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This week’s Tuesday Thought was supposed to be about finding time to be creative, as a follow up to last week’s “it’s good to be bored.” Because, how are you supposed to find time to create much less be bored? And I will talk about that. At some point. But around 8 this morning, I got to thinking: most really good art (for me anyway) is some combination of strange and stunning. For example, the Marble Machine or Tim Lewis’s upcoming work at the Flowers Gallery.
Then I got to wondering, have I made anything that fits that description? And another rabbit hole I fell down.
So today, rather than any new revelations, we’re taking a trip down memory lane and taking an inventory of “artistic whims” I’ve found myself working on at various points in my life. I don’t actually know if this is useful information, but I’m sure we could stick some fun message to it. Maybe, “all art is valid and here’s a list of examples to show how creativity changes and develops in every artists life”. Yeah, something like that.
So here it goes. All the projects I can remember doing and a few ideas I’d still love to work out.
- Projects with my mom when I was a kid. We made bug boards with butterflies and other critters caught outside, used food coloring to swirl in shaving cream and stick paper over for a lively abstract print, and lots of sewing with feathers and glitter. It was much fun.
- A burlap backpack for 2nd grade (I think?). We had a bunch of leftover material over the summer, and I decided I wanted to sew my own backpack. I think I managed to make some form of bag, but no straps or closure system. Needless to say, I went to school with a backpack from Walmart that year.
- A tiny gnome bench. I took scrap wood planks from outside, a hammer and some nails, and made myself my own child-sized bench. It did not hold me because it was tiny. So we relinquished it to the gnomes in the whimsical garden.
- A brick oven. Also found bricks in the back yard. I don’t think they were secured together with anything, but I basically stacked up a box shape with a grill tray on top and a hole underneath for wood to go in. That way, you stick the wood under the grill tray, light in on fire, and cook something over it.
- Art competition with flags. In fourth grade there was a competition for drawing something about world peace. I promptly searched up around 100 flags from different countries, drew all of them in a big blocky border, and had and earth in the middle with people holding hands in a ring around it. I got a $50.00 gift card that had a lion picture on it, and my picture in the paper.
- Science projects in 2nd and 3rd grade. I remember my mom helped me in 2nd grade make this really cool box where you looked inside, and saw Styrofoam ball planets. The stars even lit up in the back. And then in 3rd grade, a big sugar cube Egyptian pyramid with rivers running by and everything. I know she did the majority of it, but I attempted to help so it’s still going here.
- Hoola-hoop routines. If we’re counting dance here, I won the talent portion of a school pageant two years in a row with a hoola-hoop routine. This was not me getting up there and just swinging around a hoop for 8 minutes in front of a bunch of bored parents. These were two routines I practiced for at least two months, involving 5-6 hoola-hoops which would be placed on the floor and picked up and added to my waist, while spinning and dancing and running around the stage (hoops all going), and occasionally taking one back off to twirl around my head, then slink it back down with the rest. I don’t know how I did it, I don’t think I could do it again.
- Makeup. I had a WHOLE phase with makeup at home where I would do stuff like paint half of my face moon themed and the other half sun themed. I was not using actual face paint like a cosplayer would use, though. This was blue eye shadow on half of my face because I didn’t have anything else to work with. This was dotting my eyes with white acrylic paint, and finding a red crayon from a 6 month old Halloween vampire kit to make add dimension to the yellow horizon.
- 7-ish years of flute (6th-12th grade). Played in Arkansas’s All-Star Regional band twice. Got invited a third year, then COVID happened. I tried out for several other regional competitions, but didn’t make the cut. We did a Christmas and spring concert every year, pep band, and managed to go play at the Batesville, AR park a couple times. The abundance of stories related to my years in band would need a whole book to describe.
- Composed 5-10 band pieces in Highschool. Most of them were for my own fun. I think two were for concerts we played, and I helped arrange several of our pep band pieces. My favorite one to date was a re-arrangement of Everything Stays by Rebecca Sugar (a song for Marceline from Adventure Time). I had composed it on Flat.io which was linked to my school email. So after graduating, I had not realized this and went to look for it. It did not exist. I am still very upset. I couldn’t recreate it if I wanted to.
- Ballroom dancing. My band talked our director into teaching ballroom dancing for two weeks in preparation for prom. So I sort of know how to Fox Trot which is neat. Unfortunately, I have had no excuses to use this skill since then. If someone wants to throw a formal 1920s themed ball in my area, please let me know! I will be there.
- Lots of blackout poetry once I learned it existed, thank you Austin Kleon. I do not remember how I came across him. I kind of think I learned about blackout poetry while looking up artsy poetic stuff on google images, and which led to a rabbit hole and thus him. My brain is feeling a vague connection with that gist of things. Anyway, I have a folder somewhere in my house containing something like 20 random pages from a binge session in high school, and I have two of his books.
- Art club. We would meet once a month, and do an art project assigned by our teacher during that hour. I got to make a coffee filter painting that’s currently acting as a background for a space poster. It’s brightly colored with pink and yellow, then one big black circle in the center to draw the eye in. It’s literally just coffee filters soaked in marker, but it makes for some solid wall art.
- Art competitions. This was another feature of art club that I got to participate in. I don’t remember what I actually made for it (I think we entered my cat sculpture?? described below), but I do remember what I WANTED to do was sculpt a massive globe and glue tiny canvases over the surface in a grid, and paint historical figures on each of them in a way that created the geography at the same time. That didn’t happen, but I haven’t forgotten. One day when I have somewhere to store it, it will be created.
- Face collage with video games. This was a two-three week art project at school. We took pictures of ourselves, made a grid, and then drew a picture in each square with shadows that lined up with our facial features. The same idea as described for the globe - a collage that turns into a larger picture from a distance. I chose retro video games. Let me tell you my goodness was it hard to find that many retro video games and have them all line up perfectly. I don’t think anyone else stuck with an actual theme. And yes - it would have absolutely been morally wrong to repeat a game in a second square to fill space.
- Lots of canvases from ages 5-15. I did a lot of painting when I was young. I kept some of them, and they now hang in my office at home.
- Magic ball/cat sculpture. This is the cat sculpture previously mentioned - it was another school art project. We were supposed to create a small clay sculpture of an everyday object, and write a paper that explained the setting we would place it in, were it giant. It was a way to learn about the artist Claes Oldenburg and his work in NYC. My mom owned a crystal ball, and so I asked my art teacher, “does this count if I have it at home?” She allowed it. So I made a crystal ball, and decided it would be placed in a cat rescue center. Why would it be placed there? Because cats are mysterious and powerful, like the cat goddess in Egyptian mythology, and it would bring awareness so the cats got adopted. I made a tiny orange and white cat to sit on top of this clay crystal ball. My teacher did not give out 100s in class because art is not perfect. This project got a 100%.
- Filled one red sketch book. I have filled one sketchbook in my life, and that is my red “Sketch Diary” with the word “diary” crossed out and “book” written under that because it was too girly for my 3rd grade tastes. I would just have random spurts of "I want to draw" and use like 10 pages at a time maybe once a year. I made an effort to finish the last couple pages in my junior year of Highschool. I have probably 6 other sketchbooks in my office right now, and not one of them even comes near to halfway used.
- Wall art from a dresser. I tore down a dresser that my friend gave to me since we couldn’t really use it in our very humid and gross at the time bedroom, and used the front frame as wall art. It is now painted black, hanging vertically on the wall with hooks in eat section to display different hanging pieces and a wooden sketch man sitting the bottom left corner.
- Mindah. This was a podcast show I wanted to make while my husband was in college. I have about half of the first script written, and I went as far as to buy a microphone and sound muffler to make this. It’s supposed to be about a yarn doll girl, who just came into sentience and is learning about the world around her. There is already a community of other dolls doing post-apocalyptic Nightvale-esce activities. I would still love to create this, but it needs some serious story boarding and voice actors other than myself before it ever touches Spotify.
- Yarn dolls. I made yarn dolls with yarn instruments and tiny books the summer before senior year. I made a whole box and a sky background from fabric I got at a thrift store. I have the prettiest picture of a 2 inch tall, blue and purple yarn doll reading a tiny handmade book on a plaid fabric hill in the fabric night. It still freaks my husband out to this day that I did that and I love it.
- Bound two books. My preacher at our old congregation has a lot of book-binding supplies that he showed me how to. I managed to make two leather covers with sewn edges, which I still have. They’re pretty awkward and unpolished, but it was a very fun learning experience.
- General crocheting and knitting. I learned crocheting from my babysitter when I was little and have done it off and on since. While my husband was in school, a lady there made crochet bags and such for a living. She does absolutely gorgeous work. She invited me and the other ladies to a crochet day, and since I was having a hard time with that I decided to learn to knit instead. About a year ago, I managed to create a singular glove with dragon scales down the wrist and it’ll probably never have a match.
- Book décor gone very wrong. I tried to make a book decoration where you cut a hole in the center, and in the hole the pages have designs like hearts or a castle. That did not work out, mostly because I did not have the right tools. After and hour of intense work with some scissors, I basically had a whole in the cover of a big green book sitting in my room for a year. We will not be doing that again.
- 3D design. I tried to learn video game coding and 3D design. That was a very amusing 2 weeks. I made an ice cream cone in Vector, and have some very amusing footage of a game character jumping, then frantically glitch-floating all the way to the top of the screen.
- And of course, there is We Have Rhymed.
So yeah, while I didn’t write down every single drawing I’ve ever done, those are all the big(ish) projects that I remember doing. It’s not all award winning, but I feel like it was a lot of fun experimenting, especially as a kid. That’s is what most (of my) art is - a big messy experiment that sometimes looks neat. Hopefully all the links to the photos worked, and maybe it gave you some ideas. There are definitely people that do them better than I did or ever will, but it’s fun and neat nonetheless. I like having these all in a list because I can see the clear history of a general need to just “make” throughout my life. That’s definitely what’s led to We Have Rhymed; I get to make, but now with some direction and level of continual development in an area, unlike the aforementioned projects. So do what you will with that information, and enjoy your own creating.
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Liberty Jensen • Writer
Liberty is a donations manager, finance student, and full-time drinker of coffee. She enjoys poetry, her cats, and spending time with her husband.