Tuilerie Sailboats March 11, 2007Tuilerie Sailboat by Juggling Mom

There are times when running a studio business is very much like running a ship.  As captain, I chart a course amongst the craggy reefs of financial ruin and artistic failure. I tack to the winds of fashionable indifference, and intense competition… I set my sails for that ever elusive artful inspiration, and ride the waves confident of success. But what happens when one’s studio feels becalmed? That last tsunami-gust of artistic insight is but a fading memory, and there’s no land in sight. What then?

A true sea captain will study the currents, and prepare for the inevitable return of the wind. He won’t sit around bemoaning the current lack of wind, no, instead he will study the surrounding area for clues to the next wind, and make sure his craft is ship shape!

As an artist, I know that inspiration can be a fickle thing, and that my enthusiasm has to carry me through even when the activities at hand during the “becalmed” times are frustrating, boring, and tedious. The increasing piles of paperwork that threaten to avalanche disastrously if you so much as breathe in their directions… Sorting out one’s scrap pile for usable materials versus the need-to-be-professionally-reclaimed materials…. Making sure one’s studio is ship-shape, basically. But there are other things that an artist can do in these times.

Perhaps taking a class is out of the question for one reason or another- but what about talking to other artists from a different discipline? Really learn what makes their craft so amazingly interesting to them, and I guarantee you will gain new insight into your own craft. Where do you think my knit bracelets came from, after all?

Or maybe this is the time to create your own wind machine. You’ve lost inspiration, enthusiasm, and drive- so go take it back! Give yourself permission to life the restrictions you’ve placed on yourself. We all have these, self-imposed or not. Budgets are tight, children are distracting, there’s no room to work, you work during the day- what ever your restrictions are, imagine what you would create if they weren’t there.

If there was no limit on what you could create, what would it be? Visualize it so strongly that you can nearly hold it in your hands. Then be practical, sort of, as you cooly consider what it would take if you were to actually create that dream piece. Where would you order the materials from? What would your studio area need to look like to create that piece? What new skills would you need? Don’t just get discouraged because you can’t make that right now. Get inspired by what you want to make- and then look for the first small steps you need to take to get to that stage.

Personally, I immediately mentally reach for forged 18k gold, a huge sheet of reticulated gold, a set of large flawless Emeralds, a thick coil of Palladium-Silver, and a large pile of IF diamonds. You should see the design notebook I have dedicated to this series of ideas. When I get discouraged, I research Emerald gem houses, ethical diamond companies, and all the types of skills I would need to show off such a set of gems in the best light. I read up on working with Palladium alloys, and how to heat treat 18k gold… Then I race to the shop, filled with enthusiasm that I will- without a doubt– make these amazing pieces.

It may not be today, and that’s okay. I know I’m not actually ready today. But I keep a weather eye out for the winds that will send me on my way. All I need is a second wind.

Where are your winds blowing you?