Giving It Away

I've gotten some good feedback about the 'patterning' video I posted, along with some questions about how I actually carve Styrofoam (and deal with the resulting mess). I love learning about how other artists do things, so I'm putting together a video addressing that topic as well. But, you may ask, aren't you afraid of giving away your secrets? Well, maybe you're not asking that-- carving Styrofoam doesn't seem like a deep dark mystery. I do get that question a lot about my techniques for felting. In fact when I was just starting out teaching workshops I got that question a lot because the process seemed so novel. 'Aren't you giving away the milk? No one will buy the cow!' If I reveal my process, will I eliminate any market for my teaching and my finished artworks? My answer is a firm no, for a few reasons:

1) I want to work and live in a spirit of openness and generosity. Needle felting is like painting in oil is like throwing pots is like forging metal: a set of techniques and knowledge that you can use to make things. Closely guarding such information seems petty and exhausting. I've benefitted from the generosity of a free exchange of knowlege and techniques among my art community, and I like contributing to it. It would be exhausting and downright depressing to always worry that I've revealed too much and will presently be overtaken by a wave of competitors. I do what I do, you do what you do. Got a cool tip to share? Me, too! Sharing is what makes a community. 

2) It's pretty dang hard to actually copy what I do. In handmade work the hand of the artist really does come through, and someone else trying to duplicate something I've made will necessarily make it look and be different. That's particularly true in the material and subject matter I deal with, which take a lot of time and practice. In any case, copying from existing objects and the works of the masters has long been a way for artists to learn (yeah, yeah, that's some ego on me, 'The Felt Master', but you know what I mean). We all stand on the shoulders of giants, and we each come through life with our own set of experiences and outlook that inform what we contribute to the world in general and our area of expertise.

3) I'm always moving on from what I used to be doing. I learn as I go and take great pleasure in coming up with new questions, answers, and ideas. I'm not particularly interested in revisiting the same thing over and over, which is another way of saying that I feel like I'm on the leading edge of my own practice. My material for the foreseeable future continues to be fiber-based as far as I can tell because I still have a lot of unanswered questions and experiments to follow in various directions. My subject matter and the forms my sculptures take have had some unifying elements that will likely continue one way or another. What I'm saying is I embrace my own artistic change and growth and I'm forging my own path, so I don't feel threatened. It's as simple and complicated as that.

So, expect more behind-the-scenes. And if you have questions, ask me! 

Early prototypes of organic/geometric forms for potential InTouch pieces.

Early prototypes of organic/geometric forms for potential InTouch pieces.