Meet Portland-based Botanical Photographer, Theresa Bear. Bear's work captures the beauty of the bloom and the magic of nature in every image. We chatted with Theresa about how she stays inspired, her creative process and how Sweet Reason helps her focus and create.
How did you get into art and photography?
Photography and art have always been my way to process and understand my experience and the World. When I was five my mom gave me a minnie mouse point and shoot pink camera and I remember never being able to put it down. I always carried my smelly markers and purse full of stickers with me. My mom tells me I’ve always been creating, making, and playing in nature. I have had the privilege to give that part of me permission to claim her space. And started to see quickly not everyone gets that. We all deserve that space.
What does your creative process look like?
I tend to play and create to work out my thoughts and feelings. My process is wild and messy and full of emotion. Sometimes I am collaborating with other folks' visions and getting ideas for creation. But most of the time I am working out my own pain, happiness, and information I am receiving about the World and making art to understand it. The process always feels very somatic. I usually take a week to gather props, outfits, and flowers for an idea. I spend a full day making visions come to reality and give it all the space and time it needs. And take two weeks editing art and figuring out where it wants to live in the World.
Credit: Starflower, Vibrant Valley Farm
Your work is so clearly inspired by nature. Tell us more about that inspiration and what you try to create in every piece of art. What is the relationship between the natural world and the photographs you create?
I am dedicated to bringing the Earth into everything I do, because the Earth is a part of everything I do. It’s a relationship we so deeply love and need and one we rarely honor. But it’s a part of everything we do. She is whispering stories that are older than time in our ears. Giving us metaphors, humor, and advice constantly. She houses our bodies and daily day to day interactions. She is a part of everything we do. It’s funny to me that this is a foreign concept, or one that is rarely honored and acknowledged. I would not be who I am without the Earth. Through my own exploration of play, art, and honoring life... this is what slowly came out of me, a declaration to give voice to each person's magnificence in nature. Flowers are the ultimate magic to me. Who doesn't love flowers? Everyone sees flowers as beautiful, and they are! But the truth is they’re super hero resilient. In a dark place, they start as the smallest seed, grow out of concrete and mud to find light to bloom. And in that bloom they weather some of the harshest storms, and provide pollinators the ability to give us a third of our food. Before they cycle out of their life they produce new life/seeds and then compost into the Earth feeding it’s life back into the soil and darkness that grew it. I want to remind people they're this powerful, magical, and important.
What does CBD + Sweet Reason lend to your practice?
For instance, does it help you focus or create (if applicable)? I use CBD regularly to chill out and have a good night sleep. I have a lot of health issues I deal with and CBD is super helpful in calming me down. Sweet Reason is a delicious treat after a long day when my babe is in bed and I got the music playing<3. I find that I always feel clarity after drinking Sweet Reason or using CBD.
How do you find your wellness, state of mind and/or mental health shapes your work?
Wellness and me are in an ongoing relationship of understanding each other. But my art seems to be where I figure it out. It’s my toolbox of curiosity and exploration. Through each cycle I learn a little bit more how to show up to myself when the bad days hit and when to give myself permission to let go. But my art is always there. If I don’t do art, I find it impossible sometimes to pull myself out. Art is medicine and my safe space.
What's your greatest source of inspiration?
Mama Nature <3
How do you make time for learning new things and growing as a person and artist?
I follow people and leaders who are paving the way to equality and making me a better ally. I read their books, and take their classes. Audio books are the bees knees for me. Being a mother gives me such little time to do things but I am always streaming books when doing easy stuff around the house or in the car. I like to go to a conference once a year to stay in the know and also subscribe to online educational content yearly.
Credit: Starflower, Vibrant Valley Farm
Do you ever find yourself in a creative rut? If so, how do you get out of it?
All the time. It’s a cycle right? It’s always nature, a good friend, and some time with my little one. Usually when I’m in a rut, it means I need to go live life a bit and go on an adventure of some sorts...Even if that adventure is a popsicle to a local farm and a trail head.
How have you been staying productive in these uncertain and scary quarantine times?
When I am productive, I owe it to getting out in nature to clear my mind. Everything starts from nature for me.
How has social media impacted your practice?
I am honestly really bad at social media. But when I am there what I love the most is interacting with people from around the World and seeing the art folks are making. Humans truly are so creative!
What is the role of art in your life?
Art is my medicine. It is a part of the foundation of who I am and how I understand life.
Who is your favorite artist? Or which artist is inspiring you most right now?
Francçoise Weeks, my dear friend and the most creative person I know.
What does unwinding mean to you? How do you unwind?
Going to a spot in nature with my little one to connect and get my nature bath on.
What's your current obsession? Black eyed susan flowers
Favorite quote? "If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair." - Shirley Chisholm
Song on repeat right now? All of Us by Labrinth
Best life hack? Always have fresh flowers in the home.
Person you admire? My mom. She has been through hell and back and is still the kindest person I know.
Mindful tip? Inquire, find the moment before you decide to ask deeper questions
Favorite Sweet Reason flavor? Strawberry & Lavender <3