If I could just control time…

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Where has September gone?

I feel like it just showed up and now it’s gone without even saying goodbye.

I hate how quickly September always seems to go. Then it’s October for a few days and all of a sudden I’m cleaning up christmas decorations and wondering how the hell I ended up in a whole new year.

I’m trying to slow down. Be more mindful and live in this day, but it doesn’t seem to help time slow down at all. Or maybe I’m not doing it right or maybe the point of being more mindful isn’t to control time… I just want to control time.

It would be so much easier if I could just control time.

I’m also trying to be less concerned with what I think I am supposed to be doing with my studio time and instead do what I want to do during my studio time. I have a few goals, guidelines of things that I would like to see done by the end of the year to keep my focus. I tried working on only one project at a time and I hated it. I need to be able to step back and take a break. Having more than one project going gives me the freedom to do that. On the other hand though, I have to limit the number of projects I have going or I will never get anything done.

And it feels really good to get stuff done.

 

As always, thanks for reading.

-r.n.a.

 

Other stuff you should check out:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Just show up… 

It’s really hard to focus in here… 

When I know all of this is waiting for me on the other side of the door… 

The beauty of having my woodshop right off the kitchen is that the baby monitor works in there, allowing me to hear when my little ones are waking up. Sometimes the lack of physical distance from all of the things that are easier to do while the kids sleep makes it harder to focus.

Or maybe I’m just looking for a reason to not focus… trying to avoid all those negative ninja gremlins waiting in the rafters of my studio to attack. 

Self doubt sucks. But it’s real and stupid but real and a pain in the ass but also real but also really lame and I wish it wasnt real but it is. 

I’ve been trying to just to show up. Not vanguish all evil or create a piece so stunning the art world can sense it’s existence and seeks it out so they can hold it up as the greatest peice ever made… I just need to show up. 

It’s not easy. I can feel the weight of all of the meanial and safe daily tasks trying to pull me away… the pile of dirty clothes luring me into the laundry room with promises of finally seeing the bottom of the hamper… images of a clutter free kitchen dancing in my head… the promise of all the things I could accomplish in the hour the kids sleep if I don’t go into the shop and waste my time making something that wont be that good anyway… In reality all those safe and menial tasks make me feel like a modern Sisyphus. 

But fear makes me forget that there is no end to the daily chores, that there will always be clothes in the dirty hamper, that no matter how hard I try I can not clear the clutter and mess faster than my two monsters can make it. 

An making art / being vulnerable is scary. Especially in a society that values art as a final product but doesnt always value what can be seen as the foolish and frivolous pursuit of making art. 

So right now, I’m just trying to show up. 

As always, thanks for reading. 

-r.n.a.

You should check out:

Brene Brown, Professor of the Dark Arts and Expert Advice Giver on how to defeat The Gremlins 

– This summary of the story of Sisyphus incase you didnt get the reference I made

– This amazing residency for mom’s if, like me, you are trying to navigate being a mom and an artist. 

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Sale Sale Sale 

Currently have a sale going on in my Etsy Shop!

 $5 prints and a buy 2 get the 3rd for Free ($35 value for only $10) deal in the online shop today. Trying to clear space for new stuff and I have some of these satin finish 6×6 prints leftover from when I was selling at craft shows.

I have a new blog post in the works and will be posting soon! 

As always, thanks for reading. 

-r.n.a.

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Now Available…

Part of figuring out my studio practice has been figuring out how what I make will interact with the world. Am I going to just make stuff and hide it with all of the other stuff I’m hoarding in my attic? Or in the heart of the labyrinth that is my external hard drive? If I do share it will it only be online? Or through a gallery show I submit the work too? Or a pop shop I run at the end of my driveway when the placement of Jupiter in relation to Saturn’s second moon feels the most pleasing? All of this thinking about what to do with the stuff I want to make is stopping me from making stuff and making the stuff I have already made feel like a weight around my foot slowing me down… Inspired by a story shared through the Artist Residency in Motherhood community (YAY COMMUNITY!!) I realized that I need to stop thinking so much, make a decision, execute it, and move on.

So I did.

I would like to make my work available to the public so that is what I am going to do. So I have started by putting a few photographs in an Etsy shop if you would like to order a print of one of my photographs. As it makes sense to me, I’ll add other work. Or if someone reaches out and says “hey! I really like this photo but it’s not in your Etsy shop, can I order a print?” then I’ll add that too. I am also going to select a photograph every so often to do a limited edition of 5 large prints. The goal is to keep it simple, laid back, and not to over think it.

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Readied the Bow. The first Limited Edition Print available in my Etsy shop. 

I started getting caught up in whether or not Etsy was the right venue for what I wanted to do, if there is something better out there… but it does the job for now and if something better comes along I’ll try that. I would love to spend weeks reading about the pros and cons to every platform out there while considering whether or not this makes me a credible artist. I could spend the rest of my life trying to figure out the ‘right way’ to go about things if I’m ‘serious’ about art. But it’s just a distraction from what I’m really trying to do and that is to make art, or at least try to make art.

Make a decision, execute it, and move on.

As always, thanks for reading.

-r.n.a.

Stuff to check out:

-that etsy site I mentioned

And because some people are the worst:

All photographs and work is © Ren Albon. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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I Don’t Have Any Time…

Trying to plan meals and keep two kids entertained…

The hardest part of committing to the artist residency in motherhood has been time management. Before the residency I would spend my kid’s nap times catching up on dishes or the laundry. Now that I am trying to spend that time and any other free time in the studio other things are starting to pile up. The visual clutter is making it harder to make art a priority so I am trying to take a step back to create a schedule. Despite the ease in which I can create a mess, I do not function well in a disorganized environment.

This last week I have focused my late night internet wanderings while feeding my little one on how other people schedule their time. I finally looked into bullet journaling. Turns out I used to do a very simplified form of it in college without realizing what the trendy bloggers were calling it. I personally think the name is misleading, it’s a personalized and customizable day planner. And despite my hesitation to spend time writing down and thinking about all the things I don’t have time to do instead of doing those things, I am going to give it a shot. The goal is that by being more intentional with my time I can be more productive and feel less chaotic.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

As always, thanks for reading,

-r.n.a.

 

 

Use Your Words… 

Constructive criticism can be incredibly valuable. Critique was one of the worst/best parts of art school. It was the worst because it required a level of vulnerability. When done with a great group who understood the benefits of not just saying something superficial or nice like “You worked really hard,” it was the best. It created a dialogue to help you talk through your ideas, potentially gave you a new arsenal of inspiring artists to look at, and gave you a gauge of how well your idea was being articulated to an audience. 

 
After graduating the regular critiques ended. Sure I have a group of people I know that I can send photos too or video chat with who would talk through something I’m working on but I have to seek them out, put myself out there instead of showing up to the mandatory critique whose attendance and participation is a requirement if I want a good grade. 

When I do seek it out I ask things like: 

“Does this look dumb?”

“How weird does this look?”

“Am I stupid for thinking this works?”

“Stupid right?”

Talk about a meaningful conversation!

And it’s not just with something I’m making, it’s with anything I do. If I’m not sure about something I’m wearing: “I’m not making this work am I?” If I have an idea that I want an opinion on: “I know this idea is stupid but what do you think about (idea)?” It’s annoying just writing about it.

I’m constantly telling my two year old to use her words instead of whining… I need to take my own advice. Those style of questions are basically a grownup form of whining. Whining shuts everything down but your desire to get away from the whiner as quickly as you can. Or at least that’s my reaction. 

I’m trying to be more direct and clear. To ask things like, “I am having a hard time resolving this design aspect. Any thoughts?” Or “Could you give me your opinion on this? Wondering how I am doing with articulating my idea.” It leads to way more constructive dialogue than a pouty, “This looks dumb right?” 

As always thanks for reading,

-r.n.a. 

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The Beginning…

Today is the official start for my year long Artist Residency in Motherhood!!!!!!

I have been thinking and wanting to do this since I first heard about it over a year ago. At the time I was working full time and waiting for kiddo number 2’s arrival. I really liked the idea of the commitment but I lacked the courage so I pretended like I would do my own version of it which was code for “i’ll make a lot excuses so this never happens.”

I did dip my toes in the art making occasionally. Drawing became a great outlet in the weeks leading up to kid2’s arrival. After kid2 arrived she sometimes would take a nap at the same time as her sister and I would run to my studio as quietly as I could and then just stand there. Not sure what I could actually accomplish in 20minutes (or at all) I usually ended up trying to organize something or cleaned while promising myself that next time I would do something more creative.

It was thrilling.

Then I did what I am really good at doing and completely discredited any shred of creativity I was foolish enough to think I had. Awful stupid things that I couldn’t roll my eyes hard enough at if I heard anyone else say them filled my head. The worst of them… ‘Grow up Ren, stop with this foolish art stuff.’

In Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly she calls it Shame Gremlins. And dirty little gremlins they are. She talks about how the more vulnerable you feel the worst the gremlins become… the lady knows what’s up. Every time I would even think about the potential of doing something art related the gremlins would spring to action, propelling down from the rafters shouting their war cry ‘REN SUCKS!!!!!’ The more I tried to ignore them the dirtier they played, knowing exactly what to say to shut me down.

Not to be all ‘This book totally changed my life..,’ but this book is totally changing my life.

I feel ready in a way that I just haven’t before. I am also tired of letting the gremlins run things and ruin something I really love doing, and that’s showing up in the studio to make art. 

What was going on while I was writing this post, seemed more accurate to chose the shot where none of us are looking. (This is also the reason for any spelling or grammatical errors in this post)

As always, thanks for reading!

-r.n.a.

 

You should check out:

Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly… Don’t forget to support your local bookstore if you can 

-Artist Residency in Motherhood’s website 

 

 

 

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Today in the studio…

One of the first real pieces of equipment I got for the shop was this small Delta Bench Top Bandsaw. We bought it from a retired doll house maker and it’s purchase made me feel like we were on our way to setting up a real shop. Took a little bit to get the right blades and even longer to figure out how to properly put a new blade on. I had never done it before and was intimidated by handling something that could cut me. Watching a handful of unhelpful tutorials online I replaced the old blade but was having issues with getting a straight cut. 

Finally, today I was able to sit down infront of this little miniature cutie and find a video that beautifully illustrated what it looks like to have a properly seated blade as well as how to adjust your bandsaw if the blade was not staying in it’s proper seat. So if vague terms like ‘just get it on there’ or ‘pop that sucker in’ or ‘just set that blade in there’ without ever showing you the properly postioned blade before slamming the bandsaw door shut hasn’t cleared it up for you then this is a video for you, my friend. 

How To: Bandsaw Tracking & Coplaner Adjustments 

As always thanks for reading,

-r.n.a. 

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It’s Probably Silly But…

 

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Despite moving into our house a year ago we still have a number of boxes yet to be unpacked. Most of those boxes are filled with books, including a lot of books that I still haven’t read. Shelving to hold our library is in the planning stages but until that project is done they wait in boxes.  Looking for the next book to read requires a bit of a hunt, in my latest dig I was happy to find Instant: The Story of Polaroid sitting on the top of one of the boxes. I had received the book as a gift right before we packed up our library 2 years ago.

The book itself feels and looks like something made by Polaroid. I was surprised to find it was published in 2012 despite it’s 70s aesthetic. I usually just fold over the corner to mark my place but couldn’t bring myself to bend the stiff pages. The author, Christopher Bonanos, clearly dove deep into the history of the iconic company and it’s creator Edwin Land when doing research for this book. Yet he was able to use all the nuances and side stories to support the over arching theme without forcing in tangents that are interesting side bits but do nothing for the main point.  It’s an approachable and easy read while still explaining some pretty complex ideas. Bonanos style of writing holds on to the complexity of Land’s inventions while keeping it comprehensible.

The story of Polaroid is familiar, one that repeats itself in many American success stories. A quirky young man with an unique mind and passion for inventing changes the world with their way of thinking and creates a multi-billion dollar business in the process. I was surprised to find that Polaroid got it’s start trying to solve car headlight glare using polarized lenses. That they were already a well established company inventing technology for the war when Land came up with the idea of the instant photo. An invention that without argument changed the field of photography and American culture. Even more surprising was fine art photographer Ansel Adams’ involvement from the beginning.

 

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Ansel Adams, Window, Bear Valley, California 1973, polaroid type 55

Curious about how this new technology would shape the field of photography Ansel Adams asked to be a field tester for the cameras and film Land designed. He sent back detailed notes to Land to be used as part of their research. He would also show up in person to talk with the inventors about ways he thought things could be improved upon or just to see what they were working on. This story within the story stood out to me in a way those types of stories always do. My insecurities about following where my own curiosity leads causes stories of others seemingly fearless pursuit to make an awe inspiring impression.

 

All of us have our own story involving a polaroid. Mine involves spending hours as a kid arranging my stuffed animal collection into various poses in order to take their portrait with my polaroid camera. I remember dragging a rocking chair into my room to make the photos look more professional. The instant polariod made my pretending seem more real. I was left with a tangible product of my imagination. Sadly those stuffed animal portraits are lost but I do have some of the polaroids I took when I was a kid. They were photos I took without my current set of self conscious baggage. I wanted to take a photo of my brother drinking his pepsi so I did without wondering what my brother thought, or what anyone else in the room thought, or what I would do with the photo once I took it, and what the photo said to the viewer, or why it is important to capture that moment, or any of the other existential bullshit lines of questioning I hide behind. I wanted to take a photo of my brother, so I did. I wasn’t worried about whether or not it was good or if someone else would think it was silly. I just did it.

As I get ready to dive back into the studio I hope to take the ways I was inspired by Instant and the childlike pursual of art of my younger self with me.

As always, thanks for reading.

-r.n.a.

If you feel inspired to pick up a copy of Instant: The Story of Polaroid check out your local bookstore first!

Stuff You Should Check Out:

The Impossible Project is keeping the Polaroid film alive having bought the last polaroid film factory right before is was shut down. Not only do they sell film but they recently released a new instant photo camera.

– This great article from New York Film Academy about some of the most famous artists that used Polaroid in their work.

– And from Polariod’s website where they announced the latest camera, Snap Touch, in September. A digital camera that can print instantly.

 

 

 

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L7 Weenie…

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Made by the talented Spencer Simmons. 

There is this glorious period of time that exists between the moment you tell someone you can do something and the moment you actually have to step up and do it. It’s also super stressful.

Sometimes it is reveled that I am an artist of sorts, that I graduated from art school with a degree in woodworking and furniture design, that I studied photography, and that I am in the process of setting up a studio in my home.

Sometimes I talk way to much.

And they believe me. Just saying that I went to school for photography and woodworking makes me a great photographer and woodworker in their mind. Or at least one that is more than adequate. The conversation often will include a comment about how they would love to see my work or how they would love if I would do something art related for them.  I hope they never see my work and forget that I ever said anything.

Because until they see my work or give me a task to complete they just go off my word and they believe that I am more than an adequate artist. Once they see my work they may realize that although I call myself an artist I am far from one. Or if I help them with their art crisis I may fall short causing them to realize I am no artist at all, just someone with a lot of art making stuff and a misguided notion that they can do anything useful with it. I don’t know what their expectations are but I do know that I wont be able to live up to them.

I still haven’t convinced myself that I am an artist/woodworker/photographer or figured out what those words even mean or what it even looks like to be an artist/woodworker/photographer. It all starts to lead into this whole existential dilemma that makes me want to say FORGET IT. (Okay it makes me want to say a different  word that has four letters that also starts with the letter f but my in-laws, parents, and sweet people that might not appreciate such vulgarity might be reading this so I edited it.) 

And so I make excuses. I don’t have time, I have my daughter to take care of, my space isnt completely set up to work in yet, I don’t have the right tools, it’s too cold outside while also being too hot, the lighting is off, I ate to much or too little for dinner, I needed to check facebook every 5minutes, I don’t know how to use the equipment in my woodshop, the local lumberyard doesnt have the right wood that I like to use, I was going to work on it tomorrow, my nose itches, I’m probably getting sick so I should just curl up in bed with a book because I do not read as much as I would like, I am to tired and need to just go to bed, i’m just going to go to bed instead because that’s easier and no one will judge me while I sleep for not sleeping good enough.

This past christmas I got a christmas gift that called me on my shit. This gift was so good it called me out right in my excuse making face. To be fair the gift giver had no idea they were calling me out, they thought they were making me a nice gift. And it was a super nice gift. My sister-in-law’s husband made me a wooden beer carrier. He had seen it online, thought it was cool, and figured out how to make it with supplies he got at home depot in his basement where he is not hiding a state of the art wood shop as far as I know.

He thought I would like it so he figured out how to make it. The end.

If it was me I would have spent three months talking myself out of making it for any number of reasons that were not actual reasons based in any sort of reality, and then I would have just bought something while feeling blue about how little time I have to make art and the growing number of projects that I know I will never get too. It is so stupid but I have the hardest time changing my thinking.

But I have to. It has to change because until it does I am just going to be a wanna-be artist that is too much of an L7 weenie to do anything about it.

 

As always, thanks for reading.

-r.n.a.

 

 

 

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