Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Creative Arts Process Cards

Having spent quite a bit of time thinking about instructions, particularly for books about bookmaking, I've been wondering how to continue that work, but in a different way. During all the time I've been teaching, the most frequent complaint is that students don't know what to do for content. This blog has partly been an exploration of that content. My daily walks always are and provide inspiration for my photographs. I wondered if there might be a way to share my practice, and the way I approach my subjects.

First, I thought maybe I'd design a print-on-demand booklet. Working with standard publishers in the standard model has gotten harder as publishers appear to take fewer risks and tighten up terms for authors. So being one's own publisher has a sense of freedom to it. But a book that listed exercises didn't seem dynamic enough to me. I wanted it to be interactive.

I found an online playing card company that is essentially print-on-demand for people who want to customize their own cards. It doesn't limit the designer to just the backs: I could print different things on different cards. I began sorting through these blog posts for activities and methods, scrolling through thousands of my daily photos for images, and was able to pair ideas and images to create a set of 52 Creative Arts Process Cards.

They are now available at nevermindtheart!


The deck includes 52 cards: Title card (1); Play cards with instructions (4); Reading card with book suggestions (1); #1 Notice cards (14); #2 Practice cards (14); #3 Realize cards (14); Exchange cards (4), all housed in an accessible clear acrylic two-piece box.


Draw three cards at random from each of the three numbered sets: Notice, Practice, and Realize, and follow the suggested process. Notice cards give you a starting point, an action to undertake in the physical world where you gather notes and sketches. The Practice cards guide you to experiment with the content you collected and are a bridge between your notes and the Realize cards, which suggest a final shape or form.


Additionally, you may opt to choose an Exchange card that gives you permission to exchange zero, one, two, or three cards or use it to decide which one of the numbered cards to exchange. Try using the deck in a class or group and see how one draw can inspire a variety of projects to emerge. The deck provides endless combinations and possibilities for work and play.

The creative process can be difficult, but sometimes the best way to access content is by focusing on just one thing at a time. The creative process is never easy, but I hope that using the Creative Arts Process Cards will ease you onto an exciting new path.



Order a set of Creative Arts Process Cards here.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Pantones, Skintones

More than I can remember, people are separating themselves into groups based on identity. It becomes both a comfort and a defense, solidifying some and alienating others. But we have so much more in common as human beings. We may have millions of channels, cable, websites to choose from, but we all share the same emotions. From the set of Pantone postcards I had, I gathered the colors resembling skin tones, wrote some haiku poems, and printed layered imagery on the cards. Rather than keep the cards separate, I wanted to bind us all together, so I chose what could be best described as a sushi mat binding: it was used for Chinese stick scrolls, and it can work as a Jacob's ladder (although that is not necessary here). It opens across the living room floor to ten feet wide. The box is wrapped in lovely gold patterned Japanese book cloth. On the backs I carved another poem in a linoleum block: one word at a time, then carved it out: a reduction print that is also an erasure of itself. Everything is temporary.

We Are All Four Inches by Six Inches is the new one-of-a-kind book in a box made from the Pantone cards. I finished it a few weeks ago. I waited to post because I scanned the individual cards, hoping to make an affordable print-on-demand edition, but was not happy with the results, so that extension of the project is now on the back burner. I've got something else coming up very soon, though. Stay tuned! I'm still here. Somewhere, anyway.














Monday, May 1, 2017

Tidying Your Mindfulness

Just before the end of the semester, a colleague of mine had her composition class read the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. As an assignment, they were to tidy their room and write about it. She pointed out that most of them would be moving, so it seemed like the right moment. Even though it was a bestseller when it was published in 2015, I hadn't heard of it, so I requested it from the library and got it over the weekend.

Yes, it is the last week of the semester, so perhaps I was ready for the book or already thinking in this direction. By Monday I had taken three garbage bags to Goodwill and the used toner cartridges to Office Depot. Two boxes of books await the used bookstore. I dusted for the first time in (I'm not going to say). The book gave me a way to look at my stuff: handle each item. If it doesn't "spark joy," then as you discard it, thank it for the good times it gave you. I was surprised to find many things I didn't really need or want anymore. Thanking each gave me permission to let it go and reflect that I did like it once, it may have brought me joy once, but it is okay that it doesn't anymore. What the book really offers is connection to your life and mindfulness in your home.

Outside: a different kind of mindfulness. I had already been weeding the terrible plants that grow spiral burrs, sitting close to the ground with my bucket and tools. Sitting in one place for an hour at a time means the world comes to you, if you notice it. This past week's sitting outside in the yard gave me experiences, stories that my neighbors brought me that I can now incorporate into fictional stories of my own. I watched crows have a meeting, and tiny birds watched me. I discovered something interesting about my letter carrier. I was aware of all the different bugs and worms I don't often see. While I did not thank the weeds for these events, maybe I should.

The cleaning and weeding reminded me that I needed to make more space for the physical world. I have been tending to create computer-based projects lately, tending blogs and websites, editing digital photographs. Not nearly as much time as I used to spend handling objects. Marie Kondo, the book's author, writes that when you tidy, you find out what is important to you, and you may even discover your life's work by what you keep. The tidying helped to clear my mind. Just like the book promised. It sounds too good to be true, but I'm hopeful. We'll see what's next.



Just outside the classroom door.