The penultimate week of The Artist’s Way program focuses on recovering a sense of autonomy. The reading talks a lot about how we define success. It’s really easy to get distracted by false heralds of success–things like money and fame. Wondering whether or not anyone else will like what we make can hinder us from simply enjoying the creative process. From just making art because we love it.
Sure, we have to pay the bills, but if that’s the only thing we pour our creativity into, then it’s going to get tired and so will we. We need to make time to play, to mess up and around, to drastically reduce the stakes from whether people will like or buy what we make down to whether or not we had fun making it.
So these days I’ve been playing with a relatively new, low stakes creative outlet: collecting pictures. I don’t consider myself a photographer of any caliber–all of my photos are taken on my trusty phone–but thanks to this blog and the Artist Way process, I’ve found myself more inclined to take photos and to pay more attention to composition. We went on a small vacation recently and as we drove through endless farmland, I found myself eagerly scanning the horizon for particularly picturesque scenes. I enjoyed the challenge of snapping photos in a moving vehicle, oftentimes through a closed window. As a result, I paid more attention to where we were going than I usually do and it made the journey more meaningful.
In addition to taking pictures, I’ve really started paying attention to how much I enjoy including images in all of my creative processes. There’s a reason why Pinterest and Instagram are so successful–people eat up images. They dress things up, they add color, texture, and life to words and ideas. They can shift your perspective or reflect something you’ve always felt to be true, but perhaps couldn’t put into words. I’m not exactly an artist, but I’ve started doodling out story ideas and details instead of just writing them down. I’ve rediscovered a delight in making collages and collecting pictures from magazines. So many images are digital these days and it’s deeply satisfying to have hard copies. And yes, I also dapple in the adult coloring book trend.
I’m in a stage in my life where I need to just play with art. Playing with pictures is one fun way to do that. And one of the best parts is that it’s something I can share with my daughter. Whether I’m snapping photos of her latest antics or coloring with her (while trying to keep her from eating the crayons) or pointing out the details in her picture books, together we can saturate ourselves in colorful, creative images and let our imaginations run wild.