Category: Teaching

What Is Reality, Really?

Leaving Reality Behind

When we finish a vacation or come back to what we call home after a trip or a long weekend. One of the first things we often say is “Back to reality!” What is reality though? The world we have created with all of its things and stuff is truly not reality. Well it is in a sense reality, but it is a fake reality. It is what we have settled for. We surround ourselves with stuff that other people think we need. Things that typically only satisfy temporarily. We smother ourselves with these things we are convinced we need which in turn often forces us to become slaves to someone else and someone else’s agenda by working for them. How is that reality?

Looking At The New

Looking At The New

Get Off The Grid

I recently got home from a two week wonderful trip in which I visited several national parks. Zion, Bryce Canyon, Yellowstone and Yosemite. I spent an average of two days “roughing it” at each park, took the off the beaten track routes, stopped at several state parks, and drove down roads that I had no idea where they would take me other than into the sunset. It was a beautiful trip that filled me with amazement and awe.

The world we live in is truly a beautiful incredible place. The negative in the world is brought on by people. Fortunately no matter what we go through as a person, the negative makes up a small portion. If you think about your life only, (not everything going on in the world at one time) then you do begin to realize that there is more positive than negative. Negative stands out significantly because of this. If all was negative, then negative would be normal and would go unnoticed. 2017 has been exceedingly unkind to me, yet through it all, I still see mostly positive.

There Is More Positive Than Negative

One way to see the true positive is to frequently immerse yourself in nature. Nature is pure and wholesome. We can learn from that. The important part of being in nature is, letting nature be. Protect it, observe it, let it be. I see so many people go into nature and act crazy. Throwing rocks, breaking branches, shouting and being obnoxious. Some find that it is okay to vandalize and paint graffiti. There is a place for street art and graffiti, it’s not in nature, keep nature sacred. Go into nature to find calm and peace or please don’t go

.

Are We Doing All We Can?

How do we treat the planet when no one is looking? Every action is accumulative, every wrapper, every piece of gum, every cigarette butt is additive. It is careless, lazy and self centered to think otherwise. There are people who go into nature that have no regard for nature what-so-ever; litter, graffiti, destruction, reckless driving, disrespect, etc. I find people like this to be seriously disturbing. Where is their place in this world if even in nature they are violent and hateful. I thought maybe if people who are not happy, depressed, hurtful or hateful would go into nature, into the wild, and find solitude, peace, themselves maybe they could become a different person. However after seeing some of what I saw maybe this is not possible?

Garden Of Light

Garden Of Light

For me, being in nature is a humbling experience, knowing I am part of it, and in a broader sense part of the universe and being connected to all of it. Which means I have to do my part in protecting it, cherishing it and keeping it safe for generations to come.

Nature is true-pure reality. It is what remains of what it all used to be like, before roads, high rises and pollution. The planet free of debris, clutter, man made crap and crud is what I consider real genuine reality. Those places are becoming fewer and fewer and smaller and smaller. Even in the national parks there are so many visual reminders of modern human interface. In my opinion there should be and could be so much less.

Too Much Clutter

Railings, boardwalks, signs, fences, buildings, power lines, etc. etc. seem to be almost everywhere. As a photographer I really notice things like that because I desire clean shots. My selfish desire for a clean shot has presented an awareness of the clutter we have created in our natural preserves. In some locations where there was an epic panorama there would be a building planted right in the middle of it all. I’m like “Why? Why there? Power lines cutting through beautiful epic scenery. I understand we do need some of these things. We just need to make much better decisions on how we implement them. We have preserved these natural locations for a reason, lets preserve better.

My experience in the wild left me with something I will get to keep with me forever. I have been to Yellowstone three times now and the other parks I mentioned for the first time. Though I had been there twice before I wanted to see Yellowstone again in October because of the cooler weather. I wanted to see it in that setting where the steam truly interacted with the crisp cold Rocky Mountain air. I was not disappointed, it was surreal. In many cases it felt fake. Bryce Canyon seemed fake. It is impossible for it to be real. It is real though and that is true reality. Experiencing true reality means getting out there and exploring. Exploring, discovering, admiring and being educated by nature.

Spacious Skies

Spacious Skies

More Please

Fake reality has brought me back to San Diego, to my studio. Life has placed me in a circumstance where my photography alone is not paying the bills. Therefore I am now seeking other means in addition to my photography to fulfill my obligations to others. I put a lot into this road trip because I was very aware that when I got back that I would need to get very busy. So this trip meant a lot to me. It meant really truly doing some soul searching, it meant really truly doing my part in this life to promote being in nature and to promote preserving it and to promote respecting it. I am left with an emptiness in my heart because of what I saw, its flawlessness and its innocence. I want much more of that in my life.

Confidence

What is confidence? How do you obtain it? Better yet, how do you teach it? Good questions. All with varying or even elusive answers. We all struggle with it at times. Some more than others and seemingly there are those who have obtained all the confidence in the world.

As an artist I often struggle with confidence. Not so much in my abilities, more in my confidence in surviving in the vast wprld of artists. I am but a speck in a huge sea of talent and creativity. How do I shine? How do I stand out? How do I get noticed? Yet at the same time I do what I can to not dwell on that much. It is a waste of time for my thoughts and energy to waste away on that which really is not realistic. If we all thought, “Well, there are an awful lot of artists out there, I don’t see myself succeeding. So I am not going to be an artist.” That then is an admission of defeat from the beginning.

Opportunity

“Opportunity” By Natasha Myrick

I believe in persistence. I have been persistent for several years. Putting my work out there. Growing, bettering myself, posting, blogging, etc. I could have easily given up based on feedback or the lack thereof on my Facebook posts, Google + posts, etc. If I were to compare myself to others, then I should quit. I should throw in the towel based on the numbers.

Don’t look at the numbers, don’t look at the stats! They mean nothing! What matters? If you are posting something, your art, a photograph, your passions, then that means you believe in that. You enjoy, love, what you do and you post it. What matters is that you feel it is important. It mattered when you shared it with the world and it still matters! What matters to you is truly all that matters, do not forget that!

Had I given up, I would not have my work hanging at the amazing Incredible Artist Gallery  in Cathedral City, CA. Had I given up, I would not have met many amazing artists who today I call friends! Had I given up, I would not be writing this blog and you wouldn’t be reading it.

Had I given up, I would not have had the opportunity to mentor 14 year old Natasha Myrick. Due to my ties with the Incredible Artist Gallery, I was given an awesome experience to meet the Myrick family at the beautiful Colony 29 in Palm Springs, California. The Myricks were brought out here to California to give their 5 year old son Liam the experience of a lifetime. Liam was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma when he was only 3 years old. Needless to say the lives of the Myricks has been hectic, many ups and downs. Their time here in California was meant to create an up that would be part of their memories forever. For me it was a wonderful experience getting to meet all of them! Playing with Liam and his 8 year old sister Natalie. Watching them paint, play, swim, and simply enjoy life without worrying about anything for a few short days.

Look What I Did!

“A Proud Moment” Natasha proudly stands before her works at the Gallery 446 in Palm Springs, California. Image created by Paul W. Koester

A good portion of Liam, Natalie, and Natasha’s stay in Palm Springs was spent preparing for their very own art show at Gallery 446 in Palm Springs, California. Natalie and Liam created paintings to sell at the gallery to raise money for Liam’s medical expenses.

Natasha is the oldest of the Myrick siblings. She has not had it easy. With Liam’s numerous hospital visits, being the oldest means having the most responsibilities. She doesn’t live the typical life of a teenager, yet she doesn’t complain. She understands and loves her little brother. Yet through all of that there is a creative side to Natasha that strives to be revealed, it has been suppressed. I discovered that talent as I mentored Natasha and helped guide her in creating some pretty amazing photos.

The Light

“The Light” image created by Natasha Myrick

Grandma's Promise

“Grandma’s Promise” Image created by Natasha Myrick

Natasha's Reflection

“Natasha’s Reflection” Taken while on a photo walk in Palm Springs, California. Image created by Paul W. Koester

Here is where this whole thing comes full circle. How do you teach confidence? The moment Natasha and I picked up our cameras, Natasha began saying to me, “I can’t do this.” “I am not good enough.” Lots of negativity was sensed. It was strong enough that I thought to myself, “I am not going to be able to teach her.” How do you teach something to someone who is this critical of themselves? I knew some of her intimidation was derived from me. So instead of addressing her insecurities I had her shoot away. I lead by example and just started taking pictures of the surrounding area.  She asked questions and I answered. My words were simple to her, “just have fun”. In my opinion that is lesson number one with photography have fun, then learn, always have fun. Setting her mind at ease was important to me. Being overly critical of our inadequacies does very little to help improve ourselves. Recognizing them, yes, that is important, but then move on and work on improving. How do you improve? Well that is simple too. Look back at those things that intimidated you. Are they as intimidating now as they were back when you were first introduced to them? Did you improve? Chances are good you did. Due to that knowledge, now know that you can do that again, and again, and again.

Soon I saw a change in Natasha. I saw her relax. She began to enjoy being behind the camera. I watched her get lost in the moment. That’s the golden moment, getting lost, that is when you truly create. As you can see she created some amazing images that she has every right to be proud of. Together we edited the images and Natasha gave them titles that she felt from her heart. While Natasha was out getting ready for the gallery showing I went and had them printed and framed. The next time she saw her images, they were prominently hanging on the walls of Gallery 446. What a proud moment! I was proud of her as was everyone else, simply amazing!

Natasha's Creations

“Natasha’s Creations” Beautiful images created by Natasha Myrick hanging on the walls of the Gallery 446 in Palm Springs, California. Image created by Paul W. Koester

Paul and Natasha

Paul and Natasha at the Gallery 446 in Palm Springs, California. Image created by Rick Pantele

Believe Tree

“Believe Tree” an amazing and beautiful tree with words of encouragement, inspiration, and motivation written on it’s branches. Image and design created by Paul W. Koester

Believing in yourself is the key to confidence. It starts with us. If we don’t believe then how can others? Never underestimate yourself or doubt yourself! We all go through it and we all need to be reminded of our self worth. Chances are good others will not remind us of our self worth, we have to do it for ourselves. When others are down on themselves I do what I can to encourage them and remind them of how talented they are and how important they are. As an artist I know what it is like to be down and have those dark moments when things just seem like they are not coming together the way I would like. The doubts creep in, we all need reminders that we are better than that! We all need from time to time reminders that we need to BELIEVE IN OURSELVES!! The Believe Tree is a beautiful and amazing tree with words of encouragement, inspiration, and motivation written on its branches. It serves as a visual reminder that we can get through and overcome any challenge. Quite often that biggest challenge is convincing ourselves that we are good enough.

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