If you've been a regular reader of the inspiration posts we've made over the (has it really been years?) since this blog first started, you might have noticed a trend: we love the seasons of the year. The way the entire world changes itself somehow just seems like the most exquisite poetry in motion, even if it can be pretty darned cold and dreary by the end of Winter. Change is always good for inspiration and creativity, and having a world that changes around us so regularly can be a great tool for change in our own lives, if we let it.
But more than a source of happiness and inspiration, it's possible to use the seasons themselves as an integral part of your work. Depending on what media you work with, this might find its expression in any number of different ways, and the possibilities are only limited by your own personal sense of creative style and flair.
Our most recent suggestion was a project for the coldest days of Winter, taking advantage of how rapidly soap bubbles can freeze in extremely cold weather, and what you could accomplish with some macro photography, but that's just one of the ways that the coldness of winter can be used as a tool to inspire new projects. Anything that works with water can be changed by extreme cold, which of course suggests watercolour painting. Have you ever tried doing masking with ice? Though we have little experience with watercolours, you could probably have a fun afternoon messing around on the porch with an easel, experimenting with different ways this might work - sometimes, the most exciting discoveries are made by accident.
Following on the watercolour tangent, as Spring begins to grow restless waiting in the wings behind Winter's trailing edges, it might be interesting to experiment with abstract watercolours that are partially designed by rainfall. It would create an extremely unique look, and could probably be modified by a careful application of masking or other techniques that might adjust how water impacts the pigment on the canvas. Maybe even letting the eavestrough (or similar makeshift version of it) do the colour mixing for you - if different pgiments have different weights, they may begin to create some astonishing patterns.
These ideas might work for you, they might not, but the main goal is to get you to start thinking about completely unexpected ways to incorporate the year's cycles into your creative process and your creative work itself. Happy experimenting!
Winter can be a tough time for photographers. If you're used to working in a studio, then you might not even notice the temperature dropping outside, but if you're used to working outside of a studio environment, things can be much more difficult for you. As if humidity and temperature changes wreaking havoc on your camera gear wasn't bad enough, you've got frostbite to contend with as well! But if you bundle up properly, winter can offer a whole new range of special photography projects.
While you can see some truly stunning ice-covered landscapes and some equally evocative street photography if you manage to show up on the right day, one of our favourite winter photography tools is the macro lens. Everyone loves a snowflake, right? But once you've spent an hour or two photographing snowflakes, you start to see a bit of monotony - so let's take things to the next level. If you're just interested in the snowflakes, take some nice black paper, crushed velvet, felt - or even a black microfibre lens cleaning cloth - and let it cool down to match the ambient temperature, catch snowflakes on it, and snap away! That's all there is to it.
For something a little more advanced, however, we're going to need some supplies. If you've got kids, you've probably already got all the tools for blowing soap bubbles, but you can fake up some with a bit of wire and some dish soap if necessary. The key to this project is that the ambient temperature outside should be well below freezing. Take your soap mixture and bubble blower outside, and half-inflate a soap bubble, so that it forms a nice sphere but is still attached to the holder. If it's cold enough, the soap will freeze, and you'll wind up with a beautiful iridescent sphere that presents some beautiful macro opportunities.
If you're feeling extra ambitious, play around with the ratios of the soap and water mixture to find the best possible patterns, and consider using drops of food colouring or coloured light gels to adjust the final shots that you produce. If you get into the project, you probably won't even notice how cold it is! Just remember to keep tabs on your fingertips, since you can't click the shutter with frostbite!
As we mentioned in our recent piece on the documentary Samsara, the winter months can be rough for artists. Well, they can be rough for everyone, but lack of sunlight and the inhospitable outdoors can lead us down the road to lethargy and creative blocks. If you spend a little bit of time thinking about your work and how you could use freezing temperatures as a means to experiment with something new, you'll start to realize that the things you originally saw as blocks can actually be guides that allow you to step outside your traditional assumptions.
If that doesn't pique your curiosity, then perhaps you'll find some inspiration in the stunning winter-only works of artist Simon Beck. His day job involves map-making, and he took those skills, combined it with his love of precision and turned into some beautiful artwork. Originally from Bracknell, Berkshire, he spends his winters in ski-friendly areas of France where snow is plentiful. But his artwork is highly unusual for one simple reason: he creates it entirely with snowshoes.
Sometimes walking as much as 40 kilometers over the course of a 10 hour day, Beck creates truly massive and stunningly intricate mathematically inspired designs in snow. If you've ever seen pictures of 'crop circles', you'll get a sense of what his designs are like, but on a much grander scale. Beck explains, "The biggest was about 10 soccer fields. It's a bit hard to measure, but a decent-sized project is about three soccer fields. That takes one day if conditions are good."
Once the enormous designs have been completed, he then spends time hiking to the top a nearby mountain, if one is available, in order to take pictures. If there isn't one nearby, he sometimes charters a small aircraft to allow him to take aerial pictures of his work. Because each footstep has a distinct and differentiated depth, as the sun progresses across the sky the changes in light and shadow can create some amazing contrasting patterns.
Check out an interview with Beck here, and see how he creates his masterpieces.
If that doesn't get you inspired to get outside and try something new with your art, check back with us soon for a piece on some winter-based experiments for different types of art - no matter what medium you work in, you'll find something that gets you inspired!