What I learned

The other day the wifey and I had a small conversation about college and whether or not it is still relevant in todays world. It seems there are many paths to learning and many ways to find your purpose in life, and how to learn how to do that purpose. 
It seems there are many ways to learn and gain experience and I questioned whether or not college was still a vital route. As I pondered this further in Introvertville I began reflecting on some of the influences that I still carry with me from my college days.
I think there is value in focused study and practice. As with anything you get what you put into it. I think some people approach college as something to get through. Just do the bare minimum to pass. As with most things the more investment and curiosity you have, the great the result. I view my college experience as rewarding and feel as though I put in a decent amount of effort. Here are some of the things that I still retain that I learned in college:

Perceived constrictions are not real. There are more possibilities. You don't have to do it like everyone else does. I had a preconception about what photography was capable of. My experience was something very different and diverse. I remember the demonstration on long exposures. Our professor turned out the lights and lit fireworks. This is something that sparked an interest in photography. We learned best practices but also where there are windows to escape the rigid constructs that I had imagined prior to taking the class. I enjoyed experimenting and discovering different techniques and exploring new artists.

Productivity can double before 9am. While many in the art department would grind out working well into the night I developed a routine of going into the studio at 7am during the week and on Saturday. I found this to be the best time to be in the studio without any distractions because everyone else it there late at night and sleeping on Saturdays. Plus I could listen to whatever music I wanted to.

Make your own surfaces. I learned it is better to make your canvas fit your idea instead of trying to fit your idea into a canvas. This is a practice I have come to value more over time. Not only for originality,  I feel more connected to my work because my hands have touched it from the beginning. I love rough and organic edges, something that store bought surfaces and canvases do not provide.

Make a lot of junk. And then rework it. and then rework that. and then paint over half of it. Then paint over the other half. Then paint over all of it. Then make another one. Experiment. Fail. Learn. Don't let anything be precious. Although you may love a certain part of a painting, if it doesn't work for the whole piece, it must be eliminated.

Sometimes the opposite of what you thought the right answer is is what the right answer is.

Playing dodge kite in the middle of the night is fun.

You can catch gophers in apple juice jugs.

Art History lecture is a great place to have lunch.

You can learn more in critique than in a closet. One of the things I miss most about the college art experience is having daily access to other artists asking similar questions, getting different answers and learning from the mistakes and successes of others. In addition, being forced to talk about your art makes you think about your art more. Learning to make art is about asking questions both of others and of your self.



it started with a wink...

Some days are like most. Routine. Slight variations on a theme.
You never know when something simple will impact you in a way that never seemed possible. A tiny pebble of a day creating vast ripples in a life of ordinary.

Two years ago, today, I received an email that would change the course of my life, forever. Or more aptly, the course had already been set, I just did not see the turn coming. A butterfly effect enacted by a wink.

In my endeavor for companionship I had received a few emails of this nature. Each time I would receive an email like this, my future would flash before my eyes. Curious if this would be "The One". "This is how it started." "Could it be?" And once the flash was over, the wall of "forming a response" would jolt to the foreground. Followed by the process of investigation. Reading her profile. Rereading her profile. Rerereading her profile. Looking through all of her pictures. Rereading her profile. Looking through all of her pictures looking for any type of context clue that might reveal itself. Rereading her profile. Opening an email form to send a response. Closing window. Rereading. Pictures. Mouse hovering over "reply".  Riffling through cheesy responses in my head. Writing. Deleting. Editing. Rewriting. Another future flash. hope. doubt. anticipation. anxiety. Unable to sit still long enough to write a response.
Just hit send.
Just hit send.
Slight edit.
Just hit send.


Joy, fear, excitement, curiosity, and anxiety all coagulated into a single mouse click.
Rereading the email. Rereading her profile. Rereading my profile.
Check email.
Just walk away.
It is an interesting blend of being so excited about the possibility and trying to keep in mind that it's only an email to a woman 150 miles away that I have never met. It could pan out to be nothing more than a single interaction. OR it could be the single most important interaction in the history of everdom. The battle of excitement and realism. Do people really find meaningful relationships this way?

Flash forward:
First Response.
First Phone Call.
First Date.
First Touch of her skin.
First Sunset.
Falling in love, with Los Banos?
First Kiss.
First Proposal.
First Ring.
First Wedding.
First Forever.

I could never have imagined that I would be sitting here and looking back on so many wonderful memories from the last two years. It has been a blessing and a joy to be able to get to know such an amazing person. Still rereading: but now a face and stories...our story. And looking through pictures...our pictures. A woman who makes me know love in a way that I never thought possible. To know and to be known.
To think, it all started with a wink.


As I visited the ocean tonight I stood and watched the waves swirling around the rocks. I reflected on  entering a season of large changes. In the next few weeks I will pack all of my belongings and leave the county that I have spent the last ten years. It is strange to think that I will move away from the coast that I have become accustomed to visiting so easily and often take for granted. So much beauty just a short drive away.
I will pack up an office and leave a place I have worked at for the better part of the last nine years and say, "see you later" to many friends that have become like family. I will head east and start a new job, in a new city and most excitedly enter a new season of life; marriage.
So with great excitement I enter this new season of life. There is so much to look forward to: being closer to the woman whom I love so much, starting a new job, meeting new people and of course being closer to Yosemite, a wonderful source of beauty. There are also many things I will miss. And so on this night, likely one of my few remaining opportunities for a casual impromptu visit to the ocean, I decided to stop at one of the turnouts I had never been to before. I parked and walked down the short trail, dancing around the scattered patches of poison oak. Reminiscing about the time I wandered down a trail in shorts and got poison oak up and down my legs and on my face so that my eye was swollen half shut and had to have two shots before the symptoms subsided.
I thought about the many times I had stood next to the ocean waiting for the light to be right to take pictures. Reminding myself to always step back and be present in the moment. A picture can never fully capture the moment and so I try and be mindful of being present knowing that life is not just about seeing the moment but about taking time to feel it.
And so I endeavor in all of these changes to be present. To remind myself that the journey is exciting and I need to take moments just to take in everything around me. I am thankful for all that I have and grateful for the experiences life has brought me so far and look forward to the adventures that lay ahead.