Creative Every Day

When I take myself too seriously, I think about my visit to the Spam Museum. It's impossible to take yourself seriously when you go there!

I’ve written a bit this year about my project to write a poem every day, something I had always wanted to do but knew I couldn’t. Until this year, that is. One of the perks of retirement is having time to do things one has always wanted to do. I am really excited to announce that I have written 118 poems so far this year, and today, as I write this article, it is the 113th day of the year, so I’m ahead of the game.

I decided early on that I was not going to obsess about this project, and if a day here or there went by with no poem written, then I would write more than one on other days. I also decided to turn off my inner critic. It’s not about writing my very best work every day, which could be terribly time-consuming – it’s about the process. So even when I know I’m writing badly, I’m OK with that. I can always go back and revise. On the other hand, I’ve been thrilled when I have written well; there are quite a few poems that I’m really happy with, and it’s always a good day when that happens.

Today I made a fun discovery that melds nicely with my poem-a-day project. Creative Every Day is a WordPress blog that encourages creativity in whatever form it might take. Its author, Leah Piken Kolidas, also offers two different creative challenges: Creative Every Day, which she started in 2008, and Art Every Day Month, which runs each year in November.

I like a few things about her challenges. Creativity doesn’t have to be only art, or photography, or any one thing; it can be anything, including playing with your kids! She includes monthly themes to help participants “deal with the dry spells” (which I wrote about in my last post!), and she encourages people to break the rules. One’s creativity doesn’t have to take the same form all the time; the suggested themes are only suggestions; to “prove” one’s daily creativity, one might post on a blog, or on Twitter, or on flickr, or even in weekly emails to her. Having fun and being creative are at the heart of the projects, and I think it doesn’t get any better than that when it comes to encouraging one’s originality/imagination/inspiration/art.

Because I’m excited about this, I have embedded the Creative Every Day button in my sidebar, and while it isn’t a link to the blog, I did include a link in the sidebar blogroll. (If you have arrived on this page as a separate link from my home page, the sidebar won’t show. To see it, just click on the Harleywoman Writes header at the top of the page.) Please visit Leah’s blog, and think about joining the challenge! Just for the fun of it!

P.S.  As I write this post, I am realizing that I have been taking myself much too seriously lately, so today’s discovery is already making me smile. Whenever I take myself too seriously I try to remember to think about my 2002 visit to the Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota, with my friends Lorna and Rachael and that ALWAYS makes me smile. Maybe I’ll write a poem about that . . .

Life is good.

Me and Georgia O’Keeffe

I have written several blog articles during the last few weeks that I never published here, I think mostly because I didn’t take the time to polish them while we were traveling. But in my head I know that I wrote them, so there’s a disconnect for me between what I’ve actually published here and what I THINK I’ve published. One of those essays is about our visit to Georgia O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch, and I do want to share this with you, dear readers, even though it’s long overdue.

Pedernal, as seen from Ghost Ranch

On the last day of our stay in Santa Fe, my husband and I drove out to the Ghost Ranch, some 70 miles to the north. We were able to join a “Landscape Tour” of the property (now owned by the Presbyterian Church), piling into a small bus with a very knowledgeable volunteer and a dozen other visitors, to see parts of Georgia’s country — places where she actually walked, seeing the very cliffs she painted, and seeing her mountain, Pedernal. She said of Pedernal: “It’s my private mountain . . . God told me if I painted it often enough I could have it.” (Quoted from “Georgia O’Keeffe Landscape Tours,” http://www.ghostranch.org/museums-and-activities/o’keeffe-tours)

It was about 1970 at the Museum of Modern Art when I first saw her work (thanks to my sister for that amazing visit to New York), and it was love at first sight. I knew then that I wanted to take photographs that would reveal the deepest parts of my subjects, through close ups and specific focus points. Is it strange to form a connection between a painter and a photographer? I don’t think so – it was a seamless leap for me as I realized, oh so many years ago, that a photograph can be just as artistically well designed and well crafted as a painting. I’ve been working at it ever since. With digital technology at my fingertips now, it’s way more fun and way more creative than it used to be. I do also love to paint, but I am a much better photographer than I am a painter. Perhaps that’s a choice I’ve made somewhere along the way.

The Cliff Chimneys look different today due to some landslides, but you can still see her perspective.

Going on the Ghost Ranch tour, for me, was something magical – and I left with hundreds of new photos as well as a strong desire to pick up a paintbrush and figure out how I can take what I know about O’Keeffe’s amazing abstract art and make it my own. I don’t want to imitate her work, but the simplicity and depth of her paintings touch me in a way that makes me want to create art that conveys a similar love of the subject. I’ll be working on that for awhile, I think.

We have been “back” in South Dakota for several days as I update this article. Visiting my family here has been, as always, a joy. Yesterday morning my daughter-in-law asked me to give the girls a lesson in using the watercolor paints I bought for them earlier in the summer, and we had such a delightful time, laughing and painting. None of us wanted to stop when it was time for lunch, but we had to, and have planned to continue painting upon my next visit sometime later in the winter.

Tonight, I read a book to the kids that they had checked out of the library just this morning: Georgia Rises: A Day in the Life of Georgia O’Keeffe by Kathryn Lasky. Of course I was thrilled at the chance, and it was fun to add more information about O’Keeffe than the book revealed. My seven year old granddaughter was enthralled and wanted to know more. I turned to my computer and brought up a YouTube video interview with O’Keeffe which I think truly made it real for her. At one point where the interview gets a little dry I asked her if she had seen enough, and she emphatically said, “No!” She watched the whole thing, and then we looked at images of O’Keeffe paintings, (this link will take you to the painting of the Cliff Chimneys that I photographed, above) and she loved it all.

What greater gift can there be between granddaughter and grandmother than for that passion to be passed along?

Life is good.