Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Hello! Is This Thing ON?? By Karen McGovern

Welcome to 2015!  Feels like I’ve been away for a year instead of a month.  Thank you to my LMAJ peeps for covering for me this past month.  You are the BEST. I hope all our readers and artists had a wonderful holiday season and are striding into 2015 with purpose and sky-high expectations!

For me, entering into 2015 has been sort of weird.  I took some time off from all things jewelry related since early December.  I made a promise to myself that I was going to begin 2015 with reduced stress, more focus and some restructuring of priorities both personally and professionally. I don’t do “resolutions”, because I believe the entire concept is flawed and sets you up for inevitable failure.   Resolutions suck, in my opinion.  I promised myself to simply make a few changes immediately that would more or less guarantee a tangible, real change in my life.  Simple?  Not even close.

First off, I am practicing my ability to say “no”.  As you all may know, I am a conservation biologist with the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation, www.rarespecies.org.  This is my “real life” and it is 24/7.  I live on 30+acres filled with critters demanding my attention from dawn till dusk and beyond.  It is my passion.  I live it and love it.  Jewelry design and art have always been an outlet for me, a blessed outlet, one that lets me express myself creatively and balance my world in a way that is beyond therapeutic.  BUT, it is not my first priority. It’s high on the list, but not my first and never will be.  I am lucky to be able to create by choice.  My artwork does not pay the bills (Hell, the most I hope for is to cover the cost) but it is another way for me to tell my story, to share my love of wildlife and wild places to the world through art. The past couple years have been very productive for me artistically.  I made new connections, was picked up by new galleries and was published in several print and online magazines and blogs.  All really good stuff.  REALLY GOOD STUFF FOR WHICH I AM GRATEFUL.  I also found that I was juggling my time in what became a very frantic way.  Trying to “sneak” in a few moments here, an hour there, to fill and order or meet a deadline.  And, in the end, my work suffered for it, both on the “farm” and in the studio.  So, I put on my big girl panties and made some tough decisions. 

The first and most difficult was my decision to leave the Nunn Design Innovation Team, www.nunndesign.com.  I have been a part of Becky Nunn’s team for a couple years now, and it has been BEYOND WONDERFUL.  Becky is a fantastic artist, business woman and friend.  I have had so much fun working with her and it is because of Becky that I have been published AT ALL. I can’t say enough good things about her product line—seriously—if you haven’t looked at if DO IT NOW.  So, why leave such a fantastic gig you ask?  Simply put, because I began to feel like I was totally taking advantage of the opportunity, and not in a good way.  I didn’t have the time to really commit to the projects I promised and was “dialing it in” at best.  Becky deserved more and so did I.  The work I was creating was…..BLAH.  I lost the creative spark, buried under other commitments, stress and simply not having enough time to work properly.  When I looked at the body of work created for her, I saw a dramatic decline.  I think it really hit me how oblivious I was to what I was doing when I organized the magazines I had collected that published my work through Nunn.  Sitting on the floor next to my bookcase I realized that I HAD NEVER EVEN LOOKED AT THE MAGAZINES BEYOND THE PAGE I WAS FEATURED ON.  WTH???  I was so lucky to be included amongst some of the most talented art jewelry designers out there and hadn’t even taken the time to LOOK AT THE ENTIRE PUBLICATION.  I felt so embarrassed and ashamed.  So I said, “NO” when asked to participate in 2015.  Becky is such a lovely person.  We talked about it and she was more than supportive and understanding.  I hope we get to meet in REAL LIFE someday—I owe her a HUGE HUG and a kiss on the mouth! So that was my first NO of 2015. 

One of my personal favorite designs created for Nunn.  My etched
copper sugar skull with Nunn brass componants, twig connectors,
rosary chain, charm and clasp.  I LOVE NUNN DESIGN!!!

Also, as 2014 drew to a close, I began to assess the galleries I am affiliated with and withdrew from all but three.  Again, I was flinging work wherever I could as opposed to finding “homes” within galleries.  I really believe that creating a more intimate connection with galleries showing my work is extremely important.  I realized that a few of the galleries and shops carrying my work I had nearly abandoned anyways.  No new work going in, no work going out either.  So, as 2015 arrived, I said NO, gathered it all and moved on.  I now have three homes representing my work and I feel completely comfortable in each.  And I have good, open relationships with the gallery owners as well—absolutely vital for me.  I also now have a box of old designs just waiting to be torn apart and reworked, which is something I really love doing. Nothing like resurrecting a piece—giving it a brand new life! 

These few decisions immediately affected me in a positive way, even though the decisions themselves were very difficult.  I feel like I can “breathe” now.  The pressures have lessened and I am at peace with the choices I've made. I am ready for 2015.

All that being said, getting back into the studio has been very difficult so far.  My brain was focusing on so many scattered things, I feel like my artsy brain is in some kind of deep hibernation and DOES NOT WANT TO COME OUT, THANKYOUVERYMUCH. I’ve shared my frustrations with my LMAJ family, and they all have had similar experiences hauling themselves out of HOLIDAY HEAD and into 2015.  Got to knock the rust off ASAP, people! With that in mind, after a disastrous day of burning perfectly good silver bezel wire into oblivion, I decided to stop.  I walked away.  You can’t force this stuff, we all know it.  I made a plan. Instead of beating myself over the head and feeling miserable about everything, I am going to take another route.  I have decided to begin 2015 by teaching myself something completely new and to challenge myself whenever I can.  Four things came to mind immediately. 

First, I want to learn how to make pins and brooches from scratch.  I’ve been wanting to do this FOREVER.  Stick pins, sweater pins, hat pins—artisan pins!  I have so much inspiration for this—Lorena Angulo’s book, Behind the Brooch is a wonder.  Linda Larson is another artist I drool over, her brooches and pins are amazing.  You can spend the rest of your life on Pinterest using the search terms “art jewelry brooches”.

Next, hinges.  Hinges have defeated me in the past, but I want to master this.  I love making lockets and boxes, now I am going to make hinged tops and doors and hinged cuffs ala Richard Salley (what a masterful artist he is!!!).  I WILL DO THIS.

The top two images are of the first ever locket I made a few years ago,

Third, enamel.  Staci Louise sold me a box full of beautiful enameling supplies and I AM GOING TO LEARN THIS SKILL!  No worries, MaryAnn Carroll, I still need your gorgeous discs (in fact, I can't live without them...).  I am going to try to apply this technique to pendants, bangles and pins.  I have Barbara Lewis’s fantastic book, Torch-Fired Enamel Jewelry, and I plan to use it.

Finally, I am going to teach more.  I have taught a few simple classes in cold connecting, and I want to do more.  Teaching is very intimidating to me, but so rewarding!  I learn just as much as my students, each and every time, and am constantly amazed with what we discover and create as a group.  This goes for more tutorials on the LMAJ blog as well.  At least one a month, Folks, so be READY!!!  Staci, I know we talked about a Southern Bead Retreat, we need to pick up on that conversation!!!

Spectacular ladies from my Party Hat Ring class....LOVE!!!!

If I have to call anything I am contemplating a “resolution”, I certainly will not fall into the ridiculous annual traps we all seem destined for.  I am NOT JOINING A GYM!  I am NOT GOING TO GIVE UP SUGAR! I will NOT BE LEARNING A FORGIEN LANGUAGE! I will focus on being kinder to myself and others, I will be buying more art from artists I love and want to support, and I will give more of my art away because that is one of the best highs you can give yourself and someone else. I am going to spend 2015 rediscovering my artistic voice.  I feel that I have strayed from the origins of my desire to create jewelry.  I have always loved creating designs that tell a story.  Sometimes over the top art installations that may or may not be worn and sometimes simple, wearable designs.  All with a written story or poem behind them.  This is what started my journey into art jewelry design, and I miss it.  I’ve become too dependent on designs that “sell” well.  I never wanted to create jewelry based on whether or not it was “sellable”.  I’ve always wanted to create a reflection of my view of the world—designs beyond “pretty”.  That may sound ridiculous or arrogant, but the word “art” before the word “jewelry” means something specific to me.  So, watch out.  There are going to be some new and intensely personal designs coming from my studio this year!!!!

A few older designs created around a short story or poem that I wrote for each.
These are some of my most favorites!  All incorporate antiques and unusual elements.

Bottom line, time will no longer run away from me.  I will strive to be in the moment, and appreciate every day as an individual opportunity to accomplish something positive in the world.  I wish the same to each and every one of you!!!



Numinosity said...

Incredible post, Karen. takes my breath away. I hope that you find fulfillment with anything you tackle and I'm pretty sure you will.

stacilouise said...

I just LOVE you. I can so relate on so many levels to you right now! I too am really feeling a need to step back in some things, so I can go for others. Some of my best and core shows I do, are no more, or I can't do them.....and at first I was dissapointed, but now I am taking this joyful break to gather myself and regroup. I would typically be in full panic about now, and instead I am resting and sketching. Southern Bead Retreat- heck yes. Barb and I have talked as well. I would LOVE to do it!

Barbara said...

OMG~ YES!!!!! A thousand times YES!

Shai Williams said...

What an inspiring post! When I started making jewelry, I said that I would learn at least one new technique a year. I have really missed that mark. I need to get back to that goal. I want to learn to solder. I have all the goodies, now to get some good videos and learn. And I will blame it all on this wonderful post.

Carol Dekle said...

Welcome back Karen! I am really excited to see what you come up with this year. I absolutely love your poem necklaces, they are so artistic and have true meaning!

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