Creative Prompt for Today

Today’s inspiration is a childhood memory.  So first close your eyes and focus on a landmark from  childhood.  This may have been a friend’s or relative’s home, a park, a backyard sandbox,  snow fort, swimming hole/pool.  The possibilities are endless.

More Snow Forts

More Snow Forts (Photo credit: CaZaTo Ma)

Now take out a crayon or some other crude implement of mark-making. If you have anything else around the house that could help jar some memories, get that too.  Something with scent is good: a flower, a can of play-doh, a chocolate chip cookie, etc.  (Personally I like bubbles for this exercise when I assign it to my college writers.)

Missing chocolate chip cookie.

Missing chocolate chip cookie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Next take the crayon/implement and begin to draw the place/item from memory.  (You can use more than one color.)

The second step asks you to take it to the next level.Once you finish, you can branch out with whatever you do that’s creative.

For fiction writers and poets, the memory can be used for narrative inspiration, image and detail.  Essay and memoir writers may even want to talk about the process itself and then proceed to the story and descriptions.

If you’re wanting to do something visual, continue the drawing on your medium of choice:  canvas, drawing paper, assemblage, sculpture, collage, film-making or whatever else strikes your fancy.  Just let the child-like brain keep plowing forward.

Play-Doh festival


The Zen of Sewing. . .and Bonding with this Amazing and Inspiring Author. . .

So in an effort to keep my brain busy lest it be left to its own obsessive and defeatist tendencies . . . I’m throwing myself into a new book and a couple of sewing projects this week.

The book is bringing me to tears, a little bit, in a good way though. . .

Elyn R. Saks, The Center Cannot Hold: Hyperion 2007


“Saks would later attend Yale Law School where one night, during her first term, she had a breakdown that left her singing on the roof of the law school library at midnight. She was taken to the emergency room, force-fed antipsychotic medication, and tied hand-and-foot to the cold metal of a hospital bed. She spent the next five months in a psychiatric ward.

So began Saks’s long war with her own internal demons and the equally powerful forces of stigma. Today she is a chaired professor of law who researches and writes about the rights of the mentally ill. She is married to a wonderful man.

In The Center Cannot Hold, Elyn Saks discusses frankly and movingly the paranoia, the inability to tell imaginary fears from real ones, and the voices in her head insisting she do terrible things, as well as the many obstacles she overcame to become the woman she is today. It is destined to become a classic in the genre.”

And the sewing is just good quiet time. . .silencing those sounds that just keep hammering over and over like a timpani inside my head. . and the rhythms of  “I miss you. . .I miss you. . .”

So back to this fabric for now:

. . .And that repetitive sound the needle makes while I’m sewing.  . . the mindfulness and meditation made that much easier. . .you just keep your eye on the straight seam, peripherally on the edge so that everything flows to the left of it. . .the operative mantra of silence. . .and the comfort of knowing that’s all you need to worry about for now.

Words & music by Paul Simon:
Rene and Georgette Magritte

With their dog after the war

Returned to their hotel suite

And they unlocked the door

Easily losing their evening clothes

They danced by the light of the moon

To the penguins, the moonglows

The orioles, and the five satins

The deep forbidden music

They’d been longing for

Rene and georgette magritte

With their dog after the war

Letting go of heartbreak songs

In matters of self-education and scholarly pursuit, I can be honest and say for the most part, there has always been motivation enough to make me wise and willing to learn.  In matters of the heart however, I have been remiss with myself and sorry.  And, in looking back all I can say is: Man am I a sap and a moron.

I almost never listen to mainstream pop or country so this song is new to me. ..and it’s coming at a time when I could use a reminder of what really happens after having let yourself be stupid to the point of laying face up on the floor like a golden retriever: here ya go, trample my guts and eat my heart out.

And sad songs are OK when you want to cry, but if you want to get angry and get over it so you can get on with it. ..I think Reba says it best.

Watch this one.  Even if you have to click the link and wait for the advertising.  It will be worth it!

Heeere’s the Weirdness: New Work with Lovecraft Today

Marginalia (collection)

Image via Wikipedia

So a couple of weeks back, I told you about my friend in Sweden and our gift exchanges across the miles.  And that most of what I send is work he’s inspired in one way or another.

This time I was working to incorporate the various facets of weirdness that make him so endearing, but also to include the one I keep overlooking, one that’s nevertheless an important part of who he is including fascinations with the dark side that I will always try my best to understand.

So here is the work/Christmas and birthday gift I’ve done for him; a mixed media incorporating some 3d feathers, photo collage, random design and glitter. . . and I’ve added/collaged/embellished a found monster  head from Lovecraft, just to show I’m a good sport.  And you know, by placing him in a nice garden setting with lots of flowers and romance, am reaffirming for us both that there will always be room in my world for weirdness.

Cthulhu Angel Embracing the Muse

On the Mend: New Work, New Prints. . .Lucy, You Got Some Splainin To Do!

After having spent a couple of weeks once more in this recurring episode of what I like to call my bride of frankenstein gig. . . undressed, sedated, i-ved. . .

. . .electrodes fastened to my temples,

I now find myself back to almost normal. . .

Continue reading

Finding Inspiration through Friends, Telemann, Chopin, and Dragonball Z: Interview with New Zealand Artist Zenobia Southcombe

“A single rose can be my garden… a single friend, my
world. ”
Leo Buscaglia

“A hug is like a boomerang – you get it back right away. ”


Inspiration can come from as close as a freshly plucked garden flower or in this case flung from as far as a continent on the other side of the stratosphere.  Recently I’ve been enjoying the act of building community  and catching creative sparks from across the globe though swapping blogs and sharing stories with Auckland artist and elementary school teacher, Zenobia (Zee) Southcombe.

So here, gentle reader is your fodder for today.  Sit back, enjoy the works and join me in getting to know a little more about the many charms of my new friend, Zee!

1.      Introduce yourself…

Kia ora! My name is
Zenobia Southcombe, and I’m an artist & teacher from New Zealand. When I’m
not making art I am learning, reading, teaching, gaming, blogging, cooking,
drinking tea, eating, meeting friends or watching TV. (Sometimes I am doing
these while I am making art as well).

Just a few of Zee's charms. . . 😉

2.      What inspired you to become an artist?

From a young age I
had wanted to be an artist – not a famous artist, mind you, I couldn’t handle
that much attention, I’m way too much of an introvert for that! – but able to
make art as a ‘job’. I followed through with this throughout highschool, and
began a Bachelor of Visual Arts, but withdrew before the end of my first
semester because I am not a huge fan of post-modernism (feel free to try and
convince me otherwise!). So I went into teaching, which I absolutely LOVE,
finished my degree, began teaching, and dropped the dream for a while. One of my
students once asked me what I wanted to be when I was little. I answered
“Artist”. Hmm… so why aren’t I? Then I got started again and couldn’t

Zenobia Southcombe, "Wistful" 2011

3.      What media / material & process do you like best,
and why?

Pen & Ink! I’ve
always admired the ink & wash technique (also called sumi-e) of Zen Buddhist
art, and I’ve always loved drawing. So it was a no-brainer, really (having said
that, it took a good 20 years to drop the paintbrush and pick up the pen so
maybe not).

Zenobia Southcombe, detail from "Sun Splashes"

4.      Tell us a bit about your creative process…

Since I’m a
part-time artist, I first have to take over the dining table so I have my space.
I then put on Bach / Chopin / Telemann or Dragonball Z and get down to it. I
carry a sketchbook and a camera with me to capture the creative moments I get,
or to note down research that applies to my subject / technique /

Zenobia Southcombe, "Magnus Monster"

Generally, I work
from reference photos, so sometimes I’m sitting on the computer for ages trying
to find that ‘perfect photo’. However, with the ink wash technique it’s more of
a compositional challenge.

Zenobia Southcombe, "Barnacle Geese"

5.      Where do you feel most inspired?

Mission Bay, or at
my artist friend Jane Thorne’s place. She’s awesome.

6.      What sets your work apart from others in your

All my works are
originals, and I try to make it affordable for the average student, starving
artist & general public to have some original art in their lives.

I always try to
show some emotion and character in my drawings, and I really enjoy doing custom
artworks for people, be it a portrait, idea or otherwise. My work covers a range
of subject matter, that still link together with the ideas of freedom &

Zenobia Southcombe, custom portrait

7.      If you could meet any artist, dead or alive, who would
it be?

Hmmm… a toss-up
between Monet and Turner. My two absolute favourite artists ever. Although I
would also really like to meet some of the Zen Buddhist artists.

8.      If you could ask this person any question, what would
you want to know?

Easy –
can I watch you paint?

9.      What advice do you have for emerging

Make art that you
love. Your passion for the media, process, style and technique WILL show
through. Persevere in your dreams, and try to make friends along the

Zenobia Southcombe, "Zee on the Road" ink and acrylic on paper

10.  Link love – where can we find you online?





The Big Idea
Profile (for the New Zealand Creative Community)

Zenobia Southcombe, "My Life in Charms" ACEO, ink and watercolor

And the Answer to Yesterday’s Quiz Question Is. . .

Always a Work in Progress

Bringing it all Back Home

I began my last post by talking about cutting and collecting images for collage projects.  Later I shared a photo of a collage, a tiny work  initially crafted as an artist’s trading card (enlarged through the magic of WordPress).  Afterwards I promised to post a photo of the finished pastel painting inspired by the collage.

(I also provided a quiz question but more about that later, I promise.)

“What is it you want to say?”

Our last painting instructor was always asking us that question. .. and to be perfectly honest, I admit I always had trouble answering it. . .

but in the interest of personal growth and self-reflection, I’ll take another scissor point to it.

I guess at some other point, I decided the collage had been an attempt at creating a loose biographical narrative, one that also let me pretend I was someone from a fairytale, someone significantly more graceful and confident than I actually am. perhaps in this way, I am able to re-write my own script somehow . . .and create an image of the person I hoped I could always be.  So anyway, you will notice that I changed the haircolor of the most prominent figure and I also put a wreath of red roses on her head.  . .perhaps this was another wish coming forward as red roses symbolize true love, another thing I would someday like to include in my own story, I suppose.  You might also notice I left out the giant diamond on the roseholder’s hand. ..a pink rose. ..I think that’s  maybe about an innocent kind of love in the language of flowers. . .

I suppose I maybe did it to say something about the way I feel about diamonds as gifts in general.  Pretty to look at. . .and sometimes enviable, but kind of non-existent on my personal to do list (and perhaps that could be a fox and grapes kind of thing underneath as well, but for now I just sort of idealize friendship and sharing a common bond. . .equality I guess. ..and if asked how I feel about it. ..I would have to say that I disagree with the diamond industry’s suggestion that three months salary is enough to show a woman “that you love her.”

Three months of laughter and joyful sharing, on the other hand I believe, really IS something to include on one’s to do list. ..

though I know many women who might think it’s low self esteem talking when someone says that, which I actually can’t deny and yet. .. )   But also I sort of wanted to say that our story continues beyond the boundaries of these modest creations, beyond the limits of what our imaginations can conjure.

Back to the Nuts and Bolts and Whatnot

OK so you might also note in reading the details from the photo that I’m actually sort of cheating by working from grids, which I learned in studying the old masters who practiced this method all the time (I like that word practice. . .because I feel that’s the stage I’ll be in for the rest of my life. . .practice, practice, practice.)  Apparently it’s easier for our brains to read images that carry no pre-conceived opinions formed in our heads. . .

so to in order to accomodate for that, we record our impressions of abstract lines and shapes within the boundaries of these small boxes.

(Recently I also learned that artists who work in photo-realism oftentimes use projectors. ..actually draw and paint in the dark by the light of the magic lantern.)


And the answer to my quiz question is:

Kaloma, who is often mistaken for the Josie Earp, wife of Wyatt.



And as promised, here is the finished pastel painting made from the collage:

First the collage:

And now the painting, shown with closeups and side views:

Have an awesomest day . . .peace shalom. . .namaste!  Go and create~


Quiz for next time:  Name the inspirational female artist whose pastel appears taped to my drafting table.  Name the work so much the better!

Hint: Degas made a painting of her holding a poker hand

Inspiration Day!

So this week I’ve been working in the garden, mudding and digging, but also getting some ideas for new paintings.  Scents and textures outside always rev up my senses; my fingers itch to find a paintbrush (or a sennlier soft pastel) and start moving it around.

I took some beautiful tripod iris photos under an overcast sky and also some photos of new work.  I now have this photo taped alongside a nice roomy 22×28 canvas. ..(i think it’s 22?) So now it’s time to head out to the St. Louis Art Museum and follow some brushstrokes.  Good times!

Meanwhile, here is a my collage in honor of Bob Dylan’s seventieth birthday!

Bob Dylan inspired Handmade Fine Art Collage: Tambourine Dreams

“tambourine dreams”