Sunday, February 4, 2007

Is Anyone Looking?

You know the saying...."Dance as if no one is watching.."

This thought came to my head recently when there was a big surge in visitors to this blog after it appeared on Cynthia Tinapple's wonderful blog, Polymer Clay Daily, (, and on Susan Rose's inspiring blog, Polymer Clay Notes ( I, along with many, many other polymer clay artists and enthusiasts from around the world visit these two sites regularly. And they never fail to "wow" me with the discoveries they make. I am happy, too, to have a place to send links of an artist I may find, or some other cool site I may stumble across. It is nice to know there is a place for these things to go so that they can gain some exposure to the wider world.

But when the numbers of visitors to my blog took a big spike last week, I had a moment of panic. Uh, oh. People are reading what I am writing. Self-consciousness took over. What will they think? What should I write?

That was when I thought about the phrase ...."dance as if no one is watching.." But now, I had to try and write like if no one is reading. Some people will like what I have to say, and perhaps come back, and others will yawn and move on. But this act of writing is something I do for the pleasure of writing, and the insight I gain by writing things down.

As I thought about this, I had a sudden insight. This same need to take away the self-consciousness is just as important with my work. Sometimes, I work just for me. I am in that zone. Creating what comes from my hands and heart. But sometimes, I am making something while I have someone else in my head. I am trying to figure out what that person will want. Any tiny snippet of information gets magnified. "She said she liked that part of the necklace, this what she means?" It is as if there is someone over my shoulder the whole time. Watchful. And of course, critical. I am no longer fully engaged in the process. I am trying to read the mind of someone else and translate that into the clay.

But by doing that, I have lost the very energy that may have made that person like my work to begin with. My voice was what drew them to my work. Now I was trying to infuse someone else's ideas and experiences into my work, without really having lived them. Talk about an impossible task.

I guess it gets back to trust. Trusting myself to make something that they will be happy with. And trusting that if they are not, it is not the end of life, my career as an artist, or any such calamity. It is just clay. It is just a pretty object. If they don't like it, ...which has only happened once, so far,...there are many possible solutions. And I am creative enough to explore those.

So, my anxiety about more people reading my words, actually taught me something about my work. Play with the clay as if no one is watching. Trust myself enough to have just me there when I am making my work. The reviews and critiques can come later. But while I am in the process of making a piece, it has to be just me.

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