no time for creativity ??!!

Finally …. a briefly creative day again

…hmmm  …. coming to think of it, that’s not really correct to say, is it, for someone who professes to live a creative life?!
Well, March and April were filled with busily organizing, packing and storing a household in preparation for a move later this year, and then several weeks of travel on an educational tour (in my natural health work). Not much time for camera work; or any work as in the sense of creating some finished art-product.
But isn’t some finite product actually secondary to the process of, a result of creativity? I do feel like I have been starved for a few weeks of being creative, for sure, and many of you will know the feeling of not being able to nourish our souls by following that deep urge to just sit down and write, or paint, or photograph, music …


And, here is the lesson I am reminded of, once again, in retrospect: during those last weeks I have indeed been creative, possibly more so than if I had been roaming with camera in hand. Simply by having the thoughts of doing things, making things, creating images, intrude every time I noticed something of creative potential, yet unable to pursue, my mind also remained free of being led onto any specific path of actual creation. I notice that ideas can flow with less intellectually imposed guidance, the imagination of creative exploration can soar more freely without the restraints inherent in the actual materials we normally use in our work.

inside Morteratsch Glacier, Switzerland

So, I will not fret again ( … yeah…right ! Ha ! ) when schedule and circumstances seemingly limit creative expression, but use the opportunity for mental exploration without the constraints and limiting physicality of tools and materials.
After all, the creative life is, firstly, a state of mind; just sitting on the porch and staring at the grass can be just as creatively artful as finishing a grand painting or poem

zen spring

happily keep exploring


Are you creative?

Chances are you heard it many times from many people:  the ‘oh no –  I’m not good at drawing/painting/crafts/music …   I’m not really a creative type …’

Well, sorry to burst your bubbly perception, (actually, not really sorry at all), but anyone can draw, anyone can paint, and anyone can make photographs. It requires no special skills to put paint on paper and canvas, to hold the camera up to a scene and click the shutter, to klimper-tinker some sounds from an instrument, and glue some paper together to make not whatever it is supposed to be but whatever it turns out to become; I’ve done all of those, so no making me believe otherwise.

Sure, you may say, but the point is about how well can anyone do those things! Hmmm, really? Does being creative inherently imply doing anything well? And certainly it does not only relate to the so-called arts. Any thought process, act of speech, and physical act is, of sorts, a creative one. Living one’s life, for that matter, each and every day, requires constant and unceasing creative thinking and acting. Anytime a decision is to be made it requires some kind of creative choice, no matter whether minor or major. Early morning I gotta decide which clothes to wear, what to eat for breakfast, leave now to work or 3 minutes later, cross the road here as usual or walk to the next intersection today, sign up for this course or that one, read this book or the newspaper or not at all and listen to music, which kind, pick up the phone or let it go to the answering machine …. goodness me, it’s endless creative options. Coming to think of it, we cannot even escape being creative if we wanted to.

Yet, we still think we aren’t. Maybe because somehow we have come to consider creativity to narrowly only mean being ‘artistic’, as in … well, as in what? Maybe it is because we assume that being creative inherently requires some, often pre-judged, specific kind of accomplishment. Especially, of course, accomplishment in the eyes of others. Maybe it is because we have lost touch with what goes on in our minds all the time, and we don’t pay attention to what our moment to moment life actually requires from us and returns to us.

Here is a suggestion: be mindful of your choices, be they ever so minor and mundane, and pay attention to how and what you feel while making them. This is not about feeling ‘good or bad’ or judging those choices, but simply noticing a sense of the fact that there actually can be a conscious awareness of that moment of choosing to turn this way and not that way, to use these words and not those, to act like this instead of like that. Everything we think, say, and do is creative and will have consequences (take note).

Next time you pick up the brush, the pen, the camera, how attached are you to a particular outcome? Can you be creative simply for the sake of being creative? No worry the outcome, experience the process!

Told you! You are creative!


Silent Imagery

The world has become loud; and not just loud, but noisily loud. Consider how far out of town you need to get in order to experience the silence of a night without traffic, electric humming of appliances, air conditioners, furnaces, and the back ground vibrations of city life! Add the un-ceasing chatter in our minds and it is no wonder that many people, often especially kids, seem to be unable to sit without constant noise from music, TV, computer games, rarely radio, even be it only in the background. Silence becomes associated with emptiness. Emptiness being considered something inherently un-desirable. Not surprisingly so, in a culture in which all ‘things’ quantitative are valued more than most ‘things’ qualitative.

Combined with the constant fast-paced visual stimulation, mentioned in previous post, there is little space for the mind to find gaps into which it could retreat for rest. Let alone gaps into which it could possibly create something of its own accord. It is easier, so some believe, to have the external world supply, rather than to create from one’s own resources. It may be so, but likely only for the short run.

Winter Bench in Snow Storm

The snow storm for sure was hissing around my head, neither does the almost horizontally blowing snow convey quiet, calm, un-moving silence, either … yet, the image provides plenty of space to rest. Not simply by leaving ’empty’ white space, but by leaving just enough visible detail in that space to draw the mind into it with a minimum, barely noticeable, curiosity; and then leaving that space just empty enough to not provide anything for the mind to attach to and to label. Sure, the composition with the diagonal of the distant foggy tree line helps to lead the mind into that distance.  The eye usually first is drawn to areas of strong contrast, lightest area in an image, sharpest detail. So the contrast between the dark bench in foreground, likely the first visual perception for most viewers, and then the misty light back ground, too, has the eye move back and forth between bench and distance. The lucky wind direction which streaks the snow flakes from top left toward bottom right, parallel to the disappearing tree line, is a fortunate aid in leading the eye again and again into the empty distance.

There being nothing other than bench, snow, trees, without any clear story, meaning, interpretation, leaves the viewer without a perceived need to label, to put words and names upon the image. It leaves the viewer’s mind free to wander, to get lost, to stop for a while without noticing that it has stopped. An unexpected moment of experiencing the silence, not in the image, but in the mind.

How soulfully nourishing


Photographing a Stone

sit still as a rock

You may have heard or read the quote: “In walking just walk. In sitting just sit. Above all don’t wobble.”
Now stones rarely wobble, and if you use a tripod, the camera will neither. So all that is left to not wobble is you. Not wobbling the body is relatively easy; though if you can manage to unwobble the mind, too, the resulting image ought to be of the Stone; Stone as it is, that is, not as a wobbling mind may wish it were but isn’t. Or as we think we would like to see it but on the final photograph clearly don’t.
When the ancient Masters of Chinese painting taught the students that in order to paint Spring you must become Spring, and to paint Bamboo you must become Bamboo, and when they, as seems to be the case, have achieved some impressive level of mastership in painting Spring and Bamboo, maybe we can try similarly in our photography, too?
Next time a stone comes along that you wish to photograph, maybe you can turn into one, too ?

good wishes

here is a stone: