Is this the year for dreams, for being alive? Is this the year when everything will start to make sense? Is this the year to grow, be bold, follow my heart, stop 'doing life' and start living? Creating the life I want!
These are questions I've been thinking about A LOT over the past year. Because, quite frankly I've being doing a lot of life, but not a lot of living..... you know the saying, "Work smarter, not harder". I'm tired of busy.... and often there's too much noise out there and too many things distracting you from where you need to be and what you want to do. I've perhaps spent a lot of time doing things that were more about 'should' than 'must'.. and in saying yes, or doing things I didn't really have my heart in (or that I wasn't passionate about), a little of my joy has been chipped away. It's time to take some 'big girl' steps in the right direction, scary as that is. Time. To. Plan......
All that said, the purpose for this first 'real' blog is really just to share a little bit about me, and thoughts on things that led me to this point.... Going forward, I really just want to write about the things and people that inspire or interest me, share my passion for art and the creative industries (including architecture, photography, interiors etc) or share my thoughts on things I think are important, so I'm not setting any schedule for blogs. I'm going to write as I feel, and hopefully, some of what I write about may interest you, make you laugh or resonate with you.. and you'll come along for the ride. Whoop! XX
...... Disclosure!!! .... my website is under a total rebuild. Until now it hadn't been touched since halfway through my last year of studies, so I've deleted all my old stuff! It needs a HUGE update, re-jig and all new art gallery images uploaded - so, in the meantime the blog is it. "Urgent Website Update" is top of this years To Do list. I'm going to have to enlist help from someone who can whip me into shape quick! "Bear with" ...!! (Miranda joke).... ;-)
The journey to 'knowing' can be both exhausting and rewarding:
The proof is in the pudding.....
After graduating from Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design at the end of 2016 I desperately needed a break. Full time studying and running a house with three teenage girls was no small feat.. it was bloody exhausting. However, it's something I look back on now and can feel is a real accomplishment. The kitchen table was my study desk for four years (and often a complete disaster zone). At times I battled .... feeling guilty that I wasn't being a fully present Mum, because a lot of the focus was on my studies. I'm one of those, "I want to succeed and do well' kind of achievers... not just a 'pass is okay' type. (Even though my Fine Arts supervisor was always reminding me that 'C's get Degrees, I was the one in tears over my seemingly shitty essay!!). For me, a 'C' wouldn't be good enough (sorry Janet) and I'm super conscientious ... but anyway, you get the picture! Quite frankly, the best affirmation I had about studying was my eldest daughter saying how proud of me she was and encouraging me to not give up my dream. Thanks Maddie.... X
They say there's a thing called post-graduation blues/depression.. and I think for me, it was kind of true. There's this crossroads where you have to decide, "what next?" Take your art forward and go at it full on, or try some sort of blended work/art? The reality is, we need money to live, so a full-time art career just seems so scary unless you have some additional support. I have kids and responsibilities, so carving out an art career needs to be some sort of balancing act. I've never been super confident in my abilities (or a massive risk taker), and I'm not a born marketer, so this is something I'm trying to improve upon. Faith in oneself is a huge factor... and making. LOTS of making! Having never truly invested in myself before, study was life changing/attitude changing. It wasn't an overnight thing, but an awakening for me, that I could achieve more than I believed. I think 2019 - could - be - IT!
On being Forest Gump:
After nine months away from art, just dabbling, it was time! Time to get creative... I was SO frustrated with myself, and just couldn't bear thinking about wasted opportunities and what could be. To be honest, I spent a lot of time running...... literally... (I was so conflicted). After study I felt a bit lost and I needed a goal. I needed to take stock and reassess what was important. I had also been so latent in the studio.... ( a few too many lattés and muffins). I knew I needed something to keep my head straight and to get motivated. I saw the Queenstown Marathon advertised early in 2017 and I was like... Yup, I'm gonna do the half. I am NOT (and have never been) a great runner, but always into sport, so the challenge was just what I needed - for ME! So, for that nine months I was Forest!. I ran, and ran, and ran some more........ I went from barely making it half way around South Hagley Park in Christchurch, to being able to run two and a bit times around the entire South AND North Hagley - non-stop! I felt strong and capable, and alive ... and bloody determined. The endless jogs at New Brighton beach, the treks to the top of Rapaki track (for the view alone) and the head clarity was so valuable. In November 2017, I travelled to Queenstown, stayed in an Air BnB with strangers AND ran the half ALL BY MYSELF. I was happy to do it that way, it was THE most amazing day, and I'm so darn happy I did. Maybe in amongst it all somewhere I found ... ME! (Only taken 46 years!)
I do it for the process, and I do it for the people:
All that thinking and running ... it was time to get back to what I really loved.... ART. But it's not 'just' about the art, or the process, for me it's about the people and connections you make. Getting back into a creative art space is necessary. In October 2017, I took up a space at XCHC in Wilsons Road. ( A vibrant industrial space with cafe and creative maker spaces run by the very awesome Preston Hegel). It was the perfect springboard for 2018 and just what I needed to get my head back into passionately creating. From there I took up space at The Corner Store, which I know now was the right move for becoming serious about my art practice and getting networking with other practicing artists.
I had my first solo exhibition in March with Kinart (whose main space is the gorgeous black The Anchorage coffee house - love that place). Having someone or in fact a few people in your corner is crucial and one of the things I love most about the art community is how supportive we are of each other. In fact, if art has given me anything (besides the skills, background and passion to create), it's amazing people - like minded, crazy, passionate, intelligent, broad minded, diverse, colourful, funny, interesting people. People who have and will become life long friends and encouragers. Even online friends!!! If you already follow me on Instagram, you know I post a lot... and I'm all good with that. I make no apologies for sharing the things and especially people who are important to me. Connections are everything.... and I'm extremely grateful to many people who've been with me along this creative ride. Validation is everything. I think words of encouragement is my love language - jus' saying'.!
Michael Collins, Janet Abbott and Amanda Hare (previous Tutors and now friends)
The year that was and 'Should' vs 'Must':
In short, 2018 was a year of highs and lows. This year, I exhibited (which I'd like to get more of), sold 11 large paintings, did a couple of commissions, drew up a storm with charcoal beginning with landscapes, and then most recently a large series of Hares (which have both been selling well) ... and I've submitted for an art award up north (watch this space, won't find out for another 10 days if it's been accepted).
Personally, a few shitty lows and challenges - not all! Work/ life balance is always a 'mish' ... I'm not there yet. I work so I can create, but that's something I'd like to change in 2019. I actually enjoy my work a lot. It's busy as all heck and I love the people... but what I really would love is to make my art my career. (HELLO this blog!!) But let's be honest, not every artist is a huge success...... in fact, most I know who have succeeded have worked bloody hard at their practice and put in the "mahi"...... they do it because they love it, they NEED to create.... which brings me full circle to 'Should' vs 'Must' . (Thanks Hannah Watkinson for noticing my extreme frustration and photocopying pages from "The Crossroads of SHOULD and MUST - find and follow your passion", By Elle Luna ..... it's the perfect quick read to encourage you to honour your passion and talents ). I think I've finally realised this art thing is something I need to do... must do. It's my itch I need to scratch. It's what I love and something I'm good at ... now I just have to believe I can do it, plan it, and make steps to follow that dream!
Just - three . little . words:
Ever had someone say something to you, and it just sticks. Something small, perhaps meaningless at the time, but somehow, it just sticks and maybe even changes everything?
During my 4th and final year, my painting tutor and I were discussing my work. I was nearing the end of a studio module/submission, and I was asked why I had done something the way I had or why I was painting this way thematically or some such thing. I was trying to express my thoughts and I just felt like I didn't have the right words or my explanation seemed manky .. I just said "Oh I dunno".... He straight up called me out and said "Yeah you do!" (in a gentle but quite serious way). ... YES - YOU - DO. Just three little words. He won't know that it was anything significant, but I think on those words often. He was saying ... trust yourself. You did this for a reason. Own it!
Three other extremely important words all artists know... JUST - KEEPING - MAKING..... Your best art sometimes comes from a place of frustration or experimentation. You cannot make enough. Even if you think it's shitty and you make big mistakes, or paint over something from last year. It's all valuable. Because, what I think is rubbish is someone else's treasure. Play this to yourself regularly. (Huge note to self).
Back to the the start and living....:
There's so much more I'd like to discuss, but I think I'll leave it here for the moment. This blog has taken me waaaaay too long to write .... I'll make some notes and when I get my head around the fact that another year has started, I'll dive into another blog :-)
Suffice to say, I feel like 2019 is the year when things need to happen. I pray and hope for the best, but I'm also a realist, so I accept there will be days where I'll just wanna head for the hills. (More walking tracks and more time in nature is something I'm hoping to plan into the year!) Stuff happens and never say never.
2019 is the year I hope to start living and stop doing life - start believing - start planning - being more alive and purposeful. It also means giving... so I'm going to try and give back wherever possible.
Final note.....Instagram ... I take a tonne of pictures! I LOVE photography and landscape... I love Aotearoa.. So, if it's just my art you'd like to see until I get the rest of this website sorted, then hop into Instagram and search for #vivwotton . I've tried to revisit my art posts and hashtag my name so you don't have to scroll endlessly. Hope you enjoy.
Sold a painting today - New Years Day! #blessed.