Monday, August 01, 2005

Question for all artists

I guess I need to clarify this somewhat. I do not think that I am too hard on myself when it comes to my own work. I know what I like and I usually know how to get there - mostly intuitively. Of course, knowing a little about design principles helps. What I am saying is that I always like my first generation of whatever I am doing the most. If I do the same or similar thing after that, it is not as satisfying as doing it the first time. I wonder if it is the newness. It does not matter if it is something I am doing in a workshop. playing at home, or reading about it in a magazine. Is it that I don't really know what I am doing the first time and that leads to more experimentation and creativity? Is it more rote for me after that? That is probably why I don't keep doing the same projects and activities over and over again every year in school. The ones I do again are always a little different.

Please remember that if you comment at the end of this, then I cannot respond since all comments are anonymous and do not include your e-mail address. If you want a response, then please e-mail me at

I wanted to know if there are other artists out there who do the same thing I do. It seems that whenever I am doing something for the first time or after awhile - that the first one done is always the best. For example, I took the Michael DeMeng workshop this weekend on book shrines. My first book was fantabulous! The second one is "eh!". It does not matter what technique I do or what medium I use. It seems like the first one of several always comes out the best. Is it because I don't know what to expect and don't tweak it more on the second and subsequent tries because I know what is coming? Is there anyone else out there like that or am I just a freak?

I just did 5 matchbook shrines - working on all 5 simultaneously. I know that my subsequent ones will not be as good to me as this first 5. Is it because I have more of an emotional attachment since they are my first ones? There is only one that I really do not like a lot.

I would love to hear from all of you. I can post your response if you tell me it is okay when you e-mail to me privately.


Beazers said...

When I try a new technique the first time I am trying very hard to follow directions. Most of the time about 2/3's of the way through the project I've wandered away from those directions.
The times that I actually finish a piece without drifting off I feel tense, frustrated and almost always feel a need to immediately make another piece, entirely the way I want to do it. I've learned the technique, now it's time to play. The more pieces I do the more I actually enjoy what I am doing and I find myself experimenting more and just have more fun. The truly "keeper" pieces are ones that seem to pop up during the second phase. I've let go of the "directions", expectations and the piece is truly becoming mine. :)

Paperpourri said...

The first one always seems the best to YOU, but do others agree? When I approach a new medium, I usually get quite attached to my first efforts--especially those done in a class where at least some of the creative and process thinking has been done for me (preventing me from making a bad start which often happens when I just launch into something through experimentation). I believe it may be because the first piece in a new medium is fresh and I feel great satisfaction at having learned something new and taken action with that knowledge that resulted in a good outcome.

All of your work that I've seen is lovely, so maybe you're being too hard on yourself, eh?!

G'ma R. said...

I live in a remote area and learn mostly by reading and am on my own for "doing". I find that I read, think and plan for a long time, then follow directions pretty closely the first time. My first efforts do tend to be more satisfying, but I think it is because I have planned them for longer. The next few tries seem to use up left-over ideas or refine things that didn't seem to go right. With things I've been doing for years (quilting) my efforts are more consistently satisfying.

Anonymous said...

I agree you may be too hard on yourself. Or you are comparing your work to that of your instructor or classmate. Most times our first piece looks a lot like our instructor's and it can be satisfying, but it is a true expression of you?

I may get a bit attached to my first try but it's the 10th or 50th that I actually keep on my wall.

cmatej said...

I tend to agree that the first time you do a piece of art, you have created it. After that, it is just production and it is not as fun. The more I make the more like work it becomes. This is one reason why when I am in swaps, I do not sign up if it is 10 for 10 or more. It is too much like work and the piece will suffer because I just want to get it done.

I really like AB round robins because even if everyone has the same theme. I will be inspired to do something just a little different in each book. I also draw some inspiration from others who have already worked in a book.

Anonymous said...

I just have to say that I amazed by the quality of the work you do. I'm a librarian and an artist and enjoyed the various art you have put together. I have seen this type before and been tempted to try it myself. I think each of them are unique and special, but the first most always seem like the best until you create again something that takes your breathe away.