I meant to share this much sooner, but with all of my out-of-the-country travels, and still not having a working phone, I am just now getting around to it.
Last month I was featured over on the Linenbeauty blog! You can check out the interview here.
There are so many amazing dialogues over there with inspiring women pursuing slow living and simple paths and I feel so flattered to be amongst them.
In our interview I mention a little bit about The Wild and Wonderful American Road Trip, and the portrait of me is actually the only film photo I’ve shared so far from the 34 rolls of film I shot on the trip. I have chosen not to release any of the images digitally until some of the projects I am working on with them are completed, but there will be an opportunity to see more of them soon!
Thank you all for reading and engaging with me on these ideas and topics. As always, I love talking to you about them, don’t ever hesitate to reach out over instagram or email!
I meant to share this much sooner, but with all of my out-of-the-country travels, and still not having a working phone, I am just now getting around to it.
my life is saturated with art.
not just my own, but others.
i am constantly moved to great depths in short amounts of time by the words and images and sounds i come across. i am trying to listen more intently and pay closer attention to the things that move me in just that way.
there is something there worth meditating on and exploring further.
i have been wanting to share more of these sources of inspiration, and so you might see more of these sorts of posts popping up here on the online journal as time goes on.
(i am also going to practice saying less and letting things just speak for themselves. so i won’t say anything else on this idea for now…)
today’s inspiration was this poem by David Whyte, shared with me by a friend.
the book that this piece is from is now on my reading list.
THE BELL AND THE BLACKBIRD
of a bell
or a blackbird
from a corner
into this life
or inviting you
to one that waits.
either way wants you
to be nothing
but that self that
is no self at all,
wants you to walk
to the place
where you find
you already know
how to give
every last thing
that is also
the meeting itself,
you have always
carried with you
as you walk
by every corner
of the world
going through an alpaca fleece // photo by Meagan Abell
that’s the current state i feel some parts of my creativity are in. not for a lack of passion, but simply because i cannot do everything at once.
depending on how long you’ve followed me, you might not even know that i’m a fiber artist and knitwear designer.
i started an Etsy shop in 2011 which was part of my full time work until about 2015. it grew into a very successful side of my business. i designed seasonal collections of knitwear centered around themes of inspiration (examples: On The Road, Gypsy Soul and OOAK pieces inspired by my travels), i was on the front page frequently, became a featured shop, interviewed in a book, had pop ups with the likes of Madewell and Quirk Gallery, was featured in various publications and by all appearances had “made it” in the Etsy scene of success.
but it didn’t feel like success. i was overworked, staying up until 4am knitting to fulfill holiday orders, warring with the desire to remain small so as to have my hand in all of aspects of my business and wanting to create each piece myself but unable to keep up with the demands alone. not to mention still running my photography business which entailed primarily shooting weddings at the time. and then Etsy went public and i quickly grew frustrated and disenchanted with a platform that used to be exclusively for handmade and vintage wares and was now blurring lines by allowing factories in China to open up shops and claim their mass produced goods as “handmade”. (this is a simplified rant of the many complicated changes that have happened at Etsy over the past few years but it was definitely an element in my frustration and stress of maintaining my own shop)
and then of course too there was the realization of not knowing how my yarn was made that led to my pursuing sustainable knitwear. learning how to process wool on my own, spin it into yarn, dye with natural dyes and plants and create pieces that felt like true representations of me as an artist and embodied my ethics and beliefs.
(which is what these woven pieces are—all yarn i hand spun from a wide array of fibers and some i even processed from raw fleece!)
but other than a few custom orders, i never fully went all in with that venture. perhaps because i was hesitant to grow it to the size of my previous endeavor, or because it was too different of a market for my current customer base, or because it simply became an art form that was just for me-and not something i had to monetize and sell.
or perhaps because it just wasn’t the season for this dream. who knows?
my Etsy shop is technically still open, i’ve slowly been letting the listings expire and i plan to close it fully after selling all of my extra inventory this fall.
but this type of creating is still such a huge part of me.
until recent years i knit almost every day from the time that i was 8 years old.
i still want to work on a sheep farm to learn a more in depth way to incorporate the whole “from sheep to sweater” idea in my fiber art.
i still am so turned on by textiles and meticulously study sweater construction.
but as a person with endless interests and passions, i am learning that each have their season. just because i am not full-time pursuing one doesn’t mean that it’s any less a part of me or less valid because it isn’t recognized by others and in the public eye.
i’m a little all-or-nothing with most things in my life, so this isn’t always easy for me. but it’s a lesson that’s good for my hands to learn how to hold.
the kind of girls who follow their dreams, not trends.
the kind of girls you want as friends, sisters, partners, mothers.
the kind of girls who encourage you to be more you by simply being unapologetically themselves.
the kind of girls you will be late for buses and trains for.
the kind of girls to go dancing with under late night city lights.
the kind of girls who have wild and relentless ambition.
the kind of girls who listen with their hearts.
the kind of girls you will book plane tickets with.
these are the kinds of girls i feel grateful to not only know, but call dear friends.
these three strong, independent and beautiful sisters inspire me endlessly.
i feel lucky that from time to time our lives line up to allow us to be underneath the same little patch of sky and with the same rooftops beneath our feet.
travel dates are to let you know when i'm going to be somewhere other than home (which for me is sweet beautiful Virginia) and have availability for additional bookings for photography work.
because while, yes, i totally can and will come to you for a session wherever you're located, if you see that i'm already going to be near you during a certain time it'd be more cost efficient to go ahead and book a shoot while i'm already planning on being in your area!
plus i've decided in 2018 to offer my photo sessions booked during travel dates at a discounted rate!
what's not to love right?
for the latest travel dates announcements check out the blog tag! or my instagram story highlights.
Feel free to message me on Instagram or shoot me an email if you have any interest!
Norfolk, VA August 28th-30th
New York City September 9th-12th
London October 17th-22nd
Greece October 22nd-30th
Texas December 30th-January 7th
this is actually a post i wrote back in the Spring but in an effort to share more of the many drafts i have on here, i am sharing it tonight.
all Summer it has been an idea that has held up for me and has been on my mind many times during the past few months.
i would love to hear your thoughts on it, as always, if you feel like reaching out and sharing them.
this is an idea that has been circling the walls of my mind all week.
sparked by a late night conversation with a friend over beers and gin and tonics and black bean burgers (just kidding. there was only one black bean burger. mine...)
i don't remember his exact wording but he essentially said:
well you know don't you, that the moments you are nostalgic for, that you remember with fondness in your mind, are the ones in which you were truly YOU. you were yourself, as you were meant to be. unhindered and uncaring about the world and others perspective of you.
and for some reason this blew. my. mind.
perhaps because i am one to always be searching for enlightenment/self actualization/knowing who i am in every new season and aspect of my life and i am somewhat of a junky for self help/tips on living your best life and discovering your truest self.
but so much of that learning and search can be clouded by the external voices of the world.
i believe we were each born with inherent worth and value, unable to be earned or acquired by any worldly action or accomplishment, and yet that is not largely how i live my life a lot of the time. the reason for which is often because i have lost sight of who i am.
and because the day-to-day moments and the now can often be clouded, rushed, confusing and hurried, it is often in looking back at the past that this clarity, this recognition of inherent self, is gained for me.
(the age-old adage of hindsight being 20/20 of course also applies)
and as my friend brought this thought to the table, granted, largely expanded upon and explored by my all-at-once anchored mind, i immediately had moments in my life that i recognized and indeed often go back to in just such a way. with just such nostalgia. and i see, with such precision and clarity that those are indeed the moments that i have been, and truly am, myself: as i was made to be.
a young girl running around in the woods and arrested in thought by different shapes of individual blades of grass.
the moments of peace and calm within my apartments in the fan.
walking around Richmond in the evenings and observing the day exchange pace with the night.
the linear travel and connection of curiosity and play that encapsulated my childhood in boatyards while my Father worked on his boats.
the sitting in grass, in the arms of trees, on the worn decks of old houses, in the back seats of cars, all over the world reading countless books.
being cross legged on the floor listening to my Mother read to me and introduce to me at such a young age a broader view of something more than what was my immediate and physical world.
driving alone on back country roads.
pockets of time in my room alone creating endlessly hour after hour in varying mediums and materials. losing track of time as i taught myself new art forms and lessons and allowed my curiosities and love for process to shape the outcome more than my expectations.
these are who i am.
largely strung together during my childhood and during my adolescence into adulthood (a topic we also discussed, the reality of the selves we were as children being our truest selves and most telling of who we inherently are)
i don't know why this feels so important.
maybe it doesn't to anyone else but me.
but i feel as though it is, and something in me feels that it is an idea meant for others other than just myself.
so here is where i record it, as with so many other things on here that can be listed under the tagline: or so i feel.
i am an extremely goal, list and dream oriented and motivated person (see the goals tag here on the journal for proof). i have stated that i am a process junkie, but i am also addicted to getting.shit.done.
i am the kind of person who will almost-always make their bed as soon as they get out of it, but if for some reason the whole day goes by without it being made, i will make it right before i get in it at night.
i am also the kind of person who will add three things on the “to do” list that i’ve already accomplished just so i can check them off, who will use every last drop of shampoo before buying a new bottle and who will absolutely under no circumstances leave the house with only one errand to complete.
i like efficiency, progress, organization and accomplishing tasks. i have a really hard time not feeling like i am getting things done because, well, i always have a list of things to get done.
i also have a hard time not wrapping up my worth in what it is i do and separating that from who i am (but i digress).
i recently got back from a two month road trip and needless to say i have been flooded with inspiration and ideas and motivation ever since. more on that another time, but the point that’s relative to this post is that i have had a lot of ideas since that trip. a lot of project concepts, goals and endless tasks i want to complete.
last night i texted a friend:
“do you ever feel overwhelmed by all of the things you're passionate about and all of your ideas and goals and all of the things you want to do?"
this, is a common problem for me. i have zero problems generating ideas. i am the ideas (wo)man. i am easily intrigued, curious, interested and fascinated by a wide array of things and as such my brain gets fired more often then not by the endless sparks i am coming into contact with. so it’s not ideas i have a hard time with, but the choosing of which ideas to act on. i tend to get overwhelmed with all of my plans and projects often to the point where i don’t act on any of them. it’s that paradox of the world being your oyster but you get too caught up in trying to figure out which side of the oyster to start from.
(and before you say "just pick one and start” it’s not that easy... i mean, completely hypothetical example, but if you wanted to build a tiny house, convert a sprinter van, gut an airstream, live on a sail boat and buy a teardrop trailer how would you choose??)
after commiserating with a “yea me too” my friend reminded me that there are different kinds of goals. namely: sprints vs. marathons.
sprint goals are the things you can accomplish quickly and without much long term effort. things you can get done with just a short concentrated amount of energy in a small amount of time.
making your bed in the morning
starting a new instagram account
send an email proposal
start a newsletter
have a yard sale
sign up for an art class you’ve been wanting to take
marathon goals take more long term planning, are often step and task oriented and take dedication over a longer and more steady period of time. they still enact progress and forward movement but in a slower manner than that of a sprint.
guys, i don’t know why but this helped me so much last night. my brain had been on hyperactive overdrive mode since Monday, i’d spent a total of 13 hours in two days just sitting in front of my computer working and brainstorming at my local coffee shop. and being able to further organize my already long list of goals and new project ideas, into something that felt more manageable and digestible was such a relief.
however, all of that to say, being the dreamer that i am...
i have a lot of marathon goals.
you’re a wildflower though, you know? not one of those perfectly manicured and pre-planned pampered garden flowers. or secured and tended-to potted porch plants.
you are a wayward side-of-the-road surprise, with a mind-of-your-own way about you.
a varied find.
unruly at times.
often amidst weeds.
(you aren’t afraid to be in mixed company.)
here and there.
the nomad of flowers. and really it’s about time you embraced that. it really is. because most everyone else sees that about you.
not that you need their validation to be what you were made to be. i’m only saying that if what you are is so obvious to everyone else, why are you pretending that it’s not obvious to you?
embrace your roots. let your seeds sow where they fall. allow the wind to scatter and plant you where it may. for that is the way you travel. that is how you find your home(s): growing freely without intervention.
Charlie Umhau and i used to be neighbors back when we both lived in Richmond, Virginia.
it was a while before i realized the jovial wild-haired being, who always greeted me on the sidewalk with a grin and a wave, was the same one on Instagram commenting on and resonating with my wild and creative musings (and here is just one of the many examples of how the internet has brought the most remarkable people into my physical world).
though we really only had the opportunity to become friends and hang out for a short time before he moved to New Orleans, there was an instantaneous connection in our conversations and ways of viewing and loving the world. from our common ideas on rewilding, our mutual experience of feeling a little-bit different than everyone else around us, to answering the call of leading and living a life counter to what our society told us to live. such was the scope of more than a few late night talks over beer and underneath city lights and starry skies.
all coupled with the recognition of our lives being fueled by the art of our self-made themes, concepts and projects.
if you love it, it will survive
ride boldly ride
hope is a verb with it’s sleeves rolled up
writings from a would be beatnik
anywhere on the water is a place i call home
learning to let a little green into my life
not to mention, we both lived in proverbial castles, though his was a castille.
(you'll have to follow his Instagram to learn more about that and similarly, those of you who have not been following me will need to familiarize yourself with my documentation of #theknittingqueenscastle)
however this dwelling was not just in our minds, but in the real world too.
for we are both royalty.
The Knitting Queen meets The Cowboy Prince.
we’ve talked extensively in the way of how to be in the world as artists but also in what it means to be a part of humanity in general, within the boundaries of that desire. the balance of being in the world as individuals but also as a part of a larger body of others. staying true to inner drives of creation though not to the point of alienation.
i wish i could convey some of those conversations and ideas to you now, but the second-hand translation wouldn’t even begin to do them justice.
i will say however, with the deepest sincerity, that his way of creating and being an artist is unrivaled by anyone else i’ve ever met before, or since.
i have truly never encountered another soul like his.
his themes of resilience of the human spirit, strength, hope, and action are bold and both vocally and visually portrayed in not just his art but all that he does.
he is one of the few i feel i can truly say who not just create his art, but embodies and lives it, in every single aspect possible. through his painting, writing, sewing, pattern making, sculpting, drawing, and countless other trades and skills woven in between, each piece created, whether it’s wearable by body or wall, is steeped with symbolism and meaning.
i am going to be incredibly transparent and open when i say that i am not sure i have ever encountered an artist and art that has so completely intrigued and moved me.
in sharing this man and his art, vision and space with you, i so badly want to do it all justice through these photos and in my words.
but i think part of this project for me is realizing that i am unable to do that.
to encounter another art form is something that transcends secondary interpretation.
to see a print of an original painting does not move you nearly as much as seeing and smelling the real thing. hearing a recording of a song can hit you in the chest, but not nearly as deep and bone rattling as being at a concert standing in front of the stage, hearing the music come at you and feeling it in your body right then and there.
such is also the case, at times, with seeing photographs of things.
but my heart in this project, of photographing artists in their spaces and studios, has a few intentions behind it.
being that i first and foremost want to expand the understanding and thought process of what it means to be an artist.
secondly, that i want to simply blend and share an art form of mine with another’s and emphasis what a privilege that is. because i think often we are meant to mesh and blend our lives and passions with others more often than we perhaps allow for.
thirdly, i want to highlight some of the amazing people i’ve met over the years in all manner of places, doing such genuine heart-felt things and who truly treat their lives as their proverbial canvas.
last but not least, i am looking to stretch myself in my own ideas and understanding of what it is in me that feels alive and passionate about my various art forms through witnessing the fire and passion of others practicing theirs.
film is one of my favorite ways to create, to document. largely because of the intentionality and slowness and care i have to execute in the midst of it, but also because it teaches me to appreciate imperfections.
blurred edges. out of focus planes. light leaks.
some would argue that these are the makings of a bad photograph, but i beg to differ.
because they are real.
they are raw.
they are capturing exactly what it was in front of the lens at the time, unapologetically, with no filter.
i can achieve certain elements of that in digital photography at times, even with my iPhone on occasion (for every single photo on my instagram feed is shot and shared from my iphone because i have always been somewhat of a purest in that way— feeling as though sharing my DSLR images on a platform originally meant for phone snaps was “cheating”.) but i cannot tell you the last time i didn’t actually take 15 shots to get the one that i wanted, or shared a photo i hadn’t edited in some way.
in film i can’t do that.
i only have 36 frames on a roll of film (sometimes even only 24 or 12) and part of my self imposed limitations with this project was to shoot only one roll of film for each session and to share the photos afterwards as-is, without any touching up.
i have found that it is within limitations that my best, and most loved, work is created. the shots i probably never would have gotten had i been given all of the luxuries and conveniences of digital technology.
of course there is also a certain heightened love and appreciation for that which is scarce and in small supply.
not to say that these are incredible photographs, publish worthy, jaw dropping.
accept, well, to me they kind of are.
they are once-in-a-life-time.
because that’s what a photograph is: a millisecond captured of an irreplaceable moment in time.
they are the result of my rawest and most vulnerable kind of image making.
i have to overcome a lot of insecurities and self doubt in creating these photos because i am not proficient in film and am not as practiced at documenting with it as i am with digital (which is my paid profession).
and i think that is what i find most precious and special about these sessions: that these artists are extending to me a similar kind of vulnerability.
they have welcomed me into their most sacred space, the place where they create and put out the art that they just can’t help but do. the things they go to bed thinking about, dream of in their sleep and then wake up with in the morning still on their minds.
because they have to create.
they were made to do this specific thing, and they don’t know how to not do it. as an artist who holds the spaces in which she creates as very reverent and sacred, i know all too well how meaningful it is for someone to be willing to share that with others.
with all of that being said, i am going to let these blurry imperfect photos not speak for Charlie and his art, but at least start an introduction for you.
if you would like to hear more of Charlie’s own voice and witness more of his process in creation, i highly encourage you to follow his instagram account: @thecowboyprince. it is one of my favorites to keep up with.
(and be sure to read the captions, because that’s where most of the magic lies…)
if you enjoyed this Artists In Film essay please check out the original one i put out!
keep an eye out, because there are more essays in the works!
especially with the impending Wild + Wonderful American Road Trip that i am embarking on next month.
thanks for reading friend.
this project is one that is incredibly close to my heart and it means the world that you paused for it.
i don't remember the first time i thought about driving across the country.
there are many dreams that live inside of me that feel like they've just always been there. often i can remember various details and mile stones that attributed to their growth and permanence within me, but i don't always remember their conception.
the American road trip is one of those kinds of dreams.
(a related side note: after i wrote this whole post, i vaguely recalled writing about this dream years ago and after searching my archives, came across this from 2013. so, you know, there's at least one recorded mile stone for you.)
i think sometimes there is this unspoken expectation in our society, in regards to our dreams and the things we tell others we want to do. which is that for some reason they require justification by means of history and long-time desire and even a communicated "always" to validate them. i'm not sure why that is really. perhaps the drive to be different and one-of-a-kind and original. we didn't just see someone on instagram do that and now we want to, we are deeper and more thought out and planned than that. we wanted to do that before it was "cool".
all of that to say, it feels important to communicate the "i've always wanted to do this" tagline not as a way of validating my desire, and elevating it over anyone else's that may be similar, but more so to simply revel in, and celebrate, the finality of finally embarking and choosing action and motion in regards to this long-held dream.
a fact that feels important in more ways than one for me. many of which i am not able, nor will i try, to communicate here.
but that idea, of getting in my car and driving from one end of the country to the other, and back again, as cliche American right-of-passage and Jack Kerouac as it may be, just feels like one of those things i need to do.
not to mention i have somewhat had this long-time obsession with being on the road. some of you may even remember one of my past knitwear collections being designed around that theme.
for so long there has been a rhythm of restlessness in me. indeed i have a hard time remembering any kind of living without it. it's even translated in small long-ago-ways in my childhood. wanting to accompany my Father to run various weekend errands or visiting never-been-before places with my Mother. or even the short reels of memory that contain closer-to-home moments, though still ones of motion, in the way of dancing and running around the apartment i was born in.
i have always loved movement. in all of it's various forms.
set in motion perhaps by the above reasons and also the privilege of many family trips to far-away places in my adolescence that attributed to shaping my curiosity and perspective.
and of course a voracious appetite for reading has lent a hand or two over the years as well.
i tried to quiet it for a time, that desire to go and move, appease it with other smaller things. short-term things. often guided by the desires of others as opposed to my own. a thing i am really the only one to blame for. if there is any blame that even needs to be cast. which i suppose there isn't. for that would convey some manner of regret, which i don't really have, because i recognize all that i have lived and done before now has been what has shaped me into the person i presently am.
a person i actually quite like.
but it took me a few years in the in-between of wide-eyed-innocence, and whatever you would call my current state, to realize that.
to realize that the voice telling me to "go.run.move" cannot be quieted.
i don't know if i will always have this insatiable desire to wander and roam, but i know that i have it now, and now is all i am promised.
so that is the moment i am going to live in.
i will be leaving very near the eve of the first day of Summer, next month. not exactly planned, but a happy happenstance. for what better time to set out on a Summer road trip than the first day of said season?
i will be gone for a few months and i have a list of places i must see, people i want to visit and meet, and experiences to settle into and feel with every bit of my skin and bones.
but there's going to be a lot of wandering. a lot of free wheeling. a lot of let's-see-what-happens.
partially because i have never been one for planning every single detail of my life, and partially because the times i have always seem to end up falling by the wayside as counter to what was supposed to happen in the first place.
i would be lying if i said there weren't some nerves jumping around inside of me. i live in Virginia and the farthest i've driven alone is Georgia and the farthest i've driven with others is probably a toss up between Maine, Florida and Michigan.
while i've been to many of the points in this country (32 of the 50 states to be exact), and many of the places in-between that connect them, most have been traveled to by plane. which feels in this particular way a kind of short cut and is coupled with an odd feeling of loss in regards to many of the unseen pieces-places-people that make up our country and that seem somewhat elusive and unable to be explored and experienced with a quick two-week trip.
SO to wrap this up, here are some things i do want to specifically say:
1. i have several photography jobs along the way so if you live in any state out there other than Virginia and you have a desire to get some photos of some kind taken by me, let me know! it doesn't hurt to at least express interest, because you never know what could work out! as stated on The Traveling Photographer page, sessions booked during my travels are always cheaper because i waive travel fees because i'm already on the road.
2. if you have a thing, a place, a food, a person or really just about anything that you have experienced or met or seen in this big beautiful country of ours, that you want to share or suggest for my trip, i would love to hear from you. instagram DM me or shoot me an email. i admit i am somewhat overwhelmed with the long list of things i already am trying to organize and connect into a cohesive plan, but i just can't say no to more suggestions (especially because i have a feeling this isn't going to be the last trip of this kind) so please bring them on!
big or small, i want them all.
3. i am looking specifically for suggestions and "nominees" if you will for my Artists In Film series. so if you're a person who's doing interesting things, you know someone doing interesting things, or there's an artist you follow somewhat anonymously but would love to learn more about, message me!
i want to continue to expand the idea of what it is to be an artist and to showcase beautiful people in all walks of life who are doing things they love doing.
4. if you want to say hi and EVEN if you have a guest room/couch to crash on/yard to camp in, well i would kind of love that too. again, much of this trip is about meeting new people and making new friends, so i would love it if you wanted to be added to that list of persons (regardless of whether or not you're willing to host me! meeting over coffee/walks/drinks are also welcome.)
so i suppose all that is left to say is what the aforementioned, and possibly overly quoted (especially by yours truly in 2014), Jack Kerouc said:
"Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road."