Monday, June 02, 2008
Self Portrait and In Box with Peacock Feathers
(Click on image to enlarge. Above: Xylene transfer on tea-stained muslin with new and vintage buttons and embroidered words: I quit my job to pursue ART. Title: Self Portrait, Artist. 25" x 19".)
Over the weekend I finished the second piece in my new series inspired by Decisions, a recent installation. Because I don't really draw, I've never even thought about a self-portrait. Most artists I know have created at least one. Historically, self portraits have been used to study the inner soul of their makers. Self portraits are markers of the artist's development and signs of the time. They are often viewed as signatures left by an artist for posterity. Wow! That's a lot to live up to...a lot to think about.
Approaching this piece, my first self portrait, I had to decide how I'd like to stitch it. I got nervous, but the answer came to me as if on the wings of serendipity. An email from my good blogging friend Doreen G mentioned buttons...using buttons to sew together a quilt. The sentence wasn't a suggestion; Doreen knew nothing of my project at the time; but, the suddenly I had a vision and the project just came together from that point on. I truly like my self-portrait which is something I didn't think I'd be saying at the onset. Generally, I dislike images of me.
Okay, I didn't really "quit" my job....but I did. Seven years ago I ran a full-service custom picture framing shop on the first floor of my large, downtown historical home. Steve and I had fourteen on payroll, offered full health benefits, a retirement plan, paid vacations, and over-time. I was, unfortunately, the only one working over-time...like ALL THE TIME...twelve to eighteen hour days, seven days a week, fifty weeks a year. (Even I stopped between Christmas and News Years!)
Business was still growing. Many employees were truly nightmares. I had stopped sleeping, hated life, and was miserable. Finally, I had to admit to myself that I wanted to make art. Without training or experience, I finally fired my head mat cutter (for more reasons than are worth listing) and started a two year process to downsize Mouse House, my business. Steve and I helped other employees get new jobs. Now, the business is just Steve and me....happiness.
We still frame on a very limited basis...for people who trust me to make all the decisions in their absence! We are picky as to who we accept as clients. So, in a sense, I'm still a picture framer....but I did QUIT....I quit being the head designer who met with people all day, every day. I quit being the manager. I quit running the business. I quit how I spent all my time...in order to become an artist. It's been a wild ride. I don't know if all this is reflected in my portrait...but the buttons are both new and old...and I'm smiling!
(Click on image to enlarge. In Box with Peacock Feathers. 29 1/2" x 15 1/2".)
Also this weekend, I finished a new piece in my "In Box" series. I added peacock feathers at the suggestion of a potential client who is looking for a commission. I couldn't accept the commission immediately because I'd never tried adding peacock feathers in this manner. If the client likes it, there will be two more. If the client doesn't like it, there's still this piece! I'd call that a WIN-WIN situation.
Posted by Susan Lenz at 10:27 AM