When last I wrote, I had just moved house. I was working my first summer at our island book store and I was rather busy. I had every intention of returning to blog writing but life had it’s own plans for me. We adopted a darling kitten for my son. Unfortunately, the day after we brought the new fur ball home, my beloved sixteen year old cat, Sarah, fell ill. She struggled with poor health for the rest of the year and died shortly after Christmas. The kitten was devastated at the passing of her companion and I am still in mourning for the loss of one of my best friends. We also endured a Hurricane last year that flooded the island and our home. We were luckier than a lot of people in North Carolina and didn’t lose anything of great value. Winter has been a familiar economic struggle. The perils of life on a southern barrier island.
Self portrait with Sarah
Self portrait with Alina or “Baby”
Despite all this, I have not been entirely unfortunate. I actually managed to be quite productive with photography in the last year. I shot two weddings, an elopement, an engagement, several family groups and I enjoyed some great sessions with friends. My drawing ceased completely but I did paint a portrait in acrylic and I experimented some with paper mache and embroidering directly onto photographs.
I have started drawing again in the last few days. As always, I hope I can keep it up ! I have been very active on instagram lately – https://www.instagram.com/carolwoolgar/ . I have discovered that it is the best place to find amazing artistic talent and inspiration is as essential to me as breathing.
This was taken in the Spring. I have been very busy with my new job and editing images for paid commissions. I had a moment today to take a peek at images waiting, unedited on my hard drive. I found this. It’s melancholy but I think I like it. It makes me think of Alice and the looking glass and of a giant crystal ball.
Above is my favorite image from the annual Ocrafolk Festival. It was muddy and hot but that did not seem to dampen the atmosphere. The musicians were lively and crowd was happy. My favorite band was Kaira Ba who were wonderful performers. A great dancer motivated the crowd with his own dancing, resulting in my second favorite image below:
My plan to get settled into a regular blogging routine may have to wait until my life becomes a bit more, errr… routine ! My little family and I have been living on a 42 foot houseboat for seven years. Now that my offspring is enormous – six years old and getting taller by the day – we have simply run out of living space. We are moving back onto land and I am so excited that I can hardly contain it. However, my life is currently chaotic. My recent drawings have been limited to fun collaborations with the wee boy and the photography has really been put on hold. It’s kind of frustrating and I am starting to get grumpy. Lack of artistic outlet/output makes me grumpy but if I can put up with this for a teensy bit longer, everything will be ok. It will be more than that, it will be stellar ! I will finally have my own little home studio. I will have a place for all of my media.
The new place is an old and strange house and it is quite a fixer upper but it has lots of windows and a yard. I keep imagining all the ways to photograph inside and around it. That is, after I paint every last square inch of it. Sigh. I think I might paint a whimsical mural on my little boy’s bedroom wall. I might paint one on mine.
Memorial weekend has come and gone and tomorrow I must return to work. Things are heating up on Ocracoke Island. This coming weekend we have the Ocrafolk Festival with three days of music, art and storytelling. At the Book Store where I work, we will be having a book signing by author Donald Davis and on Sunday, the last festival day, I will be out taking pictures of the goings on. Maybe I can share some of these images next week !
Creative block can come in many forms. Often we don’t know that we are blocked. Often our blocks are self imposed. Pressure to perform blocks me like nothing else but only when the person I am performing for is myself. Weird. When I have a deadline I have to meet for other people, I always come through. I might procrastinate and I may be less than one hundred percent happy with my end “product” whatever that may be but only because I am a perfectionist. I still perform well under pressure of a deadline for other people.
I have never been a faithful keeper of a journal or diary – an example of a daily deadline set for myself at different times in my life. I think this quote from the book I am reading might go some way to explaining why: “When she read the letter, Juliet winced, as anybody does on discovering the preserved and disconcerting voice of some past fabricated self. She wondered at the sprightly cover-up, contrasting with the pain of her memories.” ‘Runaway’. Alice Munro
Diary writing has always felt a little inauthentic, edited, contrived and never truly private. All of my re-reading has made me feel embarrassed by my “old self”. My dream recordings, on the other hand, I have to exclude from this. At several different times in my life, I have also tried to keep a dream diary. It always starts out well. I remember my dreams and record them for several days in a row. Then, I get blocked. I cannot remember my dreams and it is as if, by the mere act of trying to remember them, I am causing them to slip away. Then I stop trying to write them down. For years. This is sad because all of the dreams I have recorded are precious. I remember them and they help me to understand my life and myself. But why does it have to be all or nothing ? Maybe that’s where the problem lies. Nowadays, if the dream is really significant or particularly beautiful, I have a notebook that I keep close to the bed and I write down as much as I can. No pressure. I think what I am looking for in my dreams, is inspiration. I have been re-learning to draw and paint and once I get past the basics of how to do it, I will need subject matter. I think the answer might be in my dreams
I am hardly a child, I know, but there is something about this self portrait that reminds me of the Childlike Empress from ‘The Neverending Story’.
I am less happy with myself, since I have started gaining weight. Part of that , I am sure, comes from the societal pressure to be skinny that many women feel. But, mostly, I think it’s because I have been thin for most of my life and I don’t feel right with the extra weight. I don’t have anything particularly insightful to say on this subject. It’s one of those common complaints. I take less pictures of myself these days because of how I feel about my body.
I still enjoy taking black and white pictures of my face. I have taken countless pictures of my face and it always looks different to me. I feel like I am having a conversation with myself when I look at the image above. I am looking for answers to questions. What is most important ? How am I going to fit everything in ? Can I really become as good at drawing and painting as I want to be ? Can I continue to improve my photography ? Why am I the way I am – that all I desire is to be accomplished as a visual artist ?
Of course, I’m over simplifying my desires here.
And, now that I have gone and given the image a little (whiny) context, it’s less open to interpretation. For this reason, I do not usually title my photographs. What if I had’t said anything ? Could my self portrait be a still from film noir, or an indie Sci Fi film ? It’s possible.
Here are a few of my favorite black and white selfies from the last 15 years –
and more here. I will probably be doing this for the rest of my days.