Detail of Joie de Vivre 1 by Gayle Pritchard
My daylilies are blooming. Seeing them reminds me of the ephemeral quality of summertime, of life itself. The first time I recall seeing these flowers was when we lived in West Virginia over thirty years ago. On the frequent drive back and forth to Ohio, I would see them, the old varieties I now know, blooming in gullies along the side of the road. I thought they were beautiful.
In my garden, while I have a few of the newer, “everblooming” varieties, I cherish the old-timey ones, in which each bloom only lasts one day. Hence the common name, daylily. You can admire and cherish them for the day they are blooming, but they are on their own pre-determined schedule. The next morning, the previous days’ bloom will be wilted on the stem. They are of immense, and fleeting, beauty.
Creative inspiration seems to keep the same schedule as the daylily. An idea comes, seemingly out of nowhere. It could be in the mist before sleep comes, or first thing in the morning, the sleeper barely awake. Ideas come on long walks, in the shower, driving the car; the more inconvenient for recording them, the better. The creative mind seems to work this way. If I fail to focus on the thought, the very fleeting mist of a vision, it disappears, and my mind can no longer grasp the fullness of what it had seen in that instant.
My journal / sketchbooks are full of such attempts to capture the wisps of an idea before they slip away. The dropping out of thin air quality of creative inspiration is, apparently, a common experience. I remember hearing the story Paul McCartney told of writing the song Yesterday. He says he woke up with the melody in his head, and spent a month asking his friends and colleagues if they had heard it before. When he was sure the song, which he called Scrambled Eggs, was his own, he began to write lyrics.
While I believe that there is no particular magic to being an artist, I must admit that, when the creative mind works overtime solving a creative problem, it can seem very magical when solutions are delivered unexpectedly. It truly feels like grabbing the air and pulling out a gem.
Over the past two decades I have learned to keep my mind open. Looking in my journals reminds me of this. Thinking, sketching and dreaming are all part of an artists work-out routine. This is what creativity is made of. Anyone can learn it, but no one can teach it. It's a path you have to discover for yourself.
Sketch for The Day Momma Died, with front of two-sided piece below.