Archive for June 10th, 2013

Years ago, the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron was a popular book. I read it when I was a young mother searching for my own creativity. I was looking for inspiration. I was reminded of this book on Saturday because my whole day was an artist date. Julia Cameron describes the artist date as a block of time you intentionally set aside to nurture your creativity. “…opening yourself to insight, inspiration, guidance.” When I read this as a mother of 3 young children, I remember thinking, “Yeah, right. When will I ever find time to do this?” But now, as an empty nester, I can find that time to treat my inner artist to a day of creative energy.

The Big Sky, Margaret Simon

The Big Sky, Margaret Simon

First I went to A&E Gallery downtown for a watercolor workshop. We all painted the same painting, but it always surprises me how different each one becomes. I haven’t painted in a long time, so I was rusty. (I’m sure Julia Cameron would have something to say about this.) I had a good time, though, playing with the cloud shapes. Then all day I was observing the sky. The June sky is vibrant with thick, fluffy clouds, some bulging with rain, some light and wispy. I even saw a rainbow. What a treat! So the painting was not meant to be a perfect product, but rather a guide to my inner artist to look up!

Then I went to The Big Easel, an outside art show. I visited with some artist friends and filled up my cup with all the different expressions of creativity.

The third activity was Acadiana Wordlab with Kelly Clayton. Kelly was all alone in the conference room of the Acadiana Center of the Arts. I was her only “student.” She was just what I needed. She read a piece about perfectionism and procrastination. How we put off doing our creative work because of perfectionism disguised as procrastination. Yes, I do this…big time!

Kelly Clayton's word collection

Kelly Clayton’s word collection

Kelly collects words and writes them on paint chips she pilfers from Lowe’s and Home Depot. I loved this idea and plan to steal it (and paint chips, too.) Her suggestion was to pick out three words that you were attracted to and play with writing. I did play. I wrote a silly piece about cooking. It spoke about my fight with perfectionism using the metaphor of cooking apple pie.

My favorite part of this day had to be our gallery walk. Kelly and I went downstairs to the art exhibit and walked to each piece. We wrote any word or words that jumped out to us. Again I was so surprised and pleased by the different things we each drew from the same collection of work. We brought our journals back to the conference room and wrote. Each of us wrote a powerful piece. I’ve revised mine and posted here.

Junk Drawer

She opened the drawer
to look for a paperclip,
got lost for an hour
letting time fend for itself for a while.

The drawer held metaphorical evidence
of lifesighs: a metal button –Collector Series–
the Golden Gate Bridge of their honeymoon.
She remembered saying my husband for the first time
to strangers. How the sound of his name felt new and nice.

Then there, next to an old pair of glasses,
the bone from a sea monster,
beach vacation when he lost his ring in the waves.
Sweet memory of a new ring and a renewal of vows
on a Sunday at the communion rail.

Time blurs the lines now between
Father and Son. The torn photo
with the same expression, stalwart
yet soft around the eyes.
There’s a Christmas ornament, Styrofoam ball
of sequins and pins, personalized by
a favorite second-grade teacher.

She could feel her heart pound a steady beat
alone here with the stuff of years,
woven into a pile with no pattern,
no beauty, yet full of the story
no one tells, hidden in the drawer
missing a paper clip.
–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

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