Dara Photoshoot

Art, Being an Artist, Fierce Photography, Photography, Portraits, The Artist Life

Hello Fiercelings,

I did this photoshoot for the lovely Dara months ago so it’s finally going up on the blog. If it is possible to be beyond photogenic, Dara qualifies for that next level. Enjoy!

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This gorgeousness

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I want to be this fabulous someday.

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This profile though.

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This smile though. 

Fiercely,

alexandria

alexandriafierce

Fierce Beliefs. Fierce Ideas. Fierce Art. Fierce Life.

Photographer, Blogger, Artist, Entrepreneur

Email me at alexandriafiercephoto@gmail.com for photoshoot and wedding bookings

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Being Brave

Art, Creative Process, Fierce Photography, Personal, Philosophy of Life, Photography

Hi Fiercelings,

No one likes to give bad news. Unless you have something good to say you’d rather just keep your mouth shut. I have avoided blogging or writing because I don’t really have anything new or interesting to say. It’s not writer’s block, it’s more like just not wanting to say anything unless it is good. I immersed myself in the idea of being an artist. I read books about it and was constantly thinking about it but I wasn’t having success. I wasn’t getting commissions or jobs so I have avoided writing anything. And then I realized that is fear.

Fear.

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I hate the thought of living out of fear. And so I was thinking about the concept of being brave and what it really means. Another way of describing bravery is to live fearlessly. In other words, making choices about your life not based out of fear.

Be brave.

Even when you’re not sure what the reward is.

Fiercely,

alexndria

alexandriafierce

Fierce Beliefs. Fierce Ideas. Fierce Art. Fierce Life.

Photographer, Blogger, Artist, Entrepreneur

Email me at alexandriafiercephoto@gmail.com for photoshoot and wedding bookings

Reading 26 Books In A Year

Being an Artist, Books, My Friends, Creative Process, Philosophy of Life, Photography, The Artist Life

Hello Fiercelings,

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I want to talk about the importance of reading, specifically reading regularly. How many books do you read a week? A month? A year? I read an article that my mom had laying around about someone who has for the past five years been reading a book a week. One book a week = 52 books a year. Wow! I was very impressed by this idea. I think I’ve had friends who have read a book a month which is still an accomplishment I think, but a book a week?! Very fierce. Realistically, I don’t think it’s very likely that I would be able to read a book a week. Between my daughter, maintaining our house and pursuing being an artistprenuer I don’t know if I could. I would have to only read during free time and then some. Everytime I try to do something my daughter interrupts me. I was actually reading earlier and my daughter grabbed my book.

But, I really would like to read more. 

I’ve always loved reading. I’ve quoted many people on this blog. I love literature. Over the years I’ve gone through periods where I read constantly, I’ve read fiction, non fiction, self help. I’m sure you’ll be unsurprised by the fact that Madeleine L’Engle is my latest new find who I really love.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies.   The man who never reads only lives once.” ~ George RR Martin

There are many benefits to reading. If you’re reading something on a particular subject, you will gain knowledge (hopefully). But what about reading non fiction? Are there benefits? Absolutely! Check out this article telling you how reading can help prevent Alzheimer’s and stress among other health benefits.

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I’m a little hesitant to attempt to read a book a week so my goal is to read a book every 2 weeks. I think it seems way more doable and 26 books a year would be better than where I’m at right now. I consider myself an avid reader but even a book a week is daunting to me. I implore you to consider reading a book a week or like me every two weeks. This will mean spending less time on social media and watching television but who would say that’s a bad thing? Set some goals for yourself, get those books out that you’ve been intending to read or order that book you’ve heard about but haven’t gotten yet. If finances are tight, make a trip to your local library. One of the great things about working a book list from the library is that you have a built in deadline when the book is due which is usually 2 or 3 weeks! Start reading!

Be fierce!

alexandria

alexandriafierce

Fierce Beliefs. Fierce Ideas. Fierce Art. Fierce Life.

Photographer, Blogger, Artist, Entrepreneur

Email me at alexandriafiercephoto@gmail.com for photoshoot and wedding bookings

Greatness

Photography

Hello Fiercelings,

For as long as I can remember I have been obsessed with journals, writing, paper, pens, sharpened pencils, colored pencils, and adorable notebooks – in other words my idea of heaven on earth is a stationary store. With that in mind it should be no surprise that I have this cute little journal that says “Be Inspired” on the cover and has a quote at the top of every page. I was thumbing through it and felt drawn in by this phrase from Shakespeare,

“Be not afraid of greatness.”

Besides the immediate feelings of affection and delight I have toward Shakespeare, my first thought is this quote seems a little strange. Aren’t we all pursuing greatness? Why would we be afraid of greatness? I mean the opposite would be mediocrity or normal. Pondering all this reminded me of this post. I wrote awhile back where I quoted the fabulous Nelson Mandela. Here’s what he said that I loved so much:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us…And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Nelson Mandela

I particularly love the part about “your playing small doesn’t serve the world” because I think a lot of times people hold back. I know I do. Sure, you wouldn’t think people are holding back based on what’s on the news or what’s on social media but in the real world, in real society, I think we hold back. We wear masks. I’ve always said I don’t care what people think of me because I don’t but the flip side of that is I rarely share deep thoughts or parts of me. Perhaps I can dismiss others’ opinions of me because I know they don’t really know me and I’m not trying to hide, I’m not playing hard to get, I just don’t trust people. I don’t trust people because, well, honestly, I don’t think people are very trust worthy to put in bluntly. But at the same, I want people to see the real me and I want the real me to inspire them. Ultimately, that’s what I want whatever art I’m creating to do for people is inspire. So there are these two extremely conflicting things for the artist. I want to be who I am, and inspire people or shine as Mandela says, I don’t want to be afraid of greatness as Shakespeare calls it. I want to be great – I despise the thought of being ordinary; of course I want to be extraordinary and yet I don’t trust people. This is what fear says. This is what we’re afraid of, having to jump, having to trust people.

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I tried to find a quote about why we wear masks to help elaborate on what I am trying to express but most ideas about masks don’t really work with these thoughts from Shakespeare and Mandela. The prevailing idea behind wearing a mask is being able to hide the bad parts about ourselves. Or being a complete and utter hypocrite. But I realized that I wear a mask not to hide what I view as negative or bad things about myself, instead I wear a mask to hide positive things. I wear a mask because I don’t want to intimidate others. I don’t want to reveal my greatness. I’m not shy, I’m just “playing small” as Mandela says. I think this is why Shakespeare saying so succinctly, “Let us not be afraid of greatness.” stunned me so much because we people who are suffering from the human condition are craving applause therefore we should welcome it, and yet completely illogically we are afraid of it.

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I fantasize about what our lives would be if we were being who we are fully supposed to be, what would be revealed about the people around us. Mandela’s closing words give me great hope “As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” There is an idea in psychology that is referred to as “mirroring” I believe. It is the behavior in which one person subconsciously imitates the gesture, speech pattern, or attitude of another. When people are in love (or like or infatuation) they subconsciously mimic the mannerisms of the person of their fancy. When people are arguing if one person raises their voice, the other is likely to do the same. What would happen if we were liberated from our fear as Mandela says? Others would mirror us. It is something involuntarily that occurs. Let us heed Shakespeare’s advice and “not be afraid of greatness.” because how fierce would that be?

fiercely,

alexandria

alexandriafierce

Fierce Beliefs. Fierce Ideas. Fierce Art. Fierce Life.

Photographer, Blogger, Artist, Entrepreneur

Email me at alexandriafiercephoto@gmail.com for photoshoot and wedding bookings

Cohorts With Creation Part II

Photography

Hello Fiercelings,

So you may have noticed that the title of this post is a part II, so if you missed part I you might want to go back and catch up. I believe this will be my last post about Walking On Water by Madeleine L’Engle. I have really enjoyed diving deeper into the ideas expressed in that book. It has truly enriched me, as an artist, as a Christian, and just as a person so I highly recommend it!

Let’s pick up where we left off last time. We have established that, as artists, one of the most important things for us to do is to do the work and to serve the work which just begs the question – how? How do we serve the work? L’Engle answers for us.

“To serve a work of art, great or small, is to die, to die to self. If the artist is to be able to listen to the work, he must get out of the way; or, more correctly, since getting out of the way is not a do-it-yourself activity, he must be willing to be out the way, to be killed to self in order to become the servant of the work.”

 

It is a great paradox of the artist life that the most important thing for us to do is to do the work but in order to serve the work we have to be ready to relinquish our idea of control, we must let go of our self, and listen to the work, and let it tell us where to go. If we allow the work to move through us then we become cohorts with creation. That is what the work is all about. We are feeding the lake, we are fulfilling who we are, and we return to creation, and we create.

“The great artists, dying to self in their work, collaborate with their work, know it and are known by it as Adam knew Eve, and so share in the mighty act of Creation.”

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L’Engle states that so beautifully. This is what creating is all about. As artists, we sense the desire and need to share in the act of creation. I think all art whether knowingly or unknowingly to the artist, poses an invitation to create and invites the viewer or receiver to “come and see”. Yes, the artist is sharing his or her’s work. But also, inviting. Picasso said, “An artist paints not to ask a question, but because he has found something, and he wants to share – he cannot help it – what he has found.” I agree with Picasso that the artist is not asking a question, necessarily, but I would argue that the artist is posing an invitation.

I shall end with this quote by L’Engle, which followed immediately after the previous quote so I went ahead and linked them together. I believe this summarizes what is happening to the artist when we create and holds out a promise for us when we have accomplished a particular work.

“The great artists, dying to self in their work, collaborate with their work, know it and are known by it as Adam knew Eve, and so share in the mighty act of Creation. That is our Calling, the Calling of all of us, but perhaps it is simplest for that artist (at work, at prayer) to understand, for nothing is created without this terrible entering into death. It takes great faith, faith in the work if not conscious faith in God, for dying is fearful. But without this death, nothing is born. And if we die willingly, no matter how frightened we may be, we will be found, and born anew into life, and life more abundant.”

Death brings birth to life. I cannot help but think of Fawkes, the phoenix bird from Harry Potter. Fawkes, dissolves into ashes in front of Harry’s eyes but moments later returns as a baby bird. Only by dying can the bird be reborn and that is how it is for the Christian and for the artist. Only by dying to the work can the artist give birth to the art that is longing to breathe. Only by dying to self can the Christian experience spiritual breakthrough. Life abundant awaits if we walk through death. Let us not be afraid. Let us walk forward fiercely.

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Fiercely,

alexandria

Read more here and here

alexandriafierce

Fierce Beliefs. Fierce Ideas. Fierce Art. Fierce Life.

Photographer, Blogger, Artist, Entrepreneur

Email me at alexandriafiercephoto@gmail.com for photoshoot and wedding bookings

Cohorts With Creation

Art, Being an Artist, Books, My Friends, Creative Process, Fierce Photography, Parenthood, Philosophy of Life, Photography, The Artist Life

Hello Fiercelings,

One of the most important things for the artist is to do the work. There is no way around this fact. You must do the creating. You must, according to L’Engle, serve the work.

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“If the work comes to the artist and says, “Here I am, serve me,” then the job of the artist, great or small, is to serve.”

Our society has a negative view of serving. I’ve always been told that you can tell a lot about a person not based on how they treat you, but by how they treat people in what you would consider lower positions. It matters not how polite and agreeable someone is toward you if they yell at the waiter. It matters not how delightful and friendly someone is to you if they are rude to the bartender or valet. Serving is an area in our life that is revealing. How we treat others when they are in a position that serves us reveals our character. Serving the art, reveals who we are as an artist. But here’s the crazy part about serving the art: It’s not about you.

“Listen to me. All of writing is a huge lake. There are great rivers that feed the lake, like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. And there are mere trickles, like Jean Rhys. All that matters is feeding the lake. I don’t matter. The lake matters. You must keep feeding the lake.” – Jean Rhys

In some ways this idea is upsetting – how dare we not matter?! – But in another way, I think it is liberating. It relieves you of the burden that you have to create something that becomes a bestseller, that gets featured, or that stands the test of time. Art is not about success. That’s not what is important to art, what is important is that you fed the lake. You must do the work.

There is a negative connotation to work these days. I am reminded of a scene from That 70’s Show where Red tells Eric, and I paraphrase, “That’s why it’s called work, if it wasn’t work they would call it ‘Super happy crazy fun’ time.” But for many “work” is not “super happy crazy fun time”. L’Engle helps us redeem the idea of work by making the distinction between drudgery and work. The two words have becomes synonyms in our world but she points out that “our work should be our play.” There is drudgery work like vacuuming or cleaning out the fridge for examples, but our art work should never be viewed as an equivalent to that. L’Engle shares an example of how a child is at play or work?

“If we watch a child at play for a few minutes, “seriously” at play, we see that all his energies are concentrated on it. He is working very hard at it. And that is how the artist works, although the artist may be conscious of discipline while the child simply experiences it.”

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My daughter, Isabelle “Izze” Esther, a master of work and play

I particularly identified with this analogy because I have witnessed my daughter, now 19 months old, work and master simple things like going up and down stairs, playing at the park, turning the page of book. Is she playing or working? “The work of the child is play.”

We must do the work. You may be asking yourself how can we serve the work? I will answer in the next post.

Fiercely,

alexandria

alexandriafierce

Fierce Beliefs. Fierce Ideas. Fierce Art. Fierce Life.

Photographer, Blogger, Artist, Entrepreneur

Walking On Water Review Part II: The Creative Process & Faith

Art, Being an Artist, Books, My Friends, Creative Process, Photography, The Artist Life

Also known as Walking on Water Part II =D Read part I here .

Hello Fiercelings,

Because there is so much material in Walking On Water by Madeleine L’Engle I will probably be doing a myriad of posts based on the book. Once I have gotten all my thoughts about this book out I will create a page for you to find out about all of them. You can read the first post I wrote about the book here.The bulk of the good stuff in Walking On Water is in the last four or five chapters. The excerpt from the book that I will be focusing on today is from the chapter titled “The Journey Homeward”.

L’Engle talks about, in order for us to create, as artists, we have to let go of ourselves. She compares this to faith a lot and talks about how we delude ourselves into thinking that if we obtain control over ourselves we’ll gain more faith or as in the artist’s case we’ll be capable of “writing the great American novel” or whatever it is we desire to create. But, in Christianity, the solution to us gaining more faith is never us summoning more self control but letting go of ourselves, dying to self, surrendering to God. Self-control is actually an oxymoron when you think about it because we don’t have control over ourselves because of self. The question then becomes how can I release control of myself to have more faith or as an artist, create art? L’Engle explains by intertwining what happens when we pray and how the same thing happens when we create.

“In prayer, in the creative process, these two parts of ourselves, the mind and the heart, the intellect and the intuition, the conscious and the subconscious mind, stop fighting each other and collaborate. Theophan the Recluse advised those who came to him for counsel to “pray with the mind in the heart,” and surely this is how the artist works. When mind and heart work together, they know each other as two people who love each other know; and as the love of two people is a gift, a totally unmerited, incomprehensible gift, so is the union of mind and heart. David cried out to God, “Unite my heart to fear thy Name.” It is my prayer, too.”

When we pray, our heart and mind are in agreement and the same thing happens when we create. Prayer is a way for us to communicate with the divine. On the next page L’Engle quotes in length Berdyaev, the Russian religious and political philosopher, but I am only going to pull a sentence from him. He says;

“The creative act is an escape from the power of time and ascent to the divine…”

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This quote really revealed more to me of what praying is about versus what creating is about. I already view creating as a worshipful act because it is who God made me to be and so by creating I am in cohorts with God about who I am which then brings glory to God. Worship is that which brings glory to God. In prayer, “we ascent to the divine” by communicating with God. L’Engle responds to Berdyaev by saying;

“Most artists are aware that during the deepest moments of that creation they are out on the other side of themselves, and so are free from time, with the same joyousness that comes in the greatest moments of prayer.”

I believe this reveals some of the high that you can get from creating, because you go to “the other side” of yourself. You tap into your subconscious which can be liberating. Maybe that’s what creativity is all about, tapping into our subconscious, liberating ourselves, being free. I shall close with thoughts about this paragraph by Berdyaev,

“Creativeness is the struggle against the consequences of sin, the expression of man’s true vocation, but creativeness is distorted and debased by sin. Hence the ethics of creativeness deal with the agonizing struggle of the human spirit. Creativeness needs purification, needs the purifying fire.”

What this really says to me is that creativity is a form of sanctification. Creativity can bring us closer to the divine because we go to the Creator and say I am a little creator but I wish to create with you, big Creator. God invites the artist back into time, before sin, when were designed to create with God. I believe this is what Berdyaev meant by “creativeness is the struggle against the consequences of sin,…” not only is creativeness a struggle against the sin nature, it is also a solution. It is a form of sanctification, purifying our spirits and bringing us into communion with our Maker.

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Fiercely,

alexandria

P.S. Share your thoughts about the ideas L’Engle expresses in the comments below. I would love to know if you agree or disagree.

alexandriafierce

Fierce Beliefs. Fierce Ideas. Fierce Art. Fierce Life.

Photographer, Blogger, Artist, Entrepreneur

Walking On Water Review

Art, Being an Artist, Books, My Friends, Creative Process, Fierce Photography, God, Photography, The Artist Life

Hello Fiercelings,

I finally finished reading Walking On Water by Madeleine L’Engle. There is a lot of material in this little book. The tag line of the book is “Reflections on Faith and Art” it’s a fabulous little book about well, faith and art. To kind of give you a general idea about what the book’s thesis I am going to share the excerpt that is on the back of the book:

” And as I listen to the silence, I learn that my feelings about art and my feelings about the Creator of the Universe are inseparable. To try to talk about art and about Christianity is for me one and the same thing, and it means attempting to share the meaning of my life, what gives it, for me, its tragedy and its glory. It is what makes me respond to the death of an apple tree, the birth of a puppy, northern lights shaking the sky, by writing stories.”

L’Engle was the writer of over some 60 books most notably, A Wrinkle In Time. I have not read that but I intend to. I only became interested in reading Walking On Water because it was referenced and quoted a myriad of times in The Creative Call by Janice Elsheimer.

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Let’s dive in.

The first chapter. L’Engle said something beautiful,

 “Why is it that I, who have spent my life writing, struggling to be a better artist, and struggling also to be a better Christian, should feel rebellious when I am called a Christian artist? Why should I feel reluctant to think or write about Christian creativity?”

I thought these rhetorical questions showed strongly how to a large extent we Christians have taken the push from society to leave our faith and religion at home. God has been pushed out of our schools and higher institutions. A Christian scientist for example seems to be an impossibility. The arts used to be largely a religious affair. I think of Michelangelo and Da Vinci. They were THE artists of their time and their works are primarily religious in nature. However, as I say that L’Engle claims something in the next chapter that I found interesting. She says that,

 “…to serve music, or painting, or words is a religious activity, whether or not the conscious mind is willing to accept that fact. Basically there can be no categories such as “religious” art and “secular” art, because all true art is incarnational, and therefore “religious.”

My first thought when she claimed that was that I take issue with it because there is a lot of “Christian” art out there that I do not like. But L’Engle explains this two pages over by saying,

“This confusion comes about because much so-called religious art is in fact bad art, and therefore bad religion.”

That made complete sense to me. Much of the so called “Christian” art that I dislike, I dislike it because I consider it to be very shallow and empty of real religious value. The art has no depth. It is bad religion. L’Engle is saying it is bad art because it is bad religion. Of course, in order to even engage is this type of categorization you have to go along with L’Engle by agreeing that all art is religious. Whether knowingly or unknowingly to the artist all art is a reflection of the Creator. This turns the whole idea of “beauty  is in the eye of the beholder” upside down because now, “good” art brings glory to God and has nothing to do with personal preferences or opinions.

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I don’t think L’Engle was trying to answer the question “What is art?” but she did. Art is religious. Good art is good religion and vice versa. Agree or disagree? I’m leaning toward agreeing.

Overall: Fantastic book that really gets you thinking and pondering. Worth reading. Must read if you consider yourself to be an artist regardless of religious views.

This is one of four posts about Walking On Water. Click on the link for part 2, 3, and 4.

Fiercely,

alexandria

alexandriafierce

Fierce Beliefs. Fierce Ideas. Fierce Art. Fierce Life.

Photographer, Blogger, Artist, Entrepreneur

Email me at alexandriafiercephoto@gmail.com for photoshoot and wedding bookings