40,000 hours

by debra mager


Last night at dinner, one of the gentleman at the table who has a deep passion for music, said he read it takes 40,000 hours of practice to become truly proficient at any instrument. I have not added up the number of hours I've spent learning and practicing mosaics but what I can say is that it's only putting in the hours and practicing like crazy that has made me any good at it.  I often hear my students say, "I can't cut the glass right" or "I'm not good at cutting the glass" after their first or maybe second class.  What's that, about 24 hours?  

The wonderful benefit of working in mosaic art is that it doesn't require precision.  Its meant to be seen from a distance so the parts and pieces you've puzzled together form the whole beautiful piece.  Do we want to improve our skills?  Yes.  Do we want to become better artists? Yes. But it takes time and practice.  If you love mosaics like I do, those 40,000 hours are a gift.  

 


Why Do We Do It?

by debra mager


 I have been searching for the reason I have this new found urge to create art, having never done it to this degree until recently.  I've read many artist statements in which artists have expressed the deep meaning behind their art, or the deep rooted reasons they make the art they make. Until now, the only thing I've come up with is that I make art to make the people who see it happy.  I like whimsy and bright colors and joyful happy art.  But, when I read an article by Isadora Paz Lopez about her reason for making art, I identified strongly with what she said.  

"Two of the principal energies that move my life are art and love. Art is the expression of my spirit, what I try to give… and love is the necessity of my heart, what I try to get. It is not just the money I get paid for my work, it is also the love and gratitude I receive from people. That is food for my ego, but mainly, it is love healing my heart."

This captures it for me, too.  Artists, no matter how confident or even arrogant they appear, are often in search of some kind of healing.  Some part of them needs the validation, the accolades, the love they get when their art is applauded, cherished, appreciated, welcomed into someone elses life.  It is a salve for what ails us. That's why we do it.

 


The Joy of Rediscovering

by debra mager


I know I have a lot of "stuff" in my studio.  I think having lots of choices is important.  It could be that one perfect thing in your wide array of things that makes your work cross over to great from good.  Plus, it prevents that frustration when you know exactly what little bead or brooch or string of pearls or piece of glass or bauble the art is asking for and you don't have it.  That plagues me because nothing can substitute for what you have in your head at that moment.

The best part of having a lot of stuff is when you momentarily forget what you have or where you put it and then you go to get something and the wonderful thing you forgot you had magically shows itself.  Isn't that the best feeling??  "Wow, I forgot I had this and its perfect for what I need right now!"  Rediscovering is what I call it.  You love it when you acquire it, it gets stashed among your other stuff, you forget about it, and then, joy of joys, there it is and you love it all over again!

 

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Is "Different" Good or Bad or Both?

by debra mager


I find it so curious that I often get comments that my work is "different".  Sometimes this is delivered with a big smile, sometimes with an awkwardness, sometimes with a look that says "I don't quite understand this art but I feel like I have to say something".  So is "different a positive or a negative?  I guess it depends on the viewer.  I have fans who say they find it so refreshing to see something unique in a sea of sameness.  For them different is better.  They relish the surprise, the difference from what they are used to seeing, and they can't wait to bring something home.  As for the others, they are not quite sure what to make of it but I think they like the uniqueness in the end.  Maybe not enough to take it home, but enough to enjoy the few minutes looking at something they haven't seen before.  They like the intrigue.  I'll take that as a compliment!