Working on Noticing Things: Part One of More

One of the things about being an artist that separates you is the quality of noticing things others overlook. Seeing unusual things or ordinary things in unusual ways is a key principle in most creativity. So how do you start?

First attempts: slow and steady. Any regular route you take-to work, regular errands, family houses—tends to blur into sameness over time. We get used to the sights and sounds and stop looking, seeing what’s there.

So start with your regular route somewhere. Start expanding what you notice. Small things. Out-of-the-way things. Write them down, somewhere.

Angela Harding Creates Nonverbal Narratvie and Mystery

Three hares stare nervously from a tangked shrub in front of a lit house and distant figures in the snow

“We Three Hares” by Angela Harding

There are a few artists doing something not too far from the things I’m experimenting with. Animals in stories, more abstract forms, saturated color. Angela Harding has a woodcut feel to most of her work, and it’s edging more into the commercial print realm than I usually want to go. But I don’t want to ignore that world, either.

Harding is—and rightly so, I’m sure—taking advantage of the attention on her work to expand her venues to merchandising and business commissions. And why not? There’s more snobbish division than I like between illustration and “fine art,” and I don’t think either is superior.

Her work has an art of the mysterious, a little Gorey in there, some dark shadows contrasting the playfulness of the scenes.

A Quick Note on Getting More Sleep, Which You Need for Not Being Tired

Artists, you need your dreams. You need them even more when they’re in the middle of a solid sleep cycle.

It’s well established now that lack of adequate sleep (for almost everyone, that’s 7–9 hours) compromises most systems in your body. Nap it up. Snooze or lose. Shovel in the shuteye.

I didn’t do as well in school on days after I’d stayed up till wee hours painting. And the paintings weren’t as good, either. Creativity needs serious unconscious time. Here endeth the lesson.