Feeding your Soul

Fun night out at a great restaurant - Mario Batali's Babbo.

Fun night out at a great restaurant – Mario Batali’s Babbo.

How do you feel your soul?  How do you nurture your creative self?  As artists, we need to take time to do this or we risk our creativity withering and dying.  Don’t you get that feeling when you have been working, working, working for others?  When you are doing only what you think your client’s want and you neglect to do what you want?  Usually it is after a particularly busy season.  There are many ways we can nurture out creativity; from learning about a favorite artist, to looking at art/photography books, to going to museums, to taking trips.  Recently, Karen and I decided that we needed an inspirational trip and met up in New York City for a long weekend.

Pablo Picasso The Actor (1904-05) Oil on Canvas

Pablo Picasso
The Actor (1904-05)
Oil on Canvas

One of my favorite days was the day we spent at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  It is by far my favorite museum in the world, with so much to see, that you need at least a day to get a small taste.  If I lived in New York I would go for an hour or two every couple of weeks.  Since we only had one day though, we started with the more modern art – about the 19th Century and worked our way through to the modern art.  I loved seeing so many pieces by one of my favorites – Picasso, and seeing in person how clearly his style evolved throughout is life.  His work was affected deeply by his personal tragedies and triumphs, his country, the political climate and his growth as an artist.

Viewing the use of posing and lighting and how it affects the viewers mood is inspiring. Seeing which styles we were more drawn to and trying to figure out why was a fun and insightful exercise.

Happily, there were two photography exhibitions we had the opportunity to visit as well.  One was the work of Captain Linnaeus Tripe: Photographer of India and Burma 1852-1860.  Some beautiful photographs done with a kind of waxing technique that made for some very cool and unique pieces.  Karen and I are very interested in different printing techniques and this is definitely one that we will be exploring.  The other was actually a mixed media “erotic” exhibit that included two beautiful photographs, one by Charles Gilhousen and the other by Sally Mann.  I have long admired Mann’s work and have a few of her books, but seeing the printed “real life” photograph was so beautiful.  Her printing of the image is incredible, burning the two other girls while leaving Jessie bright and full center.

left by Charles Gilhousen Nude, 1917 right by Sally Mann Jessie at Five, 1987

left by Charles Gilhousen
Nude, 1917
right by Sally Mann
Jessie at Five, 1987

There is no place like the Met, and if you live anywhere near New York or happen to be headed there for another reason, we highly suggest spending at least a few hours there.  You will leave wanting to learn more about some particular artist(s) that you have (re)discovered.  However, the Met is not the only art museum!  Every city has at least one.  Take a day and get to your nearest art museum and allow yourself to take in the art, find an artist to learn more about, figure out what you are drawn to and then let that inspire your own work so that you can evolve and be unique in your photography.  I know that I will be heading down to the Phoenix Art Museum in the next week to take in the Warhol exhibit that is currently there.  Also, I will head down to the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson next month to allow myself to be inspired by photographic masters.  Karen is planning to go to the Richard Avedon exhibit which is coming to Philadelphia this summer (and hopefully I will be able to get out there as well).

Paul Cezanne Seated Peasant 1892-96

Paul Cezanne
Seated Peasant 1892-96

We played the game of “where is the light source?” and how did they paint it.  Some are easier to tell than others.  The Cezanne above and the Bougureau below are two great examples of the great lighting in a portrait and how it affects your mood and feeling towards the subject.

William Bougureau Young Mother Gazing at Her Child 1871

William Bougureau
Young Mother Gazing at Her Child 1871

Not only did we spend time at the obvious place to get some inspiration, but we also headed out to the Brooklyn Flea market and shopping around Soho for some new decorating ideas for our studios.  Not only did we find some great additions – Karen bought a lamp and an old twin lens reflex camera, I bought some vintage black and white portraits for a project as well as a mini vintage camera to add to my collection – but we had a blast looking around, talking with interesting people and being inspired by being part of the world.  So much better than spending a few hours looking on a computer!

Kinky Boots music by Cyndi Lauper

Kinky Boots
music by Cyndi Lauper

Of course, a trip to NYC would not be complete without seeing a show and what a show we saw!  Kinky Boots made us laugh, smile, cry and dance.  It was a beautiful, fun, happy and uplifting performance.  The best line from the show was, “Poor people stay poor because they buy cheap shoes.”  The next day I bought a great pair of shoes!  They were not cheap, but they were a bargain – a consignment store find :-).

Not Cheap Shoes

Not Cheap Shoes

Returning from our weekend, we both felt ready to get back to work and start or work on projects that we had put aside.  Both of us were inspired to change up our studios a little, giving new life and inspiration to ourselves and our clients.  We are energized for the rest of the year and excited to be photographers and creatives once again.

You don’t need a weekend in New York City or a photography workshop to feed your soul.  But, being out in the world is so much more nourishing that sitting in front of a computer reading some forum or looking at a blog or Facebook.  Art and Photography books, biographies of your favorite photographer (Sally Mann’s is out this month, there is a great one on Dorothea Lange and also on Edward Curtis) and visits to museums and galleries are so much more satisfying than staring at a screen.  Taking an actual class (maybe a painting or darkroom printing class through a community college) is a great way to learn something new that you might love and that will help you evolve as an artist.

If you are feeling like you are in need of some creative nourishment and would like our guidance and direction, we are offering a creative retreat July 10-13 in Coronado California.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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