March 28, 2020

The Power and Importance of Traditional Strengths in Non-Traditional Times

At the start of the semester in my Cultivating Creativity class, I ask students to note three of their top character strengths from the VIA Institute on Character's listing of strengths.  The idea is to start the semester with confidence in one's abilities.  I invite you identify some of your key strengths.  Click here for the list.  

I kept walking past my camera bag thinking, "I really should take some pictures."  Distracted by the impact of Covid-19 on my life, and learning how to shift my face-to-face courses to online delivery, my camera remained untouched.

This Sketch Became... 
Finally, I grabbed it and started shooting.

X-Ray Vision

It felt so good to take pictures.  This process has been a love of mine for nearly 5 decades.

This Sketch Became... 

Preparing to take a multiple exposure, I take a single frame to test for exposure, like an artist's sketch.

Raw File

The layered images that emerge from my digital camera are flat looking, so I treat the files to pull out vibrancy and details.  In the case below, I reversed the above image to look like it was a color negative.


A mere ten minutes of shooting opened my heart and mind to a present moment of peace.  I printed the images out and put them in my kitchen.  Each time I walk by and see them, I smile.  In the face of current uncertainty, feeling competent and creative helps me feel a sense of needed normality.

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   


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