Finding my voice

I'm in a wonderfully creative mood today, perhaps prompted by the fact that I'm finally well enough to be able to exercise again. I spent a long hour in the pool, exhausting my arms and cramping my feet, but I'll be back in shape in a week or so. My mood is also prompted by a few lovely blogs which I've been spending a lot of time with lately. The first is Keri Smith's Wish Jar which has reminded me of my love of collage and journaling (more on that in a bit), the second is Behind the Curtain, which I've long been a fan of, and the third is Oh Joy, a blog I was introduced to through Behind the Curtain. So thank you to these lovely women for inspiring me and helping me to dust the cobwebs out of my brain and start creating again.

So! Along with my continued efforts in needlecraft, I dug a blank sketchbook out of my father's shed (where it had been stored in a box along with my other non-essential belongings), within which I plan to start pasting the scraps and bits of my life. I have always been a packrat, collecting words and sentences, scraps of paper, photos, memories, sounds, etc. I've also long been a fan of collaging. In college I used to keep journals and my favorite entries are the ones which are mostly pasted together into a mashup of my daily tribulations. I've saved all of these journals even though they contain some awfully embarassing revelations to someone interested in pretending to be adult. I also keep reading journals, something I've spoken of often in this blog. My reading journals are a way for me to transcribe provocative, beautiful, and well-loved passages out of the works I've been reading. I use colored pens and a variety of lined books for this purpose and these are treasured keepsakes of mine.

I'm the kind of person who will find a scrap of paper while driving and jot down a sequence of random thoughts and then keep the scrap for years on the off-chance that it will continue to inspire with the same intensity as the day it was created. So journaling and collaging are only natural for me.

I'm also not very original. I say this not in a derogatory way but in a reflective way. I was working on Gilson's Arts of the Beautiful last night before class and read through his section on Talent and Genius. He says:

Talent dovetails, adjusts, organizes and composes, it sews the things it borrows onto the work it produces; at its best it inserts them into it. Genius, on the other hand, takes them up so as to make them its own; they are so to speak melted and thrown into the smelting metal which is cast into the mold of the work. Genius cannot merely borrow, it appropriates whatever it takes by submitting it to the seminal form which is truly its own.

Gilson's idea of a "seminal form" (which he posits as the integral element of the work of the artist), is tied to the notion of originality and style, qualities of the artist which are rare and the product of one having one's own voice and way of creating.

I'm not so sure I have that, but I know that in the past I have found a delightful sense of rightness in collaging and working to pull together disparate elements into some cohesive whole. It feels like good work to me, and I enjoy it. I would like to even propose that it is my way into discovering my own style and my own way of creating.

Gilson has had a lot of influence on my thoughts about art because he places importance on the privilege of the artist in being able to understand art. Baudelaire's knowledge of his poetry will of course surpass my knowledge of his poetry, but Gilson says that the true artist is also privileged in his knowledge and understanding of art that is not his own. The artist knows the effort of creation and the joy of it. He knows what it is like to interact with an ideal in the attempt to realize it. And this knowledge of creation, the making of something out of the abstract thoughts and intentions of the human mind, this is the gift which allows a privileged understanding of art.

So anyway, I've been thinking of all these things, and of what I want to do with my new projects, and I think I'm going to start simple (and try to avoid the danger of over-thinking, something I know all too well). I really just want a way to express some of my thoughts and ideas and worries, and also a way to encourage the positive directions I've lately been taking.

One thing I could really, really use is a photo-taking and processing capability. I have one crappy digital camera which I haven't been able to power up in months, and no printer (except at work) so there are limits. I'm thinking of a polaroid camera, but what I'd really love is my own photo booth, like the kind on ocean boardwalks, at carnivals, and in Amelie.

And finally, I had a wonderful dream two nights ago which I wanted to share. I was swimming with my old college team (I often have swimming dreams where I am an outsider swimming with the current team and trying my best just to keep up. They're a bit disconcerting). We were in a fairly conventional pool but instead of swimming up and down the lanes, we were swimming in a double file line around the perimeter of the pool. The center was occupied by a platform of sorts, it didn't figure strongly in my dream. The interesting part though is that I was swimming with my pup. She's an 11-year-old blonde lab with the darkest eyes and nose and I love her more than I can tell. When we were finished swimming I had to help her out of the pool (she has a bad hip) and after she shook off some of the water I plopped her into a barrel and carried her off the pool deck. In my dream it was the sweetest image, my little polar bear-esque pup in a barrel, being carted away from the bright blue swimming pool.