Finding That Creative Spark
I often describe myself as being inspired by nature, but that on its own is a very broad statement. So today, I would like to share a bit more about exactly what I mean. Generally speaking, I find inspiration in small moments from my daily life. It could be a plant in my neighborhood that has come into bloom or my neighbor’s cat that likes to follow me down the street. There is always something intangible in these seemingly insignificant events, a spark of positive energy, that makes me want to capture that instant in time so that it may be experienced anew as art, as well as something that can be experienced by others. Below I have captured a moment, this time in writing, that inspired me to put brush to paper. I am attempting to share a few of my thoughts and my perspective in hopes that at least some part of my method for finding inspiration in the everyday will be useful to others.
Innocent Fluffy Clouds
The clouds this morning were really quite lovely. They even inspired me to step out onto the balcony and take a photograph or two as reference material for a potential watercolor painting (see the image above, panoramic view from my balcony). Yet as the day passed they became an increasingly darker shade of grey. By 3:30 pm it was quite apparent that rain was coming. Distant rumblings of thunder brought me to the window and I could see tiny spatterings on the glass from the approaching storm. Delicate spring leaves were showing their tender undersides as they flailed about in the wind. Interesting shapes and shades of low dense clouds hung ominously on the horizon. As if a dark curtain had been drawn across the western sky and the rim of the bowl that held the old part of the city.
As the thunder grew louder, Daisy who had been sleeping on the couch was stirred, an intense look of concern and fear on her sweet doggie face. Poor old girl was terrified of thunderstorms. I moved to help her off the couch and then ran upstairs to check the windows and make sure they were all closed. Just in the nick of time too!
Fast Moving Storm
When I returned to my vantage point of the balcony glass door, the farthest parts of the city had been hidden from view by a dense grey wall. Wind whipped my little potted plants sitting against the railing as well as the trees down on the street below. The dryer vent rattled with a furious intensity.
I decided to make myself a cup of tea. Chai, my favorite, with an extra dash of cinnamon to go with the delicious homemade curry I had eaten for lunch. This time when I peered out, half of the city had vanished, even the tall graceful facade of Music Hall and a nearby clock tower were gone. The storm raced towards me, bringing with it a torrent of rain blowing at a steep 45 degree angle.
Standing there in awe, I was distracted by the feeling of moisture on my feet. Searching for the source, I realized that rainwater was being blown under the door! It trickled out by the door hinge and across the tile floor. I bent down and mopped it up with a towel. A few moments later when I looked up, everything but the nearby trees, which swayed violently, had been completely blotted out by impenetrable grey clouds. Sheets of rain were hurled down from the sky. The wind rose to an even higher intensity and large droplets pelted the glass. My set of wicker chairs skidded across the balcony and banged into a large flower pot, carelessly tossed by the storm.
A World Apart
Without the familiar view out of my window, I felt a strange sensation of isolation. Almost as if I had been swept away to an island, lost in a bank of angry clouds. I let my imagination wander a little bit. Amusing myself with the idea that perhaps it was possible for your whole house to be teleported to another world, just as Dorothy and Todo had been. Or perhaps the clouds would part and I would find the city truly had disappeared, a gaping hole left in the place of streets, buildings and foundations, much like the NeverEnding Story. Then a more realistic fear entered my mind. Living up on a ridge, on the third and fourth floors of a historic row house, I wondered if the old building could withstand another beating from Mother Nature. Would the bricks crumble and fall, taking me tumbling down the hillside with them? While my rational mind knew this to be utter nonsense, it was still a somewhat disconcerting thought.
As quickly as the storm had come, it passed. Everything outside had been thoroughly drenched by the deluge. The westerly facing windows were foggy and scattered with clinging droplets. Daisy was thankful to be tucked back in her bed. Excluding the occasional distant thunder, a peaceful quiet ensued. The far horizon lightened, yet the sky was still quite dark for the middle of the afternoon. The powerful storm had left an eerie half-light in its wake. Perhaps there would be more thunder and lightning to come….
In the distance, a crack of thunder rolls.
Now that I've given you a peek inside my mind, I hope you can see why something as commonplace as a thunderstorm would inspire me to create. The strength and speed of the storm were like nothing I had experienced before and I wanted to capture just a fraction of that on paper. I must admit that I really struggled to get the kind of results that I was looking for with this project. I'm almost embarrassed to share it. Unfortunately, I was using an inexpensive paper and I think that was working against me. The cloud formations and colors from the reference photo were far more complicated than I initially thought. However, I did learn a bit more about clouds and layering colors for sky paintings. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. At the end of the day, it's only paper after all.