Finding your creative voice, discovering the magic

“Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing–and keeping the unknown always beyond you.” ~ Georgia O’Keeffe

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We are all artists, creating the journey that our life becomes. Making art is simply a way to explore and practice the spiritual, emotional, mental and physical elements of our power as creators. I love the quote from Georgia O’Keefe because it reminds me that the important thing is to keep exploring the art of creation. It’s a continual discovery into the unknown and making the unknown more visible to ourselves and the world.

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I expect that discussions about “finding my personal voice”, or in the field of business, “what is our differentiating value” are common across many forms of creative endeavor. Often we may undermine our own exploration and discovery with self-doubt, premature judgement and narrow rules or beliefs about what makes “art” or what makes a business product or service of unique value to its intended audience.

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So here’s a reminder to myself and anyone who may need it right now, that finding your unique or differentiated voice is a continual process of exploration, discovery and new creation. Nothing in life is static. If we aren’t continuing to explore and create anew, then we have curtailed or even stopped the journey to new possibilities.

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Enjoy the play and the magic of the journey without getting too hung up on arriving at an imagined pinnacle of perfection of what it is to be a “successful” photographer, artist, entrepreneur, business leader (or add a noun of your choice).

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Keep playing, creating, practicing — and your voice will make itself visible and heard. That’s what creating the images in this post are doing for me, and I hope enlivening a similar inspiration for my readers!

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Check out my online photo gallery for my continuing journey of finding/creating my own voice.

Transitions, Transformations & Transmutations

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“Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.” – Ansel Adams

The camera has long been a companion and guide to my life’s journey. Whenever I have camera in hand, I begin to see the world through a more receptive mindset, opening myself to the spirit of the subject and my own feelings about what I’m seeing.

Both the act of shooting in the field, and the post-processing of images become a personal practice that reveals new opportunities to create and experience the life I wish to live. That requires a mindset of openness and receptivity to the world around me, and exercising my power to choose what I want to put in or leave out of the camera’s frame of view.

Practicing photography in this way got a huge boost during the height of Autumn color from a week long workshop my wife Bonnie and I attended in Maine with photographer, artist & teacher, John Paul Caponigro. If you don’t know of JP, be sure to check out his website for a wealth of resources on creativity through the art and craft of photography.

With JP as our guide and coach, the 9 workshop participants visited beautiful spots along coastal Maine and Acadia National Park. JP’s instruction during daily meetings as well as in the field centered on building a “project” around which to create a set of images that communicated a specific idea or theme that we felt passionate about.

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My project took on the form of a series of images that I feel convey the idea of Transitions in life that present opportunities to break out of old paradigms & beliefs to create anew. The theme is relevant for me personally, as I enter a transition from full-time employment in consulting sales to my own business offering mentoring in creativity empowerment for entrepreneurs and artists / creators.

I also believe there is a lesson for us all in this time of national and global turmoil to center ourselves in the power we have as individuals to create what we wish to have in our own lives; and not depend on others to do it for us.

There is so much beauty in the world, and so much potential in human consciousness to create a life of abundance and possibility rather than violence, aggression and divisiveness. I hope the images in this post and the related slideshow give you a few minutes of solace and reflection as respite from the turmoil going on in the media and political events. The 5-minute slideshow is here in YouTube.

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All photos are my own. Music and quote is credited in the last slide.

You can also find (and purchase) these photos in my ChrisAllenImages portfolio site.

 

Energetics of Touch

“Touch seems to be as essential as sunlight.”

Diane Ackerman; author of two dozen highly-acclaimed works of poetry and nonfiction, including the bestsellers “The Zookeeper’s Wife” and “A Natural History of the Senses,” and the Pulitzer Prize Finalist, “One Hundred Names for Love.”

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Those of you who read my May 1st post will know that I have been on a healing journey from an April 25th fall resulting in two fractured vertebrae. I’m almost fully recovered and 95% pain free after 3 months of physical therapy, massage, chiropractic and acupuncture sessions. I have continually maintained a mindset of gratitude and patience with the healing process and never bought into suggestions “why aren’t you better already?”. These things take their own time, and I find that a mindset of patience with the natural healing process is really important.

When you look at the modalities I pursued for healing, you will see that they all involve hands-on bodywork and the sense of touch. Those who need scientific verification of the healing power of touch can find ample evidence in the literature, but for me it needs no proof beyond my own experience. I know that there is research on how receptor cells in the skin carry electrical impulses to every part of the body including the brain and all the organ systems. Chinese medicine and acupuncture are based on ancient wisdom about meridian pathways in the physiology that carry impulses from the skin’s surface to very specific organs and this is used for healing effect, including pain relief and actual restoration/balancing of proper body functions.

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Connecting these ideas to photography and the focus of this post is an idea inspired by my own journey of spiritual and creativity development that all the senses are intimately connected with one another; and with our inner consciousness or sense of Self. As a visual artist / photographer, I always seek to create images that engage the viewer on an emotional and deep level of awareness that simultaneously reveal the beauty and inner essence of the subject, as well as serving as a mirror or window into our own Soul as human and spiritual beings.

Is that really possible? Well, I don’t know for sure, but it’s a passion that I seem to be called to explore and share!

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Hallgrimskirkja Church ceiling in Reykjavík, Iceland

In this last of three posts dedicated in turn to the Energetics of color, typography and touch I’m sharing some of my photos that to me, enliven the sense of touch through the capture of textural qualities that “painting with light” through the photographic medium has a unique ability to produce.

While the application of textures in post-processing through software presets is all the rage among digital photography enthusiasts right now, and I have explored them a bit myself; I still find that the technology of the lens and the camera’s light sensor are already capturing an element of texture in the image and can awaken the sense of touch for the viewer. My journey of exploration is whether or not the combined visual/touch sensory perception of the photo can enliven a healing effect in the physiology of the viewer. For me as the creator of the image it certainly does.

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My images are interspersed through the text to hopefully keep your interest through a rather long post! I invite your comments on my rambling, or as I call them, “Photo Musings”.

Deja Vu or Wake Up Call?

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Since childhood I have had occasional experiences of Deja Vu, where it seems that every aspect of a moment in time is an exact repeat of something I have previously experienced. The Crosby, Stills & Nash song and album of the same name was a favorite of mine as it gave me some sense that I was not alone in this experience. Through many decades of meditation practice, I was convinced that it was a glimpse into the inherent timelessness and Oneness of all creation, giving the experience a spiritual overtone.

This past week, the experience took on a whole new character when it started while I was on a cell phone call with a work colleague from my screened porch at home. As was typical, I began losing the ability to communicate, even though I was still conscious. I remember saying “OK” several times, but the next thing I knew I was talking to Emergency Medical Technicians and getting whisked by ambulance to Mission Hospitals here in Asheville.

Luckily my colleague, author, Melanie Polkosky is a Ph.D. in Neuropsychology and a Speech Language Pathologist. She recognized something was wrong, stayed on the call and got our company HR Director to contact 911. The ambulance was arriving in less than 30 minutes from the start of the blackout.

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That was on Monday afternoon, and I spent the next 4 days in hospital undergoing EEG, MRI brain scans and CT scans. This all culminated in having a Vertebroplasty procedure to repair compression fractures in two vertebra from falling during the blackout, and diagnosis of a petit mal seizure of which the Deja Vu experience is considered the “halo” or precursor.

Well, it’s good to know what’s been going on a few times each year for most of my life, and be able to take advantage of the best of medical technologies to prevent further complications or occurrences. It’s also turning out to be a wake up call of how sacred and special life is, and the importance of setting my priorities to what matters most to me (emphasis on ME).

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The images in this post were taken the morning after returning home, spending several blissful hours in my own backyard doing what matters to me the most — connecting with, visualizing and capturing the mysterious beauty of the Natural world on camera. Somehow, I feel the experience has given me a deeper connection, and a better hit ratio in capturing the inner Spirit of Nature in the frame of my images. I’m interested to hear if these images speak to my readers as they do me.

NOTE: All blog photos are available for purchase. Just click on the photo to be taken to my SmugMug shopping cart.

Hey, It’s Spring!

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Spring season is a favorite time of year for my wife and me. We both love exploring the abstract, dance-like forms and gestures in new flower blossoms with up close photographs. With shallow depth of focus the subtle softness of the blossoms creates a feeling of serenity that I find quite captivating. I much prefer this impressionistic treatment over the more scientifically accurate images with everything in focus, like you might find in a botanical encyclopedia.

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The images in this post were taken this past weekend in Asheville, North Carolina at the 8,000 acre Biltmore Estate where Bonnie and I have annual memberships. For those of you who are familiar with the property, these are from a Star Magnolia tree (Magnolia stellata) a short walk from the Bass Pond. I wish I had taken a shot of the whole tree — with a girth of around 30 feet and height around 20 feet, it’s quite impressive when in full bloom. I suspect it was among the first trees planted by Frederick Law Olmsted’s crew working under his direction to design the landscaping and gardens for the entire Biltmore property. That would likely have been not too long after 1895 which is the date the house was first opened by George Vanderbilt to friends and family on Christmas Eve.

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Celebrating the Spring Equinox as a time of new beginnings, both astronomically and astrologically must be a part of every culture on the planet. Today the sun will have been at a point directly in line with the Earth’s equator and the length of day and night are equal, hence the term “Equinox”. From today the days will get longer and warmer, apart from these pesky cold snaps that threaten the delicate blueberry blossoms in our yard!

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I’m taking this opportunity to celebrate the creative spirit of Nature as she awakens from the Winter sleep. No one said it better than one of my favorite poets, e.e. cummings in his poem about Spring. Here’s an excerpt for your enjoyment:

secretly adoring shyly
tiny winging darting floating
merry in the blossoming
always joyful selves are singing