Out of Context

Starting an art practice can be daunting. Here are my best tips and ideas to help get you set up for a sustainable practice. Out of Context. This is number thirteen in my series on How to Create Your Art Practice.

Last week I got to travel to Maryland to see my work in a museum. It was the first time I’d air traveled in several years. The change in venue and the travel made me realize that there is something so energizing about getting out of my regular context. 

Making art all the time can come with a unique set of challenges. Staying motivated and inspired is hard to do on my own sometimes. I find I do well for a while and then realize one day sort of suddenly that I’m stuck in a rut and feeling like what I’m making isn’t so fresh any more. 

Often I find when I can get out of my regular routine and try something (or someplace) new that it shakes me up enough that I start feeling more inspired and invigorated. I think my trip this past weekend will be that context switch for me. 

Museums and Galleries

I love museums. I love to see how pieces are organized in the museum space. Often I look for things that are close to what I do so I can seed my ground with some new ideas. I look at color combos and compositions. My photos are weird mishmashes of closeups, sideways shots, and info placards so I can google stuff later. 

I have photos of works by Cy Twombly, Robert Rauchenberg, Mickalene Thomas, Hedda Sterne, and Robert Pruitt. But nothing got me as juiced as the Annabeth Rosen: Fables exhibit which contained numerous works on paper. These were glorious pieces where she’d made collage from strips of gouache paintings. Those “sketches” she then translated into some wild sculptures made out of ceramic tubes. The final pieces looked organic and reminded me of schools of fish in the ocean clumped together and moving in tandem. 

I saw a couple of really great pieces at The Branch Museum of Architecture and Design. They were both so reasonably priced that if they hadn’t been sold already, I probably would have swiped my credit card before I took my next breath. Gotta go look them up to see if the artist has an online store…

But I also took this photo that I’m incorporating into something soon, maybe even my next piece: 

It’s called “Helper” and it is an architectural installation for the DMAD Design Build Challenge 2021 by An Liu, a.k.a. Sledge. I took this picture standing inside the structure looking up at the sky. Can’t wait to collage it into something.

Staying someplace new

When I travel, I try to find someplace unique to stay. Fancy is great but not always budget friendly. Unique is usually manageable even on a budget. 

On this most recent trip, I was staying with a friend who provided me with an extremely luxurious guest suite. Her whole house was filled with soothing colors and beautiful art. So there was always something lovely for my eye to land on. I enjoyed both the respite from my home responsibilities and being in a new place. 

The renewal I feel about being back in my own space now is tremendous. All my things are both familiar and yet somehow fresh from my time away. I’m itching to unleash the novelty of taking in that new place in my art.

Breathing new air

This seems silly, even as I type it. It feels like a weird thing to say in these pandemic times but breathing some new air in a different place is a very real thing for me. I’m going to be carrying around the smell of the river in Richmond for a while. And the smell of the rain in the forest at the Annmarie Sculpture Garden where we went to see my work.

Something about those things really gets me energized and thinking about what I can make. I know some of it is novelty. But clearly there’s something about water specifically because both of my strongest memories involve the smell of water. Will I create things with images of water? Probably not. But maybe I will. Right now I’m just busy holding onto the excitement the new air stirred in me.

Sorta the end

All of this chatter about taking my experiences and making art makes me want to take my experiences and make art!! So I’m off to the studio to get my hands dirty!

Additionally, I’m wrapping up my series with this post. I may post under this header from time to time but for now I feel like I’ve said all I have to say about creating an art practice. I’d still love to hear your questions, so if you think of something you’d like to know about, please don’t hesitate to send me an email! Thanks for spending some of your reading time on this series!