Layers of Solitude


photography, Italywise

Layers of Solitude – Jed Smith © 2017

I’m enamored with the emotion and scenes of solitude. When my mother, who was also my life-long art teacher, began exposing me to the bountiful world of artistic expression, I found myself drawn to the likes of Edgard Degas and Edward Hopper, and their depictions of people steeped in solitude. Think The Absinthe Drinker by Degas, and Nighthawks by Hopper.

I love solitude.

Yes, at my core, I am an introvert. A psychological test I took years ago confirmed this. BUT, it also confirmed that I was just left of center on the scale. This means I also have important extroversion needs. Yes, I love being with friends, family and small groups of people. It feeds my soul. As for the introvert part, I now recognize having the balance of significant alone time is crucial to my overall sense of well being. I think of it as important time to pause, reflect, and process all that I’ve taken in when I’m with other people.

Perhaps, by sharing this photo, I’m also taking you behind the curtain and helping you to understand what makes this artist tick. Maybe I’m also sharing this to prompt you to ask similar questions about yourself and how you’re wired. Ultimately, I believe we find peace by understanding the focuses in our lives that feed our souls. Sadly, a lot of people aren’t in touch with what nourishes their souls. Consequently, they end up spending too much time doing things at odds with themselves.

Art, poetry, music attempt to express the unexplainable

This is my philosophy. Maybe it’s wrong, But, for me, I have to follow the lead of my heart. I learn so much about myself by looking at where I have pointed my camera, and what subjects I choose for my paintings and for my stories.

We think we know ourselves. Think again.

Yes, I’ve written this to be a little provocative. I admit it. I’ve spent too much of my life applying intellectual “violence” in trying to capture and explain the world around me. I have a brain that excels in analysis. That serves me well in many ways, but it’s also a prison at the same time. Trying to analyze and contain life around me by neatly labeling and explaining only ends up sucking the life out of everything. I think I know myself through this kind of analysis. Wrong.

I’m done with that. Now I ask myself if I’m willing to live on the razor’s edge of letting each moment unfold without leaping to the future in preparation for every eventuality, or fixating on a past that is dead and gone.

I’m ready to try something new.

One of my biggest fears in life is becoming locked in my ways, and not letting life teach and re-mold me through experience. Thank God my mother modeled being malleable until the day she died. She continues to be an inspiration to me in this regard.

So, I continue to follow the creative divining rod in my hands, not always knowing where it will point next. Italy keeps giving me ample opportunity to express myself – often in surprising ways. I paint, I photograph, and I write. And, then I step back and let my paintings, my photos, and my stories reveal parts of myself I didn’t know existed. What a great way to begin wake up from the paralysis of an overactive thinking mind!

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By |2017-02-13T14:23:28+01:00February 13th, 2017|Black & White, Personal musings, The Artistic Journey|10 Comments

About the Author:

I’m an American expat living in Italy!


  1. Peige Rosales February 20, 2017 at 9:06 am - Reply

    Lovely, thought-provoking.

    • Jed February 20, 2017 at 1:42 pm - Reply

      Grazie mille Peige!

  2. Chris Montgomery February 15, 2017 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    Jed, what a wise post. Staying tuned in is a lifelong process for me. Your work and reflections are an inspiration.

    • Jed February 16, 2017 at 11:47 am - Reply

      Thanks Chris! So good hearing from you. I do feel like I keep coming back to center. Funny how often I get distracted, but at least I’m more aware of the crazy wanderings of my mind. Hope all is well!

  3. Gaye HART February 14, 2017 at 1:14 pm - Reply


    • Jed February 16, 2017 at 11:48 am - Reply

      Grazie mille, Gaye!

  4. Nancy February 13, 2017 at 11:19 pm - Reply

    I understand the need to analyze everything. Thankfully, you have learned to express yourself in all these different ways.

    • Jed February 14, 2017 at 9:08 am - Reply

      The brain works in mysterious ways, doesn’t it!

  5. Chip Meeks February 13, 2017 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    Another good read. Thanks again.
    Sorry that I missed you last week. Perhaps next time!

    • Jed February 14, 2017 at 9:08 am - Reply

      Thanks Chip! Let me know when you’ll be back. Would enjoy hanging out and catching up.

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