I've been composing this blog post in my head over and over for the past few weeks. One of those years where I walk a fine line of sharing where I am at with my artwork and over sharing my personal life, which I like to keep a large part behind closed doors. Not that I have a crazy personal life, more that I am a pretty private person. That's why I make art, to express myself without giving everything away. As I've been writing this, its become more of an explanation of what I've learned about myself this year than a highlight reel of all the big things I've done. Oh well, I guess that is how I roll.
Anyways, this year started on a very difficult note and truth be told, almost every single high or low that followed was influenced by this to some degree. At the beginning of January a good friend of mine lost her fight to cancer. I had never been that close to death before and the entire experience changed me. I remain grateful to her and her family for allowing me to walk so closely beside them through that time.
Obviously, the process of grief affected me it was most noticeable in that it grew into a body of work that you can see here. It also worked its way in deeper. In the months leading up to her death, I became very focused on the idea of having a life worth living. Not just going through the expected motions to produce expected results that someone my age/class/gender etc would do, but rather to do things that matter to me.
Over the years, I have learned that I am at my best when I am living in the moment. I'm not out there looking for huge recognition or money... I am very "experience driven" meaning the process of doing something, making something, collaborating on something is far more important than the end result is. Not to say I don't want excellent end results (mastery is a wonderful feeling)... more that it isn't what drives me. I know a lot of people who are more "legacy driven" meaning that they want to leave a name or money or a body of work behind and that is what gets them moving. That isn't a huge thing with me. I want to see, touch, hear, live and breathe through things. I want to learn.
This was a wonderful year of learning for me. I have a few people responsible for a lot of that learning and I'm thankful for the time that has been spent helping me acquire new skills. I'm also very conscious of paying that learning forward, so it was also a great year for having a student come to my home and to instruct a workshop at the Airdrie Public Library. I find the act of teaching brings me lots of learning moments, so it is a win-win situation for my experience driven self.
Anyways, keeping all this in mind and knowing that I should sum up my year, I guess I will return to the highlight reel we all crave. Actually, I like end of the year Top Ten Lists better so I'll do that instead.
Here is mine, not in a particular order and I'm sure I've forgotten a ton of stuff because of course I'm winging it.
Top Ten Cool Things From 2015:
1) Realizing that I completed over 30 finished paintings (closer to 40 if you include Art Battle pieces) Considering that this isn't the only art form I've been working on, and I had a couple of very crazy non-art things drawing on my time I'm happy about this.
2) Painting live is about "as in the moment" as you can get and I realized this year that I have a knack for it. Art Battle and Encompass are two big experiences that I got to have.
3) Partnering with Encompass Partnerships. These guys do neat things and having a chance to sit down and figure out a way I can work with them in the coming months has put wind in my sails and has me looking forward to starting 2016!
4) All things metal. Man. I could write a book on this alone. Getting to help a blacksmith every week this year has just been too awesome for words. I probably learned more in my first week than in a whole semester at NSCAD.
5) Buying my bookpress. Sure, having a method to print my linocuts so cleanly is wonderful, but by buying this press it opened the door to me make a friend to guide me on my next steps on refurbishing my letterpress.
6) Refurbishing my letterpress. Back to #4 and #5... because of the help I had here, I was able to take apart, clean and get my new parts all figured out on my press. I even made that awesome screwdriver you see at the top of the page out of an old file so I can level the big bolts easily. You will be hearing more about this in 2016.
7) Getting organized enough to have a website again. It is very tiresome having to tell people a complicated blog address and expecting them to scroll all around looking for your work in amongst long wordy posts (like this one). Easy portfolio access has been great. Having my blog be secondary to my work has been great. Glad I took that plunge.
8) Getting my work out there. My solo show at the Airdrie Public Library, the Christmas show at Leighton, opening an Etsy store have felt good. I took a year away from trying to sell stuff and it was freeing but it left my resources very depleted and my walls looking crowded. It was nice to have a low key re-entry into this realm.
9) Making new friends and connections. Looking at most of this blog post and list, I am struck that these opportunities either resulted from or were sources of new friendships. I am very, very blessed. Honestly, at the end of the day, these are the end results I am most proud of, whether it is tied to the art or in my personal life.
10) Experimentation. This needs to cover all the moments you don't get to see on this blog or social media. I mention how many paintings I completed... this year I allowed myself to start a lot that I didn't finish. I did a lot of sketching and playing in new mediums. Lots of learning.