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Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

Somewhere along the line growing up I remember someone telling me “A job worth doing is worth doing well.” They were right then and they’re still right. Thing is, whatever the job was then has become wayyyyyy more complicated (albeit fascinating).

I promised myself I could finally pot this long-awaiting and patient coleus, called Electric Lime, after a certain amount of reading.

We’re no longer hand-printing a book report on honeybees, or making a great table in shop, or learning how to properly set in a shoulder in the suit we’re sewing. We’re not packing up a slew of pasted-up magazine boards to be shipped out-of-state to the people who’ll make them into negatives, or changing ribbons in typewriters, or Xeroxing off copies to send out. None of that. Now we’re reaching anywhere in the world simultaneously in seconds across multiple devices.

Check out this cutie – not even 1″ in length. I looked it up to see what it might be; it’s a black and yellow lichen moth. She seemed kind of lethargic, so I put a few drops of water in front of her, and she drank it right up.

My point is, my leap of faith will entail reaching a huge amount of people across a number of platforms and social media if I want to be a success. And that means a tremendous learning curve as well as time devoted to my craft in creating product (all while still working). Whew! I’ve been researching and looking into the many things I need to do, making lists, chunking them down into more do-able lists, and working away.

A few of these rhododendron bushes grow in the yard surrounding the porch. These “snowballs” are stunning and huge, about 8″ across. 

So today, I forewent any social outings to focus on my plans, and got out in the lovely cool morning on my back porch. I pushed over the vincas I potted a couple weeks ago and plopped down a notebook, my coffee, and the book I wanted to delve into this morning, Facebook for Dummies. I have assiduously avoided Facebook for any number of reasons, but cannot do so any longer, and like everything, there’s a lot to know. So the photos you see on this page are what I saw surrounding me this morning when I hunkered down to expand my knowledge.

A bright rose and pink vinca are still settling in, moved down to make room for coffee and a pile of work.

There is one thing of which any of us who take leaps of faith can be assured … we will never be bored.

 

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PiBoIdMoJournal2We’re halfway through November. For some writers, you are feverishly striving to complete your 50,000 words in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers’ Month). I have to say, while I need a swift kick in the butt to get writing as much as anyone from time to time, 50,000 words in one month is more of a kick than I’d ever want.

I much prefer PiBoIdMo, the picture book writer’s alternative for November – Picture Book Idea Month – created by Tara Lazar and in which we are challenged to come up with an idea a day for a picture book. (Though really, this could just as easily apply to ideas for novels, short stories, songs, etc.)  I find that the one idea per day happens most of the time, but sometimes the creative juices seem to produce two ideas today, brain too work-slogged for an idea tomorrow, two PB ideas the day following and so on. I just do my best to have a minimum of 30 ideas by the end of the month.

If you are doing PiBoIdMo, I suspect, like me, come Nov. 30 you find some of your ideas are laughably useless, some have a certain amount of potential, and some are actually quite promising. Where do you get your ideas from? Personal experiences past and present can inspire ideas, as well as family, friends, and pets, but also what’s going on in the world – news of all kinds, music, stuff you read. Sometimes, even an old story we’ve already written gives birth to a brand new – and better – idea.

Here’s the best idea – have fun doing it. And if this is the first you’ve heard of PiBoIdMo, join in and challenge yourself!

 

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For those of you who enjoyed the art of Seward Johnson in a previous post, I am sharing a bit more of the sculptures (mostly) inside the gallery. It seems almost everyone is familiar with the iconic figure of Marilyn Monroe taken over the air blast from a sewer grate. Johnson has done a fine job of Marilyn in this lovely tableau …

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but many more people are actually familiar with his outdoor version of Marilyn …

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And back to the gallery … perhaps one of the reasons I am drawn to Seward Johnson’s work is that we share something in common – our love of the Impressionist period of painting. Many of his sculptures based on famous paintings are inspired by artists of that time.

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Johnson’s study above is based on “La Japonaise”, a painting by Monet, the model being Monet’s first wife.

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He was also inspired by Mary Cassatt, an American-born artist, (Pennsylvania to be exact), who spent most of her adult life in France, where she soon befriended Edgar Dégas and exhibited with the Impressionists. Cassatt’s painting is “Young Girl at Window.”

Manet is another favorite of Seward Johnson, and there are tableaux of Manet’s paintings throughout the Grounds for Sculpture. Below is a small part of the installation based on Manet’s “Olympia.” My crop reflects what the entirety of Manet’s painting looked like.

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 But Johnson took it one (huge) step further …

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He created an entire room that one can walk into, such as he imagined this woman might have as her boudoir, historically correct to every detail, as are all the items she wears, right down to her shoes.

The last installation I’m featuring, which was actually the first room you walked into, was deeply touching to me, but I didn’t even realize its significance until I got home and looked at the photos I had taken.

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There was a figure in the room just to the right of the sculpture, looking at it. As is often the case, we wondered if he was “real.” It soon became apparent he was not. Then we wondered about another figure a bit further away, who sat motionless on a museum bench. He was so still that it wasn’t until he flicked his finger to scroll down on his iPad that we realized he was not a part of the installation. Distracted by this, I somehow thought that this was a memorial to a soldier.

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When I looked at my photos at home, I had no idea how I could have missed that this was a tribute to those who died on 9/11. It is a deeply moving piece, with the helmets of firemen, police and EMS workers, the fire hose, the flowers done in bronze and cement, the figure’s head bowed behind two plaques above and below our flag. The marble plaque below says “Im memory of all those who lost their lives.” The piece above, looking as if it were written on paper, has scrawled on it, “In memory of those who gave their lives to try and save so many.”

And then I saw the two shafts of light in the background where our twin towers once stood, and was overwhelmed with sadness yet again. Thank you for this piece, Mr. Johnson.

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As promised, I will try, as time allows, to bring you some of the amazing works of the sculptor Seward Johnson. He is the founder of the Grounds for Sculpture Museum, which is largely outdoors, and in his 80’s, he continues to work today. A retrospective of his work has been on display for well over a year now, and I feel fortunate to have gotten to see the many pieces that will soon return to their homes around the world.

Just inside the Welcome Center is a large gallery of his works; all but two are based on famous paintings. Today’s post focuses on a few of the works inside the gallery.

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What you see above is a 3-dimensional room created from Van Gogh’s painting, “Bedroom at Arles.” When you step inside the room, there are two shiny black footprints upon which to stand. I, (yeah, I know, shame on me), didn’t read any of the art notes provided, but obediently stood on the footprints anyway and photographed the installation. What I didn’t see until I got home, is that by taking the photo from that exact angle, the effect was that of the 3-D room being flattened to appear as Van Gogh’s painting.

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To me, the genius of this sculpture is not just in Johnson’s usual accomplishment of turning a 2-D painting into a 3-D sculpture, but in then finding a way to reverse it back to 2-D. Above is a photo I took inside the room where you can see that the bed is made up with a real blanket, pillows and sheets.

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Stepping back in time, we have Vermeer’s “Girl with A Pearl Earring.” Johnson sometimes uses a suspended real frame to perfectly surround the subject as he/she appeared in the original painting, while they sit in the proper pose.

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In more than one example of his work, we see Johnson’s sense of humor, and his “Mona Lisa” installation is certainly one of them. Here she sits, nicely framed, as was our girl above. The guards you see below are, of course, part of the installation, but what about the other people in the photos?

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Maybe not so much! What is truly enjoyable as you tour the grounds and this gallery and see his work, is that you are frequently left wondering, “Is that person real?” In a world where only a base under their feet can indicate that the people might not be live, it’s not always so easy to tell. Sometimes you do have to come pretty close to be sure.

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Who knew the Mona Lisa offered photo ops? I can’t help but think Da Vinci would have been amused.

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And who would have suspected that the Mona Lisa was a much more modern young lady than her rather serious portrait might indicate. Cheers to Seward Johnson! You put a smile on every person’s face that looked at this exhibit.

If these works appeal to you, I encourage you to go to Seward Johnson’s website where you can see all his works, often multiple views, and have a link to take you to the original painting upon which he based his sculpture.

More sometime soon …

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Those of you who stop by with any regularity often see at least one photo of the stash I garner after the Annual Library Sale. Not this year, but I did bring home some wonderful selections, adult, MG and YA, which were accompanied by another bunch of tantalizing books which my Library Sale Buddy offered me. (She opened her trunk like she had hot merchandise in there – dozens of books she’d read over the year, and was offering to me and other friends. It was pretty funny.)

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A few days ago, I was ready to dive in to one of those picks and chose a book by John Irving, Cider House Rules. I’d seen the movie years ago, which was fabulous, but as I CloseToFamous-JoanBauer2began the book, it didn’t seem right. I wanted something that would feed my creative self, the me that wants to work on my Middle Grade novel. I put it back on the shelf and drew out the Joan Bauer MG novel I’d picked up, Close to Famous.

I like Bauer’s style – her characters are believable, palpable people you might know or like to get to know. No high drama, but real life in a compelling way. This would both feed my creative self and provide an enjoyable read.

 

For those of us who create, who aspire to bring something new and of value into the world, feeding that part of ourselves is so important. I know, for myself, it can also get sorely neglected when life’s demands are peaking, and Creative Me can get tossed into a corner like a shucked-off backpack, full as it is of wondrous things.

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What writer isn’t enriched by reading, what artist by looking at art that inspires? Imagine a baker who doesn’t sample fabulous cupcakes, tasting every nuance of flavor, checking the texture for mouthfeel – how could she possibly produce truly delicious cupcakes herself without knowing what really good cupcakes taste like? It’s no different with us.

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Another way to feed our creative selves is to get out in nature — take a walk, take a drive to a nearby park, sit in your garden, watch a bird, a bee, a squirrel. Nothing fancy. Let the wonders of nature inspire you, help you feel at peace, connected. In that serenity, our creativity can come out to play.

I took the photos you see here on a recent walk – blue sky, sunny day – reminded me of the me that longs to create despite the daily demands of life. It was like a cupcake for my creative soul.

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Take a little time for yourself, especially when you most think you have none. Treat yourself to a creative cupcake. Add extra sprinkles; be inspired.

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Scarecrow-Bride2Take a walk with me … on the pebbled brick paths through Peddler’s Village … and see what we found along the way to the carousel.

Each year the merchants hold a scarecrow contest, and in front of each shop or restaurant is a scarecrow – or two or three – which is their entry. Although I know there are different entry levels, as I noticed some were the handiwork of children, I don’t know much else. I was just appreciating the creativity of those who put these amazing, sometimes funny and sometimes scary, scarecrows together.

So come and dawdle along, and here are a few of the ones that caught my fancy.

 

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Both the above sat on hay bales outside the shop’s window.

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This maître d’ stood outside one of the well-known restaurants.

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The scarecrows may have been the main attraction, but every shop was completely decked out for Fall.

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And what a fetching bride she was!

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November is PiBoIdMo – Picture Book Idea Month! It’s the perfect time for aspiring, (or published), picture book writers to challenge themselves by coming up with an idea a day for the 30 days in November.

Established by children’s book author Tara Lazar, PiBoIdMo is a great way of really getting those creative juices flowing, and while you can certainly do it on your own, you can sign up for PiBoIdMo on Tara’s web site. It’s free, of course, but registering gives you the opportunity of winning some cool prizes including a critique of your ideas by an agent or editor in the children’s book field. There’s still time! Registration closes Nov.4th.

You can still follow along after that date, and check out the relevant daily posts on Tara’s site, but to be eligible for prizes you must register by Nov. 4th. Check here for complete details and to sign up.

I participated in 2010 – that’s a photo of my PiBoIdMo journal which has plenty of room left for my 2012 ideas – and was amazed at how many good ones I came up with! Some were less than brilliant, I admit, but quite a few were pretty interesting. I really enjoyed my own little PiBoIdMo kick-off which included reviewing some of those ideas. Just makes me want to write!

If you aspire to write children’s picture books, why not give it a go and watch your own creativity bloom?

 

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As creatives, we often find ourselves stuck – like there’s something in front of us that we know we can only trip over. We don’t want to risk hurting ourselves so we don’t go forward. While staying in place is the seemingly safer path, in the long run it is far more painful. When we don’t try, we don’t grow. Not pushing through ultimately makes us frustrated, depressed, anxious – all the emotions that we don’t want to feel. Ironically, these are good things in the sense that they are signposts showing us the way …when we look at our writing pads, computers, sketchbooks, cameras, canvases, etc and feel those emotions, we see right where our issues are. Thank them and let them go.

As both an artist and a writer, I need to make time for my craft one way or another every day. Because I journal every morning, my writing skills are always kept well-oiled and in gear. While I do need to get new things down, edit and refine, it is much less effort because the fluidity is there. Or I blog, all so I can focus on my real craft, writing for children.

As for my drawing, that takes more effort. Many years ago, when I was in Pratt, our instructors had specific requirements of us students. From when we first took 2-D (drawing) in freshman year, we were required to have our sketchbook with us 24/7. And so we did. When I began to become more involved with photography in my junior year, we were required to carry our camera with us 24/7. Both these exercises had the same result – if you had it with you, you used it.

We began to draw and photograph each other, the cat, the campus, the subway – didn’t matter – it became a routine because that sketchbook or camera was attached at the hip. Admittedly, one felt like a fool after awhile having it there and ignoring it even when going through a dry patch. The bottom line is, make it easy for yourself, be kind, and without criticism, just do it.

All the moaning and excuses in the world won’t get any project advanced, but tinkering about with our craft will. What I’ve found is that even while we’re busily avoiding exactly what it is we truly need to get done, we can trick ourselves by doing something else. For example, I have a heap of work I want to do to strengthen my portfolio. It’s a big task and a lot to do. I really am psyched. But the enormity of it sets me back a bit. Should I do nothing? No – I decided to just draw other things – a little oil in the gears, and then I’m going.

This tree frog I drew has nothing to do with portfolio requirements. It had everything to do with actively kicking aside whatever might be there to trip me. So for all of us – take the back door approach if you will – draw, write, paint, doodle something … anything … just do it!

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