“Well, Welcome to This One.”

I love it when people have just the right things to say.  I also like it when something gets me right in the feels, for lack of a better word, and catches me off guard when they do.  I got that from one of my professors the other day, so I’d thought I’d share a little more about it with you.

It’s been a crazy few weeks since starting school, as I’m sure you’re well aware by my constant reminders.  But even with all the craziness, it’s been filled with some pretty great moments.  First off, everyone thinks that I’m 21…max!  I’m even being mistaken for a teenager, which makes me question some things, but I’ll still take it as a great compliment.  I’m finally starting to feel a little more comfortable, and that I may be someone who is on-par with this “art world” that I’ve flung myself in to.  Yes, I know I made it in to MICA, and that should be reassurance enough, but it isn’t.  “They”, the powers that be at MICA, even send out emails, or did at least, to new students telling them just that — “don’t be scarred/intimidated/depressed/stressed/etc…you made it here, and that means a lot!”  When coming from the world of strict business attire,where the only creativity being expressed was that of craftily written procedure or performance review, it’s hard to see yourself amounting to anything creative.  No matter how bad I want to succeed at this, I’m essentially terrified.

When I think about where I came from, the life of banking, management, stress, abuse, and all things wrong in a corporate environment, I have two feelings that have stuck around: abandonment, and escape.  Pretty conflicting thoughts, don’t you think?  As if my feelings towards them weren’t complicated enough, they still continue to be, even almost a year and a half leaving.  I suppose some of the emotions you could equate to this would be depression, anxiety, PTSD, failure,….freedom and relief?  Like I said, it’s complicated.  I whole heartedly gave over 10 years of my life to this company, only to be targeted, bullied, and attacked.  And when I fell ill as a result of this, they didn’t care at all, and wanted nothing more to do with me.  Don’t get it twisted though, no matter how it may sound, I played the hand I was dealt the best I could, and ended up resigning.  Some what reluctantly, but still, it was my choice to leave — at least they didn’t get that satisfaction.  Either way, it was a heartbreaking change, even though at the same time I wanted to do something different with my  life.  I wanted to make it better, but I was terrified of failing.

But like I said, you have to play the cards you’re dealt, and my game had just changed.  So I decided, why not, apply for this school that I’ve been wanting to go to forever.  I was just about to finish up my associates degree, because I could only handle baby steps, and didn’t see myself making it this far.  Going to school, an art school, to get a Bachelor’s degree seemed unobtainable for me.  After getting in, it was then the financial aspects that had me burdened, because let’s face it, you can’t pay for the “ivy league of art schools” on a non-existent salary.  No one was excited about the news except a few, literally few, friends, so in trying to be realistic about it, I didn’t let myself get excited about it, or celebrate.  I’m 30, and just got my first college acceptance letter in the mail, I should be excited.  Oh, wait, except for the fact that I’ll be 30….in college…with teenagers — another issue of concern.  I convinced myself I was too old, and just needed to buckle down and get a “real job”.  Oh, and back to the no job thing, I had to move out of my apartment, my safe haven, my home….my life was falling apart when it should have been on the up and up.

So I decided not to go, and things got dark, really dark, and fast.  I started looking for banking jobs, admin jobs, anything office job like, and to no avail.  What was the end of an already incredibly depressed year, I was even worse for the wear.  Then a friend hired me to bake a cake and photograph her wedding, and another friend asked me to photograph her baby, and it felt great doing things that were artistic, and that I got paid for!  Imagine that.  I figured, as the deadline for the deposit was fast approaching, I’ll just take this money to pay for the deposit.  As irresponsible as it may be, and even though it’s most likely only delaying the inevitable, I’ll have a little more time to pretend that this is still an option.

In the mean while, I still looked for “normal” jobs, but also worked on art, this blog (yay), craft fairs, and school stuff — scheduling, talking to advisors, financial aid, and so on.  I had it all figured out, except how to pay for just a little bit of it.  So annoying.  With all the work I did, this little percentage of tuition that I couldn’t come up with was going to hold me back.  I begged family to help, co-sign, anything, but they resisted, insisting that I needed to get off this vacation mode and get my life back together.  I have to say, my family has an interesting perspective of what vacation is if my life was the model for it.  Then, out of the blue, my parents, though they were very clear that they disapproved of my idea/plan/decisions/everything, that they wanted me to be happy.  What?  Seriously?  I was dumbfounded, but took their help as quickly as possible.  Though I have to hear about it all the time now, I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to give this a go, even if the future of it seems uncertain.

So then I’m finally there!  Orientation.  Oh my God….can I say that it was exponentially worse than I expected?  The school and facilities seemed nice, but the people — some of the other students are down right…..just, immature, and not good people, and incredibly filled with entitlement, and unappreciative.  It’s a little astounding, and overwhelming.  I felt like crying, and leaving, and never coming back, but I knew I couldn’t let these people, who really didn’t do anything to me except make my age difference become even more apparent, control what was going to be my outcome of going here.  So I did what I knew I would do, what I always do.  I worked.

It felt great to finally have something consume my life again.  While it was nice being away from work, it was pretty boring at times, even with all my little projects that I tried to fill my time with.  Not only that, but I actually started working again, and not at some terrible place that was irrelevant to what my goals were.  I’m busy again, and it’s a great feeling.  I’m successful in this busyness, which is even a better feeling.

Even though the feedback from some of these professors has been minimal, I have enough information to come to the conclusion that I have an A in each of my six, count ’em, six classes.  I would say yay, but I worked my ass off, and there is no yay for me when it comes to grades.  I either get all A’s and am contempt with it because it’s the only acceptable outcome, or I flirt with the line between A and B, and I’m really mad about it.  It’s about half way through the semester now, and I’ve received a couple of mid-term reviews, and hope to have a couple more.  They’ve been informal, and though email, so it’s nice to have the feed back, because not having it drives me crazy, but it’s also a little impersonal.  Lucky for me, I have one professor, my sculpture professor, who is very profession, and a great communicator.  He set up mid-term review meetings with each of us, and actually sat us down to talk about our progress, grades, and future expectations.  Now that gets a yay 🙂

So in that meeting, I heard some great things — I have an A+, something that he only gives out like once or twice a year.  How unexpected.  What else was unexpected was that he told me that I took to sculpture like “a fish to water”.  I have to say, out of all the classes I signed up for this semester, this was the one I was most apprehensive about.  I never work three-dimensionally, so this was all new for me, and in having such high expectations for my self and my grades, this was going to be a challenge.  We chatted a little more, and he got the point of saying that he could tell that I was very dedicated.  Of course — do you have any idea of what I had to go through to get here?! Of course not, I’m being irrational, and joking.  I did say, however, that yes, I’m incredibly dedicated to being here.  I went through hell with the life that I had before, and I’m never going back to that world.  And then he said it…”Well, welcome to this one”.  He went on to say, many more positive things, what expectations he had for me, and that he saw me doing great things, but that little sentence stuck out to me even more than that.  I know that with the grades I’m getting in the school that I’m now attending that I should have more confidence in my work.  It’s amazing to hear that he views me as an A+ student, a natural at this art, and that he, and incredibly successful artist in his own right, sees me being successful as well.  But that welcome, as silly as it may seem, hit me hard.  I’m here, I’m still in one piece, and I’m doing the thing that I’ve always wanted to do.  I’m doing the thing that I pushed out of my mind for the last 15 years of my life.  I’m doing something that will change my life.  It’s hard to believe, but I am.  I’m doing it.  It’s crazy.  Crazy good.  I don’t ever have to go back to that life now, not if I don’t want to.

At the end of all my rambling, I’ve included some photos of things that I’ve been working on for various classes – sculpture, digital photo, studio lighting, and EMAC, which is like a sampling of all this electronic and digital in the art making world. I didn’t include anything from my art history classes, cause I figured you probably wouldn’t appreciate having papers shoved in your face to read.  And it’s ok if you think some of these are a little wacky, cause to be honest, I do too, but I like them 🙂   And what I like even more, is that this is just the beginning of a change so grand that I can’t even imaging how great things will be when I finish.  I imagine a very tear-filled graduation on my part, but only happy tears.  So thanks for the welcome, and just so you know, there will never be a goodbye.

Outgoing Mail

Last night I decided to bite the bullet, and get to work.

About a month ago, I received a somewhat unusual looking envelope from MICA, amongst their very regular communications, which I have to say, I do appreciate.  “Odyssey”, it was labeled, with its bright colors and excitement.  Some transfer student information was enclosed.  I slightly shrugged it off, and almost didn’t open it; I’ve been somewhat reluctant to look at all the wonderful things this school offers while being so unsure of if I’ll be able to attend.  You know, don’t want to get my hopes entirely up — I’m a planner, and this plan isn’t coming together.  Regardless, I’m also a curious one, so of course, I was bound to open the letter within seconds.

“Call for entries — 2015 MICA Postcard Project”.  Really?  I haven’t even enrolled in classes, and we’re already being given projects.  Of course it’s optional, but all very surprising at frist glance.  In the letter was a set of instructions, a fancy little magnet adorned in the same exciting colors as the envelope, and a blank postcard.  Subconsciously, I’ve already decided I was going to do this project.  I mean, you just handed me a blank piece of paper with a stamp on it — I’m easily intrigued.  In reading on, the project consists of decorating the postcard however we choose, and selecting from one of four topics: spirit animal, Dadaists collage (it’s just a urinal!! ugh, hate it!), meme yourselfie (I’m questioning my age amongst these incoming students), and vacation postcard.  Yes!  Vacation! Love it!

So even in my doubt, I start thinking of ideas.  It’s a good thing when my mind starts racing creatively.  I’m pretty set on the type of media, cyanotype, and am just working out what my subject will be.  When I think of vacation, nothing else, or better, comes to mind than the beach.  “But how will this translate to cyanotype”, I think to myself.  While all the tones of blues are lovely, when I think of the beach, I think of vibrant colors, sunrises, and sunsets.  I put it on the back-burner for a while.  Along with the simple submission of your work for an optional “welcome project”,  everything submitted will be exhibited in one of MICA’s galleries, scanned, and posted on a blog promoting the exhibit.  A conundrum for someone who may not even be there; a situation I don’t want to set myself up for.

So a few weeks go by, I go on vacation, I write a few blog posts, and I struggle to work things out for school.  You’ve seen it, and if you haven’t, scroll down 🙂  Among all of those things, I did my Sunrise/Sunset post, where I discovered a little hidden gem.  As usual, when beginning a new weekly project, I show you guys a few pictures of things which I have already shot that fits the description.  I really enjoy this little system which I have worked out; it allows me to revisit some old favorites, as well as work with some images that I really haven’t worked on at all.  In looking for some sunrise/sunset pictures that I haven’t shared in the past, I stumbled across some of the black and white film work that I did during my first semester at school.  I seriously haven’t been able to stop thinking of that one simple picture of the ocean ever since.  I can’t wait until I have access to a darkroom again, because that’s the first photo that I’m working on.  With that, I realized that cyanotype would absolutely work with beach photographs (how could I have ever doubted it?!).  And once I got back from vacation with some new images, I had all I needed.

Still, I waited to the last minute, well, almost.  I haven’t quite figured things out yet, and still have a gap in regards to tuition being due for the semester.  In my mind, however, I’m going.  It’s decided.  So with time ticking on this project, since it has to make it to the school by the 3rd, I decided to get working on things.

First, and definitely the hardest part, was selecting the image.  Like I’ve mentioned, the colors and details of the sunrises and sunsets are my favorites.  So objectively, I looked at the images I had to pick one which I thought had some good variations in contrast, as well as some sharp details which would translate over well to a cyanotype, and this was the winning photo!

Second, was converting the image to black and white and inverting it.  I’m always tempted to print the “negative” version of the image when I’m working on it, and almost did so on accident today.  I don’t know why, but in my mind when I see the black and white version of an image that I’m working on I automatically think that I’m finished.  I’m pretty sure all of my cyanotype files have the black and white negative file to go alone with the positive file that I actually use.  Luckily for me, and my wallet, because those photo transparency sheets are expensive, I’ve only made that mistake one time.  Still, even if I do print one out, I’ll be sure to use it.  The negatives make such ghastly, interesting images.  You can see one of my “happy accidents” here.

Once that’s done, it’s off to the print making.  I’m always a little nervous when it gets to this part.  I’ve just finished working on an image which I liked at first, and then liked again as a black and white photo.  Then, in one easy step I’ve inverted the image, and I’m not sure about it all over again.  Will the details come through?  Will I have enough contrast?  This doesn’t look right!  I have to remind myself to trust the process, and the fact that I’ve done this several times, and ended up with good results.  This time, however, I only have one shot.  The pressure is on!  Though I have been pretty lucky in my recent cyanotype/photo transparency combinations, I did have some pretty bad results while just starting out.  I couldn’t help but worry when using a different type of paper, and only having one chance, that I would mess up.  It doesn’t help that the instruction letter also stated in all caps “we are not able to send another postcard, so what happens if you make a mistake?”… Essentially?  Fix it and deal with it.  I didn’t like the sound of that.  I’m very much a perfectionist when it comes to presenting someone with a final print.  A sub-par or doctored up image just wasn’t going to cut it.

Luckily for me, all my worries were put to rest.  Aside from the added panic that some passing clouds caused, I’m really happy with the way this print turned out, and I think I may have just found my new favorite thing to do.  Like it’s black and white counterpart, as well as my image from a few weeks ago, this style gives my beach photographs new life.  I’ve been making postcards and greeting cards for my Etsy shop for some time now, but have stuck to contact printing with botanicals.  They’ve been reasonably popular, but I think this will become a quick new favorite in the shop!

I love the dreaminess of this print, how soft the waves and sand looks, while still being able to make out clear details in both the water and sky.  So, appropriately, I’ve named it “Summer Dreaming”.  As I set my little postcard project out to be picked up in the morning, because yes, the final part of the project was that they prefered for it to actually be mailed, I had to admire it a little more.  It really charmed me, as well as the crunchiness of our old, chipping mailbox.  But seriously, who wouldn’t love to find something like that in their mailbox?  Too cute, in my opinion.  Hopefully it makes it there in one piece, and without all the emulsion rubbed off.  Wish it luck!