San Antonio Express-News (Texas) | January 9, 2005, Sunday, METRO
SECTION: CULTURAS; Pg. 1J | LENGTH: 2048 words | LOAD-DATE: January 11, 2005 LANGUAGE: ENGLISH | TYPE: FEATURE
GRAPHIC: PHOTOS: NICOLE FRUGE/STAFF ; PHOTOS: KEVIN GEIL/STAFF : San Antonio photographer Michael Mehl, shown in his garden at his Monte Vista home, thrives in an immaculate work environment.
Courting The Muse : Artists Share Rituals For Inspiration
BYLINE: Emily Spicer : firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2005 San Antonio Express-News
Michael Mehl : Digital artist in photography, music and graphic design, curator of the art spaces at the San Antonio International Airport.
Mehl’s muse only visits when his workspace is immaculate. Where many artists thrive in studio conditions that seem cluttered and chaotic, Mehl cannot work until he has cleared away all clutter and organized his space.
“When you work with digital media, if you’re not organized, you just get lost with all the possibilities,” Mehl says. “It’s not that I want to be in control. It’s that I want a series of events. I’m controlling a certain background so that when the serendipitous magical moment or spark happens, it can really stand out and the full impact can be absorbed. I’m ready to use it. I don’t miss it and I don’t have to set it aside.”
Because Mehl, who is also the organizer of Fotoseptiembre, at any given time is juggling both commercial and personal art projects, getting lost would be easy.
Mehl’s studio is a room at the back of his house, shared with partner and wife Ann Kinser. He says what’s helped him remain productive throughout the years is identifying his own natural rhythms and honoring them.
In the morning, he’s up and ready to go, tending to the business part of his art, making phone calls, scheduling meetings. In the afternoon his pace slows and he becomes more contemplative, better able to sit at the computer and work on his designs and photographs. After about 7 p.m., he gets another burst of creative energy and spends much of the nighttime hours composing.
“Just pay attention to your rhythms and your rhythms will tell you what to need to do,” he says. Of course, there are days when the creativity gets blocked despite all the order in his office. On those days, he gazes out his studio window to his carefully tended back yard, or actually goes outside to sit for spell.
The yard is made up of neat rows of potted plants and sections of gravel. The overall look is neat and disciplined, with the feel of a Japanese Zen garden.
“The garden is my energizer,” he says.
His two-fold advice to people struggling to create an artistic environment is pay attention to personal rhythms and designate space for artistic pursuit. Even if it’s the porch swing where you whittle wood. That’s an official art space “because that’s where you go to do it,” he says.