Friday, February 28, 2020

Update on Zymoglyphic Finds

I have fallen behind on the "defining Zymoglyphic" posts. I'll have to split my finds between 3 posts. These go way back, and I lost some of the originals. Sad story about changing to Dropbox and my lack of understanding.

This photo is confusing - the actual object is the diagonal piece of wood. It's about 12 inches long. I believe this was in the "potential base" category. Still, once things are in the boxes of parts, they can end up being anything.

Magnolia flower petal. They tend to be leathery and very attractive when dry. Probably not chosen because it's beautiful, more because most people won't know what it is.

Not sure what this was. It looks like cement or stone.

A particularly interesting stick. It seems weirdly symmetrical.

I suppose everyone recognizes this - a dried red pepper. I'm not sure how it passed the test - seems a little too obvious to me, but it is nicely wrinkled.

And speaking of wrinkles, here's a beauty. Neither of us remembers what this is, if we ever knew. Clearly a piece of dried up fruit. Jim says it's interesting because of the nice patina and the you-don't-know-what-it-is factor.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Looking back to look forward

Work in progress - A Child's Introduction to the Wonders of Space - title page
by Judith Hoffman 2020
Hilke Kurzke did two blog posts last month about her art life, her goals and where she feels successful. They are here and here. I think it’s a good look at what life is like for an artist. Hilke's website is here, she blogs about her message in a bottle activities here, and she sells book making supplies.

In this post I have in part responded to her blog, and in part I am just setting these things out for myself. At the end of this post, after the art categories and goals, I included my personal goals for those of you who are curious. I actually don’t usually make New Years resolutions. For me they are a path to feeling discouraged. So I’m not regarding these as resolutions, just some things I want to think about. I will try to nudge myself in this direction. This is also a good way to get clear on my priorities.

Hilke says “Being self-employed and self-taught, the lack of a pat on the shoulder by a boss or teacher can be a problem . . . while it is often easy to see where we fail, it can be harder to know where, maybe despite short-comings, we still are doing well.” I think this is true for me. There are times when I have felt I was struggling and not making progress, but looking back I was making slow progress and could have felt good about it. Of course other times I struggled into a corner and had to turn around and start over.

To define success for herself, Hilke thinks about the times when she felt successful. This is a personal part of what we do. Two artists might have very different ideas of success.

Work in progress - Judith Hoffman 2020

The times when I feel most successful are when I make a particularly quirky book or object. The moment when it’s done and I look at it on my work table can be so great - I’ve never told anyone, it seems embarrassing somehow, but sometimes I sit back and laugh. It’s a personal pat on the back. So yes, I want more of that success. There is another way I feel successful: sometimes when I finish a book I am sick of looking at it. Maybe I struggled with some problem, or it isn’t what I envisioned when I started. But months later when I take it out of the box, I see it’s good qualities. It is redeemed and I love it. More than anything, I want to feel successful and be proud of myself and my work in either way. Which means finish more books in 2020. The way to have good work is to make a lot of it. Some will be successful and some will not. I should try to not get so bogged down in small details. (I know I will, but I can nudge myself away from that.)

Other times I felt successful were when I was included in books about the book arts or in shows or in a public collection. I guess sales in themselves aren't that important to me anymore. But they can be very gratifying.

Work in progress - Judith Hoffman 2020
My art related categories and goals:

More time in the studio - I do have some spare time that could be shifted into studio time. But I don’t want to give up all my spare time. I think there are quality of life issues, and other things, like hobbies, that I want to pursue. Mostly gardening and knitting. These both give me a lot of pleasure. And a little physical reading. I listen to a lot of audible books, but reading a book on paper is a different experience. And some time to draw, which should be an art category, but fits nicely into my evening down time.

Make one-of-a-kind books - I made three last year, I’d like to make four or five this year. Although the last one is not quite finished. I need to get busy on that.

Make some multiples - Last year I wanted to enter some shows, but when I looked at the insurance requirements I couldn’t. I would have had to send a one-of-a-kind book that took me months to make off into the world with either no insurance or I would have had to insure it myself. I might do that in the future, but having multiples would take away that angst. Right now I have one book that I think would make good multiples. I need to make progress on that.

Dreaming Made Easy - free book on my website
by Judith Hoffman

Make some freebies - This is just for fun. I love having a few free things on my website. I love the playfulness of them. They do end up taking a lot of time so maybe one or two this year is a good goal.

Recognition in the book arts world - This probably means being in a few shows. To do this I need some very nice multiples, or some lower priced books. Or I need to find a show where sales are not essential. Multiples would be spin-offs from my one-of-a-kind books. Probably this would mean scanning the books, printing them and assembling them. Still a lot of work and new problems to solve. To have lower priced books I would need to make them quickly and they should be less complex. I’m not sure I can do that. I see most of my less complex work as a failure. The details are who I am, what my books are. So make a multiple and look for show opportunities where I don’t have to sell.

Part of me objects to finding value in recognition from other people. I don't want to be working in my studio thinking "will this get into a show?" But being in a show means people see my book, and maybe respond in some way to the content. It makes me very happy to just make things, and I would do it even if no one ever saw them. But having someone respond to the content is very satisfying.

Post to my blog - I love other people’s blogs. I'm not a fan of social media, although I do use it some. So I should be contributing to the blog arena, right? Besides it is a good record for me. And I do sometimes get some really good feedback. It’s good when people like the books, of course. But also good in the sense that someone will see something I missed. I find seeing things through other people’s eyes can be very helpful or can lead me to new trains of thought. I’d like to post weekly but even every other week is good. I posted 17 times last year, so a goal of 24 seems reasonable.

Work in progress - Judith Hoffman 2020
Personal things I would like to improve:

Cook more - I have a lot of food sensitivities and need to prepare all my own food.
Be less compulsive - I spent weeks of art time just on the text and paper for the last page/dedication for "A Child’s Introduction to the Wonders of Space." I tried multiple ways of presenting the text - handwritten or printed, and struggled over the wording. Writing does not come easily for me. I used to make sure my emails were well written - grammatically correct (mostly) and properly spelled. I would write one, read it over, correct, read it again. I realized I spent a lot of time on them and decided to not be so fussy. I’m better at just whipping them out, maybe I can be a little more spontaneous in other areas. Okay, maybe not in the wording area, maybe not even in the decision between handwritten and printed. But somewhere, somehow I will try to be less compulsive.
Do Yoga - even once a week is better than never. I walk 5 or six days a week for 45 to 60 minutes, don’t really want to spend more time on exercise. But I am getting stiff in places. My favorite yoga routine is 45 minutes, I should start cutting that in half, so half on Tuesday, half on Thursday.
Meditate - I used to and have fallen out of the habit. This could follow the yoga and would be painless. Maybe it could build?
House projects - do these belong on this list? We all have them. They are endless and they torment me.

Thank you Hilke for your blog posts - they made me ask myself a lot of questions and I think my priorities are more visible to me now.