Friday, May 18, 2012

Looking Outside of Your Medium

I am in Arkansas this week, visiting friends and family, and have had some much needed time away from my studio.

I love spending my days immersed in my latest jewelry adventure, but I also value and appreciate my time away from making jewelry, as I need to refresh the well, so to speak, by dabbling in other mediums completely unrelated to jewelry.

I have learned over the years, that having a passion for one medium is fantastic, but that you can really grow as an artist if you go outside your chosen medium from time to time and dive into being a novice again. It opens up your beginner mind, which is interested in a more playful form of interaction with the tools at hand, and I have found that one interest does inform the other. When I had a temporary space in a  pottery studio, I started dabbling in clay, and the wheel that I used to learn how to throw pots on started to show up in my metalwork in the form of a wheel with a lump in the middle like below.

Pottery Wheel Earrings, 2009

My second medium of choice right now is watercolor. I love the freedom, the vibrant colors I get to use and the way painting makes me feel. I can paint anywhere, and don't have to have a special room to house the equipment and tools like I do with metalworking. I have found a watercolor artist that I really identify with, and I wanted to share with you a post she recently wrote regarding her thoughts about transitioning from painting as a hobby to that of becoming a professional painter. As I was reading her words, what she said about making this leap made a lot of sense to me no matter what medium you choose to focus on. The process is the same.

Jean Haines is a renowned watercolorist, and truly passionate about watercolor. Her passion for the medium is a quality that immediately jumps out to me, and I think that is why I love and resonate with her work so much.  She is an instructor also, and teaches internationally.  In her blog, she discusses the path she took to becoming so multi-dimensional in her career as a professional painter, as well as the varied subjects she chooses to paint.

I am starting out in a new direction with my career in jewelry as an instructor also this year. I will be teaching at artBLISS in September, and have been busy researching teaching methods, not necessarily related specifically to making jewelry, in order to make the classroom experience as informative as possible for the participants.

I have started an online Classroom hub for all students that take a class from me, so that I can provide as much information to them as possible, in as many mediums (video, photos and words) as I can, so that the information that I want to share when we meet in Virginia has a good chance of being received.

Some of us are auditory learners, others are visual and still others can reap what they need by reading. I think our creative selves need many different outlets to fully express who we are.  Our whole lives inform our creative output, but by the same token, we can look to vary our creative input too.

To be a great jewelry designer, painter or teacher requires a solid commitment to the medium, but don't be afraid to branch out a bit and follow those daily flirts into other mediums and interests to fully express yourselves when making jewelry! The insights and connections you make when dabbling will inform and further fine tune your own unique style, and help to set your work apart from the rest!


Artisan Beads Plus said...

Great post, Stacie! As for teaching, I have been teaching (I'm not always sure that is what I call it ;o) middle school students for 27 years and one bit of advice that I just gave my most recent student teacher when she was planning a huge project, was to never assume that they "know." Although, it is a bit different with kids (I've taught adults domestic violence workshops too), I learned that lesson early in my career when I made an assumption about something I truly should not have :o( ! I can't wait to hear more about it and I think it is a great idea that you have started a online hub to answer questions and provide them with more information. Enjoy your time with family and friends.

SummersStudio said...

I completely agree that looking outside your chosen medium is a great way to extend your ideas. For me gardening often spills over into my studio thoughts even if only to give me a space away from the work bench to let my mind wander. I'll see you at ArtBliss in your class. Looking forward to it!

Julie Holmes said...

Great post Stacie! ...and great advice MaryAnn. In my days in dentistry it was confirmed over and over that you must be very literal with patients..or they will do funny things...putting aspirin on the tooth instead of swallowing it...etc. Kids are the funniest of all... You tell them to let you know if they "feel" anything. Again and again...up goes the little hand. Did I hurt you? I say...."No, but I felt something"... DOH! I love watercolors too Stacie! They are so free. Have MUCH fun!

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