CREATE… SIMPLIFY… DO MORE OF WHAT YOU LOVE… DREAM…
Decide what you TRULY want to create and then give yourself PERMISSION!

There comes a time when you are ready for a change. You may feel your art is stale and un-focused, or perhaps you are just ready to change direction. Perhaps you have been doing your photography and art for everyone besides yourself! Part of the journey for every artist is reinvention, and refocusing on our passion. What got most of us started on our path as photographers and artists? PASSION! We were passionate about our art and pursued it with fresh creativity and zeal… and we pursued it on a regular (perhaps daily) basis. But sometimes that fades along the way for a variety of reasons and we lose sight of what makes our creativity come alive!

I found myself in that situation last year and decided to pursue the art that truly inspires and motivates ME. Not my clients; Not my students. I wanted to pursue MY visions of creativity and get back in touch with what I loved, because making others happy (in the creation of art) often leads us to an unfulfilling place. Although, sometimes it’s merely the reality of paying bills and keeping up with life that squeezes out the “fun stuff” …you know, the art we do for the love of it and deem as a “luxury activity”?

The journey back to the Joy of Creating begins with a journey of self-discovery, and defining what it is that you love to photograph, whether it be a general topic or a specific subject, format, style or technique. Then the journey includes dreaming up creative projects and learning new skills or techniques. But along the way, sometimes you need to give yourself permission to discover, to change, to experiment and even fail. It also involves making room for your art. What if life and schedules are too full? Then it’s the process of making time. It is a discipline, but taking the time every day to do even a little bit and planting the seeds of creativity, will eventually grow into a huge life-giving tree. We so often want it NOW. We want to stop what we are doing NOW and switch to the fresh approach in a weekend. Here’s the bad news: developing your artistic vision and body of work does not happen that way. There are many things that happen gradually. Daily creativity is far more powerful at changing your life and perspective than a frenzy of creative activity one weekend in June.

There are lots of ways to re-discover the passion points- whatever it is you love to create. (That’s a topic that can fill a whole article by itself!) But once you do that, you need to plan a time to start on it, even if it is only to clear a space for your stuff. Or gather a box of elements to shoot when you are ready. Or make sketches of compositions on paper as you brainstorm. The goal is just to make time! Give yourself permission to take the time… especially if you are one of those driven, busy people who feel they need to be productive all the time (like me).

Schedule the time and just do short intervals if that’s all you have room for now. And don’t be so bent on completion that you never start because you know you don’t have time to finish. Yes, finishing is important, but never even a possibility if you never get started! The truth is, daily intervals of creativity (or anything) impacts you more than a big burst of time, so don’t be afraid to just dabble as long as it is a daily routine. Your art will make room for itself, usually by changing your priorities in the process. One of my favorite sayings is: “Only engage, and the mind becomes heated. Begin, and the work will be completed.” -Wolfgang Von Goethe

After analyzing my passion points, I realized I loved flowers with a certain insanity, and the creation of beauty, fashion and elegance with women and especially dancers. As a former dancer myself, I truly appreciate this beautiful art form! As I gave myself permission to shoot the things I loved and then create with them (with no assignment expectation) I found the joy of painting began to resurface, and before I knew it, was painting up a storm and trying new things with my photography! Now I am working on a fresh body of work, and a few books and enjoying the creative journey so much again! (as you can see, I love flowers, painting, color and compositing).

While many of my fellow photographers will find their “bliss” subject is something far from what I do, we can all can benefit from furthering our own skills to embrace new directions, regardless of our favorite subject matter. Some of the basic building blocks of art (artistic expression, painterly effects, image combinations, and even movement) apply to all genres of images, giving the artist freedom to express as he or she desires. And what about purpose? That’s always a topic of mine– being focused on the purpose– but one of the best ways to enhance your life, your creativity and your vision is to create purely for the purpose of self-expression and enjoyment. While that may seem like a selfish (or non-existent) purpose, it may be the primary factor needed to help you reach your goals because of the development of your vision and skills! Learning new techniques and connecting with other creative people creates a synergy of fresh ideas and direction you may have never dreamed of.

As a driven, git-‘er-done-kinda-girl, I am making the changes to allow more time for art and expression and reaping so much more than I expected. It’s not all about accomplishment. We need to make time for inspiration, too. As I am carving out time for creativity and embracing my crazy ideas, I keep getting more creative with expression, faster with Photoshop, and have become a much better storyteller. Oh, and did I mention having a lot more fun and energy for life? (even for the other parts of my life too, like yard work). #takingcareofme #giveyourselfpermission

I’m teaching a new class at Texas School this year, called Follow your Bliss. Of course, it will be a journey of discovery to help you find YOUR bliss, but a fun class of creative expressions and skill building as well. Yes, we will be creating Art for the Love of it- using painterly tools and mixer brushes, Photoshop, filters and plug-ins, masking, composites and brush-making, too. Even some simple animation and video techniques for social media/marketing (or purely for the fun of it). I’m hoping you will join us in creating some fresh art!… or at least get inspired from this article and decide to give yourself permission to Create for YOU!

Suzette Allen, Cr.Photog., CPP, API, Lumix Ambassador, and Adobe Influencer, is one of the many fine instructors at the 2018 Texas School of Professional Photography. She is considered one of the top Photoshop instructors in the country and has branched out into other facets of photography as well. For more information on Suzette, check out her website at www.SuzetteAllen.com or learn more about her class at www.TexasSchool.org.