Wow! The new catalog of classes for the John C. Campbell Folk School just came out a couple of weeks ago and my “Pysanky For All” class August 20-26, 2017, is nearly full. This is such thrilling news for me because it means I get to go back to that lovely spot in North Carolina and “play eggs” for a whole week with students of all skill levels.
I love teaching beginners. My favorite part is watching their faces as they remove the wax from their very first egg and see the colorful results. And I love seeing their excitement as they progress through the week, improving in skill and beginning to come up with design ideas on their own.
I also love teaching those already experienced with this wax and dye process. Helping them stretch their artistic muscles as they work with new colors, or techniques, or styles is great fun for me. I learn almost as much as they do as we work through the week together.
Here is a photo of the work my class did for the big “Show and Tell” celebration at the end of the week. Didn’t they do a great job? I feel like a proud parent!
This time of year often brings thoughts about new beginnings but a profound insight hit me recently. As I reached for a fresh egg to begin yet another project I realized that each egg gives me another chance to have fun, to change my approach, to improve my skill, to make a completely different egg than the last one. In other words, every egg is a “do over.” And I am so thankful that I don’t have to be stuck with the past, but can grow and change and develop as an artist as I work on the next egg.
Here’s the amazing thing though. This principle applies not just to egg art, but to life as well. All of life is one big “potential” when you think about it. Each day is a “do over” that waits for me to move forward one small step at a time. I really like that perspective. So look out 2012, here I come.
What a joy to spend a high energy week teaching kids about art and God. And I don’t say that very often because I highly value my personal, quiet spaces in life. I am definitely not a high-energy extrovert but I love watching kids blossom as they discover their own artist within.
This year’s class was the best ever. My five fifth and sixth grade girls picked up the basics of using the wax and dyes very quickly and soon began experimenting with colors and designs on their own eggs. And best of all, as they concentrated our classroom became a tiny quiet oasis amidst the chaos of over 400 smiling kids, helpers, teachers, musicians, and support staff across the Oak Hills Church campus. I think my class, students and teachers alike, especially enjoyed that part of each day.
The week finished on a high note with a Friday night Showcase for all the parents. Afterwards exhausted but excited, I found myself already looking forward to next year’s Arts Camp. Incredible, isn’t it? In spite of the hectic schedule, the crazy hours, and the energy it took many of us felt this same way. It’s a God thing.
April 9, 2011 from 7 to 9 PM
Enjoy a relaxed evening at the Fair Oaks Village Second Saturday Art Walk. I’ll be a Bella Fiore Florist from 7 to 9 PM answering questions about these eggs.
In addition this Saturday evening will be a time to say farewell to current owners, Bill and Deborah Brown, and say hello to new owners, Dawn and Chris Conyers. See their blog for more details.
St. John’s Art Festival opens with a reception Saturday, March 12, 2011, from 5 to 9 PM at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 1701 L Street, Sacramento. This collection of religious and spiritual works runs through Saturday, March 19.
One of my pieces was accepted to this show, and submitting a piece to a juried art show is scary, there is just no way around that. Fear can keep an artist from sharing and sometimes even creating work. I know because I’m all too familiar with the self-talk that tells me my pysanky eggs are just a “little thing I do” and not really art.
When I stopped to think about my art-related fears, I realized they mirror my personal fears. “Will-anyone-else-like-my-eggs” is really just me saying “will-anyone-else-like-me?” “My-art-is-no-good” becomes “I-am-no-good,” and on and on.
I know to survive as an artist I must learn to separate my art from own self-worth. And to grow and thrive as a person I need to embrace this separation. The tricky part is putting this simple truth into practice. But practice takes…well, practice, so one step at a time I’m working on this personal spiritual discipline by putting my art out into the “real world” beyond my comfort zone. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth the effort.
…or Making the Leap from “I Do This Art” to “I am an Artist”
It’s taken me years to actually refer to myself an artist. And I think I’m not alone in my reluctance to claim the label. There is something mysterious and wonderful and scary about that term. If I call myself an artist, then I have to produce art, and be good at art and sell art, and make money selling art, or so we think.
Truthfully the title “artist” is helpful because it describes a way people look at the world…not simply as things you can see and touch and define, but in a way that pierces the thin veil between our finite world and God-breathed eternity. And whether I call myself an artist or not doesn’t change the fact that I am an artist. Simple, huh? Well, not really.
Let me take you layer by layer through my own gradual journey to claiming the title artist.
Layer 1—I Can Create. As did many others, I began exploring creative avenues early in life. For most of us it starts with school projects. Those simple drawings led me to creative writing to playing at miniatures to quilting to cross-stitch to clothespin people and eventually to discovering the fascinating world of pysanky. And now looking back I can follow the thread of creativity through the years.
Layer 2—I Can Do This Egg Thing. Pysanky, the layering of wax and dyes on eggshells, is a simple art yet it holds endless possibilities in terms of color and design. I taught myself the basics from a book and found I loved the challenge presented by each new egg. Even the failures provided valuable lessons as I honed my craft.
Layer 3—I’m Improving. The finished egg was never the goal for me but the process of creating was. I treasured my quiet time creating, leaving the rest of the world behind. My family got to see those works but rarely did anyone else so years of finished eggs lay hidden away in a closet.
Layer 4:—Am I an Artist? Eventually I began to give away some of these treasured creations to family and close friends. I was so used to seeing these eggs and thinking them commonplace, that the response they evoked surprised me. It made me realize that in sharing my work, I not only gave pleasure to others, I felt incredibly blessed as well. Gradually I let others into the private world of my art, and with much prodding from other artist friends, I “went public” with a solo show at the Art & Soul Gallery in 2006. Developing a website seemed like a reasonable next step but it took years and much hand-holding. Making the eggs is easy, marketing myself and my work is not.
Layer 5—I Am an Artist…I Think. By releasing my work to the world at large, I opened myself to praise and to criticism. This is where real and imagined fears come to the surface and they can paralyze an artist. I know, I’ve been there. And sometimes I’m still there. Thoughts like these race through my head. What will they think or worse, what will they say? What if they don’t like my work, and by extension me? What if my work really isn’t good and no one told me? What if…? I have to remind myself continually that what people think of my art, doesn’t change my work or my passion for it.
Layer 6—I Am an Artist…and So Are You. Having come this far, I sometimes have the privilege of seeing and encouraging other fledgling artists in their own journeys. Being an artist is mostly a solo gig. There’s no getting around the hard, often solitary work it takes to produce art. But because of that, there is great need for community among artists, for standing shoulder to shoulder, for walking together, for helping others to see themselves as God-created artists. Whether we practice our art or not, each of us is an artist and fellow traveler in life’s journey. How much sweeter is the trip when we link arms and help each other along the way.