Saturday, March 17, 2012

There Are No Words

A year ago today...

Heather Armstrong (also known as "Dooce") shared a portrait I painted of her daughter, Leta.  She did not commission this portrait.  I saw the original photo on her blog over a year before.  I saved the image, thinking that whenever I had the time, I was going to paint a portrait from that photo.  The photo captured so many amazing things..great light, beautiful eyes, a natural expression of her daughter's personality.  It was a photo that couldn't be matched with an exact likeness - I knew it would have to go beyond what was presented in the picture.

I took a chance and sent the portrait to Heather, with a short note trying to convey the fact that I wasn't a crazy lady painting pictures of random children on the Internet: I was an Artist, I was Inspired, and I wanted to share it with her.

About five months went by, and then I got an e-mail that immediately made my head spin: Heather's assistant (who is possible one of the sweetest and kindest people on the planet!) told me that Heather was going to share the portrait on her blog.

In my wildest dreams, I thought Heather might shoot me a quick "Thanks for the portrait" tweet or an e-mail saying something along the lines of "Creepy...but...thank you?"  in her usually dry wit.  But her post was so amazing, and the resulting sales and commissions kept me busy for the next 9 months.

The craziness eventually died down, the commissions were shipped to the clients, I settled back into my regular routine in the studio.  Only now, a full year later, can I really see some of the other positive experiences that grew out of that one blog post.

Knowing that so many people not only loved that portrait, but all of my other work as well, was a huge confidence boost.  As an Artist I enter a lot of shows and competitions, and rejection is more common that reward.  But those shows are often the result of one Judge's opinion.  In this case, I had hundreds of people saying "I LOVE YOUR WORK!"  That gave me the resolve to continue creating work that moves me.

And more recently, I was faced with a moment where I had to decide what to do with my studio space: do I continue to use it as a Gallery/work space, or do I grow and change with the need to pay the rent?  The commission work from Heather's post allowed me to use my studio as a studio and a gallery for a whole year, without worrying about whether or not I could pay the rent.  Just being able to do that was such a gift.

I have not only decided to keep the studio, but I changed the layout to accommodate classroom work space, while still keeping gallery space and work space for my studio partner and I.

As a writer, Heather puts herself out there, in front of millions of people every day.  Without shying away from the harsh realities in her life, she shares her joy and sorrow with her fans and followers.  Her bravery is inspiring.  As an Artist, I hope I am following that lead, and sharing a bit of myself with every drawing or painting I share with you.  We both know that not everything will be rewarded, but more often criticized, and yet we are compelled to do it anyway.

Thank you, Heather, for sharing my work, for sharing your thoughts, and for your honesty.  I am forever Grateful.


Erik van Elven said...

What an inspiring story Kristina, and what a great painting you created of that little girl. I love your art.

Tamsyn said...

Heather's blog post was how I first heard about you and your amazing paintings. I've been following you ever since :) You are incredibly talented!

Wyogirl said...

I recently stumbled upon your blog and am incredibly inspired! I am returning to school to pursue a BFA in Art, after 20 years of working as an art director and web developer. I feel like I was married to the wrong guy for 20 years and have returned to my first real love. LOL.

I started reading dooce before dooce even got dooced, when I was bored and on bedrest, pregnant with twins. I quit reading her blog some time ago, but I do remember that photo of Leta! What a great job you did capturing her precocious personality. So, I have to ask - did you ever paint Marlo?

And thank you for the link to Sadie Atelier's blog. Her story is a lot like mine -- returning to fine art after years in the graphic design world. Looking back through her archives to see how far she has progressed in her paintings from when she first came back is incredibly inspiring to me.

I would love to come to one of your classes someday. I live in Wyoming so it would be quite the trip, but maybe someday. So again, thank you. I can't wait to keep reading your blog.

Krystyna81 said...

Thank you for all the sweet words! I'm so glad that our paths have crossed :)