Years ago, in a college photography class, my teacher told a story about the photographer Lee Friedlander. He said that when Friedlander was out shooting and came to the last frame on a roll of film, he would turn around 180 degrees and shoot whatever was behind him, without stopping to focus or compose the image. He did this as a reminder to keep looking around, don’t get so caught up in a subject that you forget all the other subjects around you. Some of Friedlander’s own favorites were taken this way.
As an artist, it’s good for us to shake out of our groove now and then. It keeps us in touch with what is going on outside our studios and brings more creative tools into our toolboxes.
There are many ways you can refresh your creativity, here are two things I have done recently to break out of my groove:
A few weeks ago I participated in an “iPadology” workshop taught by one of my artist friends, Mansa Mussa. Mansa is an amazingly talented multi-disciplinary artist, and very gifted as a teacher. In his iPadology workshop, Mansa teaches iPad users how to use the tablet not only as a camera but as a darkroom and art studio… to manipulate the image into something beautiful.
I am a pretty tech-savvy person, but hate being enslaved by a phone or any other device, so I am somewhat of a late-adopter of phone- or tablet-based photography. But taking Mansa’s workshop moved my horizons a bit, and opened me up to new ideas about how my devices can serve ME and support my creative process.
With a few weeks’ perspective behind me, I realize that the class has fine-tuned my “eye” in a few directions and I am seeing things in just a little different light. As an artist, that is so important - if we don’t put ourselves in a position where we are forced to “see” differently, our work will never evolve.
Yesterday I hung out with another artist friend, Sybil Archibald. Sybil and I get together fairly often to do artwork and to moan and groan about the creative process. She showed me how to make monoprints, which I had never done, and I am addicted. It was really good for me to work in a medium where you have to work that fast, and it gave me some ideas about how I can use them as a creative exercise. The ones I made yesterday are not the best art I have every made, but it was really fun and put me in a creative space that was wonderful and challenging at the same time.
So artists - go out there this week and knock yourself out of your groove for an afternoon. It will help nurture your creativity and open your eyes a little wider to the world around you.