Contentment and creativity

It is a pleasure to welcome my insightful, smart, and talented husband back to the blog as a guest contributor today. Please make him feel welcome and enjoy his thoughts on creativity and being ok with just doing things for yourself but also being willing to share it with the world as well.

Hi, recently my amazing wife Sheila celebrated her first anniversary of sharing with you this blog, ‘The Road to Waterside’.  It is her musings, interests, and her creativity inspired by the region we live in with a focus on the areas surrounding Waterside, New Brunswick.  Hopefully, you all have a ‘Road to Waterside’. That place where your heart both beats faster and rests more easily. A place where you gravitate to, at least in your mind.  Both Sheila and I draw inspiration from our such place, and I expect you do too when you visit yours. Sheila has shared many projects resulting from her inspiration this week I am sharing some thoughts on creativity and inspiration. This is certainly a different kind of post.  But I hope you can draw some things from it that will help you with your creativeness.

Day at the beach

I like the feelings and childhood memories it evokes of visits to the Fundy shore.  I like how the car looks old and how the image is de-saturated. But I’ve never shared this image because it seemed too busy.  It is not singular enough to be as strong as it could have been.

Do you find your creativity waxes and wanes, in and out like the tides of the Bay of Fundy?  Does your creativity take a hit during the darker winter months? Or do you explode with creativity in winter and then find it subsides during summer when other things creep in?  Whatever your pattern I just want to encourage you in your creative adventures. As a photo enthusiast sometimes I get inspired when I see all of the great photography out there. But sometimes I get discouraged too when I start to compare my images with those of others.

I must admit I have not read many books about creativity or inspiration.  But one photography course I took recommended a book written by David Bayles and Ted Orland called ‘Art and Fear’.  I enjoyed the short book and recommend it. I put it down after reading it and felt better equipped mentally to deal with creative discouragement. Of course, I don’t expect you all to search it out ( though it is available in our local library ).  BUT I want to encourage you to get out and do your thing! The book reminded me that to BE a photographer I need to take photographs. That’s it. Obviously to be a ‘good’ photographer requires more! But you can’t be a good photographer without first taking photographs!  So get out there, start that project. Pick up that pen (or keyboard), grab that paint brush, get into that workshop, fire up that kiln. We don’t need to make the ‘best’, we just need to put ourselves into something and enjoy and appreciate what we have done.

Have you ever completed a project and made something that you like, but others don’t?  Or at least feel that others won’t like? Sometimes I take photographs that I believe have popular appeal, photographs that tick a lot of boxes. But sometimes I take a photograph that I like but know it is not something I will likely share.  But I take it anyway. Maybe it is a bit like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. This post contains photographs I didn’t expect to share. With the reasons why.

Typical Bay of Fundy Colours

How dull is this! There’s nothing in the picture.  Who else would like this photograph of nothing? But I like this a lot. I like the gradients and the purely ‘Bay of Fundy’ colour pallet.  This is so typically Fundy coast on an overcast day


Hanging On

This is a lonely image, I like the black and white tones. I see an example of life striving, though defeat seems inevitable.  But I didn’t see it as something I wanted to share. I don’t see a ‘wow’ factor. The composition is not strong, the horizon is a distraction, etc  But I like it.

The foggy Fundy coast

A crow, how unique?  I think not. What I like is that it is typical of where I am.  The fog, the spruce trees, a crow. I like the layers in the image and the familiarity.


Grass, why I’ve never shared this image is simply that I’ve never felt it was a strong composition.  The eye doesn’t settle, and the subject is not clear. Why I keep it and enjoy it is the tone, and I like the sweeping circular motion of the grasses and of course the memory of being at Waterside with my family that evening walking along the beach.

In the crevasses at Dickson Falls

This image I wouldn’t have shared because there is not restful place for the eye.  There was a better way to compose the image, I just couldn’t find it.  But I keep it , and I like it because of the vibrant greens, the deep contrast and pocket of ferns. 

Martin Head in the distance

In ‘post-processing’ this image I made it very grainy and desaturated it and I knew I wouldn’t be putting it on Instagram.  But I made it this way. I like how it makes me feel. I feel the image invokes how the scene may have looked ages ago. I like it because often when I’m on the Fundy coast, I imagine how the coast may have looked the same years ago.

So why am I sharing images I took but never expected to share?  I want to try and encourage us to create for ourselves and not just for others.  We can create for ourselves, simply because we like something, or because we want to try something.  I want to encourage you in this,Facebook, Instagram, social media world, to create as personal expressions and not to just focus on that next post.  I see the irony in writing a blog post about creating just for yourself and then sharing it. But I want to encourage you to create something for you and then try sharing it.  Because then it may free you to say ‘ This is something I did that I like’ and maybe the number of ‘likes’ or lack thereof won’t seem to matter so much.

Am I the only one that sometimes gets caught up in how ‘shareable’ that next project will be?  Does that mindset inspire you, or seem to drag you down, maybe either depending on the day? I would love to hear what keeps you from creating and what encourages you to create!  What have you observed about your ebb and flow of your creativity?

Thank you so much Mark. I love seeing this side of you! 🙂

4 thoughts on “Contentment and creativity

  1. My sister creates (or should I say re-creates) beautiful cards! Sometimes she is especially happy with one and then she says “I bonded with this one”. Looks like you have made some great “bonds” too Mark. Thanks for sharing Mark.

    • I love that she says ” I bonded with this one”. I have a painting my grandfather did after a stroke and I remember how he struggled and was utterly disappointed with the result. I was the child sitting at his elbow for hours during the struggle. I bonded with that painting. It doesn’t spark joy but I will keep it for now as a reminder of a special time.

  2. Good job ,Mark , thanks for sharing your thoughts on creativity . ,it was encouraging and we .felt the warmth of your kind heart . You sure are talented and so happy we get to enjoy it .Blessings to you and Sheila .

  3. Mark thanks for sharing the pictures. I will add Art and Fear to my “want to read” I am not much of an artist but I have a daughter who is so am always looking for insight into the Artist life. My favorite photo is the the one with the pocket of ferns. Tenacious. Many of the photos evoke a mood and I appreciate that. The photo with the gradients of colour is very trendy actually and many “pinteresters” are painting along those lines. It is really intriguing in a photo.

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