A Successful Life

Creative Process, Fierce, Fierce Photography, Philosophy of Life, Photography, The Artist Life

Fiercelings,

While reading a fellow photographer/blogger’s post about ‘success’ the other day my brain started reeling…what is success? Because I think we should redefine it. When most people think of success I think they think of being 1. rich 2. having a really nice house or car 3. having received a grand award or 4. working in a prestigious position. More often a mix of all 4 of those things = success. But are those what really define success? Another thing people think of is happiness. What makes you have a happy life? For some people it’s that relationship usually a romantic one. It’s that dream job. Or it’s traveling. I’ll be happy when I have gone on this trip. Maybe it’s having all three of those things going on at the same time. Happiness = going on trip with your significant other and returning to your dream job to brag about it? Haha! Speaking as a marred gal I can tell you that just having a boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife will not make you ‘happy’. They can make you very happy. But they can’t guarantee your happiness for life. In fact, the only thing they can guarantee are a few headaches. ( I’ll have to write a positive post about marriage after this because that sounds so negative!)

Ripples

As a Christian, ultimately a “successful life” is finishing well. I long to get to the end of my life and say with Paul that “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4: 7-8 NIV) If I don’t make it to the end of my life having stood strong in the faith and having done something to further the Kingdom of God everything as been a waste. With that in mind one of the most important things is making God a priority in my life. Practicing the spiritual disciplines, listening to God. That is vertical, you could say, between me and God above. The next most important thing is my marriage and my child(ren). This is horizontal, you could say. Making sure most importantly is that my husband and child(ren) know the Gospel and are believers. Everything outside of that is secondary. Extended family and my circle of influence would  be next I would say. Work is next.

 

What does this mean for someone who is an artist? This means a lot. For one thing when we look at our work through this eternal lens ( hehe photography reference!) this changes the way we define success for the artist. Because all of the sudden having a full calendar of work, selling a lot of work, earning a lot of money, being mentioned or highlighted in magazines or publications, being featured at galleries, being recognized or awarded for our work is not what makes us successful. What makes the artist successful is doing the work. Yes, making a living off of our work is nice and for the serious artist I believe very vital because it’s extremely difficult to pursue the artist life when you’re spending 40 hours a week or more at your “job” to pay the bills. Which brings me to Madeline L’Engle and her quote from her book Walking On Water, “For most writers it takes many manuscripts before enough royalties are coming in to pay for a roof over the head and bread on the table. Other jobs must often be found to take care of bread and butter. A certain amount of stubbornness – pig headedness – is essential.” I found it interesting that L’Engle said “many manuscripts with royalties” are needed before you’re really making enough money to pay for a roof. You might be discouraged if you’ve been working as an artist for awhile but not generating enough income to support yourself. Don’t give up. Keep working. This is why I think it is so important not to gauge “success” off of your income as an artist. Success is serving the work not the paycheck.

Another way that this eternal lens changes the definition of success is recognition. Being applauded for our work is always enjoyable. We long to have affirmation that what we create is received with adoration. But if we never sell something or get praise for our work does not mean that we are not successful. Van Gogh only sold one painting his lifetime afterall.

wet seashell

The last reason I’m going to share why this changes the way we define success as an artist is by reminding you of the Rumi quote I shared awhile back in this post . You may remember Rumi said “Let the beauty we love be what we do.” Creating art whether it is photography, painting, music, writing if it is what you love then bringing whatever vision you have to fruition is success. Doing the work is success. This reminds me of The Creative Call and Elsheimer saying “Create as if your life depends on it because it does.” You can read all about The Creative Call here. Now why is simply doing the work success? L’Engle helps us discover why by explaining that when we create something we are going back to the garden and are becoming co-creators with God. As an artist, we cannot separate our talents without acknowledging that they are God-given. That is why doing the work is a success in and of itself because we are using our God-given talents. That was the thesis of The Creative Call. And L’Engle sums it up perfectly,

“That’s what it’s all about. The journey to the coming of the Kingdom. That’s…- the purpose of the work, be it story or music or painting, is to further the coming of the Kingdom, to make us aware of our status as children of God, and to turn our feet toward home.”

This is why the work is a success in and of itself because in light of this eternal lens on success our work is using our God given talents, which makes us co-creators with God, which glorifies our Lord and He sees that whether or not we gain earthly praise.

All glory to God. How fierce is that?

alexandria

A (Fierce) Child of God

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Anti-Niche

Art, Fierce, Philosophy of Life, Photography, The Artist Life

Hello Fiercelings,

One thing I have noticed while being in the creative world is that everyone encourages you to find your “niche” to the point that I hate that word! Seriously, everytime I’m reading some creative forum, blog, group post or listening to a podcast everyone is niche, niche, niche. So I have something slightly shocking to those that worship at the ground of the niche:

I am anti-niche.

Did I just say that? Oh no. I guess in order to be more specific (no pun intended) I think I am anti niche. Here’s why; when it comes to photography I love shooting weddings, couples, children, babies, seniors, heck I’d probably enjoy shooting a funeral. I love fashion photography and I love fine art photography. I love it all. And that’s just photography. When it comes to paining, I’m all over Monet but then the next moment I’m looking at a Warhol. I’m currently working on an art piece myself that is definitely more abstract and modern but I’m just as likely to start a still life landscape next week. One could argue that I am testing and experimenting with my artistic whims and I just haven’t found the thing that I’m great at…but I don’t take that view. I think I genuinely love it all. And I don’t think I need to apologize for wanting to dabble in or pursue art in 100 different directions.

Moi feet

The beach we were at had millions upon millions of tiny seashells like these that you had to walk over to get to the water. Walking on eggshells takes on a whole new meaning!

 

You may remember that a few posts ago I wrote about Leonardo Da Vinci here and here. Since those posts I have thought of the Renaissance man some more. I won’t pretend to be a know it all about who Da Vinci was because I’m not, I know about as much as anyone who’s watched The Da Vinci Code knows. I know he painted the Mona Lisa which is one of the most recognizable paintings in the world, I know he painted the Last Supper which is also very recognizable. I think most people would recognize the drawing of the Vitruvian Man. All this to say was Da Vinci just a painter? Of course not! He was THE Renaissance man afterall. He was fascinated by human anatomy as the drawing of the Vitruvian Man shows, he also studied the fetus’ heart and was very much a scientist in his own right. Wikipedia actually titles him as an engineer which I think is both fitting and surprising. He was interested in flying and created lots of blue prints for machines to fly, I believe there is one in particular that we would recognize today as a parachute. My goal in sharing this is not to give you a summary of the works of Da Vinci, although the historian in me is loving this! But to simply show that artists have never been niche oriented. I’m not necessarily saying that’s bad. I mean Margaret Mitchell only wrote one novel but it was Gone With The Wind. Did she need to do anything else? Nope. In Da Vinci’s case though did he need to do anything after painting the Mona or the Last Supper? Probably not. Are we glad he did go on to do more though? Absolutely. He’s a fascinating person in history, his work is proof of that and generations after him are happy to be able to study him and enjoy his works of art.

Another person who is proof that artists do not have to settle or focus on one thing is…drum roll! Michelangelo. A contemporary of Da Vinci’s, Michelangelo is of course best known for the Pieta, David and for painting the Sistine Chapel. Thank the Lord that there wasn’t anyone during the Renaissance whispering in Michelangelo’s ear saying “You can’t be a painter and a sculptor, you need to find your niche.” You can see how preposterous the whole “niche” concept is when you apply it to great artists. However, Michelangelo wasn’t just a painter and a sculptor he was also an architect and poet. I find it fascinating that Da Vinci was messing around studying human anatomy and Michelangelo was designing buildings, most famously St. Peter’s Basilica. Anatomy and architecture are more commonly seen today as science subjects or at least not very artistic pursuits which angers me to no end. I love art and I also love learning science stuff. One thing I am really looking forward to is when I am homeschooling my daughter is all the science experiments we can do!

Izze doing yoga

Izze doing yoga on the beach! 

I am anti niche because I want to be a photographer, painter, musician and writer and chances are I’ll add pottery someday! I look to great artists like Da Vinci and Michelangelo, who were accomplished in multiple arts and get inspired. I understand that the niche speakers are attempting to encourage people to focus on something specific but I don’t want to focus on just one art medium, I want to pursue them all. That’s fierce to me. I want to be a triple threat. Heck, I want to be an octruple threat!

Be fierce!

alexandria

 

 

Life, Simplified

Fierce, Fierce Photography, Philosophy of Life, Photography, Quotes, The Artist Life

I have been pouring and drooling over Lenonardo Da Vinci quotes. I have long loved the original Renaissance man.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

Having moved from an apartment to a condo to halfway across the country I definitely have had opportunities to go through all of my stuff. There is something about moving that makes you go “why do I have this?” “I don’t want or need this anymore but I don’t want to throw it away” “Do I give this away?” and then when you go to Goodwill to give it away you see everyone else who has given away their junk. I remember when I dropped off some clothes at Goodwill how the room was fillllllled with stuff. Pointless stuff. I hate stuff. I love it when I go to someones house that seems a little sparse. This is one of those things that living in American culture that just seems to happen. I don’t think anyone really intends to accumulate so much stuff but if we’re not intentional about what we have we end up having an absurd amount of stuff.

multi colored flower 2

You may have heard of the idea of a “capsule” wardrobe. It’s an idea about dressing that has floated around the blogopshere. The main idea is that you have a small amount of clothing that you absolutely love and makes you feel great. How many times have you walked into your closet or opened your drawers and lamented “I have nothing to wear!” A capsule wardrobe let’s you wear your favorite pieces over and over again but in a different way. It’s about simplifying your life right down to what you wear.

When I read Leonardo’s words on simplicity I think of our homes and what we have in them, I think of what we put on our backs and keeping these things simple. It’s ultimately one of the most sophisticated ways for us to live according to Da Vinci. And it’s fierce =D

When you think of living simply what do you think of?

Fiercely,

alexandria

P.S. More Da Vinci quotes coming!

 

 

Give A Girl Some Shoes

Fierce, Quotes, Shoes

Shoes Edited

Chances are you have heard the quote that goes like so, “Give a girl the right pair of shoes and she can conquer the world.” I usually see it attributed to Marilyn Monroe but I read it in the book, “A Year in High Heels”, years ago and it was attributed to Bette Midler. Regardless of who said the famous words, this quote sassy! Even though shoes may not be a prerequisite to conquering, it sure does make it more fun to watch!

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I had been desiring a pair of wedges for the summer so this past week I went shoe shopping and got some and I found a super cute pair of sandals.

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Seriously, I am dying.

Whenever a girl finds a good pair of shoes something magical happens, I swear. I just fall in love. When I tried the sandals on I put the ballet flats that I arrived in in the box and told the checkout lady that I couldn’t take the sandals off!

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One of my favorite shots!

Did I mention they are designed by Christian Siriano? Gah.

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The king of fierce himself. I definitely could be a fashion photographer because in between telling a model what to do and snapping pictures I would drool over shoes and clothes. I can be a material girl sometimes, that’s for sure but with shoes as fierce as this who can blame me?

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Have a fierce day,

alexandria