12 September 2017

Creative Spaces. When They Meet, It Isn’t Always Pretty

Creative Spaces

Maria and i both live creative lives, mostly in different ways, sometimes in the same way. We work well together, give each other room, respect each other's impulses and boundaries. There are some areas where our creative spaces overlap, and that can sometimes be sparky, like yesterday.

(Warning, there is an occasional attempt at humor in this piece.)

When we first got together, Maria did fiber art and I did photos and words, period. She didn't really love to write on her blog, and she never took many photos and no videos.

I urged  her to get an Iphone 7 plus, the camera was good and the video was easy to shoot and post. Then things changed, the boundaries sometimes got fuzzy, especially out in the pasture in the mornings when we were out  together in the pasture taking our photos and videos for our morning postings on our respective blogs.

Now, Maria takes a ton of photos, and they are good. She is always whipping out her Iphone to take a video and put it up on YouTube or Instagram or Facebook, three places she never ever went when we met or started blogging together. I expected this, even pushed for it. She is a visual artist, and these are visual tools.

Her blog is sensible, thoughtful,  creative. Mine…well, you know. She used to say she wasn't a writer, but look at her now, she can write (almost) anybody under the table any day. And every day.

At the Open Houses, people used to come and see me. Now, they ask me to point them to Maria's studio and the dogs. I am happy for her, of course, but every now and then my teeth gnash a bit for no reason at all, a dental problem, perhaps.

Maria loves to take her pictures and post her videos. This has made me squeamish at times because she can be a touch competitive (not me)  and she is not averse to bumping me out-of-the-way or stepping in front of a camera or Iphone to grab a neat shot. We saw Minnie lounging with a hen and Gus on the back porch the other morning, and before I could open the door, she was out ahead of and clicking away.

When this happens, she laughs as if this were a joke, but she can't fool me.

She denies that she is competitive, but she is half Sicilian, half German and loves a good photo. She is competitive.  Like me, she has come to appreciate the power of images online. And we both to create things. But I am older and slower, she cut right in front of me a few days ago as Gus climbed onto Fate's back while Fate was watching the sheep. She stood right in front of my camera with her wretched Iphone 7 plus.

She hates to lose and rarely does.

It came to a head yesterday,and while I enjoy writing mushy stuff about how much I love Maria, I have to be honest and share her dark side once in a while. We are married, after all.

Yesterday, I spent ten minutes setting up the above photo, both a training and creative mission. I wanted a photo of all three dogs working together to herd the sheep, which is happening more frequently. It is an appealing photo to see little Gus hang in there with the two obsessive border collies, Fate and Red.

It took about a half-dozen tries to get all three sitting where I wanted them and still having sheep in the photo. That is not as easy as it looks.

Red sits back aways, as trained border collies usually do, he controls the sheep with his eyes. Fate loves to be with the sheep and race around them, Gus likes to stand close to the baffled sheep, bark and hold his ground when they try to move. So I had Red go into a lie-down, told Fate and Gus to lie down where they stood, which they both did, and I stood behind the sheep to keep them from moving farther back and so I could also get the right camera angle on the photo.

I combined training with photo taking, Gus now sits down right near the sheep with the border collies, I am eager to see if he grows as a mighty little working dog. Those photos are already an Internet sensation, and I am a big fan of going viral when I can. Gus is very popular on the Internet, he routinely snares 1,000 shares on  Facebook. My own brilliant stand-alone writing draws about 200 on a good day. But who cares right? Not me. I am as pure as the morning snow.

As I looked into the camera viewfinder, I saw Maria come sailing right into the photo with her Iphone up and recording. I am not tiny like Gus, could she possibly not see me standing 30 feet away with a camera pointed at the sheep?

Without hesitating, I yelled "Hey, Get Out of My Picture!" and not too gently. The photographers out there know what it feels like when someone walks right into a photo  you are setting up, no matter how much you love them. I was annoyed, and Maria was annoyed by my annoyance, but not so much that she stopped taking a video of the whole scene, including me yelling, which she promptly put up on her blog before I even got into the house.

We both cracked up as soon as we  realized what had happened – a creative collision by two sometimes intensive and competitive people (not me, of course), and inevitable collision of creative interests in the middle of a sheep pasture. We both made the best of it, I got my photo, she got her video.

I was, of course, blameless, just doing my work. She was being competitive, you know those artists. There is one great thing about the occasional creative competition here: everybody wins.

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