December 28, 2010

Keeping Awake

        We just returned from visiting D’s family for Christmas, so I didn't have my hobbies with me.  I couldn't carve or print blocks, and I couldn't really find much time or concentration to try to work on writing.  Nevertheless, in times like that I don’t have to stop thinking, and there are a couple of things I can do to keep the creativity from falling completely asleep.

        One thing I did is mull my latest story idea.  I bugged D by bouncing ideas off him when we were sitting around waiting for something.  I let my mind wander in the absence of my usual ways to keep busy, and I jotted down little scraps of idea – sounds simple and obvious, but I know that if I don’t write things down, I may not remember any of it by the time I really sit down to work on the story.  Besides, writing ideas down helps me clarify, sort, and follow up on wisps of thought.

        The other thing I was doing is a practice I learned about from an artist who spoke at MassArt, Claudine Bing.  She suggested a really fun way to brainstorm ideas for art.  Take a camera and snap pictures of anything that looks interesting, no matter how trivial, weird, fleeting, or unlike your usual style.  Anything that strikes your eye or catches your attention – click click click.  (Boy, do I love digital cameras!)  So that’s what I was doing, right along with the obligatory family vacation pictures.  When I look at these photos later I never know what might prove to be the inspiration behind a new piece.

         On Friday we went to the San Diego zoo with my nephew, hiking over the entire place, eager to see every single animal if we could.  I snapped pictures of all the animals I thought were especially cool, and all the animals T and P requested me to photograph, too.  And that reminded me that last time I was at the San Diego zoo about twelve years ago, I took a photo that eventually got turned into a block print.  So inspiration is all around, as long as you’re always open to it.

        Of course, it may be that not a single one of these snapshots will ever become the basis for a piece of art, and that’s fine, too.  After all, the idea isn’t that I need to be turning out the next big thing even while I’m on vacation.  The real value of having my camera at the ready is that it puts me in the mindset of paying attention to what I see, observing, appreciating, and being open to ideas.  It keeps the creativity awake.

[Pictures: photos by AEGN, 2010; (magnetic poem by AEGN);
Mhorr’s Gazelles, rubber block print by AEGN, 1998.]

1 comment:

Pax said...

It’s always good to be alive from the neck up, to be observant, with mind engaged. This open-eyed stance—should it be called a habit?—provides fuel for the creative process, whether the medium be art, literature, social action, or the search for a potential solution to a perceived problem.