A month ago I was boarding a plane in France, heading home after an amazing time learning more about my process, my work, and myself. I know I mentioned it in the past, but the time spent there was, in a way, life changing. What I didn't realize was the changes I'd need to make upon returning home.
Since being back, I've been running at a rate that would be about 20 on a scale of 1-10. It has had positives and negatives associated with it, mainly only noticed by me. I've felt, at times, impatient and pushy, and I have had to consciously hold myself back at times to keep from showing myself as such. I can't decide if this has been a good thing or bad overall, but it has definitely been felt. If nothing else, I can at least attribute these feelings to the fact that I'm on a path I haven't been on before and I'm having to learn how to handle myself, my work, and my daily life to balance things. I think I've got this? There are definitely some positives to be taken out of these internal struggles, though.
While in France, and many times in the past, I found myself explaining why it is that I have decided to stay in the Augusta area and not move on to a larger city. Beyond the fact that it keeps me close to the subject matter of the work I've been producing for the past year and a half, there is an amazing community of artists here. I think more people are starting to realize it, slowly, but it is definitely there. Personally, I came home to the realization that as much as I try, right or wrong, I can't do everything on my own. I need this community and all it offers, even if I feel somewhat like an outlier at times.
Spending a week surrounded by other likeminded individuals put me back in an environment that I hadn't had in a long time, mostly by my own doing, and that I quickly realized I needed. Up to this point in my work, I didn't necessarily need any help. Yes, I've reached out here and there to get things done, get an opinion, or just wax creative, but to actively help enhance my own perspective was not something I was doing with the help or insight of others. This needed to change.
In the time I've been back, working not only on furthering the progress of this larger project, I've been having to get a large show ready for October. Both of these projects have been fun, challenging, and a little overwhelming. Luckily, though, I have been able, and motivated, to embrace the resources around me. In the face of some seemingly overwhelming tasks, I'm taking my own advice and asking for help from others. Sure, I could do these edits all on my own, but it's easier having some other eyes on it to get insight. It may be tough to reach out and ask for that help sometimes, even from people you know, but the value of it can not be quantified. The key was realizing there was a personal shell and breaking out of it.
The community in Augusta, and the surrounding area, has been more supportive to me than I could ever imagine, whether those in it realize it or not. Reaching out and asking for opinions and help is something that I would encourage anyone, anywhere, to do. The fellow artists around you, no matter the medium, are an invaluable resource. Utilize the help that they offer, whatever form it may come in, and return the favor in any way you can. Although we all see the world in a different way, as artists we see things in a way that is relatively similar. It is that similarity that allows us to be a resource to others.
It takes a little more leg work to get things done in a smaller community, but it's far from impossible. Although I can't claim to be a pinnacle of success, I have accomplished way more living in a small community than I would have ever thought possible. Like anywhere else, self-motivation is key, but it can only get you so far. There comes a time that we all need to reach out for the opinions of others. You may be the only photographer, painter, illustrator, or sculptor in the community, but the insight you get from people in other disciplines is just as valuable as that from the same medium as your own work. These artists will see things that you never considered, just as you will offer the same insight into their work.
I'd be lying if I said that everything eventually comes easy. It might in some smaller part, but overall it is a constant climb to reach a higher point in one's work. Knowing that others desire the same insight and help in their own process has allowed me to open up to more opinions from more people. I encourage everyone else to do the same; you won't be disappointed.