The Map and the Body

Work in progress.
Work in progress.

I love maps.  One of my uncles was a surveyor and he taught me a lot about them when I was a child, made up map games and generally instilled in me a love of these beautiful and useful tools for finding one’s way.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a workshop at The Studio Door in San Diego, a wonderful, relatively new gallery/studio/workshop space.  The workshop, titled Art To Market Road Map and led by owner/artist Patric Stillman, was exactly that.

I came away with pages of information and ideas especially helpful to the fledgling that I am.  I keep thinking of the wise words of an artist friend I knew years ago:  “We are all richly gifted with inexperience.”

Believe me, I’m incredibly wealthy when it comes to inexperience!

One of the pieces of information/advice from the workshop that rang a serious bell for me was the notion of developing a body of work.  I’ve done a number of collages over the past couple of years, many that I like a lot, a few that I’ve put into gallery shows elsewhere, most of them stacked against the wall, but a body of work is something different.  Even with all these pieces I realized, alas, that like the old song says, “I ain’t got no body…”

The notion stopped me for several days as I considered how I wanted to approach developing a body of work.  I’m an eclectic thinker and writer and now artist, and I tend to wander hither and yon, experimenting with this, trying out that.  A body of work means at least a semblance of commitment to a subject or form or idea.

After several days I settled on an image I’ve used more than once in my work – that fact alone led me to understand that the image was important to me in ways I had not yet considered.

I was in the middle of another piece that I’m in the process of completing and when I do, I’ll move on to explore the beginnings of my body of work feeling confident that it’s not only possible but the first step in a great adventure.  Ideas are churning all the time.

I’ll still experiment and try new ideas, but the very notion of the body of work has provided a much-needed anchor for all that experimenting.  I don’t feel constrained. I feel freed up.

And I have a good idea where I am on the map.

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