“Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it.” – Goethe
I’ve had ideas percolating for months. Ways of merging words, poetry, haiku with design, film, theater.
Who am I, someone who has spent most of her professional life as a writer, to dip my toes into the pond of visualization?
As a recent book reminded me, “Who am I not to?”
I will fail, and I may have to abandon some ideas.* But I will learn along the way. Maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll also find co-conspirators and collaborators to help—and enhance—my more ambitious ideas. It’s tempting to want this all to be mapped out before I begin, which pretty much ensures I’ll never get started.
This article and this one, Ira Glass’ famous words on taste and “the gap,” Painting in the Dark, the aforementioned book (and related podcast, especially the episodes with Elizabeth Gilbert), and this print remind me of the power of doing. Of getting started. Of taking the first step and not getting so concerned about steps two, three, ten and eighteen.
With that in mind, I’m participating in Elle Luna’s The 100 Days Project. My project will involve writing haiku and pairing each one with an image I’ve created. I don’t expect each entry to be perfect or great…maybe some days they won’t even be good…but at the end of the 100 days, I hope to have a few gems I can polish further.
You can follow along with my progress on Instagram.
I hope you will.
And more than that, I hope you’ll take the action you’ve been merely considering.
Goethe was right. There is power in it.
* So far failures include a just-for-fun book cover design that was greeted with crickets by the author (and almost everyone else), as well as some space designs for Society6 that ran into some compression issues—design friends if you have a couple hours to advise (ahem, teach) me where I went wrong and answer the question “Can these designs be saved?” let me know. Thank you.
When Ellsworth Kelly died in late December, I remember reading responses to tweets announcing his death. Sadly, the trolls were out in full force. They ripped into the late Mr. Kelly—and modern art. But that sort of vitriol usually indicates a lack of understanding.
The reason Mr. Kelly's work (and that of many other modern artists) captivates me is this: it forces me to notice the beauty of what I might normally take for granted. It asks me to slow down and take a mindful approach to what I see. To gaze rather than glance.
In doing so, I often marvel at the perfection of simplicity and the fact that we live in the sort of world where there are more colors than we can count. Doesn't each one deserve to be enshrined on a single canvas?
To me, there's something joyous and creative about asking yourself what a simple abstract composition makes me remember and feel. Looking at Damien Hirst's polka dots, I can instantly recall the unique beauty and pleasure of opening a 64-crayon box of Crayolas for the very first time. (Thank you, Mr. Hirst!) I certainly appreciate the technical skill of artists who replicate real-life scenes, objects or people, but I find it's more difficult to engage my imagination when everything is more spelled out for the viewer.
The work of abstract artists actually requires skillful technique, too, which many of us forget or never realized in the first place. That's why I love the video below. If I haven't given you pause to consider modern art in a different way, this might do the trick.
We all have things we have to do this week. Many of them aren’t fun. But these may be. Give ‘em a whirl.
“But, I ask, can’t your inner self, your true self be shaken, diminished, compromised, or even stolen from you?
I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic as soon as it was available. I loved almost everything about it.
Read it right away if you haven’t.
Now maybe you’re not a fan of Gilbert, or you’ve heard that the book has some hippy-mystic, woo-woo ideas in it. And maybe that’s why you’re keeping your distance from it. If that’s the case, I’ll just share a few ideas Gilbert brings up that may still resonate with you.
And that’s all I’ve got. Which is plenty—so much so that I’m still trying to remember these things. Every day.
Opinions shared here are my own. They should not be seen as a representation of my employer's views.