Today’s shared stories come from artist Kim Beller and comedienne Jenny Wynter.
For me, doing what I love means to follow my heart wherever that takes me, to surround myself with people I love and to be open to all the possibilities that are usually right in front of me!
I lost my mom a few years ago to cancer. She was only 62 when she died, but lucky for me, we were best friends and she taught me many lessons while she was here. It was after I lost her that I began to listen more closely to the voice in my heart. Things that used to matter didn’t matter so much anymore. I poured myself into art and journaling and making jewellery…..anything to stay busy but more importantly to express myself through art. I have said more than once, “art saved me”. I decided that I wanted to be more serious about my art and creating, but couldn’t come up with exactly how I wanted that to happen.
This idea has evolved over the past few years and kept coming up over and over until it pretty much hit me in the face. Thanks to the encouragement of a dear friend, Nicole, I began to share my love of art journaling with others. It started with a few girls in a yoga studio and has since gotten bigger and bigger. I recently co-taught a book-making “playshop’ in Manteo, North Carolina. The joy of sharing the things I have learned over the years and creating with other women (men are welcome too) is priceless.
My world was rocked with my mom’s diagnosis several years ago and we found a house with an apartment so she could live with us, but have her own space. It was really hard to go into that space for quite a while, but thankfully, time heals.
I have recently turned her living space into “heART space”, a place where anyone can come and be true to their self….to make art, work in journals, whatever they need to do in a safe, nurturing and loving space. “heART space” is where I teach “playshops” and share my journey with others. Although it was a lot of work emotionally to re-create this space, it has paid off in so many ways. Being able to share what I love with others, and to honor my mom in this way has been a huge part of my healing. I am able to make art, teach art and share with others in a way that I know my mom would love and be proud of. I love being able to stay home with my girls and to create and work at the same time.
Now that I have this beautiful space to create and teach and play in, my bigger dream is to have some of my favorite artists come and teach workshops here. Perhaps Judy Wise, …..Misty Mawn……L.K. Ludwig…..just to name a few!
[All images courtesy of Kim Beller]
Kim Beller is a mixed media artist, inspired by the sea and all of nature. Her passion is to create expressive pieces with recycled metals, found objects, heartfelt quotes, photography and bits of nature in her art and jewelry. Most days Kim can can be found in her in the studio with the music turned up and the windows wide open. Find out more about Kim by visiting her website or Etsy shop]
Doing what I love means feeling grateful for the opportunity to make a living – and indeed, just a life – out of something that I would gladly do for free. My own mother was an artist, a singer actually. She was beautiful inside and out, and when she was around my age now, she won a very prestigious song-writing competition, the prize of which was a recording contract in Sydney. Very sadly, she never made it; she very shortly thereafter, completely out of the blue, died. (She had an aneurism.) Thus, not only have I been inspired by her example to do what you love, but I also realised from a very early age that life is finite. That knowledge, that it could end at any moment, has I think, ultimately made me feel like there’s not much point wasting the short time that I have here doing something I’m not passionate about! ·
The first time I saw Edward Scissorhands, I desperately wanted to be an actor. I cannot explain it, other than that it moved me in such a profound way (I was only twelve!) that I remember thinking “I want to make people feel as deeply as I felt today!” From that point onwards, I was hellbent on being an actor. I never sought out comedy roles (indeed, quite the opposite, I really wanted to be the pretty girl, the romantic lead!) but instead found myself constantly cast in them. That probably should have been a hint…
When I was 22, I finally made the move to Sydney to seriously pursue acting and three weeks later found out I was pregnant. I was completely shocked and at first I thought performing was over for me. A couple of years later, with two kids under two, I heard through the grapevine about an improv comedy troupe looking for players. It sounded so fun, so I called up, auditioned and the following week was performing! That gave me enough confidence that people thought I was funny to start pursuing it professionally, and it just kinda snowballed. Not long after that I entered a stand-up comedy competition and to my surprise, it went really well and it didn’t take too long before I was making a meager living from comedy. It’s funny now to think that I accidentally fell into my comedic calling, because in hindsight I think it had been biting at me for quite a number of years before I really recognized how much I loved it! ·
In 2007 my family and I moved to Canada, so that I could pursue some comedy opportunities over there. I had these grand dreams of returning to Australia a comedic superstar, but my hubby asked that before we move to the big smoke in Canada, that first we go to a quiet little town just to get our family on track (my family having received the brunt of the time sacrifices involved in making my comedy career happen). Then something strange happened – we ended up loving small town Canada so very much, in that it was so fantastic for our family’s sense of togetherness that we ended up staying there the whole time. I was able to do bits of comedy here and there, certainly not to the extent that I would have liked, but enough to keep the flame burning. While I was there I developed a new full-length show, which is much more theatrical and incredibly personal than anything I’d ever done before. On the opening night of its work-in-progress showing, I was literally four minutes away from the curtain opening, with my newborn baby still breastfeeding on me and not a scrap of makeup on my face. I had a moment there of thinking “What am I DOING?!” and wondering whether I was insane to attempt this kind of thing. But then afterwards, when the show had finished and I was basking in the afterglow of post-performance euphoria, I have never felt more happy. ·
I wish I had known how long it would take to actually get good. I think that as an artist, you have to have a certain amount of cockiness and belief in your ability to succeed. But I think that, especially in the first couple of years of my work, I really thought I was a whole lot better than I actually was! Who knows, I’ll probably be saying that about myself throughout my entire life, but I think at the beginning I really thought my stratospheric rise to success was going to strike at any time. Now I’m realizing more and more how it really does take time to master a craft and that actually, whatever that ‘meteoric rise’ I was chasing even looked like, it’s a damn good thing it didn’t happen in my first couple of years because I was not even close to ready! ·
Now I have HUGE dreams. My new show (the one I developed in Canada) is called “The Unexpected Variety Show” and I just debuted it last month at the Cabaret Fringe Festival, where, to my delight, it received some beautiful glowing reviews. So now my biggest dreams are for the show. I’m taking it to the Melbourne Fringe this September, Adelaide Fringe early next year and have my eyes set on Edinburgh in 2012. My ultimate goal for it is that we will deck out a big family tour bus and spend the next couple of years taking the show around Australia and then the rest of the world. Blogging and video-blogging the adventure along the way. That would be heavenly. And I’m sure at times, hell-ish! But I’m so, so excited about the prospect of it and you know, I think we might just do it. Life really is too short not to!
[All images courtesy of Jenny Wynter]