As an artist, I try to make myself create something daily even if the something never develops into what I would define as successful so I feel this is an important topic.
I've always known I would be an artist.....growing up in a very creative family almost defined my path before I knew it myself because the creative path seemed the most logical. During my childhood, I was accustomed to what "studio time" meant because my father had to practice the piano because it was his profession and my mother had to paint because it was her profession so when I was young and took time out of my regular routine to create, I was left to make those discoveries on my own. So when I got to art school as a young art student, making time to create in studio was as much a part of the day as anything else. But being in art school put more pressure on what we created because an art school's objective is to get us into the idea that we must produce work which will define us, show our "style" and give us a map as to where we should go next. It was in art school that I realised I thought differently than what my teachers wanted from me and that changed who I was as an artist.
To me, the product that comes from the act of creating isn't as important as the journey it took to get there. Luckily, I get to keep the best part for myself as process can't be priced and sold! It can be wasted however which riles me very much as you will see later on in this post.
So since art school, over twenty years ago, I've relished every ounce of "studio time" I've had as it is where I try and attempt many different thought processes and though often this results in failure in terms of not producing a finished piece, it does offer me a chance to learn about my material and what I'm trying to develop.
So I'm sharing with you today, some previous attempts......followed by failures of projects where I've tried something and tried again and tried again and not yet succeeded to achieve the results I'm looking for. I don't really know what I'm trying to do except that I'm trying to push a material to the limits of my own understanding of it to see what happens and if I'm lucky enough to go beyond that limit, then evolution occurs and I move on to the next level of trying and failures and successes......
Below is a speed video I've created where I've been working with sliced up toilet paper rolls, coloured paper and hot glue as sculpting materials.......I abandoned this process about 4 hours in and binned the product because it wasn't going where I had wanted it to go but the process brought out another idea which is slowly developing.
Above, the image is of a backdrop in a theatre production that I did many years ago for the Hockaday School in Dallas Texas for their 8th grade musical, Oliver!
I spent about 2 months working on this, was paid very little and was then unrecognised for the work on opening night. Still riles me that I wasted so many precious studio hours on something like this but then everything is a learning experience. I learned from this that I can demand more money for a job and that I can also turn it down if it will not forward my career as an artist. To work for little to nothing is commendable......if you're financially stable and have time to spend. Many lessons learned from this job!
The actual production of Oliver was of course a success and I must make it clear that I was glad to be invited to paint the backdrop to be part of their production. To do a 10 ft by 40 ft drop like that for limited funds and then have none of the organisers recognise my work is a bit frustrating but it did the job of giving me a much needed life lesson so it was a good experience in that sense. I do also enjoy giving of myself to help others but in this instance, I gave too much at a time when being valued monetarily would have been greatly appreciated.
This photo above is of myself standing in London Bridge station holding my sculpture, "Fibonacci Fold Pod" as my friend took a picture as it isn't everyday that you see a massive toothpick sculpture in a train station - we were transporting it across London to St. Albans a few years ago after it spent some time on top of a wardrobe of a friend in Clapham.
I see this style of sculpting as an experiment that lasted many years but has now evolved and adapted to something smaller (living in a city in a tiny room has made this necessary) and I think more exciting. In 2011, I built this sculpture to be part of one of the first exhibitions by Parallax Art Fair and it was a fun time which resulted in being quite out of pocket due to not selling at the art fair which was the beginning of my dislike of art fairs in general. This sculpture has travelled with me for several years since that exhibition and it now languishes, half broken on top of a tall bookshelf in my very tiny bedroom but even though it's broken, I keep it.....and I'm not sure why. I don't work in that style any longer.....it is literally the last dinosaur before my sculpting methods evolved but it continues to live on top of the bookshelf........I do see it as a failure in some senses but I still love it for the memories I developed making it which ultimately led to my style evolving.
So I'd say that failure in art is part of it......you need failure in order to succeed so then trying and sitting down to create every day is a necessity for every artist because it's possible that the processes and failures are the next stepping stones to the next success or evolution and that is everything! The trick is to find the determination to keep going when faced with multiple failures.....that's tough and really challenging.....look at my unrelenting job searching. I've been trying.....and failing to find a job for five years now. But I still revise my CV and still seek out and retrain to stay up to date in my profession and I still apply to nearly fifty jobs a week because at some point, whether it's today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year or in a few years......I'll eventually succeed but only as long as I keep trying.....
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My name is Franceska McCullough and I'm the owner and artist of Toothpickmoon. Here I will share my studio practice in all it's forms.
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