Away with the Fairies

Often when I am creating I go into another imaginative place. I feel that I am in a world of my own creation, the place of daydreams.  It is a great space to be in when you are writing or doing some visual art.  But at times this ability to put myself into a story or travel with my mind has not been appreciated by others.

As a child I became easily lost in the world of make-believe.  I remember going to a scary play when I was about 5 and became very distressed because one of the characters terrified me.  I thought it was real.  I had to be taken out of the theatre.  It was on a school excursion and the head teacher was not impressed. She obviously had no imagination and could not understand why a little child might be frightened.  I also found the MGM lion very terrifying because it was so big and loud. I thought he was going to eat me and hid behind my hands.

In kindergarten another girl and I were totally involved in a game we were playing and decided not to go inside when the bell rang.  We went to an area where there was an empty water feature with rock formations and continued our game.  Then the drama started.  The teacher started calling our names and we knew we were in trouble and hid behind the rocks and did not come out.  Things started to escalate and more people were looking for us.  Eventually we reluctantly decided to face the music and got into a whole lot of trouble.  Our mothers had been called and as punishment we had to spend the rest of the afternoon in the principle’s office nervously giggling.  We were only little kids acting out our fantasies but the reaction of the adults was totally out of proportion because of their fears.

As I became older I spent a lot of time in school daydreaming through classes or dreary assemblies.  I think that I missed lots of vital information by drifting off into my own little world.  Luckily there was always art class.  I could always concentrate on my artwork or a good book or anything that engaged me.  My early school reports often had remarks like needs to make more of an effort or would do better if she paid attention and concentrated on the work.  Any tendency to let your mind wander was to be discouraged.

All my day dreaming never did me any harm.  In fact without it I never would have persisted at any art form.  Ideas don’t just fall into your lap without time spent musing.  You can’t change reality without first imagining something different.  The world probably would not have many inventions or great works of art and literature without lots of daydreaming on the part of their creators.   Questions like “What if I do this? What would happen if? How can I do that?” are often answered by daydreaming.

Nowadays I tend to daydream in the garden, watching TV or gazing out the window when I’m in the studio.  For this reason it is good to have some kind of view, especially if there is a bit of nature.  It is also easy to daydream under the shower or in the bath because the hot water is very relaxing.  The only problem is that you can’t write anything down and have to quickly dry yourself and find a notebook before forgetting the idea.  Often when you are in this state your mind flits around from one topic to another so it can be difficult to keep track of your thoughts. If I am in that frame of mind I take a notebook into the bathroom just in case.

For those of us who have chosen to follow the creative path, daydreaming is an essential part of the creative process and losing oneself in some imaginative place is not something to discourage.  Being able to transport yourself somewhere else mentally or transform yourself into another character is really helpful.  A moment flight of fancy can develop into a story or a series of paintings.  Never stop your mind from wandering or as my parents used to say, being away with the fairies.

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Away with the Fairies

One midsummer night I dreamed

I’m in a tree far away

Visible in full moon light

I lie on branches with the fey

Faces glimpsed amongst the leaves

Figures hide behind the limbs

Bright beings with fragile wings

Stir the air and fan my skin

Some drift around me as I gaze

A whispered spell upon me cast

I finally slip out of the haze

To find my bliss at last

© theartistschild.com 2017

Daydreams can become reality so let yourself fly.

Kat

Here is one of my favorite day dreaming songs from the 70s.

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Keys and Locks

The world is full of keys and locks.  Having the right key is important if you want to be able to do something creative.   Without this key or keys you can find yourself locked out and unable to progress.  This can be very frustrating and not good for your creative spirit. Finding the key to achieving your aims is never easy.   I hope that the following suggestions may help.

Sometimes the key is learning a new skill.   If you don’t know how to do something that is vital to your creative area you will never progress.   I found this with tapestry weaving.  As I have mentioned in a previous post, there were certain tricks that had to be learned to be able to do weave anything I wanted so I did all I could to master these skills.  It always pays to keep acquiring knowledge in your field, as learning is a key to excellence.

Often the key is finding the right person or persons to help you and for joint or group collaborations.  It is often difficult to get anywhere without connections and support.  “No man (or woman) is an island”, as the saying goes so don’t isolate yourself.  In any creative field working with others can expand your opportunities and is much more enjoyable. With music Ellie and I belong to a ukulele group.  It is a place where we can play and learn together, as well to gain support for each other’s song writing and performance.  This type of help is very important for anyone working in a creative field and it is good to join industry support organizations where you can get advice and assistance.

Another key to doing well in your creative field is gaining experience.  There are many ways to do this.  Volunteering for a local community group.  This will probably mean working for free, but it also means that if you are new to the field, organizations are less likely to turn you away.  Our ukulele group has performed for community groups and at a festival for free and it has helped us gain experience with live performance. I also volunteered before getting a job in a creative field.  I paid my dues by working voluntarily for over a year in various organizations before I gained a full time job.  The work experience made the difference.

I think that a major key is to make sure that you enjoy what you are doing. Without that element of fun it is harder to be produce fresh and innovative work.  Maintaining enjoyment may sound easy but when you are doing something all the time it can sometimes become repetitive and lose the fun aspect that attracted you in the first place.  So you need a way to keep feeling excited.

In this regard other committed, enthusiastic people are invaluable.  Talking with your fellow creatives can give you more motivation. Looking at the work of creative bloggers is also very inspirational.  So is doing a blog of your own.  Taking some creative classes to get out and mix with others can revive your interest.  I have been thinking about doing some life drawing in the winter because I am a bit rusty in this area.  It is something I don’t do all the time and will improve my skills, as well as get me out with other artists and stop me from stagnating.

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So don’t feel like you’re stuck and getting nowhere. There is a key for every lock. You just need to find it.

Keys without locks

Locks without keys

Not meant to stay closed

Forever to freeze

Work out the secret

Find the right key

Open the door

A new world, a fresh breeze

(©theartistschild.com 2017)

Kat

The Garden Doll

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Sometimes inspiration can come from some object you have had hanging around your house for ages.  Suddenly you see it in a new way.  That is how I wrote this poem.

The Garden Doll

It was buried in our garden bed

A broken doll, no arms no legs

Ceramic torso, molded head

A cast-off toy, all that’s left

 

Some child’s treasure long ago

Now a relic, sad, alone

A doll’s house prop, without a home

Lost in the past, it’s owner gone

 

Once dressed and posed in make believe

It had a life, it talked, it breathed

Gave form to some girl’s fantasy

Her youthful hopes and joys to feed

 

It cannot speak, it cannot move

Story unknown, mystery imbued

Sits in a jar, a thing to view

The garden doll I never knew

(© The Artist’s Child, 2017)

Kat

Goanna Samba

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Heath Goanna (Varanus rosenbergii), Kangaroo Island, South Australia,  Photo Cody Pope, Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes a line gets into your head and leads you to create  something from this small beginning.  That is how it was with this poem.   I could not get the words “goanna samba” out of my mind.  The idea of a Goanna doing a dance move tickled my imagination.  Creativity often comes out of incongruous associations.

Goanna Samba

Monitor Lizard, patterned wizard

In the bush invisible

Disappears standing still

Chases down smaller prey

Hiding in its clever way

 

Great Goanna, beneath verandah

When it’s hot, will meander

Doing the Goanna Samba

 

Sleek reptile, very agile

Climbing trees, with an ease

Catches barest noontime breeze

Beat the heat, sleep and laze

On dusty dry summer days

 

Goanna not salamander

Ancient dragon, so much grander

Doing the goanna samba

 

Smart Goanna, disaster planner

Good defense, survival sense

Finds escape beneath a fence

When bushfire comes suddenly

From raging flames quickly flees

Doing the Goanna Samba

Doing the Goanna Samba

© The Artist’s Child 2017

The Goanna, an Australian Monitor lizard, doesn’t always get the same attention as the cuddly marsupials, unless it does something dangerous to humans.  Yet they are amazing creatures and can be found all over Australia, except Tasmania.   The  Goanna can move very quickly when required.  It has a wonderful undulating gait that reminds me of the Samba dance step.

The following video shows a Goanna visiting a back garden in rural Australia.  Fabulous reptile to watch.

Kat

Memories: Your Own Creative Database

We all have memories of past experiences that give us pleasure or haunt our dreams.  Our memory is a wonderful resource that can inspire artwork.  It is a way to relive a happy moment in your life by transferring the feelings of joy and wonder into something new and tangible.  Or to use a bad experience and transform it into another form so it no longer has any power to cause too much grief, or at least lessens the impact.

Memories can provide inspiration for both realistic or fantasy works.  Some great literature and art has been created from artists and writers using memory as their starting point.  Just a few examples include Charles Dickens use of his early life as a basis for David Copperfield; Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird based upon her childhood experiences in a small southern town; and the painter Marc Chagall’s beautiful and dreamlike imagery inspired by the scenery of his childhood in Belarus, part of Russia at the time.  We all have our own memory vault full of unique episodes and images from life that can trigger the imagination and lead us in all kinds of directions.  You never know what will surface.

Sometimes unpleasant memories require a creative solution so that you can move on.  I had a bad experience with someone on a bushwalking trip who was a bully.  I effectively dealt with the situation at the time, but it still came back to give me some anxiety and put me off bushwalking with complete strangers.  I decided to turn the episode into a series of tapestry designs and have fun with my anxiety and fear.  I also wanted to create a sequence where the girl is no longer the victim, so I created a bogeyman who gets his comeuppance. My two favorite images of the series are where the girl is frozen with fear in a protective egg, while the masked bogeyman stands over her (Overcome by Fear) and then after he is reduced in size and she sprays him with insecticide (Overcoming Fear).  Creating these designs made me laugh and feel a lot better.  If you reduce you anxieties to a manageable size they can no longer affect you and you can stomp on them like a bug (that is in the series as well).

Happy memories are usually the ones you treasure the most, especially those relating to childhood.  When it is impossible to go back and visit people and places long gone, the only thing you can do is to recapture and bring them back to life through art or writing.  My grandparents lived on Melbourne’s Yarra River, with an orchard that stretched down to the river’s edge.  It was like visiting the bush with the eucalypts and wildlife, which were part of the river’s ecosystem.  Looking back with some nostalgia I wrote some short poems that try to capture a child’s uncomplicated memories of that place.

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Kookaburra (photo by JJ Harrison, 2010,Wikimedia Commons )

By the River

Kingfisher by the Yarra

Watching the still water

Looking for fish

In a log by the river

Tiger snake likes to slither

Better not sit

© The Artist’s Child, 2017

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Tiger Snake (photo by Teneche, 2010, Wikimedia Commons)

There were only two rules that Ellie and I had to obey when visiting our grandparents. Don’t go near the river’s edge and watch out for snakes.  A Tiger snake had been found asleep in the living room fireplace when my mother was a child. One was sleeping under a log near the river when we were children, and we were kept well away.  As these snakes are deadly, we did not ignore this rule, although I never actually saw one.  In fact I have never seen any snake in the bush at all, probably because I stomp and make some noise so they will hear me coming and disappear.  Or I have just been lucky.

The Laughing Kookaburra, a type of Kingfisher, would steal the goldfish from my grandfather’s fishpond, so he placed a removable steel grill over it.  We would hear them laughing in the trees and it always made you want to join in.

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Tawny Frogmouth Mother and Chicks  (photo by Alan U Kennington, 2011, Wikimedia Commons)

Frogmouths

Three baby Frogmouths

Small bumps in a gum tree

Impossible to see

Then one blinks

Illusion broken

Unlike mother, frozen totem

© The Artist’s Child, 2017

The Tawny Frogmouth is a member of the Nightjar family.  Their tawny feathers act as camouflage in trees.  In one of the orchard eucalypts grandfather pointed out a delightful family of Frogmouths to us as children.  The babies had yet to learn the art of staying completely still like their mother, and would move their heads to look at us.

Bellbirds

Bellbirds ringing, singing

In the river valley of childhood

How they echo in my memory

© The Artist’s Child, 2017

This is probably what I remember and miss most about being down by the Yarra.  The constant calls of the Bellbirds or Bell Minors. Some people find their calls annoying but I find them soothing.  It was hard to believe you were in the middle of a city.

Here is a You Tube video that will give anyone unfamiliar with these birds a sense what it is like to be in their environment.

Everyone has a fantastic database full of memories and it is good to get that retrieval system working.  Once you start delving you will remember all kinds of things that can inspire, disturb or make you laugh and these can feed your creative work.

Kat