As a painter, poet, performer, dancer, my creativity usually begins with getting into the flow. My hands become my eyes and put down the image, my feet listen to the music and decide the moves, the dream part of my brain tells me what to write. It’s basically losing the self to find the self. I have decades of flow behind me; I don’t know what I’ve got ahead!
I’ll have the opportunity to discuss my thoughts on creativity in a presentation at Danceworks, 1661 N Water Street, on Friday, October 17, at 7:30 PM. I’ll also have some of my latest artwork, and some of my oldest artwork, on exhibit there from October 10 to January 8, opening reception October 17, 6:00 to 8:30 PM. Below are a few of the recent drawings I'll include in the show, and some comments about them.
Why do I draw dancers? I'm not a dancer, I just love to dance, even if I make an absolute fool of myself, love to move to music, letting my feet guide me, love feeling energized and free. So when I draw dancers, I'm feeling the movement and energy. And freedom.
Ideas are like amoebas, shape changing with input. And that's how the Shorewood Conservation Committee’s Reusable Bag Campaign developed.
The Conservation Committee was divided into three subcommittees, and I was on the Sustainability Subcommittee. One issue we decided to tackle was toxins in the environment. I had long ago bought educational door-hangers to put on the doorknobs of neighbors who use lawn pesticides. I never did it though. So I suggested we make our own lawn-care door-hangers to distribute in the village.
Someone else suggested we make them two-sided, one side for safe lawn care outdoors, the other for safe cleaning methods indoors. We then all agreed that the door-hanger would be in the shape of a house. And that was our plan when I went to visit our son in New York last December.
When I returned a week later, subcommittee members had met again and instead of mere door-hangers, they planned to distribute reusable shopping bags to every household in Shorewood. Our inside-outside door-hanger would be an insert in the bags. And subcommittee members were already checking out manufacturers, costs, materials, and possible delivery dates.
Of course we also had to design the bags and figure out how to pay for them and how to distribute them. Many more issues cropped up, with countless meetings and Emails, discussions and disagreements.
The corner of this project that I know most intimately is the design of the bags. The artwork was my responsibility. I was working with Tammy Bockhorst, who was in charge of putting it all together, an endless project that required new software and extended learning curves.
At first everyone wanted a logo. Someone directed me to show Shorewood between a lake and a river, and she drew ripples to illustrate what to do. Since no one disagreed, I assumed that was my first assignment, and I wasn’t too happy about it! For a few weeks I played around with the idea in my wordrawing style, though someone else had told me not to include writing. Well, I always knew I’m not a logo-type.
Finally Tammy pointed out that that was just one person's suggestion, and I could do whatever I wanted. I decided leaves would make a good logo. So with Tammy's help, we modified an old drawing of mine of mulberry leaves as a prototype.
I figured it wouldn’t be a final logo since mulberries aren't native to Wisconsin. Actually I just researched that on google, and red mulberries with lobed leaves ARE native. However they’re considered invasive.
In any event, we needed a drawing for one side of the bag, and we settled on non-invasive native plants. Since it was winter, and no native plants were in bloom, I drew from photos in catalogues and online. After I'd done a series of flowers,
Tammy mentioned that maybe men wouldn't carry a bag with flowers on it. So I went back to leaves, the leaves of native plants.
The plant I liked most was prairie smoke, which I knew I could never capture with a pen. One day I decided to give it a shot, did a quick drawing, emailed it to Tammy, and that's what ended up on the bag.
The bags finally arrived in Shorewood in June. It turned into a community project: dozens of volunteers collated inserts (our own inserts and twelve from our sponsors), stuffed the collated inserts into 6900 bags, and then delivered them in the pouring rain. And we even had international publicity!