Barcelona, Spain, 2010
Barcelona, Spain, 2010
Why Can’t You Go Home Again?
“You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood … back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame … back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time — back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.” Thomas Wolfe
Living in an unfamiliar place with different smells, tastes, and rhythms can be a jarring experience. Dislocated is a good term for what I was experiencing in my new environment –except I was in my hometown, feeling like a stranger. My family had just returned from a nine month stay in Barcelona, Spain, where our daughters attended public school and my husband did a research project at the University. We fell in love with Barcelona with all its beauty, culture, and bakeries.
I was unprepared for the reverse culture shock that I felt when we returned to our home in Sacramento. This was more than a post-travel funk. Things back at home were both bigger and smaller, brighter and duller. It was a little like being Alice in Wonderland, never knowing what to expect. I was missing the siestas and leisurely lunches with the whole family. Now our family life became more fragmented and hectic, as we moved back into our jobs and schools.
Friends welcomed us back, of course, but only a few seemed interested in hearing many details of our adventures in Spain. Just as we had changed and grown in our time away, our friends had too. We had to find new common ground. Some friendships withered away, others grew stronger. After a few stressful months, I gradually found my new groove – and a new me that included Barcelona as one of my homes.
Kat, I wish you an easy transition back to the U.S – your self awareness and maturity should make for a smooth re-entry!
Have you ever looked at something big, thought it was insurmountable, but decided to try it anyway? Some things are optical illusions, brought on by perspective, like this building from Barcelona. It almost seems to go on forever, but that’s really because of my perspective, right at the base. It’s a tall building, yes, but it’s not infinite.
That’s a bit how I felt when I set the goal of 200 people in the Liberate your Art postcard swap. I knew it would be a big stretch, and it seemed a bit insurmountable. I knew I couldn’t get there on my own, but guess what – the goal has been met! As of this writing, there are 228 people signed up for the swap. Wow! That’s 1140 pieces of art that will be winging their way around the world in July. Actually, it’s 1368 when you count my postcards too. I’m so excited! Thank you all so much for helping me get to this goal, by posting on your blogs, putting the button on the sidebar, posting on facebook, tweeting – all of that. I couldn’t have done this without help.
There is still a little bit of time to sign up, if you haven’t yet. I’ll close the sign up on 4 June, next Saturday, and then the focus turns to execution of the swap. Visit the swap page here for the details if you would like to sign up.
And… there are new links added to the participant link list this week! Take a few moments and visit a few of your fellow artists who have shared links. I hope you will connect with one or two others this week and say hello.
Links Added since last update:
For several months now, I’ve had a dearth of creative reading. Oh, I’ve been reading a lot, mostly fiction novels. I just haven’t been able to find a book I like for my daily creative reading since I finished Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach at the end of last year. This morning I sat down to read and I find myself with three inspiring books in progress at the moment. It was hard to choose! Times ebb and flow, interests come and go. It’s clearly time for me to focus on creativity again, bring balance to my personal equation, after several months of focusing on primarily on photography.
As I mentioned in my Claim your Artist post the other day, one of the books I’ve started is Julia Cameron’s Vein of Gold, a sequel to The Artist’s Way. She starts out similarly to the The Artist’s Way, introducing her fundamental tools of the Morning Pages, Artist Dates and a few other things. While I have loved her writing and ideas, there is one thing I don’t love about her books: How adamant that she is that you use the tools she gives, in a specific way, on a specific frequency. She’s the teacher, she’s taught this to thousands (maybe millions of people, through her books), she knows it works and that’s the end of the discussion.
But here’s the thing: She doesn’t know me. She doesn’t know what works for me, how I think, what I’ve tried in the past. She has a lot to teach me, but it won’t work if it doesn’t fit my style. I know me and I know this: Requiring a task be done on a rigid schedule with rigid guidelines flips me right over into the obsessive achiever part of my personality. The part of me that tracks everything as a number and berates myself when I don’t follow it as instructed. The part of me that will kill the emerging artist at every opportunity.
Through my creative journey I’ve learned I need to try out the tools a teacher provides, and then fit them to me. I’ve made journaling part of my regular practice, but I journal probably 4 to 6 times per week and don’t require a certain length. The requirements of “Morning Pages” never worked for me. I’ve learned the value of creative excursions and explorations on my own, of filling the well, but on my own schedule. I may not be following the instructions of the “Artist Dates” but I get the same benefits. I follow the spirit of the teachings, not necessarily the absolute.
I will confess as well, I didn’t fill out one worksheet, one questionnaire, answer one “recall a time when xxxx happened” exercise in The Artist’s Way as proscribed. I didn’t follow the recommend schedule for reading. I would move quicker or slower as the material worked for me. I’ve done the same with many, many creative books now. I never read Simple Abundance daily, I would pick it up as it inspired me and read chunks of it at a time. I skipped all of the fill-in-the-blank exercises of Martha Beck’s Finding your own North Star but the material has stuck with me nonetheless.
I read, absorb, journal, write about the most important pieces to me here. The ideas go into the “swirl” I’ve talked about before, become the fuel that keeps my creativity burning bright. I gain an enormous amount from the books I read and the classes I take. There is so much to learn from great teachers. I believe in trying on ideas and methods, and then trimming them, nipping and tucking them to make them fit me. We have to believe in our inner wisdom and intuition. We have to rely on our own experience and awareness of ourselves, of how we learn and integrate knowledge. We have to make the teachings ours if they are going to be useful.
Have you ever started a book or a class, something that comes highly recommended like The Artist’s Way, only to quit because you didn’t like the methods or didn’t want to follow the procedure? If so, I don’t think you’re alone. Here’s something new to try, if you find yourself in that situation: Just read the material. See what resonates with you, inspires you. Who knows, you might end up liking some of the suggestions and incorporating them in your own way, in your own time. Or maybe not, but you’ll have gained something more through the reading.
Today’s picture is inside the amazing Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona, by architect Antoni Gaudí. Here’s an artist who found his inspiration in novel sources. I’m sure he learned valuable information from his teachers, but I am glad he didn’t follow their proscribed methods exactly. He integrated and applied the knowledge in his own way, developing new methods. The world of architecture is more beautiful for his unique and creative interpretations.
Take that to heart today.
As I went back in time in my photo file to find an image that would reveal yesterday’s mystery, I came across this photo of the ceiling in the Gaudí designed Casa Batlló. Actually, I came across two photos of this ceiling, and I remember them well. At the time I was editing, there were two different compositions I processed similarly and liked, but I couldn’t decide between them. Since I couldn’t decide, I just left them in the file and didn’t do anything with them. As I reviewed these images yesterday, this specific composition jumped out at me as being the more interesting of the two. It was absolutely, crystal clear in my mind. Why had I had such a debate long ago?
This is a great example of how we grow and change over time. My style and eye has been refined since I worked with these photos eight months ago, and I have a different response to the images from that time. I see the world from a new place, a shifted perspective. Have you ever gone back in time, and discovered wonderful things in your old photos? There are many gems for you there, I guarantee it.
No one was able to guess what yesterday’s image was, and I’m not surprised. It was a bit abstract, and requires a little bit of a history lesson around architect Antoni Gaudí. Gaudí was inspired by observing the world around him, and the catenary arch is one example of this philosophy that you can see in many of his designs. A catenary arch is the shape that a chain or rope will make when at rest, the forces perfectly balanced. When you turn this shape upside down, you have the shape of a very strong arch for building.
The image I showed yesterday is the mirror reflection of a grouping of chains that Gaudí used to design a cathedral. The hanging chains form a series of loops that become arches and domes when viewed in reflection. The whole set up of this exhibit was very neat, with the mirror and the shadow on the wall to help illustrate the concept. Here are is an image of the chains “right side up” to help you see what you were looking at.
Here is yesterday’s image of the view in the mirror, in color. A little more context helps you understand what you are seeing, doesn’t it? It’s amazing how we as photographers can manipulate reality, just by including or excluding context. That’s what makes this medium art. We, as the artists, get to decide.
From Seth Godin‘s blog yesterday:
Art is what we call…
the thing an artist does.
It’s not the medium or the oil or the price or whether it hangs on a wall or you eat it. What matters, what makes it art, is that the person who made it overcame the resistance, ignored the voice of doubt and made something worth making. Something risky. Something human.
Art is not in the eye of the beholder. It’s in the soul of the artist.
I loved his words so much I wanted to share them here with you today.
Today’s photo is from Barcelona. Can you guess what this is?