It wasn’t that I was purposely looking for the past. On the contrary. It was a technical calamity that sent me down memory lane. I’ll explain:

The more I draw and paint, the greater the need is for images to study. If I want to draw a happy face, I’ll google happy faces. If I want to draw a sad face, I’ll google sad faces, and so on. But yesterday I suddenly realized that my love for photography has lead to a massive collection of images produced by myself. And somehow, it seemed way more artistic to start using my own photographs as a basis for my drawings than those of other people. After all, photography already is an interpretation of what you see. If ten people take a picture of one object at the same time; they will most likely all do that from a different point of view (unless you’re at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower and you’re in the middle of a busload of tourists all shooting up at the same time. But that’s because they’re so hysterical that they don’t think about point of view anyway. So, they don’t count.) If you get the chance, just ask a group of people to take as nice a shot of an object (maybe yourself?) as they can. They will choose distance, posture, camera settings and frames. None of the ten pictures will be the same. So, then why not choose my own photographs for future reference, if I can. They already contain an artistic point of view. Of course I don’t have every subject on my hard disk by far, but I can at least try to organize a database for my images and try to make it work.

So, what I needed to do, was get my photographs organized. Ten years of digital photography was what I wanted to start sorting out. Roughly 60.000 images. All stored on an external hard disk. Five years backed up on DVD. Okay a huge chore, but why not? I’m dangling in the middle of phases in my life anyway which sometimes makes me utterly uninspired, so why not spend my days looking back through my images and probably get totally sparked to get back to work?

And so, I started up my computer, opened the hard disk and…….YIKES! SCREAM! KICK! CURSE! USE OF A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF FOUR LETTER WORDS! AND WORSE! Turns out part of my hard disk got damaged somehow. Don’t ask me how! I have no idea. The thing’s ususally turned off and used only to store images on. I knew DVDs go bad after some time. And I knew that moving hard disks around while on is also not a very good idea. But a hard disk that was allowed to have so much rest to turn bad…AAARGHH!!! So unfair!!! So worried about precious moments…were they still in order somewhere in a back up file? I still don’t know.

I dashed to a computer store immediately and got myself a new hard disk. And I moved as many files to that new disk as I possibly could. Praying things would work. But there’s still 13Gb of images and videos that are terminally infected by some disk error. Of course the hard disk’s warranty’s just passed. Although I don’t really care about the money. I just want my images back. Now that I’ve collected all the files I could and put them onto a new disk, I’ll take my disk to a computer nerd (when I find one) and see if my remaining photographs can still be saved. I hope so.

In the mean time, I’m sorting out ALL my images with a program that organises them after I gave them a label…so funny! It’s hard work and it takes quite some hard thought because you must always label things a certain way to make sure you can find them again later. And since my sense of logical thinking changes regularly, I may well never find things again that seem obvious to me now.

But, it’s great work! Flipping through my past that way. I quite enjoy the work. Yesterday I ran into pictures of my artistic roots…

A face-painting course! I used to paint my own face…..because I could spend hours working on it and my daughter (the youngest wasn’t born yet at the time) wouldn’t sit still long enough. Before the face-painting course I was terribly convinced that I couldn’t draw at all! Two left hands in that area and so I never really tried. I loved doing creative things and made jewelry at the time. Which was a nice passtime, but it wasn’t challenging enough for me. So when the face-painting came along, I learned that I could actually draw and paint. If I could do it on my face, then I could certainly do it on paper, couldn’t I?

And that’s when I started trying. Very small at first. I discovered ATC groups on the internet and since I’d always been crazy about penpals and writing with people all over the world, I immediately saw my opportunities. The ATCs were a great canvas for my first hesitating attempts. And they were well received by my ATC friends. People began to ask me for second and third trades and I grew a bit more confident. So, looking for a slightly bigger canvas,  I started drawing postcards. And after running into mixed media painting techniques, I bought my first canvas and started to paint.

It’s so nice to flip through all those pictures again. I’ve recorded my growth well and looking back I can see that I’ve grown a lot. I’m nowhere nearly finished growing. In fact, I hope I’m going to keep on growing forever. If Italian 90-year old grandmas can get their flying license, then I must surely keep on learning till my last breath, and who knows, maybe even beyond!

What I’m learning now that I’m in a somewhat poorly inspired time of my life, is that this time of low “production” is very fruitful too. It is indeed a time of looking back and evaluating for myself where I stand and where I want to go. We’re moving in four months time and that’s a perfect chance to determine how I want to work there. What stuff will I keep and what more stuff can I let go? Do I want to hold on to all the art supplies I gathered in those early years or shall I part with them and aim fully at what I (want to) do right now? Because after all those years I’ve become clear about one thing: I know what I want! It’s taken me decades to find out, but now I know who I am and what I want. I’m a journal artist, a teacher and illustrator! I had meant to start out illustrating professionally (and paid!!!) coming spring, but things are on hold a bit for our move. But I can keep working on my portfolio and sort out my life for more focus. We’re transferring the garage of the new house into my new studio and I’m so looking forward to working there. But in order to start out right, I have to organize and prepare things well. So, after having cleared out my studio drastically a year ago, I will have to go and do that once more! This time leaving much more empty spaces.

So, I’m kind of busy in a an otherwise still time of my life. But it’s all part of going through major changes in your life. Now that I’ve accepted this, I’ve noticed that I’m feeling a bit more inspired again and have taken up the brush more often again. I’m currently working on paintings that I’m going to send to wish card publishers and for you guys I have big plans. I’ve begun writing a brand new online Art Journaling course for you!!!

For the online Art Journaling course I have a question:

What do you think is better? A 10-week time span or a 16-week time span? I’ll add a poll to my blog! Please leave your answer there. I will listen to the advice given!