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Imagination, the last frontier

 Illustration by Niya C Sisk

“Don’t look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance.”
 Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life 

I used to be the type of artist who needed a lot of reference material around me before I’d put paint to canvas or words to the page. Now with so many images and words running through electronic channels, I abandon all reference material as a sort of… martini near the ocean type break. And I find myself wanting to share barefoot boogies in the ocean with children more than the final painting, design or fiction I might be imagining onto the page. I find myself turning off the iPhone for walks in the woods and conversations on the land line with a dear friend. There is just simply too much reference material flying in hungry torrents in the span of a day to need anything physically in front of me.

This is pretty cool (in a way)!

All that subconscious material warming up somewhere in the soupy brain. Dreams are crisper and more immediate and the creations are coming out at rapid speed. But if the mind were a practicum of form, well this imagination could use some janitorial services. I find myself using more time on clean up, editing and forming the ‘making’ vs. researching reference material.

On a mountain bike trek with a group of east coasters in Belize, one of the leaders of the track, yelled back to me, “Niya, don’t look down, it’s already gone.” This is what creating feels like to me now in this creatively explosive, confusing, messy, wonderful time in our history. Don’t look down, imagine and let your fingers do the good work, put your mind on cruise control (or valium, whatever works).

Bare feet work too!

“You are lucky to be one of those people who wishes to build sand castles with words, who is willing to create a place where your imagination can wander. We build this place with the sand of memories; these castles are our memories and inventiveness made tangible. So part of us believes that when the tide starts coming in, we won’t really have lost anything, because actually only a symbol of it was there in the sand. Another part of us thinks we’ll figure out a way to divert the ocean. This is what separates artists from ordinary people: the belief, deep in our hearts, that if we build our castles well enough, somehow the ocean won’t wash them away. I think this is a wonderful kind of person to be.”


Note: The illustration for this post was created in 2005 for a side business I created for Dogs. It was a good imagination moment.

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