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So...

 

I am a FREAKING AWFUL pariah towards myself. Seriously. I constantly criticize my own work and compare it to the works of others. I'm really insecure.

 

The wheel and I were NOT FRIENDS in the beginning. If words could kill, the wheels at Spokane Falls Community College would look like they were thrown in a car crusher from the evil that spouted from my dirty rodent mouth. I.e., lots of this: $@#&*^#@*)/!!!!!!

 

After about five years, I can finally pull things off the wheel. They aren't necessarily FABULOUS things, but... they are functional. I was also thankfully blessed with another ability that not a lot of potters have...

 

I can draw. And, I can draw WELL.

 

I sadly live in an area where ALL ARTISTS ARE STARVING. I make barely enough money to scrape by, but I just cannot work a traditional job because of my spinal injury. Clay is physically taxing, but... well? So is life.

 

I deserve to make a living wage, even if my production pottery isn't perfect. My forms are simple, because I want the main focus to be the illustration. For me, clay is just another canvas. I gotta just keep telling myself that my work isn't crap because of whatever reason...

 

This is a piece of greenware I finished underglazing last night. I have to say that I love it... those grayish muted outlines will be glorious, inky black when fired. It's micaceous redart with white slip I'm gonna fire to ^03. ^_^

 

I also included one of my graphite drawings, just for fun. :3

 

So, yeah...

 

Anyone else have my problem? The self-criticism and insecurity part... >.<'

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Min    775

Your work is gorgeous! I think that when we are putting our work "out there" most of the general public don't realize what offside remarks can do to the ego, if you let them. You gotta know your work is good, if your illustrations are your strong ability then play it. Just off the top of my head I'm thinking red clay murals with your illustrations would be amazing! If you live in an area that doesn't have a lot of support / cash for art then get some good images and send them off elsewhere.

 

Remember the old kids storybook, The Little Engine That Could... I think I can, I think I can but change it to I know I can, I know I can.

Keep your chin up  :)

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Awwww...thanks, Min. ^_^ ♥ I never thought about terracotta murals before, but I can carve in relief and made a really cool box in college with werewolves and evil horses all over it. Maybe I might try something like that.

 

You really think my stuff looks nice..? Really? :3 That means a lot... like a HUGE lot... ♥

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Stephen    139

great work, but you already know that :-) U rodents are all the same. Had a hamster like u once, always showing off on the wheel but faked incompetence when trick time came to show my friends.

 

hey grab an 80's vanagon (VW bus of the 80's) with some life left and hit the road. There are scores of arts and crafts shows within a half days drive of Spokane. Your work may also sell well at some of the fantasy shows. No first hand experience but I've heard others talk of really doing well at these events if the work fits. RavenCon is an example of what I'm talking about;

 

http://www.ravencon.com/program-of-events/artshow/

 

not sure which ones are in the northwest but I think you would have a blast and might make some dough.

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Marcia Selsor    1,301

I think your work shows potential but could really pop with stronger contrast like white clay against the color.

As for insecurity, I think many artistic people have to deal with self doubts due to the American attitude towards the arts. At least you are in an artists community even though is it poor.

Socialize and discuss ideas with other artistic people. Great therapy for your insecurity.

Marcia

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Pugaboo    438

I too have a background as a painter. I like to paint on my pottery as well. We artists tend to be our own worst critics. I'll tell you a short story... Long long ago in a land far far away, just kidding.

 

When I first started selling my paintings a couple decades back I was terrible at it. If someone showed an interest in a painting I would point out all the flaws in it. Finally one day my husband said you need to stop telling them what's wrong with your painting if they see something in it they like enough to hand over their money for, LET THEM. So I forced myself to stop pointing out what I perceived as being wrong and learned to let people make up their own minds as to its validity to THEM.

 

Learning to let the art go out into the world and have its own life with the confidence to just let it be was one of the hardest things I learned starting out.

 

Even now I still struggle as we all do with, is this any good, am I even a moderately competent artist, etc, etc, etc. Just last month I did a show and had a piece I had been hauling around for a year. I liked the piece, had been offered far less than the price I had on it but had held on to it, I wasn't going to take it to this show figuring at worst I could use it around the house since I liked it even if nobody else did. I stuck it in at the last minute and well as it turns out someone did and they paid full price without even blinking. So you never know, and there is almost always someone out there for each piece you make, sometimes it just takes patience to find them.

 

As for selling venues, have you ever tried etsy, ebay, or your own website? I do all of them as well as festivals, formal galleries, pottery shops, gift shops and even what I think of a pseudo galleries. A pseudo gallery is someplace like the lobby of a hotel that has art for sale in it. Heck I've even sold stuff at tattoo parlors. I have found I do okay at these places so maybe thinking outside the box might be something that would work for you? The thing to keep in mind is to tailor your offerings to the venue. Pet Sitting Service = pet art, Hotel Lobby = easy to pack local themed art, Christmas shop = ornaments, etc.

 

Good luck and keep up the beautiful work!

 

Terry

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@Benzine: Thank you...I paint with underglaze, yes. Straight onto greenware then pop 'er in the kiln. ^_^

 

@Marcia: ...I'm not sure what you mean...I use white slip over terracotta because the terracotta is too dark to photograph with my camera to see the image. :(

"Shows potential..."

...euphemism for "yeah, you have a lot of work to do before I can call you acceptable."

I'm gonna go sit in a corner now and nurse the sting in my cheek. If I only "show potential" after seven years of work that literally have broken my back...I better find something else.

 

@Pugaboo: I hate Hobby Lobby... but yes, I have an Etsy store. It's just off at the moment because I am too poor to pay the bill. Had a vet bill come up and my butthole ex ditching me in financial ruin. My clay and my underglaze are all I have. No car. My phone is my internet, which suuuuucks...I just gotta get outta here. There is nothing for me here. I really would like to get a website going, but I'm a bit dumb when it comes to web design. :D Thank you for your kind words to me. I work so hard. My hands ache from decorating for nine hours yesterday, no break. More of the same today. I have tried and tried for years to make my work look even ACCEPTABLE, and it hurts to be told by someone that a piece I feel very proud of only "shows potential." It just kind of makes me feel like I will never, EVER succeed in making beautiful things. I'm actually tearing up... my pottery might be crap, but I'm trying... :'(

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Crusty    52

I think you have a lot of talent and I like what I see In your pictures...

 

Hmmmm.. Ya know, we artists have a battle that most do not deal with in life... Its hard enough to be creative and show the world something new or a new version of something old... we are always in doubt or comparing our work to someone else's instead of taking "what we do and looking back on what we did"  years ago... is my work better now? Am I growing ? Am I on a slow upward grade that is going to get me where I want to be or am I content on what im doing now?

 

Critique Is at every corner of the art world, one has to get used to it and even listen to it in terms of growth... sometimes it hurts like hell because we put our heart and soul into it.. on the other hand I might be able to grow from it...

 

Our brain is our best asset but,at the same time, it can be our worst enemy... we as artist have to get past ourselves in order to create without limits...

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Benzine    609

There's nothing wrong with critiquing, whether it be self, or from others, as long as it's constructive. "OK, that doesn't look right or 'work', what can I do to improve it?"

 

I just had a critique session, with my high school Graphic Design class yesterday. I told them, that none of the comments are personal, they are just opinions. Those different points of view, can help you see, what you might not have seen/ thought of.

 

Nitpicking, on the other hand, is not productive. EVERY artwork has flaws. Nothing is ever "perfect". But that doesn't mean, they can't be great. Just accept, that there is always room for improvement, and make those changes in the future. That's all we can do as artists. Always trying to learn, always trying to get better.

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Karen B    26

Imho, art is at it's best if it reflects the individual's life, experience, physicality, view, etc.. One of the fabulous things about kids art is that it has no self judgement. Do not judge yourself or your work. You have a strong drive and a clear voice in your work. Accept that, be proud of yourself. Each pot created is a success. Give no credence to the negative voice in your head. It is a destructive force. Nourish your soul with the beauty you make. You give generously to your vision. That is something that not all can do.

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You are an amazing artist. I say that with complete honesty. The detail in your drawing is remarkable.

 

Sincerely,

 

Arnold Howard

Paragon Industries, L.P., Mesquite, Texas USA

ahoward@paragonweb.com / www.paragonweb.com

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dhPotter    146

Your work is beautiful. I envy your ability to draw what you see in your head.

 

Perhaps it is not insecurity you are battling with but rather an over abundance of humility.

 

Artists are extremely humble.  Artists tend to tear apart their own products.

 

Is it because no one else can do what you do so instead of feeling superior you take the low road and down play your talents?

 

Positive thinking, positive approach. Anyone can be a downer. You are special, accept it, be positive about it.

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Also, it occurs to me that you could do drawings and have them made into decals to apply to your pots, to save your hands. There's a lady I know that will make your PDF file into decals. I can pm you with info, in the name of keeping commerce out of the forum. It's reasonably priced.

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I wish I had more "likes" to give on here...I ran out.

 

Thank you all for your kind words. I was very, very upset last night and lost sleep over the thought that all my toil was for nothing. Pottery is my only real means of putting food on my table. My electric/rent is always late, but I do eventually pay it. My art community practically doesn't exist, because I live in an area where art is really not considered a vital part of the community. The only art museum we have, the Museum of Arts and Culture, has almost gone bankrupt several times in the past decade...gives you an idea.

 

I have toyed with the idea of making decals. I kinda feel like it is "cheating" in a way, haha....but you are right in that it would save my hands a lot of grief, and me a lot of time. Decorating seven mugs in nine hours is pretty snail-paced... >.<'

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dhPotter    146

You say you are a bit dumb when it comes to web design. NO you are not. You have and can produce the eye candy.

 

Go to GoDaddy.com. They have a web design program that is WYSIWYG - what you see is what you get. You select a template from the many on hand, plop down your pics and text where you want it and voila' you have a web page. You will need to use GoDaddy as your webpage host - but it is not that expensive per month.

 

Don't freak out at the jargon. Take your time to learn a little about it.

 

Ask the support people questions - Remember a question is never dumb, the lack of questioning is dumb.

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Stephen    139

You might also consider adding a bunch of small stuff to your mix. An hour of work per mug makes them expensive (or should) and in smaller close to home venues that likely means the sales are slow, not because the work is not good but simply because small local venues don't sell like the larger fairs do. The small stuff will help counter that and get some much needed cash into your box while you wait for the more expensive items to sell. If you search here you will see recommendations like spoon rest, soap holders, simple jewelry and the like. Basically anything on a less grand scale that you can make cool and sell for under $20 and you will likely ring up more sales for those pesky things like food clothing and shelter.

 

Maybe you use Diesels decal suggestion to transfer some of your beautiful art to less expensive items and then markup the strictly hand painted ones a lot. Kind of like working the 'original' versus 'print' angle that painters and photographers do. I would think a hand painted mug like you are doing should be pricey, is it?  

 

Good luck and don't let the business side of things deflate you. There is a solution to that, u just have to keep trying different things until you find the right combination and then boom you're on easy street with the rest of us.

 

I hope you didn't take offense at the fantasy recommendation. Your drawing seemed loose and fun and somewhat fantasy inspired, at least to me, and themed events like ravenCon supposedly get huge crowds of folks with money to spend and if you arrive with beautiful pots adorned with drawings that match the events theme I bet you would do really well.

 

Lots of other similar things for your art as well like hand painted beer steins at Oktoberfest events or the Scottish games in western Washington. How about animal events? I know a few avid dog show folks and if they go to a show and see anything painted with their 'breed' it is snatched up. Keep in mind these are people that have the kind of money to blow hundreds of dollars on a weekend of walking their dog in a show for a blue ribbon to add to their collection of blue ribbons.    

 

Anyway just some suggestions, sorry you feel panicked that is an absolutely horrible feeling. Sounds like you need some successes to even things out in your life, good luck working through it! 

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The decal vs handpainted thing is a. REALLY interesting idea. Hmmm... *gears turning*

 

Actually, I was a con in September over in Seattle, and I made a LOT of money. The only problem is transportation; I have no car and driving destroys my back (I can't even play the dang Wii). I get all my inspiration from animal, folklore, and fantasy themes. :) I would like a table at World Con next year, but the booth fee is exorbitant... huge earning potential, though. I bet I'd be the only potter there, too.

 

As for animal shows...eh...I'm heavily invested in the business of animal rescue, so breeders of animals kind of give me hives...I could tell you some horror stories. :(

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Stephen    139

I know what you mean but don't lump them all together, we have some friends that are into the shows and they treat their animals like royalty both when they are competing in the shows and after, forever. The show thing is their hobby but they really do adore their animals and provide a great life for them. I think a lot of the folks that are really into the shows are the same way, not all but a lot of them. Nothing like the racing group or puppy mill people.

 

Maybe target some of the money to some good rescue groups and make that part of it.

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Pugaboo    438

I make my own transfers as well. I have 30+ years of artwork that I have converted to digital files so I can print my own stuff and put on pots. With the pen and inks I am even doing some color wash affects on some pieces since I only have the capability of doing black and white transfers.

 

I also second the small stuff. I LOVE doing sculptures and really fancy boxes BUT I need to price them starting at $100 and most people have this thing about spending more than a $20 bill on stuff around here. So I do loads of spoon rests, pendants, small pencil boxes, etc. The little stuff can add up quick when it sells AND it's cheaper to make since it takes less materials AND it's easier on the body.

 

I also have a severely messed up back, 2 surgeries, permanent damage, can't ride in a car for more than 5 minutes and if I do I can't feel my left foot and the sciatic nerve kicks in, bla bla bla. Lol grocery shopping can be a rather interesting prospect around here since the nearest store is 20 minutes away. With a messed up back I have just learned to do things the way I can and not worry that I do them in a strange way. I have to stand to do just about everything can't sit for more than a few minutes. When I throw it has to be a VERY GOOD DAY and I can't need to do anything the next day since I know I will be paying the price. It's why I do a variety of things pinch, slab, coil, extruder and wheel and I let my body tell me what it can handle that day. Heck I just realized my life can at times sound like a really bad country song.. Waa waa waa. My art is my sanctuary AND my business. I work through my issues with my art then sell them off to other people now THAT sounds like cheating. I also live in terror of not selling and have reacuring nightmares involving the words... Do you want fries with that? I work all the time in the studio and when something hurts too much to do that day I work on another project.

 

Don't let your limitations... Well.... Limit you, make them work FOR You.

 

I would also try the weebly free website it's very easy to learn and have helped friends get a website set up using it. You might also consider Wordpress which is a blog format and also free, you can put your stuff out there talk about your journey and get feedback. It sounds like you are feeling very isolated but you are not, there is a whole world of people out there and the Internet makes it so much easier to connect. My best friend lives on the other side of the country from me but it doesn't matter she is just one email or text away.

 

Keep your head up and keep doing what you are doing don't give up on your work or yourself.

Terry

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Marcia Selsor    1,301

@Benzine: Thank you...I paint with underglaze, yes. Straight onto greenware then pop 'er in the kiln. ^_^

@Marcia: ...I'm not sure what you mean...I use white slip over terracotta because the terracotta is too dark to photograph with my camera to see the image. :(

"Shows potential..."

...euphemism for "yeah, you have a lot of work to do before I can call you acceptable."

I'm gonna go sit in a corner now and nurse the sting in my cheek. If I only "show potential" after seven years of work that literally have broken my back...I better find something else.

@Pugaboo: I hate Hobby Lobby... but yes, I have an Etsy store. It's just off at the moment because I am too poor to pay the bill. Had a vet bill come up and my butthole ex ditching me in financial ruin. My clay and my underglaze are all I have. No car. My phone is my internet, which suuuuucks...I just gotta get outta here. There is nothing for me here. I really would like to get a website going, but I'm a bit dumb when it comes to web design. :D Thank you for your kind words to me. I work so hard. My hands ache from decorating for nine hours yesterday, no break. More of the same today. I have tried and tried for years to make my work look even ACCEPTABLE, and it hurts to be told by someone that a piece I feel very proud of only "shows potential." It just kind of makes me feel like I will never, EVER succeed in making beautiful things. I'm actually tearing up... my pottery might be crap, but I'm trying... :'(

Guinea,

You asked for criticism.Get over your insecurity and don't over react to something you misinterpret. What I was comparing was the strong contrast of your drawing compared to a green ware mug. Your drawing skills are fine. I think the stronger contrast in clay compared to what you do on paper is not a put down , but an attempt to help improve the impact of the clay drawing.I also draw or as you said "illustrate" my work. I find working in porcelain or drawing with a luster line accentuates the image. Rudy Autio used a white slip before starting to paint on his large vessels. If you are working in low fire range, try low fire white clay or work Majolica on the red clay. Look at traditional majolica decoration in Spain and Italy or even Delft tiles. You need a brighter base for your drawings to sing.This is a technical suggestion to help you.Not a put down.Cover the entire piece with white clay if that is what you have to use.

 

Marcia

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LeeU    328

OK, Ms. Guinea "furry critter" potter............this is from MY experience, so try not to personalize or view as targeted criticism...that is not where I am coming from  :wub:

 

When I was a student at the School of the Arts (Crafts Department, VCU) several instructors gave me painful "pull-ups". Pull-ups are blunt, sometimes harsh, reality checks that are used in an old-school drug treatment modality called Therapeutic Community. Screw up, and you'll find yourself scrubbing baseboards with a toothbrush or sitting on the Hot Seat to receive scorching feedback, or getting onerous pull-ups from the community.

 

Well, I had an instructor who was forever giving me pull-ups. And I really got my feelings hurt and got very discouraged and was about to quit school. He'd say things like "Art is not therapy...it you need emotional help, get out of my class and go see a social worker."  This type of comment might be delivered after I had to defend my lopsided vessel by disclosing that it was "off' because my hands were shaking when I centered because I was upset about "something". 

 

The day I was going to quit I ran into another art instructor, and I was crying at the time. She asked what was wrong, sat on the steps with me, listened while I moaned about this instructor, and then said "Don't you dare quit. You just do your best and come see me if anyone gives you any ######." I lived to fight another day, and earned my degree.  

 

(What neither of them knew was that I was in the shape I was in because I had been severely beaten by someone who knew how to not leave bruises where they show, that I was in a shelter with my toddler, that the batterer had totally destroyed my portfolio the night before the final critique, and that voc rehab was only very reluctantly paying for my school because I refused to work at McD's where they tried to place me. I insisted...with threat of legal action, since I had/have disabilities...that I could do something about and with my life if I could just go to art school.) 

 

Long story long: I had to get off the pity-pot, stop awfulizing and cease  whining about my sorry state of affairs, stop victimizing self, (participating in the killing of my own spirit by staying stuck), cop a positive attitude, and otherwise get a grip and make tough choices and tough changes to get myself out of the morass.   Making a daily Gratitude List, as much as I hated it, also helped. I had so little gratitude that I had to start by listing my ten fingers and ten toes, I kid you not. Oh, and I did avail myself of some therapy.   :wacko:

 

Eventually I came to see that the comments on my work that Mr. No Sensitivity provided were just as valuable, in terms of improving my skills, as the pep-talks from Ms. Nice-guy. Today, I have to own the fact that, by virtue of being a student, I ASKED FOR feedback on my work, and thus can't complain that I got it! LOL  :rolleyes:    

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Stephen    139

LeeU It sounds like pottery has been really something positive in your life. Thanks for sharing, u are an inspiration.  

 

When not walking in the same shoes as someone who is troubled about something it seems so easy to just tell them to pull themselves up by the ol bootstraps but anyone who has hit a rough patch knows it does not work that way. You have to get there and sometimes that means a lot of work.

 

Not a big fan of critiques. I know that makes the educators here cringe but they just do not seem to be that valuable. Look when you are asking another artist to weigh in on your work anything other that "that's great" stings so I don't want to put them or myself in the situation to start with. I don't need anyone to tell me my crappy work is crappy and if like it then I don't particularly care if they do or not, I'm the one in charge of my art.

 

As an alternative I am trying to be really engaged with pottery and what others are doing so my own opinion about my own work has more merit. Besides if you pot very much at all you have to start selling and when you start selling that is when you start getting the one opinion that does matter above your own, the customers. 

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