Creative Prompt: Soft Toy

I spotted this little guy on the way home from dropping Baby Magpie off at nursery. My best guess from their anatomy is that think they are a skate. There is something about the shape of the toy that caught my eye, and the contrast of the soft fabric used to make this toy, with the cold slick surface of the real fish prompted me to stop and take a photo.The variety of greys in the cloth are also attractive to me.

However, now I am writing this post I find that I don’t have any deep, or even any shallow thoughts to add to it. Today I decided to post the photo because I liked it. I think that is enough sometimes.

The next day when I walked along that road the fish was gone. I hope they were reunited with their owners.

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.. 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 Prompts: Experiments on YouTube

Over the last year or so I’ve been posting creative prompts on a semi-regular basis. The format I’ve settled into recently has been to take a photo of something I find quirky or interesting, and to post that with a short explanation of what it makes me think of, or the story of finding that thing.

Over time I’ve noticed that I’m really drawn to things that people leave behind, and my photographs frequently feature objects that have been lost or discarded on the streets near where I live. These things often catch my eye, and provoke thoughts that could form the beginning of a story, so I offer them up in the hope that they may so this for other creatives.

However, getting too comfortable with a particular format can lead to it growing stale, so I have recently been thinking about branching out and experimenting with different types of media. As long time readers of this blog may know, I have a very neglected YouTube channel that I’m still trying to work out what to do with. YouTube have recently launched their Shorts style of video, I think in an attempt to rival TickTock. The idea is to post short videos that are less the 60 seconds, and I think are made ‘in the moment’.

While I’m not really an ‘in the moment’ creative, I was attracted to this short format for playing around with my creative prompts. So I have posted a couple of clips on the channel of things that I’ve filmed over the last few years that I find kind of interesting because of the atmosphere they create, or their ability to suggest a story.

The video above is a series of clips I shot several years ago when I was doing a course in documentary film making. I have cut them together in a way that I think suggests a story, and thought that this may be a good starting place for someone to write a scene or a story. Please go and have a look, drop any ideas, pieces of writing, or links to other forms of art in the comment here or on the video itself.

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.

I wrote a book for people who read my newsletter: would you like it?

For the last few months I have been working on a little writing project on the side. I had been enjoying writing the creative prompts posts I have been publishing most Fridays, and decided to collect some together into a short book as a kind of thank you to people who decided to sign up to my newsletter.

In the process I added in some of my thoughts about the psychology of creativity, expanded on the descriptions for all of the creative prompts, and added in a few that have not, and will not be, published on my blog here.

I finished it a couple of weeks ago, and now a few people have been able to give it a read. The feedback has been kind, so I am happy enough with it to release it into the world and see what people think of it.

If you would like a copy, and would like to hear semi regular updates on my creative work through my newsletter, please sign up for it 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: Mission Control

Sometimes I really love living in London because it throws up all sorts of interesting and odd things to see. I was walking with my son, when I saw these remote controls all lined up on the pavement, against a wall. I’m still not sure what to think of them, and find it intriguing that someone would leave them out this way.

This spot is on a regular route I take, and I have passed it several times since. Bit by bit the collection has been dismantled completely. I can only assume that people saw these and decide one or more of them would be useful, and that each one has been claimed by someone.

What does this little collection make you think of? Who could have left them 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: The missed shot

This year I’ve been experimenting with creating creative prompts for other creative folks by taking photographs of strange or quirky things that I see when I am out and about. My general format is then to post the photo along with the story of the picture, or some thoughts that the picture provokes in me. In last week’s creative prompt I briefly mentioned the sometimes transient nature of creativity, and this weeks photo is a really good example of that.

I first saw this broken pair of sunglasses on the road a day before I took the photo. My initial response was that they weren’t that interesting to me, but then when I found myself thinking about them a bit later in the evening knew that they had caught my attention after all. When I went looking for them the next day I was relieved that they were still there, but they were not arranged as I remembered.

When I first saw them one of the lenses was still in place in it’s frame. While I like this shot with the strip of yellow running through the photo, it’s not as good as that first glimpse. Basically I missed the shot because I didn’t take advantage of the moment.

I’m sure I’m not the only creative with experiences like these, and would like to hear about other similar experiences in the comments below. What was your best (worst!) ‘missed shot’?

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 want 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: I see you

I was walking my son to nursery earlier this week and I saw this googly eye on the pavement. At the time I didn’t stop to take a photo, but managed to snap one the next day instead. It’s not a great photo, because for some reason the camera on my phone seems to have focused on the pavement instead of the eye itself, and while I have made a few enhancements to this photo, but it doesn’t really make the image as clear as I would like.

I could try to go back and take another photo, but on this occasion I don’t think I will. The street where I saw this is kind of busy and I’m still building up my confidence when it comes to stopping in the middle of the pavement to take photos of strange things, in front of strangers. There is also the issue of whether this will even be there later. Lost things on the pavement tend not to stay where they were dropped. I think this relates to the sometime ephemeral nature of creativity. Sometimes you need to capture a thought or and idea, or a picture, in the moment, because if you try to come back to it later that moment has dissipated into the breeze.

There is something about this eye that I particularly like, the scrapes on the plastic bubble make me feel like it may have seen a few things.

What do you think they were?

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 want 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 sign of our times

Recently, while out and about, I have felt compelled to take pictures of masks I see discarded on the street. These have been strange times, and while I’m not quite sure why I feel the urge to do this, I am sure part of the impulse is to document this historical moment a little bit.

Most of the photos I have are of different coloured versions of what is essentially the same design of disposable masks. These are clearly not designed to last more than one wearing, and I feel kind of sad that we’ve found yet another reason to litter the streets (at least near where I live).

However, on occasion I see masks that are obviously lost, rather than discarded. Those masks are obviously built to last, and often include vibrant fabrics as a kind of protest against our often gloomy situations.

This mask, dropped in the road on a sunny day, caught my eye in particular. It looked like it may have been sewn by hand, with the intention of lasting a long time. The bright colours suggest the person who made it may have a more hopefully outlook, too.

It makes me wonder who made this mask? Who did they make it for? How did they choose this particular fabric?

Drop any ideas or flash fiction in the comments below.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you want 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.

Reasons to be grateful: our neighbour’s friendly relationship with my son

When we moved into our house a few years ago we didn’t really know the area very well at all. We had all sorts of plans to get out and get to know the place, and meet some new people. But nothing ever turns out quite as planned, does it?

We weren’t here that long before I gave birth to our son, and not long after that a series of national and international lock downs began. As a consequence, for quite some time our explorations were limited to our back garden, and the only new people we met were our immediate neighbours.

They are an elderly couple who have lived on our the road for a long time and they have taken great delight in building a relationship with our son. The husband in particular looks out for my toddler most days, and makes a point of smiling, waving, and saying a loud hello to him in an excited tone of voice.

When this began in the spring this year, I am not sure if Baby Magpie knew what to do with this kind of attention, but now it has become one of the highlights of his day. He will often look out of the window for our neighbour, and give a little wave to the space where he expects to see him, irrespective of whether he is there or not. When they are ‘talking’ face to face over the garden fence, Baby Magpie is a little more shy, but our neighbour stands and waits patiently for my son to give his little wave back.

I think as the last couple of years have been difficult because of the pandemic, and I feel grateful for simple moments of connection like these, that have become particularly precious.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you want 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: left broken on the tarmac

This isn’t the best photo I’ve ever taken for one of these posts, but it was the best I could manage in the moment.

I saw this record in the middle of the tarmac on a busy main road. Not far from that spot is a set of traffic signals, and then a bridge. The cars emerge over the crest of the bridge in waves as they accelerate away from the lights. I was out with Baby Magpie in the pram, and found myself hovering right on the edge of the pavement trying to take the photo in between clumps of fast moving cars.

I was intrigued by this record. You seldom see discarded tapes or CDs these days, let alone a violet vinyl record on the floor. It left me wondering what kind of scene would have led to it being ejected from the car.

Was the record as casualty of a long running argument?

Or was there and accident in the car, resulting in the break on the records edge, resulting in it being discarded out of the window?

Maybe someone in the car simply got fed up of the songs?

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you want 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.

Reasons to be grateful: My heroically stubborn cat is teaching my son to be gentle

We have two black cats in the Magpie ‘s Nest that we adopted several years ago. They were already middle age by the time we adopted them, understandably nervous, and had fully embraced some eccentric habits. When we first bought them home to our flat we did not expect to be soon bringing a baby home as well, and thought that they may have a long time to get used to us in relative peace.

However, fate had other plans, and in that year the cats moved home three times. Once from their original home into a cat refuge, then to our flat in Central London, and then finally out of central London with us as we moved further afield to be able to afford a house. Not long after that final move we bought home a baby, and they have learned to live alongside him as he has grown into busy toddler.

Recently my son has developed a deep and enthusiastic love for our cats, which unfortunately is not returned in kind. As he has become more and more mobile, one of my cats, who was the more anxious of the two, has decided that his best strategy is to remove himself from the situation, and to hide if he feels necessary. This was the kind of reaction I expected.

Our other cat, however, has decided on a different approach. Over the last year as he has got used to us he has decided that he really liked to hang out with us, and will endure quite a lot of unwanted heavy handed patting from my son if it means a good chin scratch a few moments later. One of his favourite things is to lie on the window sill and watch people or birds through the window. My son takes advantage of these moments to practice stroking him, but excitement will soon over take him and there are more than few occasions on which a tail has been firmly grasped. My beautiful stubborn cat clings to his spot on the window anyway, refusing to be moved on, never batting him away and waiting for a parental intervention. In do so he allows myself and Mr Magpie to try to teach my son about what it means to be ‘gentle’.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you want 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.