100 Days a Journey

My journey  - Karolina Stus

My 100 Day Journey probably began about a year before I actually started the challenge. A need to create something close to my heart without putting any restrictions or boundaries on myself had been growing in me for some time.

I felt tired running after perfection, perfection…is not real. 

These days as photographers we put a lot of pressure on ourselves chasing after new techniques and the latest equipment. We put ourselves in a box but we forget what our message is.

We train to be better in Photoshop but we don’t train in finding our own style. We are too busy to let ourselves just enjoy and play within our craft.

I got tired of that perfection. I got tired of that constant rat race. I had a deep need to allow myself time to explore and just create from my heart.

June 24 2019 – Day One

Kate Hartmann from Tutere Gallery in Waikanae Beach on the Kapiti Coast started the 100 day challenge 3 years ago with 6 artists at that time. This is the third time she has run it with 16 artists participating this year. Kate along with art tutor John Cornish, has mentored and guided these 16 Kapiti artists over their own individual and collective 100 day art journeys. Every one of us had different goals and reasons for doing it.

 

I wanted to just let go, to explore, experiment and not worry about any boundaries. I wanted to use my hands as much as I could and move away from a screen and Photoshop.

I wanted to try techniques I had never had the time to try. I knew I would use pictures, wood and wax as my main medium. But I didn’t limit myself to using only those.

 

The first 2-3 weeks I was very excited and wanted to try everything. Very often with disappointing results. But I also probably learned the most over that time.

I think I found myself finally on the right track when we went away on 2 weeks holidays. I thought I’d be able to buy all that I would need in Fiji. But what I ended up with was only my camera and my phone.

I had time…I was on holidays…

I was doing photos of everything that made my heart sing. One day I loaded some photos on to my phone to send to my family. I opened some photo apps on my phone, and I started to explore.

I went crazy and I loved it.

The small screen of my phone allowed me to stop looking at all the small details and allowed me to look at my photos from a different perspective.

I felt awesome.

The constraints of not having everything that I wanted to use and narrowing down to only do photos on my camera and editing everything only on my phone was just perfect. So, I decided to keep on going with this approach for the rest of my 100 day journey. My photos were sorted. Now how to present them.

Another goal of mine was to create a body of work. Something I could hold in my hands. Usually I have a final product for my clients where they can enjoy their portraits that is beautifully presented. But I hardly ever do that for myself with my artwork.

 

I also wanted 100 days to be a sensory experience for me. I wanted textures to be included. I knew wood would be a big part of it all. I love working with wood. My dream is to master carpentry skills one day…the scent of wood and working with that material is so relaxing for me.

When I used to build simple furniture or refurbish old ones I used bees wax instead of stain to protect the wood. I fell in love with that medium. Wax can be used in so many ways. It is such a powerful medium. But what I loved the most, was the softness wax can give to anything it touches. So wood and encaustic wax became a big part of my project.

 

I’ve used mostly my most loved photos from some creative shoots with my models or kids. I made some new ones along the way too. But my approach was not to think at all if any of them will be good enough for any type of photo awards. I wanted to let myself go FREE!

 

And I did…I hand painted my prints, played even more with my analogue cameras. I’ve tried cyanotype and wet plate technics. I put stitches over my prints, I used all sorts of papers to print my photos on. I made my own papers, dyed them, teared them, glued them, burned them and everything that came to mind. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not but now I know what is possible if I allow myself to try.

My 100 day journey was the best thing I could do for myself. It was the best workshop I could ever take.

Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone, don’t be afraid to try new things. Don’t be afraid to be yourself and go with your heart.

For me it is just the beginning…

Without Kate Hartmann I probably would not have stepped into that experience yet. Thank you, Kate.

 

A few words from Kate:

 

Thank you Karolina, for trusting in me and coming on this journey with us. It has been a real privilege to witness your personal growth.

 

There are always challenges when forging new paths and I’m proud of how you pushed through those. As artists we carry around with us some pretty heavy expectations around creating perfect work. I think this is particularly so for photographers. There is a pressure there to consistently present the best image, technically strong without flaws, showing a range of techniques and having a strong concept to tie it all together. A tough ask!

 

What I wanted for Karolina was an experience that was free from this, total freedom. No rules and no expectations. She had permission to have fun, to play, to experiment and to push outside her comfort zone. And she did! The best part is this is just the beginning for her. Some new creative pathways have opened up within her and I look forward to seeing where she goes next….

  

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