Judy Wood Interview : Page 2 of 2
Interview with Judy Wood
Q: What (if any) impact has your spiritual path had on your creative journey? Do you feel there is a connection between art and the sacred?
A: I have no spiritual path or "sacred" leanings in any definable sense, so this is hard to evaluate. I certainly revere nature and the natural world, and that is where I go to stay in touch with the realities that are important to me. For my work, nature *is* nurture, and the two are totally interdependent.
Q: Have you ever experienced a major creative block? If so, how did you power through it and keep on trucking?
A: When I was a younger artist, I used to worry that I had only a limited amount of "art" in me, and I would run through it eventually and that would be an end of it. Now I realize that we all occasionally hit slow spells, which are as much a part of the process as the active creation phases. I juggle a fair number of media, so if I hit an uninspired phase in one part of my art life, I will switch over to a different set of art materials and projects, and that does as much as anything to freshen my thinking.
Heading out the door with the camera is always an option, and it never fails to provide me with something new to think and get excited about. Another good way for me to get "unstuck" is to use the "down" time to borrow library books on different art media and processes and learn something new. I often read about art techniques and media that I will never actually work with, just for interest and because it all adds to my bank of knowledge of art and how it is created.
Q: You've achieved so much what does the future hold for you, Ms. Wood?
A: I'm not much of a planner so I'm never sure what is in the offing for my art or my life. I tend to follow my nose and see where it leads me. My most recent explorations have taken me in the direction of mixed media works, mostly encaustic based, with collage and photo elements. While I love my digital photo work and the many hours I spend obsessing over images and reworking them in Photoshop, sometimes it's nice to work more directly and hands-on with "real" art materials that have a tactile element and that you work with by physically manipulating.
I hope to do more with my photography and art to support the valuable work of animal rescue. I have made some connections with local rescue groups, and am now a member of HeARTs Speak, an international organization of photographers who are united in their desire to use their photography to promote animal welfare.
Another new direction for my photo images is in the form of greeting cards. I have developed an extensive line of card images with a variety of subject matter that will be available for direct purchase or wholesale.
Q: What's the biggest obstacle you've overcome so far in your career? Tell us how you did it.
A: I've been fortunate overall in that I haven't had any "career-threatening" obstacles that I can recall. Mostly it's just been a matter of putting one foot in front of the other, and carrying on as if everything was going to be all right. I've certainly had moments or periods of discouragement, anxiety, self-doubt, fear of failure, fear of success, but I think these are all standard operating procedure for most of us. Persistence and just keeping on are vital to the process. In the road race of a life in art, I've definitely been the tortoise rather than the hare, but I'm still here working away at what I love. Understanding that most of the roadblocks we encounter aren't unique to us and usually aren't personal does help, as does breaking down big problems into smaller "bites" that can be analyzed and dealt with.
Q: What inspires you makes you itch to paint or snap a photo?
A: I see "photo worthy" images everywhere I go, which is one of the reasons I try to take my camera with me as much as possible. As I have gone farther down the photography path, I find I look at everything in terms of patterns, values, and composition, as well as subject matter. Often my photos are just the start of the process, and are raw material rather than finished products. I do a lot of reworking in Photoshop, creating entirely new art images with bits taken from many different photos. I think of myself as a "walking eye" for my own work, and an "external memory" for my photo clients.
I can find beauty and interest in everything from a crumbling building to a bird in flight. One of my favorite shots of a year ago was taken at a horse show when I was there to photograph clients in the jumper ring. This turned out to be almost impossible due to the appallingly muddy conditions that prevented many of the classes taking place. Working on the theory that when the original plan doesn't work, you work with what you've got, I started a series of "mud shots" and came up with some wonderful tight-crop images of muddy horse feet and legs in the slop. Not what I originally set out to do, but it worked for me.
Q: Any famous last words of encouragement, advice, and inspiration for all those aspiring artists out there?
A: I'm a believer in art as something that is possible for most people if they are willing to work at it. Art techniques are learned, and anyone capable of applying themselves can learn the technical aspects. I do think that "feel" and "eye", what some would refer to as a "gift", are to a certain extent innate, but anyone who works hard at it and has a sincere approach can attain some level of achievement. Even with a propensity/gift for art, it is hard work that takes a lot of determination and application. Today's "quick and easy" attitude sets many people up for failure and frustration when they don't see instant success with their artwork. Anything worth doing is worth taking time over.
An open/inquiring mind and being devoted to the learning process are always assets. I have known "successful" artists who have settled into their niche (aka rut) and who don't want to be bothered with any further options or knowledge. They have developed a formula that works for them, and they don't want to be distracted by having to process more input. Being focused on your own work is necessary, but we need to stay fresh and aware of new ideas and concepts. This isn't to suggest that rushing after the latest fads or trends is desirable either, just that knowledge and awareness of what is going on in the bigger picture is usually a good thing. The whole world of art is out there to be accessed, and with today's technology, it is available to anyone who has the time and desire to access it. Go for it! •
Judy Wood is a Canadian art photographer whose images and writings are shaped by her prairie based lifestyle as an artist, photographer, writer and horse person. More »
© 2011 Molly J. Anderson-Childers. All rights reserved.