Inspiration in Waiting

Digital illo: Muse 1Quiet Companion

In the cooler corners of my crooked little room

There gleams an iridescence that defies the chilly gloom,

The pale enchantment of an eye that never shuts in sleep

Or wavers in its glowing gaze, whose watch is wont to keep

A careful, mystic, present love that guards me from all harm

And teaches me her secrets when I curl beneath her arm

So I can rest in confidence with this companion, whose

Great beauty is to fill my soul, for that she is

my Muse.Digital illo: Muse 2

If the Muse Should Come to Visit

Our summer road trip afforded me a few good opportunities for one of my favorite activities: listening during great music rehearsals while drawing and writing. Part of me is fully engaged in the music-making, wanting not to miss a single note or nuance even when it’s truly a working bash through sort of session for the musicians. I learn so much about the pieces in hand, their histories, contexts, technical challenges and all that sort of thing as well as what to expect and what might happen in performance that I always enjoy concerts more deeply after hearing them being developed for the performances. At the same time, if the work in hand is sans text or in a language so unknown to me that I can’t get wrapped up in that aspect beyond whether the ensembles’ vowels and consonants, attacks and diminuendos and cutoffs are, well, ensemble, then I can focus my language centers on writing, sometimes blog post essays and sometimes poetry.

When the text is too enthralling or at least too present in my attentions, I can still indulge in drawing. Either way, it’s not so much dividing my attention as letting one kind of artistry inspire and guide another one. One enriches the other. Especially when the music rolling around me is as rich as, say, that being prepared for performances at the Vancouver Early Music Festival in August. I only wish that the products of my sessions were always as inspired as the music undergirding their inception. But my only chance of getting any better is to keep practicing, isn’t it. And I’m lucky that I like the process more and more as I go along, and yes, the better the music is, the more I enjoy my learning curve. That’s inspiring enough.graphite drawing

Shiny Objects & Flying Illusions

Beetling Brow

Inside my skull’s a fizzing insectarium

of mystic, magic, merry little things

so wildly pretty that my brain can’t carry ’em

without the power of all their tiny wings,

Abuzz with sparkling brilliance and their fleeting,

so speedy that they’ve utterly forgot

regard for gravity or need for beating,

become instead bright vestiges of thought.

Now, you may think I’m just a bugged-out entity

with not a thought for anything of sense,

but every person has his own bugs, hasn’t he,

and with their glittering gleam, the joy’s immense;

I never really cared that much for images

or what all others thought my problem was,

but just embraced my inner insects’ scrimmages,

and love the shiny ways they make me buzz.digital collage

Coming in for a Takeoff

A necessary understanding of the importance of imagination in my life turns the very idea of coming in for a landing on its proverbial ear. Not, I assure you, in the sense of making a crash landing, my dears. It’s simply that the exquisite security and comfort of realizing it’s time to let my imagination take over, rather than inviting me to curl up and suck my thumb in a cozy fetal position as though my project is a fait accompli, makes me eager to take to the skies. Quelle surprise! Here am I, lazybones extraordinaire, looking with pleasure upon the prospect of digging in to work with a passion.photosIn the meantime, it’s a joy when the creative juices begin to flow. The laws of physics have taught me, as has long experience, that a body in motion tends to stay in motion. In like manner, a spirit dancing the glorious dance of invention tends to build up steam and grow increasingly hungry for further invention. Boredom and lassitude and dull deconstruction have no place in the middle of the rushing river; everyone to the oars and full speed ahead!digital artworkJust as bad attitudes and actions tend to lead to more of their like, an awakening of the creative urge can spur an upsurge of yet more desire for innovation and art. The muse is a hungry creature. A ravenous creature. Mother of invention that she is, I think perhaps her middle initial is ‘&’. I hope I can be a good acolyte, if not precisely her child. It feels so good to move forward and upward, to fly.

In Search of Tech-Know Progress

 

colored markers on paperWhen I post drawings, they almost always require a digital tweak or ten to be clean and sharp enough for putting up on view. Most of the time, it’s merely the need for getting rid of visible dust and scratches or evening out the tone across the piece to more accurately reflect the appearance of the original, stuff like that. Even a direct high-definition scan doesn’t eliminate all of the little oddities.

No doubt there are endless ways to do what I do to the images much more simply and cleverly and efficiently. But having as little technological skill and wisdom as I have, I must content myself with doing in a hundred steps what others can do in ten. At least until I have the time, the money and the gumption to get the necessary education, anyway.

Still, slow and ambling and rambling as I am, I get the occasional urge to mess around with the existing drawing and manipulate it further digitally. Silly, yes, given that it takes me eons to do the first drawing part and a multitude more ages to do anything further via the digital medium. But you know how these things are: inspiration or perspiration, it’s all a command one has to obey once the Muse prods me in that direction. Here’s last night’s drawing (above), followed by the series of phases I put it through today. That is all. For now.digital image

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Doodle Bug

pen & inkI would like to state for the record that I am not, nor have I ever been, to my knowledge, an actual doodlebug, either zoologically or as a rolling or flying vehicle, a dowsing rod, or a method of seismic activity tracking. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of those. And it’s probably safe to say that my garden and numerous dimly lit corners of my home are probably full of living and dead pill bugs (what we used to call potato bugs when I was growing up), and I confess to thinking it highly amusing that these creatures are in fact tiny crustaceans that live right in my house and look like–indeed, are scientifically named after–armadillos. House Armadillos or Domestic Crustaceans, either way kind of weirdly cool in my estimation.

But I digress.

What I am is one of the many humanoids prone to doodling. And that’s not a bad thing, either. Doodling (or randomly scribbling on whatever is handy, usually a cocktail serviette or textbook or office paperwork or top-secret legal document, depending upon one’s status and age and current supposed activities) often leads, though many a grade school teacher would vigorously deny it, to thinking. And on occasion at least, thinking is not an entirely bad thing.

Whenever I’m struggling to get a piece of writing, a drawing, or frankly, any other project underway, there are few motivational tools that compare with doodling. The serendipitous or random mark that merely records a purportedly thoughtless and pointless motion of the hand can sometimes come to resemble an actual Something, and well, Something almost always leads to Something Else. In drawing as in life, just getting in there and starting, whether I’m ready or not, is the best way to potentially get anything done. Who knew!

Today’s doodle is brought to you by my propensity for turning many of my scribbles and scrawls and squibs and squiggles into things that resemble simplified linear paisley patterns or rosemaling, or any number of other folk design traditions. Once I get going on them, I find it meditative to a degree just to follow the whimsical path of inserting repetitive forms and line treatments, geometries and organic outgrowths of the marks, until I’ve filled much of the available space. Many of these folk-like, repeating elements become almost a trademark doodling style that might be as identifiable to some as my handwriting. Though, hopefully, more legible. And while the doodles don’t necessarily lead to specific or pictorial drawings in and of themselves, they do lend themselves neatly to a more relaxed and receptive state of mind in which those more concrete thoughts and ideas can indeed begin to insert and assert themselves usefully. And that can lead to different sorts of drawing, whether more topical or more sophisticated or more directed. Or not! The inspiration is in the action.digital painting from a P&I drawing

Today I was led by the doodling, not to a different drawing entirely, but to scanning it and playing with it digitally, first layering colors all over the place, then digital textures, then altering the proportions of the image, and lastly, stitching the resulting mash-up into a larger grouping of four copies of the same image arranged in a pinwheel fashion and then stretched, skewed, cut-and-pasted, and electronically stamped into a fabric-like whole that uses the same idea of the initial doodles repetitions-with-evolutionary-changes so that the end product still seems to appear quite handmade, as it’s not symmetrical or fully even from side to side or top to bottom. Now, if I were to take that square and repeat it, even if I turned it 90 degrees each time, for example, it would finally become more machine-made in appearance as well as manufacture. But that’s just mental doodling right there, isn’t it, because I could further alter the combination every single time I ‘copied’ it.

Which illustrates exactly what I was talking about as characteristic of doodling. One thing does lead to another, as long as we bother to do the initial one thing.

That said, I suppose I should get up from my desk and go forth to do a few individual things that might lead to getting some other essential things done around here. Cheerio!digital image from a P&I drawing

“Thank You” is an Excellent Exit Line. Or Opener. Oh, Both, of Course!

So I shall begin with a resounding Thank You. To another three gracious and inspiring bloggers who have nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award. Thank You, amazing Eve and marvelous ‘Nessa and sweet Peaches! Eve’s poetry and prose move me so deeply I sometimes think she reads my mind–but with better compositional and editing skills than I have. ‘Nessa inspires me with her old-soul attitudes and resilience in the face of committed creative work in such a public forum as a blog at what seems to this aging lady like a tender age indeed, putting out fine and fiery writing as well. Peach Farm Studio is a lovely land whose mistress creates fabulous letterpress art and, as inspiration and adjunct to that, plays with beautiful and wonderful text, music, imagery and any other ingredients that can be combined to make the Studio’s output a joy.VBAAnother heartfelt Thank You to the incredible Cecilia. She who presented me with my first VBA has now passed the Reader Appreciation Award my way as well. There is probably no irony at all in the fact that one of the rubrics for proper reception of this award is that one should pass it along to one’s own six most faithful commenting bloggers, but not to anyone who’s already received the award–and you guessed it, she’s been easily among the six most frequent and thoughtful and uplifting commenters here from Day One. One of my first frequent-flyers, period. And a constant source of gracious good-humored help and outsized compassion and good sense to push me ever upward and onward.Reader Appreciation AwardNow, in case I needed an extra boost, ‘Nessa popped back over to my place to tell me she’d also nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger Award, and that deserves yet another moment of humbling contemplation of my embarrassment of riches and the great aid lent me by all of you, to which I add Thank You again, no less joyfully and with equal amazement at my good fortune.Kreativ Blogger AwardAll of these are among my cloud of muses and angels, my support and drive and comfort in the form of family, friends, and teachers–all of whom are represented among you, my gracious and ever-encouraging, in the deepest sense of that word, readers. So I Thank You all particularly and sincerely for all of the strength, wisdom and joy you have shared with me since I began this blogging adventure. It seems far more than mere months ago that I began to meet you all–you have become so much a part of my world that I move through my days buoyed by the mere knowledge that you are ‘out there’ thinking up innumerable ways to brighten and improve my life, even when you don’t quite know it. That, you might well note, is what family and friends and mentors do, and oh, you do it very well indeed.

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Thank You for providing a Safe Harbor where I can be myself both at work and at play . . .

At the end of the year I can look back and be thankful for so many fine things, and one of them is clearly the great experience that my dive into the untested waters of the blogiverse has turned out to be. Thank you for making it not only painless but a great pleasure, a steeply upward learning curve, and generally smooth sailing to new and delightful places. I cannot begin to tell you how much I look forward to seeing those places with all of you.

For the moment, I shall wrap up here by recognizing those others who have so sustained me with their commentary. There’s the wonderful ChgoJohn, who also has already received this award himself because he’s always out offering wit and succor and freshly-sauced pasta to everybody around these parts; the sweet cfbookchick, so tender-hearted, poetic, quick with praise and generous with clever commentary as well as being a fellow ooh-sparkly-objects human magpie; the gentle, celestially-inclined Barb of Just a Smidgen, who consistently provides far more than a smidgen of encouragement and sunbeams and shared love of music hereabouts; the warm and open-handed Marie in her Little Corner of Rhode Island, who nurtures all while slyly tickling our ribs and funny-bones, stealthily adding bits of great practical advice all the while; and the self-effacing fairy godmother of Ireland, Our Lady of Just Add Attitude, who eschews awards (luckily for me this one officially doesn’t require her responding to it at all unless she so chooses) despite producing award-worthy posts of her travels and thoughtful ruminations on all sorts of good food and pretty things and then turns around complimenting everyone else as though she’s never heard of such talent. All of you, whether you know it or not, have been an amazing and unexpected joy in your sharing yourselves with me here.

It could but most certainly should not go without saying that these are all joined in my field of heroes by such fine characters as Ted and Nia, the two bardic Dennises, Raymund and Caroline, Desi and Lindy Lee, Anyes and Bella, Neil and Geni and oh so many other worthy and outstanding blogger colleagues and friends. And of course there is that particular fella who patiently shares me with my magical laptop kingdom and who works to keep the roof over our heads as well as still making me glad every time he spontaneously yells out “I LIKE YOU!” and gives me a big goofy wink.

Farewell, good 2011. Come on in, great and glorious 2012! And to all of you out there reading this, may you have a year full of peace, love, joy and ridiculously fun creative living.

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Thank You for helping me discover yet another Happy Place . . .