I am reliably informed that Inchies—miniature works of art that will fit handily within a one-inch square—are all the rage. There’s even going to be an Inchie Valentinie workshop during the JRAC opening on Sunday. I am always behind the curve of fashion, but in this case I resolved to huff and puff and catch up. I would make a set of Inchies from faces cropped from compelling old photos full of Civil War veterans and other miscreants and fill the back of each one with a tiny story in crabbed writing.
I was going along great guns when I realized it isn’t possible to make a digital Inchie. Pixels are elastic. The size of that photo above will vary with the size of your monitor. Rats. OK, how about if you set your monitor so that the photo is a one-inch square? Oh never mind just use your imagination.
Today’s prompt: Figure out how to shoehorn what you have to say into a one-inch square or its functional equivalent. I suppose you might be having the sort of day when you’ll have to add some filler to make up the whole inch, but it usually works the other way, doesn’t it. Depending on your medium, you may have to define “inch.” Then you have to figure out how to make it stay. Sounds like spaniel management. I digress.
This is all a lot of effort for an intentionally small result, but problem solving is good exercise for the imagination. Lessee, 1 inch = 2.54 cm . . .
Write, paint, construct, compose, weave, photograph . . . Create.
As a sculptor, I’m a pretty fair wordsmith—but it’s fun, and it will all melt away soon anyway.
Today’s prompt: Experiment by stepping outside your usual ways of interpreting the world. You can do this secretly if you like. Put graffiti on the inside of your kitchen cabinet doors. Sew a poem into your pocket. Draw a wordshape in ice cream. Giggling during this experiment is not only allowed but encouraged.
Write, paint, photograph, quilt, sculpt, compose . . . Create.
Last night I went to an informal concert by Jo Williamson, currently in residence at ISLAND Hill House, a creative retreat. The audience was full of artists of all kinds, and there was a lot of conversation during the afterglow about how lovely it would be to spend some time Away From It All, just working in peace. Then I came home and read Jim Harrison’s novella/memoir Tracking, where he makes a case for getting out and about in the world so you have something to write about besides what’s in your own head. (He also describes growing up in a loving family in rural northern Michigan, a sort of artist’s retreat in its own way.)
Today’s prompt: Make a list (OK, that’s me; maybe you want to make some sketches or photos or quilt blocks or . . . ) of the times in your life that felt the most productive. Make another of the times that felt most peaceful, and still another of the periods of Learning From Experience. Show yourself how your life right now fits into all that, in words, in music, in images. Be sure to include the parts that are outside your own head. Now you can do whatever you want. Not my call.
Write, paint, photograph, compose, dance, quilt, sculpt . . . Create.
It has come to my attention that things I find absorbing are the very same things that most people find, well, boring. Not everyone, of course. At least two artists of my acquaintance have put a fair amount of time into watching fruit dry. Now that is not something that would spring to mind as inspirational, even to me.
I was looking for a photo I took of Betty Beeby’s dried citrus peel construction but I can’t find it. She ate a tangerine. The peel dried into an attractive curl and smelled good, too. One thing led to another and she decided to make a mobile from dried citrus peels arranged on a framework of chicken wire, just to study the shapes. A little insight into the creative mind.
Now Birgitte, a Danish designer whose photography and collages enchant me, is studying dried apple slices. She’s made two posts about it so far: Apple 2 and Apple. That reminded me of dried apple dolls, which also enchant me. You can see some and learn how to make them at Apple Dolls. Just in case you were wondering. Which Birgitte was.
Today’s prompt: Spend a little time watching the remains of your snack dry, just to see what happens. Surprises are good, as long as they smell nice. Things dry into shapes that remind a person of other things and the next thing you know the imagination is haring off into the underbrush. Follow it!
If you are in a humid summery place, I regret to inform you that this prompt is not a good idea. Fruit peels will not dry so much as they will attract fruit flies. They will not smell good either. Maybe you could fling the peels into the dryer with the thermal blanket and watch them spin. Maybe not.
Write, paint, photograph, weave, carve . . . Create.
Artists will often disassemble an image or a concept to figure out how it works, to make it give up its truth. Engineers and programmers are chuckling to themselves now. If you are a word person, go read about disassemblers at Wikipedia. You’ll love it. If you’re a visual person skip that it will just drive you crazy.
Today’s prompt: Pull out a memento of some kind. Take it apart, concretely or virtually. Look at the pieces, fool around with them, put them back together in novel ways or pick one and watch it from behind a tree . . . put the whole thing back together when you’re done. If there are pieces left over don’t blame me. It’s your memento.
Write, photograph, paint, compose, weave, quilt, sculpt . . . Create.
Today’s prompt: If it’s winter where you are, make a thermos of hot chocolate and some hearty sandwiches and head to your favorite park for a picnic. Wear your snowpants and your mittens. (You can wear your swimsuit underneath, but it would probably be uncomfortable. No, we are not going swimming. Not me, anyway. You do what you want.) I suggest you look around you and take note of how different the place looks without all the campers and picnickers and little kids running around in bare feet. Not to mention without grass and leaves and flowers. Look at the way the shadows fall at this time of year, freed from the shade of the trees. Find images that you think are poignant or hilarious or simply emblematic. Imagine a character you might meet. What would that other person be doing in the park in winter? What the heck are you doing in the park in winter?!? OK, you can go home now. When you get there . . .
Write, paint, weave, compose . . . Create.
If it’s summer where you are, count your lucky stars and go to the park anyway. Have fun.
Today I am wearing a sweater that my neighbor Janet Brown knitted at least 20 years ago. It keeps me just the right kind of warm. Years ago Mrs. Brown and I made very different sweaters from the same pattern. She turned the V-neck pullover into a round-neck cardigan. I turned it into a pink vest. We sat together, click, click, and drank tea and chatted about this and that. Her friendship is one of the shining jewels in the treasure chest of my life. When she died, her daughter, who is my age, was closing up the house. She asked me what I would like as a memento. I said, “something she made,” thinking of the small, crafty things she made as we drank our tea. When Kathy brought out this sweater, I said, “Are you sure?” When she said yes, I felt as if I had been blessed. The sweater has held up better than I have. It is one of the objects in my life that has True Value.
Today’s prompt: Michelangelo knew what he was about when he painted a hand-crafted Creation. Whatever you create today, make it with the care and attention that you would give to it if you knew that 20 years from now someone who loved you would touch it, read it, look at it, or remember it . . . and feel your hand touch theirs. There are all kinds of immortality.
Write, paint, weave, compose, dance, photograph, sculpt, as if your everlasting life depended on it. Create.