Thursday, May 28, 2015

Random Idea Generator

I was thinking about my original idea for this blog...which was to find new ways to think creatively and thought I'd try a "roulette wheel" of ideas approach. A very old original inspiration for this idea was the painter Mark Tansey and his "Wheel of Language," a three part wheel filled with words and phrases, that he created to help generate ideas in a more freeform manner. Too often artists over-think the creative process and the idea of incorporating randomness is rather freeing, allowing us to go places we might not have thought of on our own.

Using an online generator, I've created a series of thematic wheels that can be used together or independently to get ideas for what to shoot.

Click on the title links (not the image) to take you to the generator.

Feel like creating your own wheel of ideas? I used "Wheel Decide" and you can easily build your own wheel. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

What Are the Right Questions?

There's an old adage that states "there are no stupid questions" - well maybe there's no stupid questions, but there are questions that won't help - that will lead you into a wall. For example: "what should I shoot / paint / write?" Those types of questions are too big and they fail you because they create an expectation that there is a "correct" answer - a solution, when instead you should be looking for a path. This mistake is understandable considering our entire educational lives we've been tasked with finding the "correct answer" and then rewarded when we find it.

I believe creativity is about the ability to ask questions that don't have answers. The purpose of a creative question isn't about finding a solution, it's about engaging your curiosity. Being curious about the world, about people, about how things happen. A creative question is one that doesn't necessarily have a solution, but rather it gives you ideas or experiences that generate creative activity...which often leads to more questions.

For me, making art is about noticing your surroundings (that can be environmental, emotional, political, social or even psychological!) and really taking the time to pay attention. This is essentially the question of "what is happening here?" This type of question brings in your observational skills and is a surefire way to access ideas because you're starting to partner with your surroundings.

A good question is one that gives you a path to explore.

Be curious - being curious is really about being interested.

At home, find somewhere comfortable to sit where (hopefully) you won't be disturbed. Slowly look around - first without moving your head, then turning your head and really giving everything your full attention. Pick one object and ask yourself what it says about you - why is it there? Could you imagine a story based on that object? Where did it come from, who designed it, what inspired you to put it there, what will happen to it in 30 years...all of these could become a story or an image or even a muse in general. Now, take this practice into the larger world - try it at lunch in a restaurant, in the morning at work. See how many questions you can ask that give you ideas, create partnerships with the world around you. Valuing the question as a goal in itself.

This post was inspired by a Harvard Business Review article on "Relearning the Art of Asking Questions" that was a bit more solution oriented than I wanted, but focused me on the importance of the question to our creative lives. An interesting tidbit was, apparently as we get older, our questioning decreases - which makes sense if you're thinking about creative output - because as children, it comes so naturally to us - we revel in our exploration of the world without self-censoring or worrying about being correct/perfect.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Room of Your Own

Virginia Wolfe's book, A Room of One's Own was written in a time period where women didn't really have much to call their own. She realized the importance of staking claim to some spot where you, and you alone, get to call the shots. Because I worked commercially as a photographer for a long time, I had grown accustomed to always having my own space...but when I closed my commercial studio, that was one of the big items I missed.

Rumor has it that da Vinci felt the best studios were small since "large rooms distract the mind" but I think that probably depends on your definition of small. When my son went away to college, I decided we no longer needed a large living room...and I'm still thinking I don't really need a dining I took our former living room as my studio. I wanted the house to be dedicated to making art and let's face it, when we have people over, everyone loves being in an artist's studio so, who really needs a dining room?

I adore books on artist studios - you feel like you get a chance to really know the artist when you see how they organize their space - what's important to them. Inside the Painter's Studio is a great book because it also has mini interviews with the artists. This week, my husband, James Osgood,  is getting ready for an exhibition of his work - which means his studio is really full of work. Even when it's not, it's still a great place to be. These images are all of the little vignettes he's created in his work space. He loves working with hand-tools and I love the mix of wood, metal, and the strange blend of bits and pieces.

To me, the perfect studio should have: natural light, lots of surface space to stack stuff, a good bookcase, a good couch/bed, a garden outside, walls with that primed white homasote (super cheap pushpin walls) and a good chair or two. For photographers...add a lot of power cords and flat files, and of course a storage closet.

What if you don't have the space in your life right now for an entire room? Don't feel bad, Rene Magritte chose to use part of his dining room as his studio for much of his artistic life.  So, consider choosing a wall that will be yours. Cover it with homasote and start putting up your work and stuff that inspires you. If you can, add a bookcase then, across the room, add a chair where you can hang out and ponder the imagery from.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Head Explodes!!!

That title was going to be my full post for this week...just "this week my head exploded" - which is about where things are going. It's a full week with my new visual media conference, Intersect, happening this Friday and Saturday...and also on Saturday the opening of the Mandala Project.

The biggest thing I learned this week - art is about solving problems. Whether it's figuring out how to make an image work,  how to install an artwork or find a back-up for a presenter that had to leave's all about solving problems. If you think of making art that way, you'll get less frustrated by the challenges that continually arise.

In addition to participating in the Mandala Project, I decided to create a catalog for the show, the basic layout is in the two images's still in the beginning stages with a spread for each artist and then at the bottom are four pages of bios with our individual mandalas. It will be a great promotional piece and it allows us to document this project.

Here's a video of us during last week's installation. Trying to figure out how to install 17 works, many of which involved 2 and 3d material, video and sound was challenging. Yet, through it all, everyone maintained a fairly good vibe and I think the final result will be amazing.