It is an incredible, and incredibly odd, time to be an artist.
In this digital age we have access to beauty and inspiration at every turn, at the very touch of our fingertips. And while I believe that this a marvelous advantage to have, I also think it can be a disadvantage as well.
We can be so plugged into to what everyone is doing, we don't give our selves the time to figure out what we are doing. Inspiration is SO incredibly important. It is important to know your giants, the artists that have come before you; to acknowledge and learn from your peers, and colleagues, that surround you –however we often times become unknowingly caught in the very net we cast. In the exhausting cycle of stretching, connecting, learning, and creating, we forget to take the time to renew; to be still; to just sit and enjoy.
And our artist's heart, our photographer's eye, is not unlike an animal caught in the net of a hunter; we become desperate and all the more entangled. We end up pushing our selves so hard we don't see how we close we sit to the precipice of exhaustion. We become wild eyed and desperate. We compare ourselves to others. We try to become more like them, to mimic them, to be as they are; to be as liked or have as many followers as they do. Its a wicked cycle that erodes our creative souls and exhausts our self-esteem.
I grew up in Colorado. Back before I could escape into my phone and FaceBook, one of my means of escaping from my own addled teenage inner trappings was driving. My favorite thing to do was to drive out past the borders of my beloved cow-town at dusk and into the mountains. As I drove, I would watch the landscape change before me. I would watch the light of the setting sun bounce off the sides of the mountains –Turning the valleys from green, to gold, to shades of purple, and dark blue. The cloak of the night air would slowly fall on my shoulders and suddenly I would feel alive again. I would find a place to park (somewhere between here and nowhere); and I would sit on the hood of my car like a queen on her throne and watch the mountains cast their shadows and put the city below me to sleep. I would breathe. I would find quiet. And then, when I was ready to return (or most likely because I had a curfew) I would drive home.
It wasn't anything fancy. It wasn't anything special. But I was resting my brain. Resetting my heart.
Do you feel caught in a net? Do you feel so obligated for your #365 project that you find yourself shouting at your kids to "just hold still" so you can make magic? Do you cringe when one of your colleagues is recognized but you are not? If so, perhaps this is your summer to reset. Perhaps this is the summer for you to unplug. Or maybe this is the summer that instead of photographing every day, you try to enjoy every day. That doesn't mean you have to stop living an artist's life, it just means you are allowing your creative soul to breathe a bit so she can sing with more strength and clarity in the future.
Here are a few ideas that you can try for a day, for a week, for a summer:
- Don't do anything with your camera at all for a week. Instead, draw with crayons on scrap paper.
- Take a few days while your little ones are napping and go through your files. Print the ones you love and really, truly, delete the ones that are collecting electronic dust (clearing space, not just mentally, but on your hard drive is a good thing!)
- Sign off of Instagram for a while.
- Stop the endless cycle of comparing and contrasting and hunting for likes.
- Write in a diary (with a pen and paper) instead of a blog.
- Go to the pool, pretend you are a goddess.
- Play with your kids.
- Don't judge yourself. Don't judge others.
- Find time to go on a drive. Maybe its just a longer route to the grocery store or three blocks out of your way before you pick up your kids from a playdate. Try it with out a cell phone. With out the radio on. Bring a pad and paper with you. And if something pops into your head, pull over and take the time to write it do
- Most of all, take time to breathe and sleep and eat and love and live.
Just like a farmer who needs to let a field go fallow for a season or two before he can produce a better crop, we need to do that with our own creative souls. Inspiration is everywhere. But sometimes we need to step away from our constant need to create; to quiet the noise; to reduce the clutter. And maybe, just maybe, somewhere, between here and nowhere, you'll find that you were never really lost. And as the net slips away and your life becomes less tangled, your artist's heart will be a bit stronger, a bit more clear, and certainly more creative.
To know me, is to also know I was raised in Colorado. When I was little, shaped by the mountains I ran free in, I dreamed of being able to craft tales about the way I saw the world around me; of illustrating lives, and etching words into stone. Today, my life is sculpted by this dream, made full by both the mother and the photographer in me. I now live in Los Angeles with my merry brood, exploring the mountains of the human heart. The primary focus of my work, aside from mothering, is documenting birth and guiding women into motherhood. I may not know you, but I already love you.