Archive for May, 2011

Three Movies to Feed Your Creativity

May 19, 2011

If you are in a creative lull or just simply needing to escape your own life for a few hours and recharge, here are three movies worth watching if you missed them when they first came out:

Waste Land – This documentary (nominated for an Oscar in 2010) about the artist Vik Muniz and his collaborative work with the pickers of recyclable materials at the Jardim Gramacho in Rio de Janeiro is inspiring for those of us watching and transformational for the people profiled. You never know how your creative work is going to impact people, especially when you involve them in the process. Recently, a friend of mine was volunteering in a 4th grade classroom.  One little boy was less than enthusiastic about her photography project – football was his passion, not photography. By the end of class, he pulled her aside and asked very quietly if you could study photography in college. When she replied yes, he responded, “I know what I want to do when I grow up then. I want to go to college to become a photographer.”

This movie is also excellent for starting conversations at home and in the class room on many social and environmental issues.

Michael Jackson’s This Is It – If you missed this behind the scenes look as Michael Jackson and numerous other talented performers rehearsed songs and dance sequences for 50 sold-out shows in London, put it on your movies-to-watch list now. Despite what you might think of Michael Jackson as a person and the choices he made, there is no denying that he was a talented musician who could define his vision and then make it happen. Watching him refine the details of the show – a process that had likely been going on for days and perhaps would have continued until the 50th performance – made me understand the passion he had for his art, something we all want to feel in our chosen field. I only wish this show had reached the London stage.

The Secret of Kells – This animated film was nominated for an Academy Award in 2010 in the Best Animated Feature category, but somehow I never heard about it until last Saturday night. While watching, I kept wanting to stop the movie to study the colors and images.  When it was over, I had to do a “data dump” into my sketchbook – there were so many ideas I needed to get down on paper!

If you have an unexpected block of time open up and subscribe to Netflix, all of these movies can be watched instantly. Just queue one up, sink back into a chair, and wait to be inspired.

Want to share these movies with your kids (or watch with your parents) but not sure if they are appropriate? Check out the reviews and recommendations on commonsensemedia.org. A friend recommended this website and I have found it to be an invaluable resource for checking out movies I’m not sure about or for even finding movies that I have long forgotten or never heard about.

Peeking into Where Artists Work with Lotta Jansdotter’s New Book, “Open Studios”

May 5, 2011

When Lotta Jansdotter’s new book, Open Studios: Twenty-Four Artists’ Spaces, arrived in my mailbox several weeks ago, I shoved everything aside, grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down to have a look at where others make things. I just wish there was an interactive feature (a really interactive feature) where I could open up drawers, look into cupboards, touch the fabric, hold the finished products, and basically explore every nook and cranny of the studios featured!  I was familiar with some of the artists and designers profiled, like Susan and Katharine Hable of Hable Construction, others like Asuka Karasawa of Ateliers Penelope were new.

If you have a chance to pick up a copy of this wonderful book from your local bookstore or library, make sure you allot enough time – time to read the book and then a couple of hours to go to each artist’s website. Also, some reading advice: don’t skip the introduction because there is a really important sentence in there about what a studio is, and for those of us who work in fairly humble surroundings, it’s important to see this in black and white before you turn the page! That said, however, you won’t be depressed after looking at the studios – some artists work outside their home in generous spaces flooded with natural light, while others work in a small corner in their homes.

When I was finished reading and looking at websites, I was feeling rather inspired, so I did one more thing: I designed my fantasy studio and tacked it up on the wall – the footprint looks a little like my son’s bedroom, the son who will be heading off for college in several years…

Maybe someday my studio will be ready for cameras!