At the beginning of this year, I set myself the goal of creating one new digital collage per month. Ideally, each image would reflect something about that month- the season/weather, some interesting event. Many of the images have been inspired by the season, but I spent half of June travelling, so that was the inspiration for that month.
July really had me stumped. While I was travelling (in Belgium, France, and the Netherlands), I saw so much amazing art and architecture and I was annoyed by not being in my studio so I could make something. Aside from making a collage out of newspaper scraps in the guest book of one of the apartments we stayed in, I didn’t make anything for two weeks. I expected to return and hit the ground running, overflowing with creative energy. And instead I hit a wall and just had zero motivation.
Is post-travel depression a thing? I love traveling and seeing things, although generally by the end of a trip I’m ready to come home to my familiar surroundings and routines. But then when I get home I’m like “oh. This again.” Traveling is such a heightened experience- seeing and doing new things pretty much every minute of every day, with none of the usual boring things to worry about. Sure, there are the inevitable stresses and annoyances that go along with traveling, but even those eventually just become interesting stories. “Remember the time that guy almost stole our passports out of your backpack in Greece?” “Remember how the path we chose turned out to be a wetland full of mosquitos? But at least we got to see those four baby raccoons.” Not so much with the daily grind.
I’m going to blame part of my malaise on the weather. I know, it’s boring to complain about summer, but I’m just really not cut out for 90+ and soupy humidity. It make me feel lousy physically. I have had more headaches this month than I have had all year. I like doing things outdoors, but not when it’s going to make me feel sick. Yeah, I have airconditioning but somehow I still feel crappy. It was 90+ when we left for vacation, 60-70 during vacation (yes!), and 90+ when we came back. 60-70 is my ideal, so coming back to this boiling soup of a climate just really took it out of me. Thus, I was having a lot of trouble feeling inspired by the month of July for the collage.
I really do think that the best inspirations are random and unexpected. It’s really rare that I can pinpoint exactly what inspired a particular image, but in this case I know exactly what it was. I was listening to the local public radio station and someone said something about the phrase “dog days of summer” and how it derives from the ancient Roman belief that the dog star Sirius contributes extra heat at this time of year. And voila, there was my inspiration for this month’s piece. The star background is an actual photo of Sirius A and B from NASA. (Sirius A is mostly hidden in the image, and Sirius B is the bright spot toward the right). While creating this image I was thinking about a very hot planet, light from a sun baking it. I was also thinking about the New Horizons probe which reached Pluto this month.
Here’s a series of images from the creation process. I think I need to start saving the incomplete files as well as the finished ones, because often these collages go through some stages that have a lot of potential but aren’t quite right for what I want at the time. I’ve saved the two images on the left and might revisit them at some point.