Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Inspirations // 01

One of the few things I learned in college that actually stuck with me is that artists do not live in a vacuum. I remember this as my music history professor's mantra, a class which happened to be one of my favorites simply for the passion that the professor had for the subject...and also because we got to listen to a lot of amazing music.

But what he meant by artists and vacuums is that when we create, we are not oblivious to the world going on around us and, whether we want it to be or not, what we create is a manifestation of our experiences. Beethoven was extraordinary, but much of what he did expanded on the concepts presented and tools used by other composers of his time - many of whom he studied with.

I'm not someone who shies away from reading the blogs of other photographers or looking to other people for inspiration - in fact, I am energized by it. And blog reading may just constitute my only other "hobby" since my hobby became my job. I think what the creative community is doing is fascinating, and I'm actually more inspired by interior design, graphic design, and design-your-life blogs than anything else. And I'd rather embrace it than shy away from it for the sake of wanting to be original, which may or may not even be possible.

Which brings me to this lovely new little series of posts about the people and things that inspire me. And I'm starting with someone who - although probably a little goofy - you might not expect...the famously happy Bob Ross. Who was not a blogger, but still an artist...and my current obsession to watch late at night after returning home from a wedding. My husband will pour us beers and we watch The Joy of Painting. We yell at the TV when he puts a dark line down the middle of a perfect painting to make a happy little tree, and then tell each other it will be okay because it always turns out just right in the end. And I usually fall asleep before the second painting is complete.

One night last week, it hit me that what I always think is Bob screwing up a perfectly fine painting is actually what makes his landscapes so interesting. When I think a painting is good and could be complete the way it is, Bob goes and adds another detail or another dimension that takes it from good to really freaking interesting. Those details and dimensions add layers to look through; they draw your eye through the painting from the foreground to the background.

Guess what? That applies to any image. A really dynamic picture, whether painted, or photographed, gets more interesting when there are several dimensions and each one leads you to the next so that you feel like you want to take everything in.

I've never really been a landscape photographer, but if I ever take it up professionally, I will tell everyone that I learned all that I know about photographing landscapes from Bob Ross. But those principles don't only apply to landscapes...they can be applied to portraits too. Adding additional dimensions and paying attention to small details are two more tools in my toolbox of tricks to make more dynamic images.

And if that isn't enough inspiration, I adore this quote from him (taken from his article on Wikipedia):

"I got a letter from somebody here a while back, and they said, 'Bob, everything in your world seems to be happy.' That's for sure. That's why I paint. It's because I can create the kind of world that I want, and I can make this world as happy as I want it."
Now go make your world happy! And let me know who inspires you.

Bob Ross photos via: 1, 2

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