Up Close & Personal

Art for Art’s Sake.

This image I drew of myself takes in the life of a writer - a computer, books and a hot cuppa. :)
This image I drew of myself takes in the life of a writer – a computer, books and a hot cuppa.

A few weeks ago, I blogged that I dabbled in poetry, but also whenever the creative mood strikes me, I also dabble in other creative pursuits, such as drawing.

You could say I come from a bit of an artistic background; my mother was always drawing and painting and my sisters and I did art throughout our school years (pottery was always a favourite of mine – I loved getting my hands dirty). Many years ago, when I started working, my supervisor told me that I even look ‘the arty type’, though I never knew what exactly that meant – still don’t.

One of my sister’s took it on more than I ever did and had some of her paintings and drawings placed in science books and even in Australian Geographic magazine. Me, I draw occasionally, and when I do I prefer to do cartoons or manga drawings as I find them easier and more fun to do.

I drew this from a children's book (can't remember the title). My apologies to the illustrator Sarah Gibb.
I drew this from a children’s book (can’t remember the title). My apologies to the illustrator Sarah Gibb.

When it comes to drawing, one of the hardest things for me to do have always been faces, so I envy anyone who can do good portraits. This is why I’ve always been hesitant in drawing people. I always had difficulty in coming up with my own creations; I usually have to copy the work of somebody else, so I was destined never to be an ‘artist’ in that sense.

I drew these quite some time ago, and have since become a bit torn and yellowed with age. Again, my apologies to original artists Deborah Jones and those at Hallmark.
I drew these quite some time ago, and have since become a bit torn and yellowed with age. Again, my apologies to original artists Deborah Jones and those at Hallmark.

As well, I’ve taken up the ink pen and done some calligraphy. I wrote out the invitations for my own wedding as well as that of one of my friends. I’ve made my own cards and did some scrapbooking – even went so far as to create a scrapbook for my parents for their 50th wedding anniversary. I’m very much a ‘creative type’, so it would seem I’m a ‘right brain’ kind of person.

Yes, I draw and dabble in various other artistic pursuits, but my real artistic hobby is photography, which I have taken up in more recent years (and much prefer to be behind the camera than in front of it). I’ve also been given a new phone and have joined Instagram to experiment with. I tend to find photography to be much easier than some of these other endeavours though – just point and click. 😉

Do you have a creative pursuit as a hobby? Do you find some easier than others? Are you very much a ‘right brain’ person?

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Hits & Misses, Writing

Dabbling in Poetry.

alphabetIf you’re like me, you would have been one of those students back in your school days whose eyes would glaze over every time you were required to study poetry in English class. Being asleep with my eyes open, I honestly wouldn’t be able to tell you what we learned. Years later and far away from the horrors of school life, the muse can sometimes have a mind of its own. Even though I’m not a big fan of poetry, I have been known to dabble in it on occasion.

A few years back, I discovered a small publication that was looking for poems and short stories. The magazine also included writing prompts and there were two in particular that caught my imagination. My muse decided to take me down the uncharted territory of poetry and before I knew it, I had two short pieces written. With nothing to lose, I decided to send them off and was later caught by surprise upon seeing two free issues of the publication where my poems had been published. Here is one of them:-

Winter Sleeps.

A gentle whisper through the trees
Chills the air with fallen leaves
Sunlight glistens upon the grass
While shadows dance slowly as they pass.
The hand of nature deals a blow
Through heavy frosts that leads to snow
Ice that crackles under foot
Pays to be careful where it’s put
For underneath the lake is deep
Where all is silent when winter sleeps.

© Debbie Johansson, 2008.

Sure, I’m not going to win any awards for this; my first attempt, but it did buoy me up to try writing more. Every year there is a Banjo Patterson competition for short stories and bush ballads (for those overseas, Banjo Patterson wrote the famous bush ballad The Man from Snowy River), and I decided to take a stab at it. Such poems hold more appeal to me as they tell a story and actually rhyme. It took me a while to perfect it and I had it critiqued by a local poet before sending it off. She told me that she could see my poem as a short story. I worked hard on that piece and was pleased with my first attempt at such a poem, so was a bit disappointed by her comment. Of-course I sent the poem off and never heard any more about it. That piece still sits waiting at home, yet now, years later I believe that woman might have been on to something. I could give it a whole new lease of life as a short story.

Throughout this entire process, I’ve come away with learning these four things:-

1. Writing prompts are a great way to fire up the muse,
2. Don’t ignore smaller publications to get your foot in the door,
3. Sometimes you can get lucky and get published on your first attempt, and
4. Experimenting with different creative forms can lead you down different paths.

Despite my years of reluctance towards poetry, being creative means trying new things. Just follow your own muse, no matter where it takes you.

Do you dabble in poetry? Do you experiment with different creative forms and have you found them to be a help or a hindrance? Do you find writing prompts help your muse?

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