Wednesday, March 31, 2010

bitter green

bitter green
O! beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-ey'd monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.

~Iago, Act III, scene 3

in happier times

on guard for thee

Monday, March 15, 2010

in need of story

When I was in university, I had a best friend.

I think we noticed each other because no matter how busy school became, in between classes we would sit in the Aggie lounge and dig paperback novels out of the depths of our packs. Actually, we became friends before we knew this about one another, but once discovered, it was one more thing that bound us, this need for a story: someone else’s and eventually, our own. We had a sense of living within a story, and then, projecting where that story would go next. And by this, I don’t mean planning what we were going to do next summer or what courses we were taking next year: I mean, trying to see the trajectory our lives would take, once we’d finished school – the arc of the story.

We had separate stories -  lives and plans that did not include each other. But for that period of time, we were alternately teller and listener, and at times, Muse for one another. Even now, more than twenty-five years later, I sometimes feel I am telling episodes of my life to him. Sometimes I even remember to send them, as we did abundantly and often after we graduated and parted ways.

That period of university, and immediately after, was most fertile for me in drawing and writing. In between lab reports and assignments, late at night, I wrote bad, but cathartic poetry. After leaving home, I wrote stories about my new province, the people I met driving the far reaches of this dry, barren loneliness of prairie. I imagined their pasts and their futures, as well as my own.

Lately, story has played less of a role in my life. Certainly, I have read, told, drawn, and invented plenty for my children. But that sort of febrile, uncensored flow of imagination – no. I have not, in the last several years, seemed to have need of it.

Through both work and school, I’ve learned to write lab reports, methods, literature reviews, critiques, abstracts. The focus has been on keeping a firm reign on the flow of ideas; disciplined, logical, concise. This type of distillation and synthesis does, indeed, have a satisfaction of its own. And in its own way, it is a kind of storytelling. In its own tight, technical form, scientific writing is itself  a highly evolved art: the compilation of complex ideas, taut descriptions of lengthy processes, persuasive interpretation and conclusions. And right now, I am a mere apprentice to that art.

All the same, I am awakened to an old need – to write the way my friend and I once did: in letters, stories and poems, drenched in sun, memory, cloudbank and rainshadow. To write dreamfully and extravagantly, with a freedom of invention I have not felt in a very long time. To write, with or without purpose, simply to revel in what those words might eventually reveal. And to let those words lead onward, to whatever path lies waiting to be lived.

photo: 1983( or 4, or so) by David Nunuk

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bare pair

Bare pair, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.
I am deeply envious of anyone that can take pictures of foliage at this time of year.

Though it's still a long way from spring, we are getting some breaks in the weather - enough to give a sense of premature spring fever before the next snowstorm slaps us back into reality.

Meantime: writing stories, as per Leah's Creative Every Day theme for March. I had forgotten that this was something that was important to me. More later.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

February creative prompts from Daisy Yellow

I really love Tammy's prompts to help stay fresh, and I actually kept a list of them on my iTouch and the notebook I carry with me to remember what to do. Like January, February was a little hit and miss. But I really liked having a list to help me re-focus when I needed a prompt for something to try next.

The real list is actually longer than this, but these are the ones I wanted to work on:

Practice drawing letters or numbers (ideas at Line Practice)
Watch an art tutorial on YouTube
Create an art journal page using a prompt at Kick-Start Your Art Journal #6
♣ Send a handwritten note to someone to thank them for doing something
♣ Create art or write about a circle, the concept of a circle, or something circular
♣ Go for a leisurely walk with your camera, photographing whatever interests you
Develop a creative/ingenious way to solve a problem  (maybe, see below)
♣ Do art|craft together with a child
Experiment with a new material for your favorite art (i.e. if you knit - try a new type of yarn, if you draw - try square paper, if you paint - try transparent watercolors, if you draw - try charcoal or india ink)
Write a poem or haiku

Wow, not so good. Can I use the Winter Olympics and madly knitting on my Canadian Komi mittens as my defense?

A couple were harder than I expected, or at least I wasn't quite sure how to approach them. The problem solving one, for instance. I feel like I spend most of my work day problem solving and trouble shooting, along with my supervisor. It's an inherent part of the research process, and I've argued before that I believe that the process of science demands creativity and sideways thinking as much as it demands linearity and logic.  So I'm not sure I can make a distinction between creative problem solving and....well, any other type.

As far as the leisurely walk with my camera - well, I did walk with my camera. But I didn't do the two walks I specifically planned on: I have two locations I really want to photograph and I never did make it to either of those places. And I still want to do it, so I'm going to carry this item over.

For a new material, I dug out a set of colored chalk pencils that I tried once and put away because I just couldn't get the hang of them. I still can't get the hang of them. They're Stabilo Carbothello pencils, and the they can be blended dry or painted wet. But they're just.....weird, and I have to admit I still don't get how to use them. Still, it was fun to pull them out and play with something different.

I also realized that the time for doing arts and crafts with my children is really over. Not because they don't do it anymore, rather, they are now entirely self-directed and have developed their very own clear preferences, and other than "can I borrow these paints, mom?" I can't honestly say I do art with them any longer. They have their own path now, and I'm fine with that.

Now, on to the March challenges! (although, if I keep carrying items forward, I can see this list getting longer and longer....)
And a big thank you as always to Tammy at Daisy Yellow for the ongoing inspiration!