Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place


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Some Thoughts about Solitude and the Creative Life

Lonely Beach on a Rainy Day

My first response regarding solitude and the creative life was to say, “Of course!  The creative life absolutely requires solitude.”   I absolutely must be left alone when I write or paint.  I don’t want others tagging along when I am in “photo-shoot’ mood.

But then I thought about my drumming.   I don’t drum when I am by myself.   I should.  I need to practice, but it seems like I cannot drum unless I am with other drummers or musicians.

Then I thought of those who are involved in quilting bees, crafting circles, or other group art-making projects.  The social component seems like a necessity.   I know writers who produce their best works at writers’ workshops or weekly writing meetups.   These creatives don’t NEED to be together to produce a product– yet it is part of their process to collectively make art or write.

So like many functions of life, the need for solitude in the creative life depends on the person and the art form.

But I will tell you now, if I say “I am spending the day writing,” do-not-bother-me.    🙂

Ljg (c) 2019

 

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/07/11/rdp-thursday-solitude-solitary/


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This is NOT a Product Endorsement

Through my school years, I had teachers who corrected papers and graded tests with blue pens, green pens, and, most scarily– red pens.   Later on, I worked for various people with specific pen choices:  a man who would only write with purple gel pens and a woman who only wrote with Sharpies.    I also know people who don’t care what they write with– pen, pencil, iron-gall ink, crayons….

I think writers in particular (though not all) are fussy about their writing implements.  Some writers have rituals around their writing practice:  place, artifacts in that place, time of day, special music, a special journal, and, of course, PENS.   I truly think they believe that the creative process only flows if they use that one specific type of implement.

I would not go that far, but I do admit that I have a pen preference.   I don’t believe that the Muse will have a hissy-fit if I don’t use it; my reasons are purely practical.

I use medium felt-tip Papermate Flair pens in black.  My reasons are that I can write while in an inclined position which is how I usually hand-write my journaling and they are so economical that I won’t have a melt-down if I lose one of them.

Hehehe, and I bet you were wondering how this post had anything to do with the Ragtag theme of the day?

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/06/26/rdp-wednesday-flair/


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Is There Really Nothing New Under the Sun? Only If You Don’t Work at It.

A page from one of DaVinci’s notebooks

From where do our ideas for creative endeavors come?  I think our inspiration comes from our interaction with the world around us — the natural world and the people in it.  From those sources we extract portions, break them up, shuffle them around, ponder and consider, scrap them all and start again– until we come up with some sort of creative prompt and subsequent product.

I know I like to think that any creative idea I have came from some deep well of inspiration within me.  Maybe it does, but I also know that this well of inspiration consistently needs to be filled with memories of the experiences I have with the exterior world.   There are only two activities from The Artist’s Way that I have found useful.  One of them is the “Artist’s Date” (the other is writing every day).   I try to go somewhere or engage in some sort of activity either by myself or with other people that will fill that well.   Since I spend so much time drumming, cooking, gardening and engaging in reflective self-care activities, my writing and image-making often engage those themes.

Maybe we mere-mortal creatives re-purpose other ideas gathered from our worldly roamings, but what about those individuals whom we credit for inventing lofty ideas and devices that have had profound impacts on the world?  Archimedes, Plato, Aristotle, Confucius, DaVinci, Shakespeare, Locke, Curie, Tesla, Einstein?    Where did those ideas come from?   If you look at some of them who we consider “geniuses”, most of them were philosophers and scientists.    What do they have in common?   I don’t know about all of them, but I know some of them kept notebooks where they worked on their ideas, no doubt drawing from the same sources that you and I do:  the external world.   In fact, I think Plato is the guy who came up with the notion that there is a place where everything in the world has an Ideal Form, a perfect Idea of it,  and anything we create is merely a reflection of those ideals.

I propose that we can be just as inventive as these folks.  The key is to take the ideas from the well and work and re-work and experiment and write and consider that work until we re-create something glorious on paper or canvas or film or device.   They did.  So can we.

I am just writing this off-the-top of my head.  I am still working on this notion.   I may re-work it again.   That’s the point!   Keep working until you get it “right” (or at least close to it).

Now get working.   🙂

ljg (c) 2019

 

 

 

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/05/31/rdp-friday-prompt/


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She’s Not Glinda and She’s Stalking Me

“Wake up. “

I rolled towards the wall and buried my face in a pillow. 

“Wake up!”

I flung the comforter off and sat up in bed.   

“What!?  Leave me alone!”

I switched on the lamp next to my bed.  There was no one in the room. The big blue numbers on my nightstand clock glowed 4:37 am.

I tried to go back to sleep, but after several minutes, I knew it was pointless so I reached for my phone and started thumbing through my social media feeds.  I must have dozed off because the next thing I felt was a vibration on my chest and heard the muffled sound of my cell phone’s alarm.

I  was certain that I had disabled the alarm before I went to bed last night. My plan had been to sleep in for once on a Saturday morning.  I was not surprised though.  This could only mean one thing. She was back.

“Stop messing with my electronics!”  I muttered.  “I hate it when she does that.” I sighed and rolled out of bed.  After making a quick pit stop in the bathroom, I stumbled into the kitchen.

She was standing there with her head inside my refrigerator.  “Don’t tell me you were planning on having cold pizza for breakfast.”  

“Arvilla, what do you want?” And shoved  a K cup into the machine and jabbed the button.  I could not deal with her without a big cup of Columbia first.

Arvilla shut the refrigerator and plopped down in a chair.  “I think you know. “

Her voice made me wince. Most of my creative friends had muses who were lovely ethereal beings who sprinkled inspiration like magic dust— someone like Glinda, the Good Witch from the Wizard of Oz.  My muse, Arvilla, is a middle-aged brassy redhead with a nasally whine and the personality of the Wicked Witch of the West.  She also did double-duty as my inner critic.  And: my other friends’ muses don’t stalk them.

She read my mind. Literally. “I am not into sprinkling fairy dust and I do not stalk. You have got to do the work,” she pronounced.  “You’ve read enough self-help books for creatives so you know what you need to do. “

I reached for a box of organic granola and shook it at her. She shrugged her shoulders. “You need to get out of the house,” she said, “and do some fieldwork. “

I perked up.  I thought she was going to nag me to sit down and write.

“I thought you might like that. You, my dear, are a little constipated.”  She nodded her head at the box of cereal. “And that isn’t going to help you get unblocked.”  

I glanced out the kitchen window at my yard and the two large magnolia trees in it.   “I’ve got so many chores to do. I need to rake leaves for one thing. “

“What leaves?”   I looked again. There were no leaves under the trees.   “And don’t even mention your laundry. You have enough underwear and towels for one more day. Good grief,  you sure do know how to procrastinate.“

I opened the refrigerator and pulled out a box of almond milk. As I poured it over my cereal I said, “So what’s the plan? “

“Bring your camera, a notebook and pen, and your inventory list of colored pencils.”   I arched an eyebrow at her. 

“Trust me.  I’ll meet you at Blick’s in at 9. Don’t be late. “

*****

Right on time, I entered the art supply store.  I found her on the drawing aisle.  I consulted my list and reached for a pencil in the open stock bin.  “No, no. You don’t need any more burnt umber or yellow ocher. Ghastly colors.  How boring. Get the spring green. Oh, better yet, the lime green. “

“Lime green? When am I ever going to use a lime green pencil?’

“Trust me.”  Going shopping with Arvilla is always an interesting experience.

A few minutes later we were in my car.  “Home?”

“Not yet.  The art store was the appetizer.  We still have the main course coming.”

Arvilla directed me and soon we were speeding south on the freeway.

“Get off at the next exit. “   I immediately knew where we were going.

“The botanical gardens?”   Arvilla just smiled.

I have always liked the botanical gardens, a place where I could get away and unplugged for a few hours. I have never been there in May, but I knew the colors would be glorious.

The garden did not disappoint me. Every conceivable flower that could grow in this area was in full bloom.  The rose garden was particularly vibrant. Trees, leaves and other foliage were thick and lush from all the recent winter rain.  They displayed every possible shade of green, including, yes, lime green.

I toured the vegetable patch, the succulents and cacti, the herb garden and the indigenous plant section, enthusiastically snapping pictures and getting a feel for my new camera’s features.  I started down a path towards the large pond in the center of the park and the banyan grove.

“No, we’re done. Time to go.”  Arvilla was suddenly at my side. I jumped.

“Stop doing that!”  I glared at her.  “And why are we done?  We haven’t been here a full hour.”

“Because I know you.  You’ll hike all over this place and snap a few hundred pictures.  Then you’ll be too tired when you get home to download your pictures and they’ll just sit on your camera for three months which will make me have to come back and kick you in the butt again.”

She had me pegged.

“Fine.”  I started hiking up the hill towards the exit.

“We’re going to stop for a few minutes at the gift shop.”

“Why?”

“Just do it.”

A few minutes later I arrived at the garden’s gift shop.  Arvilla was already there, seated on a bench and filing her nails as she waited.  I settled down next to her.

Arvilla pointed her nail file towards a rack of succulents on sale.  Next to them was terracotta bust that looked just like Arvilla.    “I know the sculptor. That one turned out pretty good, if I do say so. She really captured my essence.”

“You know the sculptor?”

“Well, of course.  You don’t think you’re my only client, do you?”

“Um, I guess I never really thought about it…. um, well, now what?

Arvilla sighed and put down her file.  “Good grief, do I have to do everything?  Get out your notebook and start brainstorming.”

“But…”

“But what?  This is why I brought you here– so your pump can get primed.”   Arvilla stood up and looked into the distance.  “Uh-oh.  I gotta go.  There’s a poet having a meltdown in the Walmart parking lot.  I need to do some consoling.  See you later.”  Arvilla vanished.

“You never ‘console’ me,” I grumbled as I pulled out my notebook from my backpack.

As my pen started moving through the journal, ideas started pouring faster than I could write them down.  I considered the images.   I could use many of the photos I shot simply as they were— as photographic compositions. I definitely could use most of them for reference in creating drawings, watercolor paintings, and elements in digital compositions.  Then poetic phrases started forming in the back of my mind as well as themes for essays on creativity, spirituality and environmental activism. History, theology, philosophy, and ideas for funny short stories all presented themselves in momentary glimpses across my mind’s eye.  I scribbled notes in the book until I finally slowed down and stopped.  I felt light and refreshed.

I clicked my pen shut and shoved it and the notebook into my bag.

“Now…” Arvilla’s voice seemed to be coming from the terracotta bust. “…go home, take one of these ideas and create something”. I nodded.

“And if I find you screwing around on the internet, I will knock out your WiFi for a week.”

“You know I hate it when you do that!”

Arvilla chuckled.

 

ljg 2019   Today’s Ragtag prompt is “stalk“.


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Wandering

I recently read Keri Smith’s book The Wander Society, another of countless books on how to jump start the creative process. The author promotes the practice of “wandering” through the world, both literally and figuratively, and learning to mindfully observe what is discovered.  The book’s description at the Amazon website describes “…the act of wandering, or unplanned exploring, as a way of life.” At Goodreads I gave the book only 3 stars simply because this is not an original notion. That criticism being made, I quickly realized that I have been negligent in this very form of creative self-care.

It has been raining quite regularly for many weeks, but this morning the clouds cleared and the sun broke through. So I grabbed my camera, hopped in my car and began to wander.  I ended up being entertained by a pair of white rabbits in a vegetable garden, joining a gathering of members of a bread baking guild as they made pizza in a wood-burning oven, roamed around the outside and inside of an old church, paused for a few minutes in a Zen meditation room, drove through a university, stopped at a library, and came home to a steaming bowl of home-made beef stew.

I visually documented my wandering.  Here are a few of my images:

ljgloyd (c) 2019


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The Face of Confidence


On my morning exploratory walk, I came across this giant mural. Mural painters amaze me. To create such a huge, public display of art takes an immense amount of confidence on the part of the artist. There is no room for fear of mistakes. The entire neighborhood will see that mistake in the process of being made, not to mention the humiliation of correcting it in front of the world. And heaven forbid if the mistake is not corrected and it stays on view for decades until someone mercifully paints over it. Hats off to public artists.

Teddy Roosevelt said this: “Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing.”

I dunno, Teddy, I dunno.

 

Ljg.

I don’t know who painted this; otherwise I would’ve given her/him credit.


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More Reasons to Write Every Day

I came across this TedX video about the benefits of a daily writing practice.  Since life recently threw me a curve ball, I have fallen out the of that practice.  This video has motivated me to pick it up again and make it a part of my daily spiritual routine– just like prayer, meditation and yoga.   If you are a writer — or even if you are not– I encourage you to take a few minutes and listen to this writer’s entire presentation.  She really provides some practical advice for developing a daily writing routine.

 


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Being Captured by A Story

I honestly believe that stories float around in the ether looking for a storyteller to bring them life.  They send out little snippets of themselves– images, clips of dialogue, a tripping phrase or two– capturing the attention of the writer who then puts the pieces together and writes the story.   That has happened to me this week.

For me, the structure of a story is classic:  three acts comprised of a set up, rising tension or conflict, then a finale with a resolution.   On Sunday, an image presented itself to me and I thought it would make a great “first act”.   Then another image with some dialogue captured me on Monday for a second act.  Then last night I fell asleep while watching television.  When I woke up about midnight, the third act was right before me.   I had the complete story in bits and pieces.

Before I finally went to bed, I scribbled a tangle of one line phrases into my journal — I was that afraid I would forget it.   Now when the day job settles down a bit and I am not so darn exhausted when I get home, I plan to get to the business of actually writing the story.

The story captured me and will not let me rest until I write it.

 


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Noisy Toys: How I Start a New Creative Project, Part II

In yesterday’s post, I shared how I engage in a new creative project. In the process of working the plan I ran into a glitch. Or, to be more optimistic, you could say I expanded my knowledge base on a grand scale. At first, I almost jumped through the loophole I articulated yesterday of admitting the plan was not workable. Instead, I powered through and made the first of I hope many recordings of my own percussion music.

To make a long story short, I had no problem mixing a very short audio clip. The problem came with sharing it. Oh, is that not the bane of the creative’s existence: showing the rest of the world your work? In order to share the audio, I ended up having to make, with great difficulty, a video. Even though I felt like I had enrolled in a crash course in film editing, I was pleased to learn some new applications, and refresh myself in some old ones.

What I learned is this:

  1. Pushing the boundaries in my creative process requires hard work and a headache. The idea came easy.   Mastering the tools and technology, well, not so much.
  2. It is not enough for me, at any rate, to create. I must also share it with an audience for it to be worth my while.
  3. Finally, I will never be happy with just one creative genre. I need to be trying new things on a regular basis. I may never be very good at music making, but I enjoyed the process. And that is just as important as the product.

Without further delay, here is my twenty-four second sound mixing experiment.

Note:  To create and share my percussion work,  I used my iPhone to access Garageband (only available for Apple products) and to shoot the video,  a PC laptop in order to access Windows Movie Maker, my email application to mail the audio and video files from one device to the other and, of course, WordPress. Oh, and the instruments:  A darbuka, an egg shaker, and a cowbell.

Oi.

ljgloyd 2018