Something is happening. I am not sure what, but there is something. Sounds crazy I know. But truly I feel that since I have stepped back from things and challenged myself to look at my world in a new way that something is happening. I believe we all get complacent. My students do. We all do. Even if we are reluctant to admit that we are complacent. Complacency stagnates creativity. I am in a unique environment at the company I work for when I am not creating art. The vision of the CEO and being surrounded by all types of art and creative expression is uplifting creatively.
On a personal level I am revisiting the things that help spark creativity, such as reading and gardening. I do not have a green thumb but being connected to nature is so central to me. I can never remember the name of plants but I know how they thrive and I love my herbs. I didn't grow up gardening, except for cultivating my little green bean patch that my mother still talks about to this day, so gardening has been a learning experience. I love learning. That too is a creative spark inducer. That's why I am exploring felt and embroidery stitches right now. Totally not art by art standards but I have always teetered between art and craft. Difficult not to appreciate and merge both when you grow up with a creative father who remodeled an entire house from the ground up and became a master carpenter.
I see art in what most people call craft. So be it. I'm content not being a fine artist or a painter. Give me wood, paper, clay, non-traditional materials any day. After all, Eva Hesse is my favorite artist. She threw out the accepted notion of traditional materials. Though I must give credit to Picasso for giving me permission early in my artistic career to explore all mediums. But he led me to her and I am forever grateful to both to never feel limited by the materials. In college it was the opposite. I was studying ceramics and my ceramics professor talked about pottery as sculpture. Inspired, I took every sculpture class I could. But because I had committed to ceramics, in my finally studies I was only allowed to work in clay. I explored and pushed the limits with the organic forms I wanted to create. Many of my complex creations exploded in the kiln. I felt constricted by the material. I wanted the piece to tell me what it should be made out of not force it to be made of a particular material. In my final independent study class I was allowed to explore a medium outside of clay. By then I knew I didn't want to be a potter or only work in clay. To my father's surprise I turned to wood. I had been studying him working for years, absorbing it like a sponge. I was drawn to Mondrian at the time. Frustrated with the organic forms I had been trying in clay, I turned to geometric forms and explored wood. I created several pieces and then stopped. Sometimes artists just stop for a while. I was searching again.
What finally burst out of me was a combination of my love of wood and my need to explore mixed media in a truly organic and abstract way. I was not ready really for that piece. I had started it and put it away. I revisited the piece and finished it many years later. Still, I was not ready for that piece. The work that followed and has followed since has not been similar. And now, I feel that burst brewing and I am trying not to hold it back.
As I said, I teeter between art and craft. I do like to challenge the notion of craft and ask the question, why. Art history is full of why. I didn't like studying art and having to memorize painting names, dates, etc. But I loved learning about the movement of art. I still get excited when I share a summary of this movement as I lead up to my most favorite period, modern art. Art has lost the "movement". Each decade has already challenged art down to it's essential components and exploded into contemporary art and social art which was a natural and likely result. But now we are here which is where I don't know. I would have enjoyed living in the 60's creating in the modern movement next to artists like Eva Hesse. Chef's today are experiencing a similar creative movement through food. But not art. Though some art historian somewhere will find a name for the art of our decade. In my opinion, we are stagnant. We need an art movement. All I can hope for is that my own personal art movement will happen. That it will not be like the tomato on my poor tomato plant. It is on the verge of blossoming but just sits there, in a holding pattern. Nope! I'm ready for the burst!
#jnicholsart #lifeofanartist #mixedmedia #wallrelief #art #flowers
Mark your calendars for my next show! This is the first time I am participating in the Greensboro Summer Solstice. I truly do not know what to expect but I am excited to be a part of this fun and creatively charged experience. Join me Saturday, June 18, 2016 from 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
401 Ashland Drive, Greensboro, NC 27403 (Greensboro Arboretum and Lindley Park)
#jnicholsart # mixedmedia #art #handmade #wallrelief
Something is missing. Have you ever felt that way? I feel that way more than I care to admit. I find myself bored with my art and the passion slipping away. I am searching. I said to an artist friend, "what am I doing wrong?" She had no answer. I thought perhaps I am losing my mind. This feeling is frustrating to the creative soul. How do you keep creating with this feeling gnawing at you? That is just one of many questions. I don't know. But what I do know is I must do something to move myself forward.
As an artist I am inspired by many things. Sometimes, the least expected thing. Sometimes, the best thing you can do as a creative person is to look at others, other creators, not artists like myself necessarily. So I returned to one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Gilbert. Another artist friend is reading her book, Big Magic, and spoke about how in this book she talks about overcoming the fear in creating. So that night, I went to the book store, found the book and cuddled up in bed with it. I've never felt a fear of creating but I am questioning the very reason why I create. Perhaps, this kindred spirit will have an answer. The next day, absorbing the first few chapters, I did something different. I watched a few episodes of the Chef's Table. I'm not a chef but years ago I found creativity through cooking. At that moment, a different world related to food opened and I have never looked at cooking in the same way again. Each episode I watched touched me in a different way. What I noticed was a commonality. These great chefs are continually questioning how they can do it differently, they continue to push the creative limits of food and what the elements of food can do, to the point that they have the courage to throw out the successful menu and try something new. Then watching one episode the chef asked the question, "what am I doing wrong?" and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up in excitement and I thought Yes! I am not alone! I am not the only artist who asks this question.
Now art is not like food. No longer are their patrons who support aspiring artists. The world has changed. The patrons of today support aspiring chefs. Our opportunities may be different, but our creativity is rooted in the same depths. We ask ourselves some of the same questions. And when we stop asking, we become stagnant. I haven't become entirely stagnant. I have taught myself some new techniques and honored my curiosities about fiber materials. But I have stopped questioning and pushing myself in my art as I did in the past.
A chef needs a person to come taste their food. An artist needs a person to visually be touched by their work. We are both telling a story, trying to captivate our audience and leave an impression. Food is consumed and the pleasure becomes a memory. Art is a thing that sits or hangs for long term pleasure. Both are important. But they are totally different when developing a business. I think the chef has it easier. To taste the food a chef creates, someone has to buy it. But art is essentially free to enjoy. Artists hang in galleries or put their creations on display at an art fair hoping the customer will be touched deeply enough to purchase the piece to enjoy it forever. It is the difference between what we need and what we want. We both need to make a living. But people need to eat. They don't need art to survive. Therein lines the dilemma for the artist. How to create a life that is sustainable through their creative skills/talents.
So there is no answer to the question yet. I am still searching. I am still creating. Jennifer Nichols, Mixed Media Artist
Mark your calendar for Saturday, April 30th from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm! It's been a creative winter. I've been working on new flowers, handmade greeting cards and beaded jewelry. I'm looking forward to seeing you at Leanne Pizio's Keep It Local Art Show. This is an annual event featuring 20+ artists, live music and a pet friendly environment. Bring six non-perishable items for admission to the Art Hunt! Donations go to The Servant Center's food pantry serving Guilford County. Please share this event and bring a friend. As always thank you for your support. #jnicholsart #keepitlocal
I just wanted to share my experience tonight. I am so glad I went to the Gallery 320 GSO meet and greet event. Since I moved away from Winston Salem I have not been able to be as active in the art scene there. I have felt disconnected and isolated because I was having difficulty meeting artists in Greensboro. But tonight, thanks to the vision of Kathy Brusnighan I was able to network with several artists and be a part of what I hope develops into something much needed in Greensboro. If you are a local artist and didn't hear about it or could not make it, please be sure to mark your calendar for the next event. Be a part of your art community! #jnicholsart
It's been a productive day in the studio and much needed. During the winter it was difficult to work on the carved pieces I love to create. Today I took advantage of the beautiful day, despite the wind which lessened as the day progressed. It's rare to have the entire day to work in the studio. I still continue to prefer to use hand tools. I do use power tools to cut the shapes from the left over wood I get from my dad. While I could use power tools to complete the work, I share the same love of hand tools as my dad. It does require more time but it connects me to the work I am creating in a way that I do not get from a power tool. I like the tool marks that are created much like when I worked in clay and my finger prints were left in the forms. I could sand them out, but instead I make them part of the design. It's one of the things that make the pieces uniquely my own.
#jnicholsart #art #handmade #mixedmedia #wallrelief
There is no doubt that I am the happiest when I am creating. Working a full time job and part time job in addition to pursuing my art career is definitely a juggling act. If if wasn't for the support of my family, friends and significant other, I would not be able to do all that I try to accomplish. I am extremely thankful for them. This week I have devoted my creative time to trying to update my Etsy shop. I hope you will take time to see what I have available. You might even find something that catches your eye. While I still have some work to photograph and add, I certainly don't want to neglect the orders I have to fill. Currently I am completing a Blue Mixed Media Paper Flower for my friend Darryl's wife and two sets of Owl Greeting Cards for my friend Melanie. I am blessed to have friends who believe in me and support local artists such as myself!
This year has been an amazing year for me in terms of my art reaching more people. I was interviewed by David Weatherly of Fox 8 for the Roy's Folks series and invited to participate in the Roy's Folks Annual Arts and Crafts Show to benefit the Salvation Army. If you would like to see my interview, follow this link http://myfox8.com/2015/08/24/turning-the-ordinary-into-the-extraordinary/#ooid=U2YnE2dzpEsaopfStmrLTmt_KYpU4wPN. Just try not to laugh too hard at my southern accent!
Here is a picture of dad and I on Fox 8 to promote Roy's Folks a week before the event. My dad is a natural!
Just a quick sneak peek at the set up before the doors open for Roy's Folks. Dad and I were able to set up next to each other. We had a lot of fun. Sold a few things. But the best part was just spending time with my dad. I am grateful to have grown up with a craftsman. If he didn't know how to do something, he found a book and learned. I learned so much from him.
Happy Holidays everyone! I do apologize for not being more consistent at blogging. This is a busy time of year for most artists. Lots of arts and crafts fairs. Working full time as an Activity Director in a Memory Care limits the number of events I can participate in and still have time to create. I was able to participate in Leanne Pizio's Keep it Local Fall Show and my first Roy's Folks Arts & Crafts Show. I am currently working on commission orders. In lue of participating in any arts and crafts shows until the spring I am working to update my Etsy shop. It is amazing how much work goes into being an artist. It's not just creating the work. A large portion of time is spent just trying to get it out in the public eye.
As always I appreciate your continued support of artists such as myself through the likes and shares as well as the follows and purchases. It's all important and appreciated!
Be safe this busy Holiday season and please share some type of hand made art with your friends and family!
Today is a significant day for Americans. It's a day to remember and honor those we lost. I remember that day vividly and I always will. I appreciate everyone who shared their thoughts and shared pictures today on social media. It's important that we remember. It reminds me of the importance of life. The importance to create. The importance of family and friends. I am grateful for all I have and for the ability to share my talents with others.
#neverforget #911 #jincholsart
I'm Jennifer Nichols, a mixed media artist from North Carolina. I enjoy capturing the essence of nature through a variety of materials. I incorporate found objects such as strainers and bottle caps into my work. I am drawn to these items but it is also important to me to do my part to protect our environment by keeping things out of the land fill.