(Kernan, Heisler, Maisel)
Last week, I taught my workshop Illuminating Creativity. Now I’m taking a workshop on creativity!
This week, my friend Sean Kernan is teaching a special workshop for instructors only at the Maine Media Workshops this week. Sean has a very different approach to teaching creativity than I do. He too loves to collaborate. In the past, he’s brought in people like Alan Arkin and the dance company Pilobolus.
Who will be taking the workshop with me this week? My wife Ardie. Oh and some guy named Jay Maisel. And another great photographer named Greg Heisler. And another great photographer named Elizabeth Opalenik. And another great photographer named Allison Shaw. And many more! I have no idea what will happen. I just know it will be a great week. Stay tuned! Every day, I’ll try to share at least one highlight here.
Today started with meditation. Nice move. It increases awareness. It focusses attention. It reduces judgement. It encourages receptivity. I often think we don’t focus on or speak about enough the states we’re in when we produce work, particularly the states we’re in when we produce our best work and how to get there. Meditation is one key among many. Play is another.
On the first day we played a number of theater games. Walk an imaginary line. Throw an imaginary ball. Play an imaginary game of tug of war. It worked when the participant focussed. It worked better when another participant cooperated with them. The event was changed by the group observing and focussing at the same time. Group dynamics (and how each of us responds to them) are fascinating. Collaboration can be extremely stimulating.
We walked and watched ourselves looking while focussing specifically at things and monitoring peripheral vision simultaneously. Taking notes in class made me even more aware of the elements in play while doing this. A significant new object or space demands attention. Moving objects demand attention. Motion produced by moving your body is less demanding. Focus of attention moves when a stronger pattern is observed. All patterns are contextual (patterns within patterns).
We watched Charlie Rose’s interview with sculptor Richard Serra. Serra speaks very visually about his primary passion – space. Its clear sight is one of the primary senses he experiences space with. At one point in the film he walks through his sculptures and the camera follows while he describes the experience of space produced by his sculpture. His physical gestures as he navigates his labyrinths make a statement like “This is the inside of the outside. This is the outside of the inside.” understandable. His sculptures give us a heightened experience of space. His work offers experiences of archetypes of space.
Moving in space seems to be the theme of the day.
What’s this have to do with making images? Nothing. Everything. None of us expect to make finished work this week. All of us expect to have a better understanding of what it takes to make better work at the end of the week. Sometimes not focussing on a final product, but focussing on the process instead reveals more and in the end, if that understanding is applied later, more work and higher quality work may ultimately be produced.
Who’s Sean Kernan? Find out here.
Read my in depth conversation with Sean here.
Read Sean interviewing me here.
Check out Sean’s blog entries on the class here.
Check out Sean’s creativity workshops here.
Check out my creativity workshop here.
Karen Daspit lives in Hawaii. This is Karen’s 3rd workshop with me. She’s been photographing, sketching, and writing all week. Like most participants she had serious doubts about how relevant free associating with words could be for her photography. But she trusted me and the process and gave it a go. In less than an hour she had new ideas for 6 new bodies of work that were all relevant to her current vision. It’s thrilling to see people make these kinds of breakthroughs and see how enthusiastic they become. Then again, Karen’s always enthusiastic. I think there’s a connection between her positive attitude and the results she’s been getting in her photography. Her work is currently featured in the 2nd Annual Photography Masters Cup Yearbook.
“I have recently spent five days in Maine attending John Paul Caponigro’s workshop “Illuminating Creativity”. It should be noted that workshops, in general, are something I have only discovered over the last 10 years of my life. A workshop of any kind is a great way to take a vacation from the “usual”, and meet other people who share a common interest. There are many dimensions to workshops. The worst case scenario is that you become exposed to a new environment, learn something new, and go home somewhat rested.
How do you teach people from varied backgrounds to be illuminated, or, to discover and use their creativity? JP, has a long tenure as an artist, instructor and writer. He is a VERY creative person. More than this, he has developed through extensive study, a set of organizational and expressive skills that work in his own realm. He is also very capable of sharing this set of skills with his students. This talent, although simple to explain, takes much more skill to share. And this he has done, for me, and to me, over the last 5 days.
When you follow JP’s writings on his web site, it becomes apparent that he advocates certain methodologies. Readers are exposed to a variety of articles. There is espousal of palate selection, creation of an adherent body of work, and tips on how to evaluate your work for inclusion in a particular body of work. This is all above and beyond the technical attainment of Photoshop skills, which we all strive for.
Creating a “body of work” has become a cumbersome task for me. I have struggled long and hard to create my first BOW. I am now approaching the next step, of creating a second BOW. I have been again undaunted by the scope of the task. This workshop has made that task seem approachable for me, and I will attempt to tell you why.
One of JP’s exercises stands out for me. He requested that we all define our work in one word. With a second step of “free association” we all wrote down words that came to mind that reminded us of the said single word. I had a page full of words that made no real since to anyone but me. Then, he had us categorize these words. You would have to attend the workshop to find out how he spurred us on, and articulated the task. Basically, we wound up at the end of the afternoon with the ability to SEE and READ things that were of importance to us personally. We were able to borrow other people’s words and combine them into meaningful phrases. The synergy of the group contributed to our individual insight into what it was we might be interested into exploring further in our own work.
The net result is that I have ideas for new bodies of work. New words like deterioration and origin are now incorporated into my own perception of the work I do. I want to rush out and photograph dead leaves, beautifully decaying vegetables and rusted vehicles. This is truly thrilling for me. I have been illuminated creatively.
The workshop is much more than this single exercise. We have been exposed to a variety of creative tools that we can all use to better discover our roadmaps. Tools to better understand our processes, make them more efficient, and better articulate our inner desires have been presented. Mostly, JP stood strong on the platform of his experiential discoveries and shared them selflessly with all of us. What more can we ask?
One of the descriptors that we came up with was “transformative indulgence”. That about sums up what this week was for me.”
See Karen’s Flickr gallery here.
Find out about the workshop here. Get Priority Status for the next Illuminating Creativity workshop with absolutely no risk here. Just click “I’d Like Priority Status!”.
Find out about upcoming events here.
It’s a privilege to be invited to guest post on Scott Kelby’s blog. Vincent Versace and Joe McNally contributed excellent first and second guest Wednesday installments. Mine’s the third.
I’m hoping guest blogging becomes an industry trend. I’ve already got several invites out to select colleagues who will join me here on my blog and I’ll join them on theirs! So be on the look out for more guest blogging!
The title of my guest post is Making the Visual Verbal. Do you think pictures should be seen and not heard? If so, you’re half right and half wrong. Commentary is no substitute for an image. Sometimes a picture is worth more than a thousand words. But, there are times and places for commenting on images. In fact, often words and pictures can complement each other synergistically to create a total effect greater than the sum of the parts. And, there are many different ways of making useful comments. Find out how and when in this essay.
Read the full post on Scott Kelby’s blog Photoshop Insider.
Download my related PDF on making Artists Statements here.
Read many of my Artist Statements here.
Hear me talk about my work here.
Remember to set up your RSS feed for automatic alerts on new posts for both Scott Kelby’s and John Paul Caponigro’s blog.
Many people think you can’t learn to be more creative. “You’ve either got it or you don’t.” This attitude does a great disservice to everyone. Everyone is creative. So why are some people more creative than others? There are all kinds of reasons. Two reasons stand out above all the others – attitude and skill. In both cases, practice makes perfect. The creative principles and strategies applied in a wide variety of fields can all help you become more creative. You can learn to be more creative. As Micheal Michalko says, “The artist, after all, is not a special kind of person; every person is a special kind of artist.”
Read to my Creativity Downloads here.
Listen to my Creativity Tips here.
Learn about my workshop Illuminating Creativity here.
Each issue of my free enews Insights offers creativity tips. Get Insights here.