Yes to 2014…

Following Yes!
Following Yes!

Well, the children have returned to school, finally, after their Christmas/New Year break. The first thing I did, and I felt slightly guilty and extremely decadent, I got a cup of coffee, snuggled down into my bed and read a whole book, cover to cover. I didn’t have one interruption and the silence was heavenly. It was a great start to 2014.

I had an amazingly creative and inspiring year and I needed a few days alone to process all the amazing things that happened to me in 2013. I should begin by saying that my motto for 2013, was to say Yes, to new experiences and opportunities where and when they appeared. If a door opened, even if I wasn’t exactly sure where it would lead, I said, Yes. I began to have faith in my intuition and artistic instincts and each step of the way, someone offered me advice and support to help me grow further.

Creatively, in 2013, I started selling my photo cards, after some prodding, at my friend Beth’s Store, (simplysoapsmv.com). Beth has been a huge source of support for me as she endlessly encourages me to believe in myself as an artist, so I said Yes. She is also an amazing Artist, business woman, and best friend, saying Yes to her was easy.

A few months later, at my local gym, the owner Holly, asked I could help her fill up a blank wall in the gym with my photographs? Um, Yes! Then, Holly suggested that I put prices on them and see if people would buy them, so I said, yup you got it, Yes. I arrived the next day to hang six framed photographs and before my class was over, I had sold them all. I couldn’t believe it. I would repeat this process three more times and each time the photographs sold out. I was delighted, terrified, and a totally flabbergasted, but so thankful that I said Yes. I am so grateful  that Holly gave me this wonderful chance to display and sell my work.

A few months ago, Beth began offering different Artists the chance to have an art show at her store during the Holiday season. I was hesitant, probably fearful is a better word but I said Yes. I was able to sell my photographs and cards and my confidence continued to blossom. I have attended many art shows but have never been the subject of one and I learned more than I can say from that one experience. Yes! Thanks Beth.

As if my cup hadn’t already runneth over, I received the opportunity of a lifetime, going to Italy with Beth. She called last February and asked me if I wanted to go with her to Venice, Florence, and Rome for 10 days? I didn’t just say Yes, I shouted, YES, YES!! The trip changed me as a person and raised my artistic perceptions to levels I haven’t even  processed completely. I was awestruck, inspired, and  astounded by the beauty and the culture of Italy,. The country, the people, the food, the wine, and the art work, sublime, a totally out-of-body experience. Everywhere I went I snapped pictures on the move, clicking away on my camera like a maniac. I was spinning and whirling, pausing and shooting at a breakneck pace. I stopped so many times to take  pictures, Beth was afraid she would lose me somewhere in Rome just turning in circles cackling with delight. I just couldn’t stop taking pictures of buildings, canals, churches, bridges, mountains, cathedrals, museums, art, architecture, Pope Francis, and food, lots and lots of pictures of food.

What I learned from 2013 is that my dreams can be bigger and more limitless than I could imagine. If I can let go of my need to orchestrate my life and follow the breadcrumbs to where I supposed to go, my destiny unfolds in technicolor and with great clarity. Besides battling upstream is so much harder than traveling with the current. I found that I could put my energies to better use and push myself to grow, develop and to create in ways I have not yet explored or as yet discovered. 

The people I have met on WordPress were among the first people who gave me the confidence to believe in myself when I finally summoned the courage to post my art. Each blogger has opened themselves up and shared their talents with me and others, and for that I am eternally grateful. Just seeing all the amazing work that creative people are contributing all over the world, humbles me. With just a click of a button, the blogging community embraces other Artists who have the courage and can bear the vulnerability and fear necessary, to reach out and claim their dreams.  To say that I have been influenced, inspired and amazed by these fellow Artists, is an understatement. Thank you hardly seems enough but I am grateful for your contributions and for your kind support.

For 2014, my aim is to continue to grow as an Artist and as a person. I will move with purpose and faith to further propel myself beyond my own perceived boundaries,expectations, and self imposed limits . I will continue saying Yes to new opportunities as they appear in my life. I will continue to value the experiences and the people who have helped shape the Artist that I am today and the Artist I hope to be one day. Once I stepped away from fear and the negative nay-sayers, I found a community of fellow Artists who have encouraged, supported and inspired me every step of my journey. Here’s hoping 2014 exceeds all of our wildest expectations.

Thank You All.

discovery…

All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory.   I was naive.

   I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with:  that I am nobody but myself.”

Ralph Ellison

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Still Life Photography…

In addition to the end of the year chaos and signing up for summer camps, (for the kids not me), I finally took advice from my dear friend Beth, to begin printing and selling my card photographs in her store, Simply Soaps and online through my own website.

I originally went with the name Still Life Photos but I soon discovered there were many businesses with that title and so I decided to pick a new name with more meaning to me and less confusion. I enlisted the help of my eleven year old son, Noah, who was convinced he could come up with a better name. He has also begun lobbying for the right to become a full partner, stay tuned.

For three days he searched the Thesaurus and online, and finally he announced proudly, that the new name for my photo card business would be, “Art Strong Photographs!” He was so excited and I thought the name was a fantastic choice and so Art Strong Photography is born and the website will debut July 10, 2013. 

So please take a look at Artists Promenade, enjoy the photos, and please visit Art Strong Photographs on July 10, 2013 and order the photo cards that make you smile. If you would like to order a photograph before the website debut on July 10, 2013, I can be reached at ncgraham@artstrongphotography.com or you can leave a message on this site as well.

Thanks to everyone, family and friends, who encouraged, pushed, cajoled and dared me to step out on faith, one more time, in order to fulfill my dreams. I am learning to say, “Yes” to opportunities and new experiences as they arise and the rewards, personally and professionally, have been enormous.

To the blogging community, your creativity and bravery knows no bounds. I have found my courage and creativity, along with all of you, so thank you.

Nikki

Welcome Summer…

Welcome summer, it’s time to take a moment and reboot, a time to take stock before the summer officially arrives and demands scatter us here and there.

The one thing I have learned about cultivating creativity and inspiration, you cannot summon it like ordering fries, you have to take the time to coax it out of your mind’s eye, allow it to stew, marinate, and collate until you can embark on your artistic journey with intention, delight, and focus again.

 Sometimes I forget that I need to replenish my spirit in order to have an abundance of goodwill and curiosity regarding the people, places and things in my midst. Stillness is required, silence optional, aloneness essential, in a sense, I am  the stage for creativity and innovation to enter.

 There is no place for the harried and weary in the land of artistic endeavors, or for evolutionary visionaries like us. It is a known truth that it is imperative to take time for yourself, be alone and let inspiration lead you down a merry lane with no destination in mind, in order to open the channels of creativity and invention. I know, what’s the objective? A logical question, however logic and practical are not allowed on this journey, the result is not the objective!

For me frivolity, whimsy and daydreaming are the balm for my artistically overwhelmed inner artist. It is necessary for me to take a few steps back, break a few rules, and nurture my creative spirit. I need time to be alone, a hard commodity to acquire, I know, but when I do, I intend to relish the time, soak up inspiration, and fill my cup so when it runneth over with creativity and expression once again, I am ready, willing and able to share.

 So welcome summer take a seat, sit awhile, help me savor the moment and allow me to replenish my cup. Taking time for my soul is a prerequisite, number one on the artist’s agenda. That and lazily daydreaming on the grass, sitting on a beach, listening to the waves, feeling a much-needed breeze in the summer heat, and eating good food cooking on the grill, while music plays in the background with loved ones all around, destination…sublime.

Happy Summer Everyone..

exploration

I am setting out to expand and explore the nature of creativity and art. I think my limited knowledge about “famous artists” allowed me to minimize their “creative process.” It is necessary to show up each day for your art because it is in the doing that the art is shaped, formed and defined.

Looking only at the art hanging in museums I rarely thought about the endless hours the artist spent conceiving, visualizing, constructing, daring, trying, failing, and testing their creative boundaries to finally producing something they can be proud of, something they call art.

I have discovered all around me “artists” working and developing their art, quietly, modestly and with little fanfare. So out of the shadows these artists will emerge and I couldn’t be more delighted to witness their creative steps and introduce them to all of you. They are my family and friends and they inspire me with their creativity.