“The Lady” – Tracey Capone Photography © 2011
I ended 2012 with a post about my favorite things, in it resolving to be better about posting to the blog. That didn’t happen. In fact, I have been phenomenally bad about posting considering my declaration. Although, in my defense, I did give the disclaimer that I tend not to make resolutions anymore because, inevitably, I don’t keep them and, sure enough, I didn’t keep the one and only resolution I made for 2013. Back to resolving not to make any resolutions!
I could give the excuse that I have been very busy filling orders which, thankfully, I have been. I could say that I decided to take on what has become a beast of epic proportions, revamping my booth space at the Andersonville Galleria, which I did. I could tell you that a group of rabid penguins stole my MacBook, thus preventing me from writing out the many, many tutorials I have planned for the blog and keeping me from posting the thousands of photographs I have taken since the beginning of the year, but that would be a lie. (and totally biting off the movie “Better off Dead”)
The truth is, I haven’t been feeling very creative. Aside from my one day, back in January, where I made it a point to get out with the camera to try to gain a new perspective on things (and resolved to be better about taking more of those breaks… I’m sensing a pattern here with the resolutions), I haven’t been back out since. The camera has felt like a foreign object in my hand; I fumble with it, I hesitate with shots, I haven’t felt nearly as comfortable with it as I usually do and, for the most part, it stays in the case.
Is it that it’s winter and the lack of B12 is finally shrinking my brain the way the Mayo Clinic suggests it can?? (I really should stay off WebMD) Is it that I am so busy in the “factory” creating the wood photo blocks that I have finally become a drone, completely incapable of turning out new and exciting creations? Is it that there is a finite amount of talent in any one individual and I used all mine up in the first 39 years?
Shouldn’t I be out there, getting thousands and thousands of amazing shots of Lake Michigan, and it’s large ice formations from our periods of close to sub zero temperatures? Shouldn’t I be knocking out my list of all the beautifully decaying signs around the city, capturing all their retro goodness? Why wasn’t I able to add at least twenty new prints to my Etsy shop this past month? Isn’t that why I decided to leave my job in the first place? So that I could dedicate my time to all things creative?
The last several days has brought about a lot of soul searching. What do I need to do to get my creative juices flowing again? What if I don’t hit my stride again, what then? What, about my life, has changed, that has caused the slump in the first place? Is there some sort of negative energy that was blocking my creativity? Who did I need to vote off my island? A wise friend recently said to me that the Universe gives back what you put in to it and all I could think was, “great, I did something that pissed off the Universe and I may as well turn in the camera; I’m done.” (yes, slightly dramatic but perhaps I could find a new career as an actress?)
Then I read the quote by Ansel Adams. Twelve good photographs in a year? TWELVE? Seriously Ansel? Ansel Adams, whose posters adorned almost every wall in my first apartment. Ansel Adams whose work inspired me as a nature photographer and made me strive to produce work at least 1/32nd as good as his? Twelve??
Yes, twelve. Think about it, would you rather take twelve really amazing photographs that inspire future generations of photographers or one thousand photographs that make people go “meh?” Would you rather take hours, days, maybe weeks to paint one phenomenal masterpiece that shows every ounce of your ability as an artist or churn out one hundred paintings that don’t inspire an ounce of pride for even one of them let alone all one hundred? If Ansel Adams felt creative every day of his 82 years, shouldn’t it hold that he should have more than twelve good photographs a year to show for it? If Picasso and Monet and Matisse and Kandinsky felt creative 100% of the time shouldn’t each of them have thousands upon thousands of world renowned pieces adorning the walls of museums and galleries? If they were cranking out photographs or paintings left and right, and didn’t have those temporary pauses to regroup, who is to say that the work we were left with would be the same work we all admire?
Is it possible that the masters had those slumps? Is it possible they had their days where they questioned why they did what they did and whether they would ever feel the joy of creating something amazing again? Did they ever wonder if perhaps a job at McDonald’s might be better suited to them? They were human. Of course they did. (Alright, maybe not the McDonald’s part but the rest, sure)
Every artist hits a period where they question themselves and their abilities, and artistic insecurity isn’t an emotion felt just by beginners. We’re all human; insecurities are an unfortunate part of life. Or fortunate, depending on how you want to look at it. Ever met a truly cocky artist who actually puts out amazing work? There is something to be said about our insecurities keeping us in check. If you tap in to them, those feelings can actually be a catalyst to help you grow as an artist rather than holding you back.
So here is one more resolution on my part, and I promise to (try to) keep this one. I resolve to get out of my head and stop analyzing everything to death. My brain isn’t shrinking from lack of B12, I don’t need to head around the corner and apply to be a fry cook, and yes, I am going to have those weeks where I feel more like an Oompa Loompa in the Chocolate Factory rather than an independent artist but that too shall pass.
Spring is around the corner, my second favorite season. The snow will be gone, the sun will shine, the flowers will bloom and I will, once again, be able to get out with the camera and end the day feeling happy and satisfied. (and yes, you will, once again, be inundated with photographs of dogwoods and magnolias!) In the meantime, I am going to take this as an opportunity to learn new skills, brush up on old and look forward to the camera once again being a natural extension of my hand and eye. If we, as artists, get out of our heads a bit and try to remember that which inspires us, even if it isn’t in the here and now, maybe we would spend less time beating ourselves up during the less creative times and instead using the pause as a chance to grow.
Cornouiller – Tracey Capone Photography © 2012