Studio projects for 2019

Rico and Fake Rico - a dog and his sculpted likeness
Rico and Fake Rico – a dog and his sculpted likeness

At the end of each year in December, I take stock of the prior year’s activity and progress or lack thereof on various fronts. My 2019 plans include:

  • More creative projects in the art studio
  • More teaching art from the art studio
  • More creative writing and publishing
  • Marketing of all of the above

One of the things I am intent on doing in 2019 that I really haven’t done earnestly since 2012-2014 is get my art studio back in service and doing what I love to do: create things.

Specifically, animal sculpture things.

Making animal sculptures always had to do in the first place with my ministry vocation, and in the case of making sculptures of people’s pets, originally started for helping people deal with grief. I have made a few of living pets (like Nemo, Rico, Rocky and Links). You’d think it was simply to make people happy, but if you’ve been especially attached to your pet, and the pet is suddenly gone, there’s pain and there’s a hole in your heart.

“But it was just a dog.”

The grieving process is just as real as if you lost a human family member or friend, no matter how many well-meaning idiots try to “comfort” you by saying, “well, remember, it was just a dog [cat, bird, hamster, chicken or whatever] and you can always get another one to replace it.” I always want to slap the purveyors of stupid statements like that and correct them: “It” wasn’t a thing, thank you.

I know I do not speak just for myself when I say that every one of my pets was a “he” or “she” with a name and was a cherished family member. I’m not the only person who feels that way. That is one of the reasons why I want to get back into the studio and continue to create pieces that offer comfort to those who have lost beloved pets by giving them something they can run their hands over. Why “run their hands over”?

Touch is the first thing babies experience.

While a newborn baby’s eyesight is a bit fuzzy to start with, the first comforting thing they experience is being held – i.e., touch.

I worked with a mostly elderly population in my 30+ years of ministry, as most of the active volunteers who come out to participate have consistently been retirees. Why? Duh, because they have the time. Having been raised in the same home with my Gramma, and my mother’s career having been in senior services, I made it my business and priority to become pretty well-versed in aging psychologies and care. Conversely, I have absolutely no idea what to do with small children. They are a different species.

When a senior has slipped into Alzheimer’s or dementia and can no longer remember their spouse and children’s names, they will still respond to emotion in your voice (so please make sure you are being comforting and not angry with them!) and to touch.

Studies with dementia patients have long shown that toy cats and dogs – especially those battery operated ones that purr, blink their eyes and have slight movement – can entrance even the most mentally “gone” of patients. Even when their powers of communication and understanding have slipped away, the primal basic memory of all of us is that of comforting touch.

They pet the toy, watch it, and in general display a peaceful demeanor as though they are connecting to long-ago memories of maybe their first pet or else to a very “safe” and accepting place. Remember, pets don’t judge you.

Pets love and accept you without judgment.

They don’t get angry with you. They don’t divorce you or leave you hurt and bitter. They don’t move away and not come home for holidays or keep you from your grandchildren. They never run off with another lover, turn into addicts, abuse you or call you not good enough. We invest deep emotions into our pets for many reasons, especially as we age, but I’ll save that dissertation for part of my Master’s thesis.

The bottom line is I learned very early on that making a sculpture of someone’s pet for them – as caricature-ish as it might be – gave them comfort because of the simple power inherent in being able to touch the sculpture. That primal sensation of touch is one of comfort, and it heals the soul far better than looking at a two-dimensional photo.

So that’s one goal for this year as I simultaneously finish up the last courses I need before starting my Master’s in 2020.

Teaching sculpture classes is on my to-do list.

A second goal is to teach a few classes and maybe publish several videos on how I build my sculptures. I might consider creating an online course with the instructional videos. I am excited at the thought of this because I really want to be putting my marketing skills to much better use this year. I had thought I had no “product” since each sculpture is a one-off and not something I can scale. However, if I can teach via video, I can reach a lot more possibly interested people who’d like to learn how to create their own pet’s likeness.

Creative writing output to increase.

A third one still in the back of my mind is to dig out all of my old creative writings and see what I can use or repurpose into story lines for a series of romance novels. Of course, all of my heroines will be animal lovers.

‘Cause that just goes without saying.

Good thing my brain is fully back and running on all cylinders. Did I ever mention that I finished the Statistics course with a 98? That was my litmus test as to whether or not the brain was back.

Now, to get the body back to being Fit Chick…. that’ll be the fourth goal.

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