Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place


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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


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A Cow Bell, Two Shakers, and a Strumstick: How I Start a New Creative Project

I am an over-committed person (AKA a workaholic):   I have the day job. Then I have a continuous home improvement project that is going to take months, if not years, to resolve. I do things for my faith community. I drum as much as I can to relieve the stress of the first three commitments. I love to read (see the Goodreads list on this site). I do about forty-five minutes to an hour a day of cardio exercise and yoga for health maintenance.   And, of course, I write.

Sometimes I don’t feel like I can permit myself to try out new activities because of all these other activities. I believe, though, that to call myself a Creative, I must constantly push the boundaries through to new experiences. And once the permission is granted, it is simply a matter of making a plan and then working the plan.

One of the new activities I am considering is composing and recording some of my percussion work. Let me say here that I am most definitely NOT a musician, but nevertheless I have given myself permission to still explore this creative and technical genre.

So how am I doing this? First, I set the intention by granting myself permission to try something new AND, just as importantly, permission to set it aside mid-stream should I find it not a viable endeavor.   Next, I brainstormed the project on a pad of paper, grouping the dump of ideas into actionable items. For this project, I realized that I needed to review the technology I had on hand or could access without cost,  investigate online videos and tutorials for the software, and inventory my percussion instruments* and song sheets. After sorting, reviewing, and prioritizing these actions, I determined that I would start by learning if I could use my cell phone and the Garageband app on it to record and mix MP3 tracks.   Before I start working on this, I started a Project page in my planner.

So my process is: 1) set the intention, 2) brainstorm ideas, 3) sort the ideas into specific actions, 4) implement the first action and make note of the results.

If I am able to get past the first action, then I will proceed to the next, and so on until a finished product is at hand.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

ljgloyd 2018

*FYI:  I have four frame drums, two darbukas, four egg shakers, a flex-a-tone, a strumstick and a cow bell.   That’s going to be one weird and funky track if I am successful.


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Appeasing the Muse


I have said it before: this is not a food blog. I’m write mostly about the creative process. But since my writing has been a little static for a few days, I thought I would take a little break from that and be creative in the kitchen.

What do you do with a couple of ancient squash?  OK, they’re only two months old, but for produce that’s a long time.   I roasted them, gutted them, paired them with an equally ancient pair of apples, an onion, and various spices and other seasonings. After pouring it all into a casserole, I glued it all together with big fistfuls of fontina and mozzarella.

Many times when I get loose in the kitchen, the end result is a disaster. Not so this time. It turned out quite tasty.

Who knew that one could overcome writer’s block by appeasing the Muse with mounds of hot, gooey cheese?  She’s easy that way.

Ljgloyd 2018


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Back to Basics Across the Disciplines

Once or twice a month I gather with others at a local drum circle. This particular circle has a lot of djembe and conga players and most of them are experienced and talented percussionists. I am learning a lot from them.

However, I am an amateur darbuka player, and my initial study of drumming was with middle-eastern rhythms– which are enormously different from the Afro-Latin beats of the drum circle players. Furthermore, once a week I practice with a band (guitarists and vocalists) who play contemporary pop/folk. So you can see that I am exposed to an ecclectic variety of musical sounds. Unfortunately, this is resulting in me developing, in my opinion, a rather eccentric drumming style where I am not particulary good at any one of them.

To mitigate this, I have assigned to myself the task of going back to the fundamentals of middle-eastern drum patterns and practicing them until I am competent in them.

I think this return to the fundamentals is important in all creative disciplines. If you crochet, perfect that single chain stitch. If you cook, be a master at hard boiling eggs or making that bechemel sauce. If you write, dust off your dog-earred copy of Strunk and White and review the elements of style.

Before Picasso started painting like this,

he learned to paint like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ljg (c) 2017

In case you are interested, I am working on perfecting a maqsoum pattern:

 


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My Barbaric Yawp

“Yawp” is one of those old words that does not come up in everyday conversation.   It means “to cry out” in a loud voice, and  is akin to the more modern word “yelp.”   Walt Whitman used the word in his poem Song of Myself:

“I too am not a bit tamed—I too am untranslatable;
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.”  (Verse 52)

Sometimes we all need to act a little untamed so that our true selves can burst forth with a mighty “yawp!”  When we break through creativity happens.

This “crying out” is illustrated in my favorite scene in one of my favorite movies

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Finally, A Useful Insight: AW Check-In Week 7

imageI admit I was harsh last week — and most of the previous weeks — in my check-in(s).   This week, though,  I must congratulate the author for providing some material that has given me a useful insight.  In fact, I have to admit that she may have changed the course of my creative endeavors.

The theme of chapter 7 is “recovering a sense of connection,”  with the goal of “excavating areas of genuine creative interest as you connect with your personal dreams.”   The way  one connects with the inner creative self is doing the morning pages and going on artist’s dates.  This gets one past the obstacles that so treacherously cause one to trip.

I do find that writing the morning pages the first thing after waking helps me to tap into some sources of unconscious inspiration.  One of the tasks in this chapter was to create an “autobiographical collage”.  I did a collage of found images early in the week shortly after reading the chapter.  It depicts a hand rising from a cave reaching towards the sky.   This illustrates my unconscious material coming to light.

The author also discusses two obstacles in connecting to inspiration and making subsequent creative output:  perfectionism and jealousy.   Although I feel compelled to apply my best efforts to any undertaking, there is a freedom in knowing I can never be perfect.  There is no perfect writing or art piece I can create so I might as well just relax and enjoy the process.  Similarly, trying to outshine another creative is a manifestation of jealousy.   I may strive to create in a particular genre or medium I don’t really enjoy or excel because I want to be like some other writer or artist.

So what is the useful insight for me?  I don’t really enjoy the novel writing process; I’m just jealous of the celebrity, great or small, that being a novelist may garner for fifteen minutes.  I would much rather continue doing what I’ve always done: blogging, writing poems, essays and the occasional short story, and maybe arting about things that interest me.  Coming into this awareness, I am released from the tyranny of perfecting a genre I don’t enjoy.  But who knows?  Maybe that release will end up allowing me to create something truly spectacular.

In other words, I am learning to enjoy the ride towards an unknown destination.

ljg 2017

 

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The Crafting of Art

No matter what one’s imagination conjures, there is no artful creative expression of it unless one has mastered the craft of creating it.

A potter may imagine the soft lines and symmetry of a vase, yet if she cannot control the clay on the wheel there will be nothing but a gray mass of sludge. If a writer imagines his story in the deep recesses of his mind, yet does not know grammar and vocabulary, if he cannot master the weaving of words into a coherent and dramatic structure, then there is no novel.

People have told me that I have a nice voice, yet I am untrained and no matter how much I enjoy belting out a song, I know I will never, ever be able stand up before an audience and perform without making a fool of myself.  I have not mastered the craft of song.

Similarly, I have been exploring music through drumming, but I am a novice who can’t even read music. Yet, I move forward through study and practice so that I may, hopefully, someday master my craft and be able to artfully conjure the emotion that drumming can evoke.

Whatever your medium or genre, practice your craft until it becomes art.

Ljg. 2017

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/craft/


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The Artist’s Way Week 2 Check-In: Just Do It

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I have reached the point in reading the book where, in my past attempts at it, I was tempted to slam shut the cover or pitch it across the room. It is not because of what the author writes, it is how she writes. Chapter 2 is titled “Recovering a Sense of Identity,” and opens with this: “This week addresses self-definition as a major component of creative recovery. You may find yourself drawing new boundaries and staking out new territories as your personal needs, desires, and interests announce themselves. The essays and tools are aimed at moving you into your personal identity, a self-defined you.” (Cameron, 41)

The problem is that it doesn’t– or at least I’m not seeing this in the text. Oh, there is useful, insightful material on writers’ block, “poison playmates, ” “crazymakers,” and other hindrances to the creative process, but if these issues serve to help us self-identify as creatives, then the author did not do a good job in bringing her arguments back to support her thesis. If I were my high school English teacher, this chapter would have gone back to the author with red comments and a request to rewrite it.

But this post is not a book review. It is a review of my progress in developing a healthy identity as a creative person. So to that end, this past week I created my own task list. This week I simply did what writers do. I engaged in activities that made me write, prepare to write or edit what I did write.

I dug back into my files and pulled out storylines and character profiles I had started and then abandoned. I set up both computer and physical project notebooks for my research and development. I also wrote several short blog posts this week.

Yes, I did stick to the program inasmuch as I did my morning pages every day, went on an artist date (see the post on setting up my creative corner) and by reviewing and writing out creative affirmations.

I can give the author some credit: since I started the program a couple of weeks ago I have seen some movement and breakup of creative blockages,. However, I wonder if this has as much to do with my own work and commitment to my creative recovery. We’ll see.  In the meantime, I’m just going to do it!


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The Artist’s Way, Week One Check-in: Warrior Woman

[Note: my program week goes from Monday to Monday but my schedule may require that weekly tasks, dates, and postings overlap. For example, I did my second week artist’s date before I posted this first week chec-in.]

Week 1 Check-in:

I was able to start my week with an Artist’s Date, write morning pages every day, and do a couple of the prescribed tasks.  Now it’s time for the….(dramatic drumroll)… “The Check-in”, a summary of the take-aways of this week’s lesson.

The title of the first week’s chapter is “Recovering a Sense of Safety.”

Okay, so the first question that came to mind as I read the chapter was “what is ‘safe’?” and second, “safe from what?”.

The answer is that “safe” is my ability to make external creative expressions without being “attacked.” Creativity cannot thrive when it is threatened. What is the nature of the threats and attacks?  Who is threatening and attacking me? Easy: my own negative core beliefs about myself.  It is my self-loathing and lack of esteem as a Creative, those negative perceptions of myself as being unworthy of calling myself a writer or artist.

Whenever an attack comes, one needs weapons to fight back. Weapons are provided in the tasks given in the chapter. I selected two: rewriting any negative statements made in my morning pages into positive affirmations. For example, one negative comment I made: “My writing is simplistic and naive.” I rewrote it: ‘My writing is clear, uncomplicated, and straightforward.”

Another task was to create a “Hall of Fame” where I identify and contain my “monsters” and “champions”. I am not going into great detail here, but let me just say that anyone, no matter how close, who has not supported my endeavors, who smirked or yawned as I attempted to show or explain my work are my “monsters”. (You don’t have to like my work, but I do insist that you respect it, me, and my process.). Conversely, my champions are the ones who encourage my work. (Again, you don’t have to like what I do, but just wish me God’s Speed on my journey).

I started this program with my Artist’s Date, which I describe a couple of posts ago. Listening to those ancient drums shake the room stirred up something in me as well. They were like war drums calling me to war — a war to protect my creative spirit.

Into battle, I go.

Coming up next week: Recovering a Sense of Identity.  (I posted on my second week Artist’s Date yesterday).

ljgloyd (c) 2017   Image: Female Samurai warrior riding into battle.

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