April 18, 2013

Penland

This post is a little over due. Truth is, I needed some time to digest the experience that I had last week. As I sit here, I find that it's really hard to put words to. What I can tell you is that it was a total game changer.

Penland brought many things into focus that I've struggled so long to see.

I found such value in the people that I was surrounded by. Artists. People with so much talent it was difficult to wrap my mind around.

I couldn't help but question my own work. I have so much to learn. I sometimes struggle with translating the vision in my mind into an image. I often find this really paralyzing.

Penland is where I started to believe that sometimes the most difficult thing about making art is overcoming that paralysis. It's allowing yourself the freedom to do things wrong. It's making work that you're proud of, only to question it an hour later. It's learning to appreciate your critical eye.

I've always found this Ira Glass quote super inspiring,

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it's normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work... It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” 

I've been working really hard since I returned from Penland. I hope to share my ideas here with you soon. In the meantime, below are some photos from my week away. I must say, I spent a ton of time in the photo studio, so I didn't get a lot of pictures of the beautiful scenery. I did manage to snap a few instagrams, though. I'm also posting some of the portrait work that I did while there.

I can't help but miss the evenings. After long hours in class, we would head outside to the back porch of our studio. We shared drinks under twinkle lights. Talked photography and laughed until our stomach muscles hurt. I can't wait to go back.


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