Wednesday, September 14, 2011

An Interview with a (Reluctant) Fellow Creative Compulsive, Dana

Sardegna by Dana 

Dana, a fellow American living in Northern Italy, is the creator of the fabulous blog, 3 in Giro.  She writes about her adventures in raising a family in Italy, their travels throughout Europe, and all of the gastronomical delights along the way.  Not limiting her talents to witty writing, Dana also captures the surrounding beauty with her photography.  In the following interview Dana shares not only a little bit about her creative process, but has also kindly shared some of her photographs. 

Wine Tasting in Sardegna by Dana
Would you diagnose yourself with Creative compulsive Disorder?

I think I would be diagnosed with Creative Compulsive Disorder by immediate family, though I would deny the diagnosis wholeheartedly.  Although, part D: “At some point during the course of the disorder, the person has recognized that the obsessions or compulsions are excessive or unreasonable, but has no desire to stop,” is something to which I relate quite well, the need to create didn’t enter my life until much later than those with this disorder. I spent a childhood almost entirely outdoors engaged in sport with two baseball teams worth of neighborhood kids or crawfishing with lunch meat as bait in drainage ditches. Art and music were essentially nonexistent in my public elementary school education; in their places were religion and foreign language, Roman Catholicism and French, respectively. Things are different in rural Louisiana. I avoided classes related to art in both high school and college, to include any creative writing courses, even though my major, Secondary English Education, required mostly upper-level English classes. I did study art history for a semester in an auditorium of 250 students; I chose this class to avoid the alternative, music appreciation where rumor had it that I would be forced to listen to classical music. The horror!  I was never known as one of those creative types. Ever. I don’t think people see me that way now, either.  I did marry one, though.
Apricot Blossoms by Dana

Apricot Offering by Dana 
What inspires or feeds your creative compulsions?

Creating is a process that battles the hormones percolating inside of me. It’s calming for my soul. Oddly, I am unable to create anything during my darkest moments, which is a pity considering the relief it provides. I think it’s also fed by this fairly recent realization that, yes, I am creative. I think. My day-to-day experiences in a foreign culture also inspire me.

Cow by Dana
What project or projects are you currently obsessed with?

Herein lies my greatest weakness – too many projects to devote adequate attention to one. Writing and photography are always present but recently, I…am studying video production, dabbling some in needle crafts, dreaming of mastering Photoshop, longing to learn to sew, preserving 40 jars of cherry jam, learning to garden. Did I mention I have plans to make vanilla extract and want to devote time to mastering Italian cuisine, though baking is my one true love? If I had the outdoor space, I would raise chickens. Yes, I would. No, I haven’t a clue how to do that. It would only take a bit of creativity. For me, at least, these all represent the creative side of me.

Cherries by Dana

When you look back across your creative endeavors, what are you most proud of?

I am most satisfied with my confidence in writing, but I am also proud of my progress with photography.  I have discovered my voice, and am able to confidently claim, “I am a writer.”  Ironically, I’ve been a competent and accomplished writer since middle school, when I won my first essay contest with an essay on the theme: “Alternatives to Drugs.” Oh, for the love of the high that comes as a result of getting that ball in that basket! Even Mr. Naismith would have been proud. It crafted the perfect middle school anti-drug sentiment in a well-written five paragraph essay, in sixth grade. Even as early as first grade my letter to Santa was one among a handful chosen from the entire school to be published in the local paper. I aced all writing assignments in high school and college and into grad school, experiences that relied heavy on a linguistic intelligence to excel. I have that. It has worked well for me. Of course, it’s only in hindsight and with the confidence that overcomes one on the cusp of being forty-something that I am able to understand and lay claim to this: I am a writer.

Trumpet Lesson by Dana 
Recently I tried to explain to my 7 year old about "Happy Accidents," where you plan for a project to go one way, it takes a turn, seemingly for the worse, but ends up creating something new and wonderful.

I have many “Happy Accidents” in my life, mostly because I am not an expert of anything but generally am not hindered by that small fact and give compulsions a chance. Jam that doesn’t set makes a great topping for waffles, right? When I first starting becoming serious about photography and understood that it is also a part of my creative self I had many, many, many happy accidents with my resulting images. In 2005 I purchased my first DSLR, and about three years later I began adventures in Photoshop. I have learned the art of photography by taking millions of images and by studying the images of others. My secret? Understanding light. I have learned to notice it in ways I never dreamed possible just several years ago; I can’t take a decent picture without natural lighting. Winters in the Veneto are a rough time for me.

Everything I do is for me.  I doubt that I could ever create on demand. 

War and Peace by Dana 
Many thanks Dana for sharing her insights about her creative process and the beautiful photographs!  To read from Dana  and see more of her photography please visit her at 3 in Giro.

Lumignano Branches by Dana


  1. Great interview and fantastic pictures! Awesome stuff Dana!

  2. All the pictures are great, but the one of the cow in front of the mountains really grabbed my attention. Where is that?

  3. Russell, it looks like Southern Germany, or perhaps Northern Italy.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. It's in the Dolomites, near Falcade.

  6. Dana,

    Your photography is simple and striking and just beautiful.

    I would love to be able to better understand lighting in my own photography the way you do.

    I think coming to terms with our own creativity is difficult, but vital if we're to ever be confident enough to move forward and do better and better work. Thanks for sharing with us how you've done that.

  7. war and peace is my favorite photo! nice interview! since i live north from vicenza (check out my blog), what about a "bloggers" meet-up? :)

  8. Reine, Lovely photos and lovely children! We should do a bloggers meet-up!

  9. Very nice interview. I appreciate both of my creative friends :)

  10. Really like you subject material and the perspective.