As many of you know, I’ve spent the past two years volunteering on the board of a local organization. I joined to make friends and become involved in my new community, Williamsburg, VA. What started as a part-time job morphed into a full-time one and more… During this time, I served as their photographer and membership coordinator. I did their marketing, wrote their news for the local magazine and helped establish their new website. Needless to say, I learned a lot!
Now, my time on the board is almost over, and I’m studying how use the time I will suddenly have on my hands. I don’t want to fritter it away…
So, I’ve decided to do some research.
I began with a visit to Art on the Square (http://www.williamsburgjuniors.org/#!art-on-the-square/c8gy), in Merchants Square, Colonial Williamsburg. This is an annual, juried art show that is presented by the Junior Woman’s Club. I decided to ask some of the artists what motivated and inspired them and got them working.
It was easy to strike up a conversation with Laura Gibbs, since she had her adorable dog, Penny, with her. Laura is an experimental abstract artist. (http://www.lauragibbs-studio.com) Her studio is in her home, and she has even managed to paint with contractors doing improvements around her. She admits, however, that she works best when she’s home alone! Her advice is to start small and approach it as play. She begins with a small canvas and experiments. Sometimes, these inspire a full-sized work, but not always. I think her willingness to just get started is the important note here. And, treating that beginning as play certainly reduces the pressure!
A few booths down, I met Kay Bolden of Kay’s Designs. (https://www.etsy.com/shop/boldenka)
Kay creates her own lampwork beads, which she incorporates into unique jewelry and household items. She used to work in stained glass, but found it too limiting. She loves the unpredictability of creating glass beads. “When I open the kiln, it’s always a surprise.” Aside from being spontaneous and having fun with creativity, she recommends joining a group and doing a challenge with them. She finds networking with a group to be a great way to encourage improvisation. I expect that belonging to a group also brings support and encouragement from the other members.
After I’d wandered a bit more through the art show, I came upon Geoff Coleman, who is a Williamsburg, VA based photographer. (http://geoff-coleman.pixels.com) He was showing some of his travel and landscape work. Since, travel photography is my passion, I definitely wanted to ask his advice. He explained that he searches for unique subjects or tries to discover unusual angles for shooting the iconic images, like the Eiffel Tower. I commented that there were no people in his photos, and he admitted that tourists don’t inspire him. One of his best-selling images is of a lock in Colonial Williamsburg. He proves the point that you don’t have to leave home to take travel photography!
Finally, I spotted the booth of Dan Greenberg. (http://www.regreen.net) Dan is a landscape architect as well as a nature photographer. His love of the outdoors was immediately evident. He explained that he is a visual person and is drawn to pattern, texture and color. His advice is to get outside and really see what’s around you. In fact, he even advocates exploring without a camera, to really open your eyes. He has written a book called, Photos from the Heart, Have Fun and Add Meaning to Your Photographs. In it, he advocates to “Give all five senses full power to investigate. Experience the savory scents, the pounding waves, the dazzling sunsets and the inspiring music. Let each moment envelop you and touch your heart. Absorb as much as you can.” Then, he suggests that you let those emotions guide you as you make your photograph. He wrote about inspiration on his blog, after our conversation. You can see the post and also buy his book here: https://regreenphotography.wordpress.com/.
As the show wrapped up and I prepared to go home, I thought about the common thread running through the advice I’d received: play. No one told me to work hard. No one advocated drinking lots of coffee or getting up at 4 a.m. to get to work. They all approach their art with an inquisitive and playful spirit. Laura starts small and experiments for fun. Kay likes to twist the hot glass and see what develops. Geoff challenges himself to find a new angle for well-known sights and to eliminate the tourists. And Dan suggests enjoying the moment and allowing your emotions to guide your art.
This brought to mind the writings of Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. My afternoon had been an “artist date”, which she explains as: “Doing your artist date, you are receiving-opening yourself to insight, inspiration, guidance.” By interviewing artists, I had received all three!
On my way home, I realized that I didn’t want to wait until I had the time to spare. I wanted to start right away. I decided to focus on playing each day, if only for a few minutes. Those minutes would be much more of an inspiration and a catalyst for growth than any to-do list I might write! As the Chambers Brothers would say, “Time Has Come Today!”
If you’d like to see some of my “play”, be sure to check out my Instagram page:
And I hope you’ll sign up on my mailing list by filling out the form on the upper right. And take one of my workshops, too! …..
Now it’s your turn! How do you get motivated to use your creative time wisely?
Coming soon: More ideas for motivation and inspiration, plus the secret behind making tourists disappear.
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