Inside My Head

So, well, THIS happened.

When you stop looking for it is when it will find you.
— Anon
 It's not everyday that something you've done becomes popular on  TrendHunter

It's not everyday that something you've done becomes popular on TrendHunter

Timing is weird.  Coincidences are weird.  The universe and the Law of Attraction is weird.  If you've read any of my recent posts you'll know I'm sort of in a limbo-phase right now - looking for that niche for my art and balance for my life / creativity / work / pay the bills situation I think every artist struggles with.   I've been trying my best to just let it go - to let it come to me.  

Then, something like THIS happens.  TrendHunter picked up The Drawing Hope Project, and in less than 2 hours it surpassed 5000 views, 100+ shares, and jumped to the #1 most popular post on their site.  Um, wow - and weird - and awesome.  Trouble being - I've been struggling with completing "round 1" of the project for over a year - the ultimate culmination of the project, and the completion of the actual hard-copy storybook.  SO much harder than I anticipated, and I admittedly took a good "year off" to recollect myself after all the photos were complete, and my Dad passed away (I'm a slow healer apparently).  Add to that fear of failure - and success - and you have a whole lot of terrified procrastination that has created a serious delay that haunts me daily.  Enter my Mom (thank god!) who has offered to help me wrap it up, and help string all the photos together into the perfect storybook as each little hero in the project deserves.

Now - here's why I think all of this is weird.

I have never ever been more fulfilled in my life than when I was working on The Drawing Hope Project.  Meeting these kids and their families - supporting their causes and helping them see their imaginations come to life = priceless.  Seriously, there aren't words for how that makes you feel.  And yet, here I am, looking for something creative that will fulfill me?  Am I an idiot?  

Honestly - ya, I think I am.  I've spent so long caught up in the opposite intention of the project - beating myself up and in turn, NOT seeing imagination (my own, and others) come to life.  Huh.  Meanwhile, if I just rewound back to the original reason I started the project in the first place - to create magic - and did it for that sake alone (forget future story books, as I'm apparently not a great storybook writer-and-put-together-er)...but just continued on creating the magic for these kids and their families...I think I'd rediscover that sense of creative and soulful fulfillment I've been looking for.

I stopped looking.

The moment I stopped looking for that creative outlet that would bring me fulfillment is when the answer came to me (this morning, actually).  I stopped hunting and trying to find it.  I just let it go, and ignored it.  And ta-da!  Well wouldn't ya know, I had it all along, but I'd tucked it away.  I think it's time to bring it back and do it simply for the sake of doing it.  An ongoing series of magical photos that will make little heroes and their families smile.  It doesn't need to become something great or wildly popular - because what's more great than being able to give that gift to someone who needs it?  Art for the sake of love.  The world could use more of that.


Chasing Fireflies

I'm a HUGE fan of Ray LaMontagne, and after reading an article about his upcoming album this morning and finding this quote of his - I am an even bigger fan than I ever, ever was before.  It's refreshing to hear from artists you admire that they face the exact same challenges as everyone else.  The creative block, and the elusive "a-ha!" moment.

For the longest time these songs were eluding me. I felt like a kid trying to collect lightning bugs. I’d catch a glimpse out of the corner of my eye and run for it, but the light would go out just as I thought I’d gotten hold of one. But eventually I caught on to their game. I stopped chasing them altogether. Instead I just sat there as if I were completely disinterested in them. And wouldn’t you know it, one by one they came to me! Flew right into my jar.
— Ray LaMontagne
 
 Ray Lamontagne, by the talented  Danny Clinch

Ray Lamontagne, by the talented Danny Clinch

 Fireflies (2010) -  "I think that people who can't believe in fairies aren't worth knowing." –   Tori Amos

Fireflies (2010) - "I think that people who can't believe in fairies aren't worth knowing." – Tori Amos

It reminded me of one of my first and favourite images (above) from my 365 Days Project - Fireflies.  I was in a very experimental stage with photography and photo manipulation when I did this, and to this day I don't know whether the fireflies are coming to me, or if I'm releasing them into the woods in the photo.  Perhaps a bit of both?  

Anyways - Ray's quote rang so true to how I've been feeling lately - chasing ideas and concepts and trying to pin them down, always seeming to lose them through my fingers and watching them flicker off into the night.  When you think of all the truly good things you have in your life - they are likely all things that just came to you.  They aren't the things you went looking for, they aren't the things you brought home.  They're always the things that surprised you, that found you, and that you attracted.  Ideas - the good ones - are just like that.  You (well, myself anyways) - can't sit down and force a great idea.  All the good ones arrive when they want to and when you're (hopefully) ready for them.  The only photos of mine that I actually love are the ones that were inspired - not the ones I did for the sake of creating something.  

I’ve always been inspired by visual artists of all mediums because, as with Music, Art is not a job you can go to and leave from; but it is something that defines who and what you are.
— Tori Amos

The quote I originally used for Fireflies was by the love of my life Tori Amos, who shares my attitude that all of her songs (like any piece of art anyone creates) - are like people.  Ghosts, even - that choose when they want to be seen, or heard, or have their story told.  Just like the faeries and fireflies - leave them alone, and they will eventually come to you.  It's just our job to translate what they want to say.

Tori's album "Under The Pink" (it's right over there on the right - listen to it!) is one of those albums that teleports me to a different time and place - 17 year olds and not yet big enough to make sense of all the ideas in my head and not yet smart enough to make art from all the emotions in my heart.  Back then, there was no chasing fireflies and lightning bugs - they swarm to you when you're young.  As you get older and more self-aware - that's when the chasing starts to happen, when you start reaching for inspiration that wouldn't leave you alone once upon a time. 

I think I'm finally learning to simply stop trying.  It's funny that trying less could be the answer to doing more.

The World Spins Madly On

 The World Spins Madly On...

The World Spins Madly On...

March is a hard month for all sorts of reasons.  First, we're all waiting for spring, and this year it's the spring that will just...not...get...here.  Then, as the month goes on, for me it's my parent's anniversary and what-would-be my Dad's birthday.  The anniversaries and holidays and memories never stop.  No one is ever gone - somehow they find a way to be more here than ever before.  Life and love and regret is weird like that.

Looking back, I have this to regret, that too often when I loved, I did not say so.
— David Grayson
 Regret (2012) 

Regret (2012) 

I did the photo above (Regret) 24 days before my Dad passed away. (I like to think of it as 'graduating' instead of passing away, by the way).  It's still one of my all-time favourite pieces because it reminds me of him (he was my biggest fan!) and because it's so raw and honest as to how I was feeling then (and still do, now).  My entire life, I knew my Dad as someone who raised birds - pigeons, exotic birds, doves - which is where the falling feathers come into the photo.  The rest is pretty self explanatory!

I need to Rumpelstiltskin my attitude and turn some straw into gold - turn regret into gratitude, turn sadness into celebration, channel devastation into inspiration, distill loss into love.  I think that would be the greatest tribute to my biggest fan.

And the world in it's chaos doesn't stop for your sadness or your grieving.  The world is polite for awhile, but forgets quickly - and we're all equally guilty of it.  We all move on from our empathy for others.  The trick is moving on from our sympathy for ourselves, while the world spins madly on.  And if you can make a little art while you're at it - that's the best eulogy you can give someone you love.

The Weight of Words

Among my most prized possessions are words that I have never spoken.
— Orson Scott Card
 The Weight of Words (2014)

The Weight of Words (2014)

Words are a tricky thing.  Typing them is easier than saying them, that's for sure.  And sometimes NOT saying them is harder yet.  That's why I loved this quote by the novelist Orson Scott Card.  Interpret it how you like, but I believe the true value of 'words' is found in between what you say.

I had originally thought this pic "The Weight of Words" was going to be in a sun-lit field with orbs of light and warmth and rays of sunlight.  Then, like usual, it all went in it's own direction - and literally laid itself on the table.  Words work the same way.  Sometimes your brain thinks one thing but what comes out of your mouth is the cruelest deception of what you intended.  Words can be dangerous if you use them correctly - and they can be deadly if you don't.  What you don't say...can do more damage than what you do.

You can bundle up all your secrets and put them in a diary.  You can unravel them all and spill them into social media for the world to see.  The weight of words is determined by how you use them, or don't use them.  They can take on the lightness of air and ride the wind, or sink like stones into an abyss.  You can craft them into a literary embrace that can transcend miles and decades and warm whoever receives them, or whittle them into an arrow that can pierce the hardest heart.  

So, choose your words and silence wisely: words are weighed on the scale of your heart, too.

Say Something

I wake up every day with this song in my head, and I finally sat down to watch the video this morning...wow.  Music inspires me so much and it's always as though my heart makes it's own videos for songs I love, so when I finally do see the 'official' video I'm usually confused or disappointed because it's not at all like what I imagined.  "Say Something", by A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera however was such a happy (and so very sad) surprise.  

I don't even know what I could create to do justice to that song, it tugs at heart strings that I didn't even know I had.  The line "Anywhere I would've followed you" reminds me of Death Cab For Cutie's "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" that inspired my pic below, "Into The Dark" with the lyrics:

If heaven and hell decide that they both are satisfied,
Illuminate the no’s on their vacancy signs

If there’s no one beside you when your soul embarks,
Then I’ll follow you into the dark
— Death Cab for Cutie
 Into The Dark (2012)

Into The Dark (2012)

I just can't separate visual art, and music.  You should be able to look at a photo and hear a soundtrack, or hear a song, and see an image.  And sometimes, a song gets stuck inside me (in a good way, not a "What Does The Fox Say" sorta way)...and I think that's usually because you're supposed to listen to what it's telling you.  I think the hardest part of that song to hear is "I'm giving up on you".  Ugh.  Those five words get you in the gut.  Florence & The Machine has a way of doing that to me - with EVERY SINGLE SONG.  Her song "Leave My Body" inspired this pic below, "The Abduction".  I took the "Leave My Body" idea pretty literally, but am thrilled with how it turned out (and it was fun using Clint as a model for this one).

 Leave My Body (2012)

Leave My Body (2012)

So, this weekend, I'm going to try and get "Say Something" out of my head, and into a photo, and actually "Do Something".  

I don't necessarily see it coming together as two separate individuals like in the video, but more of an inner battle with yourself...it's easy to give up on yourself, too.  Your conscience can spend a lot of the day rattling you into action, while your hands keep busy deceiving the best of intentions.  I'm even interested to see how this one turns out.

An Empty Page

There's an old 'writing' approach where you 'close by return' and come full circle to the beginning of your story, when you reach the end.  Turning that concept inside-out, here I am starting again where I began in the beginning.  It's not an end but a new beginning.  Sort of.  I think.

Years ago I started my photo manipulations with this image below, called "The Price You Pay".  It's redefined itself for me over the last few years, and my recent trip to New Orleans has left me totally inspired (read about it on my "About Me" page).

The Price You Pay (2010)

I've started this new website and blog as part of my new commitment to myself to stop committing things to myself.  To stop creating expectations of myself I can't necessarily keep – and to just let the art happen and create itself as it always did.  I have filled 1000 journals full of promises to myself and to others...and in the end, it doesn't matter what you say you are going to do.  What does matter, is what you actually do.

It's really easy to say that everything happens for a reason - and to be honest - a lot of times that reason is YOU.  Or me, in this case.  You put into motion something fuelled by your heart, but eventually, every gas tank runs empty and sputters to a stop. 

The trick is driving that dream down the right road that is lined with gas stations so you can keep going. Sometimes you take a backroad and the tank runs dry.

I bought two wicked leather-bound, hand-stitched journals, full of magical blank pages full of possibility.  I came across them first at Yesteryears in NOLA, and I seriously got all light-headed when I first walked in there.  I have an obsession with paper and pens (I bought a Retro 1951 Tornado Wooden Rollerball, and it is all kinds of awesome).  It's serious magic if you use paper and pens the right way.  There's a perfect mystery that makes up paper, like a hidden story inside if you hold it right, or the most wonderful masterpiece of art if you want it to be.  There's honesty and magic in an empty page.

  Seriously. Are these not the most epic journals you have ever seen?  Don't judge the horrible iPhone-ography.

Seriously. Are these not the most epic journals you have ever seen?  Don't judge the horrible iPhone-ography.

This blog and website, my new journals, my new commitment to not-committing - they are all empty pages that I can't wait to talk to and see what secrets they feel like revealing.  I used to write in a journal every single day, and I filled them with doodles and drawings and designs, words and rhymes, confessions and curiosities.  I eventually left out the words and picked up a camera, I left out the doodles and sat down at a computer with all the things I used to pour onto pages, and instead, poured them into photographs.  One day, I stopped, as though my pen ran out of ink, my camera out of film, my computer out of power.

So I'm not making any promises - to you, or myself, or to anything.  I'm just opening a new book full of empty pages, for the first time in a long time.  Time will tell what stories those pages want to tell.