Summer in Oregon is awesome. After what is often a long, gray winter, the feel of the sun on my face and the ground under my bare feet is delicious. I love being warm enough to lose the sweaters and socks for a while. I love the long days of sunshine, the morning hikes with my dog, open windows at night. All of it.
But there is a downside to Summer. It also continues to be a challenge for me creatively. I’m all over the place. My bare trees are gone, I don’t have a focus. I don’t have anything that brings my work together. I experiment, and this year, nothing is sticking. So I’m back to the forest for a while, back to the trees.
When I made the decision to stop the abstract project, I thought I would continue with the figurative work. But it hasn’t happened, even though I have tons of conceptual ideas in my head and on paper. Why??
The challenge, I’ve found, is the advance planning these types of images take. If I have a concept, I can’t just sit down and create whenever it comes to me. I have to go around collecting the imagery I want to use in that concept. That takes time and energy. It was easier to do on vacation, where I had lots of free time and people around to model. I typically don’t have this kind of random imagery that works for the figurative work on my camera roll. So what I’ve been finding is that when I have time to sit down and create, typically early mornings, I can’t create that work unless I’ve planned ahead.
It turns out, I don’t like planning ahead in my art. I like to capture images as I move through my day, and then play with them later. Images of things that catch my eye, where I can stop and play with composition for a few moments as I capture a photo. They aren’t images of things so much as images of light and lines. It’s the interesting lines I like to photograph. They are the inspiration. Ten minutes of photo play can sometimes fuel my mornings for a week, maybe more.
Because my art is not just about creating a finished piece of a concept. It’s also about meditation. It’s my own personal escape into a quiet space that takes my mind away from everything else going on in my life. Playing with the image, a single image, and seeing what I can do with it brings its own unique joy.
The process of creating is more important than the finished piece.
I recently listened to a great podcast by Malcom Gladwell (Revision History Episode 7, Hallelujah) where he talks about different kinds of creators. There are those who have a concept and do things all at once, and then there are those who don’t have a concept in mind but eventually reach completion through experiment and revision. I’m the latter. It takes longer, but it’s the way that works for me.
So the trees are back. Not just because they are easier, because I certainly don’t believe art should always be easy, but because creating this way makes me happy. I need these morning moments of quiet and clarity in my life right now more than I need to create boundary-pushing art. So this is what I will do, what I will create.
What works for you? Are you a conceptual creator or an experimental creator? What matters more to you, the completed piece or the process? Think about it, and allow yourself to be true to the right process for you.
PS – Don’t miss out on the chance for me to create you a new profile photo! Read more here.