How Does My Garden Grow

At a recent writing group the prompt offered us was to write about “blue.”  As we read our quickly written results, more than one of us commented, “Why didn’t I think of that one?” Once home I found the quick writes lead to a more leisurely process of  revision and refinement. My list of blues grew and I loved rooting them in place – columbine on a screensaver. . . delphinium spires behind foxglove. . . larkspur in a bouquet. . . work jeans in the hamper. . . denim jacket on a shoulder. . .and my favorite . . . his eyes at midnight. All those blues are forever visual pictures in my mind’s eye. An idea began to germinate – wouldn’t this list poem be a beautiful illustrated book. A seed was planted…

Another seed was planted the afternoon I sat the Artist Union Gallery during the Art as Book show. With three hours to leisurely leaf through the handmade and altered books on display, I came away with the germ of an idea of how to finish a well-begun altered book on gardens and flowers that had lain fallow in a hall cupboard for six years.

Then another seed. . . an invitation arrived in the mail; I was invited to one of my all time favorite events – a birthday party/afternoon of creativity. Any type of art or craft was welcome, within reason, the invitation said. (A great caveat if you’ve invited me to such an event!). This was the perfect opportunity to resume tending the flowers within my altered book.  My “within reason” stash included the half-done book, watercolors, brushes, a folding water pot, a Micron pen, glue sticks, photos, postcards, scissors, a small paper cutter, and a hair dryer. (For those of you who have traveled with me to art or sewing retreats, a small round of applause is appropriate here.)

As I looked through the forgotten garden of the unfinished book, I was surprised to find a few blue flowers I’d written about in my list poem already painted. Lines from the “blue” poem were added to plant those specific blooms in the flower bed memories of our home. But the seeds that have produced the rarest blooms for me during the party were all the projects other women brought to work on. None of the women was a stranger to me, but the projects they brought to work on made their lives blossom in new ways: a thick book growing full of recipes for a newly-wed who plans to attend culinary school and dreams of opening a bakery, a mother filling a photo album with her daughter’s portraits to accompany her to college, a woman working on a purple and white floral quilt with spashes of yellow for a friend, a young woman embroidering names and best wishes from friends on a future pillow cover, a grandmother creating a scrapbook for a grandson, a teenager knitting a long narrow scarf in a shade of blue “everyone can wear,” a sister working on a scrapbook for a beloved brother, a friend asking how she might encourage her mother, slipping into the twilight of dementia, to use the art materials she repeatedly requests.

I love making art in community. I love the garden of creativity and caring that grows around me. The seeds of inspiration are everywhere. That is how my garden grows.

What are the seeds of your inspiration? Who is the community that helps cultivate your creative garden? Will you share how your garden grows?

I’m looking forward to what you have to share. And thanks to all of you who share with me that you’re enjoying these posts. It means so much to me!

4 comments to How Does My Garden Grow

  • jeannie marsh

    interesting, this germinating seed of a book…I’ve been considering something similar for a few weeks now…combining scripture passages based on the city with devotional thoughts and photographs reflecting the hope for transformation…
    (all of this is the research for a large art piece I’m creating…)

  • Kit Ripley

    I make art with the women in my Sunday School class in Cincinnati. When I was recently in Ohio for a week of vacation, my friend, Vicki and I went down to her basement studio (one of my favorite places in the world!). She had recently taken a week long mixed-metal jewelry making workshop with Mary Hettmansperger. Her creations inspired us to do chains of mixed metal, focusing on copper as the primary medium, and supplementing with silver beads, AB glass beads, and various bits of electronic hardware. What a delightful time of play! Now that I’m home in Thailand, I’m having quite an adventure trying to find the raw materials to continue with my new fetish. The hardware store clerk could not understand why this crazy foreigner wanted such exotic things as sheets of copper roofing material and miniature screws with a hole through the middle.

  • Gita Levin

    I loved reading this post and especially the part about the party. I might have to give myself a party like that one. My garden of ideas comes from all over. I like others have large stashes of beads, fabric, and yarn. My work comes from assignments lots of time, a Christmas gift, birthday gift, a quilt calendar that I saved from 1995.
    My first year of retirement from teaching was spent making my daughter’s wedding gown, my gown, three flower girls’ dresses and two dresses and slips for Bitty Baby Dolls that were given to the two older flower girls. The next year, I decided that I needed a focus so I mentally signed myself up to do a block a month from the 1995 Piecemakers Calendar and also joined a bead journal project. I was able to keep up with those committments until August when life got in the way and I haven’t been back to them since.
    Now I’m preparing to go to a Victorian Stitchery Retreat in Wichata, Kansas. I love to do handwork and this sounded like a wonderful experience. When I get home, I hope to try to get back on track with my projects.
    When I think of blue, I think of my family as we all have blue eyes, the sky, morning glories, and sometimes saddness. I love the color. Lots of rooms in my house are decorated in blue and green, both peaceful colors to me.

  • Karen Greenslate

    I was wondering yesterday if the Creator has a favorite color, and the color is “blues” (how many variations! I was working in the nursery…noticing one of the little ones (still crawling). Several times (I lost count) she chose toys or objects of blue: a ball, a block, an animal (a blue giraffe), the blue button out of several, and my earring (“ouch! No, we don’t pull on that one!) Another boy who come to our nursery always chooses red cars or trucks to carry around. I’ve never seen him carry a vehicle of any other color! I’m not sure if I can post pictures with this comment, but it occurs to me that in my summer file of flower photos taken in the Colorado Rockies, the predominant color is: ta da! Blue. I’ll try to insert a couple of pictures with a separate post.

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