This year I resolve to be brave. I am not going to be afraid to wear my heart on my sleeve. I am going to reach out. I am going to take that big first step.
Let me give you a little back story. I have been an artist for a long time. I went to an art high school and then on to a fine art college. During all those years in art school I got indoctrinated as to what "art" was and was not. What "fine art" was and what it was not. There was art that got hung in galleries and museums ("fine art") and then there was what I actually do now, commercial portrait photography. Polar. It was drummed into me that you either made this high, conceptual fine art or you took cheesy pictures of families all grouped together on a hay-bale or all dressed in black turtlenecks in front of the faux library background. There didn't seem to be any middle ground and, for a long time, I couldn't see myself in either place.
Obviously, the world of portrait photography has evolved (I can assure you that I do not have a single hay-bale or library backdrop) and the world of art has opened up in a lot of different ways too. Artists are finding all sorts of creative ways to gain exposure for their work and earn a living off of it. Sadly, while the world may have changed, I still hold on to those learned ideas that what I do for a living isn't really art. So, for me I have to compartmentalize my work. I have the work that I create at the studio for clients, the images that I take in my daily life and travels, and then the (what I still perceive to be more "real art") artwork that I make on my own. They are like three separate parts of myself.
I haven't pursued showing my personal art work because I wasn't sure if it was good enough or if people would take me seriously. After all, I don't have an MFA or a long list of gallery shows and (gasp) I own a portrait studio! I have sabotaged my own efforts to finish a photographic how-to book that I have been working on because I was busy second guessing it and trying to make it perfect. Today, I have resolved, that the fear and second-guessing has to go! So what if my art sits on Etsy and no one purchases it. So what if a gallery sees that I have work on Etsy and that I photograph babies for a living and that makes them not take me seriously as an artist. So what if I never get a gallery show. So what if I finish the photography book and no one buys it. So what if someone else writes one after me (or before me) and theirs is a bestseller. So what if I take time away from my studio to put energy into all of this only to come up empty handed and wondering, what next? So what. At least there is a "next". There can't be a "next" if you're resolved to stand still. Right?
Starting with this blog post, I am going to push past my fear, create a timeline for finishing my book, and I am going to make this the year that I put my personal artwork out into the world. I am going to find a way for all of the previously polarized selves to come together. One of the ways that I am planning on making this happen is to chronicle the journey here on my blog. My hope is that you will read along as I take nervous steps into new arenas and that, knowing you are there reading as I go, will help me be braver.
I am going to be channeling Kelly Rae as I tell my story and take the first steps of submitting my work to shows and opening up an Etsy shop to sell my work. I'm going to trust my friend Brene Brown as I embrace the fear knowing that it is essential if I want to experience the joy as well. Brene's own career has shown me that you can live in many worlds at once and do amazing work on your own terms. I'm going to re-read Lynne Twist, Seth Godin and Hugh McLeod for inspiration. I'm going to have to say no to certain things in order to create space for the hard work that I have in front of me. I'm going to try and be my truest self all in one piece - integrated, brave and vulnerable.
So, my dear blog friends, here is an image of one of my favorite art pieces. It is called "Where You End, I". This collage was created after my uncle passed away. It's about marriage, love and how our experiences along the way shape who we are. It's about connection.