Impulse and Inspiration

20161113_164639Impulse and Inspiration. Two different words.  Creative people miss a lot of creative moments because we don’t connect the two.

Creative people — in this case, writers — come across possible story lines all the time. The shopping mall, a city alley, butterflies on a flower, all are possible props for poetry or short stories or even novels. But just because they are possible props doesn’t mean they are probable props.

And that’s where inspiration and impulse comes in.

Impulsive thoughts hit you all the time. It’s like directly channeling spirits and stories and hot spots right when they come through you. It’s following through on an instinct, a desire that hits you out of nowhere. It’s the knowing that this is what you want to paint. To write. To sculpt.

Inspiration is taking that impulse and creating something from it. Fine tuning it.  Letting your mind and heart wrap around it until a truly unique creation emerges.

I drive the back roads to work every day through quiet farm country.  The road makes three 90 degree turns before hitting the main highway. Before making the last left turn, the road points towards a full cornfield with woods behind it. One year there were a few missing rows that acted like a pointer to a dark shadowed spot of the back woods.  I was hit by the impulse to write a story about where that “road” led. I’m so glad I let that view inspire me. Two novels came from that impulse. And the view is no more.

I’ve also written short stories about an abandoned patch of land where a house once stood, and of getting caught in a never-ending maze of 90 degree turns.The inspiration for these stories came from the impulse of a moment: an empty piece of land, driving home through fog and mist. Looking over a different cornfield at a tall building way in the distance (I must have a thing for cornfields), I was hit with the idea of walking through the corn, coming out the other end in a totally different world. I didn’t stand there, daydreaming about what I could write about what was before me — it just hit me.

You can’t always know when inspiration — impulse — will hit. It’s funny how we all sit on the beach watching the water hit the shore, or find a fallen tree in the woods and plop ourselves down on it, or sit and listen to a symphony, hoping to get inspired. We force the inspiration, rather than let it come to us. What we are lacking is the impulse. The lightning strike. The inner knowledge that this is what you were waiting for.

What I’m saying is that when the impulse hits you, act upon it. You see something that stands apart from the rest of the world, note it. Develop it. Sketch it. Plant that seed of creativity and let it grow. Those are the stories you will remember. Those are the stories you will enjoy writing.

Now — I wonder what kind of cornfields lie west of here….

 

 

 

Wanderlusters Sign Up Here

CAM00498Do you ever feel you have a somewhat confusing relationship with your life? As I get older I find my emotional state doesn’t last long enough to hang a hat on, so I often can’t tell what I’m feeling.

I have to admit that I am having a ball with the Sunday Evening Art Gallery part of the blog. Every time I turn around I find one sort or another of Art and Creativity that makes me go, “Woah! What is this?”

I’m also blown away by good writing: insightful blogs, humorous blogs, books, poetry. I often want to cut and paste all the great stuff I’ve come across for future reference. But if I kept everything I found, I’d have to link three or four computers together for research.

There are so many branches of the Creative Tree of Life I’d like to climb. Don’t you feel that way sometimes? Maybe its rooted in in my monochrome job. Computer play I like. Computer data entry, I do not. But it pays the bills and the co-workers are fun and it makes my day. So I do the best I can.

Needless to say, most of my spare minutes (break time, lunch time, bathroom time) is devoted to playing in my mind. I look at the bracelet I’m wearing at work that day, something I bought at one of those over-priced jewelry parties, and say, “Man...I can make this!” I read about friends’ blogs on photography, cats, cooking, and I think, “Wow!  I can do this!” I read a great novel, something fast and fun and romantic, and I think, “Man…I can write this!”

And of course there’s always been the traveling thing. I’ve got friends who write traveling RVs blogs and others who pursue quaint castles and villas.  I want to visit all the out-of-the-way places. I want to visit the museums in Italy and the moors of Scotland and the ranches in Texas. I’d love to go to a Broadway play and go to the Cherry  Blossom Festival in Japan and drink hot chocolate at a Swiss chalet.

There’s always so much I want to do. So many worlds to explore, so many things to try. But because of time and money and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, there’s so many things I’ll not be able to do.

I have managed to keep my fingers in the pies of creativity through the years. I’ve painted iron gates and stone walls and pots overflowing with ivy on the wall;  I’ve painted faux bricks around my dining room, and I’ve planted some awesome herb gardens. But my taste in activities has changed as I’ve gotten older. Maybe I’ve just worn out the old ideas — or maybe I’ve just run out of walls.

It could just be Spring Fever knocking at my door. Warm evenings and pink skies can do that to one. But sometimes I feel like a kid standing outside of Disneyworld. I want to ride everything at once. And I feel I’m running out of time.

Do you get struck with wanderlust like this? I know you have to pick and choose — everything from life to love to TV shows. We can turn this way, that way. But in the end we have to choose one over another. And when the choices are all so sweet, so enchanting, so revealing, it’s hard.

Let me know if you’ve had to choose, or if you’re still choosing your creative path. Are you are managing to do more than less, or if you are a one-thrill-at-a-time creator. Have you been tempted? Do you do a little of lots or lots of just a little?

Let’s all wander together, shall we?

Sundy Evening Art Gallery — Trees

The beauty of Fall brings trees into the spotlight. The glory of golds and reds and browns dazzle the eye and the heart. But there are other incredible sights that we call trees.

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The poet Leonora Speyer says:

The trees are God’s great alphabet:
With them He writes in shining green
Across the world His thoughts serene.

 
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And so the usual becomes unusual. Or is it the other way around?

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Never underestimate the beauty of nature. She will fool you every time.  She doesn’t need golds and yellows and reds to be breathtaking.

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A step back into time, or a step forward — these magnificent entities will be here long after you and I are merely memories.

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Sunlight, Rain, Shadows. They forever endure.

 

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Of course, Joyce Kilmer said it best:

 

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I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — M.C. Escher

When you think of M.C. Escher, what do you think of?

I think of college dorm rooms with Escher posters on the wall, symbols of pop culture, statutes of intricate confusion and (no doubt) sources of psychedelic contemplation. They were the kind of images you were supposed to look at and see if the fish move or if the stairs go anywhere. And if you stared long enough, your whole world tilted sideways.

 

 

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As an adult I have revisited his world of lithographs and woodcuts and wood engravings, and have discovered a delightful new way to look at the world.

 

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Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972) is one of the world’s most famous graphic artists. During his lifetime, he made 448 lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings and over 2000 drawings and sketches. These feature impossible possibilities, explorations of infinity, and the magic of mathematics.

 

 

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Art like this is done every day by those familiar with computer graphics. But the curved perspectives, the stairs to infinity, the play of light and dark, were sketched at the turn of the century. Which, to me, makes it even more fascinating.

 

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When you stop and look — really look — at the thought and planning that went into the impossibilities in Escher’s work, it makes you appreciate his work even more.  Where do those stairs really go? Which angle am I supposed to be identifying with? Is it a fish or is it a bird?

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Minds like Escher’s work in the fourth dimension. It’s as if they look down at the world from a strange angle and record what they see.

 

 

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Take some time and visit Escher’s official website, http://www.mcescher.com.  You will find yourself wandering through gallery after gallery, wondering how a human mind could be so creative yet so spiral. Take a few moments and just look at the artwork — you will be enchanted by his point of view, and lost in his sketches.

 

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Something New!

The older I get (I never get tired of saying that!), the more I am taking time to discover corners of the world that I’ve never seen before. Now, that statement is all encompassing, all omnipotent. Yet for me, it’s very simple. I can only explore one line of extraordinary at a time. There is fantastic scenery, scrumptious foods, unusual land formations and mystical forms to be discovered.

For me, it is Unique Art.

What does that mean?

There are thousands of fantastic images floating around the Internet. Blogs and websites dedicated to all branches of the hallowed world of sculpture, photography, painting, sketching. I couldn’t possibly visit, showcase, and recommend all the beauty that exists outside my middle-aged sphere.

So I have decided that once a week I will showcase creativity that stands outside of reality. Outside the every day. Now, everything can fit into those parameters. So I hope to show you images you’ve never seen or imagined or saw somewhere on Facebook and let pass. Some will have links to websites; others will just be visions that have passed my way. I will honor the sites I borrow the visions from, and I do hope you take a few minutes to visit their homeworld.

If you’ve come across any unique worlds, let me know. Let’s make our next 20 years as out-of-the-box as we can make it!

And if any of my wanders tickle your fancy, let me know that, too. For I’d love to have company along the way….

My Muse is an Irish Wench

            Everyone has a Muse in their life — a spirit guide, an angel, who nudges them forward; an invisible energy who inspires us to be something more than a slug on the couch watching TV or a potato chip-eating machine.  I have one friend who insists his guardian angel travels with him wherever he goes; I have another who contacts one spirit guide for meditation and a different one for balancing her checkbook.  I know one woman who never leaves home without St. Christopher, and a fellow writer who swears he consults Shakespeare’s ghost every time he gets stuck writing his novel.

            St. Christopher and Shakespeare are fine and dandy, but what do you do if your creative muse is an Irish Wench?  The stories of leprechauns on St. Patrick’s Day are bad enough, with their drunken rowdiness and stealing of gold for their pot at the end of the rainbow and all that.  But what if your Muse turned out to be a woman with a heart as green as the Emerald Isle who hangs around with those drunken leprechauns?

            A Muse is supposed to be your inspiration, your guide, through whatever creative endeavor you undertake.  Venus inspired Michelangelo; Cleopatra inspired Marc Anthony, Athena inspired Odysseus. The original Muses were daughters of Zeus, who presided over the arts and sciences. It just so happens that my inspiration is a fiery Irish barmaid who comes complete with cleavage and clover.  She pops up at the most inopportune times, standing and dancing on my shoulder or steering wheel or computer, rattling off in thick Gaelic who knows what, hoping to jumpstart my creativity.  Dressed in her flowing gauze dress with the girdle that pushes up her breasts in the most obnoxious manner, my little sprite demands attention right then and there.  And I’d better stop and acknowledge her, or she will turn everything upside down.

            For instance, one of my favorite short stories popped into my head while I was at work.  The push to get this written came across loud and clear – write me now.  Couldn’t my Muse have at least waited until lunchtime to rattle off her idea?  I tried to stall my creativity until noon, but it only got worse.  I’m sure some of my creative metaphors got mixed up in whatever I was typing.  Or how about the time that one of my book’s most romantic interludes hit me right in the middle of my son’s soccer game? It was pretty hard to make mental notes when I was screaming encouragements to his high school team.   And what about the poem that hit me driving down the highway at 65 miles per hour?  Or the full-blown idea of a murder mystery that hit me while  I was mowing the lawn?

            I am all for inspiration.  Sunsets are wonderful inducements to creative arts, as are walks through the woods or lying on a sunny beach.  Classical music or mellow jazz or even mind-numbing hair band rock can fine-tune one’s creative edge as they sew, paint, crochet or design.  How can you sit still and concentrate when her Celtic jigs blast through every thread of your body, forcing you to bob your head along with the tempo or sing along with the oh-so-familiar lyrics at the top of your lungs?

            Don’t get me wrong – my little wench has brought me much pleasure through the years.  She has encouraged me to write some really intense interactions and deeply emotional poetry. Her Wild Irish Rose attitude inspires me to write out of the box, to reach deep inside for feelings and fears that normally don’t see the light of day, and to let those feelings influence my writing.

            But I have to admit her timing needs a little work.  Driving a car or typing numbers in a computer is not the most opportune time to become inspired.  I can’t be pulling over to the side of the road every other block or flipping the light on in the middle of the night just because she throws an idea towards me that I cannot resist. 

          I do appreciate her help ― I really do.  But I have to teach her to work on her impulsiveness.  There is a time and place for everything ― even inspiration.  Great ideas often have to ferment in one’s psyche before they become full blown masterpieces.  And there’s no doubt that you have your own muse dying to catch your attention.  All you need to do is listen.

            Now, if she could serve me one of those Irish brews as often as she jumped on my bandwagon…on second thought, maybe that’s not such a good idea.  If she served me beer as often as she demands attention, I’d be drunk before I started.