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Lessons From the Gym: The Whale Watcher

by Luann Udell on 4/9/2015 7:45:42 AM

This post is by Luann Udell, regular contributing author for FineArtViews.  Luann also writes a column ("Craft Matters") for The Crafts Report magazine (a monthly business resource for the crafts professional) where she explores the funnier side of her life in craft.  She's a double-juried member of the prestigious League of New Hampshire Craftsmen (fiber & art jewelry).  Her work has appeared in books, magazines and newspapers across the country and she is a published writer.  She's blogged since 2002 about the business side--and the spiritual inside--of art.  She says, "I share my experiences so you won't have to make ALL the same mistakes I did...."

 

We make our own luck in the world.


There are lessons to be learned everywhere, if we're open to them. Today's lesson from the gym is courtesy of a therapist there with an unusual hobby.

 

This guy loves to go whale watching. When he found out I'm a recent transplant to the west coast, he suggested I check out the whale migration scene on the coast.

 

We aren't that far from Bodega Bay, where Alfred Hitchcock's movie "The Birds" is set. There ARE a lot of birds out there, but so far, none have shown signs of turning on the human race....! Still, I'm careful to be very nice to all of them.

 

Bodega Head is a beautiful stretch of land reaching out into the ocean to form one side of the Bay.  Bodega Head, with its open vistas from towering cliffs, is a popular whale watching spot. Volunteer 'docents' are present on the weekends to offer advice and help with identification.Whales migrate south to feeding grounds off the coast Baja Mexico, then return north after the mating season. Mother whales travel more slowly, and closer to the coast, with their new offspring.

 

This guy regularly reports back every Monday with exciting 'spots'. And so my husband and I began making a trip every week or so to watch, too.

 

We haven't seen any whales yet--just seals, sea lions and pelicans. And of course, after our fourth attempt to spot a whale, my husband concluded that guy is "lucky" to have seen so many whales.

 

Is he? Let's dig a little deeper....

 

The whale watcher goes out every week he can, and sometimes multiple times in one week.

 

He and his family stay for hours at a time--not an hour, or two at most, like we do.

 

He knows a lot about whales, from talking with the docents and his own reading. He knows when they go, where they go, and why they go along our coast. He knows the best weather for watching, and the worst weather; and he knows how to get in-time local updates about that area's weather. He knows what to look for--blowholes, pods, fins, breaches.

 

He's invested in a good camera and a great lens to capture good photos.

 

So....Patience. Consistent effort. A practiced eye. And a passion for whales.

 

Is this luck?

 

Yes, there's still a wee bit of luck involved. One first-time watcher spotted an amazing pod within a few minutes of arriving. A docent jokingly told her, "Don't even bother coming back, you will NEVER see anything like this again!"

 

Mostly, though, this guy makes his own luck. And he deserves every whale spot he gets.

 

How many times have we heard about another artist's success, envied their 'luck' and lamented our lack of same?

 

Now think how often we trouble ourselves to find out what they did to achieve that. 

 

I'm guessing that 'lucky' artist is someone who's practiced their craft with patience and persistence. I'd bet they have great images of their work, and a powerful personal story to go with it. I'd imagine they're serious about getting their work out there, in a consistent fashion--through websites, shows, exhibitions, social media, getting published, personal invitations to collectors, and good selling skills.

 

Above all, I know they're truly focused and passionate about the work they create--enough to not only make time for it, but to make it a priority, as much as possible.

 

Me? I would love to see a whale pod, or a mother and baby, or an orca, someday. But I'm just as happy to spend a few hours enjoying the beautiful California coast. I'm just as delighted to find a wonderful pebble or a twisty piece of driftwood on the beach.

 

But when it comes to my artwork, I know the same qualities that make that guy a great whale watcher, makes me a competent artist.

 

And when my next 'lucky break' comes, I'll be ready!

 

 

 


 

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Related Posts:

Lessons From the Gym: Starting Over

Lessons From the Gym: Trust Me


Topics: advice for artists | art and psychology | FineArtViews | inspiration | Luann Udell 

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 6 Comments

Walter Paul Bebirian
via faso.com
well Luann -

I am puzzled -

why do you use the word great to describe the whale watcher and only competent to describe yourself?

please explain that -


Sarkis Antikajian
via faso.com
The last sentences make it all. A wonderful way to conclude an important post. Enjoyable to read.

Donald Fox
via faso.com
California is a great place to visit, but I love living in Houston. We can watch porpoises off the Gulf Coast, and, yes, that too takes persistence. An enjoyable post.

Luann Udell
via faso.com
Walter Paul....false modesty?

Donald....no hurricanes!

Sarkis...thank you!

Oh, don't forget to share with folks you think would enjoy this. It helps FASO, and me! :^)

Janet Szulga
via faso.com
I suppose there is a little bit of luck in becoming a recognizable artist. However, the larger percentage would be in working hard and consistently,perhaps noticing trends, good self marketing or researching and approaching galleries which might be best suited to represent you.
One of my favourite painters is Philip Craig of Ottawa,he is very successful, but I know he works seven days a week at a studio that is away from his home and he has been doing so for 50 years now. Still, featured in a recent edition of Ottawa Citizen Style magazine, Philip states..."We've raised our kids, had big houses.I've been lucky".

Brian Sherwin
via faso.com
Luann -- I really enjoy how you use these experiences to teach lessons about art and life. I hope you decide to go the eBook route at some point, if you have not already. :)










 

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