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Sunday, September 02, 2007

My Sacred Life and Committed to Creativity

The last few days have felt like maybe I should just be COMMITTED. Period. I've fallen behind in writing about my Sacred Life and about what I've been doing that's creative, so this is my attempt at a catch-up for everything, bad and good, that's been going on around here.

I'm spending the weekend with just the girls, as Joel has recently been invited to play baseball with a very good traveling team from Visalia--So he and Richard are at a tournament in Santa Maria this weekend. I let the Katie have three girlfriends over to spend Friday night (what was I thinking?!!). Actually they were great, but when they left they were all going to a birthday party to which Katie had not been invited. To Katie's credit, she handled it very well, helping them to make birthday cards out here in the studio, and even helping to wrap the presents, since I said I'd drop the girls off instead of their moms coming to get them and then bringing them back for the party, which was just down the road from us. Incidents like this make me feel very humble and blessed, watching twelve-year-old Katie deal so graciously with something that would be difficult for me at 43...

I've sold two paintings during the last ten days, always exciting to think that someone wants to share my art...

I got an email Friday morning from another artist that threw me for a loop. She explained that she has been using the sea urchins (from Albertus Seba's 'Cabinet of Curiousities') for a long time as trees, and that they were sort of her thing, and she was attached to them, and would I stop using them. I went and looked, and sure enough, she's done LOTS and LOTS of paintings using the sea urchins as trees. So I started to reply, saying 'oh, certainly, I won't use them as I can see you're very attached to them, I can go back to using flowers and decorative papers' and then I thought--wait a minute. She mentions 'artistic integrity' as though I copied her, which I did not. It really bothered me, not only that she would write to me in the first place, but that, just like a 'nice girl,' I would just automatically do as she asked. Now the truth is, I probably won't use them anymore, since after seeing all her many many many paintings using them, I want to use something else. But I am not going to apologize or make promises when I did nothing wrong.

This was an unpleasant experience, but looking at it from a little distance I can see that this is part of my Sacred Life Journey as well. Just as five years ago I could not have stood up to the neighbors about their killer dogs, five years ago I would have apologized just to make someone else happy, even if it wasn't the right thing for me. Am I making sense? I'm growing and stretching a little bit here, I think.

Last night Katie and Jenny and I spent some time all together in Katie's room. Jenny was watching a movie (the kids don't have cable in their rooms, but my sister bought them DVD players, so they each have a small TV), and Katie and I were lying on the bed. We had Jack and Jill, the two little feral kittens we are trying to tame, running around the room with us, and I thought, oh, what a nice moment this is... Again, how blessed I am, how full is my life...

Finally, I think back to earlier this week, when I was woken up by Katie at two o'clock in the morning. "Mom, there's a lunar eclipse tonight! Want to go outside and watch it with me?" Well, no, actually I'm asleep and I'd like to continue sleeping... But, okay. We get a sleeping bag and go and lie in the front yard together, and for a most magical hour we watched the shadow of the earth creep across the face of the moon, snuggled together in the sleeping bag on the grass, cats playing around us and old black dog watching over us. And just before the eclipse was complete, Katie squeezed me and said, "Oh, Mom, we are so lucky."

And I thought, well, yes. We are.


Olivia said...

Karen, I think that you are COMMITTED! To what makes the most sense at the time. We can't possibly be committed to everything all the time or we would go crazy! You are committed to what you need to be committed to when you need to be committed to it...and you are doing the BEST POSSIBLE JOB juggling all of it. Nothing is every perfect. But many things are good :)

Lynn said...

Well here I sit with tears in my eyes from reading your beautiful post. (A friend just asked me why blogs are so popular. Well, you see I said, you meet the most interesting artistic people and it just opens up your life. You learn from them, they inspire you in all sorts of ways). Then you said another artist had the gaul to ask you to not be your own artist self because she happened to be drawing/painting/somethinging something just like you do. Well EXCUSE me but who gave her the right to tell others what they can and cannot do and where did she learn this tree idea? Believe me someone thought of it before she did somewhere. So if I, as I did today, read my first copy of Cloth.paper.scissors. and I go make a quilt like the one someone in that magazine did and explained how to the tiniest detail, gave measurements, etc. if I do my own sort of like hers does she then have the right to be mad at me? I don't think so.
Getting back to your blog about the girls, I think your 12 yr old daughter has more sense than that other grown up artist person. And yes, you are SO LUCKY and your getting up and going out to join her in the sleeping bag to see the eclipse was just wonderful and brought happy tears to my happy eyes!
PS: Thanks for commenting on my blog too.

Rosie said...

Hey Karen!

What a lovely catch-up. Is Katie feeling better? Meh...the problem with primary source material is that you can't really claim it for your own. Good for you for standing up for yourself. I used to have a real attraction to the work of Louis Icart and did a few designs that were heavily influenced by his work. But I'm certainly not the only one and can't claim him as my own.

Are you going to get a new momma goat?


BookGirl said...

Karen, congratulations on the sale of your paintings. And thanks, too, for writing about something that resonates so strongly for me: allowing myself to be put on the defensive by someone who happens to be more assertive than I.

I don't like conflict, and I'm always trying to see both sides of an issue even when there really is no other side. So, too often I've found myself apologizing, or taking responsibility for things that required neither.

This is something I work on and that I expect I'll always find challenging, so it's great to hear that there are people, like you, who are getting better at it.


Kikipotamus the Hobo said...

Yes, you are growing! Good for you for not caving to that person's silly request. What a wise child Katie is.

Carla said...

Love this post. Love, love, love it.

Leah said...

i'm loving this post. and i'm glad you are continuing to stick up for yourself!!

Anonymous said...

I applaud you also for holding your ground against this other artist's "request." I agree with Rosie ... hundreds of people could be using the same primary source material - would this person then contact ALL of them with a "cease and desist" request?

I can see you've chosen to take the high road on this issue. And retained YOUR artistic integrity to the fullest. Bravo!

Your vision and imagery is so varied that even if you did choose something other than the sea urchins to express your dreams, it would be a natural progression to even better art.

So many artists just keep repeating the same theme over and over, with minor changes ... your art is more fresh and REAL!

Keep up the good work. I can see your confidence building every day!

Maybelline Jones said...

Everyone else wrote such long posts, so I'll keep mine short.

Don't ever back down or apologize when bullied. I spent too much of my liufe being rules by other people. It's not worth it.

Mary S Hunt said...

I am 50 and I am just getting to where you are in "self".
Enjoy the children while you have them, building those strong bonds. You are doing a fabulous job!!!
How wonderful Katie will come in and get mom to go and watch an eclipse. So pure.

Since I admire your work, I am not surprised you sold 2 paintings. Congratulations.

You touch on a topic near and dear to every artist.
The woman contacting you about using an element she uses... is plain stupid.

How in the world can artist all over NOT use the same element in similar fashion. Everyone has imagination and it is going to show up in the same manner somewhere.
Don't lose sleep over that one.

Keep executing your lovely work in the fashion you wish.

Nicole said...

this is beautiful. it's so good to celebrate blessings like this. it almost made me tearie-eyed. i hope you can continue to see the beauty in all of those little moments. :-)

Diva Carla said...

Karen, you and Katie are lucky to see the eclipse, and you are lucky to have a Katie who drags you out of bed to see one. She reminds me of a little girls in Tennessee I knew a long time ago who dragged her family out of bed to look at a comet. Moi!

I love your red background. Your pieces look wonderful against it.


AscenderRisesAbove said...

I read the etsy seller story with interest... my suggestion; should you return to these images is to create a photoshop "stamp" saying "art in the garage original - often imitated, never matched"

Elizabeth said...

Hi Karen ~ better late than never... I just realised that I didn't leave a comment for this post, even though I was completely incensed by the nerve of that Etsy woman. My response ... Bl**dy Cheek! I see however that everyone else has covered the topic nicely.

'Well Done You' for ignoring her
P.S. i'm chuffed to bits with my banner ... thanks for helping