Autumn Equinox Reflections on Seasons & Creativity

After posting my blog on creativity (and struggles with finding or keeping it), I wanted to check in again and continue the theme on this first day of Autumn. (Read the first blog here: "2020 Hindsight")

A huge piece of recovering my creativity in this past year and a half has been to reconnect with the natural world, especially the flow of the seasons.

Photograph from an October 2015 trip to Grand Tetons National Park

In our modern, artificially lit, air-conditioned life I think we tend to lose touch with the natural patterns of the year, of weather, of the sun, and how all of it affects the natural world around us. Modern conveniences are a definite benefit - I’m not throwing out my studio lights or my iPad - but as creative people I wonder if the disconnect from the world around us can also disconnect us from our creativity.

A project I took on this past winter was to make a personalized calendar for myself. I wanted to pay more attention to the year and to reconnect with my source of inspiration, and it was also a natural fit with my gardening.

"Golden Hour" Oil & Metallic Media, 2016

I went through almanacs for my own Southwestern Montana corner of the world, my notes and photos from past years, and thought carefully about the major natural hallmarks of each month and season. Then, I gave personally meaningful names to each of the moons of the year and each of the the traditional quarter and cross-quarter days (the solstices, equinoxes, and the midpoints between them).

That means today for me is Frostharvest, and it’s taking place just a few days after the Full Smoke Moon.

Photograph from an October 2015 trip to Grand Tetons National Park

As a gardener in Montana, I know to expect a tentative first frost at the beginning of September, but by the Fall Equinox the cold nights will usually be settling in. It’s a time to stop covering my summer crops to extend the season, and instead harvest what I can and then let the tender plants finally freeze.

This time of year then symbolizes letting go of summer and preparing mentally and physically for fall.

Creatively, I can rest from the crazy “doing” part of all the events and travel of summer, and start settling in to more indoor time. Usually this time of year inspires more ambitious painting (or other creative) projects, and this is typically when I've painted most of my largest paintings.

Fall is also one of my favorite times to go out and find painting inspiration. The light gets crisp as the sun sinks and the summer smoke fades, the trees turn gold and orange, the deer and elk have full crowns, and all of the birds in the world seem to be passing through Montana on their way south. Everything feels crisp and fresh and clean.

Photograph from an October 2015 trip to Grand Tetons National Park

Depending on where you are in the world and how your seasons turn, you could be in a completely different place creatively. It might even be the spring equinox for you!

But, take a minute to think about where you typically are this time of year - physically, creatively, emotionally. Maybe jot down a couple ideas, do a sketch, take a walk and observe the world, or do whatever you feel creatively led to do! It’s a great time to reset your creative goals and reconnect with yourself as you start a new quarter and a new season.

"Fleeting" Oil Media & Cold Wax, 2019

What rituals and traditions do you most enjoy about the fall? How do you notice your own creativity shifting?

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