Silence is Rarely The Answer

I'm going to drop the pretense that this is an art blog, and we'll call it whatever's on Brianne's mind blog, however I can usually bring it back to making art (shout out to Mrs. Smith AP English!). 

Today might not be one of those days, and I'm trying to figure out a way to put the words on the page that need to be said for myself and no one else. I'm struggling, there are a lot of really amazing things happening to me right now, you could say my luck has finally turned around if you believe in that kind of stuff. However for me, any kind of change is usually earth shattering. I know that might sound extremely dramatic, and maybe it is, but when things change I feel unbalanced and out of place. 

As level headed as I feel right now, the feeling never lasts very long usually during the day I'm fine, but at night or when I'm able to slow down a little I hurt and I'm tired. Physically, emotionally, even intellectually. I have no spoons left. I miss my friends, I miss the structure college gave me, and I miss not being tied down to anything. I guess my overall emotional state is a weird mixture of shame, confusion, anger, and fear. All of these things I've dealt with before, I've faced bigger demons than this and came out still swinging, but I have the no lying policy on this blog and I'm fighting a fight I might need a little help with right now. Even if it's just some kind words. 

I guess I want to keep talking about this because I know there are other people out there that have the same thoughts running through their head. I want to tell them that self destruction is not the answer, that silence is more dangerous than taking a risk and telling someone the truth. I want to be able to follow my own advice, but I'm having a hard time doing it right now. 

Anyway, I hope everyone is doing well, I'm going to try to post more often and more relevant topics to the purpose of this website and blog.

Peace,

Brianne

Use Your Friends.

No, not that way.

Resources, specifically human ones, are so immensely important to making artwork. Even if your practice is incredibly private and no one sees anything until it's 100% done it's still really important to have a group of artists surrounding you so you can leech off their creative energy (it is true, all artists are vampires) I am confirming that here. 

I spoke yesterday about how much of a stereotypical introvert I am, and the only time that I find that not true is when I'm in a room full of creators. I love talking about art, I love talking about anything that you can connect to art (so pretty much anything if it's framed the right way). I find other artists to be one of the most important parts of my process.

For the last two years my practice has gone from using people as models to just using myself and my immediate surroundings, I still love a good (scary, weird, messed up) portrait, but at the moment I'm more interested in my world, one that I don't feel very comfortable in. I live and work in an area that's inhabited by people that might as well be from a different planet, they speak a different language from me, they've lived different lives. So I suppose that interest stems from an almost scientific fascination. 

So because I live in this closed off suburban world I have to keep my creator friends close, we have to occasionally collaborate for the sake of my sanity (and I'm hoping some of them feel the same way about me). It's so essential to talk about ideas, and for that matter just talk. Something will come of it because that's what artists do we create. We learn from each other. 

I've made the mistake quite a few times of trying to cut myself off from the world, I've thought maybe I'd be happier if I was isolated, and at times I have been. I figured outside artists do it, why can't I? Spoiler alert: I cannot. I like being alone, but not that much. It always comes back to the phrase "nothing is created in a vacuum", and I know that's usually meant to talk about inspiration and history before you but for me it also means that I can't create unless I'm living the life of an artist, and that comes with the responsibility of staying in the studio until 2 am not because you have a project to finish but because you want to watch other people's processes, and because you are passionate about your friends' successes. 

So I guess what this long rambling post is about is keeping up with the people around you, especially after graduating from art school. I need other peoples creative energy because they are living a different life than I am. I cannot have empathy or understanding for something I haven't attempted to learn about, and I cannot make art about something I do not have empathy or understanding, no matter how hard I try. 

Until tomorrow
Peace,

Brianne

 

I do Not Know What I'm Doing.

I think the title says it all, at this point in my artistic career I have no clue what I'm doing. I wish I did, truly. No matter what point in my life I'm at I always feel as if I should be further along than I actually am. I'm 23, shouldn't I have a job in my field? Shouldn't I be showing work in galleries? The answer to that question is a hard maybe. I'm lucky enough to have a pretty healthy art practice, is it going anywhere? Nope, not yet. Do I get feedback? Not as often as I'd like to. It's weird to say this, but I miss critiques, how do I know if it's good if a professor doesn't put a subjective grade on my hard work? How do I know if something is successful if my classmates don't subjectively tell me my work is good or bad. 

I wish they, and by they I mean every artist I came in contact with up until now, told me that when I left school I would feel like everything I do is going to go nowhere, probably for a long time. I wish they told me I would go through periods of helplessness while I try to figure out how I want my career to go. 

I do know one thing, or I think I do, I want to create my own spot in the art world. I want to work hard and build something exciting and newish, I don't think I want to go the traditional route of apprenticeship or production assistant or working in a camera store until I want to throw things. I want the adventure of taking some risks along the way. 

However you've also gotta make money, so a day job is imperative, and odds are that day job is terrible. So I guess I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing and hoping that one day in ten or twenty years I look back on that and say it's a really good thing that I didn't know what I was doing or else I wouldn't be here now. 

Until tomorrow

Peace,

Brianne

 

This is an Angry Blog (Please feel free to ignore it)

I have a lot on my mind today, I had a few things that totally threw me for a loop today that were truly frustrating so I'm going to talk about art but not art I guess. 

Art is physical, it's emotional, it's spiritual, and it's mental. It involves every part of your soul, so when someone comes in and gets in your head it can really make things difficult. I had a person today tell me that mental illness doesn't exist (and a whole slew of other terrible things), but specifically that all people who call an ambulance during a crisis are just looking to be drugged up for a little while and "drool on themselves". They even went as far as to ask if I was beaten or sexually abused as a child to have an excuse as to how I acted pre-diagnosis. (she also said if diabetics stopped taking their meds and just weren't fat they would be cured). Let me tell you, I have been angry in my life, I don't think I've ever been this angry.

So it's taken me this long to write this blog. I was going to write about the body and how important it is and has always been to art making. I was even going to do a little art history lesson with it. I was going to write about how physically making myself better by walking every day to make photographs is making me more in tune with my body and my mind. It's making me feel better about myself and not be as concerned with the way that I look because I feel good. It's time away from screens and time away from conversation other than the occasional good morning (people are SUPER friendly at 6 am). I was going to write about how my relationship with my body has been a long and complicated one of self destruction and self harm, but art (and therapy) helped make me better. All of these things I was going to put into what I felt was an important thing to talk about for myself. 

However my night was ruined by this person, and I let it be ruined. I let myself get this upset about someone who is obviously not educated in the way I am about this topic.  I let it control me. Normally I have a pretty thick skin, five straight years of critiques will do that to you, but being bipolar is so ingrained in my story and my art that the ignorance got to me. I am tired of defending the fact that medication is important to my survival. I would be dead without it. That is not an exaggeration. I am tired of explaining to people that exercise and meditation will not cure my chemical imbalance in my brain. They help a lot, but it is not a cure. I am tired of people telling me maybe you should take your meds just on days that you feel bad. THAT IS NOT HOW IT WORKS. 

I want to make art. I love art. I love writing. I wouldn't be writing this blog if I had not made the decision to go to therapy and take medication and talk openly with my friends and family about my illness. 

I'm sorry for the non art related art blog, but today exhausted me. It made me feel illegitimate and frustrated that there aren't enough resources for education about mental illness, or resources for treating it. 

I refuse to be silent though. If I can help one person that's all that matters. I am stronger because of my fight, I am a better person because of my fight. My feelings are legitimate and so are yours. 

We will be back to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow evening.

Peace,

Brianne

Looking and Seeing

Today is going to be a short post, I had a long day yesterday and I've had a longer one already today. I have some stuff in the works which is very exciting for me, but it means working full time and then full time doing the other stuff. I'm being very cryptic, but I can't announce yet. Soon! 

Anyway, today I'm going to talk specifically about photography, this process can be used in any medium, but since photography is the closest to capturing exactly what you see in the real life (sort of, more on that later) onto film or pixels and it's my medium that's what I'm going to discuss. 

I knew from when I was younger that I had an "eye" for photography, I remember being very young and I had my first little digital camera that maybe had 1.3 megapixels and taking it to the zoo, and when I came home that day my parents had guests over. The woman told me that I had an eye for photography (I was showing everyone I could my camera and my photos because I was VERY proud of myself). 

As I got older oddly I got worse at really seeing things for what they could be. I started using the studio almost exclusively because I knew I could control every aspect of it. But when it came to my thesis studio shots didn't feel right. So I had to learn how to really see things again. I had to think about framing and pay attention to everything in the frame because I was shooting polaroids and there was no "I'll crop that out". That process probably saved my art practice (and my grade) because I wasn't going to be able to say what I needed to say with studio shots, and the current work I'm working on is in the same vein, I'm back to using medium format film because polaroids are expensive and unpredictable and I think I've had enough of them for a little bit. 

I guess my advice is do a project that is the opposite of how you work. Granted, I wouldn't recommend changing it up for your thesis but whatever works works. If you're a studio photographer, go out and shoot some landscapes (You will probably never see a straight landscape from me because I am not comfortable with them at all), if you're a nature photographer go play with lights in the studio. The same could be said for all media, if you're a singer/songwriter and the words come first always, try writing the tune, if you're a figurative painter try an abstraction. This is advice I've gotten from many artists wiser and more experienced than I, and the "experiments" may be a disaster, or it may be your first actually successful (critique wise) series. 

That was a lot longer than I anticipated, I am thinking a nap is in my immediate future. 

Until tomorrow

Peace,

Brianne

Perceptions

I've been thinking a lot about perception the last few days, partially because I feel in my self centered universe that I'm not doing what I need to be doing to keep me alive spiritually (at least I thought I wasn't until today). This is a hard thing to admit, but I think I'm better than my job. I feel terrible saying that, and I know I should be grateful to even have a job, also insert any other typical reaction to that statement here. I don't really have time to address my shortcomings when it comes to feeling superior or smarter than the other people in the room. It's not a positive trait that's for sure, and probably comes from feeling inferior to the other people in the room. 

I seek out a challenge, I want the people I surround myself to be smarter than me, and for the most part they are. I have a wonderful group of friends that challenge me on a daily basis, which in turn makes me a better artist.

Perception can be tricky though, and it can change in an instant. 

I graduated in May, so I know I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself to get my work out there, and hard work, dedication, and some talent will get me there eventually. But when I left school I fell into a deep rotting pit of depression. Who was going to give me deadlines? Who was going to steer me in the right direction? Who was going to listen to me when I was panicking about said deadlines? What do I do now that I don't define myself as a student anymore? The perception that I had was I wasn't going to be able to make work again after school, and a lot of artists don't. Or they go on and do other things and keep art as their hobby. That wasn't going to be me. I couldn't let it. But I was quickly turning into that person. 

"Hey do you want to do a studio day?"
"No. I've got work"
"Hey do you want to go shoot somewhere?"
"No I'm too tired"

And then people stop asking. 

So here I was, three months after graduation, with friends who weren't sure I even wanted to talk to them let alone go make art together. But something around that three month mark changed. I think I painted a silly looking face, and then I went to Falcon Ridge, and then I got a new idea for a project. It was slow, very slow, and some days I still feel myself fighting that instinct to just not. My perception of the situation has changed though, I knew that the pressure I was putting on myself was just not realistic, or safe for that matter, I had a point where I wasn't even sure if I was an artist or not, maybe I had just made it up in my head (I didn't I am in fact an artist DESPITE my preferred medium being photography) 

I have a feeling this is going to be a fight I have for the rest of my life. I'm willing to take it on though.

Errant Thoughts and Perpetual Learning

 I don't really feel like writing today, which means it's especially important for me to do so. An object in motion or some shit like that. I had a bad day, not for any particular reason, at least none that I can put my finger on at the moment. I'm sure it will come to me in the shower or driving or it will keep me up tonight until I lull myself to sleep with the help of antipsychotics.

I think one of the things that does us in is anticipation, at the moment I'm waiting to do something that could end up being big, or at least important to me. Instead of doing the work that I want to do on this thing I'm stuck working a fairly thankless job with some not so great people.  But a girls gotta eat right? Or at least be able to pay her student loans each month. 

Here's where this post is going to go totally off the rails because to be honest my brain isn't working at full capacity at the moment. Which is fine, some days are like that. I was listening to the nerdist podcast when they had Nick Offerman on (this was years ago I believe), and he was talking about being a perpetual student and how important it is to never settle in your expertise of a subject. Always be learning. I feel like that's what art is, it allows the extra curious to continue to be students of life. I could be doing a project on my own life and then a week later I could be doing a project on the weight lifting community in Bergen county (the likelihood of the latter is very small) but I could do it. I think that above everything except for maybe expression is what draws me to art. I've always loved school. I've always loved the challenge of learning a new thing, and making art has me constantly on my toes trying to keep up with current events, academia, art history, and the modern art world. I'm not bad on a trivial pursuit team. 

Artists know a little about a lot of things and then a lot about their particular study. It's a good balance to have (especially when things tend to be unbalanced when you first start out). 

So I guess when you're having a bad day, listen to people wiser than you. And always be learning.

 

Peace,

Brianne