New Year's Soul Search


Rustic stoneware cupcake stand by Brooke Peiffer

As an artist, I'm a bit all over the place. I am inspired by so many different ideas and visual stimuli. I can't bear the thought of doing the same thing over and over. I struggle with this because it's difficult for people to understand my "brand," if I even have one. How can I make a living doing what I love, if I don't know what that is!? Well, the thing is, is that I do know, it's lots of things. My goal is to sort through some of the questions and roadblocks over the coming year. I'd like to figure out a way to be me and do what I do and be able to clearly market it.

Porcelain tray impressed with found embroidery by Brooke Peiffer

Today seemed like a good day to start, so I began by doing a little soul-searching, and researching and came across this article on the PSYCHOLOGIES website. It looks at the differences between Divers and Scanners:

‘Divers are perfectionists,' she says. 'They like to see projects through to the end and aim to achieve mastery. Scientists and musicians tend to be divers. Divers usually stick to one profession, sometimes even just one hobby, for life. They like to focus deeply, and feel comfortable when they are in control. However, you can also be a diver in one field, say a career, yet still indulge in “hit and run obsessions” outside work. I knew a neurologist who drove his wife crazy with his series of short-lived, passing hobbies.’

Scanners, however, tend to embrace everything that excites and inspires them — only to ditch those interests when something even more interesting attracts their attention. ‘People accuse scanners of being dabblers and they get a lot of grief for never finishing what they start,’ observes Sher. ‘This isn’t really accurate. Scanners do finish things, it’s just that they do it on their own terms. They bail out when they feel they’ve got what they need from a particular activity. They tend to be less ambitious than divers because they don’t fear failure. What scanners fear more than anything is boredom.’

Carved porcelain vase by Brooke Peiffer

It seems that I have some of both of these traits, like feeling comfortable when I'm in control (even if it's an illusion) and bailing after I feel like I've figured something out. However, everything I do artistically seems to hover around 4 or so bodies of work, sort of. It's not like I jump from abstract landscape painting to light and sound installation. My orbit isn't THAT far-reaching. I don't know if I fear boredom or not. It never really enters my mind that I might be bored. MAYbe I've gotten so good at jumping around as a way to avoid boredom altogether, and I've just never realized I had a fear of it. Hmmmm....

Watercolor study with resulting sculpture by Brooke Peiffer

The other thing I'm painfully aware of is my tendency to create less and think more. I have become somewhat paralyzed by a feeling that I really need to make a decision and stick with it about which direction I should take my art/business. I'm not sure why I feel that if I choose a direction that it has to be the only one. My last several kiln loads have all been tests of certain ideas, that if something seems to be really great, that's the direction I should go. It's not working. I've been disappointed by just about everything that comes out. I'm not working from my heart, but instead from my head. My head doesn't know shit.

Striped porcelain with unicorn horns by Brooke Peiffer

Let me do a little arts interests inventory:

1. I love ceramics. It has a tactile quality that I fell in love with when I first found it in college. I have been working in clay ever since, and have been teaching high school ceramics for the last 15 years. I love the sense of control, and then the sense of loss of control that I experience with firing and glazing. It has a duality that suits my personality and sensibilities.

2. I love a good treasure hunt. I love finding pieces of vintage handwork and odd curiosities. I have quite a collection and like to incorporate these things into my work.

3. I love to draw. Ever since I was a kid, drawing gave me comfort and a sense of control. I could be alone forever, and I would always have drawing.

4. I love fashion and design. I learned how to sew when I was 12 or so, and created doll clothes and eventually my own clothes. My first serious goal in life was to be a fashion designer.

5. I love photography, especially in nature. When I go on walks in the country, or to county parks or Lake Michigan, I always bring my camera. Finding beautiful vistas, or interesting plants, it's like walking meditation.

"Embracing the Unknown" by Brooke Peiffer

I have seen many examples of contemporary artists who work in small batches, and bodies of work that vary by style or year or media, so it's really not that crazy to be somewhat "all over the place." As I write this, and re-read and edit, it occurs to me that really, I should keep doing all of the things, I just need some organization, and strategy to the timing and work-flow issues I have.

Stay tuned.....

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