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Letting Go

May 23, 2011

Sometimes I just don’t get to spend enough time with a piece before it goes off into the world. Building some of my more complicated pieces sometimes feels like rasing a child. I spend a lot of time designing, building, fussing, mussing, straightening, and finishing, and when I am all done, I have to send it off to a new life. And sometimes I’m not ready to let go!

The last piece I’ve finished is always my favorite piece. So I like to spend a little time with it–get to know it, live with it for a while. If a piece gets sold quickly, I don’t get to do this. This happened recently with this piece:

Tree Collar–plastic model railroad tree armatures, sterling silver, 14k yellow gold, rose cut pear-shaped prehnite.

I spent a long time working on it, finished it, was so happy with how it turned out, looked at it for five minutes and then whisked it off to my photographer, then drove it from my photographer’s to my gallery, who sold it within 24 hours. Yay! Right? But oddly, I was kind of sad! I had spent so long working on it, and I felt like I never got the chance to…admire it!

Making art is a funny thing. There are always a few different motivations, usually at least two of them competing. There’s the drive to make, which is very real for me. I know it is a cliche, but I absolutely feel more…alive, awake, aware…when I am in the middle of working on a big piece or two. My brain is definitely firing on all cylinders when I’m in the middle of a new run of work.

But then there’s also the drive to sell, which is also real. I’m not JUST making art because I love to make art; I’m making art with the hopes that someday I will only be making art. If the goal is to support myself entirely with my artwork, then selling the work has to be a priority.

And of course those two things conflict on some level. I want to hold on to the piece because it is exciting, and once I’ve finished it, it is my new favorite thing ever, but I also want to let it go and put it out there into the world and have it be seen, and try to sell it.

I guess that tension will always be there, and is not necessarily a bad thing–in some respects, it’s the alchemy that keeps the ideas flowing, and my work moving forward. And maybe that tension is also a sign of something more immediate–if I’m having trouble letting go, it probably means it’s a successful piece.

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