Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Full-Bodied: Creativity Boot Camp


I've had to cut myself a lot of slack lately. There are so many things I want to do: organize my new room, hang art on my blank walls, get up early to run, stay up late to "be productive", finish books long drawn out, move on to new equally relevant ones. Between my hours of work, bus travel to and from, and the appointments in my planner, I'm being reminded that so often I set unrealistic time lines.

I know I am not the only one participating in Creativity Boot Camp with a million other things weighing on my mind. So, I read Madeline's guidance for each day and do what I can with each one and sometimes I get through the journal prompt, other days I pull out my camera for the word prompt, sometimes I do both, and some days I just carry the additional thoughts and awareness in my head.

I loved today's daily thoughts to heighten senses and simply savor each encounter with scent, sound, touch.

While my job does not revolve around artistic creativity, there are a lot of sensory elements that feed this aspect of my spirit. I touch cheese, I smell it, I taste it, and I describe each of these elements to my customers. Our primary "wine guy" stopped in this afternoon and poured me a glass of a white and a red and we swirled and inhaled and savored. These are the obvious elements of sensory engagement in my daily life.

In response to a few questions from Creativity Boot Camp, the most pleasant sensation I recall is in the nose of the Sauvignon Blanc. It was satisfaction alone.

The most memory-invoking was the experience of drinking my tea as I read the prompt for the day and sat at the table with my breakfast. I have a strong affection for hot milky black tea thanks to the four months I lived in Oxford in which I survived mainly on PG Tips and Digestives.

The heart-tugging sensory experience of seeing the sky transition from grey to purple to orange to pink drew me to the stone steps outside our door with camera in hand. I ditched the cliché photos I had snapped of a glass of Pinot Noir and hung onto the definition of full-bodied found at Merriam-Webster:

"Having importance, significance, or meaningfulness"

I looked at the house that has turned into a home in the last week and the sky that was my salvation when I lived in Abilene, TX, where natural beauty rarely amazed, much less surfaced. Since leaving West Texas I have seen many beautiful corners of the world and the contrast I know now makes encounters with beauty that much more beautiful.

Place is important to me, though I hold the term "home" loosely. I'm swift to attach it to geographical locations and particular bedroom walls, but I'm also lax to pick it up and move it along to new scenery when the time comes.

So, for as long as this place is appropriate to call home, I'm finding importance, significance, and meaning in inhabiting and enjoying it. I'm so grateful the sky follows us everywhere we go, and there will always be sunsets and sunrises and reminders through them of how striking beauty is to the soul.



Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fluid: Creativity Boot Camp




Yesterday's Boot Camp assignment was to create a work outside of our typical style, to embrace who we are but also stretch ourselves and perhaps stumble upon a fresh discovery of ourselves.

At first I struggled with how I could intentionally do this and with the question of what was outside the bounds of my self-imposed "rules" of creating that I could capture in the few hours I have after getting home from work at seven o'clock. So often my subject matter in photography is limited to food and still life details with wide aperture settings and swift shutter speeds. The first idea that came to mind was people - photographing people. I squirm at this idea more than so many others because I have strong opinions about the sort of people photos I do not like and very rarely succeed in capturing them how I do like. But, then, I rarely try.

I do not like people to feel uncomfortable or under scrutiny so my most successful shoots have been with friends who are already very comfortable in front of the camera. Children are great in this way, too. But I do not feel like I have mastered how to relax people who would not otherwise be at ease and this is where the discomfort and doubt of my abilities come into play.

I hoped to get some people shots yesterday if the opportunity worked itself out, but instead stumbled upon these more spontaneous shots on the ride home from the grocery store. I do not like to do sloppy work. I love that food and flowers and chairs do not move, so that I can get the negative just right and focus in just the way I want. Being in a moving car doesn't allow this to happen easily. So I threw my shutter wide open to a setting that caused it to slowly wink and ramped up the aperture to make sure the exposure stayed balanced.

It was a gorgeous day and the breeze felt good on my hair as the golden dusky sunlight soothed my skin. As my sister drove, I leaned out the window and sporadically snapped pictures of the upward view. They're nothing worthy of hanging in a gallery but they're outside of my norm and happen to incorporate fluid strokes, which is perfect because the word "fluid" was our theme for the day.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Grow: Creativity Boot Camp

I meant to get on board with this Creativity Boot Camp from day one, but the weekend got away from me and I forgot all about it until my run yesterday morning. By last night I had made it back around to the website and was determine to get down to business. And this is the best sort of "business" I've ever had to do. Yes, it is soul-digging but refreshing and rewarding and worthwhile.


The word for the day was "grow" and the journal prompt was listening to music of your past to conjure up those feelings of deep emotion experienced in younger years, at times of more naivety and/or rawness.

It was perfect timing for me to leap in. I am a music junkie.

I have assigned certain songs or bands to different stages of my life and places I have been. Damien Rice's O and Sixpence None the Richer's Divine Discontent epitomize my senior year of high school. Throw in Brandon Heath's "Small Town Flame" and certain pieces from Les Miserable that I mourned through on the piano and flute, and you have a girl with dreams but concerns about the world's safety in heart matters. Not just in love but in freedom and companionship and the purity of beauty.

To a degree I suppose I still have these ideas and wonderings but with a bit more seasoning. Time has proved both beautiful and tragic in the six years that have passed since I threw my cap in our little school gym and envisioned a life of independence.

I have laid claim to the self-titling of artist. I have trembled with paintbrush in hand, anxiety overwhelming; I have seen brushstrokes moving and colors inspiring beyond my humble inclinations. I have seen brothers marry, friends grow to near-family, and a dad walk out in a way that still sends reverberations. The music and the hope and the dreaming and the loving and the losing have all mixed together and clashed in varying degrees, and I'm left knowing that the best way to move on is to keep sowing beauty. To keep believing Beauty. To keep creating as I was created.

I was reminded of this by the draw to engage in this boot camp, and as I prepared today, one of my favorite bloggers emphasized the notion. A past entry of hers always brings me to tears over the innocent sincerity of this internal desire to re-create that so many of us bear.

I'm participating in this boot camp for me. Because my creative juices need a good, proper uncorking. It's been awfully dry around here. However, a blog is a shared space and I never mean for what I write to be purely selfishly focused. I hope the things I publish in the next week and a half bless and inspire you as I grow and am inspired.

Here's to growth. Here's to the little green fruit I discovered on our tree today in this new yard. It's the tree outside my new window, and I had no idea it was a fruit tree!