. . . and its creatures.
And sharing a wealth of talent.
Pinecones that look like crimson roses
This transformation in the way I see things has been inspired by two bloggers in particular, and I wanted to be sure to mention how important they have been in this creative journey that I'm on.
I'm not even sure that I can capture the pure joyfulness that characterizes artist and blogger Elsa Mora's work and how it has inspired me. First of all, she seems to be able to work in any medium--paper, clay, fabric, flowers, even shrink plastic. Her drawings and prints and sculptures of people combine realism and fantasy, and each little person she creates has a story and powerful symbols to go along with it. The best I can say is that reading her character's stories and all of her posts and looking at the images she creates just fill me with joy. Elsita seems to have such a generous and happy spirit, and it shines through her blog. I just love the way she sees the world--as if everything she observes becomes fodder for her creations.
Her blog about her Plant Creations was a revelation and an inspiration. She described following her son's lead exploring their backyard and noticing things from his perspective. After doing so, she created these amazing, exuberant, delicate (I can't use enough adjectives here) flower collages of little people.
Since I read that post, I have been waiting for spring to arrive so that I could get outside with my son and see what little people we could put together from flowers. We've done this several times, and what we end up doing is going around our yard and collecting flowers, twigs, seedpods, and other little things that catch our eye. (So far they end up a little pile rather than as flower people.) In the process, I have noticed for the first time the incredible diversity of flower and leaf shapes and sizes just in our small patch of yard. I have come to appreciate even the "weeds" that I usually hate to see coming up in the lawn.
I discovered another absolute treasure of a blog through Elsita's blog. Resurrection Fern is written by Elsita's friend (a friendship formed through Elsita's blog!), a full-time family doctor and expert spinner, weaver, sewer, stitcher, and knitter. She's also an incredible collector of vintage items. I get an amazing sense of peace when I read Resurrection Fern's blog. There is something about the clarity of her writing and photos and the timeless quality of the objects she creates and collects that makes me think that she more properly belongs in an earlier age--before technology made our world so fast-paced and hurried. She regularly documents her walks through the woods, and she names and describes the plants that she photographs. As a chemist who wrote her PhD on the potential of synthesizing the medicinal properties of the may-apple, she knows her plants. She has inspired me to try to look more closely at the natural world and to use it with scientific precision in what I create.
What strikes me about both of these bloggers is how closely language seems to be tied to their creations. Part of the charm of Elsita's art comes from the "back story" she creates for each of her creations and the old-fashioned Spanish names she gives her characters. Resurrection Fern names the botanical beauties she photographs with scientific accuracy. For both writers, close observation of the world and the meditative act of crafting an object inspire a bright thread of words to further embellish their work. I think that's why, as a writer, I am so drawn to their work.
I think that it's an important creative exercise to try to see the world the way that both Elsita and Resurrection Fern do, even if we don't aspire to be artists ourselves. Their way of seeing involves slowing down and observing the world with a razor-sharp gaze. It involves carving out the space and time to translate these observations into the fine details of a drawing, a piece of writing, or any other creation.
The beautiful thing about this approach to observing the world is that it goes beyond crafting. I think it fosters a closer relationship with the people around us and a greater appreciation for our planet.
T: "It's morning time, Mommy!"
T: "I want you to talk to me, Mommy."
Me: "What do you want me to talk to you about?"
More favorite things from my best Mother's Day ever:
I could cut out silhouettes almost as soon as I could manage to hold a pair of scissors. I could paint, too, and read and recite; but these things did not surprise anyone very much. But everybody was astonished about the scissor cuts, which seemed a more unusual accomplishment. The silhouettes were very much praised, and I cut out silhouettes for all the birthdays in the family. Did anyone warn me as to where this path would lead? Not in the least; I was encouraged to continue.
From what I've been able to find out online, the Illustrated London News began in 1842 as the world's first weekly illustrated newspaper. (Digitized images from the newspaper are available at the ILN Picture Library.) It's still published today, though only twice a year.
The 1959 Christmas supplement includes reproductions of classical paintings and a charming article, "From Nudity to Pantalettes: An Account of Children's Costume Through the Ages," illustrated by E.H. Shephard (the illustrator of the Winnie the Pooh books).
But perhaps the biggest treasure in this issue is the brilliant and graceful silhouette illustrations by Lotte Reiniger (1899-1981), a German animator who directed what is probably the first full-length animated feature, The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1936). This issue includes four pages of black-and-gold silhouettes illustrating the fairy tales of Thumbelina ("The Enchanting Story of Little Thumbelina Who, After Many Very Strange Adventures, Finds Her Fairy Prince and True Happiness.") and Puss in Boots ("Puss-in-Boots; The Amazing Story of a Clever and Crafty Cat Who Wins a Title--And a Princess--For His Master."). Reiniger created these cutouts exclusively for the magazine.
Throughout her long career, Reiniger perfected the art of shadow-puppet silhouettes and produced many enchanting animated short films using this technique, most of them retellings of fairy tales. (Several are available on YouTube.) I don't think I can be effusive enough about how accomplished Reiniger's silhouette technique is. The animations she produces are alive and fluid, and the intricate details of the characters and their clothing are astonishing.
I feel like I've missed out on an important branch in the history of animation and illustration not knowing about Reiniger's art until now, but I'm very happy that a chance discovery at a used-book sale introduced me to her work.
The ever-cool hoodie showed up in some fun colors with stripes and quirky graphics. (Didn't my model do a great job showing off the orange bug hoodie?) And it was inspiring to see some young men rocking the eco-conscious look.
This group of skirts shows the versatility of combining t-shirts in a patchwork style. Denim adds an additional element of fun.