Shadow Side

By May 14, 2016 November 16th, 2018 Art, Being an artist
Artist Siobhan Bedford's Studio

The shadow side of being an artist.

Yes, I know artists have a reputation for riding emotional roller coasters and getting swallowed by their demons. I’ve even done that on occasion. But, that isn’t what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about the stacks of paintings that I keep hidden in my closet and the cardboard box in my basement filled with old drawings, tedious still-lives and way too many self-portraits. Some failed because they believed in some ideal of what art should look like and lost authenticity. Others took too many risks with color and got stuck in the mud. Some were just unlucky and had unfortunate encounters with sharp objects. All seem too worthless to show, but too precious to trash.

Even the paintings that line my studio walls, with their bold color and swirling shapes, have a beauty that casts a subtle shadow. I’ve poured my soul into the weave of their canvas, but they’ve become objects that ultimately belong in someone else’s world.

I’m stuck in the middle of loving them and wanting them to leave, because that’s the only way I can continue to be an artist. I bring them into existence, then beg them to feed me. It’s a cycle of making and surrendering.

The making is a joy and the surrendering is a labor…

A labor known as the business of art.  It’s keeping my fingers crossed that the light is perfect when I click the camera, or after spending hours with the same finger hovering over a mouse. I’d rather be holding my brush. I need to make images of my paintings so they are sharable in the digital world, so they can become tangible in an art collector’s world.

Photographing Art
Editing photos

This past week I was lucky enough to have a reporter, Brian Bingaman, visit my studio. He had checked out my work here on the website, and while he was here, mentioned how different my art looked in person. He seemed intrigued by the scale and intensity of the colors. After he left, I thought about how we experience art. I think it’s amazing that I can share my art through digital screens right into your home and even hands. I also thought of how limiting it is for art to be flattened and simplified as it gets squeezed into pixels.

I find myself wondering about what makes an object, such as a piece of art, captivating beyond its simple image.

What I’m thinking is hard to put into words… It’s like paintings and sculptures become unusual objects, that can encapsulate a tiny moment of human consciousness. They are objects that are embedded with the energy of fingertips and concentrate time into colors and shapes. Like geological formations of artist’s souls.

Even as they shine with beauty, they bare subtle shadow marks of what it means to be human. This is what eyes miss when they only see art on screens. The machine of the computer shrinks and smooths art into just a shadow of its true self. Perhaps it’s like looking through glass, your eyes see but not can’t be truly touched.

Still, at the very top of page 2 in Austin Kleon’s book Show Your Work he writes “In order to be found, you have to be findable”. In my world, to be findable means to be digital. I’ll keep my finger crossed that you’ll you come to my side of the glass and see my work in person.

Art on walls
Art on walls

I’ve been hanging art all around my house this last week to get ready for the open studio. I’m weeding the garden and hoping for lots of  blooms next week… as long as my little baby bunny guest Hopparella doesn’t eat everything.  🙂

You can get all the details by visiting here.

Backyard garden
Baby bunny in garden

Author Siobhan


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Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Susan says:

    It wasn’t hard to put into words. Wish I could be there…Susan

  • I think you thoughts around what art is and how it best can be experience is very interesting. I certainly can understand the dual feelings about creating and letting go of art work. For me as a photographer, I am very happy I don’t have to let go of any art work I produce, because I always keep the original. And, like you point out, of course work done long time ago may not hold up against present day’s work, but it’s still part of me and my history. No matter how we work, though, we do indeed have to be findable.

    • Siobhan says:

      Otto thanks for sharing your thoughts. Over the weekend I had a conversation with a delightful young art student who shared that she is leaning toward printmaking for the very reason of finding it uncomfortable to part with originals. You are lucky to have your art making history kept in the originals. I imagine it is intriguing to look at your work as a whole and see the ebbs and flows of your interests changing as seen through the lens. Ah yes… we must be findable!

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