Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Say PFFFFT to Dogma

I know just seeing that title my parents are thinking - "see? This is why you were always in D-Hall."

The ACTUAL reason I was always in D-Hall is there are a lot of people in the world with sticks up their butts about one thing or another and I ran across them more often than I would have liked.

You should not associate with, for example, people who believe that there are circumstances in which laughing should not be allowed.

I'm not talking about sermons or funerals or golf courses. I mean grumptastic people who don't want to hear laughter at school or work. People who are annoyed by anyone else's mirth really have something wrong with them.

99% of my D-hall sentences were handed down for the terrible crime of laughter.

The other 1% were assorted misdemeanors like writing hall passes for myself (only during SUPREMELY boring classes, during which I might have ended up screaming and writhing on the floor - I was just being considerate of others) and really taking my French class to heart by calling another student who was being a little pill a French epithet. Had I epithetted in English I could totally understand getting in trouble - but I was really putting my soul into my work there! So wrong.

And maybe all that was the genesis of my rebellious, artist personality.

I really think there's no place for rules in art. No "hold your pen this way" or "you can't use this with that" or any other sacred cows. Just because an artist makes something up, doesn't mean that that becomes the only acceptable way to create art. Think about how ridiculous that would be in literature. What if the ONLY way we were allowed to create verbal art was in sonnet form? Or in numbered verses? It's just silly.

If you want to make something, make it for you. Make it however you want to make it. Don't worry about how other people make it. Don't worry about what it's called, or how you pronounce it, or if you used the "right" stuff. The "right" stuff is in your colorful little soul, not on a store shelf or in an instruction manual.

As a matter of fact, with the exception of power tools, I recommend that the FIRST thing you should do with any art product is immediately throw the instructions into the garbage without reading them. Touch the stuff with your fingers - scribble it on things - do whatever the heck you want to in the way of experimentation. The "right" way will reveal itself to you if you just play.

Also, don't equate a botched experiment with failure. Where in the world would we be if science worked like that? Lots of people set their chemistry labs on fire (cough +Bob Blakley cough) before they figured out what the heck they were supposed to be doing.

I like to build in chances for mistakes by preparing four or five of everything before I start working with a new technique - stamp four images, prep four surfaces, etc. When there's only one of something on your desk, it feels sort of sacred and you're terrified to screw it up. I have finally realized that this is why a lot of art classes are stressful for me. With just one piece, I feel pressure to get it perfect. With my home method, I always get at least three more chances at the trash - more if it's more involved - and I don't feel the pressure to get it right the first time. Or even the second time. It's a simple psychological trick and it works.

I taught about dogma at my last retreat because I think it's important to the joy of creating to be dogma-free. (Notice it's not called catma - just sayin'.)

Dogma is a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true. It serves as part of the primary basis of an ideology or belief system, and it cannot be changed or discarded without affecting the very system's paradigm, or the ideology itself.

Dogma can creep into everything if you let it. Don't let it. To artistic dogma, I say...

So, that brings me to today's very traditional, conservative Christmas card.



I actually bring you - Joseph and his technicolor nativity!!

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Yes, I am still using this Newborn King set. I cut four pieces of watercolor paper yesterday to play and clear embossed the image. #3 and #4 were yesterday's card and this one.

#3 was ALMOST awesome, but resides in the trash from a rookie mistake.

This one has a mistake I ended up liking on it. I had taped the edges because I like that white border when I watercolor. However, someone who will remain nameless loves to spirit off my favorite orange artist's tape, which actually WORKS, and I ended up using 3M masking tape, which is great for masking, not so much for keeping watercolor away. So the watercolor bled under the tape. At first I thought I'd cut it off but then I decided I liked it so I kept it.

I love how the crazy colors make it festive and joyful. Thematic happiness.

I will probably get D-Hall for this card. And you know what? I don't care. The funnest people are in D-Hall.



  1. I couldn't agree more. I like you technicolor theme and thumb my nose at anyone who criticizes it. Pfffttt! D-Hall people unite!

  2. Lydia... I adore you and this post. The beginning of your post reminded me of a *ahem* cell mate during daytime hours who recently told me she wishes that all birthdays were only celebrated once a quarter and in a location outside of the jail. I mean office. Really?!? A few people stopping by to wish me a happy birthday makes you purse your lips just so? If D-Hall were an option, I am sure I'd find myself there. Often.

  3. Totally agree with giving yourself plenty of chances to play! My third attempt is always the magic one. Love your watercolored nativity!

  4. Isn't the birth of Baby Jesus the most joyful event ever? Don't those colors denote joy? I vote for changing the traditional Christmas palette from red and green to this.

  5. I constantly quote your "IT'S ART!" and I love you for it. Takes away all the pressure.

    I also stamp 3 or 4 of something when I try a new technique. This is why I buy watercolor paper in multi-packs, since it only takes 2 or 3 experiments for me to disappear a whole package of the stuff. I should buy stock in that company.

    Oh, and SUPER technicolor scene - looove it!

  6. I love everything about this article and card!!!

  7. Love the colors and the trees!

  8. LOVE this card!! I spent a little time in D-Hall myself ;)

  9. I absolutely love this card. It screams 'Aileen'. Love every inch of it. Did I tell you I love it, the colours are perfect.

  10. Love, love, love. Great colors and art!


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