Tuesday, February 27

self portrait challenge ~ black & white {4}

self portrait, canon digital rebel xt

I chose this self portrait because it shows a very raw and vulnerable side of me. I feel this way about a few pieces of my life but one in particular that I will share with you is my art. Whether it be photography, jewelry, drawing or writing, for years I was timid to share these pieces of myself. I hid them away and created during my quiet times where no one else could judge or criticize. I am tender about my creations. No matter how hard I try not to care what others think, I do care. It is deeply personal.

Going to design school was a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that it helped me be more brave about coming out of my creative bubble and displaying my art for all the class to see. A curse because I had to endure critique and found myself comparing my art to others and questioning my ability as a designer and artist. No matter how many fabulous things were said about my creations...it was that one not so fabulous comment that stood out above all the rest. I know critique is necessary for growth in our talents, just as pain is necessary for growth on our path, but it still hurts our inner child that wants to believe there is no right or wrong way to create when it comes from our heart. This is the only way I know how to create...from my heart.

That is why people like SARK and Sabrina have rocked my world. They, among many other friends in my life, have inspired me to nurture my inner child and explore my talents with freedom and abandon. No rules. This is the perfect path for a sensitive soul like me.

I still struggle with comparing myself to others and when I do this, I have a tendency to run into a corner and hide my art. It is a journey and during those times I need to hold my inner child and tell her there is no right or wrong when it comes to her creations.

Here is an excerpt from "Letters to a Young Poet" that I like to read often for a reminder of the type of artist and designer I want to be:

Your work needs to be independent of others' work.
You must not compare yourself to others.
No one can help you. You have to help yourself.
Criticism leads to misunderstandings and defeatism.
Work from necessity and your compulsion to do it.
Work on what you know and what you are sure you love.
Don't observe yourself too closely, just let it happen.
Don't let yourself be controlled by too much irony.
Live in and love the activity of your work.
Be free of thoughts of sin, guilt and misgiving.
Be touched by the beautiful anxiety of life.
Be patient with the unresolved in your heart.
Try to be in love with the questions themselves.
Love your solitude and try to sing with its pain.
Be gentle to all of those who stay behind.
Your inner self is worth your entire concentration.
Allow your art to make extraordinary demands on you.
Bear your sadness with greater trust than your joy.
Do not persecute yourself with how things are going.
It's good to be solitary, because solitude is difficult.
It's good to love, because love is difficult.
You are not a prisoner of anything or anyone.

"Letters to a Young Poet", Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

your words here are open and honest here. i remember standing in front of a classroom in what sometimes felt like i was defending my life, during final presentations in art school. not easy but definitely good if only because it lets you know where you stand with yourself, even in painful situations like those presentations.
this passage is lovely and reminds me to pull this book off my shelf, a gift from a long ago crush who was a comedian with a sensitive soul.

February 27, 2007 at 8:05:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is a very lovely picture of you....how funny you should post an excerpt from Letter To A Young Poet, I am currently reading that book, almost done...how those words resonated with me as well :)
Love and light...

February 27, 2007 at 8:18:00 AM PST  
Blogger Sarah .B. Scott said...

I do not know if all artists feel this way, but I suspect most do. I know that I do. I have really tried not to compare my work with others. It is just not productive. Though I make an effort not to do that, I inevitably do. But, I have learned not to allow my self criticism to stop me, which was huge for me.

February 27, 2007 at 8:40:00 AM PST  
Blogger Susannah Conway said...

this is such a beautiful tender portrait, love, and tender words too. you are an artist to your very core.

and god, how i love Rilke - i keep a dog-earred copy of this by my bed :-) xo

February 27, 2007 at 9:09:00 AM PST  
Blogger Stacy said...

This post really speaks to me on many levels. Your words resonate. Thank you for posting that passage as well. I am printing it as a reminder. "Letters to a Young Poet" is a book I often give as gifts to others, guess I should go back and re-read it myself.

You art is beautiful. Keep creating from your heart. You rock my world.

February 27, 2007 at 9:12:00 AM PST  
Blogger Amanda said...

Such an amazing post. I have always looked to Sabrina and Sark, loving their creations. When I found your blog, I felt the same way about your work...
lots of love.

February 27, 2007 at 9:15:00 AM PST  
Blogger la vie en rose said...

i know what you mean...i've been going through some of this very same thing with my photography class. t and i had an indepth conversation last week about 'constructive critism' and whether there even is such a thing. so i keep repeating my mantra

the world needs MY voice and MY vision

February 27, 2007 at 9:22:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the words others have left before me here. Something as artists we all go through, I actually stopped for awhile out of fear. It wasn't until my daughter was born that I dove back into my photography. Proabably because I was always taking pictures of her. I love the passage & your work really is wonderful. You should feel proud.


February 27, 2007 at 9:23:00 AM PST  
Blogger andrea said...

what a beautiful photo of you denise...

February 27, 2007 at 10:09:00 AM PST  
Blogger Waspgoddess said...

Always look forward to seeing your portrait of the week, and this is very different from what I have seen so far. It's thoughtful and tender and very beautiful.

February 27, 2007 at 10:14:00 AM PST  
Blogger Kristine said...

Thank you.
I needed to hear this today.
I was just starting to question myself as I compared my work to someone else's, wondering about my worth and there you were- beautiful and exposed, providing the thoughts and inspiration I needed.

February 27, 2007 at 10:17:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this...reading this did me good :)

XO Sophie

February 27, 2007 at 12:23:00 PM PST  
Blogger daisies said...

this resonates with me and is a good reminder ... thank you for sharing your beauty and your honesty ...

February 27, 2007 at 2:06:00 PM PST  
Blogger luzie said...

Beautiful you.

I adore Rainer Maria Rilke. And I hear you on the running into a corner and hiding part. That's how I very often felt and still feel about playing the piano. Deeply personal, like you said.


February 27, 2007 at 2:49:00 PM PST  
Blogger Vanessa said...

"Try to be in love with the questions themselves"

I love Rilke... thanks for reminding me why :)

this self portrait is gorgeous and your post compelling and sincere

thank you

February 27, 2007 at 4:08:00 PM PST  
Blogger Jabiz said...

It was so shocking to see this more serious vulnerable side of you. I love it. It is very honest and you look beautiful. As for the whole “will they love my art,” question- it is easy to say who cares, but I think everyone of us who puts ourselves out there and asks the world to notice us is taking a risk. I would love to say, I could careless, but honestly I think art allows us to feel accepted and understood, where nothing else really does. We connect through art, and I think if we cannot achieve this connection, we feel well, not to sound lame but very disconnected and this is not in accordance with our nature.

I love seeing your photos. Keep it up. Oh and you promised you would be over and comment on mine. Feel free to criticize, I have grown tough on the outside.

The Rilke book is genius.

February 27, 2007 at 4:39:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i adore Rilke AND my Bohemian Girl necklace. I know it isn't about what i think or what any potential customer thinks of your art.. but it can't hurt to be reminded that your jewels and photos find very happy homes.

best wishes,


February 27, 2007 at 5:50:00 PM PST  
Blogger Cayden said...

I have been reading your blog for awhile and I am always inspired by the vulnerabilty and truth of your words..Love all of your beautiful work.

February 27, 2007 at 5:53:00 PM PST  
Blogger Alessandra Cave said...

I feel the same, Boho. And the truth is... I'm still hiding so much! So much! I wish I could unleash my Art! Thank you for Rilke's poem. It was beautiful to re-read it in the context of what your wrote too. x

February 27, 2007 at 7:04:00 PM PST  
Blogger Kim Carney said...

Beautiful portrait and post. I feel vulnerable in the work I do day to day in my job, judging, or having editors criticize or art directors tear it apart, or love it, or try to guide me ... somehow I have learned to deal with that in my job and it is not easy. So for my personal artwork, I hate to say it this way ... but I do it only for me, only for the joy of doing it and if I like it then I am thrilled and usually don't care what others think. I think I have to do that because I feel so under the gun in my other. Does that make sense?

February 27, 2007 at 8:00:00 PM PST  
Blogger Frida World said...

You are so lovely, and wise and generous. You share these thoughts and in doing so encourage so many.

I don't even dare to think I am an artist - I have no idea what that would mean for me. I am an activist and a lover of life, and of beauty and on a journey into those dificulties of love and of solitude and to greater and greater fullness in my inner life.

You inspire me and move me and warm me.

Thank you

February 27, 2007 at 8:53:00 PM PST  
Blogger Oneder said...

Every week you seem to grow into an even more amazing person. I've been quietly enjoying your brave thoughts and open heart on this blog for quite some time now, and have finally looked at the various arty businesses you are creating. What awesome ideas and talents!
Keep up the boho fabulousness...

A boho from kiwiland (New Zealand)

February 27, 2007 at 10:56:00 PM PST  
Blogger rubyslippers said...

Thank you for sharing this, Denise. I can relate to this so much. I guess what I am saying is that you are not alone and that I truly appreciate your willingness to share so that others feel acknowledged too. Rilke totally rocks my world!

February 28, 2007 at 10:25:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even vulnerable, you are breathtaking sweet you.

That questioning place...it's not a good one, and I have to say that I can actually relate to it more now. But, as we have discussed, you need to create from the core of you, otherwise, it is not authentic. If you love it, then what is important has been accomplished. Everyone's vision of beauty is different, which is what makes the world go round. One vision is certainly not better than another; just different.

Your vision is unique and wonderful to you (and stunning might I add...*grin*). You own it and nurture it.

Your honesty and sharing is always such a gift honey. Thank you for that.

Love you.

February 28, 2007 at 12:18:00 PM PST  
Blogger Regina said...

It's a very brave soul that is an artist... and you are very brave, dear Denise... just keep being brave...

February 28, 2007 at 1:00:00 PM PST  
Blogger gkgirl said...

i thank you for sharing this.
i needed this today.

February 28, 2007 at 3:27:00 PM PST  
Blogger Lady Prism said...

Do you know why I keep coming here?

Because of your art.

It gives me comfort. And I know it does this to me because the person creating it is real..genuine...and I feel a sense of calm when I see your photos and view your necklaces...

I can't purchase any of them I know...I live much to far...but I feel like I wear them every time I come here...and not just here but I take them with me...a cyber garland that adorns my neck..I can almost feel the smooth surface of the pendant..

When I see your pictures....I feel inspired..strengthened...I can't purchase any of your pictures I'm sorry..I live much to far..but they are in my heart..I carry them with me when I drive and my mind needs rest from traffic..or when I'm crazy harried..I see you..sitting calmly..stringing beads so soulfully....

I'm in SEA and my environment is different..my circumstances too..but your journey..every day...becomes mine as well..the way you cry then dry your eyes..then work on..it's art in itself...

You see...It isn't just your art that's ArT for me....

It's the presence of YoU..your life.. here that is...

I must thank you for giving color to my bloggy' world...

March 1, 2007 at 4:31:00 AM PST  
Blogger Lisa Oceandreamer Swifka said...

It is often difficult but I have learned, mostly through blogging, that unless I am free to be...I am a prisoner inside my creativity. The inner critic is something I have wrestled with for years and it has stopped me from shining as bright as I could. It's really important, and I believe this firmly, that there is NO right and NO wrong when one creates whatever it may be...from the soul. Everything is in the eyes of the beholder, but it is YOUR eyes that matters. If you hold something to them that you have created, and your heart sings from the joy of it, then THAT is your judge. Having said all that I still need to nurture my inner child now and then.

I happen to think your photos, your jewelry and your words most beautiful!

March 1, 2007 at 10:44:00 AM PST  
Blogger Lisa Oceandreamer Swifka said...

I forgot to say how much I loved the poem and that I have not all, but many of SARKs books.

March 1, 2007 at 10:45:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

soooooo beautiful.


March 1, 2007 at 11:49:00 AM PST  
Blogger Colorsonmymind said...


I am speachless. I love you and you continue to teach me so much about taking care of myself and honoring myeslf.

Your growth and creativity shines and inspires me.

I love you
toe to toe

March 5, 2007 at 12:15:00 PM PST  
Blogger gabriella travaline said...

i've enjoyed reading your blog. you are very expressive with your writing. i found myself reading more and more like a good novel. ;o) and thank you for sharing the Rilke poem- very meaningful and inspiring- perfect for this chilly,rainy day in southern New Jersey! from one artist to another- good luck and have fun with your artistic journey thru life in all its joy and hardships!

March 16, 2007 at 9:39:00 AM PDT  

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