Category Archives: Creative Process

I NEVER THOUGHT I’D SAY THIS…

I’ve just been through 5 weeks of hell since my computer refused to turn on. You can read about my troubles elsewhere. Today I’m recognizing the positive things that resulted from all the drama. And there were good things!

I made the mistake of not taking a class about basic computer information when I first began using one. I plowed ahead, not really knowing what I was doing, and I lost my early photographs somewhere in the bowels of the now defunct machine.

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When everything was loaded from my old hard drive onto my new computer recently, photos showed up I hadn’t seen in years. In looking at the previously lost pictures I realized I’d been more experimental and creative in my early work than any photography I’ve done in the past few years.

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I was hijacked by compliments and positive feedback, and I repeated what I knew others liked. Big danger for any creative person.

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I remember having all kinds of fun with camera movement and rotation when taking these shots. Sometimes I used the light box to lay the flowers on, but more often I took photos. at the local botanical gardens.

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Even though I wouldn’t want to go through the last 5 weeks again I’m grateful it happened.

LIFE AS A CREATIVE ACT

As I was pondering the various aspects of creativity, my mind flipped a thought around to life itself being a creative act. While I was thinking I was so smart to have come up with that idea I decided to google the thought.  Ram Dass was way ahead of me when he said, “My life is a creative act, like a painting, like a poem.” I probably read those very words years ago, and they popped up out of my memory bank when needed. Funny how that works.

But does living creatively require some end product, like a song or a drawing? What would it look like to live life creatively with no external product?  To do so I think we have to be our authentic selves and express our uniqueness in our choices from what to wear to how we spend our time and what we pay attention to.

Serendipity provided me with an email this morning from Deepak and Oprah who had this to say about living a creative life.  “This creative power of your conscious self is a new kind of creativity. It’s not limited to artistic ability or outside-the-box problem solving. It is the power of your being to recreate the unique expression of life that is you at this present moment. That is the primal creativity of Nature itself moving through you, and this is the creative power behind all success.”

With that said, I must admit I’m happiest when I’m engaged in some creative activity that often does end as a photograph or painting or new recipe. It’s what gives my life meaning; it’s a time when I can lose myself in the activity.

Perhaps my challenge is to get that same charge from living every moment creatively. What gets in my way is falling into an unconscious routine that buries my creativity.  Being fully aware and in the moment seems to be a prerequisite for any original thought or action.

The Japanese poet, Osho preceded Ram Dass and me when he wrote:

When I say to be creative

I don’t mean

You should all go

And become great painters

And great poets.

I simply mean

Let your life

Be a painting

Let your life be a poem.

To write a poem or paint, compose music or write a book can be a wonderful experience, but incorporating small creative acts into daily life can be lots of fun, too. I stumbled upon a wonderful  website where the author, Katherine Torrini, encourages tiny acts of creativity. She suggests small, fun activities that can be done by anyone in just a few minutes. Check it out.

In the meantime, Henry Miller’s advise should go a long way toward living a creative life.  “The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.” 

FLOWERS THROUGH THE LENS

I’ve been thinking about the difference between photographing flowers on the first day I have them inside and the results I get when living with them for a few days. Usually my initial photos are not very interesting, quite pedestrian, in fact. After having them around for 24 hours, I do another shoot, and am more satisfied with the results. By the time the flowers begin to wilt I usually have a good photo or two, sometimes more.

Daffidol close up-1                                        Day 1:Good detail and color but not very interesting.

Having the flowers in my environment where I see them all day is important. In walking by them I may catch a glimpse of a certain angle of a flower or an arrangement of several that makes me grab my camera.  Living with them I get to know them.

Daffodils-1

Day 4: It still says “daffodil,” but there’s more depth and interest. Your eye is invited to move around.

Many teachers of photography advise having a vision of what you want before you shoot. I can’t seem to work that way. Instead I take dozens of shots and only know what I’m looking for when I see it through the lens, sometimes not until I see it on my computer screen.

I became curious about how others work and asked several artist friends how they begin a painting or photograph an image. Do they begin with an internal vision of where they intend to end up, or do they allow the process to carry them along to a surprising end?  My friend, a talented watercolor artist and retired high school art teacher sent me this in response to my question about how she works.:

“… In the past, I’ve always had a vision of how I want something to look before I start, but I can’t think of a picture I’ve ever created that met that expectation. However, only in the last few months (!) have I learned I should accept that a painting will take itself on its own journey and I should just enjoy the ride-along. Now that I’ve realized this phenomenon, I find myself excited about the adventure, instead of worried about the road map.”

On the other hand, a local photographer, River Wilder, whose work I much admire, told me she plans everything ahead, even to the point of sketching out how she wants the finished photograph to look..

These different ways of creating art are not limited to visual artists.  Some fiction writers begin with a plot laid out in their minds before the first word is put down, while others let the story unfold as they write. I don’t know any poets, dancers or composers to question, but I suspect that any creative endeavor can be approached from either end.

There are people I know who have a pretty good idea of where they are headed in life. They set out goals, make vision boards and plan what they’ll be doing for the next week, the next month and even the following year. That isn’t me. I’ve never been much of a goal setter and I wonder if that’s why I work as I do – discovering what I’m looking for after much of the work is done.