Beth Meadows

My Creative Barriers & Some Possible Solutions

Beth MeadowsComment

I've been thinking a lot about the barriers between me and producing artwork. While I think about art or making art all of the time, especially the business side of things, the time I take to sit down and make work pales in comparison. 

Here are my barriers, or what have been barriers that I've remedied:

1. A studio that I don't like being in/ that's hard to go to.

This is a hard one to explain. I've always been thankful for my studio at 17th Street Studios. I used to go there at night and there was a time I could be there multiple week days for hours at a time. I am still grateful for it, and once I break through the resistance it takes for me to get there and stay there, I can get work done.

As I get older, I want to be home more. In my younger adult life, I really have avoided being at home for various reasons, mostly mental health ones. But as I find more peace in my life, I feel this desire to move more slowly and make everything as simple as possible. 

My studio at 17th Street has become this obstacle for me in the times I have to create, which are late at night or early in the morning. I don't want to leave my house at those times. I want to walk around in my pajamas and drink coffee or make dinner and drink boxed wine. 

My old studio also has these yellow tinted windows that, for a long time, didn't bother me, but over the past few years they have. I neeeed good light. 

I live in a house now with a big white room with two big old wavy glass windows that I'm slowly making into my studio. I also have a basement with wood-working tools where I can make a mess and spray paint things. 

That has been a HUGE desire for many many years: to have everything I do creatively all in one place. I had hoped for that at The Salvage Shop, but that wasn't the road for me. Beginning in 2018, that dream of consolidating everything will be a reality.

I can't wait.

2. I'm scared what I want to make has all ready been made. 

I'd never intentionally rip off any other creative person. In all honesty, I am not well read enough on other artists to do this. I do it less these days, but I used to put on blinders, protecting myself from the overwhelming amount of art out there and people's varying levels of success making it.

I'm afraid of ripping off someone unintentionally. I wouldn't know how to defend myself. I would feel guilty even though it wasn't true. 

I'm a firm believer that trends happen in waves all around the world without people knowing it. (What's that called? It has a name*) It's where a scientist from South America discovers the same thing as a scientist in China at the same time. I believe that happens in art, and while I understand this, I don't think all people do. (I am working on not caring what other people think, too.)

So if I'm not proactively studying all the art before and all the present art being made at the speed of light, how will I better ensure I'm not making what others make? And what if my work is sort of alike, but still pretty different (hello, Ashley Longshore art). 

My simple and short answer is "Screw it." I'll do my best not to worry about it. Well, given my nature, I WILL worry, but I'll do my best not to let it hinder me. And if someone draws comparisons, I'll say, "Splendid! An example of (fill in the blank of whatever word I was trying to think of before*.)

I should say "Splendid!" more often anyway, and tap the pads of my fingers together.

3. Materials/ Cost / Storage

I hit on this in my last post. I'm coming to terms with materials and storage. I want to use the best but I also don't have all the space (nor money) in the world to store the materials or the finished products. 

For the first time, I've thought about renting a storage unit. I am adamantly against storage units for excess personal belongings so this is a big step. I could get behind a storage unit that is rented in the name of Creativity

When I have shows, I make about 10-20 pieces. In Knoxville, maybe a couple sell and then begins the great "Shoveling of shit." For the next several months, I have to figure out where I'm going to put these pieces- they get hauled around in my car, hung in my studio, put in businesses who want free art on their walls, on friends' walls temporarily who want free art on their walls, in my house, at other First Friday venues. 

My goal is to make a body of work, show it, and have that venue sell it for me until it's gone. Forever. I want to make it, store it until I'm done with each piece, and then release it. That just does not happen in this city. Artists show the same work over and over again here. Myself included. Maybe this is the way it is everywhere, but it's not a great set-up. It does nothing to inspire us to keep creating. 

I want to move work more quickly, and I'm thinking of better ways to do so until I'm wickedly famous and can find those people that love my work and are able to value it with their dollar bills. 

4. My own hang-ups

I've hit a point in my production where I am really trying to produce the artwork that is easy to make. This is a hard one for me. 

I've never been one to take the easy route. If things aren't difficult, I make them difficult. This is a confession, not a brag. It's a terrible way to live.

But I've ascribed this method to art-making for a long time: it must be painstaking and laborious if it's going to be worth anything. 

I want to give this up to some extent. Not completely, as I do like meticulous works.

This is a lesson I could have learned a loooong time ago in a small capacity.

My first art show. I was in college, 2005. I had spent all this time on several pieces- paintings on paper. I painted and fixed and painted and fixed and labored and toiled under the sun. And then I was inspired to make this one piece, different from the rest. And I made it in about 30 minutes. The idea came to me in a flash and I was ready to create it and it came with such ease and splendor. 

And it was the most well-received piece in the show. It was of birds (and was at the beginning of the bird trend that I didn't know was happening. See number 2. The see Portlandia: Put a Bird on It.)

Today, I am trying to search out those ideas that are deep in me, begging to get out. They are there and they take a lot of TLC to coax out. It's why I'm trying to clear a lot of the clutter- physical and mental- out of my life, so I can tend to them better. Bring them out and put them on paper. Or canvas. Or wood. 

There will always be hard parts in creating. Sometimes you have to labor, sometimes it gets boring, and that's ok. But I'm hoping to make more work with more ease. To trust my instincts in a way I haven't before.