to check out that book. ….and i’ve always wanted an old vw beetle. even now when i see one cruising down the road, especially a convertible, i just dream.

  5. leah…
    i have to tell you that i was totally DRAWN to you at an artful journey.
    you have this presence about you that is beckoning.
    you were so kind and gentle to anyone that was around you!
    i was secretly wishing we could,ve been in the same class so i gotten to know you better!
    but maybe it was just the friendship seed and now it can grow online for a season.
    kelly mentioned you on her blog and i was SUPER excited to find you through it.
    love your most recent post.
    it was fun to jump into your creative early years and catch up.
    you are a doll.
    happy to have found you…again.

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