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Turning the Page

life as an artist Dec 18, 2020

Like many of us, I’m reflecting on the year 2020 and having incredibly mixed emotions about it.  It's been simultaneously horrific and enlightening, wiping clean the slate in many ways.  I'll focus on the more positive aspects of 2020 because the negative aspects don’t help at all as we move forward into 2021. 

For me, it's been a time of slowing down and reflecting on where I’ve been, where I am, and where I wish to be as a person, a woman, a mother, an artist, a teacher and a friend.  It was unusual for me to be home in New Jersey for more than two weeks at a time over the last eight years.  There was little time to reflect on one adventure before heading out on another.  2020 has forced me to reflect on the paths I've wandered during my life as an artist, attempting to justify the time I spend expressing the flood of creative energy that pulses through me.

Where did it begin?  How did it begin? And most importantly … what kept me going?

In some respects, I’ve slowed down a bit in order to uncover the answers to these questions.  In the beginning of the year I set the intention to work more collaboratively with other artists rather than work in the isolation I've retreated to in the past.  My travels have gifted me with new friends and artists who inspire me and enrich my life.  I want more of this.  I want to return the nurturing.  I miss the personal connection with these individuals who feel like lifelong connections and with whom I feel wonderfully intertwined.

As the year draws to a close I realize that a very important collaboration has taken place from an unexpected source, a teacher in Germany who reached out to me. She asked for permission to use a few of my images she found online to help her teach her nine and ten year old students about complementary colors.  Her respectful request snapped me out of my pandemic stupor and I clicked into gear.  In the back of my mind, I kept seeing and hearing my father.  He was smiling and encouraging me to follow my instincts.  I wanted to create a wonderful course for this small class of young students.  The chance that I might change the life of one of those students in a positive way  ... to eventually alter the lives of others and on and on and on…. was well worth taking.  I have no idea what my own future might be as I approach the age of seventy.  I want to make a positive difference in as any lives as I can in whatever time I have remaining.  What point is there in learning all that I've learned if I don’t pass it on?

The video above started out in a totally different direction from where it ended up.  Now I understand why I kept hearing and seeing my father when I thought of the class of students in Germany.  Ironic that it's Germany where they live.

Two days after graduating from high school I caught a plane for Germany.  I had obtained employmebnt as a scullery maid in a mountaintop hotel, Hotel Nebelhorn Höfatsblick, in Obertsdorf.  My plan was to work there for a year while creating an amazing portfolio that would grant me admission to an art school in London. That was the plan … hmmmmm.  I was seventeen years old.  There are many stories to tell of my time living atop the mountain as a scullery maid.  I was too busy scrubbing floors, renting out sun chairs, cleaning toilets and carrying eggs on the cablecar in a paper funnel to ever create the portfolio of artwork.

Back to 2020. For the past five years I’ve been working diligently attempting to navigate the world of creating income via social networking, my websites, blogs and interactions with learning groups on Facebook … all while traveling non-stop, drawing, painting exploring and meeting marvelous people.  It was exhausting and not financial successful. I now focus only on Instagram and only cross post to Facebook. 

I teach skills … not “make a painting quickly to hang on your wall” methods.   I can’t help it. I could blame this on my father.  Instead, I'm grateful for what my father taught me, the lessons, values and the ethics he passed on to me.

He taught me how to use tools.  He taught me how to use ordinary tools to create the extraordinary ideas I had flowing through my mind and keeping me awake at night.  He taught me how to use tools so that I could survive when resources were scarce, when I broke down on the side of the road long before cell phones existed.  I was the one who stopped and helped the women and men broken down with flat tires.  I was the one who pulled my tire off and adjusted my brake pads.  I installed my own lighting and plumbing in the attic of a warehouse in Boston where I rented the entire top floor for $100 a month.  Granted … I had no heat and my friends stopped visiting me during the winter months.  I survived.

Tools!!!!  Tools for the mind, for the body and for the soul.  That’s my offering to those who are, like me, curious … and wanting to explore the caverns of their lives and to express their experiences through art.

Yes.  I would love to be financially stable for once in my life.  More importantly … I want to be a positive influence in the lives of others.

Thank you, Davina, for your passion to teach your students about color and the nuances of the aspects of art.  Thank you for not making the assumption that nine and ten year olds are too young for such knowledge.  Thank you for giving me the nudge to create a course on Grayscale and Color Value that I've been wanting to create for many years.  You have given me the nudge I needed and I am grateful.

I am optimistic that 2021 will be a wonderful new beginning.


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Thanks for reading my blog!

Chris Carter



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