Architecture has always been an influence for my work. I actually think I am more influenced by seemingly ordinary buildings or vernacular types of architecture. Yeah, high architecture is great too because it pushes structural or aesthetic issues. That is important.
What I love about vernacular architecture is people don’t really think about it. These types of buildings are in plain sight, used everyday and not really thought about as being interesting or even aesthetically interesting. It is in the details. As these buildings become more used and more worn, the more interesting they become architecturally. It could just be the building style is outdated, it has been remodeled or had a face lift, or the building has a different function than what it was originally built for.
For example, I think it is interesting to see the uses of old fast-food buildings that are very distinctive. In Collinsville, there is the old McDonald’s on 157 that now houses an investment company. In Edwardsville, there is the Pizza Hut building that now houses a business that sells Italian motor scooters.
On my most recent walk I took some pictures that illustrate my interest in mundane structures.
This one is the drive-thru of a bank that has long been closed. Recently it has been turned into a bistro style restaurant with banquet rooms. These drive through windows are at the back of the bank and are still around. It would be interesting if the restaurant could find some use for these windows. Hmm..why not a “venue” to display art?
This is a building on Main Street that houses a doctor’s office. It is definitely a modernist style of building. I am guessing it was built in the 1960s. What I found interesting about this were the variety of textures, the reflection. That wooden fence was definitely an add-on.
Again, I like the variety of textures, shapes and the layers of stuff from old to new. This was taken from the Collinsville Firestation’s parking lot. I wonder what is up with the brick on the building that is most prominent? There is a difference in color? Maybe old and new? If so, what happened?
One of the first pictures I posted on this blog was of the back of this building. Well, this is the front. Doesn’t it look like an old movie theater? I like the mishmash of history. At the very bottom of the building are the remnants of the shiny black tile that covered the brick facade from the Glik’s era. You can tell where the tiles were either removed or fell from. It was were you see all the exposed brick and round globs of “glue” that held the plastic to the surface. Then there are the pastel painted areas at the top portions that are from the “Isle of U” days. Now nothing is there. Boards cover windows, the sign is just a hollow frame. I wish this building could house something that could stay in business. BTW, the building directly next door (turquoise color) is also empty. It used to be a resale shop. Hmm, those buildings against the new sidewalk, light posts, trash cans and planters…again…it takes more than that to make a downtown vibrant.
What is one to do when in a creative slump? What causes creative slumps?
I think I will answer the latter first. Of course there can be many reasons why an artist or designer may be in a creative slump. I can really only answer for myself with confidence. I think the answer lies in this question: Am I having fun?
Am I having fun?
If the answer is yes, and I allow myself to be playful and just allow the art follow a “natural” course I tend to have more fun. In turn, I tend to spend more time on the work and become more productive.
If the answer is no, and I get bogged down in doing things in a specific way and put too much pressure on my self I tend to have less fun. Art making becomes a chore. In turn, I spend less time on the work and become less productive. It becomes a vicious cycle if left unchecked.
If I am having fun and are being productive, I don’t feel the need to change anything and it is really about keeping up the momentum and not getting stuck in a rut. However, I can’t think that way. Worrying about the possibility of getting stuck in a rut is the start on the path to not having fun.
So what is an artist to do when the rut starts to form and the artist is not having fun?
1. One thing I like to do, especially recently, is to go on a walk and bring my camera. Just take in the world and pay attention to the things that attract my eye. Take a picture. Don’t worry about having the perfect photograph or making art. I am not a photographer but it is a nice way to see and record the world in a fleeting amount of time. It give me time for my mind to wander and dream. Plus, it is exercise that that is always good.
2. Think back to what got me into art. What did I do as a kid with my crayons and paper? I probably just played. I wasn’t concerned with pleasing anyone (well…I did like to show off what I did to my parents but what kid doesn’t?), making money or making history. I liked getting lost in the moment. The best thing I can do is to just play. Draw or paint for the sake of drawing or painting. Who cares about quality.
3. If I am bogged down with a specific project and it becomes a chore, maybe I should just do something that is not related to that project. Maybe if I am working on something more conceptual, and abstract, maybe I should switch gears and do a work that is from observation and representational. Maybe I could just make something completely nonobjective. Basically do the opposite of what I am doing. Who knows? Something could come out of it to help with the project.
Basically when in a creative slump I am not having fun. The objective is to have fun and when I enjoy my work I will become more productive. So I must find a way to have fun.
If you are not an artist or designer, this is probably true for you too. People that have success in any industry probably like what they do. A person who makes a lot of money investing probably loves the thrill of it. It is exciting to them. A successful football player probably really enjoys what he does…usually when an athlete struggles is when he/she is pressing and is putting too much pressure on his/her self. That person is not having fun. The key is to have fun and if you are not…find the way that brings fun back.
Travel has been a huge influence to me. I wish I could do more. In the past three years I have gone to Cleveland, Chicago (twice), boating at the Lake of the Ozarks with the family, and various day-trips in Missouri and Illinois. My boyfriends and I are hoping to go to Memphis, TN this spring. I have never been there and he wants to go again.
Probably the two best places I have been have been that spark my creativity (sometimes overwhelm me too) are New York City and the whole trip to the United Kingdom I made in the summer of 2004.
When I went to the UK, I spent most of my time in London and in Scotland. I took a ton of pictures, filled some sketchbooks, collected maps, books, newpapers and magazines, and did some rubbings. Oh, plus I studied art and art history. I got credit for this trip through the Study Abroad Program at Ohio University. So, I went to the great art galleries, museums and cultural landmarks that London is home too. Some of the places I went outside of London was Stonehenge, Edinborough, Glasgow, and Inverves, Scotland. Awesome trip that will always be with me and I would love to go again. I was there for a month and I still wasn’t able to see everything.
The first pic I am going to show was from late afternoon/early evening in Edinborough. We had a pretty long walk from our hotel to the center of the city. It was a dark, foggy, rainy day. Actually, it rained the whole time we were in southern Scotland (Glasgow and Edinborough). I think I took this picture as we crossed a bridge. I know we got a little lost. There is really no grid to follow and we got a little disoriented sometimes This was the case in all of the places we visited. US and European cities are not the same in that aspect.
New York City has been a place I visited on an almost annual basis while I was in school. For a person who is an artist, NYC has been the center. I would go mainly to visit the galleries and museums. Really my favorite thing to do was just walk around and explore the city. It is the perfect city to get lost in and find something interesting to make it all worth it. There is no other city in the the US like it.
The two pictures I am going to include were just incidental. The first one is of Times Square. I suppose you could call it the shrine of advertisements. It is quite sickening but visually arresting. Honestly, there isn’t anything too substantial there. It is clean and has become a tourist trap of sorts and family friendly. It is not the scummy Times Square of the past.
This next picture was taken from a gallery in Chelsea.I don’t remember which one but I guess I wasn’t interested in the work. I was distracted by the view. I really love the reflections I get when I take pictures through windows. I like the angular reflections in this one. I think I am look toward downtown.
Finally, Merry Christmas to everyone. I opened some presents last night. I always get some art related things. I got the DVD, The Power of Art. It is the series hosted by Simon Schama on the BBC. I got a small book called, Creative Sparks, by Jim Krause. Some other noted gifts, a bookshelf (I seriously need a new one. I have books stacked on the floor because I don’t have enough room in the bookcases I have), a USB hub, and a laptop cooling pad. For fun, I got a St. Otto, The Patron Saint of Parking air freshener, a hot dog stress reliever (you squeeze it). I got a couple South Park DVDs, candy, a gift card to Best buy, some nice gloves and socks, earrings and some other small stocking stuffers. Also it is fun spending time with my boyfriend’s family. I like them a lot. They are a hoot to be with.
This summer I built a pinhole camera and one day I went on a walk to test it out. I really didn’t have any idea how the pictures would come out. When it is not bitterly cold and precipitating (like now), I like to go on walks. I usually do this in the summer and whenever I can in the other seasons. It gives me time to think and I like observing the town and whatever is going on. When I was out taking pictures I found myself coming up with ideas and just feeling refreshed.
Here are the best pictures from that roll of film. Note, they are made with a pinhole camera so there really is no depth of field and very little focus. They have an atmospheric look.