When you’ve spent a lifetime as an artist, perfecting skills, developing an eye, creating bodies of work that resonate — or don’t — with collectors, you are used to success. You are used to being good at what you do.
If being good at what you do is getting boring, here’s my suggestion: change media. Decide to create new work in an entirely different genre, then watch your ego crumble!
I first picked up a camera when I was about 10 or 11. My dad was stationed in Germany in 1961 during the Berlin Wall Crisis. I got the impression there wasn’t much for an Air Force Lieutenant to do there, so he purchased a nice German camera and slide film, and photographed the beginnings of Cold War Europe.
When he came home, the camera sat. I found the brown leather case fitted around the fixed-lens rangefinder camera and started to learn.
That was 1966 or so. I’ve been a photographer ever since. Oh sure, I’ve worked with pastels and watercolors and fiber and clay. I’ve always had a knitting project on the needles. Maybe somewhere there is a basket that I need to finish weaving. But photography has been my medium for 50 years.
Then I was attacked by tapestry. I chose that word on purpose. The discontinuous weft-faced weaving that looks so simple grabbed me and threw me to the ground! I was buying looms before I had any idea what I was doing.
Roughly three years later I’ve studied with some of the best tapestry artists in the country, created, learned, made mistakes, and started over. But there is is an exhilaration in learning something new, something hard, something that takes work and practice and thought and concentration and planning.
Photography is still a love, especially working with film. I will continue to exhibit and sell photography, but a devastating storm at an art fair this spring convinced me it was time to leave the art fair circuit. It was time to find a new voice.
I am not yet good at my new medium, but I will be.
So, here’s to starting over, learning new skills, creating new art, and finding a still quiet voice!