Monday, October 1, 2007


This evening one of my husband's sons was visiting. We began talking about what makes us do it so to speak.....make art, I mean ( both DH and step son are painters). Our son, Luke, had just met a man on a work site who it turns out is an artist he has admired for years and who is now exhibiting in our local museum. This had made Luke feel discouraged as he himself seemed not to be doing as good work, not having sold much and not getting any exhibitions offered. This led to a more general discussion about why we work at all.

Now my husband Ralph ( who is 80 BTW, and has painted now for 62 years!!!!) seems to need to paint as an personal expression. And that's IT! He has not shown his work in over a decade, but continues to go into the studio every day as usual. His drive is purely private and self contained and it sustains him through fertile periods and blocked times as well

I on the other hand am almost manic in my drive to get the work I make OUT THERE and enter every show going where my work might be suitable. My friends call me a show slut!!! It got me I do it to make a living? NOT...even tho' I do bring in some income , it is hardly a living wage. Do I do it to gain acceptance, or better yet, accolades? I had to accept that the answer there is yes. But only partly.There is also an element of "what else would I be doing" if not making art. I wake up most days eager to go to work. I think about the projects I'm working on constantly. I spend quite a lot of time taking care of the business side or mailing off proposals and such. And I keep in touch with like minded people all over the world thanks to the internet. Having a creative career seems to make life richer, more hopeful and full of pleasure because of this. So I guess I am not one who is compelled to make art for it's own sake. I make art for the rewards of being part of something bigger and richer.

I get on a roll sometimes....not frequently as most of the time it's a lot of problem solving and a bit of a struggle. But isn't it a great feeling when you get into a sort of creative groove, and the conversation between you and your work is lively and productive?

Just to keep the post visual as well, I'll show a WIP that's got me atwitter right now. I recently took a fat book out of the library on an artist who was a big favorite when I was a student. Eduard Vuillard (see painting of two figures). Very intimate, domestic scenes done in a very narrow range of tones and colour. It got me enthused again and I started a piece with the same restrictions of tone and pattern. It's a slight departure from my normal "in your face" humor and subject matter. In fact as the work progresses the narrative became very tranquil. Usually at some point my figure starts to tell me what she's getting a haircut, or playing a violin. In this case the only action is taking a coffee break! Haha!


Jill Smith said...

Pam, l thought l had got to the wrong blog when l saw the pictures then, no l was were l should be and had another look and there good, they are and l liked them but l am expecting if l come and look tomorrow to see a funny face on .
Its like someone is teling me that, just wait and watch. You never know l might be right or you might shock us by putting a womans face on from the painting.
Jill- keep a watch on your blog.?????????

PaMdora said...

Actually I make income another way to support my art habit!

Linda Teddlie Minton said...

Pamela, as much as I love your "usual" quilts, I have to say that I am totally in love with your WIP on this post. It is very calm (and calming), yet still very obviously a Pamela Allen piece. I'm excited to see if you go further with this concept, in more works.

Lesley Riley said...

"I make art for the rewards of being part of something bigger and richer." Yes! that's it - you figured it out for me. Thanks for our insight as to why we are driven to make it and then feel that we have to tell everyone about it.

catquiltz said...

I am amazed and inspired by your beautiful art quilts. I came to your site because of your comments about Gees Bend. I did see the exhibit when it was in New York at the Whitney and I too wanted to touch the quilts as well and especially liked the dungaree quilt. Yes there's been many a discussion about the quilts of Gees Bend and what they represent. I believe that they represent one form of African American quilters among a diverse group of AA quilters and art quilters. I am intriqued by your comments with regards to when we make art and what drives us. I am a full time public health worker and make art in my spare time, which I am trying to get more and more of to make more and more art and to try new art forms. Paper, mix media, paint,etc. Have you read Art & Fear Observations on the Perils (and rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland