So fellow travelers, in a group as prolific as the CGBF, there are bound to be common themes. Repetition is more common when a specific challenge is posted, such as the recent Winter Color Initiative, a call to brighten up the dreary winter with color infused posts. At times there are rebound or spin off posts, pieces inspired by the work of another member. Often they are a simple exchange of a shared interest. When one of us posted experiments with Zentangles® ( a trademarked doodling technique using repetitive abstract patterns to create intricate designs) it started a flow of zentangle art. Wow! I had been playing around with those for several months since I learned the technique in an art class I was assigned to with one of my special needs students, so I posted some of my own creations.
Dreaming of Spring
It can also be a form of active meditation; the process of focusing on the repetitive patterns can be quite relaxing. So, zentangling is something I do during my break time at work to relax and grant myself a sense of creative accomplishment. This sense of ongoing creative accomplishment has become increasingly important to me. My work week affords minimal time for creative pursuits. Weekends disappear during Band performance seasons (right now we are in the midst of Indoor Drumline Competitions). I usually have several written pieces or photographic essays in edit mode. During school vacations (like next week’s Winter Break which we have just been blessed to start a day early) I can complete a project within a day or two. When in full time work mode, it can take me over a week to get something posted. Often by that time the piece feels stale and I dump it.
It’s frustrating, yet I know I am only a few years away from being able to devote more time to my creative interests. I want to hit that ground running. I continue to draw inspiration and encouragement from the Bedlam Farm Group. I see photos which encourage me to get out and try something different, even when all I have on hand is my not-an-I-phone camera.
( Sunrise from my android phone cam, tweaked and edited in Photoshop)
I read wonderful poems which push me to extend beyond my 5-7-5 safe zone. A heartfelt blog post will spark an idea to fill the void left by a dumped stale entry. They are grace in writing since the experiences I write most fluidly about in my journal I cannot post because I am bound by professional confidentiality. I keep those notes as investments in a creative future and find openings for expression where I can.
Which is why a recent post from our mentor on the creative page struck a chord of fear in my heart. It questioned whether too many of us were “following” one another and not posting enough original creative material. In the early days of becoming a member of the group I constantly questioned whether I belonged with award winning writers, bloggers with well established followings and professional photographers. Initially I limited my contributions to commentary often in the form of clever haikus but it did not take long for the encouragement to sink in. I started this blog, took classes to challenge my photo skills, adjusted my volunteer schedule at the dog rescue and committed to posting regularly. I am learning what works, what I feel strongest about and what feels “authentic.”
But, I suddenly questioned whether I was being “just” a follower, whether my offerings were original “enough.”
The post hit me harder than usual, showing up after a particularly tough day at work.
I panicked . Right now the group fans the embers of my creative drive into frequent fires of creative production.
(Icicles by my good friend and fellow CGBF member Beth Heffern)
An amazing shot of icicles, gets me fired up enough to throw on some layers and brave the cold to see what I can capture with my camera before the battery gives in to single digit temps. But wait, would the photos then be just followup?
(Sketch from Kathy Cary. Kathy often graces our words by writing them in her beautiful calligraphy. )
Inspired by some watercolor sketches and paintings posted by several artists, I recently picked up a batch of watercolor pencils, planning to try my hand at a medium which previously frustrated me into submission. My doubts wont keep me from playing around with them but will I feel daring enough to share the results?
Feeling paralyed, I message a friend in the group, who immediately responds “What are you doing? Are you having a crisis?…. You are a valuable member of the group.” Tears of relief burst from my heart, spilling out of “sweaty” eyes and down my cheeks. Wait DAMMIT, what AM I doing? Where is my head that one content guiding question makes me burrow under the sands of self doubt?
Why is it so hard for us to BELIEVE in the creative spark we carry? I realized it comes down to understanding why it is so hard for us to believe in ourselves. And we have to believe in ourselves because if we don’t, who will?
I am here to expand my horizons. If I do not step out of my comfort zone I will never grow as a writer or visual interpreter. If I start judging my process by comparing myself to anyone but myself I will never take the necessary risks to develop my “voice” and “vision.” So I will risk following my inspiration until it brings me to the true source of my original creative spark.
Milkweed Fairy one of my favorite photo captures from a Jeff Anderson photo workshop last year.
Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.