Creative Prompt: Wherever you lay your hat…

The property market in London is crazy, right?

I’d like to claim that I know what I’m looking for when it comes to street photography, but I don’t really. Sometimes just looking around as you walk about will gift you a funny photograph like this one. I took it the other morning while taking my son to nursery, and happened to stumble on this little ensamble, where someone had dumped a child’s toy house next a bin and a SOLD sign. When I walked back the other way the bin and the house had been moved and the joke was lost.

I really like this photo. For me it tells a saterical version of the London housing market story, where increasingly small patches of land are selling for increasingly large piles of cash. The streets around this spot are showing increasingly strong signs of gentrification, and there are a number of developers building small blocks of modern but characterless flats nearby.

What might the new neighbours will be like?

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 so please do link to blog posts or comment below.

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.

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Creative Prompt: A door in the floor

I saw this door laying on the pavement a few weeks ago. It had been dumped against the wall but had then fallen onto the pavement. When I passed it later in the day some helpful soul had propped it back up against the wall.

It’s not that exiting to look at is it? Just a block of wood on the pavement. But when I passed it was struck by the thought, I wonder where that opens to? It had a kind of Lion, Witch and Wardrobe feel to it for me (Affliate link).

For me, objects like this have great imaginative potential for fantasy/ sci-fi writers. What world would the lucky (or unluky!) person who opened this be confronted with?

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 so please do link to blog posts or comment below.

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.

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Creative Prompt: Holding Court

I saw this chair sitting under a street light the other night while I was on my way home from a dinner out with Mr Magpie. There was something about the way it was placed that made me stop and take a photo while he marched off, oblivious that I had paused for a moment.

Sometimes I see things like this and get the eerie feeling that I have glimpsed something of an unseen world. There is the added mystery of things that happen after dark. Secret meetings in the soupy glow of a street lamp.

When I saw this I felt like perhaps minutes before, and unknown someone had been sitting, holding court with their unknown followers. Who do you think that little group were? What were they talking about?

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 so please do link to blog posts or comment below.

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.

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Creative Prompt: Sound the Alarm!

I saw this whistle on the floor at the end of my road. It was early in the morning and the sun was still rising so the light wasnt great when it took the photo, but the brightness of the red against the dirty yellow parking lines caught my attention.

It struck me as an unusual thing to see laying around. When I was a kid I remember quite a lot of people having whistles, and not just school teachers, but these days I rarely see them. I think the last time I saw one was during a safety demonstration by a flight attendent who was showing us how to fit our life jackets on a short haul flight, but I have not flown anywhere for a number of years now.

Blowing a whistle used to be associated with sounding an alarm, although I doubt many police men carry them these days. I’m sure they will have been superceded by some kind of technology, although I do not know what.

It got me wondering who was out early in the morning with a whistle? Why did they have one, and how did it come to be dropped on the pavement?

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 so please do link to blog posts or comment below.

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.

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Not sorted for Valentines Day? I can help you out

As regular readers of this blog may know, I’m not a huge fan of promoting things, but I’m trying to get better at that. So this is a quick post to say that if you haven’t sorted yourself out for Valentines Day (if you need to!) yet, I have a small selection of couple related designs, like the one above, available at my shop on Redbubble. The designs are printed on a range of different things, so there is lots to choose from. And if my designs aren’t your kind of thing, there are thousand of designs from thousands of other independent artists on the site, so it’s well worth a look.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you are interested in the process of creativity and want to get a copy of my free short book of creative prompts, 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 (Lost Shoe Series #4): A little bit Cinderella

I saw this shoe some time ago now, tossed down amongst a collection of other shoes and rubbish. I think it had been flytipped, as many of the odd things I see around are. It was early morning on a relatively warm and sunny day, and the sparkle of the silver caught my attention.

The interesting thing for me was that at the time I could not see it’s partner. It’s quite a glamerous looking shoe, made for going to parties and balls. I got a sense that perhapse the shoes had been lost on the way home from such an event, and was waiting to be picked up and reunited with the foot that wore it.

I’ve drawn on the cinderella narrative before for one of these posts, but I think the story has space for multiple readings and interpretations. This shoe feels like a far more traditional fit – a glamerous party shoe left on the road by someone leaving a glamerous party in haste, before their carraige turns into a pumpkin. Now it waits to be found by a prince, who may happen to be working that day as a bin man.

I wonder who left it?

I wonder who picked it up in the end?

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 so please do link to blog posts or comment below.

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.

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Meatloaf died and I’m sad about that

This wasn’t the post I was planning to publish this week, but sometimes plans need to change. I’m also a bit later than I planned, but it was a bit of a struggle to gather my thoughts as this isn’t the kind of post I normally write. I’m sure by now you’ll have heard the news that the singer and actor Meatloaf has died. I’m not generally the kind of person who get’s very upset when celebrities die. These are people I’ve never met so the loss feels intangible somehow. But I this week have found myself drifting back repeatedly to listen to the series of “Bat out of hell” records he made with Jim Stienman, who also passed away recently. Another song, Not a Dry Eye in the House, plays like an earworm in my mind.

It’s got me thinking a bit about the artists who have influenced me. My list is pretty long and not at all coherent. One of the reasons I called this blog “Magpie at Midnight” is because I’m interested in, and influenced by a lot of different things and people. But I don’t often write about all the different things and people that influence my art, and I probably should. Having worked in the sciences and social sciences most of my working life, it was apparent to me that people like me, who indulge in multiple interests, rather than specialising in one, were going out of fashion (I think the tide may be turning on that now though). It’s taken a bit of time to get comfortable with the Magpie side of my nature, but I feel like I’m there now. I’m not sure many people who know me in person now would have me for a Meatloaf fan, or someone who loves the David Suchet adaptations of Poirot, but I am both of these things, as well as loving open water swimming, and cake

If I try to trace the thread between my work and the influence of some of these people, the web becomes tangled pretty quickly. But I can identify what I love about Meatloaf, and the Bat Out of Hell albums. I love the theatre and the drama of them, the fusion of gothic influences, storytelling, themes of declining small town america and rock and roll. If you go back and watch the video of “I would do anything for love”, they manage to channel the Hunchback of Notre Dam, Dracula, and Beauty and the Beast all in one seven minute music video. Some of the song writing on those albums, composed by Jim Stienman, also got a grip on my teenage imagination. Objects in the Rear View Mirror still ticks all of the nostalgic heartbreaking boxes for me.

Beyond the art, we know that Meatloaf was a complex character, who had is own trouble with mental health. While he was a robust a energetic performer, there was also something a little fragile about him too. You got the sense of someone who held their emotions close to the surface of things. I really admire that combination of energy and vulnerability in an artist, that complexity is something that works very well for me.

Now he is gone, and I’m sad about that, which is probably how it should be.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you are interested in the process of creativity and want to get a copy of my free short book of creative prompts, 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.

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Weekend work in progress: Paper-cut Fox

Hi Magpies! A little bonus blog this weekend to give you a sneaky peak at one of my works in progress. It’s a paper cut art work snapped about half way through the process. After this point I normally use the white cut out as a template for coloured paper and add in some other materials like beads and cloth to enrich the image.

This particular piece is for a short story I have been writing around some of the creative prompts I have been posting every Friday. I’m not sure if I’ll finish in time for Christmas but that’s the vague plan.

If you are interested in seeing some of my finished pieces, and want to throw some Christmas shopping into the mix too, you can have a look at my work on my Redbubble shop here. For the next five days (Nov 26 – Nov 30 2021) you can get between 20 and 60% off if you use the discount code CYBER5.

I hope you are all having a great weekend 🙂.

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.

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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.

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.