Navigating Through: Episode 4 

Getting Creative

We love finding inspiration in the outdoors. Nothing gets us out of a creative rut like a change of scenery: it helps provide a new perspective, a fresh way of looking at the world. Amidst the stress of the pandemic, it’s been more challenging to carve out the headspace that gives flight to those seemingly easy ideas. So for the last episode of Navigating Through, we wanted to talk with three women about how this last year has helped and hindered their creative practices—as well as the ways in which exploring locally can shine new light on the familiar. Hear from photographers and artists Eunice Beck, Anna Brones, and Gritchelle Fallesgon.

About the series: 

This special She Explores miniseries is made in collaboration with Subaru.

The last year has been marked by loss and longing, but it hasn’t dampened our sense of adventure or our tendency to dream: of far off places, of time in movement with loved ones. And throughout, there’s been comfort in knowing a place we feel most like ourselves: behind the wheel, on the way to our favorite local trailheads, swim spots, and mountainsides.

With our eyes in the rear view as much as they are looking at the road ahead, through this four part series we’ll tell stories about finding adventure locally, reconnecting with those close to us, and taking the side roads that bring us back to what drives us: connection, purpose, and creativity.

Banner image of Eunice Beck

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Find the episode below, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you stream podcasts.

Featured in this episode:  Eunice Beck, Anna Brones, & Gritchelle Fallesgon.

Hosted by Gale Straub

A production of Ravel Media

Resources

All Four Episodes of Navigating Through Are Available Now Wherever You Listen to She Explores

Music by Josh Woodward

Podcast Art by Hailey Hirst


Featured in this episode:

Eunice Beck 

Anna Brones

Gritchelle Fallesgon 

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TRANSCRIPT

Note: This transcript was lightly edited and created using a transcription service. As such it may contain spelling errors.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Navigating Through is a special four-part She Explores mini-series made in partnership with Subaru.

Anna Brones:

Taking time for small creative acts–the micro adventures of creativity– is a good way to find your creative self again, particularly if you feel like that creative self has gotten a little lost in the past year. And so if you kind of need the map for finding your way back to it, I think it’s starting small and working your way up.

Gale Straub – Narration:

With our eyes in the rear view as much as they are looking at the road ahead, through this four part series we’ll tell stories about finding adventure locally, reconnecting with those close to us, and taking the side roads that bring us back to what drives us: connection, purpose, and creativity. I’m Gale Straub, your guide for Navigating Through. This is the last installment in our series, episode 4: Getting Creative. You might not identify as a creative or call yourself an artist, but I have a sneaking suspicion that you’re creative. Maybe you’re a brainstormer or a problem solver, an accidental poet or the most enthusiastic baker on your block. And odds are good that new ideas pop up for you when you’re on the trail or another inbetween space – driving to the post office, turning the hot water up on the shower, sitting in a tent on a zero day of a backpacking trip.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Amidst the stress of the pandemic it’s been more challenging to carve out the head space that gives flight to those seemingly easy ideas. So for the last episode of navigating through, we wanted to talk with three women about how this last year has helped and hindered their creative practices, as well as the ways in which exploring locally can shine the light on the familiar. First we’ll hear from Grichelle Fallesgon, a photographer in Portland, OR:

Gritchelle Fallesgon:

I love to photograph people getting rad. And when I say people, I mean like all people for me, I love making adventuring look fun, accessible, and you know, I want people, especially people of color, folks of all sizes, people of all genders or non genders to like, feel like they see themselves playing in the outdoors.

Gale Straub:

You said initially people being rad, like people being themselves essentially. And that really does show up in your work. Even just looking on, on your social media.

Gritchelle Fallesgon:

Yeah. Thank you. Yeah. I was like having this conversation with a friend about what it means to get ride, because I think like, traditionally it’s like, Oh, you gotta be like the toughest or the shreddiest or whatever is really, I think when you’re someone who’s never seen yourself outside before, or like you have felt excluded, I feel like the act of just putting yourself out there and doing the thing you want to do is a radical act in itself.

Gale Straub:

I feel like it’s like radical and is additive, you know, like it’s like this cumulative effect of like, you put yourself out there, do the thing that you love and you just, you try it and you maybe not the best, but you just keep on doing that one. You continue to grow your own love for it. And then two, you continue to grow like a community around you and, and show that it’s possible for more people to, to also show up as themselves outside.

Gritchelle Fallesgon:

Yeah, exactly. You’re just like, whatever. I don’t care what people have to say about me or maybe you do care, but you’re still just going to put yourself out there.

Gale Straub:

Hm. And I also noticed that cycling and bicycles show up a lot in your work.

Gritchelle Fallesgon:

Yeah. I don’t know. That’s wild. Um, so I didn’t like grow up athletic or playing sports or anything like that. And so when I discovered cycling, like in my mid twenties, it was seriously life-changing I just like really fell in love with the sport. And so, yeah, it’s what I know, I guess, because I ride bikes, I know how to photograph people, riding bikes and for so long, like I only saw again, going back to like what it means to be rad. Like, you know, you’d always just see like images of mostly like white dudes just being super tough or fast or gritty. Like it was always about suffering and suffering is very much part of cycling, but so is having fun. That’s the reason why I love, I love riding bikes because it’s just fun. And so when I started doing cycling photography, like I, it was really important for me to show that like, it’s still fun. It doesn’t have to be a suffer Fest

Gale Straub – Narration:

Working through the highs and lows of creativity doesn’t have to be a sufferfest either, it can be riding down a hill on a bike at full speed like a kid, shouting ‘no hands’! But we’ll get to that later. Eunice Beck is a photographer too:

Eunice Beck:

I describe myself as a people photographer and I don’t really like to confine myself to one genre. I like to think that my style is a little mixed between documentary and editorial, depending on what I’m shooting. But yeah, like I said, I like to shoot a little bit of everything and don’t feel like anyone should ever feel confined to one genre.

Gale Straub:

Hmm. How do you incorporate nature into your work?

Eunice Beck:

The way that I incorporate nature is just putting people in it. I think that being in nature, it brings out a different side to people. And so I just like putting people in outdoor settings, um, cause it just brings out a different type of emotion.

Gale Straub:

Hmm. Do you find that people are, I guess it really depends. I mean, there’s some, I think when you ask that it’s like, there’s so many different places that one can go in different ways to kind of be in nature. But for me, at least I feel like there’s like a certain comfort that I find there and that can come through for me if I’m being photographed in the outdoors.

Eunice Beck:

Yes. That’s a huge part of it too. I love photographing people outdoors because I think just being in an open space makes people feel more comfortable and being a people, photographer, being a storyteller. I think that level of comfortableness is so important and especially like, I can definitely tell a difference when I’m taking pictures of people in nature versus like in a city where there’s people walking around all over the place. I just think that there’s an extra level of intimacy that comes out in photos when you’re able to be all alone. So I think that’s a really cool aspect is taking pictures outside too

Gale Straub – Narration:

Anna Brones has a whole bunch of creative practices – both for her work and her play:

Anna Brones:

I gravitate towards a lot of the mediums creatively, I think in terms of art making, I do a lot of PaperCut illustration. So I cut pieces of paper with a, a knife blade. I also do a fair amount of a drawing and watercolor. Those are probably my main sort of creative outlets, but I would also say that there’s a lot of activities that are creative, that aren’t necessarily art making too. Right? So there’s things that kind of like encourage creativity or build creativity that aren’t necessarily the act of creating something. I have been doing a daily swim since the 1st of December. I would say that currently feels very linked to my creative practice. I also try to go on pretty regular walks being outside is definitely, I think a part of my creativity just in terms of it informing and inspiring my creative practice,

Gale Straub – Narration:

The three women featured on this episode have a lot in common. If they were three circles on a venn diagram, some of the overlaps would include photography, joy in movement, the fact that they all own Subarus. Also, the last year hasn’t been easy. Here’s Anna:

Anna Brones:

We lost some very good friends in may that just kinda rocked my whole world in a big way. And I remember I did some grief counseling after that. And I remember talking to that grief counselor about how I sort of I’m the first one to tell people that creative acts, whether that’s drawing or writing or painting any kind of creativity can be a really great tool for kind of healing or working through something. And I remember telling her like, look, I teach about this stuff and I do this stuff and I’d be the first person to say this. And I know what the like tool kit is. And I just have zero desire to like put that into action that like lack of desire to do that just felt like a really big rock and obstacle and insurmountable thing. And I remember her telling me, we talked a lot about that kind of the cyclical nature of things, but she did say to me, you know, like a lot of people who go through grief often they come out of it on the other side with something, whatever that something is, right.

Anna Brones:

Maybe that’s an awareness of something or it’s like an appreciation that has changed or the whole variety of things that you can come out of grief with. But that as a creative person or as an artist, she said, maybe you come out of it and just have something different that then you’re able to do. And I think that I have felt that way a lot. And I’ve tried to be mindful of that, especially this winter as I was just really struggling and just feeling very low. I just read a book that I’ve recommended to basically every single person that I know, uh, called wintering. I Catherine May. And it’s a book about the seasonality of emotions and wintering. I mean, the book is themed around the actual season of winter, but it’s also about the emotional season of winter. And I really have been thinking a lot about that in context of this past winter, but also just this past year that we’ve all kind of gone through this moment of winter. And what do we take with us as we lean in towards spring and summer? And what are the kinds of like lessons of dormancy and hibernation and sadness and grief and darkness, and how do we kind of identify those things that we do want to take with us moving forward.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Eunice experienced some big changes in 2020 as well, moving from Los Angeles back to her hometown of Phoenix because wedding photography makes up about 50% of her work. She found herself with a whole lot of time.

Eunice Beck:

Having my entire wedding season just completely end in a matter of weeks was pretty devastating. But at the same time, like I just saw that as an opportunity to we’re going more personal projects. And I think that having that time to do more work than I wanted to do will only just make my wedding work better going forward.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Eunice has been drawing motivation, close to home and on short road trips.

Eunice Beck:

Not something I really meant to learn. Being stuck at home too, is just finding things to find things that I felt inside me that were just kind of a part of my everyday life.

Gale Straub – Narration:

She’s used that time to photograph her plant collection, head out to local parks for editorial inspired shoots, just for fun and digging through vintage photos of her mom. She’s also found a renewed appreciation for friends who share a creative spark like photographer, Natalie Allen.

Eunice Beck:

We are so much similar in that. We’re both in so many different genres cause she does winning landscape editorial, all that stuff as well. But people always make fun of us too, because we basically have the exact same car. We both have little Subaru Outbacks with the roof tents on top. And so any place that we go together, whether it just be dinner hikes, wherever we can park next to each other, we always do. And people always joke that our cars are twins, but in terms of just how they inspire each other, I think that she is my one and only friend that I can always count on to be up for whatever adventure that I plan, whether it be a small road trip that only lasts two hours or a two week long trip overseas, she’s always the one that says yes and is willing to not only take pictures with me, but also be in front of my camera as well. And so, yeah, she just inspires me in so many ways.

Gale Straub:

Hmm. That’s rare for a photographer to be willing to be in front of the camera too. So

Eunice Beck:

Yeah, so I’m very thankful for her in that aspect. She’s always willing to let me take photos of her

Gale Straub – Narration:

Before our conversation I dug into Eunice’s work and a set of photos from a couples portrait session jumped out at me. It took place outside Los Angeles. The two men looks so comfortable with each other draped on the hood of their car is captioned. It just goes to prove that you don’t need some fancy location in a far off place. It’s really the people that make the photo.

Eunice Beck:

Being a wedding photographer. I’ve seen the industry explode over the last couple of years and with that has come the popularity of these adventurous moments and doing photo shoots and really incredible locations. And with that shift in the industry, I found myself getting lost in trying to find the most Epic locations possible and kind of forgot that the main focus of the photograph should always be the people. And as I like to say, now, one landscape can look the exact same as another landscape, but no connection between two people is ever the same. And that’s where the focus of my work has been ever since. And I think that that could really be a lesson that I take through to my outdoor and lifestyle photography as well. I know it’s super cheesy to say, it’s not where you’re going, but who you were going with. But you know, doing all these micro trips, I really have learned it really is who you’re going with. And it doesn’t really matter where you’re going.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Gritchelle has also experienced ups and downs this past year between loss of work and the BLM uprisings last summer, she questioned her purpose.

Gritchelle Fallesgon:

It was just challenging and yeah, at times very confusing. And so I think to help get back to being creative, I would just go out and shoot for fun. Right. Just like not think about shooting for work. Cause those lines say that they blur a lot, like what I do. And so for me, I just like would just try to like just photographs. Yeah. Maybe take my camera on a walk with my dog and just like photograph my dog, you know, by a really pretty tree or, you know, just somebody do something really basic and just try to like rediscover what’s motivating me

Gale Straub – Narration:

Searching for light and color around her neighborhood helped Gritchelle tap back into her sense of self as a photographer, whether seeking out flowers in bloom or the little quirks that make her hometown unique

Gritchelle Fallesgon:

Being in nature or being on the road. Like I think being away from the devices, the phone, the laptop is really helpful. The constant notifications, right? Like just for one thing, stepping away from that and being outside and like just soaking in the sights, the sun, the sounds, the smells, it’s like a reset for my brain, right? Like, cause then I’m being physical and not so digital, every time I go someplace new, you know, whether like it’s local, like within like an hour from Portland or whatever, like I always learn something new about the places that I’m going to. Right. So it’s just a really great way to expand my horizons and just think about things differently, you know, and not just like get stuck in the same mode.

Gale Straub:

Yeah. There’s a big difference between being in a groove and being in a rut, you know? Yeah,

Gritchelle Fallesgon:

Yeah. Even though I love being home, I don’t like being feeling stuck. So that’s why traveling is really important to me because I just don’t want to want to feel stuck. I just want to experience new things

Gale Straub – Narration:

Anna’s been out for micro adventures with her Subaru to help change up her routine – she shared a special spot from her home state of Washington:

Anna Brones:

When am I kind of favorite places in Washington? Is this place it’s on Camino Island, they’re called the Cama beach cabins. And then these old cabins used to be, it was like a logging kind of camp earlier in the 19 hundreds and then got turned into kind of a beach resort and like the, as much as you can have a beach resort in the Pacific Northwest, but it was kind of like a summer holiday place in like the forties and fifties. And then eventually the property got bought by the state park system. And so they have these cabins that are still the same footprint that they used to be. So they’re very small and they have electricity. Um, but you can’t drive. There’s no parking next to the cabins. So you park like further up on the Hill and then you sort of are just in these cabins that are right on the water and there’s no cars around and it’s just kind of a really magical, special place.

Gale Straub – Narration:

And while changing up her routine is important. So it’s finding new ones to ground her

Anna Brones:

In October, a Swedish illustrator that I follow had done a list of fun drawing prompts. And I had done them with my mom and our good friend Sally. And we would do the drawing that day and text them all to each other. And it was just this really nice way of doing a daily creative act, but then also sharing it, even when we couldn’t be together, we just had such a good time. So then we thought, well, we want to keep doing it. So then we came up with kind of a collaborative list for November and then I made another list in December and I just kinda kept going with it. And so I think that kind of daily drawing practice and just having prompts of there live all over the place, you know, some of them are just kind of random and some are kind of like nature inspired or, but just having that list and then just like going to the sketchbook and doing that I think was really helpful.

Anna Brones:

Um, and it’s actually kind of interesting because I just did a new list for March and I actually, I’m still behind on my February prompts and I was talking to another artist friend the other day about how that ritual and routine is almost, it’s almost easier to sort of commit to when you’re in like a dark moment, because it becomes the thing that you can hold onto. But it, it kind of goes away pretty quickly when you’re in a lighter moment, because then you have, you start to have the capacity for other things. So it’s like right now, I currently feel a little bit more energized and inspired for variety of projects. And then that gets pushed to the side. But I actually think that, and I keep telling myself this, which is why I need to get caught up is that that’s why the routine and ritual is even more important to commit to when we’re in a good place, because if we do, then it means that we’re so used to it, that we will continue with it no matter what, when we hit that block period,

Gale Straub – Narration:

A creative practice can be something that pulls us through tough times, so long as we dont put too much pressure on ourselves. I asked Eunice, Anna, and Gritchelle what advice they would have for anyone out there listening who is struggling with motivation after a disheartening year. Anna reminded me that advice can come with a caveat:

Anna Brones:

Advice is great. Let’s all just remember that it’s, uh, easy to give advice and harder to put it into practice, right?

Gale Straub – Narration:

And you know what? I like that it feels more realistic, but just like the scenery passing by on a drive, the more you try to path, the more it becomes a part of you advice can start in your periphery before you put it into practice. Here’s Eunice.

Eunice Beck:

When I feel like I’m getting stuck, I think getting outside is always a big way for me to beat that creative rut. I just think that sometimes getting fresh air or even getting to the end of a difficult hype is enough for me to feel energized again. But otherwise just finding inspiration in literally anything, whether it be music, videos, or movies or books that you read, or even more recently, I just watched a TikTok. Um, a girl who posted all the things that she loved about her boyfriend. And I saw inspired by that. You can find inspiration in literally anything. So you just have to look.

Anna Brones:

When I got asked about creative blocks before. I mean, I think I would often respond with like, just keep going, continue to show up and do the work because something will come out of it. But I think that the last year has really told me that you have to pay attention to your mind and body and emotional state, because sometimes you need to let go and stop and take a break and rest. And sometimes you need to push through and keep doing stuff. But I think that an ability to be gentle with ourselves is very important in those moments. And then I think the other thing is to find something that is like a very low bar or something that doesn’t require a lot of energy. So like a good example is doing timed drawings and by time drawings, I mean like something super short.

Anna Brones:

So give yourself three minutes or five minutes. You can do that with writing as well. I mean, it’s like just give yourself these super small doses that, you know, that you’re, it’s like the micro adventure of creativity, give yourself a small amount of time and do a thing. And if you can, if you want to keep doing it after that. Great. And if you don’t great.

Gale Straub – Narration:

And finally, a few words from Gritchelle.

Gritchelle Fallesgon:

just to not give up and just believe in yourself and just keep on creating and experimenting and keep sharing your work. That to me, that’s what I do. You know, sometimes I feel discouraged, but like, I just have to keep trying, you can’t give up because if you give up, then you’re not going to get what you want. Right. Recognize that, you know, sometimes you’re just going to fail. It’s like riding a bike. You just have to keep on peddling to get to the top of the hill.

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