As Ruminate’s new Visual Art Editor, I have been developing a series of questions that may be used with the artists we feature, as a way to pull back the curtain a bit and give our audience a peak into the artist’s studio and practice. By way of introduction, I decided to turn the interview questions upon myself to share some of my process as an artist, which informs the work I do with Ruminate.
Question: Where does risk fit into your process?
The best piece of advice I got while completing my Masters of Fine Art degree was, “do what scares you most.” Since then, this phrase has become my creative mantra. Often in my studio practice, I have known what I want to do but have been crippled by fear or doubt. However, in learning how to let go of control and trust my intuition, learning how to risk (letting go of fear of failure or fear of “wasting” time or resources, etc) has taught me more than any formal education or training. It is only when I truly take risks that I learn what the unexpected can teach me. Control rarely yields unexpected results. Risk, though, takes me places and teaches me things I never could have imagined. Though it can be scary as heck sometimes, I have yet to regret taking risks.
Question: Where/how do you get stuck in your creative process? And what helps you move through that?
I am a processer and over-thinker. Before starting any new project or learning a new medium, I do lots of research, both on technical information and also to see and learn what others are doing that might relate or be similar. Being thorough in research or processing can be a strength, but it can also be a weakness. It is so easy to stay in research mode, for that is the safer work. Actually starting, whatever you are doing, that’s when the hard, real work starts. So I can often get stuck before I even start.
The other way I get stuck is when I spend too much time comparing myself to others. Again, the research aspect mentioned above can really spur me on to try or learn new things. Yet, it can also overwhelm me, especially when I see all the other amazing things people are doing. (Instagram and social media can be dangerous tools for me). Often restricting my exposure to social media when I am feeling vulnerable with new ideas or a new process helps me tighten my focus, especially at the beginning of my project.
The best way for me to get out of these traps is to get out of my head. Often just starting is all I need to do. However, if the project is overwhelming in size or scale, breaking it down into manageable tasks is helpful. The other great advice I received (this time in my undergrad) was this: “Paint like your father owns a paint store.” Do not limit yourself. Don’t be cheap, with your time, energy, or resources. Dream big.
Question: What keeps you coming back to the studio day after day?
Really, what keeps me coming back day after day is that I can’t not be working or thinking about what I am working on. I need to create, to be creative. Even when work is rejected, even when my work doesn’t reach an audience, even when I don’t even know why I am doing what I am doing, I still have to do it. My best hope is that my work will speak to someone. Yet at the very least, I need to do the work so it can teach me what I need to know. If I don’t go into the studio, if I don’t feed the process with patience and hope, the work doesn’t grow in me or out in the world.
Carolyn Mount works in a variety of tools and mediums including drawing, printmaking, ceramics, textiles or relational means of expression. She is drawn to the stories and histories that tie one individual to another and seeks to reveal the interconnectedness that shapes our world. Carolyn has had solo shows across Canada and has exhibited in numerous group shows internationally. She completed her MFA from the University of Manitoba and currently resides with her wife in northwestern Ontario. Carolyn is the visual art editor of Ruminate Magazine. Her work can be found at www.carolynmount.com
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