Beth Meadows

Not Now, While I'm Lying Here, Wide Awake

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I'm terrible at quoting books and movies, but I'll butcher it anyway to get the gist across...

I think it was in Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. She is talking about the creative process. And she's telling the story of a writer who would get inspired at the most inopportune moments. She'd be outside, working in the garden, and the creative inspiration would roll in like a mighty wind, and she'd have to run inside to catch it all on paper.

I don't remember who she was talking about, but I love and hate this story.

I think it was also Tom Waits who would get inspired while his hands were on the wheel, and he'd grunt, "Not while I'm driving!"

I've been waking up at 2, 3, 4am. I don't want to do anything at this hour. Nuuuuu-thiiiiing. 

But I'll lie in bed and think about writing, or about a painting that hasn't been born yet.

I've gotten up the past two days. Yesterday at 4am. Today at 2:45am. It's 4:14am right now. I wrote yesterday, and concocted the idea for a new painting, one that I have asked to patiently wait for its turn. it said, "No."

I all ready drew this morning, something I started last night. And now I'm writing, which is something I daydream about constantly and never do.

There is something deep within me that won't let me rest. Sometimes I believe it's God. Or God's hand on me, who he made me. He won't let me rest. There is something he wants from me that I've been neglecting, at my own expense. It's hard to want to go deeper. I've experienced enough pain, internally and externally. I believe he won't let me rest until I've processed it through my hands. He wants me to process the beauty, too. 

You'd think it would be easy to recognize this deep prodding and follow it, but it's not. I'm sleepy right now, and I may be sleepy the rest of the day while at work. And I hate feeling sleepy. I also don't want to - no, I do want, but- it's hard to make this work that I have asked to wait. I don't feel ready for what it's going to take. And I'm fearful of making work that isn't readily available to share and show. It could take years to create. 

Or not.

I think this is why I moved my studio home. I knew my brushes needed to be closer to my bed. Getting to them by car at 2am would never work. 

Streamlining

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Last year, I began to let go. I managed a small gallery at Magpies Bakery, I was participating in First Friday shows in Knoxville at least every other month, and I was the Director 17th Street Studios.

I let go of all of these things.

It's August, eight months since, and I've been thinking about all of the other things I'd like to stop.

  • Twitter
  • Etsy
  • Showing in Knoxville every month
  • Pinterest
  • Possibly- multiple Instagram accounts
  • Snapchat

Oh yeah, I let go of Facebook last year, too.

I don't miss any of the things of which I've let go. However, there are little voices telling me I need to manage content on all social media platforms, especially if I want to represent myself as an artist. But I don't love social media. And I don't even use most of the outlets I listed above, except for Instagram.

I've thought about getting off of Instagram many times. When things get really dark, which happens on a consistent basis. But I inevitably feel better and my interest in Instagram is renewed. I'm grateful for how it gives me the ability to share.

I want to let go of all the superfluous stuff so that I can focus on a few things and do them well. So this project of streamlining continues.

There's so much clutter in our world digitally.  There's so much clutter physically. I am constantly getting rid of things. 

By the end of 2018, I'd like to be done with this process. I'm trying to get to the point where I can tackle organizing my computer files and photos, and to finally create inventory lists of all my artwork. There's a website called ArtworkArchive I want to check out. 

I'm sorting through my childhood boxes, brought up from my parent's home. This is hard. This little box of erasers that I've spent my whole life looking at, that meant something to me when I was little- how do I let go of that? (I have a way- in case you're curious.)

If I'm overwhelmed, I am paralyzed. I multitask a lot, but there's too much piling up right now. Not only the digital and the physical, but ideas, and things I want to do. Goals. 

So I've created spreadsheets to organize my ideas. There are three: One for my personal life, one for art, and one for my Home Organizing business. I have tabs where I put everything I can wait for, so that I know I've written it down, but I don't have to think about it right now. 

There's a lot of organizing that I'm doing, to cope with the influx of stuff. I get motivated often these days, to sort through the clutter. I get rid of as much as I can. I try to let go of ideas, too. Life it too short for this constant organizing of stuff that's just in the way.

There is all the piles of emotional stuff I'm working through, too. The lifetime of journals, the notes on scraps of paper, the books, the podcasts, the things I want to process, the phone calls I need to make.

With art, I'm not certain what I'm supposed to focus on. I think that a lot of times, I make certain artwork that is a distraction from the work I'm really supposed to make. I make work that feels easy to me and worry that it's keeping me form making the work that could be damaging if it was not accepted. The work that has been sitting in my brain, waiting for me to sit down and make it. 

I have to get rid of all the piles- the physical, the digital, the emotional- so I can get to the ideas. So I can make the most of my time. I am 34, and I hope to paint for the next 50 years at least. And there are at least ten bodies of work I'd like to start making right now. What if I only have 20 years. What if I only have 5, or 1. 

It's vital to me to find space, order, focus, and discipline, so that I can make the work I was made to make, for however long I'm granted life on this wonderful and cluttery earth.

You have to play to win

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I'm on a tight budget these days, so the thing I rarely ever do, that I love to do, is go to concerts. Seeing music live is one of the most inspiring things to me. It's really valuable to me.

Last weekend, Old City Java was doing a Giveaway on their Instagram account for Kurt Vile tickets at the Mill and Mine. I entered on a whim and won. 

One of my favorite genres of music is 90s alternative, and I've been listening to it a lot in my studio lately. Kurt Vile puts a fresh spin on that sound, which I love. 

It was a gift, an experience I forgot I needed.

 

Good Packaging Artist Statement 2018

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Right now, I have work on display through the end of July at Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment in Huntsville, AL. This marks my first solo show outside of Knoxville, so if you're in the area, I hope you'll take some time to go see it.

You can find my Artist Statement below if you'd like to learn more about my thoughts behind this series. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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The Good Packaging Series first began in 2015, inspired by two unrelated things: a growing fascination with the fashion industry and my dislike for grocery shopping. To shift my perspective, I turned the grocery into an art store, buying alluring food package designs to use as materials, allowing colors and fonts to entice me for the first time, something I was taught at a young age not to do. It wasn’t quite like buying Gucci, but it sure felt indulgent, and I liked it.

This series of supermodels adorned in collaged packaging has evolved into works made using recycled textiles and materials with bold colors and patterns.

 Pashmina 3x2' mixed media

Pashmina 3x2' mixed media

I have always been inclined to recycle materials. As an artist, I’m overwhelmed by the message to mass produce work, as I see many artists and creatives doing on social media. I’ve also learned, through a podcast I listen to called Pop Fashion, how much of the world’s clothing ends up in landfills and how much of it doesn't break down easily due to synthetic fibers. I'm motivated to recycle what I can, finding beauty in discarded things. I acquire materials from unconventional places: parties, restaurants, thrift stores, trash cans, office supply stores, and more.

This series has several themes:

  • Mixing accessible, inexpensive or free materials to reference high design, inaccessible fashion and unattainable goals
  • Supermodels/ fashion design as symbols for unattainable, idealistic or unrealistic goals
  • The layering of materials as a symbol for how people package themselves, physically and emotionally, making themselves more acceptable or pleasing to others, yet hiding aspects of themselves
  • The delicate nature of materials. While a person may be able to create an acceptable external persona, the internal still exists and will surface. The exterior is a delicate and unreliable facade.
  • My personal struggle with "packaging" myself physically- how it feels like clothing was not designed with my body shape in mind, how it can actually be really painful. As an act of rebellion, I buy beautiful clothing from thrift stores that I can’t wear and create something beautiful with it anyway.
  • My personal struggle with "packaging" myself emotionally
  • How internal beauty shows itself externally, in surprising and unconventional ways 
 Reclined mixed media 11x14" 

Reclined mixed media 11x14" 

Y'all Come, Ya Hear!

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Please stop in Good Golly Tamale in the Old City (Knoxville) during the month of July to see some recent folk style paintings. The show lasts all month, and I'll be there during First Friday to answer any questions and sell work.

During the month, work is for sale and can be purchased at the counter. Hope you can pop in for a tamale soon!

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Patterns in Nature

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I'm a magazine page collector. It's where a lot of artwork begins. I tear out pages and file them away, in a very systematic, meticulous way.  

I'm excited to make something inspired by these two different but similar things.  

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Show me the Glamour

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About a month ago, I started a part-time job working with a high end landscape design company. I'm learning things like how to prune rosebushes in some of the prettiest privately owned properties in Knoxville, TN. 

In other words, I'm in painting inspiration paradise.  

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