Creative prompt: lost in space

I saw this little guy while I was in a rush to catch a train, taking the picture with haste. This is why the picture looks a little blurry around the edges. But I’m not worried about that, I kind of like it. It gives the sense of him being lost in a much larger landscape than was the case on the day.

When I took the photo he was resting at the foot of a tree in the gravel surrounding it. It reminded me, for some odd reason I can’t quite place, of the old black and while TV series ‘Lost in Space’ that I sometimes use to watch in the morning on the weekend, even though he clearly belongs to another much more modern entertainment franchise. There is a much more modern version of this TV show now, which I have watched and liked, but new versions of an old favourite seldom live up to the nostalgia factor, do they?

The cheerful look on his face makes me think that he is looking forward to what ever adventure life may throw at him next. What do you think that may be?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

How do you feel about your old art? Reviewing old work and a Redbubble revamp

Do you ever think back about your old work and feel dissatisfied? Like it just wasn’t your best work and you don’t really want people seeing it?

I’ve had a collection of pieces of my work on Redbubble for several years now but was really struggling to feel any enthusiasm about promoting them at all. More than a few weeks ago now I decided to go back and have a look and try to figure out if the work was really as bad as I felt it was, or if there was something else going on.

When I opened up my account and started looking through the work I realised that I actually quite liked a lot of the individual pieces, but that it didn’t feel like it hung together as a collection very well. In the years since I started using Redbubble’s print on demand service to sell things with my art on they’ve done a lot of work to the interface, and it’s now a lot easier to go in and experiment with things like the size or arrangement of work on a particular object, or to change the background. They’ve also released a bunch of new products (like backpacks!), and I simply had not been keeping track.

So I’ve begun to experiment with changing the background on related pieces so that they ‘fit’ together a bit better, and making the same design available on different colours. I am not sure if people will like these new versions any better, but I am certainly happier. For example the design above looks so much better on a dark background than it did on the paler one that I had it on before, and now kind of fits much better with the pink version – have a look at the backpack below.

The upshot is that, while I’ve not quite finished revamping my collection, I am feeling much better at promoting my works now. I’ve even been pushing some of my designs on twitter this month as we draw close to halloween. Like this one.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Creative prompt: You shall go to the ball.

I spotted this single wellington boot stranded on a traffic island in the middle of a busy road. It was another photo that was a bit difficult to take because there not a lot of space in that particular spot and I don’t like to linger long at all between the two lanes, even when there is little traffic like there was on this occasion. But the little boot spoke to me, and I did stop very briefly to grab this little photo.

When I saw it the phrase ‘you shall go to the ball’, immediately jumped into my mind, reminding me of fairy tales and lost glass slippers. There have of course already been modern day versions of cinderella, although I do not recall any of them featuring a tiny ladybird wellington boot.

This particular prompt has been the starting point for a new, wistful creative project for me. Look out for news about that this Christmas time (hopefully!).

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Mental health and silver linings

Last week I wrote about my recent brush with anxiety and how at times like this I find that creativity can form a kind of refuge for me. During that time I made a picture of a cat that I rather liked. It’s inspired by my two cats. Both of them are black and a little eccentric, but one of them has displayed some almost saint like qualities in his tolerance of the overly enthusiastic affections of my toddler son.

Over the weekend I had a go at doing some finishing touches in photoshop, and was relatively pleased with the result. So even though I wasn’t feeling near my best in that time, I have come out with a little silver lining in the form of a piece of art.

This is the finished piece above. If you like it, and fancy treating yourself to something with this image on, it’s now available in my shop at Redbubble here.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Creative prompt: a sacrifice to the weather gods

We’ve had some turbulent weather recently, and on one of my morning walks I spied a number of umbrellas that had been lost of discarded on the pavement. The shape of this one was particularly attractive to me. The canopy was caught by the wind and billowed outwards, like a tent or parachute. The shape, even while lying on the floor, still suggested something protective to me. (I actually filmed a bit of footage of this and posted it in my mini creative prompts series on YouTube – if you would like to see that click here).

While I’ve not included this post in my recent series on ‘Offerings’, I feel like this picture is related to that little group of prompts. When I took this picture we had experienced the particular blustery combination of wind and rain that guarantees using an umbrella will be a struggle. The attempt to get to the train station in time while keeping relatively dry may involve the sacrifice of a noble umbrella to the gods of wind or rain on days like this.

This one seemed to be in relatively good condition, leaving me to wonder who may have abandoned it to the weather, or what kind of rush they may have been in to result in them leaving it there.

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Creative prompt: Offerings #3

I saw these coins while I was on the way to taking my son to nursery. Someone had left them on a bollard on a traffic island in the middle of a busy road. I managed to get this photo on the way back. It’s not the best photograph. The traffic island is quite narrow, and I didn’t want to hang around with the pram as it was a bit of a precarious position to stand in.

But I did want to get the photograph because it sparked an idea for me. Someone had left coins in the middle of a crossing, reminding me of the many myths of the crossings people needed to make from this life into the underworld. For example in Greek mythology the soul of a person would need to pay the ferry man Charon a coin for passage across the River Styx.

The sight of these coins at the crossing made me wonder. What could the person who left these be paying passage for?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Anxiety and creativity as a refuge

Last week I was off work with stress and anxiety. I’m back in now, but it was a bit of a shock to crash out with a panic attack on a not particularly difficult Monday morning, and find myself unable to return for a few days after that. While I’ve struggled anxiety for quite a long, I don’t normally find myself needing to take time off work with it, but that’s how things go sometimes, isn’t it?

During my time off I was feeling really tired and had that kind of brain fog that makes it a bit difficult to think things through properly. From a creative point of view, I wasn’t been able to write much either, which is my normal creative weapon of choice. When my mental health slips this way my instinct is to retreat into making pictures. I find something therapeutic in the physical activity involved in drawing, cutting paper and working out which other materials may work for that particular design.

There are a few theories about around why creative activities are helpful to mental health, including (not an exhaustive list);
1. That it provides a nice distraction from difficult feelings or circumstances
2. That it may provide a route into a state of ‘Flow’. This is a psychological term coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and which describes a positive state of mind where a person is fully involved in and focused on a particular activity (for more information you can read his book on the subject here (affiliate link)).
3. A route for self expression or catharsis, allowing people to express, and more clearly understand their own feelings or thoughts on a difficult situation.

Over time I have probably found all three of these aspects of creativity helpful to my own mental health, and am grateful that it is something I feel able to do. One of the benefits of building some form of creative practice into my everyday life is that when things feel a bit difficult, I have something productive to withdraw into, like this last week.

And I made a picture of a cat that I’m pleased with too.

Thank you you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Creative prompt: Offerings #2

I saw these jugs early in one morning, while I was taking Baby Magpie off to nursery. I stopped to take the picture on the way home, and by the evening they were gone. In my post last week I wrote about the offerings members of my local community make to each other. When I saw these jugs I felt that this could be an offering of a different kind. I remember my aunt making wine in jugs like these when I was a child, and have watched the bubbles rise and collect in the top of the jug as various kinds of fruit fermented.

For me these jugs felt much more like an offering of a mystical or spiritual kind. Perhaps these jugs held an offering of wine for the local street gods who reside over our community, or an offering of mead to the ancient spirits of the land that lies below the streets tarmacked pavements. It makes me wonder what those street gods, or those ancient spirits may be like, and what they may think of us.

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Creative prompt: Offerings #1

In the area we live in there is a tradition of people leaving things they no longer need outside of their houses, on the pavement, in the hope that they will find new homes. Baby Magpie and I were walking to the swimming pool when we saw these twin chests of draws, and the tantalisingly open bag of toys on the top. We stopped for a moment to pick a toy and then went on our way, leaving the rest for some other lucky soul.

I like the spirit behind this tradition, in which people offer things to each other in a relatively anonymous way. Of course it is a convenient way to get rid of things, but there is also a generosity to it. The person offering the gift cannot always know who will receive it, friend or foe.

It feels like a silent form of communication within a community. ‘I no longer need this thing, but maybe you do. We would like for this object, which has been useful to us, to be useful to someone else now. We will not waste its potential and send it to landfill.’ It stands in contrast to the silence communications of the fly tippers (of which unfortunately we also have a strong local tradition), which feels much more to me to be ‘we don’t need this junk anymore, someone else can deal with it.’

When I see these objects I sometimes wonder if they may be the start of a story, or a relationship between two people. Perhaps someone else, seeing that bag of toys, would have lingered long enough to meet the person who made this offering as they dashed to the shops, and said hello.

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Creative prompt: Broken strings.

I walked past this broken tennis racket a number of times, and each time I thought ‘that’s not what I’m looking for’. But I began to feel more and more intrigued as I noticed the racket had moved each time I saw it. The first time I saw it, it was in a dark corner under an overhanging building where I would not have been able to get a good shot. But slowly it seemed it inch more and more out onto the pavement, as if creeping into the light, maybe wanting to be seen.

When I finally decided to stop and take a photo, it had manged to move several hundred meters down the street, and was almost in the middle of the pavement, right in my path. I felt as is it was asking me to take the photo, so I did stop and get out my phone.

The way the strings curve and wind against each other, and the way the frame, although broken, still sits in almost it’s original form is both beautiful and sad to me, as if the shape of it tries to suggest better days that are now past.

Once I had taken my photo, I did not see the racket again, as if satisfied, it melted away. Of course it is just a broken old object laying on the pavement, and someone has probably thrown it in the bin. But there was something about this episode that spoke to me, as if the racket wanted to be seen, and to be documented, to say ‘I existed’. I think there is something in this sentiment that we as humans can relate to.

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.