Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Spinners

Building off of my last post, sometimes I find when I haven't sat down for awhile, I just don't know what to write about. It's like when you haven't seen a friend in so long, and you feel like you have so much to say, but then all of a sudden you get on the phone and can't think of anything...because there's just too much.

So, I thought I would start something called, "Sunday Spinners." Every Sunday, I will try and post a prompt to get your mind spinning. Whether you be a painter, a writer, a can respond to the prompt in whatever way suits your craft.

This week's prompt is inspired by something my friend and I did at the Columbus Art Museum while we were at writing camp. The two of us walked around the museum, and took turns picking different paintings that intrigued us. We set our cell phone timers for five minutes, and wrote non-stop about a painting––a story, objective observation, subjective opinions, whatever came to mind. When we were done, we read what we wrote out loud (no editorializing!).

Our stories were so different for every painting we wrote about. One of the paintings we wrote about was the Norman Rockwell painting below.

Soda Jerk
Norman Rockwell (American, 1894-1953)
1953. Oil on canvas, 36x34"

When I saw this painting, I focused on the conniving face of the busboy. In my free write, the busboy was the older brother of the girl with red hair, and he was playing a prank on her and her friend. My friend focused on the lonely boy in the corner. In her story, he had bought the brunette a soda in an attempt to ask her out, but then the cocky busboy came along and started flirting with her. Definitely two very different relationships! 

After we left the museum, another fun idea we had was that after we finished sharing our own stories, we could then spend another five minutes non-stop writing, but continuing the other person's story. 

At writing camp, what I loved perhaps even more than writing form myself was listening to others read their work. The range of backgrounds these people came from...the diversity in their writing styles and topics...their willingness to be graphic and pure and let themselves bleed for us. They pointed out things I never would've thought of on my own. And that is why I love collaboration, and I love to talk and I love to share. That is why I love art. 

My friend from camp was telling me about a time she went to an art museum with a friend of hers back home. She saw a plain black canvas displayed on the wall. 

"I could do that," she said. 

"But you didn't," said her friend. And that was the difference. That is what makes an artist, an artist. A writer, a writer. A composer, a composer. The artist, the writer, the composer...they saw the ordinary and cast the spotlight on it. They found some deeper meaning or had some further motive, even if that motive was simply a rejection to the "complicated," to the explainable, to the obligatory. They had the courage to put it out there despite what others thought. 

And that is why we need artists of all kinds––not just writers or painters or actors. We need the different perspectives.

If you try the exercise, let me know what you think of it! The key is that you have to trust yourself to just write or paint or sing or whatever it is. If you can't get to a museum, try searching a picture on the internet. Or find a picture in a book. Be open.

Wishing you all a week filled with inspiration! 

P.S. This is one photograph I really enjoyed writing about at the museum. If you're interested, see what you come up with! 

View From Below
Zoe Leonard

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