Healthy Boundaries for Creatives: Art's Sake Project

When I am passionate about something I have a hard time setting boundaries and not throwing my self all in...and I mean all in. Sometimes when I have an idea that I am excited about, or a new project that I am inspired by, I get tunnel vision and I have a hard time focusing on anything else. I think this is very common with creatives. It is part of how we turn passion and vision into something tangible. We can't always control when the flurry of inspiration will strike and when it does we feel we need to embrace it before it goes away! I think part of this is just the way it works being an artist. It is something I will always have as part of my process, it is embedded very deep. Now that I have a child though I need to find ways to shut it off when I need to be focused on her. I have been trying to figure out how to balance the passion and the drive that makes up my core, and the little person that needs my attention seemingly every moment. I have realized that it is not very good to try and do them both at the same time. At times I have resorted to increasing my childcare when I am in a mode that I feel I have to stay in until it is complete. This way at least she is getting the attention she deserves while I power through my inspiration. Other than that I don't have an answer for you to this one, and if you have one please let me know!

The other type of boundaries that I wanted to show with this week's art, involves only taking on what you can handle. It feels to me sometimes that opportunities all come in waves. One minute nothing is happening and the next you have 4 different opportunities to embrace as well as several people that need your help with something. Do you take on all of them? Do you feel like you can't say no? why? Which do you say no to? I am working on realizing that I am not doing anyone any good when I try to take on too much. I am learning that I need to choose my opportunities that I want to pursue the most, and make sure I am also having some time to still help and serve people as well. Sometimes if we are struggling financially we feel that we have to take any and all work that comes our way, no matter what that means to our sanity or the quality of our work. I learned over time that having balance, and being able to put my best energy and creativity into less projects takes those projects to a level they would never reach if my time was spread too thin. This ultimately makes the project, and myself as an artist, more successful.

 

Edited with Actions from The Shoppe Actions & Designs

arts sake week 25

 

 

 

Anonymous Damage: Mike Wolfe American Pickers Art Series

This is another image from the series I shot of the personal picks of Mike Wolfe from American Pickers on History. This series is about my journey to learn from the past and how we can make our world better today. This one is about how easy it is for us to do damage to others and to our world when we are anonymous. This could be anything from what we throw in the garbage to how we treat each other online. When we don't have to come face to face, or look in the eye the one we are doing damage to, it is easier to be disconnected, and not think about the consequences of our actions. I am going to try and be more intentional, and have my actions be the same when I am anonymous as they are when I am in the spotlight or face to face.

EDITED WITH ACTIONS AND PRESETS FROM THE SHOPPE

anonymous

 

Learning from the Children & Learning from the past

You may have noticed, that I have been writing lately about how much I am learning from my child. As a first time parent it is fascinating to me how much they change your perspective on life and yourself. Living in the country of middle Tennessee is also an inspiration for me. Surrounded by history and dilapidated texture of a very different time. In my experience, the values here in the south are ever so slightly more reminiscent of the values of the past than they are on the 2 coasts where I have lived before. As I go forward I will be talking more about what I we can learn from the children in our lives, as well as from history. So often these days I feel like we are not learning from the past. It is almost as if our progress in technology and the like has made us somewhat arrogant; thinking that we are invincible as a species and a planet.

That we can overcome any medical issue with a vaccine or surgery, that we can outsmart nature. It is not working. One in every three people will develop cancer in their lifetime. Our planet's resources will not last much longer with the way we abuse them. We need change. I believe we can learn from our history, and from our children. I believe if we choose everyday to acknowledge the things that innocence, imagination and history can teach us, and to make one small change in how we do our daily life, we can work together toward a better, more holistic life of wellness, inspiration and progress. I hope you will join me as I stumble through a journey of change.

vintage1web

The Success is in Your Story: Tips for Photographers and Artists

Success is in Your Story

 

We all want to be "successful". As artists success can be a bit of an ambiguous definition. Some days I just want to make great work and be proud of it and that is success to me. Other times the priority seems to be that I just want people to respond to it, and pay me for it and I have to compromise to make that happen. It is a struggle we all go through if we are trying to make a business out of our art. But what if we could do both? What if we didn't have to compromise? 

 

We as modern humans often tend to try to fight our surroundings. We want to go bigger and better, we want the things we don't have, the things we can't have. We want to eat strawberries in the winter so we find a way to do so even if that comes at a cost to our world. I am not saying this to put us down as people, our drive to make things better than they are has brought us a long way as a society as well. However, I also think it is important to be aware of what direction we are pushing up in. Are we going against the grain of the wood or with it? If you ever took Karate and tried to break the board, you know that when we try to break the board against the grain it can make it much harder or even impossible than going with the grain.

 

We do this as artists and business owners as well. We tend to look at what others have, what they have accomplished, or how they are better than us. We may try to be like them, or do what they did to get where they are thinking the results will duplicate the exact same way for us. Chances are, unfortunately, that it will not duplicate for you in the same way, or even close to the same way. They are a completely different person, with a different story, different passions, and different strengths. From the start they were formed differently, and each experience in their life has made them who they are, just as your own story has made you who you are. And you have strengths that they don't have, and something to say to the world that they can't say.

findmystrengths

It is important to find our own strengths and work with those, make the most of who you were made to be, and not try to be who someone else was made to be. Great how do I do that?! Finding those strengths can be difficult. You would think we would know ourselves better than anyone, right? Those around us that love us, look at us everyday. We hardly ever are looking at ourselves. So they probably see things we don't see. So ask them. Ask the people around you that love you, how they see you, ask them what your strengths are. Write that down. Then ask a stranger. Maybe it is a friend of a friend, or someone on Facebook that you are "friends" with but they don't really know you. Ask them to look at your work and tell you what they see. You will get 2 very helpful answers, one is the objective view of what your work is expressing, and the other is a bias view based on someone that knows you well. These are both so very valuable. One will tell you what you are currently showing the world, and the other one, the one that loves you, will probably give you some insight on where you need to go, what direction you start heading "up" in.

 

It is then time to take that feedback, and see what resonates with you, put it all together and then meditate or pray on what speaks to you about the feedback you received. You will probably need to start just making some more art at that point, get out and shoot, more often than you usually do. Then see what emerges, comparing it to the feedback you received. Put it all together, the new and the old, and look at the progress, look at any change.

 

I still struggle with this and am currently working hard on finding my strengths and putting all of my upward energy into them. It is a bit of a journey but one I really think we have to take in order to really be successful artists. When you are pushing upward in the right direction, success is inevitable. I can not guarantee exactly the kind of success you will have, and it may involve adjusting your view of what success means a bit as well. We all have different roles in the bigger story. I think we tend to forget that creating work that brings people joy and that we are proud to show the world, is really the greatest success we can ask for as artists. It is why we were given this gift and why we do share it with the world.

 

If anyone wants me to be your objective view I am happy to help! I might ask you to give me your thoughts in return as well. :)

weel21web
This week's image to me shows what I mean by the beauty that can emerge when we don't fight our surroundings, we don't fight who we are and our strengths. When we be the main character in our own story, instead of trying to be in someone else's story, the rythm and beauty will be undeniable. I believe this is how we are made, and how we can thrive...
xoxo Meghan Aileen

Confessions of a Recovering Workaholic: Blogs for Photographers, Blogs for Artists

I have been a Workaholic most of my adult life. It started in college with a double major and 2 jobs and just never stopped. Part of it is in my nature, something I was born with, I am a Capricorn, a mountain goat, always pushing up and up. I also know I am a product of my western environment and our addition to productivity. It is all around us, coming from so many different directions. There is even this sense of guilt when we try and be still, to the point that for a very long time I didn’t know how to simply relax. I forgot how to enjoy something simple, to feel the joy in the little things in life. And you know what? Maybe they really are not the little things in life, maybe they really are the big things, the important things. Sitting and talking with each other, having coffee and listening to the stories, the laughter, the pain and the everyday life of those around us. Being with others, helping others, loving them really well. This is made up of all of those “little things”. But us productivity addicts tend to put those things below the work, below accomplishing things, and building things.

 

Enter Motherhood...

 Children make you slow down in this way. On so many other levels they make you much busier than you have ever been, but in this way, they slow things down. They are learning the most basic of things, and you have to be in that moment with them. I am no longer able to work constantly the way I used to; no longer able to make work the main priority in my life. Gone are the days I could put in 16 hours a day on a regular basis. Part of it is that I have a new very important job helping to shape another human being. The rest of it is that I know that eventually, you burn out, it is not a sustainable way to live. If you think about it, it ends up not being the most productive option if you get burnt out and are not producing your best work anymore anyway.

 

My Progress...

I have come a long way in the last 3 years since my daughter was born, and since we moved from the coasts to the south where there is a different pace of life. The addiction is still there in many ways. It is something I fight almost every day. When Fiona wants me to watch her jump on one foot over and over again, and I struggle not to pick up my phone and check my email. I really do. But other times I am actually able to sit and play with Playdough and actually enjoy it. I have found some things that we can do together that don't make me crazy. Stay tuned for part two of Confessions of a Recovering Work-A-Holic where I will tell you about some of these activities if you are struggling with the same thing!

 

Just a few years ago I couldn't even sit on a beach without thinking what is the point of this, and now I cherish the few moments I can relax watching my daughter dig in the sand. So only God knows the progress I will make in a few more years. Maybe I will even leave my phone at home sometimes...maybe. ;)

 

Look at that face! Play with me mommy she says. Well I suppose work can wait...

 

 

Edited with Hot Air Balloon from the Americana Lightroom Presets Collection

that-face

Learning From the Children: Innocence Out of the Darkness: Blogs for photographers

Learning From the Children: Innocence Out of the Darkness

Lately I have been thinking a lot about how much we can learn from children. As I watch my daughter grow and change every day, and watch her experience so many things in life for the very first time, I learn more and more about life and about myself. I believe we all have innocence inside us. There is that child like part of us that is always there. As life gets harder, and experiences in our lives and throughout our story hurt us, we built up walls and defenses around it. We put it away in the dark part of ourselves, making sure it does not see the light and is not seen by others.

 

We all have our different ways of protecting it. Some do it with defensiveness, snapping back when there is even a hint of pain. With others, it is comedy, making people laugh and always keeping things light. For some people it is anger or hatred, even violence. The idea is that I will hurt you before you hurt me. Others, like myself, it is control. I tend to always think that if I can control enough of my life I can protect myself.

 

Children on the other hand, their innocence is right out there for all to see. If they are feeling weak or sad, frustrated or lonely, they will show it for all to see, even if that means all of Costco on a Saturday morning! I think we as adults can learn a lot from this. I am not saying we should all have melt downs in Costco ;) But if you are like me, maybe you could stand to open up a bit more. Maybe showing that innocence to some the people in your life would bring those relationships to another level. When we show that part of ourselves, it lets others see us for who we really are. Which in turn, allows them to really love us well. This might seem scary, it is for me, yet at the same time I long for it, for that connection, for real community. These connections help us to learn more about ourselves, and to grow from what we learn.

This weeks image is about this, the child like part of ourselves, that innocence and vulnerability, being brought to light for the sake of growing and being loved. It shows how we are used to hiding it in the dark and the fog, and when we shine a light on it, we sometimes cover our eyes. We remember our defenses we have built around it and the walls we have put up. But we peek through, hoping to see someone that will come through for us, someone that will show us it was not a mistake to reveal our vulnerability, someone that will love us really well.

 

EDITED WITH ACTIONS AND TEXTURES FROM THE SHOPPE

 

xoxo Meghan Aileen

Week 6 For Art's Sake Professional Photographer's Challenge. Inspiration for Photographers. Imaginative Photography

Week 6 For Art's Sake ~ Professional Photographer's Challenge

After my flea market adventures this month I was inspired by vintage toys and props. I found these old wooden race car toys. Fiona's new preschool  has mostly wooden toys, no plastic. There is something about the feel and texture of wood that I think makes awesome kids toys. And they obviously last!

The landscape is a shot of the desert I took driving cross country and I love the texture of the cracked ground and the drama of the sky as the race is about to begin! Fiona is always coming up with these elaborate situations for games we play, characters, locations and props, and she is not even 3 years old. Yes most of them are pretend which makes it all the more fun for me to try and translate her imagination into an image. I can't wait to see what she becomes, the type of teen, young lady and woman and probably artist she grows into. Although if you ask my husband he will say lets do whatever we can to keep her from growing up and meeting boys! :)

Here, she enthusiastically starts a car race in the desert with her homemade newspaper flag. Use what you have. I spend a total of $15 on this shoot. The rest is props and environments I already had. When creating imaginative images is important to put ourselves back in a child like state, what do they love, what do they dream of, how do they play… I humbly hope my jaded mind has portrayed her amazing world of wonder in the slightest bit. :)

Edited with Magic Mushrooms Photoshop Action from the Fairytale Action Set

Edited with Butternut Photoshop Action from the Memento Set

Want to buy the mini set of these two actions together? CLICK HERE

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For Art’s Sake Project: A 52 Week Journey ~ Week 2 In A Professional Photographer’s Challenge

 For Art’s Sake Project: A 52 Week Journey

Week 2 In A Professional Photographer’s Challenge

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Week 2 In A Professional Photographer’s Challenge

During week 2 in my professional photographer's challenge, I think I have found a medium and a process I feel inspired by and I think that is helping a lot to create the right environment in my head to find some inspiration. There is so much freedom in not having to have this art have a purpose, or a marketing plan. There is no client that needs to approve of it.  It doesn't have to mean anything if I don't want it to. It seems to be turning out that it does anyway, without intention. This one I feel has the kind of contrast that I have always loved. I used to do this in my wedding work. I would shoot a bride in a dark or even burnt landscape. It has a moodiness and a darkness along with a bit of lightness and innocence. If you look closely you can see a face in the rock.  He has a sadness to him and seems alone in the flat landscape. The little girl that stands on top of him represents youth, innocence and freedom with her umbrella she seems she could just float anywhere she pleases off into the clouds. They are facing away from each other, though they are touching, they do not seem to be really connected. A common problem in our society these days, even in our families.
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 For Art’s Sake Project: A 52 Week Journey

Week 2 In A Professional Photographer’s Challenge

I think that work has a great deal to do with this disconnection. The cost of living has skyrocketed and the average salaries have not. We don't rest enough, at least here in American culture. We don't value rest, in fact, we tend to look down on it as lazy and unproductive. But if we don't rest, we eventually end up even more unproductive. We become unhealthy and unhappy, and as creatives, we end up uninspired and bitter. I know it is hard to do for some of us. It took me having a child to force me to learn to slow down a bit. Sitting and doing something simple with her made me crazy at first. And yes it still does a bit sometimes :) But I am learning to enjoy life's simple pleasures, that spending time with people and resting is also productive, or at least it is purposeful. This project is only one step in this journey for me. Maybe by the time she is in college I will have this whole work, life, art balance on lock down. I have some time, she is only two years old. ;) I am sure I will need it!
If you are doing this along with me but struggling to find inspiration, it might be the lack of boundaries I talked about last week. This week if you are having trouble, maybe create something that, to you, represents how you feel about your work/life balance. Are you frustrated? How can you show frustration? Do you feel like you are on a journey? Make something that represents your journey, or any journey if that is too specific. We are all on many journeys….
Hope to see you next week for week 3 in a professional photographer's challenge.
xoxo
Meghan Aileen

 

For Art’s Sake Project: A 52 Week Journey ~ Week 1 In A Professional Photographer’s Challenge

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Week 1 In A Professional Photographer’s Challenge

As I sat down to work on this project this week, I of course felt stuck, with no idea where to start.  I knew week one would be the hardest. The first week I wanted complete freedom so that I could see what would happen. But as I go forward I am going to give myself some more guidelines I think, the complete freedom was a bit overwhelming. I had no idea what medium to even use.! Should I draw? Paint? Shoot? I stared at this robot on my desk. I bought him on Ebay for another project and I think he is just fantastic. I love old industrial textures, form and colors. I then took a walk outside to think about what else inspires me. The skies around here in the South, especially during the spring, are amazing. I missed them so much when I lived in Los Angeles. This is significant because I also think that living in Los Angeles is where this disconnection to art began. People love the blue sky all the time there, they move there because of it. I missed the clouds. So with no thoughts in my head of meaning or interpretation, this is what came out of my efforts. I sat back and looked at what I had just created. I started to laugh to myself. As I stared at this robot in the clouds, I noticed that he looked as if he was dreaming of being free. This of course reminded me of my current state of mind, feeling like a robot longing to be free.
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I was struck by the magic of art, and the reason we do it. It is living inside of us even when we are feeling detached from it, or not putting time into it. It is longing to come out, to be expressed. Is this my best work? Not by far. Was I nervous to show this to anyone since it is not my best work? Absolutely. Putting ourselves out there as an artist, especially when we are in times of struggle or self doubt, is one of the hardest things to do. It is a subjective thing to begin with, as well as a highly personal thing. Not a good combination for sensitive folk like us artists. :) But that is part of it, taking the risk to put yourself out there so that you can possibly inspire, help, or bring joy to someone else. Some people won't like this, but that is ok because I made something for art's sake, and I am putting it out there. Hope you will join me and make something this week. Anything. For Art's Sake.
Hope to see you next week for Week 2 In A Professional Photographer's Challenge. If you have stuff you made that you want to share please post them on our Facebook page. We would be honored for you to share then with us!
xoxoxo
Meghan Aileen