Tag Archives: fine art photography

What Should I Do With These Sticks?

Sticks are so useful, I never have enough. Sometimes I get frustrated and gather a lot at once. As I cleaned out my overstuffed dog walk bags on my desert retreat, I discovered I did actually have enough. Way more than enough. I needed to let some go. I needed to throw them away.

No! That doesn’t feel good. I will not divest before giving them a chance at the big time. I personally selected those sticks and carried them around for months. They will have their 15 minutes. Here goes.

Check him out. He’s determined!
Can I use this fake fly as an ear?
Yes. Works so well, now he’s demanding a cap.
Next time you are in Target perusing the cookie sheets you’ll think, that would be perfect for sorting my sticks.

Even though this was the first face I made in the desert and the first post I wrote after returning home with my newly cleaned out bags, I am posting him last. He sums up the process nicely. I picked up some sticks, I arranged them into a face, I threw them away.

Seth Godin says: There’s a hackneyed expression, which is what would you do if you knew you could not fail. I find that completely unhelpful because it’s basically a genie question; You want control and you’re never gonna get it. Here’s my question. What would you do if you knew you would fail? What would be worth doing even though it’s not going to work?

I can say I will make faces out of crap on the sidewalk no matter what. I mean, what outcomes are even possible? It’s not an activity with a known outcome. And maybe that’s why I love it. It’s just a fun, joyful thing to do.

The problem, because there is always a problem, is that I collect stuff and then I am saddled with stuff. Then I have to agonize over choices. Keep it or chuck it? Keeping objects is a sign I believe in their potential, or maybe that I believe in my potential, to turn them into something that could make me smile. But is it worth the burden of having all these grubby, difficult to store objects? I really don’t know. Even as I write, all the stuff I let go of in the desert is in a plastic bag under the drawing table in my office. I haven’t thrown it away! Just in case I think of something I might need in there. Have I learned nothing? Or have I learned everything?

I do think I will throw it out, probably once the Christmas decorations rear their multitudinous heads. There won’t be room for everyone. The fact that it’s sorted in a single disposable container means it will be much easier and faster to get rid of then when it was spread over multiple bags and mixed with treasure. Processes are time consuming. If I knew how to make them not that way, I would tell you.

I think going forward I will be more choosey about what I pick up, I will try to make the face right away and when all else fails I will not berate myself for having tangible signs that I was interested in something. Better to be interested than apathetic. So, I will tell myself this: Self! If you have some junk laying around waiting to become a face, don’t get so upset. Something wonderful is sure to happen.


The Seth Godin quote comes from the Time Ferris podcast of October 26th, 2020: Seth Godin on The Game of Life, The Value of Hacks, and Overcoming Anxiety (#476). It is fantastic and I highly recommend it.

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The More You Make, The More You Make. So Make More.

I’ve noticed that if I leave the house without my good camera I probably won’t make any faces. Maybe one will scream at me until I snap a portrait but a reluctant one-off face rarely leads to another. Like a leaky water hose, some creativity dribbles out but it’s not intentional.

If I do take my camera then almost for sure I will make a face. I’ve intentionally turned the hose on so of course I am going to water a plant. And if I’ve made one face, I am very likely going to make another. And if I make two I will probably make four and the fourth one will really jazz up my day. At that point I am loose and playful. I am on the hunt, I am hooked up to a sprinkler dousing the whole yard in creativity.

Were you by chance looking for someone like me?

At the beginning of the pandemic, touching anything felt dangerous so sidewalk face making slowed down dramatically. At that point I was washing plastic wrapped bags of bread in the sink like dirty dishes to disinfect them from the amazon delivery. Boy was that tedious! With the feeling of an invisible threat everywhere all the time, it felt wrong to make faces so I did some with my feet, I only used plants and I went back to the archives.

Now I feel okay touching things again. I’m always wearing a mask. I have hand sanitizer and everything has been baking in the sun for hours. But all those months of reticence meant I wasn’t bothering to lug my camera around and hunt, hunt, hunt. So yeah, one would pop up here and there but was I making an effort? No. Did I feel enthusiasm? No. Was my practice thriving? No. It felt kind of far away and faded. It felt dry and dehyrated.

Recently I’ve brought my camera along and you know what, I’ve been regularly making four faces on every dog walk. The first is sort of should I or shouldn’t I? What the heck. Let’s do it. Then maybe the camera stays out, around my neck. The 2nd one is just happening. No need to question if it’s a good idea. The third is like oh hell yes. And the fourth is me wondering if I could arrange to do this all day.

As a matter of fact I was.

I can’t color correct them as fast as I make them. The last one I made is a new all time favorite. Creativity is a conduit, a pipe, a portal, a channel. You have to do things to keep the channel clear and open. Just like exercise keeps the cardiovascular system healthy, making more leads to making more. So if you want more, make something and make it soon.

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