I have been so entrenched at my computer over the past few days that my body is aching in strange ways. Ergonomic issues aside, I am happy to have spent my time thus: learning more about editing photos in Adobe Photoshop. Given that my sister Alex is an amazing photographer and editor, I had always let this be her realm. However, now that her health issues prevent her from taking and editing photos like she used to, I realized that I needed to step up and educate myself!
While my sister goes for natural light and looks in most of her work, which is beautiful, I am currently having fun making more whimsical portraits. I have been working on a batch of photos from a shoot Alex and I did ages ago when we were taking my author photo for Priestess (Afterworld Book 2). Intellectually, I know that the woman in the pictures if me. However, I am my own canvas at the moment, so it is important for me to separate myself from the woman in the photos. She has simply been called the "lady" in all of my file names. Not me, just a woman who may bear a passing resemblance. The Lady is far more glamorous with glowing, flawless skin and an enchanted bearing. I am currently sporting a chin covered in healing acne, more greys than I care to count, and tired lines. But the Lady... she has none of that!
I naturally made this separation at the start of the editing process. Over the past decade, I have become very adept at isolating myself from my image. Having a pen name helps tremendously. "K.M. Rice" can do all kinds of things that I would find a bit self-indulgent as "Kellie." I took a one-day acting seminar when I was 19 or 20 with the casting director Judy Bouley - a wonderful human being. She gave me a part from one of her films, Deep Impact. I was paired with a young man and we did our emotional "the world is ending scene." I was enrolled in "Intro to Acting" in college at the time, had never had a boyfriend, and had just been given my lines. Under Bouley's direction, however, I was later shocked by what happened.
I did the scene. By the end I had the necessary tears welled in my eyes. I would have kissed my acting partner without reservation if the scene had called for it (kissing a boy was a huge deal for me at the time). It was like I had gone into a different place in my mind. I was no longer Kellie. I was the character.
Later, Bouley would congratulate me as having real talent, remind me that I hadn't even finished my first acting class and that I was pretty. "She's good," she said to my mom when she came to pick me up. "I mean, she's really good." I think my mom was as shocked as I was to hear that praise, for most of the films I made at home were my excuse to be a lunatic! I still cherish Bouley's encouragement to this day.
Even with such a promising start, I quickly realized that acting wasn't for me. I enjoyed it and do so still, however, I didn't want to go through rejection after rejection. It was difficult enough to feel comfortable with my appearance on my own without being constantly judged for it by strangers. And while this story sounds like the push I should have used to launch an acting career, the truth is that I attended the seminar because I wanted to learn how to be a horseback-riding extra in a film like Lord of the Rings. A few years later, I did my one and only "modeling" photoshoot with a photographer, not for pay, but for a free headshot... because I also had it in my head that I could audition for a small role in The Hobbit. My youthful naivete warms my heart. Though those dreams never came to fruition, the law of attraction works in mysterious ways, and none can say that I did not eventually find my way to Middle-earth!
This division of insular self and public self is important for an artist. I may be my own canvas at this point, but the Lady is not me. She is K.M. Rice. She is an elf or a faerie, a witch or a sorceress. The Lady is whoever and whatever I need her to be. She has me in her, but she is not entirely me. Instead, she is a fragment, a reflection, a moment in time. The Lady is imbibed with my passions and aesthetic and yet remains an ideal, separate from the artist who looks like a ragamuffin most days and has to remind herself to eat.
It's strange how there are so many different sides to people, but we would be terribly boring otherwise. For now, I am having fun exploring the parts of me that are embodied by the Lady. Who knows what she will come up with next!