Friday, October 17, 2008

my big fat oxymoronic day: the handmade-only craft fair in the wal-mart parking lot!!!

on saturday, october 11th, 2 of my sisters and i had a table at the wal-mart craft fair. the site fees went to the childrens miracle network. we showed up at 6:30 to set up, the fair was from 9-5. i had sadie with me as she had gotten up when i did and couldn't go back to sleep without me. the boys would come later with scotty who would be on his way to work. it was a long day. when i got home i decided to write to CG about it because i had so many many thoughts and since i'm a very lazy blogger i am just going to paste most of my letter here:

(written october 11th)
"well, we are returned from the craft fair. i didn't sell anything. it was not well organized or advertised, it seems that they simply assumed the foot traffic in and out of wal-mart would be a good customer base for a fair. uh. no.

i came home with all these mixed emotions that i couldn't quite get straight. i really felt drained from the long day, but it was more than that. so i went to putting all our things up and then to doing the dishes. aaaah. meditation time. i started processing it all, and i realized i was talking to you in my head. so i knew that writing to you was the first place to put all these thoughts. the next guessed a blog post. of course!

i didn't go into it with a deep desire to sell anything though. i'd not been looking forward to it. and last night i figured out why. i talked to scotty for awhile about it (which helped me fall asleep). i do not really want to be an artist for pay. i enjoy making things. creating. i'm good at it. but i do not want to attach the need to sell to the desire to create. you know in all those internal struggles artists have i think that it boils down to this: we don't know how to justify our desire to create for creation's sake alone. but we feel some sort of societal (which has become also an inner) push to sell. then we start to try and figure out how to do that. when we can't figure that part out we feel all those things we artists talk about feeling, which boil down to yet another thing: i am not good enough. therein lies the heart of it. and the struggle begins. especially when you want to buy supplies to create. how do i justify that?? oh, selling what i make with said supplies. and the circle begins again. scotty agreed that i really needed to detach from doing art for any other reason than that i enjoy doing it. the process. ah yes, the process. i love the process. but i hate how it often gets clouded with those voices in my mind telling me how great it will be to sell the product of that process.

as i was driving away from wal-mart, i thought...well, at least i'll still have some stuff for ARGH (we'll be having a fair there). but the thought didn't bring me any pleasure or relief or anything. this was a really distracting something...awareness? not sure what to call it. so while i was doing dishes my mind did wander to selling at ARGH. and again, it didn't settle into place well. then this light when on. i had this vision of giving things away to people. gifts. it was such a satisfying vision that i nearly forgot i was doing dishes. not kidding. i realized suddenly i was rinsing a bowl i did not remember washing. so that's where i'm at right now. in this moment. sitting here writing to you before i lost the real meat of it and also warming up some pretty amazing chili. oh but i've got so much in my head. so much more than even this. thoughts about your response to my blog post. which i totally love. because it was as if you read my mind. as if you knew the true direction i had meant to take that post. which i responded to over there. but my mind is all a buzz. a good buzz.

my favorite part of today was getting to spend all day with 2 of my sisters. i told them right from the start that that was my only expectation of the day...that if nothing else, we would get to just hang. my second favorite part was buying a jar of local apple butter and talking to the lady who made it and listening to her story of her apples and how last year they were tiny and this year they were so much better. and i have a big big brownie that i bought from a guy at the last minute sitting in the fridge for later. yum. i didn't sell anything, but i came home with so much more than a pocket full of money. so much more."

on tuesday i received a package from dickblick. i had finally decided to order myself some nice supplies back on the 3rd of the month. i have not done that since i was in college. it wasn't until late that night that i finally got a chance to open my pencils and check them out. i got a little scrap of watercolor paper and tested them. i almost cried. okay, i did cry...just a little. it felt so good, the saturation was amazing and felt so silky and delicious going down on the paper (no wrist cramp from trying to get good color). let me tell you that i've been using rose art and foohy brand colored pencils for longer than you can imagine. these pencils i got were so very worth the little extra i spent on them. no sharpening every 5 seconds from cracked leads!! when i first ordered them, i nearly puked. i was back in that justifying mode...i had ordered them before coming real clear about that. i also got some new grumbacher watercolors that i haven't tested out but i've used them before, i'm looking forward to pulling those out real soon. here are the pencils i got: koh-i-noor woodless pencils and dick blick brand colored pencils. i also got some new watercolor paper. now, what will i create???Share


mindy said...

I went through a very intense process of letting go when I decided not to perform for money anymore. I had built up a business and created something from nothing...only to find that I was intensly unhappy with the product. I became that which I didn't like. Letting go has been very cleansing. I have clarity in what dance means to me, and how I want to share it. The struggle for me was feeling like I needed to be appreciated...through fees paid...for all the hard work and creativity I brought to the table. And, yes, the money that went into the creative process needed to be least by me. Letting go has opened up a new world for that is so very much more fulfilling than the previous "professional" dancer in me brought forth. And opportunities have presented themselves...all in a way that feed not only my passion for dance, but my soul as well. You are in my thoughts...

Kass said...

I'm so sorry that you didn't sell anything. I totally forgot to ask you about it although it had been on my mind that I wanted to. I think I was meant to come here and read about it.

It seems to me that not selling anything was a real "blessing in disguise". It allowed you to process through some things.

I completely understand needing to justify expenses. We all do it. We all feel unworthy of nice things for ourselves. We can see so many other places that the money energy could be spent and we second guess our own needs.

I'm so glad that you bought new supplies. I hope you use them today. You are an amazing artist. I can't wait to see what you create next.

Heather said...

Laura, thanks for giving us the opportunity to crawl around in your brain. I appreciate so much that you are so very real, on your blog and just while hanging out. This post is really intense for me because I go through that justification thing when it comes to buying supplies. I'm so glad you just bought those pencils, and that they are actually as good as you expected!! Love :D

Anonymous said...

good post, laura. i completely agree with you.

Ren said...

Ah wow...I've been having so many internal dialogues about these kind of topics. My poor dh had no idea what he walked into when he asked me about selling my art the other night. Didn't realize he'd get his head bit off!

I don't mind selling my art...sometimes. But it does take on a different energy than when it's done just for me. I think the only truly useful art is the stuff people make from an internal place of discovery. Anything made with the idea of selling or to make someone else happy just isn't the same.

Anyway, I'm really glad you found your center and some peace on the topic. I'm also glad you were willing to get yourself some fabulous art supplies. It feels good doesn't it?:)

CG said...

I think there is a purity to art that is created because you need to create it. OTOH, I don't think it is ok to spend big bucks on supplies when the basics aren't taken care of. The "poor" in this country have cell phones and cable and yet say they need assistance with housing and food, so the priorities are screwed. One doesn't need expensive supplies to create art, as corn shuck dolls and crazy quilts are testament to.

So, while I appreciate your process, I think there are other aspects to ponder . . . and the need to justify one's self is not a bad thing.

CG said...

An additional thought to previous comment:

I do get how wonderful true quality stuff can be. Like the difference in riding on a DeKunfy saddle and a Keiffer. Or how much I love my Dehner boots and how heartbroken I was that I no longer can get my calf in them! Or that German blade makes a real difference in sawing all your heating wood.

But, a rider is not made by his saddle or his boots but by his communion with his horse, and we cut all our firewood by hand before we found out what really good blades were (that is, in fact, how we found out -- by doing it).

So, enjoy those terrific tools but well know that the artist is not really that hindered by second quality tools.

Likewise, I have never believed the saw about "you are only as good a mother as you are a person." Bull. You are only as good a mother as you are a mother, and sometimes, no, often your needs do come second (or third or fourth). But it is for such a short time. And very often there is a "blessing in disguise" in what one might have thought was deprivation or delayed gratification.

Anyway. Enjoy those pencils. And those watercolors.

laura said...

CG, sometimes quality matters. while i agree a rider is not made by her saddle. i'll bet she knows when she has a good one and she might tell you that it can make a difference in how the ride feels and how the horse feels.

let's take your admirable pies. or your bread or your cheese. let me give you inferior ingredients to make all of those and i dare you to come up with as good a product as when you are using your superior matter your skill, it will not be as good.

it is the same with art supplies. i know this to be true. you speak loud and clear and right about things you know about. i know about art supplies. so i'm speaking loud and clear and right about it. it doesn't always matter, you don't always need the very best, top of the line product. i've never had that and won't because the mid-line works well enough for my purposes. the school supply grade does not. it makes a huge difference. no matter my skill or comes out better with better materials. it just does. that's where the frustration lies. an artist IS sometimes hindered by second quality tools. your mom was an artist and i'll bet she had pretty good materials. and she would probably tell you that this was an area in which you were not as knowledgable as others.

i would never buy art supplies before putting food on the table or paying bills and rent. that is why i have bought crap quality supplies for so long. when i was recently reminded how good the better quality stuff was, i made a decision to have just a little bit of it (just like i give samuel for his artwork). i only wish i'd had the information from kass about a good ebay seller before i bought new but now i know if i ever decide to add to my new supplies where to get it cheaper.

AND i have never put my needs before my children's needs. you know that. so i do not know where that came from.

i WILL enjoy my new supplies and that too will not be at the expense of my children. hopefully i'll be able to get the voices out of my head that tell me i shouldn't have gotten new supplies long enough to actually enjoy them.

CG said...

I'll excuse the defensiveness because I wasn't talking about you so much as about ideas (as always) and, sorry, but I see a whole lot of putting something other than our kids/our family/the whole friggin' earth first before our petty desires in so many things that I think the point needs to be made and made often enough that people might hear it over the mememe IderseveIdeserveIdeserve stuff.

We can all reach the point where we decide, yeah, I can manage that. Whether we are at that point economically or not has nothing to do with our worth as human beings or as artists. Whether you have it or you don't have it, it is not what is important in life.

laura said...

i don't know that i was being defensive so much as trying to make a were you. i got that. but needed to make clear the idea of quality. and that IS what i thought we were talking about...quality...not what is all important in life. that's a whole other discussion. but i can see where it might fit in here if that were the central theme...but it wasn't. although still appreciated and understood. i just wish that my point was, that it didn't always get muddled up in other things that you feel are more important to discuss. can't we discuss all these things without losing the point of one thing at a time?

Ren said...

Maybe some people need to hear they DO deserve some good quality stuff. NOthing wrong with that. Especially someone who SO obviously puts her children's needs as a top priority and cares so deeply about these kind of issues. Giving oneself permission to have good quality is a way to honor your own passions sometimes!

Oh, and ebay isn't always the best way to buy art materials. I've had some good luck, but I also got some prismacolor pens that didn't last very long and had a few that were pretty dry.

So indulge yourself. Enjoy quality. Life is short.