Who Am I?

I am an artist.

I have never enjoyed being in the city for more than a few days. I love to roll around in the sand/dirt/grass, walk barefoot, grow out my leg hair, pet every dog, say hi to every lizard, let the small bugs crawl around on my hand before sending them off into the air. I feel things deeply, as if every word spoken to me or around me touches my very roots. I love to see the moon and the stars shine right above me, as I soak up the glow and let it dance on my skin. Where do I put all this emotion? It doesn’t flow from my lips into the air. I’ve learned it dissipates too quickly this way. Is it all on the canvas? Is this why I am an artist? Sometimes it feels like too far a jump. Not enough steps in between. How can I take such raw, unfiltered emotions and just project them into the paint?

Maybe I’ve been living part of a lie. A lie that says, “ You are all there, you are complete, for all to see.” This is a lie, and I know it. I am not all there, not everyone can see me. I have been hiding, keeping myself safe from any hurt or rejection. But how can I hide myself from truth and love, while I expose myself to the elements? I let the soles of my feet soak in the earth, but I do not release it from me. There is not flow, it has gone stagnant. This goes against nature. This is the sickness inside me. A buildup of carbon monoxide, dirt, mud, sand.


What my heart wants is to release it all into the air, and let it dissipate. It is my greatest fear, and my strongest desire, in this moment.

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Learning to let go

[ when being a full-time self-employed artist doesn’t give you the stability you always dreamed of… what do you do? Panic? Cry? Give up and go get a job at Burger King? How about letting go, giving up all control? It sounds terrifying, but that is the answer I’ve come to. You were made to be an artist. As long as you are fulfilling your destiny, you will be taken care of. It may not be conventional, but it makes living a lot more exciting! ]

The transition I am currently going through involves A LOT of letting go; letting go of the idea that I need to settle down and start a family in my early 20s, letting go of the idea of living independently, as opposed to living in community (which I’m growing to LOVE), letting go of the expectation society has put on me to gain “financial stability”. I am currently learning to trust the process, trust the journey. I whole-heartedly believe I was created to create. I have the heart, mind, and soul of an artist. So why do I so often doubt myself? Society puts these ideas in our heads that if you are not making X amount of money every month, if you do not have the newest and shiniest technology, if you don’t drive this kind of car, you are not successful. What have I been made to believe success is? I am learning to let go of that definition. What is success to me, really? Success is being without debt, success is eating fresh veggies every day, success is having a community of artists around me, success is connecting with people who connect with my art, success is watching the light bulb go off when my students finally understand a new technique. None of these things require a large sum of money, a significant other, a new gadget or a shiny car. Extra money does make things more comfortable, but I have learned that comfort does not lead to growth, and growth is what I want to crave in every aspect of my life. Growth is the goal, growth is success. It’s time to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

I have big dreams and big goals, and I believe as long as I am not settling in my heart, my desires and goals will come to fruition. I must simply follow my gut and not doubt, give up, or give in to what society tells me I “need” in order to be successful.

Favorite image captured by  Riley Bregar ! Follow all his beautiful work  here

Favorite image captured by Riley Bregar! Follow all his beautiful work here

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[ a blog about my vision board and the things I want to accomplish in 2018 ] [Jan 20, 2018]

 

Every year, I'm asked the same question around the end of December, particularly the 31st; " what's your news years resolution?" In the past I would give answers like, "to keep my room/work space clean," "to lose weight," "to make more money," etc. This year was different though. I didn't want any of these things. I was happy in my own skin, for the first time in years, I've gotten significantly more organized since I downsized my possessions (after watching The Minimalist, of course), and I was doing fine financially. This year I wanted to look deeper, see where I could improve in my thought process, improve where my heart was at.

I was encouraged and inspired by a couple of people this year to create a Vision Board. I opened my laptop the week after the new year began and opened up a window to Pinterest. The way I did my vision board was a bit different. Instead of first making a list of things I wanted to accomplish, then finding the best image to represent that, I made a board called "2018" and just browsed Pinterest until I started finding things that I was drawn to. I waited until my gut was screaming at me saying "that! That speaks to me!" and then I'd pin it. After I found about 12 images, I just stared at them. I asked God " Ok, so what does all this mean?"  The first one was a jaguar. Immediately I remembered something peculiar about jaguars; they are one of the only big cats to travel, hunt, and live along. They are authoritative. How do you gain authority? Through experience, trial and error, and just going for it. My whole life I have been making decisions from fear instead of strength. I have been so afraid of making a mistake, that I haven't given myself the chance to blossom into the outgoing person I was meant to be. So number one on my vision board; I want authority. I want to walk into a room and command the space. I want to move unapologetically into my destiny, knowing I am on the path to greatness. I want to be unafraid of making mistakes. I want to make lots of mistakes this year, and learn from them. This year, I am a jaguar, I move alone, I hunt alone, yet I am a powerful predator, to be feared, and admired from up close or afar.

I went through this process with each image, and wrote each description out on my (public) board, for the world to see. It amazed me how each image and each description I wrote hit me hard. It's only March and I already feel there are big changes being made in who I am, through the surfacing of these goals. When you make goal-setting an adventure, a puzzle, an interactive process, I feel it becomes more important to stay on top of these goals or ideas. They will be remembered more often, and will make you more aware of when the changes are occurring. 

Starting New (again and again)

The ever-illusive, mysterious, creative process; how does this work exactly? The specifics are different for every artist of every medium, but I have seen a general pattern with my work, and the creative minds around me.
 When starting something new, be it a new project, story, painting, etc., there is always that initial excitement. You have the vision, you're planning it out, there is some uncertainty, but that excites you. Today is day one, and you're ready to start moving mountains and shaking the earth with this new idea. 

Next thing you know, you're putting the pen to paper, brush to canvas, getting the nails and hammers together, adjusting lights, the beginning stages of assembly. For me, this stage is one of my two favorites. There are so many possibilities for the end result of my work I am already envisioning, based on the way the modeling paste is being applied to the blank canvas, based on the first few scribbles and drips of the Krink pens, and so on. This is, in my mind, the most magical stage. It is a good idea to get as much done in this stage as possible. These are the bones of your work, if you get a good skeletal system in while you're fresh and beaming with excitement, it will make the process afterwards significantly easier.

As the piece progresses, the initial excitement is starting to wear off and it starts becoming work. Now, I love what I do, don't get me wrong. Being a professional artist is what I dreamed of as a kid. However, if an artist doesn't experience their passion being "work" at some point, they're doing something wrong. As Chuck Close says, "amateurs look for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work." This could not be more accurate. As a creative mind, you are not always going to feel "inspired" to create. This is the reality. The lack of inspiration is like a test; how much do you really love what you do? If the answer is along the lines of "more than anything," you will make the effort to push through those times where inspiration has taken a vacation and is making the creative work load a bit heavier. If the answer is anything less, you will fall into the rut of, "maybe tomorrow," or "just not feeling it today," and when three months have passed and you haven't produced any work, you have to look at what has been keeping you from it. A lot of times for me, it's the physical act of painting that can exhaust me. When I think about standing for 6-8 hours trying to fix a piece I possibly screwed up the day before makes me want to crawl under the covers and wait for the little elves to come in and fix my painting while I sleep the day away. Unfortunately this has not worked (yet) so I have to just get up, and go to work. 

What happens next is what I like to compare to a second wind. It's similar to the beginning stages, where there are visions of creative genius flowing and inspiration is plenty. These are created by the small successes along the way, when you push through the writers block, or finally solve the area of the painting that just wasn't working for you. These happen sporadically throughout the creation of your work, and will fuel you to the very end, if you continues to push through. 

There are, however, those projects you're excited about, you start it, you love it, it's going great (or so you think). Then you take a moment to step away from the piece, and when you come back, you realize this is not something you want to continue working on. This can be caused by many factors, such as: the vision you had no longer fits the piece, you have changed/grown as an artist/creative, the effort to fix it is not worth the end result. These are all valid reasons to toss a piece and begin again. It's your work, your process, your voice.  The only thing you need to be completely dedicated to is your true self. 

Finally, there is the completion of a work of art. This is the moment you've been working towards, seeing your vision fully matured. It is ready for the world to see and enjoy and be moved by. The final brushstrokes, signing the piece, the varnish, wiring the back, and the final photograph. The last few details are always my favorite, because I am bringing my work to a brand new level of excellence I have never achieved before. Every piece is a level up from the last. 

I'm currently working on a piece between the second wind, and completion (my other favorite stage). I have two pieces I have been trying to push to the stage of completion, and it has been quite the journey. I got the vision for this piece in October, and hadn't been able to start it until January.  This week my amazing friend challenged me to finish this painting no matter what it took, even if I had to sit in front of it for hours and just stare at it. So when I woke up that morning, that's what I did. I sat right in front of my painting and did nothing but stare at it for about 15 minutes before I broke down and finally started working on it. Once I got started, and got into a good flow, I was able to finish it completely. I had saved what I felt was the most difficult/tedious part for last and that's why I was dreading it. After getting started, though, it wasn't as difficult as I had worked it up to be in my mind (why do we do that?). I felt such a great sense of accomplishment, and was able to really focus on my other work for the rest of the week. I even finished a second painting! I love having those little successes (and the big ones, too). Sometimes they really are just the boost you need to push you through to the next level.

 

( To the right, I have photos of the progress I've made on my two favorite pieces in my portfolio to date 💗 )