Boomerangs and Ping Pong

For many summers, beginning when my son was just one year old, we went to family camp. One year, a camper brought a boomerang and in between our many scheduled activities it became the must-do activity for all of the campers throughout the week. It was fascinating to watch this wing-shaped piece swoop through the air in a broad arc before returning to its owner. For me, however, it was a source of intense frustration as no matter how hard I would fling the “boom”, I could not get it to “rang” back to me!

Then there was the summer of the hacky sack (I was able to hack the miniature beanbag few times before it sacked) and I will never forget the year someone brought a tightrope and for one afternoon we were transformed into a circus camp!

The first week of August brought a new fun-fad activity and as such, the “this is the most fun, and everyone needs to try it” activity from the year before was wiped clean from most of our memories.

There were a couple of activities that refused to fade away, like gigantic chess set and the ping-pong table that lived on the big deck of the main lodge; year after year children and adults alike spent hours on both. It only took about a day of hyper-focus with that summer’s fad before the classics made their way back to us, until by the end of the week, I would hear the plink, plinkity plink sound of the plastic ball bouncing back and forth as I slept.

I am learning that my creative interests are like the trendy boomerang and the classic ping-pong table. I am on a perpetual hunt for new ideas, techniques (and tools!) and as I discover the “newest” idea, or technique (which of course all require new tools!) those that were considered must-do and must-have only a year were shoved to the back of the supply cupboard.

There are some elements that refuse to be relegated to the the back shelf; I see them creeping into many of my projects. Incorporating words, rich colour and utilizing curved lines are my classics when it comes to creating art. They will stay with me and my creations long after I have finished #100 on the list of 100 creative projects you can make with kool aid packages.

Will Sharpies become a classic? I’ll let you know next summer!

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Stack ‘em high, up to the sky…

But don’t let them topple over!

It sounds like a line from an old Milton Bradley board game.

Growing up for many included the Friday night family games night. I wasn’t as keen on board games like some of my friends were. I can picture one friend’s game collection; it literally filled and spilled out of a closet in the hallway.

In fact, I have never played the staple of board games, Monopoly. This is something I am secretly proud of.

For me, games didn’t serve a purpose.

             Could the purpose be simply to have fun?

Spinners that got stuck and pieces that were missing and people screaming because they landed on “(fill in this space with the landing spot of your choosing) just didn’t seem like a lot of fun to me. Perfectionists have a hard time with games involving chance although I suppose I could have looked at the spinners as an opportunity to perfect my flicking finger or spin to always land on free turn, but I didn’t.

I know I played some games. Looking back, I can see that they were the kinds of games that I guess  I thought had a purpose. I could improve upon, use my brain to figure out.

Memory and Trivial Pursuit were more my style as to win meant using a variety of memory strategies and applying prior knowledge. They were practical and had a purpose.

          And they were fun, right?

If I can say they were fun then my practical bubble may be about to burst….let me get back to you on that.

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Yesterday

I, like hundreds of thousands of other Canadians am still processing the tragedy that took place last week in Moncton.

I created a small tangle, and, for the first time used red to shade with as it is the colour that the RCMP wear. I don’t like my tangle, not for technical reasons, but because I feel I haven’t captured the emotions I am still feeling. I am certain there will be another piece shaded in red done very soon.

Day 10.

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Split in two…

I live in a split world.

The open part of me sees a meadow as a place for opportunity. I picture children gathering windflowers to present to their mothers. The sun shines and a soft breeze carries the songs of nature back to heaven itself.

The closed part sees that same meadow, bleak, barren, and covered with ice. The clouds hang dark and low and the moan of winter’s wind echoes for miles.

I began this post thing that the open part of me is the creative part while the closed part is the part that tries to inhibit me. Upon further reflection, I believe that both parts are integral to the creative process.

If I viewed only the sun shining and the birds sweetly singing, my art would probably take on a highlighted, cute, bubblegum quality. Keeping open to the moaning of the wind and the bleakness in the world, allows shadows and depth to form.

Highlights and shadows are necessary to bring life to art.

For Day 9, I tangled my first initial. I didn’t like how it turned out so I ripped it up…(should any of my young magnificent minds stumble across this post, please do not tear up your work….)

Before I would allow myself to throw it out, I photographed it. This lead me to thinking about light and shadow and thus my post for today. The sunny meadow, the dark, ice-covered meadow, and even a tangle that gets torn up. Everything plays a part in the creative process.

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A great day for cycling…

…on the cycle of creativity that is. 

Image

I have gone once through the cycle. Okay…I have probably cycled through it at least 461 times this week.. 

While I know there is a cycle of creativity (at least I am assuming there is), I have absolutely no idea of what it consists. I suppose I should start paying attention. To do that I must find a way to slow my mind down. Perhaps this is the true challenge of the 30 Day Creativity Challenge.

To inspire me, I am reminded of two artists. Thank you Simon & Garfunkel; I will try my best to slow down. Just as soon as I finish marking and reporting and tidying and…

                 Slow down, you move too fast
                 You got to make the morning last
                 Just kicking down the cobble stones
                 Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy

                 Ba da, Ba da, Ba da, Ba da…Feelin’ Groovy

                Hello lamp-post
                What cha knowin’?
                I’ve come to watch your flowers growin’
               Ain’t cha got no rhymes for me?
               Doot-in’ doo-doo
               Feelin’ groovy

              I’ve got no deeds to do
              No promises to keep
              I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
              Let the morning time drop all it’s petals on me
              Life, I love you
             All is groovy

59th Street Bridge Song

 

Processing…

I didn’t post yesterday because I hadn’t finished the creative piece I had begun.

I found myself headed toward the same thing today.

I can’t post things that aren’t finished…that is cheating!

I realized that part of being creative is accepting the process itself. At times, this can be even more of a challenge than the project we are working on which can lead us to believe many untruths about our work.

I come from a long line of perseverers, and as a result we keep going and going, a little like that battery bunny. Or, if we can see it is not going well and it may never go well, we stop altogether, regroup and move onto something different.

Today, I noticed myself wanting to stop and regroup. At first I felt like I must be giving up but then I realized that it wasn’t that at all; I felt I wasn’t doing it (I’m not sure what “it” is) correctly.

If there is one thing I have learned after more than a decade of being a brain expander of magnificent minds is that there is more than one way to get to an answer. Sometimes there are as many different processes as are in my class! As long as I am being authentic to my creative process then I have met the challenge.

This is what I began working on today. (DAY 6) I have to add in the background and then do some shading. I know I will finish it, even if it don’t like it because I am a perseverer.

I am choosing not to share yesterday’s partial creation (DAY 5) because I have come to an agreement with myself. I don’t have to share it. I may choose to at another time or maybe I will choose never to share it. It is all part of the process…my creative process.

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A different way of looking…a room from a different view

This is going to be a short post. Not because I am too tired or that I’m trying cut today’s challenge short, but because the piece I created shares more in its 3×3 square than I ever could in a 3000 word essay.

This piece represents 15 magnificent minds hard at work.

A tangled exam

A tangled exam

As 15 of my gr7 magnificent minds wrote their first formal English exam, I observed, with much joy, how seriously and intently they worked to share their increased brain power with me.

I jotted down their names and the places where each magnificent mind sat and today, I created a tangle in their honour. While not obvious, I created a grid based on the seating arrangement and in each space I tangled the first initial.

There are many details that I feel are lacking but, as us tanglers know, there are no mistakes in this technique so I will accept the flaws.

I took the other path less travelled…

…and this has made all the difference.

If I could earn an air mile for the hundreds of thoughts and ideas that fly around my mind each day, I would have been able to travel around the world at least ten times this year. Right now Air Canada ticket agents are breathing a collective sigh of relief…

Being a creative wannabe is hard work. I become physically exhausted after working on a new art idea. I’m emotionally drained after working on a piece that I can picture in my mind but does transfer onto paper the way I want it to. Muscles tense, headaches form and more often than not, my body feels it has just run the equivalent of a marathon.

The thing is, I’m always working on a new idea/piece/project. My mind, like many other creative wannabes, is on-call 24 hours a day. I never know when something will spark a new creative opportunity. During one of my brain expanding classes, a magnificent mind could ask a question, and Poof! Idea.

“So, in the story we just read, I don’t understand why the author left us hanging like that.”

A great question. Well…

POOF! …hanging…maybe I could try to paint some new picture frames and hang them so I can display magnificent mind’s newest art project. Oh! Maybe I should try to construct frames using only the covers of old textbooks…Oh! My magnificent minds could then write poems to decoupage over the frames.

One would expect that the magnificent mind asking the question would give up on getting an answer from me based on the thoughts I have just shared but, and I find this absolutely fascinating, the thoughts flying at warp speed through my mind have managed to do so in some kind of parallel thought universe. Every so often they hit at exactly the same moment resulting in a mouth filled with babble. More often though, it all takes place seamlessly as my creative ideas get filed in the “ideas to deal with when I have time” portion of my brain while my brain expanding mode carries on.

It is only Day 4 of the 30 Day Challenge and my mind is in overdrive. On the inside I am exhausted, on the outside? On the outside it looks like a pretty hum-drum, normal day.

That’s what happens when you choose to take that other path… Thanks Mr. Robert Frost.

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This is my creative project for the day. I have been having fun with photo apps. This picture, taken of the art cupboards, is an example of how, on the outside they look sturdy and practical but pry open the doors and they are crammed to the top with paper, pastel, paints, glue, chalks, ink and infinite creative possibilities.

The Cursive Fairy Has Left The Building

When I was young, handwriting was something that my friends and I spent hours perfecting. I’m not referring to writing with one’s hand, I mean good ole cursive writing.

The first letter of my name is meant to be written with a flourish…it looks so much more elegant. Throw in a fine point brown ink pen and my world is almost visually perfect.

Face it, everything looks fancy schmancy when hand-cursived.

Cursived?

Yes. I just made up a new part of speech for the word “cursive”. I’m an English teacher; us English teaching brain expanders have a special license that allows us to create words as needed.

Fast forward a couple of decades and other than the “how to make the neatest cursive look illegible 101″,  class doctors are required to take, along side of the pharmacist’s, “learning to decode doctor’s handwriting 101″, it appears that the beautifully elegant cursive is on its last legs.

Texting is making a bold impression with the teenage crowd these days. They can type out faster with one finger and no eyes on the screen than I ever could using the two handed qwerty method. And I’m pretty fast. Some of the acronyms they use are mighty LOL too…I’m not sure the cursive flourish would work when I’m ROTFL.

So…for today’s creative challenge, I pulled out a stunning piece of work recently done by my brilliant grade seven minds. We read a story about a man who had a funny signature and afterward I had each young mind sign their name in their most elegant and flourishy cursive handwriting. Each of their signatures is unique and as special as they are. I love it.

For day three of the creativity challenge, I took their masterpiece and transformed it into a poster that celebrated their creative minds.

With minds as magnificent and flourish-filled as these, I feel that we have a little more time before “cursive” becomes extinct.

LOL

The Cursive Fairy Presents

The Cursive Fairy Presents

Let the avoiding tactics begin

Yesterday, the anticipation of creative possibility ruled and banished anything remotely related to “practicality.” Today, the oh so powerful “doubt” managed to sneak past my creative guard dogs. “Doubt” is a powerful enemy, known to many creative wannabes like myself. All day long it stayed just within the safe-to-be creative kingdom I had so valiantly tried to build yesterday.

“Doubt” can disguise itself using number of clever costumes. Today, it used the classic of classics, “time”.

Don’t get me wrong, time, or lack thereof, is a very real and current concept in my corner of the planet right now. It is, remember, the second most busy time of year and as such, time is something myself and my other brain expanding friends can attest to not having enough of.

Are you saying you don’t even have 15 minutes to be creative?

Yes, I am saying just that very thing.

And that game or two or three of candy crush? That was an essential part of the brain expanding brilliance portion of your day?

Hmm….well, no.

A small battle lost to “time” and a small victory for creativity. Am I thrilled/pleased/content with the drawing I did tonight (15 minutes on the dot)?

No.

But I did it. I photographed it. I wrote this entry so I could (gasp) share it.

Hmm….perhaps this was a slightly larger battle won than I first thought.

inside the pod

inside the pod