October 23, 2011

Peggy's Progress
        (Not to be confused with John Bunyan’s tale of agony and doom!)

You've read about Peg Grady, and over time you'll meet other talented people here who are already living the creative life. I on the other hand have spent my life on the sidelines. Surrounded by creative people, I have lurked in the shadows, not daring to consider that I was one myself. But now I'm committed to making the leap and doing the work, and I'll report back here from time to time to share my progress. First, so you know just where my path starts—a bit of background.

As a kid I never thought of myself as artistic or creative. My two cousins, Susan and Betty, were both what I considered to be artists. We spent one summer publishing our own “fashion magazine” which in the early 1960’s meant we literally made one copy of ink outline drawings, from which my aunt made black and white copies at work. We then hand-colored covers and the inside designs and forced our relatives to buy them. Compared to my cousins, my drawings were stiff and the faces and bodies of my fashion models were not quite right, or so I thought.

In junior high I took one basic art class where I did a few nice watercolors of fruit. I liked those and I even think I have them stuffed in a box somewhere. My next foray was in high school when I again took one art class. In the 10th grade my friend Kathy Erteman and I took ceramics. My ceramic pieces ended up super bottom-heavy or others had to be salvaged as planters due to the holes I’d mistakenly pierced into the bottoms while trying to trim their bases. Kathy went on to work in porcelain and beautiful glazes and as you’ll read in a future issue of Outside the Lines, she’s pursued ceramics as her art and living ever since.

In college I again took one art class (see a pattern developing here?)—this time a bronze sculpture class. I had no clue what I wanted my piece to be or look like and I eyed the work of my classmates for inspiration. I fumbled around and ended up with a piece that to this day I don’t know what it is, except that it isn’t particularly pretty or interesting and it doesn’t even stand up on its own. I have now endowed it to Michael for the purpose of recycling the hunk of bronze.

In my late 40’s I would drive from Santa Cruz to San Francisco every Tuesday night for a wonderful class called Woodworking for Women with the amazing artist, designer and furniture maker, Debey Zito. (Watch for her story in a future issue.) I loved working with wood, the tools, the smell of the shop, but I never ventured beyond the “assigned projects.” I made a lovely Japanese style tool box and a pine bench, all with beautiful wood joinery, simple, but I think very nice. And though I dabbled with a few sketches, I never got to the stage where I designed or made a piece from my own inspiration.

For the last 8 years I’ve worked part-time for an architectural firm full of talented and wonderful people. We often have design “charettes” where the architects and designers all get out their flimsy/tracing paper and sketch out quick concepts for buildings and sites. It’s a fun and exciting process that I participate in from the sidelines and no one seems to mind that I don’t draw—I just talk a lot. I talk about what they’ve come up with and I chime in about what the client needs, or what features are missing—but I don’t draw. For two years I had the book The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: A Course in Enhancing Creativity and Artistic Confidence by Dr. Betty Edwards under my bed but never got through reading more than a chapter or two and never did any of the exercises.

I tell you all this as a way of demonstrating that I’ve never felt very artistic or creative. I’ve always believed that there are naturally talented or gifted people in this world and then there are the rest of us who are not. I love creative and beautiful things and people, but I have no idea how to design something from scratch or take a vision (don't even think I have those) and make something out of it. People like Peg and my husband Michael amaze me. I have no clue where Michael gets his ideas for his work—he says he just starts working on something and it happens. I have never, ever experienced that. So why not?

This is something I hope to explore for myself over the coming months in the hope that it will help others in the same boat. I'll report back now and then to let you know how it's going.

Stuff We Like

One of our favorite blogs is Red Dot, from Xanadu Gallery. Jason Horejs operates Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona, and offers a wide range of on-line resources for artists, including both free and paid webinars and other resources on topics like gallery/artist relationships, marketing your art, photographing art, and much more. Xanadu is an essential addition to your bookmark list!

Next Month's Interview…

Next month will feature an interview with Kenny Endo. Kenny is an internationally renowned Taiko drummer. Operating from his home base in Hawaii, Kenny has performed for Princess Diana and Prince Charles, Michael Jackson, Sting, and MOMA, and is on the cutting edge in traditional Taiko and experiments in progressive and innovative collaborations with a wide range of other musical and performance disciplines. He opened for The Who, performed a duet with singer Bobby McFerrin, and is featured on the soundtracks for Kayo Hatta’s film Picture Bride and Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. He also recorded in a motion capture suit for James Cameron’s Avatar.

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