Friday, October 1, 2010

Eye of the Beholder


In my last post, I introduced a new feature called Guess the Artist, whereby I intend to post photos of a scarf in progress and let you all guess the painter inspiring the design. My first photo was a pile of yarn.  Your first clue was that this painter is late 20th/early 21st century and not American. Your second clue is that this painter is FEMALE. The second photo seen above is just a section of what will be the final piece, and I have no idea how things will go from here, as they have already not gone where I intended, which is a very good feeling indeed.
the horror, the horror

Which brings me to my failed experiments creating wrist warmers for sale at upcoming markets. I should have known this would be a doomed venture when I approached it under the pressure of somehow solving this riddle of weak sales by giving the buyers what I thought they might want.  Suddenly, not only did all the joy of the creative process drain out of me, but I found myself creating one botched piece after another, as if I had suddenly forgotten how to crochet. I could call the two pieces above my Wrist Warmers for Special Needs but I might risk offending someone out there who has one thick bear claw for a left hand, and one skinny bird claw for a right.  I mean, I made a brick wall out of fiber last week, and now I can’t make a simple 8 by 8 square that folds in half and gets sewn up the side leaving a thumbhole?

 unplug the jukebox and do us all a favor

Then I remembered a beautiful rant I read the other day about the evil of artists following too many rules instead of just painting from instinct. Many thanks, Caio, for such a timely post! Yet, here I was doing just what he was entertaining murderous thoughts about – applying formulas to a process that should happen wordlessly, freely, naturally.  Like dancing. Like I used to when I was 19, and the parents were out of town, and we rearranged and redecorated the entire apartment to look like a cross between a dorm room and a bordello, including replacing all the light bulbs with red ones.

for no other reason than because I like this photo, damnit!

Anyway… I should have known I was digging myself a hole the more I tried to create something from a set program, on a time schedule, according to specifications and expectations of what the public might consider useful and attractive! But soon I saw the error of my ways, set my project aside and gave myself the treat of starting the mystery scarf, which I don’t plan on selling at any market. I’m making it out of a spirit of pure fun, and passion, and not surprisingly the second I started it, with no preliminary sketches or measurements or notions about what “works,” just a deep feeling of the color palette and spirit of the painter I am using for inspiration, the work just FLOWED. No decisions were made based on any preconceived notions. The only guide for the next move was the move that came before. And I don’t care if anyone likes it, because I’m enjoying making it. Period.


Yesterday, Brian  posted about the effects of one man’s ill-tempered and ill-mannered and just plain wrong critique of his work, and how it just made him that much more firm in his sense of who he is and what he does as an artist. Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. If someone doesn’t like my work, it's not my problem. The reality of bringing in some income aside, it is never a bad thing to learn this lesson over and over again, that we have to follow our instincts and please ourselves first and foremost. Once you start following other people’s opinions, rules, needs or tastes, you are completely fucked as an artist. Dancing is fine, as long as it is not to anyone else’s tune!

OMG, I just admitted to being a fan of Adam & the Ants in the EIGHTIES. I really must not care what people think!


  1. Hey Gabriella. That is a nice challange,,but unfortunately i have ni clue about what artist she could be. Thanks for all of your comments about my pictures,,i highly appreciate them,,and hope you keep enjoying with my work =)

    Regards and wish you all the best.

  2. Hello, Alberto! Nice to see you here. I do enjoy your pictures very much! As for my guessing game, I will continue to post photos of the scarf in progress, and the clues will be a little more specific each time. If I do my work well, when the truth is revealed you will all be thinking "why didn't I see it before?"

  3. Gabriella...what can I say about this post, except I know, I know, I know. And I wish for you, and for all the other artists who struggle this way, that we didn't have to relearn the hard way over and over again. But there it is...we know that the thing to do is to make our work from the inside out and yet, before we know it, once again we're caught up making it from the outside in. It works for many people, but not me...I know that "wristwarmer syndrome" in my own work! It's hard when you need to make the sales, unfortunately. Go for the flow...always...

  4. Hi Patti! I'm sorry you struggle with this stuff too, but it's good to know you sympathize! I'll have to remember your words and use them as a mantra -- "inside out not outside in!" One of the nice things about getting older and surviving my own worst habits is I can recognize them when they return and turn them back around more quickly each time. Humor helps. The postscript is that I started a final pair of wrist warmers last night, with a clear head and no agenda, and they are coming along great this time! Many thanks for stopping by. Sending a hug from the east coast...

  5. You`re so right about everything!!!

    Yeah, dance dance dance!!! I love to dance alone in home...ahahaha...this is so relaxing and at the same time energizing.....and increase the serotonina...ahaha
    Don`t worry about to fail some new works, art borns from pain and hard work. Just don`t give up!
    Kisses, hermosa!

  6. I'll be putting up an image soon of my latest work - it seemed I needed a little crisis to get my juices flowing again! No chance this girl will ever give up! I'm Italian and we can be very very stubborn! Many thanks, Crissant, for your comments. Kisses back to you!

  7. i am glad that i was able to take a time today and see blogs .
    this post is priceless.

  8. One of my daughters is working in an advertising
    agency. She is very gifted and bright. But she
    has to squeeze her brain every day for coming up
    of new ideas, to satisfy the client.
    She is not happy at all, that she cannot work
    with a free spirit..
    I don't know if you understand, what this got to
    do with you..
    Anyway, I know very well what it means for an
    artist to be free and calm and remain himself.
    Hugs from me,

  9. Caio - I'm glad you had time to visit me! Especially since you were part of the story and inspiration behind this posting. Strange how all our ideas and passions are starting to weave together!

    Monika, I know EXACTLY what your daughter is going through! I think most of my 23 year long working life in an office was spent feeling that my free spirit was being squeezed every day! It is why I risked everything two months ago, leaving my job finally to live as I need to and want to, as an artist working for myself only. Even if I have money troubles, and crises of creativity trying to support myself, it is still 100 percent better than working for someone else! I hope your daughter can find a better balance in her life - if she is anything like her Mom, she is a force of nature not to be contained or commanded! Hugs back to you both!

  10. Your posts are so inspiring Gabriella and i can relate to a lot you're writing about creativity and the "wrist-warmer syndrome" (i like that) I think every artist experience this sometimes.
    And than you remember if you don't push yourself and want to please a future customer your creative energy floats again and you also make some beautiful wrist-warmers.
    The wrist-warmers on the photo could have been placed in a little box, named; "Wrist-warmers for special needs * the wrist-warmer syndrome of any artist. Thanks to all ill-tempered critics." :-D

    I think i recognise some in the clue about the artist, but i'm not sure yet. I await patiently another clue.

    I love the photo of the 19 year old Gabriella and HA! i danced also on Adam and the ants and Bowwowwow in the 80ies.....


  11. My dear Luna! So good to see you here - and I hope you are soon to emerge from your own inner struggles. I do believe any hardship we artists go through can only lead to better things and a stronger sense of who we are and what we need to do! I'm happy to report that the new wrist warmers are good - I'll be sharing them soon here - and that yesterday's market resulted in TWO beautiful scarves being sold - I was almost sad to see them go! The cold weather worked in my favor, I think - the buyers walked away wearing their new purchases! So, I'm a little happier now! Hugs to you, my dear.

  12. Good for you..... I agree that you cannot make things for the sake of selling them. I personally cannot make what people want. I am hopeless at commission work and have to make what my heart and head dictate or I'm stuffed.

    Glad to see you are not becoming commercial.


  13. I think I'm a lot like you, T! It isn't that I don't WANT to be practical and set aside my own inner directives to make something perhaps not a complete betrayal of my aesthetic, but maybe just a little more "to order," it's just that whenever I do try, it comes out crap! A little mental self-trickery may long as I tell myself that whatever I'm working on is really for me and me alone, it comes out great!

  14. My musical tastes were closer to the punk end off the spectrum but I must admit that I didn't hate Adam and the Ants back in the early 1980's. Heck if even now I'd probably listen if they came on the radio. However I wouldn't to see a New Romantic revival. :)
    That photo of the bare tree is excellent!

  15. Welcome, James! Yes, the New Romantics were kinda cheesy - I was way more into punk back then too - better music and it was a lot easier to dress the part - ripping some holes in your jeans and t-shirt is a lot easier than dressing up like some kind of fancy gypsy pirate! Glad you liked the tree photo! It was actually taken from six floors up - through a window!