Last week I had the pleasure of taking an art class with a well-known Southwest Oklahoma artist. The class was simply advertised as “Oil Painting Class.” I have painted with oils for several years now but I know one can always learn more, so I signed up.
The class was great. The instructions were helpful and the students were very friendly. I enjoyed the class for the most part, but there was something in my chest that felt uncomfortable, something that wouldn’t go away. I told myself I was trying new things and getting out of my regular painting habits, but then on the final night I realized what was going on.
The lightbulb came on when the instructor discouraged me from painting a picture I had picked out. “Oh, that is going to be very difficult to paint. The shadowing in this photograph is almost impossible to capture in oils.” Though her advice was helpful, I thought about it and then chose to ignore it and paint what I wanted to paint anyways.
I also realized that the new technique I was trying did not feel right to me at all. I was doing it correctly, I just wasn’t enjoying it like I should.
When I stepped back and put all this together I realized something great: I had figured out who I was as an artist!
For years I had watched the best art students do the exact opposite of what the instructor suggested, only to produce a more unique piece. I, on the other hand, had always stuck with what the teacher said to ensure I was doing things as they wanted. One of my close friends explained that I have found myself as an artist and established my own style and techniques and because I know what works best for me, specifically, I am now able to stay strong in my own personality of painting and grow in that exclusive style.
Frederick is like that beginning art student. We’ve been trying different techniques and doing as we are told. We’ve watched what works for other cities and tried to implement the same ideas but we haven’t had the same success. We’ve tried to duplicate the model our grandparents and great-grandparents used extremely well, but our results are not coming out near as positive.
Times are changing and our structure as a community must change too or else we will fail. The best part about Frederick is that we won’t give up. Our people are strong-minded and willing to do whatever it takes to make things work. This is exactly the right attitude that a town of our status needs to have. We just haven’t found our vision yet. We as a community need to come together to figure out what we want Frederick to look like. What is our style and personality? What is our unique fingerprint on the world? How can we find a model that makes us tick and evolves with us as the world around us changes?
These are the questions the Chamber is asking as we try to boldly move forward into the new year of 2016 and a new generation of leadership, momentum and growth. Everything is changing, including our community. You have a choice to get on board and make things happen, or stand back and get out of the way—because either way change is upon us and we must figure out who we are as a community.