Flicking the troll off my shoulder

An image from a photography project entitled Evoking Memory. It's about motherhood, identity, memory, and everyday life for a stay at home mom who happens to be a photographer.

I’ve been in a bit of a downward spiral about my current art endeavors for a while now. I’m quite certain it has to do with both becoming a mother and moving to a new area. Both seem to have rocked my confidence level into roller coaster overdrive. One minute I’m high as a kite feeling like I can do anything, the next I’m drowning in self doubt quicksand.

But, last week, I decided to get over myself and give that gross troll on my shoulder a big heave-ho. I clicked the “share” button and started putting a new photography project out into the world. I’m really happy I did. So far, Evoking Memory, a project about identity, memory, everyday life, and motherhood, has been well received. I’ve been happy to share about an image a day with the world and invite feedback, thoughts, ideas, emotions, etc. for anyone who feels the urge.

You can read more about project here.

And, here’s one of my favorites from the collection (so far).

An image from a photography project entitled Evoking Memory. It's about motherhood, identity, memory, and everyday life for a stay at home mom who happens to be a photographer.

I can’t say the troll is gone forever. He’s planted some deep roots. But, I am aware of the silliness of self judgment and work everyday at both not being so hard on myself (and others), having gratitude for the fact that I get to live life, and that I have the opportunity to pursue this art that sometimes tortures me so.

Not having fun with your art

Self Portrait of my Shadow

There are so many benefits to having fun with one’s art. Making art for art’s sake. Not caring about the final goal, delivering a message, making a statement, or even making any sense. It comes from a part of you that you may not even understand at this point in time.┬áBut, if you want to be a showing artist, you need to take it seriously. It is work. You should consider your audience. You should think about marketing your artist brand. You should figure out what kind of impact you want your art to have in this world.

Right now, I’m doing the latter well. Almost too well. I’ve lost the fun and want to get it back. I feel like I ruin my art by taking it too seriously before it’s even had a chance to breath on it’s own. Before I even show it to anyone I’m worried about the concept, communicating a statement of some sort, how it’s going to be received, if it’s really good enough to show off, and so much more.

I’m afraid.

And that’s no fun.

Self Portrait of my Shadow

What it comes down to, what everything always comes down to, is balance.

I’m feeling wibbly wobbly right now. I’m extremely off kilter. My big, fat, sloppy, gross troll is weighing my shoulder down. I can’t even stand up straight right now.

I want to tell him to go f#*& himself, but I can’t.

Art is so freeing. It is true freedom because the possibilities feel endless when you create. I still remember a model playground I constructed in grade school that had a rocket to the moon. You could go to the moon during recess! That’s how art feels when I’m in the middle of it. Like I can fly if I wanted to. But, when I think about packaging my latest project together, tying a bow around it, and handing it over to the world to open up and receive graciously or throw back in my face I feel trapped. I feel trapped in the idea of what good art is, what an artist is supposed to look like, act like, and make.

Sigh.

My only choice is to get over myself.

So, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to just accept that I go through an obsessive, nit picky, question just about everything stage before I present a new project.

Here goes.

 

Is a gallery show worth it?

a street photographer gets caught photographing a couple kissing

Why do artists want to show in galleries?

It costs a great deal of money to make art, then show it, with no guarantee that it will sell.

To do it right, as a fine art photographer, I need to invest at least $150 for each artwork. Let’s say on average you’ll show 20 images in a show. Ok, so I need $3,000 up front to even show my work.

What?!

I don’t have that kind of money. And, with no guarantee that I will even cover my costs, I can’t afford to take the risk. It sucks to say that about my art. Art is where I feel most free. It’s where possibilities are endless. You can do anything. But, you kind of can’t.

So, do I save my money up, apply to tons of galleries, cross my finger that I even get into one, spend my hard earned money to get a nice collection together, hang it, cross my fingers again that it sells, then do it all over again? Is that how this game works?

I don’t want to do that.

I just want to make art.

I know Mick, you can’t always get what you want.

Ok, fine. Then maybe I don’t need a gallery to show my work. Maybe I’ll just show it in cyberspace.

a street photographer gets caught photographing a couple kissing

So, why do I want to show my work in a physical gallery space?

1. Seeing work in person is SO MUCH BETTER. A computer screen just isn’t the same as a print.

2. I want you to see the whole thing all at once. It’s more powerful to stand in a room with a collection surrounding you then click through a slideshow.

3. It validates my work. I see under represented artists every day making beautiful work. I know not all of them will get the recognition they deserve. And, I know it doesn’t mean they aren’t talented. But, having a solo show or gallery representation does still count in the art world.

4. It’s what’s always been done. This is not a good reason, it’s just here as a reminder that this is one of the main nagging reasons I want my work in a gallery. It’s just what you do as an artist. It’s what you are told, what you think, makes you an artist. And, frankly, it’s not true.

Do you really need a gallery space?

What do I want to accomplish as an artist? I want to make art and I want to show it to people and I want to talk with them about it. I want to contribute to the conversation about life. Do I need a gallery to do that? Can’t I find a way to do that here or through other online sources?

I know I will miss the object that is the print, the frame, the gallery wall. I will always miss that. There’s nothing that can replace that. It’s like a book. It’s like a newspaper or a magazine. I miss those. But, I don’t read them anymore. I get them all online. And so do most other people.

I miss the darkroom. I will always miss the darkroom. But, I’ll never go back. And that’s ok.

I still want to show in a gallery. But, for the sake of my wallet, it may just be one framed photographed at a time. Here’s to you group shows!

I’m going to miss this view.

an unbelievable sunset in Corvallis, Oregon

I’m moving.

We found and fell in love with a little house down the street and decided is was the perfect abode for us. So, after a month or so of learning everything there is to know about buying a home and signing a lot of pieces of paper, the house is ours.

Now comes the fun part, right?

There’s not a room in the house that doesn’t need something done to it. But, lucky for us, the house is in tremendous shape and the only “to dos” involve paint, cabinetry, and floors. Fun for the want to be interior designer in me. So, she’ll have fun.

One thing I will miss about this apartment of ours is the view. Our balcony sits on a city park which, when you look out the window, feels like you’re looking into a landscape all your own.

And, on some nights, the sunset is splendid.

an unbelievable sunset in Corvallis, Oregon

Sunsets are one of the reasons cameras were invented, I just know it.

Buying groceries never felt so good.

My mom and me on Art Break Day 2013!

I am becoming my mother.

My mom and me on Art Break Day 2013!
My mom and me getting geared up for Art Break Day 2013 (artbreakday.com)

When I was a kid, I never quite understood why my mom and I had to walk down every single aisle every single time we went to the grocery store.

Now I get it.

I take me son to the grocery store, not just to refill the fridge, but to grab some sanity while I’m there. He loves it, so I love it. We walk around the entire store talking about what we’re going to buy and what we’re going to make with what we buy.

We get to wander, not rush.

It’s a time for calm conversation.

It’s a time I already know I will miss.