How did I get from here to here?

I had a reality check moment the other day. I have them now and then. Often they come in the form of a ‘lucky me’ thought. I often get them when my children do something clever or sweet.

Two of my children being sweet

Two of my children being sweet

On this particular occasion I was immersed, more like drowning, in Adobe After Effects. I was trying to work out how to pan and zoom a still image at the same time. Despite watching numerous YouTube tutorials (very comprehensive tutorials at that) with step-by-step guides (and lots of ‘hey dude’s), I could not get this simple-sounding process to work for me.

I had a deadline that was pressing on me though, so I needed to work it out. I was due to present a sample of my work to the staff of Powis Castle in two days’ hence with the aim of exhibiting work in the autumn. Although I didn’t ‘need’ to provide a sample of one of the videos I was hoping to make, I felt that I ought to and that it would help my case. So I was spending the Sunday before battling with Adobe software desperately trying to put my imagination on screen.

After Effects is great for making light sabers

After Effects is great for making light sabers light up

As I was struggling (and crying in tears and in voice), a thought came into my head: what am I doing? I said to myself: I paint and this is not painting. I paint sea pictures. Why am I spending a lovely sunny day sat here with a laptop on my knee trying to work this out? What is this? Is it art? Why can’t I just paint? I can ‘do’ painting. I know how to paint. I’m not a film-maker. I’ve never wanted to be a film-maker. So, why am I here doing this? Why am I trying to pan and zoom from a cat’s face?

One of my many sea pictures

One of my many sea pictures

I wanted to stop. I wanted to give it up and tell my college tutors ‘I just want to paint instead please’. But I didn’t because I hate quitting. I wasn’t going to let Adobe After Effects have the last laugh.

With any new or complicated task I tend to go through a pattern: I decide on a course of action, realise it is hard, have a flappy fit about it, cry, sulk, go back to it, realise it is still hard, sulk some more, then go back again and work it out.

So after going through this process a few times last Sunday, I finally cracked it. Or at least, I semi-cracked it. I managed to get the thing to pan a bit, zoom a bit, for six long seconds. It was acceptable for the ‘sample’.

Then my thoughts changed to: how amazing that I am here? How wonderful is this making videos lark? How fantastic does it feel when it works? If it wasn’t for Shrewsbury College I’d still be painting the sea. Instead I am animating rabbits and snakes and cats, and editing audio interviews, rendering, exporting and importing. I am doing REALLY INTERESTING STUFF. It is still art. There is no doubt that it is art.

So thank you, Shrewsbury College!

Where I go to learn art

Where I go to learn art

In case you’re interested, here is the ‘sample’ video I was making. Please, please appreciate the skill in the last six seconds of footage. Making that made me cry real big floppy tears.

Going off on a slight tangent, they are not going to be running the Foundation or the HND in Contemporary Art Practice next year due to budget cuts. That’s a real shame. I think others should have the opportunity to have reality checks like mine.

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