Self portrait, Jan 03, 2010
Last week I started a discussion about sustaining the practice of art, based on the Kurt Vonnegut quote about the purpose of art being the growth of the soul. Y’all chimed in with what you do to sustain your creativity, and if you haven’t read through the comments in that post, you’ll want to. This community is full of creative people with great ideas about how to care for the creative soul.
The reason I brought this all up is the feeling that my own bucket has been draining faster than I can fill it, and I’m in need of a refill. My own means of refilling is to return to the craft with a renewed sense of play. Many of you mentioned taking time on the river or in the mountains, doing anything but picking up the camera, and I do that to, but to really stir the paint, I need to do it with the paint brush in the other hand and in proximity to the canvas. My problem is not that I’m weary of the craft, but that I’ve been so busy with all the other things involved with VisionMongering that I’ve had no time to really play.
So I’ve started a year of play. A year of planned self-assignments, and forced creative exercises. Digital cameras, iPhones, film cameras, and a whole mess of assignments that have nothing whatsoever to do with my usual work. Just enforced play. I used the words “forced” and “enforced”, not because I’m reluctant to do it otherwise but because I tend to get so busy with the business end of things that the creative side gets neglected unless I make an intentional effort to nurture it. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say I am forcing the distractions out of the sandbox, not forcing my creative side to stay in, because that part’s easy. It sounds like I’m forcing my muse to submit to a repressive regime; I’m not. I’m so excited about this year I can barely contain it or wait to start. So I didn’t. I started today.
The first exercise is a frequent self-portrait, something I keep wanting to do and never get around to. The image at top is shot with my 5D through a 4×5 view camera, lit with a bare-bulb LED modeling light on my Elinchrom Quadra.
Inspiration comes and goes, but the more we do the work, intentionally chase the muse and engage her, the more she works on your behalf. We need to do the other stuff, put the camera down and breathe deep in the places that water our souls, but we also need to stretch and exercise the muscles we hope to lean on. What are you going to do this year to keep the muse in shape, to pro-actively stir the paint, and to stay inspired? Let us know, comments are open.
Looking for more? The Inspired Eye, Volume I, is about this exact thing, if you haven’t yet picked it up, now would be a great time. Volume II will be released later this month. The Inspired Eye, Vol.I is available HERE for $5.