I read this yesterday on the CMA site (a closed group for mosaic artists around the world), and with permission from the writer of the piece, artist Dee Ruff of Black Cat Mosaics, I share it with you:
"Thought-provoking ideas from my garden...how do you want to be perceived as an artist?
Thomas Merton: "Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone — we find it with another."
On this unseasonably cool, comfortable, low humidity morning, a few blossoms were calling to me from our gardens and so I took a brief walk about the yard and cut some to bring inside to enjoy. While in the gardens, I started thinking about how we have this one yellow rose (here when we moved in), and how it forms beautiful tight buds. However, the buds stay tight, do not open, and then eventually die or occasionally get eaten by insects. And then I gazed around to notice how many of the other flowers actually do open, sometimes very wide, making them more vulnerable, but also sharing their beauty and the luscious wisdom of nature for all to enjoy. Some of them even go the extra mile... freely spreading seeds around, sharing their beauty so that in a later season others can create loveliness in a similar way. These newcomers won't be the initial blossom, but similar, and continuing to add beauty to our world.
And then I started to reflect on some things I have quietly observed or noted in the way the art world sometimes functions..not just mosaic art, but art in general. It is kind of fascinating, all of these different backgrounds, egos, techniques and expertise. I have encountered, either personally or in cyberspace forums/groups, professional artists, amateur artists, galleries, and teachers recently, and many seem to fit into the same two patterns...the tight yellow rose bud or the open flowers. The ones who are like the rose are probably driven to behave this way by fear, ego, insecurity, or thinking that the only way to be ultimately successful is to charge money for absolutely everything they share or do. The ones who are like the open flowers (and especially if they are like the seed scattering kind) feel secure enough to openly share in many ways through their art, their experience, their talents and gifts. They know that while income is important and necessary, sharing, giving and love can come back to add much more to their lives than they ever imagined.
I have had a chance over the past year to explore CMA more thoroughly...the videos, the "tutorials," the discussions during Chat, and the pleasure of folks sharing details about techniques, materials, works in progress, etc. I have occasionally encountered some "tight rose bud types" but more often I am in awe at the open sharing and the kindness. Solly sharing his "mosainting" technique in wide open detail, the folks jumping in on the "Help!" group, Chris Emmert and K. Knickerbocker taking the time to send me private emails to assist me in using epoxy grout for the first time, and Karen D. for her great advice and encouragement. And the list goes on and on...
I'm feeling very grateful this morning!"
What a lovely way to describe the way people share (or not) their knowledge. When I started out, and Facebook was small and without power, there was a great Yahoo Group, the Mosaic Artist Org which is still going, with international artists sharing their expertise willingly. You could post a comment, or question, then from around the world would come answers - which adhesive works best in what situation, where to visit mosaics in Barcelona, what tile for outdoor projects etc. It has a great search facility, so you can access old posts, and a heap of other files too. The other site was Flickr, posting up my images, getting positive comments and critiques where required from other artists, and reciprocating.
Through these two sites, I established a network of mosaic artist 'friends' around the world. This has been added to by my being a more active member of BAMM (British Assoc for Modern Mosaic), so getting info and support where required.
Facebook, in my opinion seems to be much more self-centred, a great place to post your images and get a lot of 'lovely', 'great' type comments, or likes, but in reality, there are a lot of people on Facebook who post their own work without dialogue with others, it is not a two-way street, which I often find frustrating on some of the mosaic pages and groups. And in addition, due to the timeline nature of its set-up, you could have a great discussion about appropriate fixings for a type of board, but when you want to find it again, it is so far down the timeline that it becomes inaccessible.
That being said, a lot of my cyber mosaic friends use all of the above, so we have dialogue on different levels! And within the UK, I am trying to meet a lot of them in the flesh, so to speak!
My comment to the post on the CMA site was:
I am a californian poppy - beautiful to look at but a pain in the a**e to get rid of! i have a scatter gun approach to it all, flitting like a butterfly all over the place (with different materials), but give me a rubbish tip and I am happy as a bumblebee! (using recycled materials).
my husband just commented that i am actually a Venus Fly Trap!
I love what I do, think I have found my own style and materials, learnt a lot from others, and happy to share my knowledge and to enthuse others in mosaic art.