Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Earthfire Workshop Ideas

Being patient with myself and attempting to not put so much on my plate is proving difficult for me.  It is hard for me to say no, and I hate to pass up opportunities to do things or have neat things happen around me because of the efforts I put forth.  I am reminded of how much I put out there already now that I have pulled back and stopped pushing for new projects with work.

Even though I have made a decision to stop trying to get more things to happen with work in terms of giant projects and events, I keep getting ideas for more and more things to do or to try to make happen from Derek, Lari and people in general.  Not only shows, but workshops and classes and things to happen in the gallery space.  Could we do a raptor rescue fundraiser?  How about an animal rescue fundraiser for a national geographic artist one of our clients is friends with?  What about more art workshops, such as a comic book workshop with a cousin who works for Marvel, or getting the artists who are showing this Spring to run a painting class?  Why not try to get figure drawing open studio nights going?  And today, I got an email from the very sweet people at Earthfire Institute to see where we are at with coming up with a workshop to offer with them this summer.

With most of these ideas, I just want to let them lie.  I am so tired.  My brain doesn't have enough to it right now to plot and plan the logistics of advertising yet more stuff going on at the studio.  Seriously, just getting Jordu's workshops to sell out for July is enough of a task for me, and currently I don't even have the energy to put into creatively marketing that!  Forunately I have seven months to get it together.  If there are to be any other workshops taking place at the studio, they need to be organized by someone other than myself, and need to make the studio money, not cost us money.  I'd rather just be the location and take a cut of profits than push to organize more stuff going on.  My energy is way better spent on tattooing and making sure everything is running smoothly on that end.

Earthfire's email threw me for a loop because I had the impression that there was no way we'd be able to do it.  I haven't heard from them in months and thought that they weren't interested in me doing a workshop.  Their institute is an amazing place that brings wild animals and people together in an intimate and natural setting.  It's a place that is doing remarkable work and allowing people to get a better understanding of the animals that inhabit our world, an interaction that has been very much forgotten as our culture speeds into the electronic age and is even forgetting how to interact with fellow humans.  I would love to work with them to help bring the experience of getting to know individual animals beyond the personal experience and into art that can reach the public.  If I do any kind of reaching out to non-profit organizations this or next year, this is the one I would love to do it for.

Initially I had hoped to have my friends Julie and Boris help run the workshop because their expertise in painting is well beyond my own.  But I think that trying to coordinate with them may be difficult because their work schedule is so demanding and they are teaching the Illustration Master Class in the summer, which eats into a lot of their time already.  I will see if I can get them on board (Julie thought it sounded neat when I brought it up in October), but right now I am brainstorming ideas that I will be comfortable teaching on my own.  My interest is guaranteed, and I can make myself available.  Perhaps what I can offer is different from what they can.  I am thinking on it.

The idea of totems and honoring them through art/tattooing comes to mind.  Recognizing a connection with an animal and the spirit of their species, and finding ways to honor that connection through art on paper or on skin.  Body placements that make sense for such work.  Connecting to the animal and asking it what gift it is bringing you.  These are things that I am continually working on myself, but because I have been thinking on it for such a long time, I have at least some interesting things to say on the subject, and personal stories to share.  I think a workshop on these kinds of gifts would be a great offering to the public and would reach the right people who could ripple out and embody the understanding they gain on the retreat.

Another idea that would work well in conjunction with Derek is about how to gather references of wildlife for paintings and other art.  Because animals move and aren't likely to just sit still for you to paint them all day, you need to gain what you can from a short encounter and use it as inspiration for the final work.  We could offer tips on recreating lighting in the home studio for additional references, making sure to get photos of feet and joints to understand how they work when you draw a pose later on, etc.  And also talk about how important it is to capture a mood in your art by recognizing that animals speak with their whole bodies, not just their faces.  Curiosity, trepidation, joy, aggression - all of these are fully embodied in animals, whereas people get across very subtle variations in emotion with just facial expressions most of the time (even though we give out loads of postural cues as well that we mostly process subliminally.)

In any case, I have some ideas to chew over for a bit.  I also need to make sure that in doing this retreat, I at the very least make enough money to get there, stay, eat and return.  I no longer have the luxury of spending my own funds to promote great ideas.  Now I have to find ways to promote them at minimum to the point that I break even.  Eventually, I'd like to have the skill of gaining money for the cool things that I make possible.  It's a learning curve for me that I am trying to get over the hump on.  Up until my melt-down this September I didn't even notice that I do everything with no expectation of getting recompensed for my efforts.  It's a bad habit and that has understandably led to a lot of unconscious stress and confusion on my part.

As part of my growth into the more centered and balanced human I want to be, I am going to enter into this venture in the spirit of shared gain, rather than self-sacrifice for someone else's cause that I support.  I am sure I can make this happen, and will find a way to bring something awesome to the world without my losing energy and funds for once!

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