A Work In Progress

Happiness is key to which destiny will prevail. Keep on living, loving and laughing. This was my senior quote in High School. At the time that I wrote it I didn’t realize how important or significant it would become as a mantra in my life. I just knew that I was on a deadline and needed to come up with something witty, original and less cheesy than everyone else.
Why am I bringing this up now you might ask? Well, to be honest, recently I have been taking a few short trips down memory lane mentally and physically. At the moment I write this I am in the process of sifting threw the last 10 years of my life and career in New York and organizing it into neat little boxes. Some boxes are to be given away or sold; some are to keep for the moment in my parents basement or my second home in Colorado and the rest well, with me in my car of course.
What is the purpose of all this? The simple answer, to move my company and self permanently to Colorado in the fall. Chasing the work, powder, and whitewater, all while living the dream! Don’t get me wrong I love the North Country and my New York home but the time has come for me to start a new chapter in my life. If there is one thing I have learned it is that change is inevitable. And that all good things must come to an end. My time in New York has reached its potential for the moment, so I must chase the adventures West.
I have never been one to embrace change at least not willingly. Yet, recently I have learned that without change one can become complacent and bored in the process. One of my main goals in life and my career is to keep moving, evolving so that I can live up to my fullest potential. It’s never too late to learn and grow.
These last few months have been a great eye opener to the things I love, enjoy and other things which I want to improve on within my career and personal life. As of this moment the only constants I am continuing with are travel and photography. I will still be working and traveling on both sides of the country even though I am moving my permanent location to Colorado. It’s all about finding a happy balance between work and play.
In addition to the move, I have decided to narrow down my photography field once again to concentrate more on the areas and topics I am most passionate about; snowboarding and whitewater. For the last few years, these two sports have become very important passions in my life personally and professionally. As I grow as a company and person I want to push the limits within these areas in terms of events, lifestyle and people. I hope that by narrowing down my interests, putting all my effort into specific genres of my life, that it will not only help my career progress but also make me a better athlete in my personal life. In addition, I will still be skateboarding, riding BMX and shooting personal projects and portraits but only as filler to keep my creativity alive and well. Time to put my best foot forward, hunker down and get organized. I am beyond stoked and grateful for all my East Coast friends and family who have supported me and helped me out through good and bad times. Looking forward to new experiences, clients, challenges and rewards in the future. Let the adventure continue!

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Letting go is one of the hardest things to do in life. Whether it be a job, family member, relationship or in my case an art project. Understanding that it is time to part ways can be difficult. For the past few months, I have been doing a project called Photographic Inspiration: A 52 Week Project 2018. In the beginning, it was a way to motivate myself to be photographing weekly and pushing my creativity to think outside the box. However, after just a few weeks it turned into a chore; something that felt forced not exciting. Although I felt this way weeks ago I tried to stick with it and see if I could maybe turn my outlook around. Come to find out that wasn't the case. Thus, after 31 weeks I have decided to bring this project to an end.
Some may call this pathetic, a failure, quitting, a cop out; however I call it a learning experience. When you do something you love for a living it is hard sometimes to find that fine line between work and play especially if your hobbies also include art and photography. If I am working on a project for a client or a piece for an art show my mind set is to give 110% no matter the outcome and to live, love and learn from the task at hand. But when I give myself a personal project in hopes of boosting my moral and finding new passion in my work, things don't always turn out as planned. Thus, at this moment, sudden termination is inevitable and not an option.
Feeling trapped, frustrated, and forced to do something you love when a project is something personal that is suppose to encourage, help growth and inspire can only mean that action must be taken to reevaluate why I am putting in the effort to do this piece in the first place. The name of the project says it all "Photographic Inspiration" yet, all i feel like I am doing is going through the motions each week to appease the social media gods and entertain my close friends and family with new material. If you ask me, it sounds more like work than actually getting paid to do photography/art work. And in this case is not a sufficient way to spend my free time and energy. Needless to say, even a few months ago I would have probably disagreed with all I am writing stating that I am not a quitter and every project has a purpose blah, blah, blah. And yes, sometimes that is true however, I am in a different head space then when I started this project; a better place in fact. Thus, I feel more motivated, enlightened and inspired by everyday events and people all around me. I feel, that this project has sadly not lived up to the purpose and time in which it was created; not showing or expressing how I truly feel. And so as much as it saddens me to say goodbye and to end this photographic journey, I have other inspirations, people and places that are pushing me even farther in my career and personal life. With each passing day I will think less and less of the struggle to create an image just for the sake of boosting my social media or getting likes on facebook and more about the actual feeling and process behind my work being created due to actual inspiring present day events.
Life and art projects shall continue to be challenges in my life. However, with each show, contract, art studio or location I want to make every little bit count. Not because I had a plan, but because that initial idea turned into something that would better me, my career, my friends and family without the burden of just being the physical motions to another so called "project". Art does not control me; I control my art.

The Summer of Yes.

One minute I am visiting family having an awesome weekend away from the hustle of work and life. The next minute I am on the side of the road in Brooklyn at 6am with my car busted wondering "how did I get here?" The truth of the matter is that life is and will forever be an unknowing, all encompassing roller coaster. If you can't take the good with the bad then you are going to have a really rough time.
Basically in less than 24 hours my world got flipped upside down. Life was going amazing. I participated in helping the rafting company I work for, Square Eddy Expeditions complete their first raft in hike out overnight trip; got to take a weekend off (unheard of when you're self employed)and visit family I haven't seen in a while and had an epic relaxing time. And then got into an accident with my car in Brooklyn in the wee hours of the morning. Frustrating yes; heartbreaking most definitely; end of the world... nope just another bump in the road on this thing we call life.
As many of you who follow my adventures know, I travel a ton. So having safe and secure transportation is key in my career. Thus, most would assume that I would be in a state of devastation right now. And yes, I am upset however, call it maturity; growth or just a different piece of mind, but I feel calm and ready for whatever comes next. Part of that I can thankfully say is because of my family for being beyond supportive in this challenging time and part of it is having my best friend Elisa by my side to make me laugh and show me that everything will be okay and work out as it should; not to take things that are out of my control too seriously for it will only make matters worse. In the end cars, and things can be replaced but people can't.
So not to get to sappy but I sit here and ponder many scenarios for the road ahead of me and at the same time at the moment I am thankful to be blessed with so much work to keep me preoccupied from what may be a bleak outcome. All in all if I have learned anything in the last week it is to not be afraid to say yes to unknown or sudden opportunities because good or bad you will never know the true outcome unless you try. And if perchance you end up in a not so good place, always know that the ones who truly love you will be there day and night to hug you, make you laugh, celebrate your victories and also hold you when you cry. Being sad or bummed out is not a weakness it is just another part of this ever evolving roller coaster we call life. Without the struggle we would all become complacent and dull. "The struggles of today develop the strengths of tomorrow." Let the adventures continue.

When one door closes...

Breathe in, breathe out and repeat as needed. This is one of those mantras that fits almost every situation and never gets old. However, as easy as it is to say sometimes it is not always as easy to do. Lately I find my life (personally and professionally) happening in steady cycles. Sometimes I am cranking; go go go and then breathe. Other times it is a slow and steady pace to the finish. At first it scared me a little that I was noticing such patterns, considering a good portion of my life and career is organized traveling and chaos. Neither way is better than the other just different and it is that difference that is my comfort right now.
I used to think that people from a young age depending on their background and upbringing had an internal wiring that was hard to change and would stay pretty steady throughout their lives. Yet, the older I get the more I realize that is not completely true. For me, growing up in and around cities I have felt a certain comfort amongst the every day hustle and bustle. It has shaped a lot of my career choices and given me a certain calm peace to overcome many stressful situations. Then I moved and started working and spending more time in the woods and have found a piece of me is just as content here too. This recent balance of the familiar and the unknown has made me more aware of the connections I have to the people and places around me. It has given me a better appreciation and stronger curiosity to explore new things that before may have scared me away or given me anxiety.
This new found excitement for alternative adventures I feel as been creeping up on me for some time now, but only in the last few weeks or so have I actually acknowledged that it is there. I have always been a very inquisitive person by nature wanting to learn more and more about everything not just one or two things in particular. To be honest, I feel like it has helped to shape me and my career as more of a well rounded person and company. At the same time there has always been a lingering envy of people who pick one or maybe two things and put their whole lives and then some into it with no holding back. When it comes down to it I like variety and new challenges to keep things interesting and to keep the stoke alive. Even if it is an activity, sport or board game I have played/done forever if I can put it aside and come back to it with fresh eyes then it pushes my creativity to the next level.
Now is the time to take all the things, people and places I already know and love and see if I can flip them on their heads. In addition, letting myself branch off from familiarity to a deeper understanding of my surroundings without loosing the love and passion I have what is right in front of me.
A great example of this is that recently (last week) I was offered a solo gallery show at a local spot in my town called the Tannery Pond. I took a walk over to the check out the place and see the space to size up my options for material to present. Originally going into it in my mind I had decided I was going to promote my already published book and art pieces from 2015. After hanging out with one of the curators, seeing the space and reevaluating my position as an artist in this small town in the Adirondacks, I began to second guess my decision.
So instead of rushing home to fill out the paper work, I decided to roll out my yoga mat, lie down, meditate and breathe. 3,2,1 and a few minutes later life came back to me a little more focused. Thus, resulting in a preemptive phone call to my mom for an hour (mom knows best). At last instead of rushing through what could have been an easy no thinking just rebranding show about a past experience I had captured, suddenly turned into me deciding to start from scratch. I looked around at my studio, ( again breaa=thing deeply) and thought long and hard about what this town and its people mean to me. How can i show my appreciation and love for them through my art for this show. Now all of a sudden this show became something more; more about my connections between traveling as a photographer and my home in New York. It became an eye opener on something that was there all along. Thus, "The Adventure Continues..." a photography show about my life and travels, connections and adventures across the country from home in Colorado to home in New York is born. Obviously the details are vague and my mind is racing; i just submitted my application but in the last few hours I feel as if I have accomplished something bigger and more meaningful than I Have in in a long time.
People always warned me don't get caught up in all the little details sometimes you need to step back take a look at the bigger picture. It's so true and not just in relation to this upcoming show. I am starting to see that fast or slow the intertwining of my lives personal/professional, East Coast/West Coast, Mountains/City they are interconnected on a deeper level. It doesn't have to be a this or that. It doesn't have to feel like an uphill battle. I can and will weave all parts of my life together and they will fall where they are made to fit. So I started off with a great mantra and I leave you with a beauty quote from Alexander Graham Bell “When one door closes another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” Let the adventures continue!

The Beauty Right in Front of You

Sometimes we don't realize that what we are searching for is right in front of us the whole time. Recently this notion has become more apparent than ever. I travel a ton, meeting and seeing so many beautiful people, places and things. However, when I come home I forget that there are also beautiful things, places and people right in front of me. I try my hardest not to take advantage of the many pleasures and beauty that is my home/art studio in the Adirondacks yet, I still find myself getting caught up in the travel bug; searching and searching, wandering for the next greatest thing. Well, maybe the next epic adventure is right out my own front door.
I moved to New York and the Adirondacks almost 11 years ago with the intentions of making a home base to operate my business out of, and a place to come home after months on the road where I could relax, recuperate and recluse. And my art studio in the ADK has done just that job. However, when I think back to first arriving here, it was more than just a location to return to, it was an new experience. As the years went by I saw less and less of my New York home and began to drift away from the romanticism of the Adirondacks and my art studio. Fast forward to today and I am sitting here at my office desk feeling as if I have come full circle.
This winter I left my home in Colorado to come back to my art studio to work, play and figure a few things out. Granted, forgetting what winter on the East Coast is like (cold and harsh at times) let's just say it was not my idea situation. But, I stuck it out and learned a thing or two personally and professionally about where my life/career is headed. Jump to present day and I am stoked to be sharing my East Coast home and lifestyle with my best friend Elisa, who is my heart and soul when we live out West. With fresh blood (aka Elisa) with me in New York for the summer it has open my eyes to looking at my Adirondack home in a whole new perspective. By being able to show her a different lifestyle and landscape then she has ever experienced before (She was born and raised in CO) it has lit a fire under me that has been extinguished for quite some time.
With that said it also makes me a little sad that I have not taken the time to truly enjoy the experiences and people around me in New York. Thus, I am dedicating this summer to living in the present moment, pushing my self and my career to another level through my surroundings in the Adirondacks. Adventure to me for the most part has always been participating and photographing high octane activities/sports all over the country. Now is the time for me to step out of that comfort zone and maybe experiment with adventures that hit a little closer to home. This is not to say I am not going to be paddling crazy rapids, skateboarding or photographing epic events. It just means that I am going to try to incorporate a different side of my life which I have been ignoring for quite some time; The smaller, maybe even quieter moments like campfires with friends, day hikes, and the beauty of nature right out side my door. With Elisa by my side, map and camera in hand I am ready to shake things up a bit and see what kind of images and memories I can make of this beautiful place that I call home.

Creative Crisis

Ever feel like you don't quite fit in or belong where you are? I'm sure many people can say yes to this statement. However, whether you say yes or no is not what's important. What's important is what you do about it. If you do feel lonely, sad, neglected or weird about your situation it's quite normal and okay but if you are content with staying that way and just "putting up with it" you might want to think twice. This is not to say that each person doesn't have their own comfort zone, yet maybe coming from an artist/travelers perspective my idea of comfort might be a bit different than the average person. And that is okay to. What I am trying to get at here is that at least for me, once I start to feel complacent, strange or awkward to the point of sadness in my surroundings it is time to make changes. Big or small it doesn't matter just the act of stepping back and taking a new approach or look at things is my goal.
For the past few months if you have kept up with my blog you will know that I made the decision to stay/work at my east coast art studio instead of what I normally do which is live out West. Whether this was a good or bad decision is debatable (thank you mother nature). Point being I threw myself a curve ball and relied on intuition placing me where I thought I needed to be. To give you some back story technically my "home" is in New York however, due to jobs/ freelance and my own excitement to explore, I have been spending a good majority of the past 5 yrs (10 months a year) away from New York and out and about in the United States. It was amazing and exactly what I needed at the time. Then a few months ago I was feeling burnt out, mother nature was not kind to winter out west and I needed the comforts of "home". And you know the rest. After spending 3 months straight, minus a few failed road trip attempts,(mother nature we really need to talk about your timing)I began to get antsy, agitated and was feeling a bit like a failure and let down to myself and everyone around me. Mostly because everyone of my friends/clients back home kept reminding me of this crazy wild vagabond, rock star lifestyle I normally lead and here I was not sleeping, eating like crap and spending hours a day behind a computer editing/blogging/ and doing odd photo jobs to make ends meat. It was definitely at least in my mind the complete opposite of the world/pace I am used, and what people perceive me to be. This is not to say that to truly live one must meet all others expectations, but hey I am human after all and we all in some ways need others approval and love (to a certain extent).
Anyway, the more I thought about all the adventures and crazy things I normally do for work and pleasure the more depressed and anxious I got. In many ways it was like a catch 22 because I should have been enjoying my down time and relaxing after so many months/years of non-stop action yet, my brain had other ideas. Originally I just by passed the feelings of rejection, self-loathing and depression. I put aside my feelings and decided instead to just immerse myself in work and worry about the rest later. It worked for a good time, however eventually I had to own up to what I felt and how to handle my situation. I tried giving myself personal projects ( some worked, others well, didn't), and making my own deadlines to improve my career in the future. Now let's take a step back and exam that last sentence. Yes, I do believe it is important to plan for the future, however living for the future and not seeing what's in front of you can cause a bigger issue later own. Thus, by trying to be pro active this winter, making plans for the future, I missed out on being in the present.
Okay so this ins't the most upbeat cheerful post I have written but stay with me I do have a point. All in all I do not regret spending time molding my future in place of the present, in fact by doing so I learned many valuable lessons and feel stronger. At the same time, I am now more than ever very conscious of my present and making sure I take each day and be present. One of my best friends and someone I consider to be my true conscious at times when I am most lost and feeling vulnerable once said " You are where you are ment to be" At first I took this as just another cheesy quote. But going back now and understanding the emotions and frustration I have felt in these past few weeks this sentence makes sense more than ever. By taking control of our own reactions, interactions and influence within our space, we as people can adapt, grow and become comfortable with situations that may seem lost, frivolous or hurtful. We can transform our fears, hopes and desires into the environment around us not by seeing the negative or fear but by embracing the good, the opportunities and the immediate moment that we are in. Sometimes, life is a game of chance and other times it is what you make it to be. No matter whether I am flying at 15,000 feet in a Russian fighter jet, dropping cornices on a snowboard at 13,000 feet or shooting product shots safely in my art studio on a snowy Saturday afternoon, it is all relevant and all important. Each moment we make, each encounter we share with others is special in its own right and helps to make us the people we are; makes us braver, stronger, more comfortable in our own skin. Thus, able to share with others these experiences so they can also see in themselves hidden talents and a rightful place in this world.
Fast or slow no matter what pace my life takes at this very moment, it's okay and normal. I don't have to live up to expectations nor do I have to down play my troubles or doubts. We are all human and struggle is real. Whether it's an artist with depression or a rock star with excess money feeling lonesome. Deep down we all share the same universal needs, wants and desires; to be happy, loved and part of something bigger.

When Life Gives You Lemons Just... Go Skateboarding.

So this winter has turned out to be anything but ideal. To be honest I have been home for a month and it feels like centuries. But in the grand scheme of things that is okay and let me tell you why. For starts, I told myself when I made the decision to stay on the East Coast this winter that I am here to concentrate on bettering me, my company and making life all around more enjoyable. I thought that would have at least included a bit more snowboarding (mother nature is not complying) and a few more employers who were consistent. Yet, the reality is the weather has been beyond East Coast conditions terrible and my employers have been having it rough cause well, money is tight when you depend on mother nature for a pay check. And I get it; we can't always have exactly what we want especially when certain elements like snow conditions are out of are control.
On the bright side I have been taking this opportunity and instead of bumming out and whining about winter, I am embracing improving other aspects of my career and personal life. For instance, I have been skateboarding almost everyday rebuilding muscle memory and relearning tricks in anticipation for warmer, dryer days and a future skate trip in March. Also, I have stepped back a bit from go, go, go lifestyle of shooting and travel to enjoying some personal time doing activities that I can't do when I am away and wicked busy, such as playing guitar, sculpting and doodling.
With this downtime and lack of mother nature's cooperation you are probably asking yourself how I am maintaining an income. Well, let's just say I am getting creative. Photography is not just all about photographing cool stuff. Yes, that is my favorite part and the most fun part, but being a professional photographer is also a business. This involves marketing, finances, networking and countless other tasks that get put on the back burner sometimes in exchange for shooting. However, these key elements also help in the progression of a business and rounding out my career as a whole. So how to make the not so fun parts fun? It's not easy but I have slowly been working out better plans to make my non shooting workflow easier, more efficient and not so painful. By having set goals now for my future endeavors these downtimes are helping me to stay focused and organized so I can enjoy the photography shooting parts more, especially in the coming months. Thus, networking with fellow bloggers, photographers, graphic artists and web designers at this time have helped in my progress and given me some extra cashflow to fund what I call "me projects" or fine art motivation.
In addition, to all this adulting, on the flip side I have been spending this time promoting some already finished projects such as my book "Ashe in Wanderland" (which you can check out on my website www.jeaninenewell.com) as well as other side projects and learning what is needed and useful so I can do more collaborations and projects in the future.
All in all what seemed like a rocky and stressful start to an off winter is turning into blessing not a curse. I am having a great time learning new things about social media marketing, business savvy ideas, brainstorming with fellow artists/photographers and getting "me time" to build and grow personally as well. My advice, if life is seeming to get you down and you feel like nothing makes sense, hanging in there just a little bit longer. As that old saying goes "when life gives you lemons... go skateboarding!" (okay so maybe that's my take on it). Let the adventure continue.