MAKING OF "BLACK SHEEP": FROM NOTHING TO GALLERY WALL (IN 10 DAYS OR LESS)
From Nothing to Artist Wall (in Ten Days or Less)
I started with nothing. Not even an idea. Not even an inkling of an idea. Actually I take that back - I started with a “yes.”
Here’s how the conversation went, according to my horrible memory:
“It would be cool to do the Artist Wall at the store sometime…” I said.
“Would you like to do the Artist Wall?” said Erica, owner of Hauswitch and bad-ass champion of emerging artists.
“How about June?”
“What are you going to make?”
“I don’t know.”
And I didn’t. But what I did know is that if I said “yes” I would make something. That wall would not be blank. And how scary/ exciting is that?
(Note: my personal checklist for figuring out if I really want to do something:
1) Am I excited?
2) Am I, at least, a little scared?
If the answer is “yes” to both, it’s on)
I’ve been making art since I was just a little me drawing Chuck the Monkey in his hottie zoot suit. But I’d never sold any of it. And I’d never announced to the world that I was a real “artist,” especially one with my own wall. It wasn’t as if I had a body of work to pick from or even a medium.
But you’ve got to start somewhere….so I went to Michael’s, and as opposed to how I would usually go to Michael’s, I let myself get whatever I was inspired by. It felt different immediately. I was investing in myself, in my potential to make something, if given the resources. That’s called Trust. (Thankfully, Michael’s has an awesome return policy).
At first I just played around on my bedroom floor - for weeks, actually, with no real results. And then I had an idea: a fantasy world, based on my dead dog, who looked like a gremlin. Yes! Finally!
Except that wasn’t the idea at all. It was the idea that got me to the real idea “Black Sheep.”
1. a sheep with black fleece.
2. a person who causes shame or embarrassment because of deviation from his or her group.
I was the Black Sheep. And yes, that may sound cliché, but fuck it. Truth has a way of overpowering cliché. I had no medium, so I could try out lots of mediums. I’d never made jewelry-anything, for example, but I wanted to make necklaces. So, I Googled. And then I stood in the aisle of Michael’s again (and again and again, I can’t even tell you how many times I went back and forth to Michael’s. And Jo Ann’s Fabrics. And Ace Hardware….) and asked some nice sales person how to attach a clasp.
This is how it went. I would try stuff out and then maybe part of it would work, and part of it was a complete failure. But each step paved the way for the next one. The trick was (and is), just keep taking those steps. You have the choice when you’re walking through the woods at night (metaphor alert!): either curl up into a ball and stop walking because you can’t see the entire path ahead - or just keep walking, knowing that as long as you can see where you’re standing, you’ll get out eventually.
Creativity is a strange, beautiful, (and sometimes terrifying) beast. Because it’s not something we can grasp in our hands, or really even control at all. It requires a bit of letting go, of trusting in something more than us, trusting that if we stay open and keep moving, than it will come.
I actually don’t understand it. At all. But I know one thing: it’s a process. And every step of the process is important, including all the “wrong” turns and endless ponderings (as long the pondering is not actually endless, but a step towards action).
I’m going to summarize, because I know everyone doesn’t like to read, and that’s okay. Here’s a secret that making Black Sheep has helped me discover: Every step leads to the next. And the first step is always, “Yes.” Say “Yes,” even if you have no idea how you’re going to do it. Say “Yes” and trust in the process. Say “Yes” and trust in yourself.
Everyone needs to start somewhere.
“Black Sheep” is proudly displayed on the Artist’s Wall at HausWitch Home+Healing til the end of June 2016. Everything is for sale!
P.S. Stay tuned for a new, exciting (and a little scary) series about the Makers of HausWitch, with our first official maker, the super-talented crafter of beautiful ceramics and textiles, Christina Kosinski
About the author:
Melissa Nierman is a multidisciplinary artist happily living with the witches in Salem, MA. She loves animals and not necessarily knowing what she's making when she starts - or finishes.
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