Joan Atwood- Artist| Educator | Crafter | Project Inspiration
Being in education for over 30 years has taught me many things. One of which is that you can learn to do anything if you have enough desire, vision, practice, patience, and perseverance. However, when you find something you love, how do you know when something isn’t your thing? Well, I recently had that question answered again for me lately. I have to admit, I have had my share of failures and near misses with my projects along the road, but I mostly used them to learn from, so I didn’t repeat the same silly mistakes. But my latest endeavor rose and hit me in the face to renew what I have always known. No one is adept at everything.
I love to browse through Pinterest, Etsy, and other internet sites to see what is handcrafted and exciting. I find a lot of enjoyment in making my home decor and artwork; so, moving through websites on the internet has been easy to do to spark my creative juices. Besides, nothing replaces the pride you get when you can say to others, “Oh, I did that,” and they say, “Oh, I love it, and wanted to buy one just like it.” Happy day! About two weeks ago, I ran across some steampunk artwork. Instantly I fell in love with it. It had all the elements of art I love; no two pieces are the same; it has excellent texture and dimension, there’s room for great ingenuity and variety in supplies and assembly. How could one go wrong? Right?
So, my search for more began. I browsed for several days through hundreds of examples. Then I went to YouTube to see how to assemble my first steampunk artwork. I decided to do mine on a canvas board since I am familiar with that, although I love the three-dimensional works the best. I’ve never tried sculpting, painting on canvas is more in my wheelhouse.
Supplies for SteamPunk Art:
Anyway, I went to Walmart to pick up supplies, which is the only source for my small city. With my face mask secured, thanks to Covid-19, I moved to the craft section. What a shock it was to see the shelves nearly bare. No doubt, everyone is looking for something to do at home. Silly me, I should have known to do my shopping on the internet, but I was anxious to get started right away. So much for that plan. I did manage to pick up two black canvas boards since that was all that was left on the shelves.
That afternoon, since I was still motivated, I ordered a variety pack of steampunk gears and began the wait for them to arrive. No use wasting time, I checked out my closet, kitchen, and my husband’s shop for additional items that might be useful to create my first stem punk piece. I found many valuable things, even if I didn’t think I needed them, they might work for other projects. I’m always looking for items that spark my imagination.
1st Attempt Steampunk Art
When the day came that my items arrived, I could hardly wait for my husband to golf, so I would have time to do my project unencumbered. I imagined my piece in my head and carefully applied each piece. It was more time consuming than I thought it would be. The Gesso took more time to dry then I thought it would. First-time projects always bring surprises. When it felt done, I quit. I can’t say I loved it, but it wasn’t too bad for the first one.
I decided to leave the painting of it to another day, which I did. I painted it, carefully adding layers of paint for highlights and such, and it wasn’t awful, I thought. My son came home for a visit and saw my piece and said, “Oh, steampunk art.” Success! Okay, it was abstract, but he got it.
He’s no art critic, but he seemed to like it. However, when my husband saw it, his response was very different. “What is that?” was his response. “Where are you going to put that?” I don’t need to be bonked on the head to get that tone in his voice. He hated it. No worries, I wasn’t planning on hanging it up, anyway.
2nd Attempt SteamPunk Art
You know the old saying If you don’t at first succeed, try again. Well, I still had the other black canvas board, right? I looked for an inspiration piece for my next attempt. While weeding in the yard, I found it. I’m going to make a lizard, I thought. So, the next golfing day, I grabbed my supplies and began again. I took similar steps to start. The piece took shape. But with the same results, my kids said they liked the piece; and my honest husband stuck up his nose at it. Okay, I admit it, he’s right. It was not what I had envisioned.
So, how do you determine when something is NOT YOUR THING?
Let me share my criteria with you.
1. If you have tried it more than once, with similar results and you don’t love it.
2. If the people whose opinions you respect and they are honest, don’t like it.
3. If you simply can’t find a place to put it. (It just doesn’t look right there.)
4. If you are not proud to say you did it.
5. If you do not have a burning desire to do another one.
If all of these are in play, then it is time to move on.
Go back to what you love to do:
Go back to a project you’re good at to get your confidence back. Then try a new project which you’ve been thinking of or have a burning desire to learn or try. Life is too short to waste on the things that don’t turn us on. Move on, move forward, and enjoy the trip. And if you have to succeed at something and are stuck for how to improve it; find a mentor or teacher to guide you. And when you’ve mastered a skill, share it with others who want to learn. Teaching is its’ own reward.
If you are evaluating projects to try we highly recommend taking a look at:
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Joan Atwood has over 30 years of experience in education, working as an elementary supervisor, principal, and teacher, teaching a wide range of grade school children, as well as university classes. Her expertise includes kindergarten, elementary education, and gifted/talented. She is an artist with expertise in oil painting and floral arranging. She enjoys crafting with her grandchildren, wire wrapping pendants, and long walks in nature.