I can certainly say that lately the pressure to create has been immense. I decided in March that I wanted to work towards getting my artwork shown in galleries. I did not realize what that process would entail. The demand to write in ways I’ve never written before was intense: a CV, a bio, an artist statement, piece descriptions, exhibition proposals. I felt like I was in a spiral of nonsensical words trying to analyze the philosophical and psychological nature of my life; moreover, the future of my artwork swung in the balance. Soon after finishing that work, now well into April, with several proposals floating out in the world, I thought, “an art residency would be pretty cool.” I started May out researching these mythical unicorns and gradually found myself buried in that same cave of words again.
Well, now it has been two full months since my last blog post. I needed a break from all the words! Today, sitting down to embark on the writing process again, I cracked my knuckles, wiggled my fingers over the keyboard, and bit my lip searching for a topic. Looking out my front windows at the Florida landscape, reflecting on my week, my work, and what I want to say about life I could only think about how much the sunshine makes me smile. This seems to be a fitting topic for mid-June in Florida.
I traveled to Kanapaha Botanical Gardens this week for a beautifully hot and humid Florida road trip. Working on preparing my portfolio and proposal for Flying High At The End Of My Rope, I realized how lacking my photography skills were. A break from the stress of writing and painting would be welcomed and I could passively enjoy what Florida laid out for me to photograph. It was a new Florida landscape for me presenting new artistic challenges. What was most beautiful to me while I was there was the sunlight filtering down through the oak and bamboo canopies blessing the undergrowth with life while still protecting it from the scorching heat—an elegant dance. I stood sweating in the sunbeams playing with shutter speed, aperture, and ISO to capture the wilderness around me. I reflected on a painting I finished in the cold of winter, a painting expressing a longing for this very moment, I titled it Sunshine. I don’t often explain a specific work in too great of detail—this distracts viewers from developing their own feelings about a work, but in this case, I will offer a bit of insight into this piece.
Sunshine is happiness. The warm glow of sunlight pumping the body full of vitamin D after it has been sick for too long in bed. Sunshine is the embrace of the first warm Spring afternoon after being shuttered up for a cold winter. Sunshine kisses the skin as it dries the droplets from playing in the water. Sunshine shouts hello in bright white orbs looking up at the sky after being inside at a work desk under florescent lights. Sunshine stretches bright halos lazily across the soul like a slumbering cat. It is beach days and blooming flowers, cool dips in the pool, yard work, vacation, and summer—all shown in blotches of color. Sunshine is happiness rushing forth when there has been too much cold darkness in life.
The next morning, sitting on the swing of the second-floor balcony of Herlong Mansion in Micanopy, photographing the first cool rays of sunlight for the day, I remember the quiet slow days of my childhood in Florida. I am not a transplant, I am a Florida Native—there aren’t very many of us around. Tourism is part of our daily lives in Florida. We are surrounded by traffic, big box stores, chain restaurants, and name brand hotels. Many Floridians spend their entire professional lives catering to the whims of tourists. We wind ourselves tightly in stress in order to help others relax in our hospitality.
But when I seek out respite from the daily grind, I don’t run off to Disney. I try to get off the Interstate and find a back road. Another guest at Herlong said it best, “You make time on the Interstate, you make memories on the blue highway.” Personally, I like to take the first unfamiliar exit and keep turning until I find a road encased in live oak boughs curtained with Spanish moss. I know I won’t be long on that road before I find a little shop with rocking chairs out front—that’s how I know I’ve found the perfect place to rest and unwind in the Sunshine.