Friday, June 02, 2006

I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.

(Pablo Picasso)

The runner up for this title quote was "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist when he grows up." (also our friend Paul.)

So Mrs. Pom today wants us to list what unblocks us from our artistic blocks. As always, I'm playing fast and loose with the rules, so I'm including what unblocks me in general when I'm blocked, in life as well as art.

In no particular order, things that unblock me:

  1. Re-reading old books. Right now I'm re-reading A Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler. It is one of, if not her only, books that is in first person. It's a coming of age story of Barnaby G., who turns thirty by the third chapter. The book is full of dry humor, and as we read, we see Barnaby turn into a man with sufficient self worth. Barnaby is the "black sheep" of his family, working for a company that offers assistance to elderly Baltimorians. Rent-a-Back's services include escorting clients to the grocery store, helping them set up their Christmas trees, and putting out their garbage cans on trash day. Every time I re-read this book, I am struck by the wit. Such lines as, "Oh, my life was a wide-open book to half the old ladies in Baltimore," just slay me! (I guess you need more context, but this is a list of un-blockers, not a book review.) (Watching movies again and again also falls into this category.)
  2. Taking a walk. As I awoke this morning at 4:15 (not by choice, mind you) one of the options available to me was an early morning walk. I generally walk five minutes out, five minutes back, routed through the Seminary near my house. Walking on the quiet grounds, looking at the historic buildings, I get my bearings back. Today I wanted to spend some time at the Union Project cafe, so I did half the walk.
  3. Spending time in a cafe. There's something about being somewhere that isn't home that gets those juices flowing. Today I merely read more of my Anne Tyler book, since I had spent a lot of my creative juices earlier doing another thing that unblocks me:
  4. Writing. I wrote a rather long email to Erin, one of my e-pals.
  5. A deadline. When I had to create Station #(whatever it was, Jesus speaks to the Women of Jerusalem) I knew about it months in advance. I thought about it months in advance. But then I went to Baaston and then I visited my dear friend Susan and I couldn't really work on my station in either of those places. So when I returned to da Burgh, I had about a week left. I set aside two evenings, and went to town. But not before:
  6. A trip to the art store. Even if you only buy a few things, just wandering around an art supply store gives ones creative juices a run for their money. I found great paper scraps and there was pastel/chalk on sale (5 cents a piece) so I was on a roll. But I was hoping for something else, I wasn't sure what, so I drove over to Joanne Fabrics. Which is where I found the linchpin of my project, the rack I used to hang my greeting cards on (The Station I created was the "Gospel in Greeting Cards," using the passage found in Luke 23:27-31, which is a very hard teaching.) (It didn't photograph well, which is why I never posted photos.) If I had not gone to Joanne Fabrics, and the wooden rack had not been on clearance, ($5!) I might have come up with an entirely different product in the end.
  7. Just do it. I set up to work on the two evenings I'd set aside, and worked with what I had, made mock-ups, made the actual cards, and Voila! (Um, but it took both evenings, so don't think that #7 is the easiest part. It's just the hardest to explain, how I got creatively from point A to point B.)

Creativity isn't as hard as it might seem. I always get angry at people who say "Oh I'm not creative." Um, who dressed you this morning? You created an outfit when you picked those earrings to go with that skirt and top. I could rant on this for hours. But I won't.

A few books I've found helpful as an artist:

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. Full of writing exercises, you won't be able to read this book straight through without the itch to write!

Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, by Madeleine L'Engle. This book is more how to think about art. But it has been very helpful to me, as I think about what I consider art, and how art can transcend cultural, religious, and whatever other boundaries we might want to constrain it with.

Both of these books were gifts from my friend Lorelei and her mother. Her mother passed on recently, but her legacy in the way I think about art and creativity live on.

I live in envy of many fabulous creative bloggers. My favorite one is Il Bloggo, written by Hanna, a Swedish journalism student. I am always in awe of the work she does.

A blogger's blessing: may the keyboard rise to meet you, may the words come out in a lucid stream, may the photos download quickly, and may the spell checker not replace "blogging" with "blocking." Buena suerte! (Which is Spanish for good luck.)


Badger said...

Ooo! Have you read Madeleine L'Engle's A Circle of Quiet? I think you would like it. It's book one of her Crosswicks Journals, of which there are four, all of them fantastic, but the first one is SPECIAL.

Sarah Louise said...

Hey look, the comments do work! My vw describes me right now, trying to cram life into my summer of work: tescty!

Badger said...

Ack! It told me the server reset itself or something. Stupid Blogger! (At least it didn't post twice, since I retried at least once.)

VW: tntsod

Haha! That amuses me greatly.

Loretta said...

I have that L'Engle book right on my nightstand! I'm pulling it out of The Giant Pile. And Badger, I love all the Crosswick Journals.

You have to tell me more about creating your Station of the Cross. Was it part of a retreat or class? How did you pick it? And what did you do for it? I am fascinated about this - spirituality and art are entwined for me, which is good, because regular church-going has fallen off of late....

telfair said...

My sister-in-law gave me "Writing Down the Bones" last Christmas and I really enjoyed it -- you're right -- I didn't get through it without feeling the itch to write!

I also love Madeleine L'Engle but I haven't read the book you reference -- I'll have to make a note of it so I can look for it.