For those of you who don't know me, along with writing, I am an artist. And for the last too, too many years I have made hundreds, if not thousands, of Christmas ornaments. It exhausts me to even think how many there have been. I'm going to go out on a limb here and dare to say it could be close to a million... maybe...
And this is the time of year when this whole process of creating new ornament designs starts. At least for me, it is. If I try to start any earlier, the ideas just aren't there. I guess I work better under pressure. Or maybe it's just that I'm a procrastinator in the highest form.
I majored in fine arts in college, but the closest I ever got to landing a job in the 'art world' was an offer I received from the American Greetings headquarters in Cleveland as a contributing artist.
I had sent out samples of my work to random stationary and card companies, hoping it would turn into a freelance opportunity. And American Greetings was the only one who responded.
When I walked into the room for the interview, you can imagine my surprise when I came face to face with what seemed like about a dozen men sitting around this huge table. At first, I thought I'd walked into the wrong room.
But no, there they were... waiting for me and ready to ask all these questions. So, of course, I was feeling pretty high on myself to have all of this attention. Unfortunately, there was so much I didn't like about their job offer, starting with any design I came up with, it was automatically their property. There was also the three by five feet cubicle (if even that) I would have as my home away from home. From nine to five, for five days a week. And then there was the random bag check I was warned about, to make sure you weren't taking off with one of their designs when you left work.
Seriously? Maybe this is normal, but again... seriously? I didn't know the greeting card company business was so secretive, their designs in such high demand that someone would try to sneak them out of the building.
So, I refused the job, much to the chagrin of one of those twelve who called and offered me the job. In fact he was quite sarcastic about it, insinuating I was making the biggest mistake of my life.
Oh well, their loss, right?
Now I'm sure their hiring tactics are much different now, but I have never regretted not taking the job. Because, let's face it... I'm not a nine to five type of person. I do my best work late at night. I like the solitude of night and this seems when all my creative energy is at it's highest.
And with most artists and writers I know, they will claim the same.
So right now, I write a little, then I paint a little. I've found this works well for me, I don't get bored. Or if I find I'm staring at my computer, unable to even come up with a simple sentence, I switch to painting for a while. And usually, when I go back to the computer, the wording I was searching for comes to me. Like magic.
Okay, maybe it's not like magic, but it's there and I feel much better about what I wrote.
About the photos I posted here - the first is of ornaments laid out on our family room floor. No, this is not a good thing. I usually work in the kitchen, because the natural lighting is so much better there. But the kitchen is now out of commission - remodel going on. The second photo shows a close up of ornaments that will eventually be a full-color painted design, but now has only a basic design shape in white. Sort of like a template, I guess? The next step will be to paint in the required colors. Then I'll do the shading. And so on and so on, to finally end with the bow. It's a long process...
Since this is how I work, I live in a heightened sense of panic up until the ornaments are just about finished. This is because I think I'm behind, I have nothing done, the designs I've come up with are terrible and I'm never going to finish.
Ask anyone who knows me and they'll assure you, around this time of year, I do a lot of whining about this. But I always think about what my favorite art teacher in high school told our class. He said if an artist is completely satisfied with what they've created, they won't be motivated to improve their work. And they are shorting themselves to do better.
Sort of like the saying, 'Be the best you can be.'
And that's what I'm going to do now. Leave the computer and paint for a while. Then it will be back to the computer. Yes, I'm working on book #6 - it's coming along.
Until the next time, take care, and thanks for reading!
P.S. Feel free to comment. About anything, especially about the books in the series. I'd love to hear what you have to say!