At the start of summer, I decided to free up some of my time to get back into painting and drawing. Days went by and I found a myriad of other things to do. That little girl inside, with her arms akimbo, kept asking, “Well, when are we going to play?” When I devoted a whole day just for the little creative girl, guess what? Nothing happened. I stared at a blank canvas, a colored and textured canvas. Nothing. I took a relaxed stroll outside, wandered a bit, looking for inspiration. I sat at the computer for awhile and browsed, googled and YouTubed myself into a nap.
It was disheartening to say the least. I did find a book during of one my trips to the library that delved into the creative act. At first, I didn’t think I’d find what I was searching for as it seemed a bit clinical. However, I kept reading and something clicked. It is not “one thing” that inspires us to create, it is a lifetime of experiences, insights, visuals, sounds, concepts, etc. All of these and more are swishing around in our little heads until one day, the ideas come together and the creative sparks started poppin’! Another very important point made by the writer was to be patient. Luckily, that is one of my personal traits. ~.~
To entice my creative spark, I made a list of what it is that I am attracted to when I look at a painting, drawing, and sculpture. What draws me in to that particular artwork? Is it the composition,? Color?The technique? Spending the day at the Art Institute of Chicago made the quest even more interesting and insightful. A few days later, we were in the mountains if North Carolina and I kept adding to my list.
Still, at that point, I didn’t quite know “what” I wanted to work on. Then one fateful day in October, Alfredo and I were visiting one of our favorite place to ride our bikes, Gemini Springs Park. He was on the phone ( his sister was wishing him a happy birthday!) and I had the camera in hand.
Within a few moments,to my delight, 6 to 7 crows (or so I thought with all the caws they made) started landing on the rails to the small water deck where I was standing. These beautiful black birds with blue and violet iridescent feathers on top with rich black feathers on the bottom started their antics, posturing and squawking right there in front of me! I brought the camera up and started shooting and inching my way closer for better shots hoping not to scare them off.
They were making all sorts of gestures and sounds but always looking to the sky. Occasionally, I would get a glance or two from them in my direction. I wasn’t expecting too much from all this, but after uploading the photos to the computer I was amazed at their colors and their eyes. I printed one of the photos, and that’s when I picked up the pencil and started drawing again.
As I was close to finishing the image, all sorts of ideas started coming together. Picture this: a beautiful early morning with a gentle breeze, coffee on the side, drawing pad on my lap and my Iphone showing my list of inspirations. A little bit of brainstorming and wordplay, then voila!, Three to four ideas came to mind that I wrote down and included doodles (thumbnail sketches) to make their mark.
This is the beginning of a series that I will be working on called “Caws and Cairns”. Now, I do have to admit that originally, the title was going to be “Crows and Cairns”.That is where research comes in. Those birds that flew into my creative life were actually Grackles!
They look like crows, sound like crows, so one would think they are part of the blackbird family of crows and starlings. Guess again. It turns out they are part of the meadowlark family of birds (however, other sources put them back in the blackbird family) This brings me to another point of interest. Years ago, I found this wonderful book by Ted Andrews, titled, Animal- Speak. It discusses the spiritual and magical roles in nature and all its inhabitants and includes dictionaries of bird, animal and reptile totems. I won’t go into specifics here, but when I looked up “grackles” and what they represent when they suddenly appear in your life, I was amazed at the serendipity of what was written in relation to what I was feeling and experiencing.
Check this out! “The grackle is a noisy, chattering bird and may be a reminder to quit talking and do something… They can teach how to get back to creative and beneficial experiences and expressions of emotions”. I had chills when I read through the page. I know, it could be coincidental, but I also know how I felt being surrounded by this small flock of grackles.
So, the creating has begun and the first painting is just about complete. A few more highlights and a title and it will be ready for the camera.