Tag Archives: creative process

3 Quotes, 3 Days – the third

“Music is a place” Philip Glass

NASA The Carina Nebula

The Carina Nebula (photo credit: NASA Hubble Heritage Team)

I’ve been nominated by Geralyn of Where My Feet Are to take part in the 3 days, 3 quotes challenge. This is my first ever nomination for anything ‘blog’ related, so I’m tickled pink to participate. Thank you Geralyn!

I thought it appropriate to end the official ’3 days, 3 quotes’ challenge with this gem from a favorite 20th/21st century composer. Short and to the point, consider it my way of saying: If you visit my site and find I’ve been absent for awhile, you’ll know where I’ve gone!

The rules of the challenge are:

1) Thank the person who nominated you.
2) Post a quote each day for 3 days.
3) Each day nominate 3 new bloggers to take part.

My nominees are:

granmalin

Liz Fountain

Natalie

(Hope you can participate but no worries if you can’t)

It’s All About The Music

My Swimming with Swans project.

Imagine a single sunflower blossom, filling the mind-canvas in O’Keefe fashion.

Sunflower-Eye-copy

The center, filled with potential protein tidbits to be harvested after the bloom has died, is the current focus of my Swimming with Swans project.  It is the source from which all else emanates.

It’s All About The Music.

Prose, dance/animation, fiber art and documentary infuse individual project-petals emerging from that sunflower center.

SanFran Sunflower

My Swimming with Swans project-petals emerging from its music-center

It’s All About The Music.

Recently, I awoke with that O’Keefe-esque visual imprint in my mind’s eye.  Often, the Lord speaks to me through such visuals.

It’s All About The Music.

How that basic fact escaped me during the early days of organizing Swimming with Swans: vignettes of our three-year journey between homes can be understood in the reading of its working title. In reigning in the scope of my Swimming with Swans project, first steps were found in the Kevin Powers article I read and wrote about sometime last year.  Still, it only addressed the written aspect of my project.

It’s All About The Music.

From the very start of our Between Homes journey and on through to the bittersweet end, music was my calling card.  Wherever the work sent us, whatever job opportunity hubby pursued – performing opened doors, initiated relationships and provided supplementary income. The Music also served as a precious tether connection with my true self amidst the current Reality we were navigating.

Early on, a colleague jokingly spoke of our Between Homes lifestyle as my personal sabbatical.  While I was certainly immersed in composing, playing, performing and practicing, the circumstance of our journey was not something I’d label as a sabbatical.*

But truly, output gleaned from that Between Homes time resulted in a large body of work.  A large body of quality work, some of which has been presented in bits and pieces on this blog in the form of ‘individual prose-project-petals’ as re-edited vignettes, reflections of re-entry into the mainstream, photos of fiber art created as a result of that experience, and the desire to Give Voice to the experiences of others in similar situations across the country.

All to the exclusion of its core element: The Music.

It’s All About The Music.

To be fair,** the sharing of musical projects on a blog is not easily achieved.  Posting mp3 audio snippets or pdf score excerpts of works in progress is problematic on many fronts.  Copyright protection just doesn’t seem to count for much of anything in this digital age.  Aside from that, there is this old timey view of discussing current projects and ideas that I hold as truth.  Any creative (he)artist knows what I’m talking about: the dreaded speak it, talk it, discuss it, and it will disappear! In other words, don’t share all the details of a current project or idea during the creating of it or the energy will just vaporize; just do it!

And that’s exactly what I have been doing since the beginning of the New Year…

It’s All About The Music.

Swans on a Misty Lake, by Alex Saberi

Swans on a Misty Lake, by Alex Saberi

With the music in its proper place, Swimming with Swans is fleshing out naturally.  It is beginning to glide effortlessly across the lake of completion with strokes of fluid motion, like the swans themselves.

 

 

*Definitely something worth writing about more deeply in another post/vignette.

**and in the spirit of full disclosure: the last few months of our three year journey, I walked away from the deepest part of my self-the music- which took longer to heal after our reentry. That time to the beginning of this year represents a period of restoration and reconciliation that is relevant but not appropriate to recount in this post.  Possibly open to dialogue further in another one, though.

Inspiration during a simple Convalescence

Okay.  So I’m laid up a bit from a pesky back muscle spasm. In my mature wisdom, I know it is nothing as incapacitating as what many of my favorite Wounded Warriors have had to endure in a life less than half the length of my own.  But, when one is on a roll with a project that has been working its way to the top of the slush pile of my creative mind, the intrusion of this mini-disability is an aggravation.

In keeping with a term I earned back during my horse rescue days, I choose to ‘Cowgirl Up.’

Yep, being (he)artistic and horsey walk hand in hand in this lady’s life.

I confess to times of grumpiness, but mostly I’ve been reading lots, listening lots and vegging lots.  Never one to run from the creative crock pot of silence, the waiting is invigorating, but the physical stillness is my undoing!

Here then is a sampling of stuff I love, especially when I can’t position myself on my own practice stool and work on my own music.  Enjoy! Continue reading

Snippets of an Inner Childhood Soundscape

Lately I’ve been remembering quiet times as a kid, with a sharp ear for what actually occupied my time. I’m realizing that my prayers, thoughts and stories were all relayed via inner music.  I sang declarations of love to my God, hummed certain discordant intervals when I was scared, and then snappy tunes when happy.

1959 olive green vw bug

1959 olive green vw bug, just like our own family car (we kept it till ~1977. After that, it spent its last days transporting hazardous materials within a local landfill!)

During family trips in the car, I arranged the sounds and rhythms filling my head into satisfying story soundtracks. Sharing the back seat of a VW bug with my baby bro was not the most exciting of adventures.  No, I take that back, we managed to stage plays between fights for space.

He was most talented at wrinkling up his face to accompany the different voices we made up for various characters.  In fact, he’d do my favorite character, Blob, upon personal request.  Yeah, I guess baby brothers came in handy that way.

I had a rich inner life.

my homemade cannoli

My homemade cannoli

And an enriching kid-life. A life filled with colors, aunts, uncles, cannoli, swimming, exploring and dissecting the stinky frogs packed in purchased science kits.

Stars, bonfires and leaves.

Museums, ice skating, tobogganing, and walks with cousins. Day camp, girl scouts.

Ma’s art lessons she gave to all the cousins, the smell of linseed oil mingled with freshly ironed cotton shirts.  Growing gardens – Ma’s flowers, Dad’s tomatoes, and always a peach tree.

Baby bunnies hidden in our front yard, forts built with scraps of plywood, and music.

Always music.

Ma’s opera and dorky Barn Dance albums, the old 78’s and wonderful new LP’s of musical theatre.

Dad’s jazz. Practicing alongside Coltrane, Charlie, cool blues. Crazy kid-dancing to his sax, clarinet, guitar, and cowbell.

Grandpa’s banjo and zampogna*.  You Are My Sunshine sing-alongs.

Laying on my bed at night or looking up at the clouds on a warm spring day, in my quiet times, I didn’t read.  I didn’t color.  Well, yes, I did those.  But mostly, I ‘did my music.’

Even then, ever with me, from the inside out.

My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul.
~ Psalm 108:1

*more on this instrument in another post…suffice it to say, my love of goats has a family history as well!

My NaNoWriMo Signature Quotes

One of the fun things about doing NaNoWriMo (besides being a month devoted to writing and a great excuse to down gallons of coffee) is all the geeky stuff that’s available for use during the event.  There are word count widgets (yep, got that!), banners and badge buttons (done those, too) to install on one’s website/blog.  On-site, there’s even push-button access to upload images for use as one’s novel cover (pretty cool, but haven’t done that yet; maybe this year) … just to name a few techie toys.

Then there’s the personalization of one’s NaNo presence.  Along with the usual profile set up, there are numerous ways one can do this.  Over these three years of participating in this creative endeavor, I’ve pretty much kept my moniker (desertmountain) and gravatar (a photo of me and Leggy Lady on the compound, sized-down real teeny tiny) the same.  Mostly just to maintain a sense of continuity within and between each year’s NaNoWriMo.

However, each year’s signature quote has been different.

Interestingly, they reveal something about that year’s novel/project while not specifically chosen as such…a sort of foreshadowing of whatever wanted to be written/worked on during that year’s NaNo.

For NaNo 2012 I pulled a favorite quote from a snippet of Carl Sandburg’s poem, Lesson. peaches in tree 

“Come clean with a child heart.  Laugh as peaches in the summer wind.  Let rain on a house roof be a song.  Let the writing on your face be a smell of apple orchards in late June.”  – Carl Sandburg

Little did I realize my novel for that premier year would revolve around the lessons and seasons of life within The Peach Orchard Project or My Life as a Peach.

My second NaNoWriMo,  I found a quote revealing the effectiveness of fiction as a form of literary social commentary from a favorite author.

“A book, too, can be a star, ‘explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly,’ a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.” – Madeleine L’Engle

I plunged deep into the realm of my characters.  They cried out for justice in an unjust world while I grieved the passing of the ugliest and hardest of my street people characters who died a hero, defending The Woman Who Didn’t Belong.

This year’s signature quote jumped out at me while reading, When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams.  It gives me hope that the creation of (he)art as truth is an important endeavor; one which compels me to soldier-on in doing.

“To withhold words is power.  But to share our words with others openly and honestly is also power.” – Terry Tempest Williams

Me & Leggy Lady on the compound ~November 2010

Me & Leggy Lady on the compound ~November 2010

Honesty is an undeniable foil, it flashes whether bidden or not.  In order to be true to myself, I have to speak.  I must share my words, my music, my (he)art, my Musical Non-Fiction, regardless of whether or not it is seen, heard or read.

 

My NaNo Rebellion in 5 Bullet Points

NaNoWriMo participant 2014 buttonSo here it is, Day 4 of NaNoWriMo 2014.  I thought I’d send on an update about this year’s writing focus and progress.

I already mentioned that I decided to use November’s NaNo time for a specific project I had in mind to work on and hopefully finish.  If not finish, then at the very least bring it forward and closer to completion.

In NaNoWriMo terminology, anything written in the non-fic genre, editing of previous mss drafts, poetry, scripts, blog entries and a myriad of other categories, is considered being a Rebel.  When one declares such a status, one’s project is called their NaNo Rebellion.

My NaNo Rebellion in 5 Bullet Points: Continue reading

WIP: Coffee Beans Means Love to Me

Note: the title of this post refers to the name of my current quilt WIP

As mentioned in a prior post, I’m a quilter from way back when.  For the most part, I prefer to work with what is at hand, supplementing materials as needed during each individual project.  As a result, my projects display differing degrees of scrappiness appropriate to their ultimate use.  Whether utilitarian or artistic, literal quilt blankets or wall hangings, craft or fiber art projects, the underlying theme is always one of creating pieces from what I have on hand.  Very much in keeping with the fundamental value of making do with what one has, then augmenting as the need arises.

While living on the compound in the desert outside Las Cruces, NM, I worked retail at the JoAnnFabrics in town.  Just being in the store each working day was creative eye candy to my soul.  I couldn’t make quilts due to our living circumstances, but those creative juices had free roaming privileges within my mind. Continue reading

Creative Confluence

Confluence.

I love how that word rolls about in the mouth; how it feels like its verbal definition.

Confluence.

Defined as a coming or flowing together, meeting or gathering at one point.

Most often used in reference to the joining of different rivers forming a larger waterway, it offers up a powerful image describing the perpetual movement of life.  Regardless of point of origin, the joining up of these liquid forces produces newborn paths, vision and vitality.

Confluence of the Mississippi River & Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois

The confluence of the Mississippi River & Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois. (© Nathan Benn/Ottochrome/Corbis)

Confluence itself is sort of ‘messy.’  Look at the bottom tip of Illinois where the Ohio and Mississippi rivers come together.  During our first year on-the-road between-homes, we often traveled the bridges over these two rivers around Cairo, IL. Continue reading

The Rusty Quilter

detail of rows 1 & 2 of my quilt WIP

Detail of rows 1 & 2 of my quilt WIP

“Hello, my name is Laura and I am a rusty quilter who’s picking up the needle again.”

Geesh, that sounds kind of illegal.  No matter, quilting is and has been a very important part of my life since well, forever.  Put another way, when the country was re-discovering quilt-art in the 1960’s and 70’s, I was among those who tried my hand at it…and kept my hand in it ever afterwards.

Basic to those early projects was a deep desire to stay true to my own set of ‘quilt values.’  Specifically: recycling used clothing and jeans into quilts and wearables, both utilitarian and artistic.  One of my first quilt-based projects used old jeans pockets as squares to make a lounge pillow for my younger brother.

Yes, the times they were a-changin’.*  Continue reading

quiltgift2001

Dedicated to those who are in need of a quiltgift and those who provide these works of (he)art.

from-Swimming with Swans: vignettes of our three year journey between homes
July 2011 (the desert outside Las Cruces, NM)

One Christmas, I made and gave a quilt to a special person who was experiencing a period of extreme grief, hoping my creative handiwork would provide some solace. I found it easy to part with my artistic endeavor, trusting the new owner would enjoy it. I feel the same way when performing as a musician.

Recently, the quilt unexpectedly came back into my possession. This turn of events has offered me a unique opportunity to see my quilt in a different light. It has yielded unexpected insights into the person I was then, who I am now, and what I’ve learned in between times.

When it was returned, I first viewed it as an artistic piece. I was surprised to discern that I did not like it as my quilting style has changed significantly, more than I thought. It clearly showed a point in my life from which I have evolved, similar to what I and other musicians experience when we hear a recording made some time past. It surprised me to see this tangible evidence of where I had once been as a quilter.

Then, I began to remember the circumstances that prompted me to offer this person a comfort gift. Foremost, I recalled the deep need that drove me to give of myself in a nonverbal way, pouring out my heart-love during the process of making it. The quilt brought back the memory of offering prayers, crying tears with each stitch, and knowing it was not only cathartic for me in its making, but a symbolic gesture in the giving of it.

Also, I remember trying to tame my “crazy-scrap-quilt” style, shaping it into something more “palatable” to this person’s tastes and trying to tone down my own bolder color palette for their more subdued powder baby blues preferences. In so doing, I think it diminished the quilt’s artistic value, but not its worth as a gift of love and compassion.

What I think I’ve learned in the interim is an ability to incorporate others preferences more easily into a piece, presentation, or gift of which I can be proud.  I do so when, as a musician, I gear programs, concerts, or performances towards a particular audience. It’s a smart thing to do. The trick is to give ‘em what they want with a twist….an appropriate twist, but a twist just the same. Examples of what I’ve done is to include one of my own arrangements of a Celtic piece for solo classical guitar into an otherwise traditional setting or by playing a wildly exciting 20th century classical guitar piece in a program filled with standard fare, fluff.

The following seems to sum up the above while giving it greater credence given its famous and honored author. It also reminds me of the conversations we often have with each other as colleagues.

The Two Poems*
by Kahlil Gibran

 Many centuries ago, on a road to Athens, two poets met, and they were glad to see one another.

And one poet asked the other saying, “What have you composed of late, and how goes it with your lyre?”

And the other poet answered and said with pride, “I have but now finished the greatest of my poems, perchance the greatest poem yet written in Greek.  It is an invocation to Zeus the Supreme.”

Then he took from beneath his cloak a parchment, saying, “Here, behold, I have it with me, and I would fain read it to you.  Come, let us sit in the shade of that white cypress.”

And the poet read his poem.  And it was a long poem.

And the other poet said in kindliness, “This is a great poem.  It will live through the ages, and in it you shall be glorified.”

And the first poet said calmly, “And what have you been writing these late days?”

And the other answered, “I have written but little.  Only eight lines in remembrance of a child playing in the garden.”  And he recited the lines.

The first poet said, “Not so bad; not so bad.”

And they parted.

And now after two thousand years the eight lines of the one poet are read in every tongue, and are loved and cherished.

And though the other poem has indeed come down through the ages in libraries and in the cells of scholars, and though it is remembered, it is neither loved nor read.

*from “The Wanderer-His Parables and His Sayings”