Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays from Peggy & Michael

The holiday season is rapidly coming to a crescendo, with Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and of course, the Burning of the Clocks, all crowding into a two week period. But you might not realize that this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other ethnic and in some cases, archaic observances that fall precisely in this same window of time. Amaterasu, Beiwe, Brumalia, Chawmos, Deygān, Maidyarem, Dōngzhì, Goru, Hogmanay, Inti Raymi, Junkanoo (John Canoe), Karachun, Koleda, Lá an Dreoilín (Wren day), Lenaia, Lucia, Makara Sankranti, Maruaroa o Takurua, Grianstad an Gheimhridh, Mōdraniht, Mummer's Day, Rozhanitsa, Shab-e Chelleh, Sanghamitta, Saturnalia, Şewy Yelda, Sol Invictus, Soyal, We Tripantu, Zagmuk, Ziemassvētki, to name a few.

Whatever festivities and celebrations you have engaged yourself in this season, we hope you are making the most of it, and whatever you do, don't hold back!

Many of you who are getting this note have a full subscription to Outside the Lines and will be receiving your regular installment, with Peggy's Progress, a quick preview of the January interview, a link to something special we have found on the web this month, and more on Christmas morning.

For those of you who are hanging out in the free list, there is still time to get a full subscription started before the Christmas morning issue. Just go to the Subscribe button below. (There is a small processing delay, so if you wait until Saturday night you might not get the Sunday delivery on time.)

And of course, there is still time to get a subscription for a creative person who is special to you before Christmas. A subscription is a very economical gift that keeps on coming every week. We don't have a dedicated way to do gift subscriptions on the Amazon Payments system, but we can easily get around that, so send us an email if you're interested and we'll make it happen.

Get your copy of The Element
by Sir Ken Robinson

We want you to have your own copy of The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Sir Ken Robinson. We love this book, and think it will be a great addition to your library. In fact, we want to buy you a copy. There's more information here.
In the mean time, here are links to a couple of wonderful TED talks by Sir Ken in case you are not familiar with his work:
Schools Kill Creativity, Feb 2006, Monterey CA
Bring On the Learning Revolution! Feb 2010, Long Beach CA

contact us
Have you got an idea for Outside the lines, or question for us?
Drop us a line!

Peggy Sonoda

Michael Reddell
PO Box 160
Cambria, CA 93428
See our website for more information about us.
Subscribe to Outside the Lines to get our interviews delivered to your email box on the first Sunday each month, along with additional emailed articles during the course of the month. Subscribers also get full access to our Member Resource directory. There you will find all of our interviews, articles, and other resources that we provide to subscribers.
Copyright © 2011 Windhook®. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

This Week in Outside the Lines

Both of today's articles were inspired by a comment that Randy Stromsoe made in his interview last week. Here's a brief excerpt from what came up in today's installment.

Finding Your Audience

When we interviewed Randy Stromsoe for last week's installment of OTL, we wrapped up with a question that we ask every time we interview an artist.
What would you tell somebody that's just breaking in and trying to make an art career happen?
We always get interesting answers to that question, and what Randy had to say was no exception.

"I think I'd find what show fits your work. It's easy to get excited if you have an arena where they like your work and you're a celebrity. If I just tried to make it in Cambria or San Luis Obispo, I would have been so frustrated. If I never took a chance and went to the East Coast then my life wouldn't have worked out. You have to find these arenas and so much of it is word of mouth by talking to other artists and looking at their brochures and what work they've pushed before...
Some areas sell a lot of what we do. If I go back to Philadelphia to the Museum of Art's Craft Show I have more buyers than anywhere else. They also promoted me more than anywhere else. That show has been really good to me and the people who go to those shows have bought a lot."
The natural inclination of most of us is to start small, start local, and build up and out from there. That intuition works for a florist shop or a jeweler or a service business like swimming pool service, dry cleaning, or auto repair. But art is a little different from most other businesses. An artist is working with a product that has very specialized and intangible appeal. There are regional differences in taste and interest, and the general public in most towns has little understanding of the pricing and value of art.
Add to this the fact that many of us as artists choose to live where our environment is conducive to our creativity rather than where our natural market is. Windhook, for example, is on the central coast of California in one of the most amazing geographies and climates that we know of. We located here because the creative energy of the place works for us. But San Luis Obispo County is not a major art center. We do have several good art organizations here, and a higher than average concentration of good artists than many places of comparable size. But this does not equate to a local art market strong enough to support all those good artists.
Of course this is not to suggest that you ignore your local market...

In addition to the rest of the article quoted above, there was a second article in today's installment about the role that galleries and artist's representatives can play in solving the puzzle of finding your natural market. You can get to both of these articles and all the rest of our member resources when you activate your full subscription. We hope you will join us soon!
Peggy & Michael 

See our website for more information about us. 

Copyright © 2011 Windhook®. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Stepping Outside the Lines

Go to Outside the Lines now

At Windhook we are launching a new project that we want you to know about!
Outside the lines is Windhook's email journal about living the creative life. In the first issue each month, we feature an in-depth conversation with someone who's following their creative calling. We talk about the rewards and the challenges, the hurdles they've overcome, and that they still face. We talk to creative people in lots of disciplines with unique personal experiences. These conversations are a great learning tool, illustrating how unique, and also how common to us all the issues are. On the remaining Sundays, we send you articles about various issues common to living the creative life.
Here are just a few of the topics we cover:
  • Making the leap from traditional job security to a freelance creative life
  • Motivation and resistance—what makes you go and what holds you back
  • Making time and space for your work
  • Marketing and showing your work
  • The business side of the creative life
  • Creative ways to make ends meet
  • Resources for creativity that we have found on the web and in the world
For starters, take a look at the October and November editions here. And if you subscribe right away you will get all the new postings starting with our interview with silversmith Randy Stromsoe on December 4. Or at least sign up for the free updates to follow our progress.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Report from the back 40

Windhook literally has a back 40 acres, and I took my first hike up there this summer. (I've been pretty busy with the front 18) Here's what I found today.

  • Two large trees down across the jeep trail, and numerous smaller branches, all from winter storms. Also a medium small tree down in the fairy circle.
  • A bee tree I didn't know about. It has one of the downed trees leaning up against it, and will probably need to have the bees moved to a hive before I start cutting. The bee tree is bringing in bright yellow pollen, whereas the hive I am managing is bringing in greyish pollen. They are within 1500 feet of each other, so this is curious. These two hives must be foraging from extremely localized sources.
  • Several new patches of distaff, a noxious thistle that tends to invade and choke grazing land. I clear up whatever I find every year in July before it sets seeds.
  • More Italian thistle and bull thistle than ever before. These are not considered problem weeds by ranchers but I would prefer less rather than more. The solution is to get cows on the hills.
  • The high spring is running as always. low volume but steady. It will supply a water trough when the cows go in.

So my work is cut out for me. time to tune up the chain saws, take the backhoe off the tractor, find the choke chain and cables and head up the hill to do a little logging. (We get more firewood than we can use just from clearing winter storm damage.)

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Personal Cost of Making Art

A good friend of mine recently asked me this question:
" you think that true art (if it could be defined) is only created at great personal cost to the artist? Is a decent into madness usually required? In which case, perhaps Windhook may need an asylum!"

Here, unedited, is the response I gave her. I might have more to say on this later, but this is a pretty good launching point for the subject.

"Madness is not required, but is not uncommon. That's all I will say directly on that, although it might pop up again in the discussion of personal cost.

Suffering and personal cost are a little more complicated. The great personal cost to the artist has many components. Art cannot be reduced to economics. One cannot place a per-hour dollar value on the effort involved in making art. One cannot base one's commitment to make art on how well it will be received, or whether or not the effort will be adequately compensated to justify it. Those who actually practice as artists will almost uniformly agree that it is an obsession. That it is absolutely necessary, whether it pays or not. Most will tell you that they work for pennies per hour. Most do not make a living. Most have endured cold and calculating responses, insults, either intended or otherwise, and have had times when it seemed that no one saw the value in their work. Artists who "make it" are the tip of the iceberg and typically have paid their dues. Often even the successful artist doesn't make a living wage.

All of this is because art does not belong in commerce and cannot be evaluated there. And yet there is no mechanism in this culture to insulate and protect artists from the fact that commerce is the only tangible measure of success, and the only mechanism for survival. If you can't sell it you won't get by.

This situation separates potential artists into several categories. 1.) Those with talent who are not driven enough to walk away from economic stability to do the work. 2.) Those who have the financial means not to have to make that decision. Many of these cannot overcome the other hurdle, which is rejection by the art world. Rejection is usually based as much on unfamiliarity as on lack of merit. 3.) Those who are driven to art no matter what. They will live in poverty and work when no one cares. It is only these who "make it" ... sometimes posthumously.

The high art auction market speaks to the issue of familiarity, as well as to the artificial measure of art that comes from applying the template of commerce to it. Rent the movie "Incognito" or "Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?" or watch this video to get a sense of how toxic the infiltration of investment capital into the art market has become.

I could talk about this subject for a lot longer, but I'll come up for air here and wait for your response. The Mona Lisa Curse video is a good place to start, and should be seen before the others probably, which is convenient since it is viewable online."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The stories we tell ourselves

I spent nearly 40 of my nearly 59 years not doing much art. From the age of 14 I knew I was an artist, and that there was no other true path for me to follow. And for all of those years when I was doing not much art, I still knew this thing that was so obvious to me from early adolescence.

So what happened? How did I spend so many good productive years in the prime of my life not doing the thing that was known to me to be my core intention and calling? I spend a little time on this question from time to time, but not too much. I know that I cannot recall those years, and I know that they have shaped who I am, and inform the nature of the art that I am doing today. It's all good.

But a little reflection on the path I have taken, and the choices I have made can be useful. As I have looked back into these artistically sparse periods of my life, I notice that there was a lot of the voice in my head at those times...the voice that tells stories about why things are not possible. And I notice that the stories are not very unique, and not very imaginative.

The stories provide cover for procrastination. I need more money. I don't have enough time. No one appreciates my art (which of course they have not seen because it's still in my head.) I'm too tired at the end of a long day, or a long week. I have to keep this job, which takes up all my time and energy. I have jury duty. The dog ate my ...

These stories have a way of weaseling into our lives even when we think we are making progress. It amazes me to consider that for most of the past 7 years that we have been working on Windhook, I made the excuse that creating Windhook justified not making art. How crazy is that! It has only been in the past year and a half that I have called that little bluff and begun to make and show art in earnest.

There is, of course, a singular reason for all of these stories and devices, but it is a reason we don't like to look at. It is the fear that action will lead to failure. If I put it off, it will not be my downfall. If I keep it in the future, it cannot bring me disappointment. What if I put myself out there and no one appreciates my work? What if no one even notices? Procrastination combines this fear with anticipation to create a rather peculiar little monster, obsessed with a goal but paralyzed against taking steps to achieve it.

The reality is that none of these stories are capable to prevent one from making art. They are sometimes true, but never compelling. If you are clear and conscious about the fears and uncertainties that haunt the creative life, and commit yourself to face these demons head on, art will happen in defiance of all the contrary circumstances.

I know this is true from the experience of the past few years. It takes stepping off the locomotive of future-focus storytelling. It means walking every moment in present conscious action...dealing with what comes, as it comes, rather than telling and listening to stories about what might beset an imaginary future.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Studio 33 revisited

The day I thought I was getting my final inspection, the inspector decided to require some changes to the landings at the doors. He has been walking over these landings since I put them in in November, but I guess it just caught his attention. Oh well. I'm building decks anyway and will just bump my schedule forward to meet his requirements. The only other thing is the fire department final inspection. Studio 33 will be done by the end of May or early June if all goes well.