This week I've had occasion to recall my first summer in San Francisco, when I moved there from the Arkansas Ozarks to complete my BFA, at what was then the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland (now called the California College of the Arts). It was a tough move, and I dealt with the challenge of extreme culture shock by diving right into my purpose, taking my first courses during the summer session. In a color class taught through the medium of chalk pastel, by Linda K. Smith, at the end of our final project, the instructor told me "You have ideas. I can teach techniques and materials, but I can't teach ideas." It was an encouraging beginning for me, a quiet but daring-to-return student who'd spent 9 years doing the back-to-the-land/subsistence-living thing in two remote places.
I do have a lot of ideas, and I don't try to be "consistent" in my work. If I want to photograph, make photocollages, paint in sumi ink, gouache, oils -- or pick up a needle and thread, or some yarn and knitting needles -- or study classical music and voice, write poetry -- this is my life as an artist. After a few decades of not getting far in the career development, one artist might decide to settle into one medium, make it a "product," and market herself. But I'm stubborn, and as far as I know, although I do have a lot of ideas, I'm only getting one life to realize them. If an artist can't be stubborn and ignite the sparks of creativity, who will? My professors in art school all said, have a different plan for getting by. That was in a different time in the art world; now aspiring painters get advanced degrees and expect, or hope, to make the money they've invested in their education from sales of their work. The art world is more like every other aspect of society now, comprised of every kind of artist and human being -- and I'm one of them. I take an ecological view of it all, and I trust I have my place in it.
I find ideas everywhere; being awake to those revelations in small moments of my day is what I'm all about. That's why I love to wander the flea market, look at stuff, take note of what catches my attention and ask myself "why does this touch me?" I sing to myself and talk to the vendors, and leave, sometimes with some small thing, but always in love with my life.
Just as when building my abstract collages in torn paper, photos and fabric, I enjoy finding the tangent points in my diverse materials; the consistency might not be in what my output looks like, but in the ways I approach and develop it.