Wednesday, June 28, 2017
I need to write an artist bio. Share a little secret with you - I’m finding it challenging. Why? I am finding it hard to categorize what I create.
So instead of trying to tell you how to write a bio, here are a couple of sources that have good solid information.
What We Learned from Writing 7,000 Artist Bios
How to Write a Good & Effective Artist Biography
If you have read them you may have some of the same reactions that I had. Seems like a straight forward writing project, doesn’t it? Then you start to actually write the bio and, well, it takes a bit more thinking to accomplish.
The sticking point? Describing the art. What are the themes I deal with? What big topics does my art address? Not only that, but I was ready to fall into the pit of saying my work “deals with the human condition.” Oh no!
So what to do?
I’ll share with you my process.
Hope this is helpful and you are on your way to writing that pesky artist bio.
Still have questions? Want to share your ideas? I'm listening. Thanks for joining me.
Monday, June 26, 2017
Shoup, Lynda Diane. Half a Mind. 2017, Private Collection of the Artist.
Documenting your work can be tricky. There are many different formats for citing works of art. When citing a painting in a paper, the citation looks different depending on the format of the paper.
This is something familiar to me as I spent a fair amount of time teaching students how citations work as a school librarian. Here is an example of three different ways to make citations for the above work in an academic paper.
Shoup, Lynda Diane. Half a Mind. 2017, Private Collection of the Artist.
Shoup, L. D. (2017). Half a Mind [mixed media]. Town, State: Private collection of the artist.
Shoup, Lynda Diane. Half a Mind. 2017. Mixed media. Private collection of the artist, Town, State.
As you can see there is a great deal of variation between the formats.
Moral of the story: Check to see what format is appropriate for the situation before finalizing any citations.
This post is the third in the series entitled Documenting Your Artwork.
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Now that you have given yourself a general area of focus to your art, think about the materials you use to make that art. What qualities do those materials have? What qualities are the hallmark of those mediums? Not sure what I’m talking about? That’s ok. We’ll break it down so you can see what I mean.
Let’s choose a material.
Now I don’t do sculpture. I really don’t know anything about working in stone. I chose this as it is out of my comfort zone and will likely be more instructive to you in your own process than if I chose a more common material.
Ok. So stone. How do we look at the material? Is it in its raw form? Polished? Do you start with a polished/finished stone and set it, as in the creation of jewelry? Do you start with a slab of rock that looks unremarkable and carve it, polish it, give it life and sheen? Do you remark on the grain in the stone? Is it a large stone? A small stone? Does it shine? Is it matte? Is it a shape? Is it polished, but an untamed shape? Is it a hard stone or a soft stone to carve? Do you use a chisel or a mallet? How has it been polished? By hand? By machine? Where does this stone originate from? Is it from a particular area that is known for this type of stone? Does the stone type have some special meaning? If so is that meaning reflected in the piece of art?
Do you see where I am going with this?
Maybe this seems tedious to you. Maybe you want to just get it over with. I sympathize with you. And yet I can’t tell you that there is a shortcut to writing about your art that will be effective, because, really, writing is an art in itself. While boring text about shaving cream or toaster waffles is marginally excusable, boring text about art? Well, that just doesn’t cut it. You know it. I know it. Your art critics and fans know it.
Polish your ability to discuss art and you will write about your own art with more skill.
What materials did you choose? What words did you use to describe them? How hard was this for you to do? Let me know in the comments.
Monday, June 19, 2017
How many of you start a piece with a concept, a title and a clear vision of what you want to express? That’s what I thought. Not a grand percentage.
To document your work you will need to name each piece. It may seem difficult to work back and name each one, but if you are planning to track and catalog it must be done.
Below are the categories I am starting with in my own effort to document my work. Are there other details to add? Yes. Yes, there are. Will I add them to my document later? Maybe. I have created a very simple Google document that you can copy and use for your own documenting.
byline (including collaborators, if any)
I have created a very simple Google document that you can copy and use for your own documenting.
The process seems simple enough, doesn’t it? Working through it takes time and perhaps more than one cup of tea. Personally, I am finding it empowering as I see my work together in one place, documented and looking official.
I’m not berating myself for having not done this sooner and I hope that you will feel just as relaxed. Who knew when I started that this would be something I would feel was necessary? I certainly didn’t know where this art would take me. So the documenting begins in this season. It began when the time was right. I hope you enjoy seeing your work anew as you document it and that you will check in next week as we continue to explore.
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Disclaimer - When thinking about writing this series I knew that people would be coming at various levels of need. I choose to start at the beginning and work our way more deeply. If you are further along this road I hope you will check in as we progress.
I think one of the hardest things for some of us is having the courage to write the word artist next to our names. If you lack self-confidence (most of us do) proclaiming yourself an artist when you are in process, unnoticed, and un-exhibited may seem presumptuous at best. Pompous is one of the nicer words I have thought about declaring myself to be an artist.
So if the above describes you, I give you permission. Get a piece of paper and something to write with or an electronic device of your choice. Write your name. Now, go ahead. You can do it. Write the word artist. How did that feel?
What kind of art do you do? Whether you specialize in watercolors or sculpture, you probably focus on several mediums. Sometimes you can use a category to encompass several types of art.
pottery and woodworking can be categorized as 3D art
knitting and weaving can be categorized as textile art
Personally, I focus on art journaling, collage, and other paper arts. I could choose mixed media artist, paper arts or fiber arts to describe my pieces. They all work. Each of them acts as umbrella terms to encompass a variety of works. Each of them gives me some shared vocabulary, some basis for conversation.
I’ve created a (non-exhaustive) infographic to help you in identifying which disciplines you can count as part of your repertoire. Do you see any commonalities? Do you see diversity? What conclusions do you come to when you write down all the skills that are in your arsenal?
As always, let me know in the comments if this is useful or if there is something you would rather discuss about writing about your art. Happy beginnings to you. Hope to have you swing by next week.
Monday, June 12, 2017
Do you have careful records of each piece of art you have ever created documenting all its aspects from creation to present? I don’t either. Don’t worry. I’m not going to judge.
What has occurred to me lately is that I have not the slightest record about even my largest pieces. As a librarian entrusted with organizing information I realize what a problem this could cause me down the road.
Maybe, like me, you create art and move on. Maybe you have not shown your work yet, maybe you are not even aware that you need to provide certain information about your work if you want to submit for publication, have a show or create a catalog of your work. Perhaps you half-heartedly say “I’m just a hobbyist. I am not a ‘real’ artist.’” Perhaps you are secretly hoping someone will protest and tell you that you are a real artist. Perhaps you dream of showing. Guess what? You will need to document your work. So you might as well start now.
Full disclosure - I am no expert. I do not have a wonderful document full of the information I need to detail my art. I am starting now. That is great for both of us. As I start on my journey to find the way to do this that works best for me, I will be sharing that information with you. You can take the information you want and leave anything that doesn’t speak to you.
I do, however, have a background in library cataloging, the importance of these records and a healthy interest in learning more.
On Mondays, I plan to post about the process of documenting your artwork. Let me know if you are interested and if you have any particular areas of interest. If I don’t know the answer I will look for it.
Meanwhile, make a list of your art. See how many pieces you can remember. Next week we will begin the process of document them.
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
One thing that is so often said by artists, regardless of medium, is “I can’t talk about my art. If I could express myself in words I wouldn’t be an artist.” Others can talk and talk, but never get to the point.
Do you struggle with either of these problems? Did you ever think about writing about your art? Do you know where to start? What to talk about? Are you mystified reading that art can be discussed?
Let me know in the comments how much you have written about your art. What are your struggles? What would you like to know? I am no expert, but I do love to learn new things. My training as a librarian makes me eager to find sources to solve information needs.
Sunday, June 4, 2017
|"Look toward the light" collage by Lynda Shoup. May 2017.|
Two Junes ago I took a class with Kelly Kilmer. It was a wonderful day of creation. I had never had any contact with other mixed media people in an in-person style way. I treasure that day. While some pages in the journal we made that day were finished I have many more pages to complete.
It is not uncommon for mixed media enthusiasts to take on too many projects, to want to try everything and to skip from one journal to another. Picking up this journal after several years seemed like it might be difficult or it would be hard to match the style, but it didn't turn out that way. It felt simply perfect.
|"Choose Joy" collage by Lynda Shoup. May 2017.|
The next day I noticed that Kelly's teaching schedule is on her blog. I'm eyeing a class and trying to decide whether it can fit in my schedule. Kelly is an amazing teacher. She pulls so much out of you while you are not even aware that she is doing so. I found her class very powerful. If you want to see if there is something for you on her schedule, you can look here:
I highly recommend it!