Monday, August 24, 2009

Reasons and seasons to be prolific

I've not been an 'artist' (whatever that is exactly) for very long (I've been a 'person' for much longer ;-)) so each fresh experience that comes my way feels very new.

I've been using nearly all my spare time recently to make inroads into my second book, trying to drum up some commissions, exhibitions and any interest that I can. It's been quite hard work, but reasonably fruitful. However despite my intentions it is work and not play. That won't be news to anyone of course but a combination of things seem to have conspired to have changed my life.

A few months ago I changed job and started to work from home more. This has meant longer hours and less spare time, but also I have not craved being outside as much as I would when stuck at the office.

Earlier in the year I went through an extremely prolific period of producing sculpture after sculpture. Ideas and more importantly the will to carry them through was in abundance. I knew that that couldn't continue indefinitely and it seems to have come to an end. So my ponderings are to ask why and perhaps the answer may also reveal an insight into why the prolific period begun at all.

As I said these experiences are new to me and I am interested in what I can learn from them.

Also I have noticed how I seem less inclined to make the most of the weather right now. During spring and early summer 2 minutes of sunshine meant an attempt at a barbecue or trying to pin translucent leaves to little wooden frame! And I mean every opportunity was taken! But now as the season seems to be remaining the same and I can't recall winter anymore I seem less inclined to make the most of what there is.

With my land art I try to explore the changes and factors of a season, what grows and what changes and how nature feels at any particular time. I don't think that it is contrived, instead my intention to learn about nature is a symptom rather than a cause. I make the discoveries by just going out and doing it and then finding out afterwards what I learnt. I don't try to learn this or that by preplanning, I find stuff out by accident but I find that all the more fascinating because it is that way. I simply wander and look, find a leaf that is beautiful (or whatever else) and then make something out of it and by doing I learn all about that thing, that place, nature and me.

But what I didn't realise until now is that my land art is not just about how nature changes and grows but it is about the affect those things have on me and how I feel. The hours of daylight, the need to be active during summer and the evocative feelings that a change in seasons can bring.

It dawned on me then that my land art is teaching me about myself and how as a living being the natural world affects me too, how I am a part of it and the seasons and cycles are felt and reveal change in me too. I now believe that the prolific period I enjoyed at the beginning of spring was borne of the long dark winter and those long nights built up in me a need to express the spring through what I did. Just as spring brings an explosion of life it also brought to me an explosion of ideas. But again this wasn't contrived spring brings a burst of energy to us all. It is real and not just a wish to put winter behind. I was born in January so I know what my parents were doing in spring!

What will the coming autumn bring to me? What will I learn about nature and what will I learn about myself? I can hardly wait!

This is a quote from my new book. Despite writing it I didn't really understand the level to which it may be true until now.

'Isn't it wonderful that every leaf, every stone has a moment in the limelight.

As the light hits each of them they come alive. The beauty of these things puts my life into perspective. I am sure it is the same thing that inspires religion in some people, but for me it just makes me feel humble with an inner-contentness, calmness and connectness. When I am making sculptures I feel I am the child I used to be. Wondering at the little things, the ripples in the water and the veins in a leaf as the sun pierces its translucent skin.

What I understand now is that nature's beauty isn't just in what I see, it's in what looking for it does to me.'

I'd be interested to know if artists of any persuasion (obsessed with nature and not) go through the same seasonal changes.


EmandaJ said...

Hello Richard, I know what you are going through. These are the dog-days of summer and it's hard to get anything done. Working from home it can be difficult to turn off the "worker-bee" and enjoy some personal time on your own. Hang in there. Autumn is around the corner and you will find more inspiration with that change.


Jane Gianoutsos said...

Hey Richard, love your blog and your creations of course. And I have wondered about your recent quiet period! But your post has caused me to think and reflect on my own patterns of creativity. I'm not an 'artist' as such, however we all have a bit of artist in us don't we? And I am certainly comfortable calling myself a creative.

I absolutely definitely go through creative cycles. I always need a creative outlet of some sort - it's what keeps me sane, but I rarely stick with the same thing for more than a couple of annual seasons - (ie one craft through winter, then I revive my passion for photography through spring-autumn, then I neglect that the next winter, and then the following winter I move to a different craft entirely) and sometimes I just read and don't create at all. As soon as it becomes like work, I must admit I lose interest. My crafting tends to be an outlet for brining something into existence, but is also strongly motivated by learning - I rarely use a technique twice without building on or expanding it - once I've learnt it, I move on to something new.

My 2 cents. :-)

my creative blog
my humble photography efforts

ArtPropelled said...

Yes very definitely! Autumn is my most prolific time. The South African heat is so exhausting it effects my work so Summer (and Spring) slows me down a lot but the first whiff of Autumn changes my mind set and ideas flow non stop. The slightest change in the air puts me into that productive zone. My creativity/productivity flows in cycles and its recognising these cylcles that help get me through the stagnant phases. It's all a wonderful learning experience.

BACEBO said...

Great mash-up of pictures! Richard!

I found this site amazing and thought you would too:

Keep up the good work!

PLUMe said...

wow! i really would like to have more time to do land art. unfortunatly, i can't stop working.... you take your life in your hand, doing what you really like i for that, you are really a fantastic person.

nancy neva gagliano said...

check out my blog post today, you've WON the meme award...i know you're thrilled!! well, you thrill us with your gorgeous work

Richard Shilling said...

Thanks Emanda. I have several new themes and techniques up my sleeve and I have actually dreamed a particular leaf sculpture 4 days in a row up to now. So something is definitely brewing!

Thanks Jane. That's interesting. I've always been a bit faddy. Really getting into something and then moving onto something new after the freshness has gone. It is going to be a challenge to keep it fresh with my art but I am optimistic that the new ideas I have will be just as good and keep me thoroughly absorbed.

Hi Robyn, I'm not sure how the seasons are at your latitude but in Northern Britain we have quite a swing between long nights and long days and it has quite an affect on the seasons. I really love them and couldn't really live somewhere where the seasons are less pronounced. I am very much looking forward to autumn too, less so winter but spring wouldn't be as good without those 6 hours of daylight days before!

Thanks Bacebo and cool! Heather's work is astounding and adds whole heaps of new levels to collecting stuff. I thought my two hour wanderings were enough! But the form and movement she creates are really out of this world. (would be a great blog entry for your Robyn).

Thanks Emmanuel. Well for me it is 1/3 work, 1/3 land art and 1/3 sleep! But with only one life to live we all have to try to be the best we can.

Thank you Nancy. :-)