March 3, 2017

The Joy of Carving Out Creative Time for Myself

How do they do it?

Older Couple
How do teaching artists find time to regularly create their own art?  I finally had a day off.  In between watching La La Land (gorgeous light) and Hidden Figures (resilience), I had a 15 minute creative photographic spasm. The results here.

Likely due to the wondrous creative output of my visual and digital arts students, I found myself inspired as I worked with Lightroom, Photoshop and Topaz Adjust on these in-camera multiple exposures.

Father and Son
Up until now, I have been fairly tame as far as pushing my images to the edge with filters and extreme settings.

Sketch - Calm Before the Storm
 Above: A slice of the world before I used 3 exposures to create a fuller version of reality:


I began laughing at my self-imposed aesthetic rules.   I must always maintain my reserve.  Colors should not be too bright or garish.  How tacky!  Adjustment sliders should not be pushed to the extreme.

After Charles Sheeler (Hadley, MA Cinemark)

But today, listening to Sade, and working on these files, I broke through self-posed boundaries. Convert to a negative film look?  Add a fake filed out enlarger negative carrier frame?  Why not?  So what if I draw attention to the technique?

Sketch - Raw Material

Above:  Before.  Below: Four exposures later.

Open Air

Speaking of aesthetic rules, on Instagram (@professornordell), I never use filters.  Probably has to do with my photojournalistic roots.

Would love to hear from any teaching artists out there how they fit in their creative work with the demands of teaching.

Professor John Nordell teaches courses in the Visual and Digital Arts Program at American International College in Springfield, Mass. He blogs about the creative process at