30 November 2007

Flows, value, communication, public service

I'm documenting what comes into my life, and what goes back out as a direct result. And, I'm looking at the apparent value of the outflow.

The latter is measured in terms of what people will actually pay (or barter*) for, as opposed to the things that I've done that evoke an almost greedy, "Well, that's nice, but what else can you give me?" (Emphasis on "give.")

There's a lot more straight-line logic to this than I'd realized.

I was also trying to create a model of myself as an artist, to demonstrate to myself what's working and what isn't. It wasn't as easy as I expected it to be. In charting the communication (art, conversations, writing, etc.), I realized that it's not:

Me --> Communication --> Other person

Instead, it's:

Me --> The physical vehicle (website, podcast, print media, art materials, or my physical appearance) --> Communication --> Filtering device (others' monitors; tint in glasses, if worn; type of publication and quality of printing; gallery placement, lighting & reputation; context of viewing in real life, including distractions and frame of mind; etc.) --> Other person

What this means in practice is that I need to invest more energy in what I do. It has to travel through more sludge than I'd realized. Just throwing stuff together... it's not enough. I'm spreading myself too thin. It's not working. This is another reason why I'm making some apparently harsh choices.

I'm thinking that this same logic--understanding the actual mechanics of communication and perception--is the basis of the appeal of the hyper-vivid colors of Maxfield Parrish. It's why the extreme art by Salvador Dali survived beyond the initial novelty period. It's why Monet's waterlilies--painted on massive canvases--are among his most recognized and most beloved.

Looking at the apparent value of what I've been doing, I can see a pattern to my activities as Aisling D'Art. Oh, it's nobody else's fault. I set the terms early in the 1990s, when my blogging (before they were called blogs) evolved from a personal journal that I expected no one else to read, to a site with a following.

For a long time, I saw that popularity as a source of recognition and validation. That's all that I wanted from it: Website visitors and dialogue. Approval was a bonus. The recognition reminded me that I was not an invisible person. People could like me for who I am, without acting as if they were doing me a favor.

As I tried to salvage my marriage, that was vital. Now, I'm reminded of Seth Godin's blog entry, The Reason.

I'm not even sure that I'll continue my Aisling D'Art podcasts. I mean, I have to look at the Aisling stuff for what it is: public service. If I expect anything else from it, or dedicate excessive time/energy to it, I'll be disappointed. For me, it's a short route to bitterness, and I never want to be someone who says, "After all I've done for you...!" *chuckle*

ArtBooksReviews.com will continue to grow, but I'll be phasing out my Aisling D'Art name there, and replacing it with my real name. At that site, I'm no longer fixing people's HTML or teaching them basic webpage skills.

My blogs...? I'm not sure. If it's something that others do better, or at least as well as I do, I think that I'll just link to those other resources. Why reinvent the wheel?

Right now, my focus is my fine art. I'm realizing that my art is what energizes me... that, and my connection with Nature. Both are served by my plein air work. (That means creating art outdoors, on the spot, as opposed to studio work.)

The writing, the website work, the teaching...? They take energy, and I have to look hard at what they give me in return. If it's public service, that's fine, but I have to use only free, public service time for that. I can't keep backsliding. I can't keep working in areas that take time/energy/resources away from what moves me deeply and provides the richest expression: my fine art.

When I looked at some of my recent work, I realized how neurotic it is. Oh, not all of it. The work that relates to spiritual themes--for example, the Avebury paintings, and the Glastonbury ones--is definitely moving in a healthy direction. Some of the other pieces are good, but... well, I'm making progress. That's what I need to focus on.

Shedding my old habits... that's easier said than done. It's a mix of still feeling a bit needy, letting old momentum take the helm, and procrastinating on the bigger projects.

Every day is still a challenge because I'm aggressively addressing these issues. But, every day is better, freer and happier. This is a good thing.

Now, I'm feeling less need to explain this. So, as I said, I'm not sure what I'll do with my blogs.

I'm in that in-between time--between Samhain (end of the harvest year) and Imbolc (the start of spring)--when I am deciding what's next. I know that we'll arrive in New England around Beltane (beginning of traditional summer). Before then, the decisions must be made and in action. I want a foundation already in place when I return to the Northeast.

That's what I'm working on, now.

*I'm ambivalent about barter. I love the concept. However, I hate to hurt someone's feelings by saying, "No, thanks," when they're offering something that they consider equally valuable in return. So, I'm beginning to recognize the importance of money as the exchange medium.


Blogger Barb said...

Atta girl! This was inspiring. Helping others can be codependent if you're not taking care of yourself first. The great artists have a measure of what the "rest of the world" calls selfishness, but which is actually a knowledge of the importance of what they're doing, and a focus on doing that.

You know what you're doing. Trust that instinct. (And never let other people decide what the value of your art is for you.)

10:27 AM  

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