My nephew, a painter, narrated to me how going to a Connecticut artist residency was what pushed the quality of his work to the point where his confidence in himself came to fruition. Living and working with other artists he found himself reaching into himself for what until then he only hoped he had in him to turn himself into a painter.
Going to school to train to become a painter, a filmmaker, even a writer is perhaps the most important step that a young person can take. Not only that school teaches him what he needs to learn to best employ his native genius but that school gives him entrée to the community he wants to be part of. He meets mentors and colleagues. He learns from other people as much if not more from what he learns in the library or classroom.
I am too old to go to school. Or, I feel I don’t have time anymore to spare. I have a lifetime of experiences. I just need to buckle down and use all those as raw materials. I am hoping against hope I have what it takes to push myself into a whole new realm, that of being an artist.
At this point I am not sure I am not deluding myself but looking back to May 2008 and what I was doing with photography I can frankly say I’ve come a long way! I’ve learned to use the camera. I’ve learned what to look for in a camera and have bought one that can take me far – though I may need another camera to take me to the furthest shore I can reach! I’ve learned to use backgrounds and more recently use available light after learning to use continuous lighting then strobes. I’ve learned how to use models to make better photos for them and for me. And I’ve learned a bunch of skills using imaging software to fine-tune my images.
Joining 500px might very well be the turning point for me. I have finally mustered the courage to post my images in a community of exceptional photographers. I find some of my images as good as any I’ve seen even as I catch glimpses of where I need to take my images so I can confidently say I’ve arrived.
Having a steady supply of extraordinary images to survey daily I can shape my own sensibility. I can learn more about the technicalities of a DSLR; I can learn more about lighting and camera settings; I can be more diligent taking spectacular pictures; but the task I see that I must now accomplish is to capture images that I can process in the incredibly alluring ways I see the photographers I admire using on their own images.
I feel validated. Shadows are treasures to mine for in images but now I am seeing how light and blur can also add that special element to an image. Color I’ve always loved but color can come in so many ways. They don’t have to be so aggressive or obvious.
Today I find myself thinking: yes, maybe yes, I am an artist! I may not have the genius some people seem to have and to recognize from early in life but slowly I see myself acquiring an artist’s eye. It’s all about sensibility. This may be, more than talent or skill, what makes for genius! It’s not logic or the clear lines or shapes of reason but what I used to call the “interstices” of thought that contains the promise I now know I must meet.