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Learning to Let Go


Photo By: Julie Chon

2020 has been a year of significant change. The world around us has become ever present with mass pandemic, climate change, and civil unrest. We all have had to come to terms with the fact that there are forces at work that are very much outside of our own control. In fact this year has me reflecting on what control even means and what do we do with it?



I always equate art to life. For me they are one and the same. I use my art to express many aspects of myself but also of the world around me. My art has acted as a sort of road map of how I have experienced this world. It is something that is unique to artists no matter the art form we can all look back and recognize the steps we took to create each piece. My art even has the power to transport my mind back to the thoughts I was thinking as I created each piece. Not only the subject matter but the process is what I see in art. Each piece shows a path in progression to where I am today. Let's take a look at some portraits I've done over the years.


Starting from some of my most recent then working back in time...





I really enjoy painting skateboards!









For me I not only see the difference in layers and detail, I also see what I was thinking and how I was approaching each piece just by looking at it. Want to see one of my very first portraits? This was my drawing of Martin Luther King Jr. I think I was around 8 years old.

I guess my point here is to say that talent is one thing, but discipline and work ethic is so much more. If I stopped painting or drawing back when I was 8 that MLK portrait is how I would have judged my art skills for the rest of my life. I have conversations with people that directly reflect this sentiment when they talk to me about how little talent they have in art. I always wonder if their idea of their own art is how well they drew when they were a kid?


It took 25 years to go from that portrait of MLK to this one...



And hopefully in another 25 years I can look back at this one and laugh at how primitive my form is now!


Life is about constant growth. Even when times are tough and everything seems to be going against us, the opportunity for growth is ever present. In fact it is when we are at our lowest or in the tightest spot that the opportunity for growth is at it's highest. It is our trials and our tribulations that make us stronger, that sharpen our tools, and mold us through the fire.


I have grown as an artist and as a human being not by reveling in my accomplishments but rather by learning from my missteps and utter failures. Those memories and lessons have become my greatest strengths. I didn't find strength from winning my little league baseball championship my first year ever playing, I found strength from playing sports all the way through high school despite never winning anything again! It became about more than winning. I never learn much from succeeding, but I always learn something from failing. That's how I have managed to make my worst moments, my greatest strengths.


We have an ability to grow that is truly a great strength. That ability is letting go of who we were and focusing on who we are. Everyday we wake up we literally can face the world anyway we see fit. Art has shown me as much. In creating I have learned to see the world around me in many different lights and many different angles. Life is not so much about what is put in our path but rather how we face whatever it is that stands in our way, it just takes a little courage. We all end up leaving our mark one way or another, that is a certainty. For each of us that means something completely different. For some it is their mark on those closest to them. How they treated their family and friends. For others it is the legacy they leave in their unique crafts and industries. And still for others it is the work they do within themselves that carries through to whomever is paying attention. No matter how inconsequential a life may look on the surface there is always someone else paying attention, always. But one thing is universal, we all fall at some point. What sets us apart is to keep getting back up no matter how many times we fall, that's what it means to be alive. It is my hope that we can learn to appreciate each other's journeys no matter how rough they may look. We all make mistakes and we all approach life differently, but we all deserve to be here. We all deserve a chance to fail so that we can learn to succeed.


Just takes a little bit of letting go.


-AB

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