As my time at the Heliker-LaHotan Foundation on Great Cranberry Island, Maine, comes to a close, I will be holding an Open Studio in the LaHotan Studio along the shore where I have been working. The event will be held this Thursday at 4:30pm. Drop by for a glass of wine and to see images of the island. In addition to landscapes, I will be debuting a new still-life series called The Naturalist's Studio: Natural Objects as Works of Art.
I'm heading to the Heliker-LaHotan Foundation's Artist Residency Program on Great Cranberry Island, Maine, this week. I will stay at the residency for four weeks and my initial focus will be exploring the island, journaling and giving an artist talk for the community. If you happen to live or be traveling near GCI (just off the coast of Acadia National Park and accessible by ferry), please join me this coming Thursday at 4pm at the Cranberry House.
I will also be leading a 3-day landscape/seascape photography workshop on the island from August 9-11. It's not too late to register!
Whether photographing a garden, an island, a national park, or region of the country, I’m always looking for what gives that place a unique sense of place. How can I transport the viewer to that location and capture something beyond the basic views every tourist takes? How can I utilize elements of content, composition and light to convey mood, share something about the terrain or climate, or convey a bit of history or culture? I want my images to convey something more, something deeper.
Instead of heading straight for the flowers in a garden or the straightforward views of places I visit, I find it helps to take a more intentional and creative approach and to think in layers. I start by noticing my first impressions, then dig more deeply and follow my sense of curiosity around the bend, and finally, take a closer look at the details that make a place both whole and different from other places.
I look for things like color, texture, vegetation and terrain. I also look at architectural styles and local building materials, and the ways in which they have weathered over time. And I think of the intimate details such as sand or stone patterns, flora and fauna, and areas of light and shadow as the fingerprints of place. The ways in which people have adapted to the land or adapted the land for their own use also give us clues about sense of place. And shooting in different weather can both create drama and share something about the climate and conditions.
I hope you enjoy your summer travels and bring home lots of good memories and photographs that help convey a sense of place to share with others. I’m off on my own travels, and will have limited access to internet or time for writing over the next two months, so you may not hear much from me. I will try to post images to instagram (@leeannewhite) from time to time, so I hope you’ll follow along.
Although artists and writers need connections and benefit from collaboration in many ways, creating the work itself is generally a solitary act. And it requires shifting into a creative “zone” in which we are totally focused on our work, oblivious to our surroundings, schedules and other obligations. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done. Cell phones, the internet, appointments—they all get in the way.
Sometimes it is helpful to just get away from it all. To eliminate the distractions, reset, reflect and focus on the work. Artist residencies offer a way to do that, and it is one of the reasons they are so coveted. They offer a change of environment, a quiet place to work for an extended period, and various forms of support—usually housing and studio space, and occasionally other amenities such as meals, transportation or access to specialized equipment. Some offer a community of other artists with whom you can build relationships and share experiences with over meals; others are solo retreats. Most provide an opportunity at some point to share your work with their local community or offer greater visibility for your work in some way. But mostly, they offer a quiet place to work without interruptions.
I am doing my first artist residency this summer through the Heliker-LaHotan Foundationon Great Cranberry Island, Maine. Located just off the coast of Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park, it is the largest of five islands in the Cranberry Isles, measuring roughly two miles long by one mile wide. It is accessible only by boat, and beyond a general store, café, library and local history museum, there are few amenities on the island. I do not expect to have cell phone service. Internet is likely only available at the library (though the island is in the process of adding a broadband system). But that's okay. There are rocky shorelines; a large, protected tidal pond; a log boardwalk through a bog; trails through a spruce-fir, birch and red maple forest; and excellent views of the sunset over the mountains of Acadia National Park.
I will be at the residency for four weeks following two weeks of teaching at the Maine Media Workshopsin Rockport. I will have both a place to stay and a private studio overlooking the water. While there, I will lead a three-day photography workshop on landscape and place. (You are invited; see details below.)
Preparing for a residency is an interesting process: How much to plan versus how much to leave open to the experience? Will I work on a current project that needs some deep attention, focus on a new project based on the island, or some combination of the two? What equipment and materials should I pack, knowing I have to get everything there by boat and will not have local access to additional supplies? Should I take my own backdrops or make do with what I can adapt? Take a small lighting kit for studio shots or rely on natural light? Should I post as I can about the experience while I'm there or totally disconnect? What needs to be taken care of at home before leaving on a seven-week journey (as I am also driving to Maine and back)? If I’ve learned anything about travel over the years, it is to prepare, but to be open to the unexpected and change of plans, so that is how I am approaching this adventure.
I will likely take a break from posting my newsletter and on social media while away, but I will keep you posted on preparations over the next few weeks and share my challenges, discoveries and experiences in some way when I return. I am extremely grateful to the Heliker-LaHotan Foundation for this opportunity to take a deep dive into my creative work and look forward to the journey.
Landscape and Place
A Photography Workshop on Great Cranberry Island, Maine
August 9-11, 2018
What is this thing we call landscape? What do we mean by place? And what elements in the landscape give a place a sense of place? How can we move beyond the obvious shots to photograph the true character of a landscape or the "fingerprints" of place? We'll explore these questions through discussions, image reviews and extensive in-the-field photography during a three-day workshop on Great Cranberry Island, Maine.
The workshop is sponsored by the Heliker-LaHotan Foundation. Details and registration information can be found on their website.
Why make photographs? Not just “take pictures,” but why take the time to create a compelling, memorable image? What compels you to pick up a camera—whether a digital SLR, a 4x5 field camera, or the camera in your phone—and create a photograph?
I believe this is an essential question that every photographer should ask, whether they are a working professional, artist, avid enthusiast or someone new to photography. Doing so and exploring the answer is part of what separates photographers from everyone else with a camera, which is just about everybody these days. Of course, that doesn’t mean the answer comes easily, or that it doesn’t change and evolve over time.
In exploring this question, you may find that there are both easy answers and more difficult ones—those more general in nature that many other photographers might identify with and those that are very specific and unique to you. Those unique to you are the most valuable. They provide the motivation. They bring focus, clarity and consistency to your work. The more you understand your “why,” the more compelling your images are likely to be.
Some of your answers may have to do with how the process affects you. Others may have more to do with what you want to share with others. They may have to do with recording your life, telling stories, expressing emotions, documenting change, exposing injustices, teaching others about a subject, sharing what others often overlook, or so many other reasons. Even within a particular genre, you have a unique perspective that is driven by your why. What is it?
Even if you’ve answered this question dozens of times before, why not take some time this week to think about it again—to see if the images you are creating are consistent with your why, if your thoughts on the subject have evolved, if the answers are helping you to grow.
It's always a treat to share the work created by students in my workshops. This one took place in my studio in late May. We explored simple, creative ways to create a compact and affordable home studio for photographing nature with both natural light and continuous lighting. Though we all love photographing nature and gardens outdoors, shooting in the studio allows us to spend more time with our subjects, to work with them in more creative ways, and to do so in a controlled (okay, air-conditioned and bug-free) environment. It is also a great way to keep shooting in winter when it is difficult or impossible to work outside. Anyhow, I hope you will join me in celebrating the work of these avid and talented photographers!
Although I have wanted to visit Badlands National Park for many years, it was actually Custer State Park that most delighted me during a much-too-short visit to South Dakota with my husband earlier this week. That’s not to say I was disappointed in Badlands; it's just to point out the uniqueness of Custer State Park. At more than 71,000 acres, it is among the largest state parks in the country and easily rivals many national parks in beauty and wildlife viewing opportunities. Located in the Black Hills, it is just a stone’s throw from Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the Crazy Horse Memorial, Wind Cave National Parkand many other destinations.
Four primary roads provide access to the park. The most popular is the Wildlife Loop Road (18 miles), which winds through lush, rolling hills with excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. We saw prairie dogs, pronghorns, deer, coyote, bighorn sheep and a herd of buffalo. (Not to mention the “wild” burros that poke their heads in tourists' cars looking for food.) If we had been there during prime viewing hours (closer to dawn and dusk), we may have also seen elk and mountain goats.
Iron Mountain Road (18 miles) is a narrow, winding road that features one-lane tunnels chiseled through stone, sharp switchbacks, a series of pigtail-loop bridges and stunning views of Mount Rushmore (including one perfectly framed by a tunnel). Needles Highway (14 miles) offers a spectacular drive through a spruce and pine forest, and alongside spires and domes of granite. We drove through a narrow, stone passageway just wide enough for a single car and stopped for a while at Sylvan Lake, set against a backdrop of granite boulders rising up out of the water. The Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway bisects the park and connects the scenic drives.
Sections of the park burned last December in the Legion Lake Fire, but are recovering nicely. If anything, the red, singed branches of ponderosa pines are striking against a new flush of green grass (it has that complementary color thing going for it) and it is fascinating to see the regeneration process. Dead timber is being cleared in some areas of the park, which should help prevent further forest fires.
The diversity of scenery and wildlife in Custer State Park is a photographer’s dream. I’d love to go back and spend a week in the park, staying in one of the lodges or cabins. This would make it much easier to explore the park photographically and to be in the right place for sunrise and sunset. I'd also like to rent one of those kayaks on Sylvan Lake for a closer look at those boulders (though I'm not sure I want to dip more than a toe or two into the chilly water).
I was also pleasantly surprised by Rapid City, just an hour away from the park. It is a wonderful small city with the historic Hotel Alex Johnson, excellent restaurants, art galleries and unique shops. My favorite was Prairie Edge—a combination Sioux trading post, antique store, regional bookstore, art gallery, Pendleton shop and more. Tucked away on the top floor was a bead library—a collection of thousands of beautifully displayed jars filled with colorful beads used by Native Americans to decorate their ceremonial clothing and accessories.
Have you visited a new place recently? What were your first impressions? What did you discover when you dug a little deeper? How might you photograph it if you were to return?
There is a difference between taking pictures and making photographs. The first is a casual act; the latter is a contemplative one. It is possible to produce interesting images either way, but making photographs is done with much greater attention and intention.
Last week, I asked about some of the ways you go about slowing down and making photography a more contemplative, creative act. Today, I’d like to share a few of my own approaches.
- Set the camera aside. Just sit for a while or take a walk and become more aware of your surroundings. I believe this is especially important in nature, but may be equally important and insightful in other surroundings, as well. This can help you slow down and become more in tune with a place. It can also allow you to see things you might otherwise miss.
- Notice your first impressions. Sometimes they are the most important impressions; other times they are misleading. It is your job to discern the difference.
- When something attracts your attention, think about why it does that. What compels you and how might you best emphasize or translate than photographically?
- If possible, move around your subject and look at it from all angles. Notice not only the subject, but how the light falls on it, what is behind it, and what is beside it that might be encroaching on your image. This can apply whether you are photographing a flower or garden, a stone or a mountain, a doorway or a building.
- Focus more on making one great photograph than taking lots of shots.
- Stop often to look up from what you are photographing. Notice how the light is shifting, what may be falling in or out of shadow, and what is taking place around you. If you are shooting close-up, observe the overall scene. If you are photographing a broad scene, take a look at the details around you.
- Eliminate distractions. Might you need to turn off your phone? Get away on your own for a bit when traveling with others? Go to a quieter location?
- Pay attention not only to the subject, but how it makes you feel. Can you bring some of that emotion into your photograph?
- Let go of expectations (both your own and those of others). Instead of worrying about how to get a great shot, allow the scene to speak to you.
Do any of these resonate with you? What would you add to the list?
Photography helps us see the world around us in new ways. For this reason, the camera can be a powerful creative tool. But it is just a tool, for how we choose to see the world through that viewfinder is entirely up to us. We can use it to expand our vision and see things we’ve never seen before; to share our unique experiences and way of seeing the world; or to express our thoughts, ideas and emotions. And yet, when we look through that viewfinder, we naturally narrow our focus and often miss important things around us. We can even hide behind it, using it as a shield from interacting with the people around us or fully engaging with our environment.
There was a time when photography, by its very nature, was a contemplative act. Large, heavy cameras on tripods with bulky sheet film holders forced photographers to slow down and be more conscious of their actions. They had to compose images upside-down on glass plates, calculate proper exposure without meters, and process their own negatives and prints in a darkroom. They had a limited supply of film holders and expensive film, limiting the number of photographs they could take. Trips into the wilderness required extensive planning and, most likely, packhorses to carry the gear. It was a slow process, at best—one that required attention to detail, a command of the scientific and technical aspects of photography, and patience. But even then, the camera was just a tool. The photographs produced varied greatly from one photographer to the next.
The process of slowing down to take a photograph is just as important today as it was then—even though our cameras fit in a pocket or small bag, have meters that help calculate exposures, and capture hundreds of images on tiny digital cards not much bigger than a thumbnail. Photography still requires looking, seeing, thinking, interpreting and expressing. For that, we must become more in tune with our surroundings, our emotions and our intentions. What are some of the ways you go about doing that in your own photographic work?
Artist statements get a bad rap. And if you've read many of them, you know why. Too many are written with the intent of sounding impressive, when their purpose is to simply and clearly communicate the what, why and how of our work. An artist statement should clarify, not mystify.
Even though we usually write artist statements for others to learn about our work, they can be equally beneficial to those of us writing them. Sometimes, their real value is not so much in the finished product as it is the process of articulating what our work is about. It helps us clarify what we do and why. It brings our intentions into greater focus and forces us to think deeply about what matters, what we hope to accomplish or communicate with our work, what processes are important to us, and what sets our work apart from the work of other artists.
Pausing from time to time, maybe every year or so, to revise or rewrite our basic artist statement helps us think about where we are, how we have grown, and where we are going. Hopefully, we’ve gained some clarity in our work since the last version was written.
Writing artist statements for each new project, series, or body of work helps us clarify what that work is really about. Doing this early in the development of that work can give us direction, keep a project focused, and help us communicate with others what we are doing. Of course, sometimes we need to spend time with a project before we know that. In such cases, writing an artist statement later helps us to reflect on the work and perhaps see things we were not aware of when we launched the project.
When was the last time you wrote an artist statement—either a general one or a project-specific one? Is it time for an update? Are you delving into a new body of work that would benefit from greater clarity?
If you are cringing at the thought, remember that it’s only one paragraph—just a few sentences. Try answering the following questions in one sentence each, in your own conversational voice: What do you do? Why? And how? If necessary, add another sentence or two to fill in any important gaps. Sleep on it, and then polish it the next day. Let me know how it goes.
Artwork Archive is an ingenious online tool for artists to manage their collections of artwork--keeping up with things like where pieces have been shown, where they are currently displayed (helpful when working with galleries), when they have been purchased and other details that need to be tracked. It can also be used to maintain contact information for clients, galleries and others on your mailing list. And one of my favorite tools is the reminder it sends me each week about what I have coming up: submission deadlines, delivery dates, shows to take down, classes to teach, materials to submit and much more.
In addition to the "back-end" business tools, Artwork Archive also presents my work to gallerists, collectors, art consultants and others looking for artwork. In fact, I had a museum curator reach out to me with questions via Artwork Archive just last week.
So I was thrilled to get a note from Emily Zupsic from Artwork Archive today to let me know that two of my pages were featured on their blog this week. Here's a quote from the piece, which featured six artists:
The beauty, essence and changing complexion of landscapes fascinates artist and photographer Lee Anne White. And, she carries that beauty over to her portfolio. It is completely and beautifully branded. In other words, as soon as you open her portfolio, you understand the type of work she creates. The clean grid formed by her square dimensions feels bold and modern. Another amazing feature of her portfolio? She includes just the right amount of detail when you click on each piece!
Anyhow, I thought that was pretty cool and just wanted to share. If you're an artist and need to track your own artwork, check it out. And if you're looking for artwork of any kind, it is a clean, intuitive site for searching.
During my recent workshop, Photographing the Cultural Landscape, we explored Pecos National Historical Site, took the High Road to Taos, visited O'Keeffe country, hiked in Bandelier National Monument, stopped in Chimayo and wandered around Santa Fe to capture the spirit of the Southwest. Here are a few images created by students during thew week:
My next Santa Fe workshop is tentatively scheduled for Spring 2019. If you'd like to be added to the mailing list, drop me a line.
To hear the voice of Dr. James Southerland is to be transported back to my freshman year of college, to the World Civilization class that met in the Owens Building, now the Student Union Building, on the campus of Brenau University. Soft-spoken, thoughtful and always encouraging, Dr. Southerland was one of my favorite professors and he went on to become a fine academic administrator, as well. Although he retired a few years ago, it is still a treat to see him on campus and around town, and it is an honor to have one of my photographs on the cover of his memoir, Sharecropper's Son: A Journey of Teaching and Learning. Credit for the design goes to Christie Gregory.
The book has just been released, so I'm looking forward to reading about Dr. Southerland's journey--to hearing his voice and stories once again. Copies are available through the Brenau University website.
There were many special moments during my recent tour of Georgia O’Keeffe’s home in Abiquiu. Among them was discovering her rock collections scattered about the house, both inside and out. I’ve done a little research and it appears that she loved the shapes of these rocks, as well as rocks in general. She gathered them on her walks, as well as during her trips to other places, such as Oaxaca, Mexico. One, later deemed her favorite, she "stole" from the home of photographer Eliot Porter and had a photograph made of her holding this black stone. Her gardener sometimes rearranged rocks in her collections; she moved them back without saying a word. It became a game they played for years. For a time, she painted individual stones in addition to the magnificent rock formations in the landscape near Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch.
“I have the kind of mind that sees these shapes. I know what some of them are from. Many have realistic landscape or natural bases, but others are just beautiful shapes that I see in my mind.”
-- Georgia O’Keeffe
I am a photographer rather than a painter and I see shapes in the things around me more than I imagine them in my mind, but I do identify with O’Keeffe’s passion for shapes. It is what draws me to architectural subjects, to unique land and stone formations, to leaves and other details in the natural world, and even to abstractions. It is what I love most about the adobe architecture of Santa Fe and surrounding areas, whether Pueblo, Spanish Colonial or Territorial Revival in style. I like to simplify images so that their shapes become a dominant feature in the photograph.
Visually, which are you more drawn to: shapes, lines, textures, colors or some other element? How do you convey this through your photographs or artwork, or even through the way you decorate your home, the clothes you wear or the artwork you choose to hang on your walls?
This has been a week filled with reminders about the importance of pursuing one’s own vision, of being a contrarian.
Last weekend, I had an O’Keeffe immersion day. After visiting the Georgia O’Keeffe Museumin Santa Fe, I toured O’Keeffe’s home in Abiquiu, photographed Plaza Blanca (which she frequently painted) for the third time in a week, stopped at the Chama Riveroverlook she made famous, and made my way on to Ghost Ranch. I had done all of these except for the house tour before, but never in the same day. It offered a unique insight into her work, and standing in her studio, looking out over the Chama River Valley, was an experience I will never forget.
O’Keeffe did things differently—not just in the way she painted, but also in the way she chose to live her life and the place she chose to do so. I was especially struck by this quote, which was posted in the museum in Santa Fe:
"There are things in my head that are not like what anyone has taught me—shapes and ideas so near to me—so natural to my way of being and thinking…I decided to start anew, to strip away what I had been taught.”
Georgia O’Keeffe, 1974
When I returned home Tuesday evening after 12 days on the road, the most I could do was curl up on the sofa and watch a movie. Before I landed on Amelie(a delightfully charming example of different, if ever there was one), I tuned in to part of the Picasso series on the National Geographic Channel. There was a scene in which Pablo was studying at the Academy of Arts and his professor chastised him for not following the classic rules of painting and for wasting his talent. Picasso responded that he did not see the subject that way and, in great frustration, left (or was asked to leave) the Academy.
On a more personal note, one of my uncles died at the age of 89 this week. He had a good, full life and pursued many passions. An astute businessman, he was known as a contrarian. He did things differently, often under the critical eye of others in his industry. But he, along with his business partners, had a vision that was not only successful but a game-changer for that industry.
Creativity is about coming up with something new and unique, about doing things differently, sometimes being contrarian. But being different just for the sake of being different isn’t enough. There must also be a vision or purpose—to create something useful, valuable, meaningful, beautiful or otherwise significant in some way. The challenge, of course, is that we can’t always envision the outcome of others’ creative ways. And that's where doubt and criticism often come into play.
What have you done differently in your life? How did others respond or react to your actions and ideas? If less than supportive, were you able to move forward with those ideas anyway?
We're wrapping up our weeklong workshop, Photographing the Cultural Landscape: Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico. It has been a busy week with lots of time spent exploring "the city different," surrounding backroads and several National Historical Monuments. Earlier in the week, we stopped by San Francisco de Asis--the mission made famous by Georgia O'Keeffe, Ansel Adams and others. The beauty of its form never ceases to amaze me.
With the workshop in session, this week's post will be a short one. I just wanted to share an image and thank everyone who came out to the opening of A Bowing Acquaintance With Plants last week at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center. Your support means a great deal to me!
We fall in love with photography. And yet, it is about more than cameras and lenses, depth of field and exposure, or image processing and printing. It is about learning to see. As photographers, we must figure out what it is that we are meant to see, to experience, to share. We must find stories to tell, places to document, subjects to delve deeply into, curiosities to investigate, emotions to express, ideas to share, or events to record. We must fall in love with something, or be moved, inspired or motivated by something beyond photography itself. We must focus our energy not just on learning to operate our equipment, but on understanding and investigating our subject or ourselves.
“A camera is a tool for learning to see without a camera.”
What do we photograph and why? How can we dig more deeply into matters that mean the most to us—that inspire us, anger us or intrigue us? How can we use our photographic tools to more fully explore that which piques our curiosity? How can we turn our cameras on ourselves—if not literally, then figuratively? What are the themes that run through our work and through our lives? What has shaped us into who we are and what we hope to become?
When we can answer these questions, or at least embrace and pursue them, and combine them with our sense of visual style, then we can begin to find our voice. Not that it is missing. It is simply buried deep within us and must be excavated. How is your digging going?
Earlier this week, I read an article that said it is good to have lots of books on your shelves that you haven’t read yet. I laughed, and thought surely this must be fake news. But the source (Inc. magazine) was legitimate and the story was based on research by bestselling author Nassim Nicholas Taleb. The thinking is that having many unread books (assuming that you do read some of them, of course) both fosters a sense of curiosity and reminds you of your ignorance.
I guess this way of thinking falls into the same category as the more you learn, the more you realize how much you’ll ever know. Whenever I take a deep dive into a subject, I find this to be true. It was certainly the case with gardening. Just when I learned how to prune a hydrangea, I discovered there were other types of hydrangeas that had different pruning requirements. As I quizzed myself relentlessly to learn the names of plants in nurseries and botanical gardens, I discovered that there are more than 350,000 known plant species, not to mention cultivars and hybrids. I even discovered that gardening wasn’t just about growing plants; it was also about garden design, landscape architecture, horticulture, botany, arboriculture, environmental sustainability and even meteorology.
Photography is that way for me, too. I’ve been taking photographs and learning about photography since I was a kid. And yet, no matter how much I read, shoot, and take or teach workshops, I can never begin to grasp even a significant portion of it all. I discover that it's not just about taking pictures; it's also about art, storytelling, lighting, science, computer technology and so much more...yes, even meteorology. (Landscape photographers obsess over the weather just as much as gardeners.) There are so many photographic processes, both new and historic, I’d love to try. So many photographers I’d love to read about. So many exhibits and photo books I’d like to spend time with. And then I realize, there will never be enough time to take it all in. The field of photography, like nearly everything else, is changing rapidly and growing exponentially.
So I’m glad to know that it’s okay if I haven’t read all of the books on these shelves and that it’s natural to discover how much I’ll never know about the subjects I’m most passionate about. It helps to both tap and satisfy my sense of curiosity and gives me something new to look forward to each day, even if it does remind me of my ignorance.
Although I have often asked others what inspires them creatively, I'm often left confused by the answers and have even struggled with my own response to the question.
Some are inspired by other people. Others are inspired nature. Many claim that everything has the potential to inspire them. And then there are those inspired by a specific incident—be it good or bad. This is all well and good, but has never struck me as very specific or helpful in determining where ideas come from or how to boost creative thinking.
Too often, I believe we think of inspiration as a form of divine guidance or something that comes to us from another source, such as people or nature. While this is one of the definitions of inspiration and can inspire us, it is one beyond our control and comes from outside us. Similarly, inquiring about where ideas come from also implies that they come from outside us, as if it involves waiting for the muse to appear.
I suspect we could better identify what inspires us, seek it out more often, and take greater responsibility for our own creative acts if we thought of it by another definition: the process of being mentally stimulated. After all, creativity is an activity that takes place in the brain.
Do you feel most mentally stimulated when you wake up in the morning, after exercising or late at night when unwinding and reflecting on your day? Are you more likely to solve problems and generate ideas when you allow yourself to daydream, when you talk with other creative individuals or when you go for that walk in the woods? What happens when you read a book, visit a museum or stop by the art supply store? Do you feel more stimulated when you work alone, collaborate with another or work with a team? Does seeking out the work of other artists, designers, writers or performers stimulate your thinking, or does it, instead, distract you?
CREATING A STIMULATING ENVIRONMENT
What kind of physical environment best stimulates your ability to think and work without distraction? Is it a busy, colorful space or a quiet, minimalist space? Does it have lots of bright light or low, soft light? Lively music, soft music or no music? Do you prefer being surrounded by nature, white walls or collections of things you love and materials you work with? Are you more likely to paint or create photographs in broad, open landscapes or spaces that are more enclosed with dense tree canopies? On sunny, lightly overcast or foggy days?
Creativity occurs when your brain makes new connections between thoughts and information. If you can think of inspiration in terms of what environment and activities stimulate your thinking and actions rather than where ideas come from, you can proactively create or seek out environments and situations in which you are more creatively engaged and productive. What works for you? How can you increase this kind of creative stimulation in your life?