Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Reality Check (Testing, 1-2-3, Testing!)

Ok, world. I'm feeling combative, distressed, ruffled. A post on a blog I follow started this -- photos she took of a friend, photos her friend took of her. Glamour Artist photos. Been seeing more and more of those. Lovely, the photos, the subjects.

Lovely, but ...
a) why must we be Glamour Artists, and not just real women making art?
b) who can possibly afford such a photo shoot without sacrificing her art supply budget for two years?
c) Why do I feel like it's becoming not just sort of a competition of art, now, but of blog, of studio, and of self?

It's like Cosmopolitan Meets the Blog World -- our SELVES, bare bones, stripped, are not enough -- we have to have these photogenic & staged studios, these photogenic & staged blogs, these photogenic & staged selves -- make-up, ethereal dresses, fetching angles & almost-visible nipples-- some of it verges on soft porn, for cryin out loud! And I'm -- frustrated by it! This is women between women, perpetuating this -- er -- what is it? This MYTH, this stereotype, this hype! Everything, every one of our aspects physical, environmental, personal, always requiring a buff and a polish. Eesh, blimey, & shite!

Who is looking at these photos but other women artists, other women bloggers (predominantly)? Does anyone else get ruffled by this? Lovely as it is (and it IS), something just doesn't sit right in my gut about it.

And it's not enough that I totally GET this is these photographers' business, and that the ones I follow/read via their blogs are utterly sincere, genuine, real women, in and of themselves, even when unbuffed and unpolished. And yet -- AND YET -- ai! Lay me down in the tall grass, with a wispy, wizened bouquet and an Anthropologie Direct wardrobe and THEN take my picture? Why can't we just leave this behind? We've fought to rise from under it, to declare ourselves WOMAN in whatever way WE define, for so many decades. But no matter what, it seems, as women we yet must be alluring, too. Harkens back to an extension of that myth, another outdated belief structure: beautiful is better. Beautiful artist makes better art. Beautiful studio produces better art. Beautiful means more credible, more valuable, more intellectually capable, more able, more viable.

CRINGE!!

If I didn't know what any of my blogging posse looked like (& many I don't) or what their studios look like (the majority I don't), it wouldn't alter my impressions of them one iota. And I know this to be true of these particular photographers, shooting other artists in Glamour Artist shots. They're trying to capture the internal nuances of their subjects. I GET it! I do! and I want to accept it, as is, plain & straightforward ... but darnit, hard as I try, I still get ruffled.

Same reaction to the Where Women Create magazines all over the place, now. Who women? What women? Where women? Where are the studios like mine, with scabby hole-pucked walls, clogged, mismatched, unpainted, raw, tinseled with dust and pet hair, boxes, stuff stuff stuff -- organized but in makeshift, doable, affordable ways? Does the condition of my studio, my cleavage, my lack of a bouquet, make me a lesser artist, woman, presence? I gotta glam up to go in the studio now? Lipstick, & pumps, and Miss Congeniality sash all over again. NOOOOOOOO!!! I never ever want my own face in soft focus!

I stopped participating in the self portrait group because, and I quote myself here, "I always look like shite!" No technology or software in my possession to make myself over. OhmyGAWD I bought into it, didn't I? All of this is some kind of gimmick to put an appetite in women for the 'pretty' (the improved, the made over, the enhanced), when function serves us all so well -- and don't we all pretty up and personalize in our own ways, always, anyway? It's a marketing ploy -- spend spend spend -- on the magazine(s) at the very LEAST -- feel BADLY when you don't measure up in your crusty paint-smeared skort in your 'poor' studio. I want no part of it.

BUT!!! I'm aiming for shaking myself like a mangy dog when I project my own doubt and ruffly attitude on those who I know, without a doubt, don't deserve it. I trust these photographers, their talent, and their intentions, and when the bottom line is that I would trust any one of them to shoot photos of me, I know they don't deserve this rant at all.

But I'm also getting ready to show you WHERE THIS WOMAN CREATES -- my version of a reality check, cuz this is the most stunning, dream-filled place I have access to on a daily basis, and I'm the most stunning version I ever GET close to of myself when I'm in here. Do come in. The view upon opening my studio door. Looks like heaven on earth to ME! Shelves to the left of my studio desk. Home to eyelets, brads, all decorative papers, foamie rubber stamps, and my cherished magazines. Beth said she NEVER looks at old issues, but me? I'm in them ALL THE TIME!! CD player atop, with current most-listened to CDs and also books on CD. Stack of magazines currently getting my mojo a'slobbering! I have a color-system of tabs -- green ones mean inspiration for backgrounds for the LaBelle journal! My world -- the studio desk. Pens in a white metal picnic tin, embossing powders and Jacquard paints above, glue sticks, clothespins for drying, idea board presently pinned with Julification instructions, pattern-edged scissors, essential tools and glues in the back center, blotter paper in the middle, and to the right the stack of scrap copy paper I use for gluing, blobbing, heat gunning, 'processing'. I use the plates for palettes. Work horses: brushes and scissors. I got two of these white tin picnic thingies (meant for silverware) at Pottery Barn for $4.99 each ... score, Babee, score!!! Close up of the 'Julification tin' -- all the major ingredients of/for my Julification class housed there, vintage index card file (metal). LOVE that thang! The overflow fridge, which I want to drop kick outta here every minute of every day, except that at least the diet coke with lime and beer are handy. Pfft. I could USE that space, I'm tellin ya! Atop: shoe boxes holding sorted, cherished letters from family, envelope boxes full of gifts sent from overseas, my GBC binder, and a 1-31 monthly sorter personalized to hold stickers, words, rub ons, die cuts, alphabets, overlays. You know, stuff! Facing the center of the closet -- Zoe's personal magic carpet, the rolling red tool box. Stamp pad inks and goops behind, markers and spray inks atop. The plastic bins hold tools, stencils, bits left over from backgrounds, spare brushes and scissors ... you know, stuff! The ceiling fan (which, oddly, is working today -- normally it never wants to do that!), the peeling plaster from major leakage 3 years ago, the vent that has to be replaced. Homey, ain't it? The drying table ... also Business Central (home of bills, stamps, etc.). Also usually covered over with all the magazines I'm perusing for inspiration, stuff I bring home from work and drop to the surface, my purse, business filing I don't wanna deal with, you know ... STUFF! But I have to leave a trail for Zoe to get up in her window basket or up on the window ledge. My treasured filing cabinet, a gift from My Lovely Mother 4 years ago ... organized to the Nth degree, folders by subject, filled with the images I use on my journal backgrounds. Also houses my various printer papers, and blank journals. A beautiful beautiful thing, my filing cabinet! Atop, my flock collection, along with a favorite elephant and a frog from my Beloved Aunt Judy. DUSTY!!! (I'm so proud!) Letting the outdoors in, I yam! In the right closet corner: scanner and cords, binders full of rubber stamp sets, box of 11 x 17 'blotter' paper, air compressor in 'visa' bag which my oldest bro' hasn't had time to teach me how to use yet. Box o'stuff that used to be on the walls in the kitchen, currently undergoing replastering. Soiled stuff, including Zoe bombs, on the left. Recycle on the right. It's a fairly 'green' studio, yup. Still with me? Or did I SCARE ya?!! Litter box essentials. Under my studio (working) desk. Map drawers house the majority of my rubber stamps. Deco tapes. Basket o'necessaries like paper towels. Zoe trying to dodge out of the picture, lower left. Under the drying table behind my studio desk. Magazines I use for images, words, patterns -- I've foregone the rip-n-tear-then-file system for now. I've also stopped adding magazines to the pile. My old wallpaper books also live here. And Zoe's food dish and water bowl and launched litter. She IS a litter launcher, that furry wench, regardless of the huge blue storage container I made into her litter box! Books to be read, atop. Completed journals, vintage envelope collection (in white seagull box); vintage black & white photo collection in blue cigar box. Accumulated cardboard, which yes, I use. Dark recesses of a closet corner. Luggage for England trip buried back yonder, oh noooOOOo. Massive ... music ... collection! That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Peace out.

15 comments:

beth said...

can I just say...I want to hug you with our heads thrown back and a beer in our hands...well, mine would be a mikes hard lemonade...and laugh until our stomach hurts ???

oh and yeah...YOU NEED TO WRITE FOR YOUR LOCAL NEWSPAPER NOW !

and now I'm off to put on my stilettos and shoot a few photos of myself.....NOT !

Holly said...

Only beautiful people can create? Okay, let's all say together, Georgia O'Keefe who was as ugly as galvanized sin! Nuff said.

I think that part of what you're seeing from these photogs, is showing you their ability to take the mundane and turn it sublime. It's like a magic trick...and let's face it, that's what people hire them for...

Doog was a shooter, still and video, and he used to tell people who insisted that he retake the shot until they looked good, "I'm a photographer, not a magician."
Again, nuff said.

But, I've been blogging now long enough to get an inkling of what you're sensing...the under current of competition...and I find it most unattractive. Though not surprising.

I find that truly creative people, Fill in, Toni, Beth, to name a few have the most generous natures and spirits. The rest of the creative wannabees never feel the world is large enough for everyone to get the recognition they deserve. NEVER.

So, couple that with Martha Stewartitis....holy, effin' crap have you seen her crafting spaces? Kill me now. And, you're off the the races of showing spaces that have been designed to show off that my heat gun is bigger than yours.

Freud maintained that women have penis envy...but the real truth is women have studio/crafting space envy.

And, instead of applauding the collective creative spirit that women can and do have...we have to strut and make it a competition.

Not playing...but, you did inspire my blog tomorrow...for I'll be showing where I create my stuff. And, my space? It's really no more than a walk-in closet.

Which, come to think of it, may explain a whole bunch. But, I ain't sayin' Nuttin.

Peaches said...

Actually your studio looks well organized to me. It may not be dolled up, but gee, you know where everything is! And the most import part is...you use your studio to make art.

Alison said...

LOVE YOUR STUDIO DARLIN'!!

Mel said...

Hearin' ya - LOUD and CLEAR. What Holly said....

And as a relative newbie who is just now carving out her own sacred creating space in the corner of a bedroom (all the other rooms are taken!) - I think your studio kicks....

Glad its not just me cringing...

Three cheers for (real)Girl Power...

PS. I totally used your 'journal in the dryer' idea that you commented on Sam's blog to further 'wreck' my journal -- its' deliciously frayed...fab idea, dahling...

Ana said...

Expression of art is our inner reflection and enables us to tap into different areas of ourselfs. I find that anyone can express themselfs in any way, as there is no set standard to express ones own being. This is the true beauty of art. You have a nice art space.

Samantha said...

Toni, where do I start ~ what a rich and amazing post, hun.
I was fuming along with you for the first half. What, as women, are we doing, if we think like that? Why are we 'marketing' ourselves for our audience, which is essentially other women?

And then, I was just in heaven looking at your space. It is perfect. When you got me inspired to dig out my brushes and paints again, after a while in hibernation, I really wanted to know how you do it, where you do it, what you got???? Wow. Now I see just how serious you are about it. And I'm about to start putting shelves up at my place to hold my burgeoning collection of art equipment.

Your space is beautiful.
I am so much more inspired to see a working space like that, than some of the arty-ficial spaces that other artists (I guess the one's we'd call professionals) are posting pics of on their blog. I could name names, but I won't.

And I miss your self-portraits. I find self-portraits so very deeply interesting, and can't quite put my finger on why. But portraits that show us the way we truly are, not too posed or artificial. Well, I guess some would say there's always an element of being posed, as soon as you bring the camera/audience into the equation. Evey you sticking your tongue out.

So glad you included that pic today. And I love your new haircut hun. I love your trash cans and recycling, and your cat litter collection. Your luggage for England? Now that's really exciting!

But I'm still working up to putting my Journal in the dryer .... I'm a wimp!

* Luv Luv Luv & Blessings *

LostLuggage said...

YES YES YES!! You friggin rock... dig you new hair cut too... Did you see my Interview Video last Sunday? I mentioned the SAME thing.... you're the BEST TB!! MWWAAAHHHH!

JonesMoore said...

Quote from "Bridgette Jones' Diary", "I like you...I like you just the way you are." (The gorgeous Colin Firth character telling Bridgette Jones how he feels about her, despite all her self-proclaimed shortcomings). As they say in Al Anon: "Take what you want/need, and leave the rest behind".

You are enough, you do enough!!

Most of 'us' are larger than a size 12, and have messy studios and 'down' days too!

You go girl!

Lizbethem said...

I really enjoyed the tour of your studio. It looks super-organized and I covet the map drawers!

Kattytrick said...

I got to tell you sweetness, my hat is off to you and your unpolished, genuine self!!! Dare I say it?...I just love you!. You always manage to find and put words to some of the things I have trouble expressing, and for that you have been my hero more then you know. Somehow you validate my unexpressed private self! I don't mean to sound so heavy, but DAMN GIRL! YOU ROCK!!!

Holly said...

See?

Wildly Cam said...

I wan to bring over a beanbag chair, plop it down in the middle of the room, sink into it, sneak one of your cold ones out of the fridge, and pop the top. Then I want to pick up the tabbed magazines, and laugh when you smack my hands away for trying to peek. And, we could just hang out in there for hours. Me, creating in my way with just a pen and paper, and you creating in yours, with all those magical supplies you have. And we could talk shop for hours! I'd keep handing you a beer, you'd keep handing me too, and soon enough we'd be drunk enough to get down the sheer curtains and go take some slutty photos too! ha! Only, they would be hilarious. Think a Zoolander face...

I think I'm gonna go listen to some Ani...
Yeah! Girl power!

lee said...

Shite, I love the studio tour, you should charge for it. Its a great studio, the kind where you know where everything is. It makes me want to go and create.

Lee

GmaJo said...

Hey Toni - I share my "jewelry" studio with the dogs, a washer and dryer, and a pantry LOL. Please no photos tho!!!

Love all of your comments.