I'm Stephen Lott and this website is a reflection of my creative life. So I hope this will always be a growing document of my creative process. Although there is a store attached where I may sell prints and occasionally original works of art, this site is primarily for the friends who have expressed an interest in all that I do. I also hope my work may inspire other artists and designers as I have been inspired by many before me.
I've dedicated most of my life to working with and helping children. I am clinical child psychologist and play therapist. I also have been the head of Treehouse Theatre the children's theatre branch of Pensacola Little Theatre since 1999. When I am asked how am I so creative I believe that I never forgot and let go of child like wonder. Children are naturally creative, they color for the sheer joy of seeing color on a page, they play in the mud, and the use their imagination to play dress up and make-believe. I still do all of that I just call it "painting, sculpting, acting and creative writing". I am not saying I am a child or have any desire to be Peter Pan (a tragic character - his secret to not growing up is that he never connects with anyone and never learns.) Child-like is not the same as childish.
What started this whole website was a request to be interviewed for an article about my creative life for our local paper, the Pensacola News Journal. I gave the writer, Mike Suchicki, this web address. The problem was there was no website to go with it. Here is the article that appeared:
Mike Suchcicki, News Journal correspondent 6:02 a.m. CT Feb. 4, 2017
Passion to create drives Pensacola psychologist
A bit of concern darkens Stephen Lott's face when he realizes he's not sure what he'll be doing a couple of years from now.
"That's not normal for me," he says with a slight frown. Then he shrugs. "That means there must be something interesting coming."
Lott, 55, a Pensacola child psychologist specializing in play therapy, is rarely without a creative project, whether a current undertaking or one scheduled several years down the road.
And he's rarely without a canvas, whether literally, figuratively or even personally. Among his artistic endeavors: painter, muralist, sculptor, actor, director, set designer, scenic designer and artist, costume and prop designer, script writer, book illustrator and, coming soon, stand-up comedian. His latest works, soon to be available as prints from www.StephenLottCreative.life, are religious icon paintings on wood.
A longtime fixture on the local community theater scene, Lott has been seen as actor in recent productions of "Once Upon a Mattress," "Treasure Island," "Noises Off" and "A Christmas Story." As director, he's brought to the local stage "Alice in Wonderland," "Alice Through the Looking Glass," "The Wizard of Oz" and the recently acclaimed production of "Shrek the Musical."
He's already deep in preparation — mostly research and design — for his directorial turn on "Mary Poppins," which doesn't bow until the summer of 2018.
"Generally I have four to five projects going at one time, usually anywhere three to five years out, and in most cases I'm layering those creations over one another," Lott says. "I have to create."
Creativity has been an important factor in Lott's life since his childhood in Lakeland as the eldest of three children of parents who were heavily involved with community theater. His father was a professor at Florida Southern College and his mother was a teacher of special education.
"They role-modeled 'get a real job and do this on the side,' so I never had fantasies of going off to Broadway," Lott says.
The theater, he says, was his playground. "They would take me to rehearsals. I got to play backstage and in the prop room and through the trap doors. I would run lines with them." He would force his younger brother and sister to be in plays that he wrote and directed.
Also from an early age he developed a love and an aptitude for art, teaching himself to draw and poring through books about The Louvre and other museums.
"I was always writing plays, acting things out. I did magic shows, did ventriloquism, and I was always drawing, which is why I have no memory of ever being bored as a child. I don't think creative people can be bored. If you are, you're not doing it right."
Creativity always has been important to Lott.
"It's my favorite thing," he says. "When you're taking something that's nothing, a piece of clay and you bring life to it, or that blank piece of white paper and a line appears on it and things come out of it, it's the divine experience of creation that is quite remarkable."
He says he cannot not create.
"That's where my mind goes when it's at rest, when I have free time, it is always seeking the creative place."
For Lott, the passion to create is all about the fascination with what is not there yet.
Take his upcoming production of "Mary Poppins." "I'm at the most fun part of a show right now, that of infinite possibilities, and the things I love are impossible challenges," he says. "For instance, in 'Alice in Wonderland,' how do I make her shrink and grow on stage? In 'Shrek,' how do I create a donkey that looks like a donkey without just being someone in an animal suit? For 'Poppins,' how do I give her a magic suitcase from which she can pull all this amazing stuff, on stage?"
But wait, haven't all those things been done on stage before?
Lott simply shrugs again. "I honestly prefer coming up with my own solutions."
Creativity also is a big part of his professional work as a psychologist.
"I'm a play therapist, and who are the most creative people on the planet but children? They have no problem slipping into different roles, playing dress-up. That's what acting is. They have no problem creating things out of Play-doh or crayons, that's all that drawing and art is. They make up stories and act them out. They do it all naturally and I just try and keep myself in touch with that part. To be able to hold onto eyes of wonder, to be able to use your imagination. I do that every day. I join children where they are. That's the greatest gift I can give them, it's not my clinical wisdom; I share that with the parents. The gift I give the kids is joining them where they are, because very few people ever will."
Lott has a simple tip for the non-creative who wants to be creative.
"Thing that artists seem to be able to do that other people don't is see things," he says. "The non-artist is not really looking at what's in front of them. I've never seen an ugly day. People say, 'Oh, it's ugly out.' No, it's not. Look at the mist, look at the grey, look at the contrast of the dark clouds against the sky. I like looking for the beauty and see beauty in everything, and I look at everything. I guess if you want to be creative, you find the impossible challenges, how would you do that, how would you make that happen? So really look and really think and just don't accept 'because it is,' because there's no creation there."