Symbolism is a peculiar game. You say or paint one thing, but you mean another, and the odd thing is that you really want people to figure what that other thing is all about and yet, you camouflage your meaning. It is rather like the silly game that is played by petty wives. When their husbands hurt their feelings or if their husbands forget birthdays or anniversaries, the wives sulk.
The husband asks, “What’s wrong?”
“But I know something is wrong.”
Even though the woman protests that something has upset her, she behaves as though something has, and she wants the husband to guess what that something is. It is as though the true test of love is clairvoyance. If another person can see deep into my soul, he wins.
When I was married, I wanted nothing more than for my husband to stop on his way home, even if it was on a deserted lot, and to pick me bunches of wildflowers or daisies or red clover or whatever else that he could find. But he never did. A smarter wife would have simply said, “I need flowers from you at least once per month.” But that would have ruined the whole thing for me. I needed for my ex-husband to intuitively know that I needed flowers–even free flowers–at least once per month. I seemed to believe that if another person could read my mind, and if he could decipher all of my wants and my needs, he would be my one, true love. No doubt, that is a reason that I am divorced.
But I play that same kind of game with my art. Allow me to illustrate my point:
Thanksgiving Across the Lake – Watercolor by Jacki Kellum
A couple of years ago, I was home alone for Thanksgiving, and I was remembering Thanksgivings of my past–a time when family, hearth, and home seemed to glow a great deal more than they do for me now. I was a little bit depressed, and I painted Thanksgiving Across the Lake. I could write the long version of this post, explaining in detail that the painting and its meaning grew AS I painted it; but I’ll summarize by assuring you that I did not realize exactly what I was painting nor why until I completed the work. By the end of the painting session [not before then], I knew how the final painting would look; I knew what the title would be; and I knew what the painting would mean. Notice that the “evergreen” trees are hardly green at all. They are dark and bluish. The Thanksgiving colors dance around my painting; but the most warmth–the greatest glow is not in the center of attention–not in the main grove of trees that are in the foreground. That was where I was standing in this piece, and that was a dark and foreboding place. The golden and glowing warmth of Thanksgiving was within sight but not where I was standing. It was across the lake, somewhere that I could not reach. In a symbolic way, my painting says that happiness and home were in a place that I could not trouch or access in any way.
December River – Watercolor Painted by Jacki Kellum
As I painted the creek or the river that is snaking its way across the snow in the above painting, I thought about Joni Mitchell’s song River. I consider Joni Mitchell to be the greatest poet of my generation; and every time that I hear her sing River, tears well in my eyes.
Not wanting to try to ride on Joni’s coat tail, I initially decided to just name my painting December 1, but in writing this post, I decided to be totally honest. My painting means more than December 1. I am not Kandinsky, and my paintings are more than mere numbers. My painting December River means that I, too, wish that I had a River I could skate away on……Thank you, Joni Mitchell. No one has said it better than you.
I do not want to be the prophet of doom; but both of the paintings that I have shared today have been a reaction to the holidays and to my own feelings of aloneness during this time. Yet, on a more positive level–on an art-as-therapy level–perhaps my art [both my visual art and my writing] are my River that I do skate away on. I do that through symbols.
I often write in symbols, too. At least 15 years ago, I wrote a group of short verses about flowers. My idea was to illustrate each flower and to publish the book of paintings and verses together, and I would call the volume Garden Songs. [Shhhh! I didn’t just tell you that. I still plan to do it. But like so many other things, I simply haven’t gotten it done yet].
Keep in mind that I want all of the poems to be very short so that they don’t detract from the paintings that will be the true focus of the page. Even though the verses are short, however, I want them to have greater meaning. I want the verses and the images to be symbols for greater truths. Here is the poem that I wrote about Snapdragons:
The Painted Parade
by Jacki Kellum
Watch the painted parade,
With bold and biting dragons,
Teasing all the toddlers—even me!
They’re really just pretending.
Everyday’s a New Year,
A fun and festive firework jamboree.
My grandmother always had snapdragons in her garden, and I used to love to pinch the snapdragons and allow them to bite me or to at least close around the tip of my finger and nibble. When I heard the dragon part of the word “snapdragon,” I thought about the Dragon Dance in the Chinese New Year’s Parade, and that provided me a springboard into what would become part of my greater meaning.
Therefore, on one level, the poem is simply about a colorful bed of flowers that have the capacity to nibble at my fingertips–like a biting dragon. On another level, the parade is talking about the non-scary, scary dragon in a Chinese parade. But on the deepest level, my poem is about something entirely different.
When I said, “Watch the Painted Parade,” I was actually chastising all of the people around me that I thought were being pretentious, wearing masks, and playing games.
My simple, little ditty about Snapdragons was actually a symbol for the way that I felt deep within myself about people who are fake. I do this type of thing all of the time. In other words, what you think that you see in my art and in my writing, is not all that there actually is. My art and my writing are only the tips of an iceberg that lies deeply within me.
Now, here is the silly part: I actually want my viewer and my reader to know what I am thinking, but just like a silly wife, I want you to guess what that is. As I pointed out yesterday, in writing and painting in symbols and metaphors, I may be playing a bigger game than the people in the Painted Parade, but at least, I do dare to look inside myself.
Too many people are nothing more than the surfaces that they reflect to everyone around themselves. Although I am lacking in many ways, I know that I am much, much more than a shallow image, and my art and my writing are keys to some of the gems that I keep locked inside.
. You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul. – George Bernard Shaw
Jacki Kellum is accepting new art students to teach art and design in her Linwood studio.
Jacki Kellum is a proponent of the philosophy that everyone should paint according to their ages and their levels of emotional maturity.
The above drawing was done by Jacki’s 13-year-old student, but the student has been studying with Jacki Kellum for 7 years. She has painted and drawn through every arts maturity level.
The student in the photo above is 12 years old, and she has also been studying art for 7 years with Jacki Kellum. In the preceding photo, you see this student’s study of a fashion model’s face.
Jacki Kellum teaches Drawing, Painting, Fashion Illustration, and Sewing for Textile Art. To teach sewing to children, she teaches how to sew for American Girl Dolls.
Jacki Kellum is currently illustrating a book for former pro baseball player Mark Littell.
White Goose Drawing by Jacki Kellum
Sunflower Painted in Watercolor by Jacki Kellum
Jacki Kellum’s signature watercolor style is highly colorful and free, but her pencil work is detailed and realistic. Jacki teaches students to understand the real before they begin to take freedoms and to try things more abstractly.
To set up an appointment, call or text Jacki Kellum at 609204-9528 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jacki Kellum Has 3 Master’s Degrees
While she was teaching art in schools, Jacki Kellum was named National Teacher of the Year
Fees for Jacki Kellum Art Classes
Private Class: $30 per Hour
Group Class with 4 Students: $20 per Hour
Jacki Kellum Also Designs and Sells Patterns to Sew for American Girl Dolls. The outfit in the above photo was Designed and Sewn by Jacki Kellum.
September 5, 2017 / jackikellum / Comments Off on Come into My Garden Said the Black-Eyed Susan to the Hybrid Tea – Learning to Love Life Through My Garden
Some people are naturally buoyant, but others of us must find ways to elevate our spirits. Writing helps keep my emotions on track.
Drawing and painting help lift me up, too.
But gardening and watching nature day by day is probably my best antidote for the blues.
Even during the winter, I watch the birds outside my window, and I write about how winter changes my perspective.
And I like to paint winter.
I always love to see spring’s arrival. Now, that I live in the North, I love spring more than I ever did before.
And I grow a large variety of irises, and iris time always excites me. My grandmother had a huge iris bed, and my irises keep my grandmother alive.
I also grow a large variety of clematis, but by the time that the clematis are blooming, my garden is shrieking with color.
Early this spring, I bought a large, blooming tropical milkweed plant, and my current reward is that I am watching all of my baby caterpillars munching on the leaves.
Last fall, my header had the above squirrel on it, and I wrote a piece that I titled Winter Comes Too Soon. Moments ago, I was walking around my weed-grown garden, and I was thinking that in only a few weeks, I’ll be writing again about how winter has begun to settle across my lawn. When you read my essay Winter Comes Too Soon, you will probably see that I am not only talking about how another summer is ending, but I am also talking about how the seasons of my life have shifted, too.
I am 67-years-old, and I am no longer the pastel primrose that I once was. I feel more like a field of goldenrod now, and as I begin to look square into the eyes of the latter part of my own autumn, I have begun to notice that cobwebs have been spun from one side of myself to the other, and they have begun to dangle and drop.
Indeed, Winter Comes Too Soon. The surprising thing is that aging has a patina to it, and by the grace of God, as I age, I have begun to discover that there are good things about getting older. I know that I am more mellow than I once was. I have learned to view friendships differently than I ever viewed them before. I have given up a great deal of my tendencies toward perfectionism, and I am finding the eyes to see the beauty of the small, inexpensive things that I had never seen.
Last year, I wrote several hours each day, and that left me no extra time for doing my art and gardening.
The year before, I had gorgeous annuals and perennials blooming in my garden.
But last year, I had fields of poke plants, and one massive wildflower grew that I had never seen in my life. That plant grew to be abut 8′ tall and had large, feathery leaves and woody stalks. Little balls hung from the stalks, and each little ball was topped by what looked like a vintage Chinaman’s cap. Ultimately, little yellow flowers popped out from the tops of the balls. It was an amazing thing to watch. That tall weed or wildflower was a few feet from my back door, and every time that I went outside, I saw it. It was almost as though God chose to give me a special gift to replace the garden that I had allowed to slip away.
During the summer of 2015, my garden was controlled and my waterfall was beautiful and clear. Last year, I never started the pumps for my waterfall, and my pond was brackish and dark. I was disappointed that without my care and nudging, many of my perennials elected not to show last year. But because I allowed some of the wilder things in my garden to have a chance to grow, I saw a different kind of beauty. It was a mellower kind of beauty that had a natural patina.
“A weed is but an unloved flower.” – Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Several times before, I have written that I question the line that is drawn between weeds and flowers. By many standards, I am probably a weed, but I enjoy the comfort and the freedom of growing the way that I seem to want to grow.
“Come into my garden,” said the black-eyed Susan to the hybrid tea.
August 26, 2017 / jackikellum / Comments Off on Happy National Dog Day – German Shepherd Dog Drawn by Jacki Kellum – Tribute to Former Pro Baseball Player Mark Littell
Today is National Dog Day, and I thought that this would be a good time to share my most recent dog drawing.
Fritz – A German Shepherd Dog Drawn in Pencil by Jacki Kellum
This is an iPhone photo of a drawing that I have begun of what I believe Mark Littell’s dog Fritz looked like. Mark Littell is about to release his second memoir book Country Boy Conveniently Wild. This new book is about Mark’s childhood before he became a professional baseball player and pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals. Mark and I grew up together, and he has asked me to do some drawings for his book. That is my main project now.
Sunflower – Watercolor Painted by Jacki Kellum
Most people only know that I can paint wild, colorful flowers, but when something doesn’t call for a wild, colorful flower, I can also draw, and I would say that to lllustrate Mark’s childhood, I won’t need many florals.
Mark and Eric Littell and Fritz
This drawing is a close-up study of the head of one of the geese that I am drawing for Mark’s book. One of Mark’s stories is about a flock of geese this his dad bought to weed the cotton fields. The geese terrorized Mark and his younger brother Eric.
Mark and I grew up in Gideon, Missouri. In the class photo above, I am on the top row–the second person from the left.
Mark Littell’s Senior Picture
Mark Littell was a good-looking boy who was about three years younger than I, but because our families were friends and took trips together. I knew Mark fairly well. Mark recently reminded me that our families would frequently go to a little local restaurant [it was not much more than a diner] for Sunday dinner. The restaurant was named The Clarktonian [the Clarktonian is situated in the town Clarkton]. The Clarktonian was one of those places that had great coffee and a wall of homemade pies. Rich and creamy, homemade coconut pie in buttery and crispy crust comes to my mind.
Mark’s first book On the Eighty Day God Made Baseball is filled with stories about the days that Mark played ball first for the Kansas City Royals and second for the St. Louis Cardinals. You can buy the book at Amazon Here
Mark’s second book will be titled: Country Boy Conveniently Wild. Both Mark and I are country people and both of us are pleased to be able to look back at how growing up in the country has enriched our lives. In the above image, you see the initial marks that I made, as I began to draw a country mail box.
Here is that same mail box, a few hours later. The drawing is still incomplete and messy. One of the stories that Mark Littell tells in his new book is about the “loco” weed that grew wild along the ditch banks and country roads of our rural home. In the above drawing, I am practicing weed drawing. This isn’t Mark’s loco weed. I’ll leave that to your imagination. I work on several pieces a little bit each day. That helps keep me fresh. This is just day 1 on the mail box. It will get better. I am using #2 Ticonderoga pencil and Ebony pencil for my drawings. I’ll probably paint this, too .
For a while, drawing and painting farm scenes was done so very much that it became hokey, and as I embrace the challenge to illustrate my country heritage, I want to avoid hokey sentimentality. I live on the New Jersey Shore now. My current home is close to Philadelphia and to New York City–far away from the cotton fields that cradled me as a child, but I cherish my childhood in rural Southeast Missouri, and I want my drawings to express some of the dignity, as well as some of the softness and some of the rustic vintageness that is part of country living.
Be looking for Mark’s new book, which should be released before the new year. I’ll be drawing and painting several things about the country between now and then. I’ll keep you posted.
August 7, 2017 / jackikellum / Comments Off on Slow Down You Move Too Fast You Gotta Make the Morning Last – A Moment in My Garden
Saturday morning, I stole a few minutes to amble through my garden, and I was struck by the purity and simplicity of the billowing white, hardy hibiscus plants that are blooming all around my yard now. I was reminded of the Simon and Garfunkel Song:
The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)
Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy
Ba da da da da da da, feelin’ groovy
Hello, lamppost, what’cha knowin’?
I’ve come to watch your flowers growin’
Ain’t’cha got no rhymes for me?
Doot-in doo-doo, feelin’ groovy
Ba da da da da da da, feelin’ groovy
I got no deeds to do
No promises to keep
I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me
Life, I love you
All is groovy
I wanted to capture the moment and although my efforts to do so have failed before, I clipped a couple of hibiscus blossoms and brought them inside to paint them, but before I got into my studio, the flowers had begun to wilt.
My garden hibiscus is a reminder that we cannot freeze time.
And the Seasons, They Go Round and Round
And the Painted Ponies Go Up and Down
We’re Riding on a Carousel of Time – Joni Mitchell, The Circle Game
When I first heard Joni Mitchell’s Circle Game song, I was turning twenty, and frankly, I am glad that I didn’t realize then how much I would change over the next several years. The greatest of life’s games is that while we are young, we don’t realize how precious the moments and the opportunities of youth actually are and when we are young, we fall for the unfortunate myth that we will be young forever. But we are like the hibiscus plants in my garden. By the time that we have bloomed, we have begun the process of fading and withering.
One of life’s greatest disappointments lies within discovering that Time itself is an illusion and that living can be like chasing after a mirage. We waste much of our lives looking too far ahead at something that seems to be golden and grand, but when we get there, that golden somethingness isn’t there at all. What we had seen and chased was merely a shiny reflection in the sand, and while we were chasing the mirage, we grew older. Because everything that blossoms eventually dies, it is essential that we find ways to fully live during our precious moments on earth. We need to live each day and we need to avoid chasing that something which is just beyond our grasps.
I don’t want to pretend that art and writing are more than they actually are, but in the almost final analysis, I can honestly say that my ability to create is the way that I begin to make sense of life’s Circle Game and the way that I have managed to slow my own aging process down and have found ways to celebrate the life around me–everyday.
“What was any art but a mould in which to imprison for a moment the shining elusive element which is life itself – life hurrying past us and running away, too strong to stop, too sweet to lose.” – Willa Cather
This has been an odd summer. Perhaps it is more of my advancing age speaking, but I have sensed autumn during much of this past summer. Even today, it is cloudy and the air promises rain. I am reminded of a little poem that I wrote one October. I hope to illustrate this as a picture book:
Winter Comes Too Soon A Picture Book Manuscript by Jacki Kellum
There’s a frenzy in my garden,
Squirrels can’t get enough.
Birds are looking frantically
For seeds and nuts and stuff.
The corn is dry and shriveled now,
A vine has reached the top.
Fading leaves are bending low,
And little pumpkins drop.
The monarchs moved to Mexico,
And geese are leaving, too.
The spider leaves a lacy web,
Her net is etched with dew.
Shadows creep across the lawn,
Beneath the big, bright moon.
Everything in my yard knows
That winter comes too soon.
Copyright Winter Comes Too Soon Jacki Kellum October 8, 2015
In summary, life is a luxury.
Slow down, you move too fast. You gotta make your morning last. . . .
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me
Life, I love you
All is groovy
When you look at my paintings, it is obvious that I leave out or omit many details that might have made my paintings more realistic. I do this intentionally. When paintings reveal everything that a camera or some other machine might see, the viewing simply becomes mechanical–data in—data out. The viewer might be impressed—even awed by the painter’s expert ability to render details; but that is about all that the viewer is allowed to experience because the overly technical or realistic painting is too filled with detail and explanation—there are no quiet spaces for meditative observation—there are no silences—there is no emptiness. Everything is spelled out—there is no need for interpretation. There is no mystery—no intrigue. No invitation is issued to the viewer to participate and to do some imagining or even thinking of his own. You might say that the technically perfect painting suffers from “too much information.”
The same principle might be true of some novels, essays, and nonfiction writing. They also may have too much information to be appealing–to evoke an emotional response. I have often said the while good novels tend to be good oil painting, good watercolor painting tends to be poetry.
“What delights us in visible beauty is the invisible.” – Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach
I believe that all creative work needs places of Zen-like emptiness—pools that can be filled by the viewer’s spirit. Or conversely, they should evoke a quiet emptiness within the viewer—pools that can be filled by the spiritual essence that resides in the invisible, silent spaces within the painting or the poem. In my opinion, paintings and writing should be meditative, spiritual–and the mechanically, technically perfect–the fully exposed–cannot be either.
It is my belief that when viewers look at paintings, they should not be looking for technicality– they should be LISTENING to the Sounds of Silence. Similarly, when one reads poetry, he should not strive to fully understand–to know all that there might have been–but to enter the poet’s word-ship and sail.
Silences can be good and they can be bad. In art and in poetry, some silences are more important than sound.
When I am painting and when I am writing, I consider it a great day when something within myself takes over and essentially completes my project for me. This gentle urging is intuition. It is the spark that helped Michelangelo release his sculptures from a piece of rock, and it is your writer’s voice.
Yesterday, I wrote about my use of brilliant colors when I paint at jackikellum.com Here
Janis Joplin – Watercolor by Jacki Kellum
Readers commented that they admire my bravery when I paint, and I should have said that I am not the brave part of my painting team. My intuition is. When I am having a good painting day, an inward force literally takes control of my hand and urges it to dip into a little more and slash it here or a little pink and slash it there.
In the Pink – Watercolor by Jacki Kellum
If I look carefully at my painting repeatedly and squint my eyes regularly as I paint, an internal voice takes over and tells me what to do where. I merely go into auto pilot, and I allow my intuition to do the heavy lifting. When I am having a good writing day, the same thing happens with my words–they begin to write themselves.
I wrote a poem about how my intuition guides me as I write. The title of that poem is On Silver Sheets, I Sail. When I am writing my first drafts, I usually write in a stream of consciousness. I don’t stop and edit myself. I rarely correct my spelling as I writer. I simply hop on my laptop and begin typing the words that enter my mind. I love this type of writing. When I edit, however, my stream of consciousness is not at play, and I no longer enjoy writing. People who try to edit themselves too early never allow themselves to enjoy the intuition’s free ride, and they often feel that they are experiencing Writer’s Block. They are actually experiencing a type of fear that is the enemy of creativity.
Fear is the worst thing that can happen to anyone who hopes to create.
Fear prevents the painter from painting, and he forces the writer to edit himself literally to death.
Barbara de Angelis wrote an excellent treatise on Fear: [image credit Amazon]
“Imagine that you had a person in your life who followed you around twenty-four hours a day, filling you with anxiety, destroying your confidence, and discouraging you from doing the things that you wanted to do. Every time you were about to make a change or take a risk, the person would say, ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you. What if you fail? What if you get hurt? All kinds of things might happen if you go in that direction.’ Imagine that before each conversation you had with friends, family, or loved ones, the person would pull you aside and caution you. ‘If you open up, you might get rejected. Watch what you say! Don’t trust anyone! . . . ” Barbara De Angelis
Fear is like an emotional roommate that lives with you day and night.
“It’s your fear. Fear is like an emotional roommate that lives with you day and night. It talks to you, manipulates you, and tries to convince you to avoid doing or expressing anything that may cause you any kind of discomfort or involve any sort of risk. It says, ‘You can’t’ . . . and ‘You shouldn’t.,’ and it eats away at your confidence and your self-esteem. It tells you not to act, not to reach out, not to try, not to trust, not to move. It steals the life right out from under you. . . .” Barbara De Angelis
Fear is one of your most powerful inner enemies. It is a force that can sabotage your happiness.
“Fear is one of your most powerful inner enemies. It is a force that can sabotage your happiness. How does fear do that? It keeps you stuck in what’s not working. It prevents you from growing. It keeps separation between you and other people. It talks you out of your dreams. It keeps you stagnant, frozen, unable to become all you were meant to be. . . .” Barbara De Angelis
“It is fear that keeps us standing on the cliff when we know that we need to leap to the other side. But fear does more than just hold you back–it steals your aliveness, your passion, your freedom by shutting down your heart. . . .The extent to which you allow fear to control your life is the extent to which you are living as a prisoner.
I read De Angelis’s book 25 years ago, and it is undoubtedly the most inspirational of any self-help book that I have ever read. Although the book is supposedly for women, I feel that the passages about Fear are appropriate for most artists and writers. Fear is one of a creative’s most crippling forces.
After years of being muted by my own fear, I finally gained enough stamina to simply override my restraints and to create in spite of my fear. But that was a long and uphill climb.
You can read excerpts from De Angelis’s book on her Facebook Page Here
You can also read a great deal of her writing at Google Books Here
When I saw that today’s writing prompt is “Trust,” I initially thought of the song on the movie Peter Pan, You Can Fly.
“All it takes is faith and trust. Oh, and something I forgot. . . just a little bit of pixie dust. . . .
Come on everybody, here we go–Off to Neverland! . . .
There’s a Neverland waiting for you, where all your happy dreams come true,
Every dream that you dream will come true.”
I know, you are probably thinking that you simply don’t have the pixie dust, but you do. Everyone has the pixie dust that is needed for creating. It is your intuition. I am firmly convinced that a type of creative angel does lie within each of us and that as we begin the process of writing or painting or sculpting or dancing, we release that muse, and the muse takes on a life of its own. It is important to note, however, that it is through the work that we tap into the muse. In other words: “Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?” In regards to writing, the work of simply writing comes first, and the muse follows.
“One reason I don’t suffer Writer’s Block is that I don’t wait on the muse, I summon it at need.” – Piers Anthony
When people say that they only write when they are in the mood to write, they are missing something very important. In fact, they are cheating themselves. In writing, “the mood” or the muse evolves after we begin to write. Perpetuating the myth that we can postpone writing until we are in the mood to write is buying into a falsehood. That is why many writers advocate writing morning pages. Most people who actually succeed with their writing careers say that in order to pop the cork that is bottling all of the things that are within themselves, they must first begin to write. Gradually, the mood or the muse or the intuition takes over, and the writer is unblocked.
Writing is a spiritual practice in that people that have no spiritual path can undertake it and, as they write, they begin to wake up to a larger connection. After a while, people tend to find that there is some muse that they are connecting to. Julia Cameron
The most important decision that is necessary for every writer and every painter and every musician is that of deciding whether you really want to be an artist or not. After that, the most important step is to show up each day and begin to work at creating what you want to create.
“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” – Henry Ford
After you have committed to showing up to write each day, do the following to unlock your muse or your intuition or your artistic voice:
First, You Need to Prime Your Pump
1. Ask yourself what you are passionate about. Start there!
Initially, you might not be able to recall any of your passions. You might think that life has kicked all of the passion out of you, but you are wrong. If that were true, you wouldn’t be here, sitting in front of the computer, trying to decide what to write. You would still be vegetating in front of the television. You are still alive. Dig deeper.
2. Overcome Lethargy
Perhaps you feel that you are sinking in the quicksand of your own lethargy. Keep a canister of writing prompts handy to fight that problem, and when you are experiencing writer’s block, pull out one of those prompts and write about that.
The New York Times published a list of 500 great writing prompts Here.
Grab hold of one of those prompts and allow it to be your rope. Allow that to pull you out of your pit of lethargy.
Every morning, I try to respond to the WordPress Daily Prompt. Read how you can also do that Here. Today’s writer’s prompt is “Trust.”
3. Begin with a Quote
Often, when I see the WordPress Daily Prompt, I cannot initially think of anything to write. When a prompt is not enough to motivate me, I often turn to Google, and I do a Google search for quotes that might correlate with a word that I associate with the prompt. One morning’s WordPress Prompt was “Admire,” and I was not readily drawn to that topic. I performed two Google searches. One time I searched exactly the following words: “Quotes Admire.” The second time, I searched exactly the following words, “Quotes Admiration,” and after my searches, it was not long before I had written my own opinions about the prompt “Admire.” You can see what I wrote Here
4. Write First – Title Later
When I begin writing a piece, I refrain from titling it. In fact, I do not title anything until I finish writing the piece entirely. Titling is a Writing-Stopper. A title is like a straight jacket. If you try to title first, you limit yourself because you write trying to confine yourself to the topic of the title. Just write, let the title spring from the writing. Begin to say what you want to say and allow your writing to evolve. Then title.
5. Allow Your Intuition to Do the Heavy Lifting of Your Writing
Creating any type of art requires that a series of decisions be made by the artist: red here? more grass? less water?, etc. When the intuition is fully functioning, the artist is hardly even aware of the questions–the intuition handles the question and answer dialog. Before this can happen, however, the artist must first allow Intuition to get his foot into the door; and then, the artist must learn to trust the decisions that Intuition makes for him. Intense listening with one’s inner ear–the intuitive ear– is a vital part of sharpening one’s inner eye or his writer’s voice and thus, of extracting a piece’s inward significance. Intuition and the Inner Artist are linked. Intuition is the instinctive way that one’s inner artist views and responds to life. When a painter allows intuition to guide him, the painter himself becomes a vessel and the art flows through the vessel. The same thing is true of the writer.
Knowing why one does this or that while creating is not important–just doing is the key to becoming. Making art is an intuitive response. When writers can access the words that lie within themselves, they begin to write more authentically. When writers create from within their intuitions, they often call that writing from “The Zone,” but it is actually writing from the intuition, which a reservoir of thoughts and emotions that run deeply within each person. The secret is tapping into that reservoir. You simply have to turn off your self-editor and allow the magic to begin. And then you have to Trust the process.
6. Don’t Worry About What Everyone Else Is Thinking about Your Writing
“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Other people aren’t focusing on you. Quite worrying about what they think of you. Just focus on yourself and your own goals and begin to write. Remember that you are writing to express yourself–not to express everyone else. Just talk–in plain language [Shakespearean English is out]–and say why these words are meaningful to you. People are more alike than you might think. Others will identify. Write it, they will read.
7. Write Naturally – Give Up the Idea that You Should Write Like Shakespeare
Write first. Let it flow. Just talk. Spell later. As you begin to write, don’t worry about spell check at first. Getting stumped by spelling is another Writing-Stopper. Write first–then spell check; then correct the spelling. It might even help to do the writing and editing in a Word Document and then paste it into WordPress. Whatever it takes, do it, but don’t let you editing strangle your writing.
8. Consider Recording Your Writing and Then Transcribing It
If you cannot keep your self-editor in check, allow your cell phone‘s voice recorder to help you. Just pick up your cell phone and download a voice recorder app and talk to the recorder. You can even send yourself lengthy voice messages and transcribe those. A friend of mine had a great idea for this. She said to send your message to yourself via email, and it will already be typed for you. How easy is that?
In his book Stephen King On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, King said that he believes “…that stories are found things, like fossils in the ground….” He added:
“Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing word. The writer’s job is to…get as much of each one out of the ground [p. 163] intact as possible.
“Plot is, I think, the good writer’s last resort and the dullard’s first choice. The story which results from it is apt to feel artificial and labored.
“I lean more heavily on intuition, and have been able to do that because my books tend to be based on situation rather than story.
“I want to put a group of characters (perhaps a pair; perhaps even just one_in some sort of predicament and then watch them try to work themselves free. My job isn’t to help them work their way free, or manipulate them to safety..but to watch what happens and then write it down.
“The situation comes first. The characters–always flat and unfeatured, to begin with–come next. …I have never demanded of a set [p. 164] of characters that they do things my way. On the contrary, I want them to do things their way. In some instances, the outcome is what I visualized. In most, however, it is something I never expected.” King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of Craft, pgs. 163-65.
I often frequent my local garden market, and I love it when they have a large assortment of Gerbera Daisies. It is a spectacle.
Like a magnet, the brilliant display pulls me from across the room. I always want all of the daisies for my garden. One plant will not do. One color will not do. To emulate the riot of colors in the display, I want and need the entire bunch. I love color, and when it is in perfect form, my garden is a kaleidoscope.
Jacki’s Garden July of 2015
I like it when my garden screams! There is nothing subtle or subdued about me. When I paint, I celebrate color in another way. Even when I paint the green areas around my florals, I often flood them with color.
In the Pink – Jacki Kellum Watercolor
I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles. – Audrey Hepburn
I use the brighter colors to add punch to the green areas of my paintings. Too many people only see black and white — right or wrong. In my experience, that type of life-view is terribly narrow, and the people who cannot stretch themselves to see more of the subtle variances of living are missing a great deal. Like Audrey Hepburn, I believe in Pink, and I also believe in Red and Yellow and Orange and Blue.
October Leaves – Watercolor Study by Jacki Kellum
Not long ago, I demonstrated painting a close view of a tree trunk surrounded by October leaves. As usual, the class was appalled that I had used a lot of blue in what was supposed to be a brown tree. I explained that I use blue because I love color. Color is a communicator. The colors chosen to paint a tree or the sky around that tree determine much about what the tree will communicate in a painting. For many years, I have told students that if they only want a pretty, accurate representation of a scene, they should buy a good camera. The camera can do much that I could never do with paint–and it can do it much more rapidly and with much less expense. A camera simply slices a piece of life and preserves it–just the way the lens sees it.
The camera is a machine–it reproduces what it sees and it does that without bias or emotion. If the scene is beautiful, the photograph should be beautiful. If the scene is ugly, the photograph will be ugly. The camera mimics what it sees.
The artist has the option to move beyond a mechanical rendering. The artist has the option to be more than a machine and to simplify or to omit unnecessary details and/or to exaggerate others. In doing so, the artist begins to tell a personal story.
Scientists and sociologists have studied the impact of color for many years. It has been noted that since ancient time, colors have been used to evoke emotional responses. Because I want my art to have an emotional response, I paint with exaggerated colors.
December River – Watercolor by Jacki Kellum
In the above painting, December River, I purposely exaggerated the blues to convey the cold, dreary mood of winter. Red, being the color of blood, is the color of energy–of life. When I paint, I use a lot of red–and I do it very deliberately. I use red to infuse my subject matter with energy–with emphasis–with punch.
Thanksgiving Across the Lake – Watercolor by Jacki Kellum
My paintings are a continuous battle of darks and lights–regressions and egressions–of deaths and life. I use color to express that battle, and in every painting, I count on red to not only win the battle but to fly the flag of victory.