Firestarter Friday: Get Close

I am lucky enough to have nearly 30 varieties of iris blooming in front of my house. And they all smell different. But most of all, I love the patterns and striations on the petals.

Everyone once in a while I feel like every other blog post I write has something to the effect of “I am sooooo busy this week”. It makes it seem like at some point I may have a week that is not busy. In reality, I should never say I was busy this week because I am always busy. But I am happy it is the good kind of busy, and a good chunk of it is my own doing. I have to work, eat, sleep and take care of my daughter. But I have all sorts of extras like gardening and blogging that I have chosen to add on. The perk of a lot of those things is that I am busy at home. I hate having to run all over town.

Because I have to try to keep so many different things balanced, I have worked in a lot of different ways to keep my sanity and get things done, all while still feeling creative. I wish I could say I came up with all these wonderful ideas myself, but that is not the case. Lots of books on time management and ideas from other bloggers have been really helpful.

I may have shared this picture or something like it last November, but it’s a perfect example. There plants were cut and flattened by my grandpa’s tractor and now create and interesting pattern.

One theme I see repeated over and over on the blogs I love is looking at things up close. Alisa Burke has wonderful details shots of flowers she turns into beautiful sketches. Abby Tjaden does crazy fun line drawings that capture a huge amount of detail without feeling hectic. Paying attention to details like this is something I already did naturally to some degree. For being so type-a in many parts of my life, I sure spend a lot of time with my head in the clouds. When I am wandering around downtown I like to watch the tiny birds that are eating up crumbs. I love photographing the patterns formed by melting snow. And I have about a million photos, drawings, paintings and magazine clippings of trees and parts of trees. There are so many different times I have pulled a pattern that is amazing from something plain that people walk by a hundred times a day.

If you have hit a creative wall and feel like you need something new, try taking a closer look at anything — everything. If you are worried that you can’t do that and will get caught up in the usual routine of just walking by, there are a few things you can do to wrestle your brain into submission.

One iris waiting to open. I just love the ruffled edges.

Switch up your medium. If you sew, go shoot photos. If you already shoot photos, try drawing instead. Try taking clippings of plants that intrigue you or rubbings of different surfaces. Doing something different forces you to approach places and materials in an entirely new way. For example, photography is hands-off in many ways, but if you opt to get clippings off a tree, you create a new experience. You have to feel the firmness of the branches and the velvety undersides of each leaf.

Take a different route. One of my big problems is during my work day, I am really tight on time. I actually eat most lunches at my desk. So when I do take the opportunity to go outside, I try to go a different way every time. There are so many cool things downtown I have seem that my coworkers have missed because they are a bit off the beaten path. If taking a different route isn’t an option for whatever reason, at least mix up the time of day. People are incredibly engrained in their habits, so you are likely to see an entirely different group of people.

Go out and about with a friend. This works even better when it’s with a creative friend. Then they don’t think you’re insane when you are taking super up-close shots of melting icicles.

Even better than a friend, take your kid. When you are tiny and so close to the ground, it’s really easy to see details everywhere. Take your kids (or a friend’s kids) to the park. Instead of sitting on a bench reading while they play, get involved. Look at the tiny things they pick up and point at. There’s a tiny little world adults miss a lot of.

Tune out. Leave behind your electronics. When you have your face buried in your phone, that’s all you are paying attention to. Take it from someone who doesn’t have a smart phone and still manages to stay on top of all emails and communication with friends — a break will not kill you.

Don’t think that you have to take some huge, earth-shattering life lesson from each new thing you do. Your brain is amazing, and it will take every new thing and catalog it away for later. Then when you are working on some new project, you will recall things and apply them in new ways. Just gaining some new close-up perspective can be a very powerful tool.

I hope you all have an awesomely happy and fun weekend. If you create anything superfun, I would love to hear about it. So get out there and make something!

And a tree. Because there is always a tree. This one’s branches and so twisty and wonderful. definitely good sketch material.

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