Photos Are Evocative

A flat tire over the weekend with no possibility of repair until Monday, I was on foot.  I recommend it…not the flat tire, but walking through your neighborhood.  When I spied this “doggie in the window,” I grabbed my smartphone from my backpack and took a few photos.  This one tugged at my heart.  I could certainly make up a story around it.  Would I write it from the dog’s perspective?  The owner’s?  My own?  Hmmm.  It’s really all my own, no matter which perspective I choose.  Or, I could paint it…

doginthewindow.2018.jpg

There is nothing like a visual to evoke a memory, a feeling or some other emotional response.

Writing Prompt:
If you were going to use this image as inspiration for your writing today, how would you begin?  Does it inspire a poem, perhaps?  Write it!

Painting as a Personal Process Facilitator

I received one of those dreaded phone calls.  My ex-husband had a stroke!  It wasn’t looking good.  A surge of helplessness arose in me.  And fear.  I live a distance from where he lives.  I needed to do something while waiting for news.  This painting is by no means a work of art.  However, this is what I was prompted to paint.  I call it “Prayer.”

transformation2

When I first began painting in 2014, it was all about following my intuition.  As I added marks to the canvas, I noticed images.  I defined some of those images.  My expertise at drawing, combining colors and making a painting cohesive didn’t exist.  However, intuitive painting was a good way for me to begin this artistic journey.

I quickly discovered, that like poetry and journal writing, painting facilitated my personal process.  In this particular instance, painting helped me to handle the big emotions and the feelings of helplessness.  (It has been a long road for my ex-husband, but he did recover from the stroke.)

Contemplation:
Have you noticed how your creative practice facilitates your personal life process?  Can you think of specific instances where you turned to your creative practice to support you in some way?

Appreciate your art-making.

Grieve Deeply, Laugh Loudly

pic2We’ve heard this, right?  In order to feel the joy, you have to feel the sorrow.  If you shut off one part of yourself, you are shutting off being fully alive.  How you relate to your emotional life is going to affect your writing and creativity.

Poetry has been the greatest facilitator of the big emotions for me.  Journal writing and painting are close seconds.  I’ve learned that as I’m able to be present with an emotion, I then pass through that territory.  I come out the other side intact and a bit more integrated.

To be an effective writer, finding a way to say “I feel sad” without explicitly stating “I feel sad,” comes with practice.

Below is an excerpt from a piece I wrote in 2011.  My parents had died six months apart following several years of their decline and concurrent family disruption.

“I stopped at Burger Express.  It seemed like a burger was called for.  Single patty with cheese, no special sauce, no onions.  Yes to catsup.  Yes to small fries.  No book to read.  Waiting for my order.  Staring out at the falling snowflakes.  Staring out at nothing.  Squinting and staring at signs across the street.  Staring.  The wait person calls my number.  I take the red tray and head towards a little tucked-away table.  A man sitting at the counter asks “Are you going to share half of that with me?”  I recognize an acquaintance’s warm voice.  I stop to say hello and tell him that my Mom died last week.  I am telling everyone it seems.  Now, the cook, cashier and waitperson at Burger Express know too.  He is sorry.  His Dad died a year ago.  His Mom, 84, lives an hour south of here.  Everything is so tentative.  He gives me a big hug in his bear arms.  “If there is anything I can do, let me know.” He adds “Seriously.”  I thank him.  How I’d like to be held in strong arms for half a day.  I think that would really help.  It gets old, this wrapping my own arms around myself all the time.”

In this short excerpt, do you get a sense of my grief?  Did writing about this help me?  In some odd way, yes.  I wasn’t in denial of these feelings and I found refuge through writing these words.

WRITING PROMPT:
How do you write about the feeling of sadness?  Typically, this type of writing is only for you.  Do you allow yourself to fully express your sadness in writing, poetry or painting or any other creative outlet?

 

 

Engaging the Fantasy

Date Night2Worlds emerge through our art-making.  Though they aren’t necessarily the agreed upon reality, they exist somewhere–perhaps–outside of the conscious in the unconscious, your personal or the greater unconscious.

What an interesting territory to explore and bring into form through writing and art.

For me, it is most accessible through painting.  I tap into it when I allow something to show and reveal itself to me.  I engage the conversation and follow the lead I receive through inquiry–“what is showing itself to me?”

It is the territory of the imaginal realm…

As defined by Mary Harrell, Ph.D.,

“As a first definition of the imaginal realm, I’ll borrow from Iranologist and scholar Henry Corbin (1997) who said that the imaginal realm is a subtle world, which exists in a field between matter and mind.”

And I like this one from Wikipedia:

“Coleridge distinguished imagination, which expresses realities of an imaginal realm transcending any personal existence, and ‘fancy’, or fantasy, which expresses the creativity of the artistic soul. For him, ‘imagination is the condition for cognitive participation in a sacramental universe’.”

Finally, this one by C. S. Lewis:

C.S. Lewis considered that “reason is the organ of truth, but imagination is the organ of meaning.

Creative Prompt:
Where have you gone lately, in your imagination?  Through your writing or through your art-making?  What’s your favored vehicle for visiting the imaginal realm?

The Dreamers

dandelion

 

WRITING PROMPT:
Through your writing and art, how do you address controversy?
How do you risk writing or making an artistic statement
about something that has both an emotional and political edge
for you and for many?

 

Earth’s Advocate

Through my writing and painting, I feel a call to service.
My blog is a virtual soapbox where I get to express what’s on my mind.  I try not to be overtly political.  That said, the personal is truly political, so my views are woven through what I write about or might be reflected in what I paint.  This can’t be helped if we are authentic in our expression.  What we write, paint or draw is in the context of the times and circumstances in which we live…is that true?

⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔

#5 in the hexalogy of poems

Earth does not need us to advocate for her.
She has ambitions that outshine our own.
Though it could help us if we hear her roar
she does communicate if we would hone…

to practice connection daily is wise
to stop and listen and learn her true ways
it’s in the wind where she speaks and sighs
“My children, you are numbering your days.”

“Is waking a painful process” you ask
rubbing the sleep from your lightblind eyes
surfacing from slumber a painful task?
Though not to awake could be your demise.

She rocks the cradle and out you will fall
let it be because you hear her sweet call. (to life!)

Writing Prompt:
Do you have a favorite fictional or nonfictional character (in books or films) who exemplifies a “call to service” by the way he or she lives her life?  (It could be Wonder Woman.)  What qualities in this character do you most admire?  Why?

Revealing and Concealing

What I’ve noticed through writing and with painting, is that while I reveal some things, I  conceal others.  I’ve also noticed how as a reader or as a viewer of art, my mind seems to supply what is “missing.”

This is interesting to me.  Especially noticeable when I complete a painting, I see how my mind’s eye supplies what it assumes is there.  Like say I don’t get the ear just right, my mind adjusts what I see to fit with what I have seen or seem to know of how an ear should look.  Does that make sense?

With writing, while you give plenty of details in describing person, place, circumstance, you also don’t want to have to spoonfeed your reader.  You want to trust that you’ve lead them far enough down the path that they can then fill in that which you, as the writer, haven’t directly stated.

Does this holding back make for more interesting writing and art?  The secrets that underlie our protagonist’s behavior–the intrigue–do they ever have to be fully revealed and disclosed to your reader or viewer?  Maybe yes, maybe no.

Think of some films that you’ve seen or books that you’ve read. In the film, Cast Away, what is the significance of Tom Hanks meeting the woman at the crossroads?  Are we supposed to just get it?  Are we going to be left with the question?  Don’t filmmakers who are planning future sequels leave us with unanswered questions?  In writing a novel, doesn’t the writer end each chapter with an intrigue of some sort, thereby building suspense and forward impetus?

I’m thinking that we can supply enough to satisfy our readers or viewers and then leave something to the imagination. We then maintain an aura of enough mystery to let our reader conjecture.

The critique has been that with films especially, we take away the imagination of the viewer.  We want to encourage that imagination, don’t we?  How many Hollywood films do you recall that tie up all the loose ends by the conclusion of the film?  I frequently appreciate a foreign film that leaves me with something to ponder.