Author: Melinda Sabo

Enhancing Creativity and Travel Photography with Texture, Music, and Memory

I enjoy planning vacations – the research and dreaming are a big part of the fun for me.  When I’m planning a trip, I like to listen to music that originates from the countries on my itinerary.  It’s a great way to enter into a culture and build excitement.  Once I’m on the road, I always purchase music recommended by locals; I find it’s a wonderful way to relive a trip.  The exercise below is a variation on this theme of music and trip planning and remembering.  It invites you to bring all of these ideas together and enhance your own creative process while focusing in on the idea of texture.

Piano

Creativity Exercise:  Texture, Music, Memory, & Travel Photography

    • Choose a piece of music that reminds you of a trip that you’ve taken.  This trip can be from your distant past – perhaps a family trip from when you were a kid.  Or it could be something recent – maybe a lavish safari you took last year or a weekend road trip. Tip:  If you can’t find the right piece in your own music collection, your local library is a great (and free!) resource.
    • Find a comfortable spot to sit or lie down.  Be sure to have paper and pen nearby in case you feel inspired to write down memories or ideas.
    • Once you’re comfortable, take a few deep-yoga-belly breaths and relax.
    • Hit play and listen to the piece once through with your eyes closed.  What memories does the music revive?  What images pop into your mind?
    • Listen to the piece again and focus on the texture of the music.  What words would you use to describe the texture of the music?  How does the texture of the music relate to the culture or region that created it?
    • Choose a single, specific memory from your trip and then listen to the piece for a third time.  Imagine that you are transported back to the place and time of this specific memory.  You have a camera bag full of high-quality equipment with you.  What texture-related images do you take?

You can easily vary this exercise to become a part of your trip-planning rituals.  It’s also an excellent way to pass time in the car or plane ride on your way to your destination!  Remember – just as visualization exercises strengthen marathon runners on race day, visualization exercises related to travel photography will have a powerful effect on the images you create and capture on your next trip.

In joy,

Melinda Eliza

Proust writes, he remembers, physically. He depends on his body to give him the information that will bring him to the past. His book is called ‘In Search of Lost Time,’ and he does it through the senses. He does it through smell. He does it through feeling. He does it through texture. It is all physically driven, that language.

-Twyla Tharp

Melinda Eliza Sabo is a an Artist, Creativity Coach, and Lecturer who believes that life should be an artistic journey:  truly well-seen and well-lived.  Visit www.MelindaEliza.com for more inspiration.  This article was originally published on the Wanderlust and Lipstick website.

The Muse as Shapeshifter

Sometimes the simplest ideas have the largest impacts.  Likewise, a single just-right question can change everything.

Many years ago a creativity guru asked me:  “Are you punishing yourself by not making the time you need for your art?”  This simple question had a huge impact on my practice and the amount of pleasure and joy I took in art making.  Looking back, it’s easy to see the huge, positive ramifications of that pivotal conversation.

My mentor’s question helped me reframe my relationship with myself as an Artist.  This idea of reframing is often at the center of conversations I have with my creativity coaching clients.  One common source of creative frustration in artists of all kinds is with inspiration and creative flow.  It goes like this:  “The Muse is here and all is well – Huzzah!” Followed not long after by:  “The Muse is gone and everything sucks.  Everything. Sucks.”

Muse as Shapeshifter

The questions I like to ask to start a conversation about the Muse are another example of how simple can be powerful:

  1. What if – instead of being capricious and often absent – your Muse were always with you but always changing?
  2. What if she were a shapeshifter?
  3. Who was she today?
    • A bratty four-year-old – demanding that you drop everything and play with her when you have dinner to cook?
    • A wise old woman asking you to take a walk in the park when you really want to catch up on Outlander episodes?
    • Did she have magnificent dreadlocks and a mysterious smile?  Did you stop to talk to her?
    • Was she a crow cawing loudly from the tree outside your home?  What message did she bring?

Next time you’re feeling abandoned by your Muse, give the following exercise a try.

  1. Use the first question from above and pretend for a moment that your Muse is always with you and that she is never absent.
  2. Pretend that she wants your attention and that she needs you to recognize her as she changes form.  In return for your attention and recognition, know that she will gift you with inspiration and creative energy.
  3. Go for a 15 minute walk and let the natural world and the people you encounter be signs from you Muse.  The neighbor boy.  The purple flower.  The running squirrel.  The glowing moon.  Each has a message for you.  Relax and let your Muse (and the inspiration she has to offer) find you.
Science has proven that walking is a natural way to boost creativity.  When you combine walking with the extended metaphor of a scavenger hunt for messages from your Muse, it’s my hope that you will quickly discover the creative magic you need to get back to the work you love.

“O! for a muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention.”

– William Shakespeare

Melinda Eliza Sabo is a an Artist, Creativity Coach, and Lecturer who believes that life should be an artistic journey:  truly well-seen and well-lived.  Visit www.MelindaEliza.com for more inspiration.  This article was originally published in the April 2015 edition of Wild Sister Magazine.

Travel and Creativity – The Creative Wellspring

I believe that travel is a renewable creative resource.  From journeys within our own imaginations, to road trips, to epic adventures in far away lands – travel is a wellspring.

Working intentional travel into your day is a fun and potent way to heighten your curiosity and become more aware of and inspired by the world you live in.  For example, I rarely use highways and actually enjoy getting lost. I build time into my busy day for exploration.  Traveling the back roads wakes me up and helps me see the wonder of the world.

Do you always travel the same roads to the grocery story, the studio, and the gym? Do you primarily drive on highways?  The following exercise asks you to re-frame your idea of the daily commute and approach your day-to-day travels with the intent of exploring your world.

Travel and Creativity – The Creative Wellspring

Creativity Boosting Exercise: Travel one day per week without highways. 

  • Purpose:  Take the back roads.  See your neighborhood and town as you’ve never seen it before, or haven’t seen it in years.
    • Alternate:  If you are already traveling the back roads, try taking a different route one day a week.
  • Why #1:  When you travel unfamiliar roads you develop your ability to see and live in the moment.
  • Why #2:  Driving is the exact kind of focused inattention that puts you into a relaxed brain state conducive to creativity.
  • Why #3:  There are more stories on the back roads and good art is often built on good story.
  • Why #4:  Transform your “just another morning commute” into a creative adventure. Take back your life and see travel as a fun and interesting part of your day.
  • Bonus points #1:  Add in a day of pure public transportation.
  • Bonus points #2:  If you get so lost you have to ask for directions, ask the person who helps you find your way about their life.  Make a connection with a stranger.
  • Bonus points #3:  Take your camera and journal along with you to record your adventure.

Do you find inspiration, creative freedom, and joy in travel?  Leave a comment below about how travel has affected your art.

“Not all those who wander are lost.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

Melinda Eliza Sabo is a an Artist, Creativity Coach, and Lecturer who believes that life should be an artistic journey:  truly well-seen and well-lived.  Visit www.MelindaEliza.com for more inspiration.