I am becoming a photographer again.

the top of a wooden fence with the sun shining through

wooden wall with white paint that is mostly chipped off

This week, for the first time in 5 years, I scheduled a time during my day to go outside and photograph.  This used to be my life.  My camera came everywhere with me and captured my life and the lives of others I saw along the way.  I stopped loving photography during my undergrad studies and have had a shaky relationship with it ever since.  But, after photographing two of my friend’s weddings, I am beginning to remember why I loved photography to begin with.

It is almost like I need to practice at not taking it so seriously.  I had to go to art school to learn how to technically take photographs and now I have to almost unlearn all of that–in order to take away that pressure to take the perfect photograph.  The best advice I ever received from a photographer was (I am paraphrasing) “Take as many photographs as you can because you will be lucky if you get one image out from one roll of film.”  1 in 36 is apparently the average for a talented photographer.  The digital age makes it a great deal easier to take a ton of crappy photographs in order to find that one gem.  And, reflecting on that advice today, what I really think he was getting at was, just take it!  Don’t think, just photograph.

the top of a wooden fence with the sun shining through

I could not just take it last week.  I had a really hard time photographing.  It’s like I lost my touch.  It used to be automatic for me.  I didn’t think, I just pointed and clicked.  It was straight from my gut.  That’s what I love about photography.  It can be so genuine and honest if you approach it correctly.  That’s another part of me I will have to find again.

altered perspective looking from the edge of a curb across to the other side of the street

Photography used to allow me to look at a scene as though I had never seen it before.  I was like a 5 year old at the circus for the first time.  Instead of pointing my finger in awe, I was pointing my camera and recording that composition I framed in my head.  Where did that photographer go?  And can I get her back?

I guess I took a break

It’s funny how some things can be put on the back burner for a while. As much as I obsess with routine and organization, I doubt I will ever reach my perfection goals. At some point I think I will have to learn to let go of the idea of perfection and let myself do whatever it is I want to do. The problem I’m having is not trying to figure out what I want to do with myself, which seems a life long quest for a great many people. What I am finding difficult is what I want to do first.

I have been thinking a great deal about cloning lately as I believe that will be the only way I will ever get to accomplish all of my aspirations in this lifetime. I think I need to prioritize. I have to choose.

I know one thing for sure, my art has been suffering and, in turn, so have I. I have a studio that is pretty ridiculous right now. I can’t even really stand in it. So, step one, purge the studio. I am in that kind of mood lately. Step two, make something (even if it sucks). I have a feeling I may have to start scheduling time in each day or one or two solid days a week to be in the studio. I mean, it is my job, so I need to make a product. I’m torn because I just want to make art. But, I also don’t think that I exist soley to produce visual art. There is something telling me I need to do more.

I want others to feel the way I do when I have an idea and I make it happen. I want art to be a daily practice for the majority of Americans, because WE NEED IT! I want to change government policy and make it mandatory that all public schools have an art studio where children are always free to create. Art does something to an individual that nothing else can.

That’s where I am right now.

Looks like we’ve got ourselves a reader

I was reading today–a book entitled, “The Art of the Everyday: The Quotidian in Post War France,” and had to kind of laugh at myself. So, I tend to buy anything that has the words ordinary, mundane, everyday, boring, whatever on it. Anything relating to the everyday lives people lead. I am aware that my life is different and similar in so many ways to other people. I don’t live in a hut and hunt my own food, but I do wake up every morning, breath, feel, wash dishes, clean my house, etc. Anyway, for some time I have been obsessed with those everyday actions connecting us all. That explains my fascination with reading about it.

So, I found a couple of artists that I know I would totally have been friends with if A. I were French B. I were in my 2o’s in the late 1990’s and C. If I were making the work I make now in the late 1990’s. I happened to be in high school at the time, obsessed with the weather and photographing it as it was occurring. (That was my senior year final project–sounds interesting I know! But not really if you live in Arizona, where the weather doesn’t really happen.)

Onto the essay I read where I found my new friends. Written by Lynn Gumpert, entitled, “Beyond the Banal: An Introduction to the Art of the Everyday.” If you have seen any of my work, you know I should be in this club. Anyway, most of the artists seem to be documenting the everyday. Lots of photographers using their own lives and own families as subject matter. Photographing everyday events like putting on make up and the like. They also named an artist, Claude Closky, who makes assemblage pieces from grocery ads and magazines. So, I was sitting there and thinking, “Alright, some cohorts!” And then a little voice replied, “You are not unique.” And for the most part I would agree.

I have to go on a bit of a tangent to explain this part of my discussion with myself. A while back my family and I had an AWESOME discussion in regards to original ideas. I argued, and was the only one at the table that was on my side, that there was only one original thought. Believing that one thing leads to the next and that we are all connected, how could I not? My father pointed to my art and my ideas and told me I was selling myself short. I told him that it makes my art and my job so much more beautiful. It is made up of all of me and all of everyone else (past and present) all at the same moment. What could be better than that?

So, the thoughts I had today, after wondering if I would find my present day cohorts, was, “do I want to find my present day cohorts?” Artists survive on being original. It takes a great deal of effort to impress a viewer and even more to get them to stay a while or come back later. What would happen to my psyche if I found someone who did art exactly like me? I think I might be shattered. I know she/he is out there. But, for now, I don’t want to find them. That is so against everything I believe! I’m such a hypocrite sometimes.

Things getting in the way

What’s funny is that most artist’s want to show their work as often as possible. I am discovering that showing work is the thing that is getting in the way of my producing MORE work. Talk about a Catch 22. I think I’m using that reference correctly. I’m in the middle of curating a show and putting together a paired show with Heidi Forssell–you can see an interview Lisa Rasmussen and I did with her at Art is Moving. Anyway, organizing that has kept me so busy that I have no images for this blog–where I’m supposed to be recording my process.

Yes, I know the organizing and hanging of work IS part of the process, but man oh man can it get annoying sometimes. The pile of crap that I have to go through in my studio may be another reason I’m not producing art lately. But, that pile of junk is there because it is part of the administrative shit that goes along with curating and organizing shows.

On top of that, I need to apply to more shows in order to show more art. It never ends. I’m not complaining. Well, at this moment I am, but I do want to stress that I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. That’s the problem with choosing a career that can take a long while to pay off (monetarily) sometimes you feel guilty when you spend most of your time doing that thing–because at some point you want to be able to do it with out stressing about buying bread instead of ink. That’s a bit dramatic, but I’m trying to make a point.

Just wanted to say that I’m working, just not on visually attractive stuff. So, here’s the record of my process of being an artist, for all the world to see. I’m sitting at my kitchen table, just having finished editing a video, that will hopefully be up on my Art is Moving site next week (as it pertains to the subject of Political Art–and that is this month’s theme). And, I’m thinking about that pile of junk that I need to sort through to at least get the tiniest bit of space on my studio table to do a couple of carvings of the “Mothers of the Pill” as they are so lovingly referred to–I need to print them on about 6 cases of birth control pills for the show I’m in that opens next week.

So, there I go–off to hopefully make some more NEW art in order to get into more shows in order to make more NEW art.

Timing is everything

Just as I was throwing a stupid pity party for myself I read an awesome critique of a blog I started with Lisa Rasmussen about 4 or 5 months ago (Art is Moving). You can read the compliments here.

It was just what I needed. It reminded me why I have chosen to be an artist. Its not for the money, its not for the pain (I try to stay away from being a drama queen). I don’t like to tell people I’m a “starving artist.” Believe me, there are some artists out there who get off on that stuff. I am not one of them. I would happily get paid to do what I love to do, as would anyone I suspect. And someday that will happen.

Anyway, the timing for these comments were perfect. I needed that boost to get myself going today. Money has been tight and unfortunately it effects my art making. If I can’t afford supplies, I can’t make art. And it’s also emotionally trying at times. But, I’m not complaining because I’m still surviving and I’m doing what i love to do. And apparently, according to the lovely Alana who wrote Lisa and I, I’m doing something right.

So, here’s to doing something right.