Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fragile phases and mystery mazes...

(NOTE: every time I open my blog, I've been getting a password protected window for Tara Frey. This is some kind of programming error that I have no idea how to fix. If you get it also, just click Cancel, please. It's nothing you've done and this blog is not password protected.)

Okay, on to today's post. I will share my art with you first, but I also have some musings on the personal drama of the artist after that. So, you can either move onto the next blog if you don't have the time or inclination to read my mental diarrhea, hehe.

This is one of the graduation cards I made this Spring. Once again, I used a My Mind's Eye kit as my basis. The paper in these kits is double-sided cardstock and a natural for cardmaking. I painted the Fancy Pants (I think!) chipboard brackets with the same MM red paint as the card from my last post. Love fishing out some great chipboard element from my drawers and USING THEM.
The inside of this card had a humorous sentiment and a trick element, so I made sure to scan it as well. The money background was stamped (CHF) and the text created in PSE9 and printed. See the white Spellbinders diecut key? Stapled to it (with Tim's Tiny Attacher) is a check for the graduate, and it is tucked into a pocket created by slitting the paper and not adhering the center to the card base. Pretty clever and sinfully easy, I thought. ;-)) 

This next graduation card combines the MME papers and kit elements with some Sizzix diecuts and Scrapworks number rub-ons. The inside sentiment is more serious and personal, so I didn't scan that. This is my attempt to do masculine elegant. Had I a do-over, I'd have punched the paper edges with one of many corner punches...maybe.

I still have 2 more graduation cards to make and need to get on them, but wanted to share these since we are technically still within graduating season. My Easter cards were belatedly shared and I didn't want to keep continuing that with subsequent seasonal cards.
I was so sick in the weeks leading up to Fathers Day, I actually bought those this year. So, none to share here. I think I'm caught up on holiday cards for now, yay! Take a picture, it'll last longer!
So...on to my personal kvetching. It began over the weekend. Or, I should say, it started back up again. "It" is my overwhelming artistic fragile ego. Some artists say they've never felt anything else. Before, I would say to myself, toughen up, wuss. It's your own ego, it can be whatever you want. Right? Easier said than done. I've come to learn that the toughen-up only works as long as you do not let anyone in who is going to bring you down. Living in your own little world takes on a new meaning...

Sure, I can *process* the criticism intellectually and calmly -- which I have in the past and still do -- but in my case, things began a bit differently. The seeds of insecurity began when I decided to get serious this year about resuming my scrapbooking. On my Flickr, I have over 80 layouts completed, containing photos of family and friends, and never once did I think twice about putting them online. My attitude was kind of like, if you let me take your photo, you won't mind seeing it on one of my layouts. This was backed up by the assumption that maybe 10 people at most would even pay attention to them anyway, so much ado about nothing.

Now, I'm in the Finding Photo Freedom class at BPC (it is an awesome class for me), and my imagination is alive with all sorts of wonderful layout ideas, some using Facebook photos of my daughter and her friends, which is also how I have to procure the vast majority of photos of her (and I know this is also the case for tons of other parents of young adults out there). And at first, I tried, really tried to create a few layouts. But I have remained frozen...unable to actuate.

And this really worries me, because I finally figured out that the reason for said freeze is that I might not feel comfortable uploading my layouts. So.... that must mean that I am mainly motivated by being able to upload my art and have people respond to it. And I am worried because I have been trying to not be so dependent on that as a general rule, as a working rule. I mean, both my blogs are no-comment. I do not work hard to maintain a presence on other blogs or by commenting on Flickr. I used to. I worked hard at it and woke up one day and realized just how much time I was doing that and not doing art. (Plus, my health demanded that I cut down somewhere, so it was that or art at times, and that continues.)

So now I'm being adversely affected by online perceptions again, this time in a crippling way that makes no sense to me. Yes, I do get a thrill uploading my creations even if no one comments. I just like doing that much. It's kinda like enjoying just getting up and having my say. And I have friends I've confided in who tell me, just don't include personal stuff on your layouts, or hide it somehow. But, okay, now I'd be conforming my art in order to be able to upload it. That is whacked out to me, pure and simple. First, that is not me. Second, I'm not on a design team and my layouts are not product. But I completely see why people have advised me that way. That is what they see online over and over. It is hard to remember when you don't seek publication or design team work, that their norm is not yours.

Still, there are no easy answers for me. I'm going to just have to get over this intruder in my life I call Fragile Ego Phase. And then, this weekend, another version of this reared up. I will explain this way: let's say you have a friend you love dearly and know they feel the same way, who has a bad habit of using lame language to compliment you on your achievements. At first, you were able to brush it off, remembering it came from a good place. But over time, as you drifted in and out of your own crises in self-confidence, these lame-o's would strike you at the worst possible moment and even cause a bit of doldrums and anxiety, to the point of you limiting your time with the friend. A series of time-outs if you will. And every time you go back, and every time the friend eventually spouts a lame-o.

So, you probably see that the problem was that you never told the friend what effect the lame-o has on you, right? But that is the other part of the problem: telling the friend would be worse than enduring the lame-o's. So, you continue to suffer and hope for emotionally stronger days. Because, you see, that is where I am at right now, and I have even realized that it is all about my ego here, in that moment the lame-o comes out, in front of others that I wanted to impress (or not look lame-o myself).

I have even been so distraught that I have sought the advice of my dad, who taught public speaking for 30 years and knows a thing or two about how people behave in public. And his advice was very good. In the particular situation that is causing my such inner angst, the lame-o comment is calling my art "cute" when it clearly is not a cutesy themed piece. My dad said, perhaps I see that as a derogatory or lacking term, and he reminded me of a time in the past when people would comment on a painting or a novel or whatever the art was, saying it was *interesting*. Dad told me that *interesting* was a code word meaning either that it was not the commenter's cup of tea but pleasant enough, or that the commenter couldn't stand it and thought it rubbish but wanted to be polite. And you know what? I think he has something there. I completely get that.

But how to react in a way a lot less self-destructive as to wail like a baby, why oh why do these people leave that comment? To them, my art must be nothing more than like hello kitty, meaning juvenile, meaning not as mature or technically proficient or thematically adult as the next hobby artist in the gallery. See how that can eat on you when you let those reactions lay there and fester? Especially when you see the "Amazing" and "Stunning" and "Awesome" comments on others' works, and when you look at theirs, they look no more or less amazing than yours?

Curiously, I never have this problem on Flickr, which is why I love it so. One of my atc's last year got 70 views and 24 comments. Not once did anyone use the lame-o word. And I occasionally do create cutesy art, which I am very proud of. I think cutesy art is horribly maligned because it can be done terrfically. And my Flickr friends manage to tell me it's cute while making cute sound like a trait of artistic genius.

Taking a cue from my Flickr friends, I try not to rely on lame-o's when I comment. For instance, if the piece is cutesy, and I am moved to use the word cute, I say it like, Cutely cool and awesome! and often followed by one specific thing they did or used that I liked or loved. If I cannot type a lot, I usually say Love it! And that is just me, I know. Still, I am not playing with bad karma here. It's coming around, but I didn't make it go around. Perhaps I did lob a few lame-o's in my past and am being repaid by the Universe. Karma's a bitch, that's for sure.

Additionally and most importantly, I know full well that the friends who do this to me mean no harm at all, and are in fact trying to be supportive and do well. I think that might be why I am so ambivalent. The slight seems so silly. Still, no matter what I do, the lame-o hurts. And owning up to it one on one hurts worse. Even once when I talked about this in front of one of them and they even asked me straight out if I meant them, I couldn't say. Oh, man. So, if you are reading this and have been a lame-o perpetrator, don't ask, just stop now, please. And don't be hating. I just can't help it. And thank you.

I am now looking into Word Replacement Visualization -- if that even exists. Hey, I might have to invent it. I look at a word that voodoos me and through the powers of WRV, I instead see the word.....COOL. I could definitely live with that. :-)))