Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Artist's Talk

1-9 encaustic on paper 12 x12 L Pressman

Last Wednesday was the reception for the show "Illusive Balance: Transcendental Pattern & Layered Surface" with Marsha Goldberg, Nicole Ianuzelli, and Debra Ramsay. For the event, each artist was asked to do a seven minute talk.

In the past few years, I have done just a bit of public speaking. I recently did a Power Point on my work at a workshop and was part of a panel discussion. It is fun but a challenge. It is not necessarily my favorite thing to do. I knew about it for months and had it on the back burner until the day, suddenly, was a week away.

I tried doing the talk to myself while driving a few times. I did a few, lie-in-bed, toss-and-turn, practice runs. I called a friend and had a discussion about what I might say but ended up saying "Oh, forget it. I will figure it out." I brought out my trusty little tape player and spoke for maybe 6 minutes. It didn't sound too bad, particularly after I did it a few more times and stopped in each one because I lost my train of thought. That's when I decided it would be great if I could just play the tape and lip sync it. That was quickly squelched by a few friends.

So I kept practicing. The night before the talk I did another version into the tape player as I was driving to work. I played it back before I went in and it was a bunch of um eh, um,um ,um. OMG.!!! Awful. I went into the restaurant where I wait tables and told my pals my predicament. They just laughed and made fun of me all night. I did realize that I have learned some skills while waiting on tables. I can talk to strangers and I can make them believe whatever it is I need them to believe at the time. It a performance every night. "Have the Halibut. You will love it." Recommending expensive bottles of wine is the same deal. A little bit of knowledge and a whole lot of confidence goes a long way. A sense of humor and humility is a winning combo. I am going to try to bottle that for the future.

I went home that night and decided to get up in the morning and try to write the talk down. By this time I had a plan. An outline, a beginning, middle and end. In the morning I picked up Debra Ramsay from the train and came back to my house. We both did our talks for each other and then off we went to the show. The show looked great. I met some old and new friends. We all did our talks. All went well. I didn't talk too fast, not a whole lot of ums, no sweat dripping down my forehead, saw a tear in my friend's eye, and drew a few laughs. Most importantly, I had this sense that is OK to do what I do. That may sound strange but I can spend way too much time thinking about what I do , why I do it, where I do or don't fit in.....blah blah blah. All that noise can interfere with the actual work.

I think the last line of my talk was " My intuition is smarter than my brain. When I enter the studio I try to park my intellect outside the studio door. The intellect is for a later date."

(You have no I idea how difficult this was to write. I have been in my bathrobe for days. Thanks for reading it!!)

Transparent Thinking 24 x 24 wax and oil (left) LPressman Element of Air 24 x24 wax and oil (right) LPressman
The catalog can be found here soon. The show runs through June 7, 2010

Mabel Smith Douglass Library Galleries 8 Chapel Drive, New Brunswick, NJ Gallery Hours M-F 9am - 4:30 pm; Weekends by Appointment


Debra Ramsay said...

Yes, I will confirm that your talk was great, um-less, and very much you. Just as an artist's talk should be, people are assembling because they want to know more about the work and the person who created it.
Bravo to you!

lisa said...

Hey, Thanks
It was fun spending time.

Brenda Goodman said...

something that is not in the art world often is openness and vulnerability which is what this piece is all about. thanks for that.
often i'll start a talk by saying something like "fill in the rest of the sentence if i have a senior moment and can't remember what i was saying....or if i say something funny please laugh hard enough so i can hear you! they all help break the ice and it sounds like you did a great job of finding that place in yourself.

Brenda Goodman said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
kate miller said...

Very well put, a great piece that anyone who has ever stood up in front group can relate to. I have taught thousands of classes for years yet when I speak in front of peers I get totally panicky! I really like the last sentence, great ending.

Gwendolyn Plunkett said...

Enjoyed this post. Understand those trepidations regarding public speaking. As Kate said, in front of students is one thing, in front of my peers, entirely different. Wish I could have been there to hear all who spoke.

Pam Farrell said...

Lisa, congrats! I know how challenging public speaking can be. Besides preparing by consulting with friends, recording, practicing, listening to tape recordings of your talk, writing it down, doing a dress rehearsal with Debra, it sounds like you managed to include one of the most important elements of a successful talk: you were yourself--genuine, engaging, and as Brenda says, you allowed yourself to be vulnerable.
Thanks for sharing your experience in this post.

Katushka said...

Nice meeting you Lisa, great blog, natural going. Your works are great! very intuitive, like you said, and dynamic. I'll love to keep your track!

Lori Landis said...

Lisa, Thanks for openness on public speaking. Since I started teaching it becomes much easier to speak in public. Congratulations on your art which I much admire and your success although we never feel successful enough.

Anonymous said...

Lisa-it was fun to read you describing you. It sounds like you. The exhibit looks wonderful. Your work is great.
Best to you
laurie kalb

lisa said...

Thanks for all the nice comments

Hylla Evans said...

Did they video or audio record it? Want to post the text on your blog?