Sunday, June 15, 2008

Is Balance Overrated?

It’s not hard to understand why I love what I do. When creating new images, I find myself totally in the present moment, unaware of time and filled with an energy that is hard to explain. I also discovered early, that the hand coloring aspect of my photography was therapeutic. When my Dad was dying of cancer I would find a certain amount of peace and acceptance come over me whenever I sat down to work on an image. While that was one of my first experiences with that particular benefit, it was not the last. Like most people, I have had my share of “bumps in the road” but I continue to find healing through my work.

Having explained some of the positive experiences I have had while working on my art and the passion I feel toward it, it’s no wonder that at times, working is all I want to do.

I have found though, that this sometimes obsessive desire to work does not always feel like a good thing. I find that when I am engaged in too many outside events and/or obligations I have a tendency to get grumpy. Many of these activities are considered very enjoyable by most people, including myself, but when I start to feel like working would be more fun than going to a party or to the movies with friends, I start to question my priorities and motives.

It’s a classic stereotype – the artist as a loner, anti social and introverted – but I believe there may be some truth to it. My need for solitude is not very far down the list after my need for food, water and shelter. If I go too long without time for myself and my art I become slightly depressed and irritable. It’s not pretty. My family and my good friends know this and they respect it.

But it’s hard to live like this and not feel guilty. My need to retreat into my studio has nothing to do with making money but it may look like that to someone who does not know me very well. There are many times I do things because I think I “should” not because I really want to. Compromise is part of living in society and participating in activities we may find “unappealing at the time” is what “adults” do – right?

I hope I don’t sound like I am complaining or whining but I am curious as to what other people, not just artists, do when feeling conflicted about choices they have made or about to make. How do we find balance or should we even attempt to? Is balance overrated?

But really, when it comes down to it, how can finding peace, joy and passion in what you do (and get paid for it) be a bad thing? It’s not – I surrender. I have some new peonies shots I have been dying to get to all weekend. Could be a late night…………………

Friday, June 6, 2008

How Did I Get Here??

I was not one of those people who dreamed of becoming an artist as a child. I also did not dream about a career as an accountant either but that’s where I was headed. Anybody familiar with Julia Cameron’s book “The Artist’s Way” knows about the limiting belief that there can only be one artist in a family.

My brother laid claim to that title at a very young age. His talent was evident even as a preschooler. My brother, Joe Murray, went on to create and produce award winning animated shows such as “Rocko’s Modern Life” for Nickelodeon and the Emmy winning “Camp Lazlo” for Cartoon Network. On top of all that (and more important) he is an amazing father to his two daughters and the best brother a girl could ask for. He is currently working on an independent animated film titled “Fish Head”. Can you tell how proud I am of him?

While his career path was fairly direct, it was unusual because he never worked a job that did not involve his art. He never got to experience the joys of waiting on tables or making coffee for the guy that signed your paycheck. My own path, on the other hand, could have circled the planet a couple of times. Since I was not the “artist” in the family or the “athlete” (that would be my sister), I was the designated book worm. Every family has one – don’t they? I loved to read and still do. I was also fairly good in math so a business degree seemed to make sense.

I attended junior and state colleges up and down the state of California and when I was in my mid thirties and the mother of two adorable preschoolers, I finally ended up at Sacramento State University. Here I was, on track to fulfilling my requirements for an accounting degree, when I decided to take a photography class to satisfy an art requirement.

I had taken photography classes before and loved to take pictures of my kids but something about this class, taught by Ralph Talbert, ignited something in me that many would say was an obsessive but passionate love of photography. I could not get enough. I was the first to come to class and the last to leave. I read all the books I could get my hands on and even talked my husband into turning one of our bathrooms into a darkroom.

It would be a few years before I would actually sell a photograph I made, but that’s another story........

I never did get my accounting degree but I am one of the few artists I know that can do their own sales tax return!