Restless Spontaneity

Some of us are wired differently from the rest.  Creative people are sometimes made to feel “off center” or a little bit warped.  We have a need to create. It is not voluntary.  And when we meet other creative souls, we forge deep connections because we finally feel understood.

I met Anjanette Pepper Douglas through our children, but immediately sensed an artistic impulse within her.  She didn’t have to tell me she was a photographer and artist.  We shared a lot of the same misgivings about pursuing our respective crafts while parenting, and now, as a result of finding the right balance, her work is being featured in an art gallery and mine is soon to be published.  Anjanette’s is opening this weekend:

“Simplicity” in the Lucy Owens Gallery
Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts
Palmer Lake, CO
Through August 25th

I thought you would enjoy learning what helped Anjanette find a balance that allows her to create while still being a supportive, attentive parent.  Here’s my first blog interview that will begin a series called.”Art in Progress.”

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Anje, when you take a photo, are you thinking about angles, lighting and focus–or does that just sort of happen by instinct? 
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I am very spontaneous about all of my photos. I feel I want to be instinctive and reflex about recording a moment in time. Many of my pictures are from driving down the road (of course the speed limit!) and taking on the fly.  I never try to analyze the process, I just take a photo of what appeals to me.  I love shadow and light reflections, and I try to never use flash. I like the natural and everyday, and look for the unexpected in that.  I was an art major early in college and had design and composition but that would be the extent of my education into the Arts, and I know I tend to avoid even learning more sometimes about the technicalities of the camera, because I want it to be a creation of art, and not a manipulation of technology.
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You have been a full-time mom and nurse for a while now. Like many of us, you gave up your personal hobbies for some years–or at least didn’t focus on them. What was it that inspired you to focus on your art/photography? 
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I once was very interested in sculpture, mixed media, found art, painting,and poetry.  I always knew I was meant to be an artist!! I know once I married and had my first baby that my artistic dream would be put on hold, indefinitely.  I instead focused on achieving my BSN, getting my RN, and then taking care of the family.  I was once a Director of Hospice and had on of those “aha” moments and quit my job, sold our house, and simplified our lives to focus on the important things- each other. We started homeshooling.
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I then was a 24/7 parent educator and my husband and children were my total priority.  Also, living in my home-state of Oklahoma, it is very difficult to pursue the dream of becoming an artist in such a work-a-day world, [my art] was shelved in the back of my soul.

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Somewhere in here, my awesome and best supporter- my husband Clint gave me a Nikon D40 as a surprise gift.  Never in a million years would I have bought it for myself. We had so many other needs and obligations I felt it was a reckless expense.  The year he bought it I entered a competition in Woodward and won three awards.  I see photography as my artistic hobby, also I think because it is a digital world I have not restricted myself due to expense or lack of resources and therefore have an expansive collection of photography through the years.
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Do you find that having an artistic outlet makes you a better parent or is it too distracting? 
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I think it helps me to have something personal and a creative outlet so I can be who I am in my mind.  I am Mom, Wife, Daughter, Nurse, but in my mind and heart I am a creator of art and I have a drive to express myself in some way.  I still crave more, and  believe I am on the cusp of exploring new artistic ventures. For years, I found satisfaction in creating at home, and in the places in which I could fit it in, but I hope now, it will be able to fully develop in a supportive environment and community with opportunities for artistic expression.
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Lots of photographers out there would like to know how you go about getting featured by a gallery. Can you explain the steps you followed that eventually led to a yes? 
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For me, the gallery showing was a complete accident. It was random and had most to do with social media.  After moving to Colorado in the summer of 2011 I have tried harder to focus on bring my art to the forefront of my life and in January of 2012 started posting my photography to an online site called Fine Art America. I hate to admit but the only reasons I had even started posting there was so I could display my photos through Facebook but not ON Facebook and this was mostly for the benefit of family and friends. I also wanted an online portfolio set up so I could direct people there to see my work. In May, the same week we were set to close on our new house and move I received a phone call from the gallery director wanting to know if I would be interested in having my art displayed in a solo exhibit at his gallery in a nearby CO town. Honestly, I thought he was a scammer and was up to no good!
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In this situation, I actually told him there was really no way I could do it considering I was not organized at all and also because I was packed up and ready to move!  He was persistent and called me back after we had settled and we were able to arrange a better timing for the show. He found me, and honestly that is what I needed- otherwise in my mind, I was probably years away from being in the place to go and seek out a gallery exhibition. It has pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to become more confident. I would say that is probably the thing I have lacked the most in my years of being a photographer. I have felt it was a hobby just for me, and really had to be pushed to think it was worthy of gallery exhibition.
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If a mom or a young person were taking up photography for the first time, what advice would you give them on craft–something that nobody told you, but you find to be so important? 
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Like all creative expression- do what you like. Forget the rules, forget what you ‘think’ someone would buy, capture what you feel.
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Above, Anje’s favorite photo to date. “It was an abnormally large dandelion blossom standing tall in my front yard when we still lived in Enid, OK. I tend to walk around my yard on almost a daily basis looking at everything and this caught met eye. Such a beautiful wispy and light creature, fighting hard in the Oklahoma wind to stay in one piece. I have to say I identified with it.”
All images in this post are copyright Anjanette Pepper Douglas.  All Rights Reserved. 
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3 thoughts on “Restless Spontaneity

  1. I love the connection through creativity in different mediums. I think that when you really look at most people, there’s a creative/artistic aspect to some area of their lives regardless of their job. It’s just that artists are recognized for that and unafraid to admit it. I try to see the artist in everyone – helps to make more connections that way.

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