Monday, July 16, 2012

Camping: It's All About The Artistic Inspiration


To read more stories about my camping trip to the coast, try:

                                          It's All About The Food
                                          It's All About Playing On The Beach
                                          It's All About The Sunsets
                                          It's All About The Memories

* * * * *

Like any good vacation, my annual camping trips are designed to take me away from the rituals and rigors of my everyday life, so I can focus on what is most important to me. 

Of course, spending time with my family and my good dog, Ranger, are top priorities. Taking time to play on the beautiful beach, enjoying the dazzling sunsets, spoiling myself with delicious meals - all these things are important too.

But there is something more that I need from a week at the beach: a chance to recharge my artistic batteries.

Despite what my well-intentioned chemist-mother and mathematician-father led me to believe, artistic expression is neither easy nor is it always fun. Sometimes, gosh darn it, making art is hard work. And in the willy-nilly of my real life, I don't always have the time or focus that I want to bring to my art. 

This is why vacations are so important for artistic inspiration. When I'm away from my daily routine, I can give myself the freedom to play in artistic ways. I make a point of not taking my efforts too seriously, but simply letting my brain stay in artist mode for longer periods of time. It feels really good.

It's easy to find inspiration at a place like Kalaloch. Taking photographs is a no-brainer; what would any vacation be without dozens if not hundreds of visual memories?  Besides capturing all the sweeping vistas of water, sand and sky that present themselves to me, there are intricate details that deserve my attention too.


I love to create little still life arrangements of things I find here and there on the beach...


And I enjoy mixing my man-made possessions into the natural settings for contrast and punch.


I had some fun taking photos of the sunset, using the lens of my sunglasses as a filter. See, here is the scene shot directly through my iPhone 4S, followed by the same scene taken as I held my glasses in front of the shutter.


I'm not the only person to be inspired to create art at Kalaloch. On the first day of my visit, I came across this dolpin, carefully sculpted of sand and outlined in white rocks. When I found him, he was in a bit of a state of disrepair. With a little TLC and some reconstructive surgery, I coaxed him back to life. Look how cute he is.


The urge to draw in the smooth damp sand overwhelmed me, as usual, and I couldn't resist a little mermaid, with stones and shells for decorations. 


I left her at the mercy of the tides, and when I came back the next morning, I was delighted to see that another beach artist had repaired her mostly-washed-away tail. Just as I fixed up the partially destroyed dolphin, someone else carried forward my mermaid. I wonder if both creations might still be there right now, forwarded on from one artist to the next. 

My greatest inspiration undoubtedly came from my youngest daughter. She loves to take photos and generates all kinds of interesting, creative angles and approaches to her subjects. I love to watch her as she works, and found it super interesting to compare my photos showing her at work to her finished products. 

For example, here are two photos. The first one, taken by me, shows my daughter taking photos of Ranger in the setting sun. The second photo is the one she was taking at that very moment


Here is another similar sequence. While sitting at our camp, my daughter noticed the sun's reflection of the trees on her sunglasses. Intrigued by her patience and inventiveness, I took the first photo to show how she was arranging her shot. Once she got what she wanted, she showed me the image on her camera display, and I photographed it, creating the second shot. The third image here is her original photograph.


All in all, I had an artistically refreshing week; now that I'm back at home, my brain feels calm, uncluttered and invigorated to create. Thank you, Kalaloch, for slowing me down and inspiring the artist within me.

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