I have been in one of those mind-numbing creative funks again. I am convinced it’s a combination of lack of Vitamin D from the sun (it’s been rather dreary here in Chicago as of late) and the fact that my studio looked like a tornado had selectively ripped through it, sparing the rest of my pristine apartment but wreaking havoc on the one place I feel most at peace. Given I’m a full time artist who needs to create to eat, live and, frankly, breathe, that’s not exactly ideal.
I had all sorts of new ideas for my work, I even had new photographs and found objects I wanted to use, but, mentally and physically (more in the sense that the room was that messy I couldn’t get to my work bench without tripping) I just couldn’t bring myself to do anything. I was uninspired, tired by the mess, admittedly depressed and concerned, once again picturing myself asking, “would you like fries with that shake?” It’s funny how it works; it’s a Catch 22. The mess started because I got extremely busy and kept putting off organizing. Said mess grew to epic proportions and then started to chip away at my psyche, making me feel sad and uninspired, at times angry, and with no desire to clean, let alone create. So, I simply closed the door to the room and wouldn’t go in.
I am one who craves order. In my office days, everything was always perfectly aligned on my desk, to the point where people took great delight in “poking” my inner Milton Waddams by moving my stapler to various, completely illogical, locations on my desk. The only way I was going to get back to being creative was to override all the negativity holding me back and just take care of it.
Inspired by a friend, and fellow artist’s, desire to reorganize his own workspace, I set out Sunday to clear away the chaos. I would say, “it was that simple” but it wasn’t, however, once I got started it was as if someone was taking a broom and clearing cobwebs from my brain. As I worked, and the dopamine levels started to rise, I soon realized it wasn’t just the work space that needed to be “cleared” of negativity. (but that’s more for my journal and next serious “bestie conversation” and not so much for the blog) As I found various tools and supplies hidden by the mess, I got excited, I started to feel creative again, admittedly getting distracted more than once by my sudden desire to create. The more I wanted to create, the more I wanted to clean and, soon enough my studio, while not quite up to Martha Stewart’s standards, was back to it’s very workable organized chaos.
A funny thing happened when I was done. I worked. I created. I smiled. It was a weird rebirth; all of my creative energy flooding back to me. At the risk of sounding like I should be the lead in a Greek play, it was a catharsis for me. The book(s) I had been burying myself in stayed shut, the TV stayed off, the music went on and I spent the evening creating. It was beautiful. It was peaceful. It was cathartic.
I realize I have been posting photographs of butterflies along with my rambling and you’re probably wondering what they have to do with any of this. I have been wanting to go to the Butterfly Haven at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Center for the last several months and never did, mostly because of my slump. With the studio clean and a rejuvenation of my creative energy, what could be more fitting, and a better homage to Spring being right around the corner, than photographing a symbol of catharsis, the butterfly?
If you have a butterfly haven near you, I highly recommend going, if not for the beauty of these creatures then for the shooting practice. While you might be lucky enough to get a few who land and stay perfectly still long enough to get the shot, it’s more likely you are going to have to exercise your shutterbug brain to capture them either mid-flutter or mid-flight. I will note that butterfly havens are purposely kept very humid. If you’re going to swap out lenses mid shoot, I highly recommend doing so outside of the haven otherwise your lenses, and, with the lens off, your mirrors, will fog up. While it makes for a very ethereal shot, if that’s not what you’re going for, you will be disappointed.
So, with the studio organized, and once again feeling inspired, I am running through my list of places I want to hit. I have even been tossing around the idea of booking a trip to London ahead of my September trip to Spain and Portugal. Fish and chips, a Guinness and my camera. What more could a girl ask for? Funny what a clean workspace, and mind, can do…