Card Full

Okay, so I may have taken a lot of pictures in recent times, especially since I committed to blogging about the writing life. Mine in particular, that is. I can’t speak with much authority about anybody else’s, and that includes close writing friends and/or critique partners, because writing is a very individual sort of a thing. This morning, my brain refused to handle English after I participated in #1lineWed on Twitter, but I still had book work to do and a blog post due,so figured I’d make it easier on myself and combine tasks so I could get several things done at once and then treat myself to some well-deserved downtime. The original plan was to have everything done by noon and then the afternoon to rest…yeah, that’s not even close to happening. We’ll work around it.

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The original plan had been to get some much-needed peace by listening to an auidobook and laying down some paint backgrounds in my art books, photograph those and then blog about the benefits of art to the writing process (well, mine.)  This is where I haul out one of my favorite Dutch proverbs: man plans, God laughs. You can imagine where this is going.

I start out by taking pictures of the pages I’d left to dry last session. Four shots in, “card full.” Huh wuh? How did that happen? Well, yes, taking pictures would be the appropriate answer to that question, and, as it turns out, the right one. I seriously didn’t think I’d taken that many, but then again, I hadn’t cleared out the card, either, so set camera aside, lay down some new backgrounds, add some collage, let that batch dry. Take camera to computer and start looking through to see what can go.

Since this camera was inherited from Housemate’s lovely mother, I cannot in good conscience delete the pictures she took, in case they are ever needed at some point in the future. They haven’t been, so far, but one never knows. Pictures of hubby and kitty need to stay until I can transfer them to more permanent storage. I do take a lot of pictures of my workspace. Probably don’t need all of those. Also, food pictures. That only makes me hungry when it’s after breakfast and not yet lunch.

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My art notebooks are theraputic, personal, and a good way to let the creative part of my brain have some time off-leash while not having to deal with language. The paint backgrounds are easy; squirt different colors of acrylic paint at the top of the page, slide old credit card back and forth through them, then all the way down the page. Circles are toilet paper cores dipped in paint and stamped, and the honeycomb-ish effect is same paint on bubble wrap. I’ve been doing pages of combinations of these techniques, with whatever colors strike my fancy at the time. Some, I pick because I don’t like them, but want to see how they work together. If I don’t like a page, I can add more to it until I do, tear it out, or glue it to a facing page, so I never have to see it again. Whatever seems to work at the time.

This may not seem like it has a lot to do with writing, but it does. This is all about intiution and allowing myself to make mistakes. Maybe these colors won’t blend well together. So what? It’s inexpensive paint, inexpensive books, nobody else is going to see it (well, unless I put it on the internet or something like that) and the whole process of it is fun and relaxing. Sometimes,. story issues work themselves out while I’m laying down paint and figuring out what else might go on that page.

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For a long time, I’d look at my pitiful efforts and then the amazing work in Somerset Studio magazines and despair because I wasn’t like that. My backgrounds didn’t look like theirs, I don’t gain inspiration from the same sources as a lot of the contributors, didn’t have the fanciest tools, the word “journal” has always sounded like nails on a blackboard in my head, etc, etc.  In short, a lot like the way I used to compare myself to other writers, sometimes those who had been household names for decades, or writing in entirely different genres than my own. For some reason, getting over that hurdle was a lot easier when it came to mixed media art than it was for wriitng, but the best way I can explain it was that …it did. Somehow, when I wasn’t looking, I kept my head down, eyes on my own paper, and now, while I can appreciate and draw inspiration from others’ work, it doesn’t make me feel less than anymore.

Something I’m still learning, day by day when it comes to writing, but one thing does stand out. When my brain says  “card full,” that’s time to take a step back, take in, play a while, and get rid of the things I don’t need taking up creative space. Room made for me and for story. It’s win-win.

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