the celestial teapot did not magically gift me

I’m so grateful to everyone for their donations to my mom’s garage sale. It went very well and I even sneaked a creepy black dress from the sale to add to my costume collection. My mom is amazing for putting that all together on such short notice. She’s just awesome like that. I grew up watching her make money on the side with garage sales, cutting and perming hair out of our kitchen, babysitting and all sorts of hobbies turned profitable. Often she would do what she could for people at no charge, and what I learned from all of it was that helping people feels good, and when times are rough there are always ways to make money. When I was in high school she was my first business investor, starting me out with $50 worth of candy from Costco. I sold them for just under the vending machine prices and made enough money to support artistic hobbies like purchasing film for photography and more sketchbooks than I ever needed. I also carried the nickname “the candy girl” for a while because not everyone knew my name, but all school-aged kids know where to find sugar. I’ve followed in my mother’s footsteps, always having more than one source of income. Like children of good teachers do, I surpassed her small side-ventures with my photography, at times making nearly enough to quit my day job. Before cancer I was well on my way to my goal to be working for myself by the time I’m forty. I have ten years left and I like to hope I can still get there.

I’ve been lucky to have several good teachers in my life, and I’ve been smart enough to listen to them. The example from my father was that I can master anything I put ten-thousand hours into. It may be at the expense of relationship-building, but sometimes that’s what it takes to master a talent. I think in both of our cases, perfecting a talent can be a more comfortable use of our time than socializing, but I’m happy to report I’ve slowly grown into a healthy social life. When people talk about my artistic talents as being a “natural ability” or a “gift” I grind my teeth and hold back the urge to stab them in the eye with my drawing utensils. Instead of spending time making friends, I hid in my room for hours and hours and hours doing nothing but practicing. It was natural for me to be alone, and I filled that time by doing what I enjoyed doing, but there is absolutely nothing about art that comes to me naturally. Even my desire to do it comes from being raised by people who also enjoy it, making it seem like something I should do, too. My grandpa has a wood shop and I remember watching him closely and wishing I could play with the big dangerous toys. In kindergarten he carved a gingerbread man from wood, and my grandma and I painted it in her craft room. The best I can say as far as “nature” is concerned is that I was raised watching other people expressing creativity, and so I did not fear it. That’s the thing about being artistic, most of an artist’s success is their lack of fear of failure. For every good drawing I did, there were a hundred lousy sketches. For every good painting, the same. You have to be comfortable with the fact that you aren’t going to make a masterpiece every time.

To anyone who says they want to be an artist, but lack the talent, I strongly disagree. What you lack is practice and the confidence to throw out the failures and keep pushing yourself. Anyone can be an artist just like anyone can read and write if they practice enough. If all you need is someone to believe in you, I am that person. We may not know each other, but I can guarantee you that I believe in you, because I believe anyone can be an artist. If all you need is a good teacher, find one. You’d be amazed how many people are willing to teach you what you want to know. There was a time when I had felt that I mastered art, but what I lacked was professionalism and a mind for business, so I set out to find a good example of that. I found my current boss. Our first three years together I don’t think he even knew how closely I was watching him, and eventually I was able to express my gratitude to him for his strong example and he came back at me with even more lessons and challenges to help me grow. These kind and caring people are all around us, willing to teach us what they know. Whatever you want to learn, know that it is possible. Wait around to be “gifted” and you’ll be waiting a long time. Accept the gift of knowledge from others and your talents will grow exponentially.

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About Kamina Kapow

I have dimples and friends

4 responses to “the celestial teapot did not magically gift me”

  1. cardassianvole says :

    I used to have real trouble believing in myself. Like, so much–as a legitimate, talented artist. I still did feel this way when I came up to Oregon to assist you in photographing Stef’s wedding.

    This is a major confession to me because it shows just how insecure I was: I was terrified of you, terrified of your confidence, terrified of your lack of fear. I even cried at the beginning of the weekend because I thought I could never compare.

    I was right — but not in the way I thought. I couldn’t compare in CONFIDENCE. You and I ended up getting along really well that weekend. You inspired me beyond belief — and this was only possible as long as I was open to dropping my fears along the way and opening myself to all you had to teach me about those things. I couldn’t let myself be ruled by my insecurities. You made me a better person that weekend, whether you knew it or not.

    A few weeks later, after you saw my photos, you gave me a compliment so important to me that it helped shape the future of my confidence as an artist and as a photographer, and endeared me to you as an ally, and a friend: you said something like, you know, if we lived in the same area, we could be great wedding photographers together. And you know? I agree. In that moment, back in 2009 when I was much less experienced and lacked faith in myself and my abilities — you boosted me up in a very real way. I still think about that moment even now, Kamina. You have probably zero idea that any of this even happened, but I want you to know now, because you also have no idea how many times I wish I had moved back up to Oregon right then & there to become your partner. And now, even though Stef is a photographer in her own right & probably owns 2nd shooter rights to you forever (& rightly so!), I admit, I still daydream about a time after this cancer madness, when something like that could happen. Thank you for believing in me.

    To anyone else reading this: she really does mean it when she says she believes in you. And I am definitely one of those people who has spent 10,000 (000) hours perfecting my own craft, a self-made artist.

    OK, I think this has comment has gone on long enough. 🙂

    • clumsythinker says :

      Oh Darling, I knew! When I first waved you over I leaned into Mark and said, “She’s scared of me.” hehehe. But if it’s any consolation, I lean into Mark and say that about most people. As someone who grew up terrified of people, It’s something I can spot pretty easily. Plus, I don’t usually know what people think of me, but the one thing I do know is that I’m scary.

      You were pretty clear about not feeling comfortable shooting people, and since then I have very much enjoyed watching you grow. glad to be a part of it, too 🙂

  2. adayinthelifeofamiddleagewoman says :

    Kamina, you’re one of these ‘scary’ people that others want to get to know because it’s obvious how un-scary you’d be once the scary is overcome. 😉

    I’m doing a Gratitude Project this month, and your post today really gave me food for thought. Merci jolie gamine.

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