Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Just do the work . . .

Most of my photographic life I've worked full-time, fitting in my photography and writing wherever I could. Being a morning person, I would get up extra early to do my work. As a result, I wrote guidebooks, published newsletters, led photography workshops, marketed and sold my photos.

I am lucky enough to not have to work full-time now, but I still get up early and cherish those few hours when the house is still (not that it's ever loud), and I feel free to just play with my photos.

Lately I've been reading Ray Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing, and yesterday I read where between the ages of 24 and 36 his routine was to sit down at his desk every morning and just write the words that were in his head, no matter what they were. The result was a book called Dandelion Wine.

I've taken a similar path these days where each morning I go into my photographs, choose a directory, pick a photo, and see what I can do with it. There's no pre-planning. I just see what I have and go with it.

The directory might be a grouping of texture photos that are all paint. Or it might be a directory called "San Juan Capistrano." It doesn't matter. I just click a directory, see what's there.

Today it was a directory called "mustard," and contained photos I'd taken in the Napa Valley a couple years ago of a mustard field. The photos are horrid. I should just throw them away. I was there in the late morning hours, the lighting was flat, and I was uninspired. Just before we left that scene, I wandered down the road and took a photo of a bare tree. How it got left in the "mustard" directory, I don't know, but this morning that tree photo appealed to me.

And that was the beginning of this picture. I tweaked the tree, added this and that, removed things, added more, and came up with this. It's unlike anything I've yet created, and I think that's why I like it. I like the warm feeling, the autumnal vibe, the weirdness, the starkness. And it's new! It surprised me. And I always like surprises in my art.

What's my point? My point is that if you just do the work, -- even if it's just a few minutes, a few hours -- on a daily basis, good things will happen. Just get up and do the work.

©Carol Leigh


  1. Just another pure CL creative out-pouring that you made room for (to happen). Oh how I wish I could stay focused long enough in some early morning "my time". Love the clean, simple, but elegant design of your tree.

  2. Thanks, Linda. Yesterday I was rereading a comment you left on my blog a few years ago regarding our fathers. I should have sent you a note yesterday because your response was so heartfelt. So glad you're in my life.

  3. Hi Carol,
    I love this image and post. Have you ever thought of doing a youtube video of your montage process? The creative process could be part of you next zine or class.
    Edie Clifford

  4. That's a good thought, Edie . . . not sure how many are really interested in the montage process. I know YOU are! Let me give this some thought. Thanks for the suggestion.

  5. I came across to where you used to report fall colors while searching the fall colors in the Sonoma County online. Knowing that you are no longer doing it I was a little bit sad but I feel more thankful for your consistent service on the reporting for so many years. I admire your persistence which I am lack of. And your art works are great!

    Suki Ho

  6. Suki Ho, thank you so very much for your kind remarks. I must admit that I was feeling sort of down when only three people took the time to let me know how much they appreciated what I did over the years, and your comment made me feel so much better. You'll never know how much it meant. Thank you again.

  7. Carol, Any lessons you would want to post would be so appreciated by so many. I have a list of folks who have said "wish Carol would do another class". Understand that isn't your thing now days ( daze?) but please know that at least for me, what I learned and continue to learn from you sticks. When in Idaho with "you know who" your name came up many times. Love your work, your thinking process shared and you. Hugs from the desert.


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