The creative mind is a funny thing (not funny “ha, ha”, but funny “unexpected”). My day started with an early morning walk. Early for this artist is 9 AM when it’s already good and hot in South Texas. The moment I went out the front door, I spied my mother’s cat, Callie, who has lived with us for ten years. She’s a beautiful little calico who was lounging, full body, in the bird bath which was empty due to our drought. Can you picture her beautiful black, white and yellow body against the white concrete of the bath?
As I started down the hill, I was accosted by the loud sound of one of the hawks that is homing here at the ranch this summer. We’re not talking about a sweet little bird chirp here. We’re talking about a loud “caw, caw, caw” in a screeching tone as the hawk circled my head. I wasn’t sure whether I should run back to the house or hide under a tree. Eventually the hawk went on and I proceeded down the hill.
At the bottom of the hill and on down the road between pastures the wind brought a cool mist from the irrigation machine that was watering the land. It had that marvelous clean smell to it and reminded me of fresh rain. It was cooling for a while, but soon thereafter, my own mist was dripping off my brow as I trudged on in the heat.
The sights and sounds of the ranch engulfed me as I continued walking, encountering little birds, startled calves and lizards swishing through the grass. Just as I was thinking how pleasant it all was, I got to the top of the hill and there stood four of the bulls. They really are beauties in this own right, but the final sound I heard on my walk was the splat, splat as the business of those guys hit the ground. What a bummer!
Long ago, Dr. Sidney Parnes, taught me that one of the best ways to get creative ideas is to engage the senses. From him, I learned to bring fragrant tea or other natural aromas into the creative thinking process. I remember a tactile experience I provided for graduate students who, with eyes tightly shut, gently held a large strawberry in the very middle of one palm while touching it with one finger of the other hand. It sounds crazy, but they did some great descriptive writing following this experience.
With this in mind, I sat at the workbench and let the results of the morning walk wash over me. I thought I might produce something organic and natural looking, but I did not! I ended up with heavy metal jewelry. The pieces below started as foldformed metal and ended with chain. Even though I tried to put pretty beads on the pieces, they just didn’t work. How could the sights and sounds of nature drive me to this?
The piece on the left is a pendant hanging from leather. It started as a rectangular piece of metal and just kept changing. I used a ceramic bead on the leather.
The earrings below were planned as leaves, but that chain just kept getting on them and I finally gave in. They have a nice little swish to them and I’m pleased that they aren’t noisy little fellows.
So here’s the question. How can a morning walk end up as heavy metal jewelry? The answer lies in the nature of creative thought which often erupts from experiences. In this case the experiences were sensory. Those sensory experiences can open the artist to possibilities that were previously blocked. The idea/art produced may have no seeming relation to the experience; yet they are connected. I think it’s important to remember that when ideas cease to flow or your muse has gone home, there are many things you can do to find your way back home. The trick is to be open when creativity knocks on your noggin. A closed mind bears no art!
You see . . . creativity really is a funny thing!