Well, the conference is over. On the one hand, it was incredibly invigorating, motivating and inspirational. On the other, I was completely drained when Nell dropped me off at home this afternoon. I went to bed for a five-hour nap. Now I'm up, and I almost don't know where to begin... Okay, I do know where to begin. I need to clean my studio. ;)
There is a sense of urgency that is instilled in us attendees, after attending / experiencing a conference like this. It's as if the truth is magnified: time truly IS slipping away (just like the old 'sands in the hourglass') and, if you are not focused already, your challenge is to seriously re-prioritize your life in order to pursue your career in art, before it's too late ('scuse the morbidity). This is a feeling I'm very well-acquainted with - it's been my philosophy since I had that epiphany at age 35, and it has served as gas in the engine for the past three-and-a-half years! I can report that NOW, at age 38, I truly have accomplished a whole lot in the past three-and-a-half years (and will continue to as long as I am here!).
So, the results are in! The "fear-of-mortality" philosophy REALLY WORKS!! :) :)
This year at the conference, I experienced a bit of a 'creative identity' crisis, at least when it came to choosing my focus. For a year now, I have been consciously identifying myself (privately, to myself) as an illustrator/writer. I completed my first real dummy picture book this year. What an achievement!! So, this weekend, essentially I 'came out of the closet' as an illustrator/writer: I attended some seminars geared to writers. The illustrator in me struggled with that a little bit. I've been an (active) artist my entire life, and my drawing/illustration focus has never really had a creative 'rival' to speak of. So it's very strange to be in the position to resolve this sort of push-pull situation. Taking a writer's double workshop felt a lot like driving down an unpaved road (out in the country... with no road signs anywhere). It really took me out of my comfort zone. Forced me to ask myself some tough questions about taking such a gamble. Especially when there were perfectly good seminars for illustrators in the same time slot. In the end, I followed my gut. It was the right decision. I learned a lot of new and worthwhile things. It's good to take a leap sometimes! Besides that, for me, writing and illustrating go hand-in-hand -- are two ingredients in the same recipe. When I look at it that way, I understand how powerfully writing can further unleash my creative spirit when it comes to my artwork, and amend my capabilities and output. By extension, it also will add depth and diversity to my illustration work in a way that I alone direct! So I am truly "spreading my wings" with this new and exciting layer in my artistic development.