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.
Today’s prompt: Go someplace where people pause on their way to someplace else. The airport, the coffee shop in the mall, District Court, a fundraiser. Sit and listen to the passing parade. Fragments of conversation, laughter, a shout, the sound of running feet, a splash. Watch everything in motion. Try to figure out who’s posing and who’s just being. Let a story begin to unwind. Reach into the grab-bag of bits and pieces and pull out a handful to use for your own purposes. Go home whistling.
Write, paint, compose, photograph, weave a tale . . . Create.
I find that it is possible to spend entirely too much time in my own head. It gets boring in there. I need spiritual refreshment. A jolt of something new. A kick in the pants.
Today’s prompt: Get out of yourself. Spend the day with the radio tuned to an entirely different station. Take a different route to work or to the market. Have something for lunch that you’ve never eaten before. If you are a Visual Extremist, spend an hour at the library and borrow a book that has a lot of words in it. If you are a Verbal Extremist, spend an hour in a museum or an art gallery and put an image or two in your mind. Heck, I don’t know, wear your clothes inside out. Think of it as dusting yourself off, inside and out.
All shiny and renewed, write, paint, weave, compose, sculpt, photograph . . . Create.
Do you remember the young Chinese man standing off a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989? I do. Do you remember the Polish workers who followed Lech Walensa? I do. Do you remember the East Germans tearing down the Berlin Wall? I do. Do you remember Viola Liuzzo? I do. When I see their faces I think, they are all our children. I am an old bat and they are young. They could be my grandchildren. They could be, given a little space to grow in, themselves.
Today’s prompt: Resist fear. Write, sing, paint, dance, weave, whisper, stand still . . . it is your time. Create.
To open the mailbox and find Real Mail, the kind that must be sent in a creamy envelope addressed especially to you, feels good. Even when the message is “I’m sorry for your loss . . . ” it feels good. Hmm. OK, the exception here would be Real Mail in a creamy envelope with a return address from a law firm. That could spoil your whole day. I digress.
Today’s prompt: Find a creamy envelope and a pen. Address the envelope to someone you like. Put something nice inside it. A little note. A photograph. A cartoon. A tiny quilt block. A package of seeds. Close it up. Put a stamp on it. Mail it.
Alternative prompt: Find a creamy envelope and a pen. Address the envelope to someone you are angry with. Put your anger inside it. A little note, a photograph, a drawing of your broken heart . . . Close it up. Burn it.
Either way, I expect you might be able to make something out of this. Create.
Remember make-believe? Row a leaky boat over to the island and make trails to the pirate treasure, build a treehouse, pull out the box of dress-ups. All that stuff involved props for the characters we were trying on. Some of them were pretty sketchy: a stick, some grapevines, a ratty old towel. Others were more elaborate. The coonskin cap comes to mind. Either way, they did the job. They helped us to make our imaginary adventures more concrete. A generation later our own kids were still at it.
Today’s prompt: When you’re trying to bring a character to life on the page, on the stage, or in an image, consider the possibilities inherent in the sketchy props you used when you were a kid. What did all that stuff mean to you then? Does it mean something different now? What do you think your kid self would have pulled out of the dress-ups box to turn you into an image of the grown-up self you’ve become? What do you think your own kids would pull out of the box to make a Mom or a Dad character?
Write, paint, compose, photograph, weave, carve . . . Create.
Awhile ago I spotted these over at King Orchards and had to have two of them—one because I had a bright idea and the other in case I messed up the first one. I’ll give you a few days to play around with it in your own mind before I show you what I tried.
I have a whole box full of stuff that I’ve saved because it just seemed like it had to be good for something. Every now and then I paw through it for an odd bit of webbing or an idea.
Today’s prompt: Go stare at the junk drawer for awhile. Try to figure out where all of that stuff came from. Put it in categories. Try to make sets in matching colors or shapes. Try to imagine what you were thinking when you tossed it in there. Choose three things to throw out. This is beginning to feel like work, eh?
Oh well. Might as well go write. Or paint, compose, weave, photograph . . . Create.