I’m a creative, experienced, multi-purpose artist
who can take projects start to finish in a variety of styles.
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Friday, April 27, 2012

"Jump"


I jumped off a bridge by Daniel’s Park when I was a teenager.  I was fairly sure that was really stupid, but bigger, older kids were doing it, and sometimes we just have to know the answer to the question “Would you jump off a bridge if somebody told you to do it?”  Obviously, yes.  I suppose we could put this into the category of a whole lot of other really stupid things that young people (okay, that was me) can’t recognize as completely stupid.  I have to admit I love the feeling of a free fall, at least until the moment of impact.  There was a time in college when I wore very high stiletto heels for a fancy date, and then hit some ice at the top of a flight of steps.  That glorious second or two of free fall was exhilarating.  It was even a little hilarious when I realized that my pretty dress was covering my face instead of my legs, but then the shock subsided and let my pain response into my brain.  Ow… Ow and embarrassment.  What a horrible combination!  I wonder if this had anything to do with why he didn’t call?

I jumped off the Fairport Harbor lighthouse a lot of times.  Climbing to the point of departure was okay.  The problem came when I was standing 30 or 40 feet above Lake Erie waves splashing against the giant rocks of the breakwall and I started to realize the insanity of my adventure, but by that time I had other reckless teenagers lined up behind me chanting “Jump, jump, JUMP!!!” because they wanted their turn at stupidity.  The first jump was always the hardest, but once I got the rush and accomplishment, I couldn’t wait to climb up the lighthouse again to do it again.  I’d keep doing it until my legs got wobbly from all the climbing, and then I’d have to sit out for a while watching the other idiots jump into the water.  When I was rested enough, I’d climb back up and face the same terrorizing feelings I had the first time I looked at the water crashing on the rocks and realizing the foolishness of it all – until I jumped again and ended up in another joyful cycle of climbing and jumping.

There are people who would never jump off a lighthouse.  Some people like that have pointed out moments in my life that have inspired them because I took risks they can’t imagine taking.  They don’t seem to notice that not all of my risks pay off.  At times I feel a little envy that they have nice, secure, predictable lives, but most of the time I think it takes all types to run the world.  Sometimes I think I’m standing on the edge of the lighthouse too afraid to jump, but remembering the joys of a free fall, I know that I’ll do it eventually, or hope that I will, or really hope that at some point in my life I’ll learn something about safety.

My first thought when I saw “jump” as the word for the week was a series of hospital visits for myself and others.  Obviously, jumping isn’t a good idea a lot of the time.  Sometimes having our feet planted securely on the ground is a very good thing, and sometimes I really need to remind myself of that.  On the other hand, my greatest successes were the results of my greatest risks.  I could’ve stayed forever at my first job at a regional newspaper.  There wouldn’t have been a whole lot of glory in it, but it would’ve been secure.  It’s one of the few companies that I’ve worked for that’s actually still in business.  But no, I left it for an ad agency who laid me off just months after I started working there.  In an unemployment panic, I took a job at an art studio.  Way cool place to work, but I didn’t get paid much for the privilege.  And so on.  Risks, rewards, punishments.  I can look at my resume with some pride and some memories of disasters, but I racked up some cool credits along the way.

The same kind of mental contest between security and risk taking happens all the time in art.  Should we play it safe or tempt a client with risk?  It’s always a gamble how things are going to pay off, but we never know how it will work out unless we’re willing to jump.


25 comments:

  1. Wow, Linda, you are a dare devil! I like how you bring together the themes of physical and artistic risk.

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  2. The older I get, the more I feel that no one has a "nice, secure, predictable life;" well, at least not all three of those things at all times. So envy... not necessary. :)

    I, too, believe that it takes all types to run the world. And once I realized that, I stopped wanting to be you, or her, or him, or them. I just wanted, and still do, to be a better me.

    Keep jumping off of bridges, because that's who you are! :)

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  3. I am intrigued by your illustrations- they are really beautiful and seem like would have taken ages to complete as you put in so much detail. How long did it take to complete this one (and the soaring eagle)?

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  4. Your words put me in such a reflective mood, that I forgot to compliment your art in the comment above. I imagine myself in that picture, sitting on the rocks, enjoying the view. :)

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  5. Thanks! I'm not exactly sure how long this took to do, and I have to admit that I didn't labor over it. I didn't even get out a new piece of paper, and painted on the back of something I did a couple weeks ago. Funny how that kind of relaxed approach sometimes works out a lot better than actually putting my heart and soul into things! I listened to NPR's "Science Friday" through it which would mean about an hour, but I was lazy in my original sketch and fixed up the windows in PhotoShop afterwards. The eagle took considerably longer.

    Completely agree with you Anita about envy. It's a useless emotion that just gets in the way of each of us being the best us we can be. Doesn't mean I don't fall for it once in a while, but I try my best not to.

    The old Blogger let you click on the image for a larger view, but that doesn't seem to be working now. Anyone know how to fix that?

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  6. Hi Linda, the last time I jumped off of something solid was when I was a kid and it was off the garage roof. Never again. Although I jump figuratively all the time! Devil may care does get to be fun, doesn't it? :o)

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  7. I think I have done all my jumping Linda, funny thing is that as I have got older I really don't like heights at all. Could be that I have a bit more sense now eh?? Great picture but those rocks look quite menacing to me! Have a great weekend, your rain finally reached us and it has not stopped ALL week ;0)
    Jane x

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  8. I am not a physical jumper at all unless you count the little bitty jumps in hoop dance. ;-) I admire those who can do it but I have a petrifying fear of heights. I dream about flying often though, & then I'm never afraid. Maybe in my sleep I turn into you!
    When it comes to my work, now, I've taken many a crazy leap, with a few resultant crashes! But also a few thrills that reinforce my tendency to keep jumping.
    As always, your post sends me off into realms of contemplation & self-examination. You are like a psychologist with visual aids!

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  9. Wow. I couldn't even jump off the high dive. But I did learn to do a reliable double pirouette on pointe. Every once in a while I'd hit a triple. And one glorious time in the studio, not on stage of course, I did 5. I felt like was never going to come down - it was wonderful.

    Love your post.

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  10. Beautiful lighthouse! I cannot imagine jumping into crashing waves and rocks below. Thank goodness we have YouTube so I can experience it vicariously. I can't stand the feeling of free fall at all. But on the bright side, I can do a mean Worm dance. :)

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  11. Beautiful illustration. I agree it's great to take risks. I verge between periods of very safe and then suddenly I feel stifled and I need to take a big jump. I find it's difficult to get clients to take risks which can be very frustrating! Love that you always write something that gets me thinking.

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  12. Heisann!
    Sometimes we must jump and take the risk.
    You have made a drawing full of atmosphere.
    Have a nice week. Soon I will post IF again!

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  13. Have you zip lined? I think you would love it. Yes, being an artist is like career roulette. Several clicks result in no job. But you know there is one bullet in there.

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  14. I haven't zip lined or bungee jumped because my more responsible friends talked me out of it :) It took me a while to notice that I didn't paint any water in this, and yeah, those rocks do look menacing. Hm... must be something Freudian in that? Maybe I should take up the worm dance or try pirouettes? Love the comments everyone! Thanks!!

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  15. hmmm...
    clients need security.
    I never "jump" on a client. I give them what drew them to my art to start with. ~~But I do need to jump or I shan't grow. That's what Illustration Friday is all about for me. It's a joy to jump off the lighthouse in any direction I want, and please only myself. The most successful dives I show to prospective clients, and then they want me to do the same kind of jump for them...
    It's a win-win.

    Nice to have Lighthouse Friday every week.

    .

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  16. Such a beautiful scene! And once again, I've enjoyed your stories! I love that each piece has such a personal connection. (You really SHOULD try zip-lining! Its really a thrill!)

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  17. Having spent several years in the Erie area during graduate school at Edinboro University, I immediately felt a connection to your image. Although I never took the plunge off the Lighthouse, your 'leap of faith' story sure hits home. Go ahead jump and make some waves!

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  18. Really great illustration and post Linda. I know this will definitely strike a chord with lots of Artists and freelancers out there.

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  19. Thanks everybody! I like what Richard says about "Lighthouse Friday". I love blogging for that reason. We can jump every week and see where we land without hurting ourselves :) Of course I may have to make plans to zip line too?

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  20. I wanted to keep reading, Linda...keep writing! : ) Wow, you are one fabo-crazy person. (I mean that purely as a compliment!) I have a lot of the "safe" qualities you mentioned, and have never jumped off of anything. I suppose it was the one experience I had in Colorado trying to ski down a mountain, crashing and burning and being left with a bleeding chin and people from above on the ski lift yelling down at me, "are you ok??? your ski is over there now!!". Ugh. You hit it right with the moment of exhilaration but then ultimate freaked out feeling I get if I go too fast. I LOL'ed at your dress-fall. I'm so sorry that happened..it must've been quite the scene! You make a good point about our craft/profession..lately I've been jumping more. : ) I thank you Linda for such terrific thought-provoking posts. : )

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  21. LOL Shirley! I have to admit that I find skiing terribly scary. I'm willing to jump off a lighthouse, but skis seem to be an invitation to disaster. I tried it once and headed straight to a ravine. Thankfully it occured to me to fall over sideways on purpose before going over!

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  22. You would have been a fun friend to grow up with, I know it! Maybe there's a reason why God kept us apart - until we were grownups but still too far away.

    Love the lighthouse, and those chunks of concrete below!

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  23. Another wonderful read, Linda. Your childhood was so rich (and dangerous)! it's funny how skis terrify you but not lighthouses. Maybe you were a sky diver in a former life. It's probably safe to say, that if we play it too safe, we haven't lived. I wonder what you'll try next …

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  24. I'm thinking you're right Abby! We probably would've gotten into a lot of mischief if we'd grown up together :) I wonder what we'll all try next Mardi!

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  25. With both feet planted securely on the ground, you don't move. As you say each person will have to find his or her way to navigate life, but as for myself, the older I have become the more willing I have been to take risks. Of course I am also a little wiser, so I don't necessarily risk my life, but creatively speaking I would rather have clients who hire my because they know I am doing something different - and thus have to take risks - than having to do boring stuff to please clients I don't really want to work for anyway. As for thrills, some years ago I was invited to fly with an acrobat pilot - and that is definitely one of the most fun things I have ever done. Thanks for another well thought of post.

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