I hate the connection at the Dallas Airport so much that I only visit my family in Detroit every few years.
I thought I would have a stroke the last time I hefted heavy suitcases off the conveyor belt and raced to customs in order to make my connecting flight. I swore that I would never, ever, check baggage again. My lust for American-bought art materials, however, has pre-empted that resolution.
I have since developed a system that works for me. I bought a huge wheeled-duffle bag and put my empty regular suitcase inside of it for the trip to Detroit. Since they are both empty, I can pull them along behind me with the cords of the duffle bag as I make my way through customs. I cram the personal clothing and toiletries that are essential for my trip into my carryon bag.
On the flight home to Guadalajara, my luggage will be checked straight through. My carry-on will contain 20 pounds of art books, (yes, the wheels on my carry-on are getting wobbly). The duffle bag will be full of novelty yarns not available in Mexico. They’ll be used to create even more exciting tapestries woven on the Spanish colonial looms at Aztec Studios. The suitcase I’ll fill with new painting mediums and colors available in the United States, along with exciting pastel sticks sandwiched between the clothes I originally had in my carryon.
Starting a year before my trip, I get so excited making lists of the art materials I’ll purchase that it sometimes eclipses thoughts of reunion with my family. What does this say about me as an artist? Nothing, but it sure says a lot about my compulsion. Remember the old axiom, “Do as I say, not as I do?” Well that certainly applies here.
The reality is that as we grow as artists, our work also grows. If the work is not growing, it is because the artist is not growing. Yes, we will create work that is ever more exciting when I return from the states, but it is not the materials I bring back that causes that. It would naturally happen anyway, artists build on what we learned from our previous work. This is what separates art from craft.
With craft the execution gets finer with time, although the idea remains the same. With the purchase of yet more and varied materials, we are addressing the issue of execution, not ideas. The ideas separate the sheep from the goats in fine art; they are far more elastic and are infinite in the act of creation.
It is useless to wait to accumulate the right materials in order to create. Creation is done with the mind. It does not even need a product, however the product is validation. As a metaphor, visualize standing in front of a sunset painting and experience that mood; standing in front of a real sunset gives validation. It is something that can be shared.
Communication and validation is what innately inspires an artist to create a product. The assumed need to acquire the latest in materials is therefore, I believe, largely cultural. If you come from a culture whose wheels are driven by its humans’ need for acquisition, try to set that aside. Create today by what is available here, what can be bought at the local stationary or hardware stores, or hopefully well-stocked art supply store.
Believe me when I tell you, anything more is for your own aesthetic enjoyment. It will not make you a better artist.
For more advice and ex-pat adventure stories follow Janice's blog ...firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her Gallery and Weaving Studio's Thurs. thru Sat, 10:30-5:30 at 232 Carr Joco- Ajijic. Rancho Del Oro. Coming from Ajijic go1 mile west on highway, left at Danza Del Sol exit( overhead sign) make an immediate left onto service drive, go half a block, turquoise door. email@example.com.