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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Strike a Match, Burn a Candle, Light up the World



"Moonshines" 18x24 mixed media on canvas
Ideas are fragile. They come and go. If you don’t lock them down, they can disappear forever.

I used to keep a small notebook in my car for jotting down ideas driving to and from work. The only problem was, I could only write while I was sitting at a stoplight. So I thought I’d get a recorder and verbalize my thoughts, only I’m not a verbal person. I have to digest ideas and chew on them before writing them down in order to give them expression.

Fleeting thoughts are sometimes incoherent, nonsensical gibberish; but the gems within may grow and multiply, whereas the losers fester for awhile and then dead-end into Never Never Land.
"First Daffodil" 16x20 acrylic on canvas
When I lived alone, I burned candles in the bath, in my bedroom, and anywhere else I needed a glimmer of hope and light. Even with dinner, I’d fix myself something special and light a candle to make the dining experience last. 

Then one day, I became dangerous. I struck a match in the bathroom and the tip of it broke off landing on my nightgown. The flames were frightening. Luckily the sink was near enough to douse myself with water and put the flames out.

I decided either I was getting flighty or the matches were being manufactured differently from before. A few days later, I struck a match in the bedroom to light my bedtime candle, and again the match tip broke off landing on my dresser scarf. The flames ignited instantly, swallowing up everything in sight before I could smother it with a wet towel.

From that point on, I eliminated candles and matches from my bath and boudoir routine. Whether it was the cheapness of the match sticks or my own clumsiness made no difference. I couldn’t afford to burn myself up over anything as silly as a candle.

That experience has come back to haunt me again and again. How fragile and unpredictable that tiny light became once it was ignited. Ideas are like that. They shine but for a moment and then like gossamer wings they fly away unless we kindle the flames that brought them in the first place.

Where do my ideas come from? Some are inspired by past experiences. Others by books I’ve read or movies I’ve seen, or simply by the way light shines on a certain object in a new way.

Nature also inspires me. When a roseate spoonbill comes in for a landing, it looks like it's almost sitting. I couldn't resist the humor of putting one in harness in a parasail; hence, "parasailing spoonbill!"

I have a vivid imagination and always think I see something different in my ordinary surroundings: an ugly face created by the scar of a cut limb or the bark of a tree, a small bush that looks like a huge spider; I’m weird, I know. Artists do see things differently. We see in shapes and color and because of this, the ordinary turns into the grotesque, the scary, or the fantastic in a blink.
Some of my ideas are so clear I can see them come to life in my mind. Others are mere hints or suggestions that require coaxing and fuel to keep them going. Like the end of a lighted match, I never know where my ideas will end up.