How do you go from photography to painting?
This question has been on my mind ever since I started painting. How did I get here? What am I going to do with this? How do I make this work with my photography if I can?
So. Many. Questions.
Here is the brief story of the transition, (brief meaning as short as I could get it).
I have always loved photography. I had been working as an advertising/marketing photographer for about 8 years. Most of the jobs I’ve had I’ve truly loved, from the people that I’ve worked with to the experiences that I’ve had and all the things that I’ve learned about photography. It has been an amazing career that I will never regret making apart of my life.
When I had my first baby, I decided to quit my full time job so I could be a full time mother, which was not an easy decision for me. After a few months I started thinking about freelancing because I realized I still needed and wanted to do photography. I could work at my own pace and still be a mom.
Then COVID-19 happened and everything stopped.
There was so much uncertainty at first. I saw many friends and family not being able to work or being laid off. Thankfully my husband was able to work from home, but our dinning room table in our tiny 9000 square foot condo was not an ideal office space. Our baby was just starting to crawl so keeping her out from under his feet and quiet while he was on phone calls was my new challenge. I didn’t have time to think about photography.
We waited like everyone else to see how long this isolation thing would last. It didn’t feel right to start working again, especially with all the uncertainty. Weeks went by, months went by.
My husband and I started to re-evaluate our life. What did we really want and need for our family and for ourselves to be happy? Well, we couldn’t be cramped up in our tiny condo much longer. We also knew that we wanted to raise our daughter, and hopefully more kids, closer to family and in a smaller area outside of the city. One thing led to another and by fall we had plans to move out of the state, closer to family and in an area that we had both loved for years. And somewhere in all this, I found out I was pregnant with baby number two.
We moved and started to get settled. Everyone was happier, we had the space we needed for our growing family and we were closer to family. During all this, I was more concerned with what our family needed then what I needed.
Then one day I remember sitting on our couch and everything hit me all at once. I was ‘just’ a stay at home mom with a now toddler, and I was going to have another baby. I wasn’t excited for baby #2, I was dreading it.
We moved to a very small town and my career as I knew it was nearly impossible. Anything close to what I had would mean traveling for over two hours each day, which didn’t seem like the best thing to do with small kids.
All of the weight and stress of the COVID situation in general that I had been suppressing by keeping myself busy finally hit me too. I felt so drained and empty. I did the same things every day, every week, for several weeks. And the thought of doing all of that for months and years on end was too much for me. I knew I needed something for myself again.
How could I have a career in such a small town while being a mother? Every time I thought about picking up my camera I felt sick to my stomach. I loved it, wanted it, and simultaneously I wanted nothing to do with it, and I didn’t know why.
Then one day I felt a strong urge to paint, and that feeling wouldn’t go away. I’ve always enjoyed painting but it was just a hobby. How would I make time for painting? And why did I want to paint and not take photos?
But I had to do something so I started with 15 minuets a day. I could at least give myself that much time to do something creative every day. Maybe it would be painting, maybe it would be photos eventually, but I started with painting. After a few weeks I worked my way up to 30 min a day, and then more time, until I got to about one hour a day.
I started feeling like something inside of me was waking up. I felt more energized
and happier. I was releasing all of my stresses and worries, I was creating again and it was exciting. My paintings weren’t great at first but over time they’ve gotten better.
As I started painting again I remembered my days in college and shortly after when I really allowed myself to enjoy art. Not trying to make it a job but just loving the wonder of creating something beautiful, and enjoying the challenge of thinking creatively.
But painting was unexpected and didn’t make sense with the photography background that I had. I was known for being a photographer not a painter. What would people think if I started painting?
I painted anyway, as crazy as it seemed it also felt like there was something here for me. Then I started to noticed a pattern. Sometimes I would paint something and realize that I was painting a scene that I had previously photographed but had forgotten about. I thought I was just painting abstract pieces but really I was painting memories. This happened multiple times.
Although it was abstract, these memories were my experiences in nature; what it was like to be in a certain place at a certain time. The feeling of backpacking through large forests, of swimming on remote beaches and experiencing different cultures and countries.
I have always wanted to focus more on fine art work. Prior to getting full time jobs I enjoyed creating bodies of work and displaying them in galleries. I had to give that up after working full time because I couldn’t do it all.
Perhaps life was finally giving me this time to focus on what I really wanted to do. Create for the sake of creating.
I still I have no idea where the rest of this journey will take me but I know it’s what I want to do right now. This is also what I feel like I can do while I raise my children. Making this time for myself is making me a better mom and wife. I’m enjoying learning more about this new medium and I’m sure one day I’ll want to pick up my camera again too.