In the past, in order to be inspired by a place, it always seemed we had to travel. However, when we moved to Nova Scotia, we found inspiration right outside our door.Continue reading “Nova Scotia: Naturally Inspired”
My sister visits the Isle of Skye each summer to work on her Gaelic language skills. In 2017, she discovered the artist Marion Boddy-Evans.
She sent me the link to Marion’s blog and I’ve been following her ever since. Lots of good stuff on there for painters. I highly recommend it.
This summer, on her way back to the airport my sister somehow coerced her cabbie into stopping at the studio of Marion Boddy-Evans. She met Marion and bought me a lovely surprise – one of Marion’s sheep paintings!
I wrote to Marion to tell her how much I loved it and asked (with bated breath) if she would be a guest on my blog.
Happily, she said yes!
So, without further ado, here’s Marion!
What does “being creative” mean to you?
I would say that ‘being creative’ is impossible to separate from life itself.
Many people look for a meaning of life, but I feel it is there in front of them: to be creative. Creativity is the fight against entropy, not against chaos which is fundamental to so much art, but the passive, fogginess of life without art.
When did you first realise that you absolutely had to lead a creative life?
When did you first realise that you absolutely had to breath to live?
I mean, that dawning of realization of a need for creativity is part of gaining maturity as a person. The jump from the internalization of childhood to the external world view that comes with self recognition.
What inspires you?
Impossible to truly quantify. But at various instances there is the environment around me, the sharing of philosophies between friends, the love of a partner (who is also known as the “in-house art critic”), and cats. Lots of cats.
What do you want your art to communicate?
I paint what appeals to me, and hope it creates some joy for others. I don’t intend for my paintings to have a specific narrative, but to allow the viewer to dive in and discover their own stories. In essence it’s whatever a viewer takes from it.
Describe your creative process. What kind of patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
Each day is one of discovery, in a familiar setting that still generates surprises. I take delight in trying out new mediums and methods, and vary my time between making art and making jewellery and writing and sometimes just sitting quietly at the sea shore listening to waves.
What is the most challenging part of the creative process for you and how do you meet that challenge?
Finding the time to do all I wish to achieve for that day amidst the demands of everyday life and the ‘admin’ side of being self-employed.
What’s the best advice you were every given about how to be more creative?
Creativity isn’t rationed. It isn’t a finite quantity, but it also doesn’t fall out of the ether. The Muse has to arrive and find you working. The Muse doesn’t so much whisper in your head as illuminate the possibilities around you, and that only comes because she is entranced by what you are trying to accomplish.
Connect with Marion Boddy-Evans
“Look at Shakespeare, who borrowed all of his plots. In ‘A Song of Ice and Fire,’ I take stuff from the Wars of the Roses and other fantasy things, and all these things work around in my head and somehow they jell into what I hope is uniquely my own.” George R.R. Martin
It’s all been done before…and that’s fantastic!
Ideas are the seeds of creativity. And yet, as artists and writers we often get discouraged thinking “It’s all been done before.”
That’s the good news. No, really. It IS good news because I’m not sure anyone is wholly original. We build on each other’s ideas. That’s why I say that ‘ideas have ancestors.’ We can trace their lineage.
Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet (and it sounds like he got his plot elsewhere.) Along came the creators of West Side Story who basically told the same story but changed it. George R.R. Martin took a story from history, amped it up and made it his own.
You’re probably thinking “But, Aprille, what about Leonardo da Vinci?” (Insert any creative hero here.)
They got their ideas from somewhere else, often the natural world around them. They saw what everyone else saw but through the lens of curiosity.
Make it your own
What could you create today starting with the inspiration of something else? How would you change it to make it truly your own? I’m not advocating copying. That’s just plain bad karma. But inspiration? That’s a good thing.
Inspiration always starts somewhere. Steve Jobs got his design idea for the Ipad on a Zen retreat. The designer of Velcro was a hunter who had to pick cockle-burs off his pants and wondered how they stuck there.
The geneology of an idea
Austin Kleon, in his brilliant book “Steal Like an Artist” talks about the ‘geneology of ideas’. I love this concept. So much in fact, that I did as he advised and spent time reading about an artist I greatly admire. From there I tracked down her influencers and saw how they inspired her.
From that I got a whole slew of creative ideas, all of them uniquely mine and yet…not. I can trace their family tree.
See what I mean? It’s not about being an original. It’s about seeing things in a new way by building on our creative ‘ancestors’. I’m not sure anyone starts from nothing. Ideas have family trees.
Gives a whole new meaning to recycling, doesn’t it?
Who are your creative heroes? How have they influenced you? Share in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!
Drawing is first about taking something with all the senses, letting what is simply be as it is, without judging it. – Jeanne Carbonetti, The Yoga of Drawing“
Call it what you will
I love sketching. While it’s a good creative warm-up, it’s even better as an antidote to the distractions all around me. It reminds me to pay attention because the world is a pretty amazing place.
Sketching is available to anyone because there’s no need to call yourself ‘artist’. No need even to share what you produce. I have pages and pages of sketches for ‘my eyes only’. You can even throw away what you produce because it’s NOT about the product.
It’s about being present for that moment and really noticing the world again.
It’s all about curiosity
Sketching makes me pay attention and examine small details.
It shifts me out of auto-pilot and helps me to let go of preconceived ideas about how the world around me ‘should’ look. When I really get into flow, I focus in without judgment about the object I’m studying or what my hand produces on the paper.
Perhaps ‘doodle’ is a better word because it strips away that serious artist overtone. It’s about curiosity and taking a closer look.
Carpe Diem and Sketch
Keep it simple and your tools handy so you can do this anytime, anywhere. Seize every opportunity.
Choose a pencil or fine-line marker that you like. I prefer a marker because my lines feel more confident. The energy is just different when I know I must commit and can’t erase. I also keep a few watercolour pencils with me because I like colour but it’s not necessary.
The paper itself isn’t important. While it’s nice to have sketchbook, the back of a napkin also works. As I said, it’s not about the end product but the process.
Then just do it.
Sketch something in your environment right now. Start by taking a second look.
Is the top of a mug really round or something else when it’s in front of you. How do the shadows fall? Is there a glint of light on this somewhere? How do the pieces line up? Or not? Is the top bigger than the bottom?
You get the idea.
Then just make some marks on the paper. Once you start, it gets easier. Don’t judge the marks you make. They’re not important.
You only need a few minutes. Do it on your lunch hour or while the kids nap. It’s a practice you can squeeze into any schedule and can help you feel more grounded because for those few minutes, you’re paying attention.
Invisible Rule holding you back?
If you’re hesitating I’ll bet the conversation in your head sounds something like “I could never do that.”.
Who made up that rule?
Change the inner dialog to a curious question — “What if I tried this?”.
I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.