I have been experimenting with collage this week. I saw quite a few examples of this technique, using all sorts of different materials, during my tour of North East Open Studios last month. Perhaps some of the pieces I saw could be classed as mixed media; I'm sure there are specific definitions somewhere. I stuck (pardon the pun) to paper and glue for my playtime. A pile of old magazines, some newspapers, my pot of PVA glue (which temporarily went missing), a pair of scissors and some pieces of cardboard for bases, and I was off! It is a surprisingly absorbing occupation, I found. I did not consciously look for patterns or themes. I also did not aim for an overall picture or image (such as a landscape) as the end result. In fact I am not even sure that these are end results! I am tempted to add some paint (acrylic, or gouache perhaps) to some of them. I will be revisiting collage very soon, I think. The Orange and Blue effort above, based on the sheet music of the tune with that name, inspired a painting I did today. It's fascinating how different types of creativity feed each other. Fascinating, and fun!
I have been hearing about "Small Stones" recently - small pieces of observational writing. This reminded me of an exercise I learnt while doing an online writing course a few years ago. It was called the "Egg timer exercise". The task was to set a timer for one minute and to write down exactly what you saw. And then what you heard, smelt, felt and tasted. For a minute each; no more, no less. The aim was to switch one's brain from the conscious to the sensory - to switch off from email and Facebook, from the dirty washing in the laundry basket, the dinner waiting to be be made and the bills to be paid. And on to what was around you. Real and immediate. And then you would be ready to write.
I tried it. It works. I am reminded that I should do it more often. Here is an example of my "egg timer exercise" completed on 30th June 2010.
I see the blue sky, the dazzling white of the window frames of the house, the plum tree with its burgundy leaves and embryonic plums shining red in the sun. I see the washing moving gently in the breeze, the dog scooping up guinea pig poo from the grass.
I hear the dog next door barking in an empty house, a car passing, a car door slamming, a crow chattering, an aeroplane passing overhead. Distant traffic.
I smell the wood of the inside of the shed, musty dustiness, grass, flowers in the garden, fabric softener from the washing. My skin.
I feel the warmth of the laptop on my lap, the cool of the wooden arms of the chair against my bare arms, the bendy support of the flexible chair at my back.
I can’t remember what the fifth sense is! Ah yes, taste.
I taste the remains of coffee from breakfast time, blood from the inside of my mouth where I have chewed the skin a little too vigorously, a tiny taste of toothpaste from a while ago.
It's autumn again. The rowan berries are glowing like jewels in the afternoon sunshine, great clusters of them reaching up to the sky. I circle the trees, taking photographs and looking, noticing. Some of the rowan trees have lost their leaves already, others have russet ones clinging on. There are conker shells on the ground under the horse chestnut tree; its leaves are only just starting to turn. Dandelions are still flowering, and the tops of the dockens are covered in burgundy seeds. And then there are the sycamore seeds, or helicopters, as we used to call them. Although I think this is a maple of some sort - the leaves are more pointed, and the helicopters larger, than those of a sycamore.