Soft Robots

I’m not sure if I’ve shared this before, but Matthew Borgatti, over at Har.ms has been working on making soft robots. I wish I had the facilities to look into doing something like this for the Animatronics Project, but I think even if I could, the components would take up way too much room to fit inside a Morphoid, even a large one. A girl can dream.

I am making slow progress in my own way, hopefully I’ll have something to post about that soon.  (Essentially right now I’ve got parts of things, mechanics and code, all in pieces all over the place, but not lined up and working properly yet.  I’ll share when I’ve got something that will be easy to see what I’m doing, rather than all this research and pieces of things and code that probably looks like gibberish to most people.)

Laying Track.

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Lately I’ve been thinking about some things, talking about them with friends.  Friends ask where I find the time, motivation, and inspiration to continue to do what I do and maintain a sustainable practice without losing steam or burning out.  As I’ve been out of school for three years now (where did the time go?), I’ve proven to myself that I can do this, and as tough as it is sometimes, I am able to maintain it and keep it up over time.  I am committed.  

It is all too easy to let life get in the way, taking care of day-to-day business.  It is tough to prioritize my practice, when it would be so easy to commit to a full time job somewhere and just forget about it.  Or worse, feel guilty about not having the time to devote to it, or the energy, or just “not feeling inspired” to work on it.  I know sometimes it seems I have it easy, in not having a constant gig – temping allows me to take the time I need off, but it is unreliable – so I am able to commit to my work.  It is a sacrifice, however, in that money is often tight, and that can be quite stressful. You have to be resourceful.  (But if art school taught me nothing else, it’s how to be resourceful.)  You have to say no to things that aren’t going to be valuable to you.  I try to set really specific boundaries and say no to those things that take me away from my work.

I’ve committed to my life as an artist, because, although I do think I could do another career, I don’t think I would be happy.  Tough as it is sometimes, being an artist is a constant adventure, and can be really rewarding.  In terms of my practice, I am my own boss, which definitely comes with it’s own challenges.  I have to keep myself motivated, working, and committed, managing my own moods and problems (such as the 36+ rejections last year), as well as wearing the many hats that are required as a professional artist.  I have to not only conceive of and make the work, but source the parts and materials, manage expenses and income, keep track of everything for tax time, keep up my website and newsletter, some marketing and promotion, applications for exhibitions and residencies, write about and photograph my work, organize exhibitions (making sure I am prepared- the work is done as it should be, that I have everything I might possibly need to install, including tools and volunteers if necessary, transporting work, and dealing with the gallery, contracts, providing images, etc.), etc.  It’s not an easy gig.

Sometimes it’s easy, and sometimes it’s really not.  When I was at the Gushul in March, pretty much all I did was work, and happily, too.  It didn’t take me long to develop a really good and natural rhythym – up at 8, early, to take advantage of the daylight), work until 2 or 3, with a short lunch in there somewhere, take a break- a nap or read/rest/whatever for an hour or so, and then back at it, until bedtime, most days.  I was putting in 12-14 hour work days most of the time.  Sometimes I would go to the cafe to write/draw/think if I wanted to, but it wasn’t to escape my work at all.  Since I’ve been back, however, it’s been a little tough to get into a routine, but I’m working on it. I realize that my own productivity goes in cycles and is impossible to maintain that way in the long run, but the more I can set myself up for success, the better. The routine made it easy to be productive, less resistance.

I’ve also learned that I need to keep my emotions out of it, as much as possible- to not take those 36+ rejections personally- I could have been rejected for any number of reasons, only a small portion of which likely have anything to do with me.  I also need to keep my emotions out of it when it comes down to working- it’s not an “if I feel like it” thing, or an “I need to be inspired to work” thing, it’s a showing up thing.  A commitment to doing the work, whether I feel like it or not.  A job. Laying track.

What makes it look like a lot is a commitment to doing some every day, or almost every day.  To keeping my eye open for opportunities, and being organized enough that I can act on them if they are appropriate.  To writing an excellent application, sending it in on time, and then forgetting about it (so that it’s either a nice surprise when the good news shows up or so that the rejection doesn’t sting so much).  A little over a long period of time adds up to a lot.

So, today, like every day, I’m “laying track.”

Videos by Puppet Camp Friends

I thought I would share some of the video work available online from some of the other Puppet Intensive participants.  One night we had a bit of a video show and tell/ heckling night, looking at video work from anyone who brought work to share.  These are just a few.

Maybe I’ll start with a clip by the Old Trout Puppet Workshop- this is the music video to Feist’s Honey Honey.

 

Feast, by Rob Leveroos. See more at Lone Feather Studio.

Feast from RLeveroos on Vimeo.

 

Brian Fidler’s Ramshackle Theatre, with a trailer for their Sci-Fi Double Feature.

Sci-Fi Double Feature – Trailer from Edward Westerhuis on Vimeo.

 

And finally, a short video by Shelby Lyn Lowe.

There is quite the contrast among all the work- I enjoyed that everyone came from such different backgrounds.  Some ideas of performance, such as Rob’s visual poetry, are such an interesting contrast to my idea of performance, such as my work, A Bacteriophage Dissection, below.

 

(Ok, I’ll shut up about Puppet Camp now. Maybe.)

Mystery Art Date

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Last week, my good friend, Beth Cartwright, took me out on a mystery art date.  We went out to Bragg Creek, a place neither of us had been since before the Flood.

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Bragg Creek was really different since the flood, the whole course of the river had changed, and the picnic area was completely washed away.  This is a picnic table, uprooted from it’s original place.  There were only a couple around.

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Some people looking at the table.

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Someone else’s art.

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Stacking rocks.

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We found a rock we could draw on other rocks with.

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Found textures.

Danny Gregory: A Kiss Before You Go

A new book by one of my favourite authors, Danny Gregory.

I have a few of Danny’s other books, including The Illustrated Life, The Creative License, and Everyday Matters.  His books are among the first I reach for when I’m looking for inspiration- a flip through the pages is usually all it takes.  I am amazed by his openness and vulnerability, and the courage it takes to share journal pages.  (I know a thing or two about that as well.)  As his work is primarily for his journal, it is raw, spontaneous, and seems to be true to himself (although I know that what makes it into the books is carefully chosen).  It is a glimpse into his life and personal experience, and I feel lucky to be witness to that through his books.

I am also thrilled to see another book from him listed as coming up on Amazon – An Illustrated Journey: Inspiration From the Private Art Journals of Traveling Artists, Illustrators and Designers!