Scarlet

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It had been six days, seven hours twenty one minutes since she arrived. The incubation period should be over for that most victorian of diseases. It was almost a shame not to have an excuse to tighten her steel boned corset, take out her black lace parasol and lounge upon the balcony in extremis. The heat of a fractious summer evening billowed lazily through luxuriant velour drapes. There had been something gracious in the way that she had bitten her tongue, hadn’t there? Something virtuous in keeping things cordial, just a single drop of blood in her glass. If only she hadn’t mentioned the gala, perhaps her temper, and the wallpaper could have survived undisturbed. Everything still retained the heavy scent of aniseed, permeating through each fibre. What a waste of good wormwood. What a wasted night. Pushing the curtains aside, and eager to drink in the last vestiges of sunset air, she slipped outside. From here the streets looked like an intricate painting; oily veins of concrete, meandering their clogged ways to the ticking centre. She watched the technicolour smudges with legs that plied their great social evil on the streets. Too out of focus, as they were, to cause her a reaction. How many unspoken conflicts had passed these last few days, and how many, in passion, had been shattered then remade into something more delicate?
She leant against the cool metal railing and strained to hear the muffled album leaf that tumbled from inside. It wasn’t the first time that drinks were spilt in anger, but it somehow felt different. More finite. The balance had shifted. Maybe the fever was finally seeping in, two hours too late. She felt for the beaded choker around her neck and carefully unclasped it. Strands of her blond hair cruelly trapped within its mechanism. The vascular gods were demanding a sacrifice, and only obsidian would do. Inhaling slowly and rubbing the beads between her sweating fingers she faltered in her mesmerised state. Something twitched in the corner of her desolate fixation. She shivered to shake off her doubt and just as she resolved to destroy this memento, to make the offering, she felt a gentle breath on her nape and two slender, familiar arms slipped around her waist.

 

(c) Accidental Tentacles 2016

The third dimension

I’ve been trying to extend my dabbling novice creative skills into something more substantial. It has taken me a great deal of time (many years in fact) to realise that artistically speaking, I am almost always working in only two dimensions. I can paint a picture, describe a scene, show a snapshot, play a scale, but when it comes to telling a story all I seem to do is string together snippets that don’t necessarily seem to fit. I’ll provide a rich scene and then tack a twist on the end, and tell myself that’s basically a story. In short, I have hitherto lacked the foresight to bring the third dimension of time into my efforts. I believe that this, at least in part, stems from my misplaced core belief that art comes from somewhere guttural and insentient, that does not need to obey the normal laws of planning and contextual consideration. As I mentioned before I am challenging that belief and trying to push past the ideal of creative purity and dirtying my creations with consideration and positive self-criticism. A really tough lesson for me is planning. I try to make an animation…I realise immediately that I lack the equipment and skill to make what is in my head. The simplest plans are laid in ruins by the blight of poor lighting. I can’t say I’m exactly proud of the silent movie snippet above, but I’m not disappointed either. It has taught me a little about timing, lighting, and angles. But on this occaission, they don’t really work for me, because there is no story. And stories are what make this whole damned life worth living.

But I’m no [Mozart, Monet, Milne]!

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i’ve been idly wondering about what ‘art’ and ‘creativity’ really mean. We all know about Mozart, Monet and Milne, but what about that young lass who makes incredible iced cupcakes, or that weird lad next door who makes peculiar noises with his guitar, or that guy who stands in the street dressed like a robot…I mean, where do we draw the line?

I’m not sure that there is a strict definition of what ‘things’ constitute ‘art’ that will ever be widely accepted. The truth is that people can consider a huge variety of things artistic, or, as I like to think of it, evocative of emotion beyond the sum of their ingredients. Poor planning means that I’ve effectively already answered what would have been my second ponderous step in this preamble; consideraction of the point that one’s creations can be considered art.

The amazing thing is, that anyone can create, can make something entirely unique. You can go and write a story, or draw a flower, record yourself singing and you will have done just that – made something that only you can. But writing a story…does that make you creative? (yep) Does it make you a writer? Does it make you an artist? Now the latter two questions boil down to perception. How do you see yourself and your creations, and how do others. Most importantly, how does creating things make you feel, and how do those who experience your creations feel?

You already know that you’ve been born with the innate ability to create something new, but do you ever feel inspired but worry that you don’t have the skills for expression? Or do you feel expressive but worry that you don’t have anything to say? I would love to know what anyone has to lose by trying. I’ve spent years telling myself that I can’t do x or y because I’ll be no good, or no-one will care, or worse, I’ll ruin the nebulous dream that I have unfulfilled artistic potential!

But the problem is that when you start something new, you kind of suck at it. You think about old paganini while you scratch out twinkle-twinkle on your new violin and you tell yourself that you simply aren’t talented. Well. I’ve got news for you little buddy. All great artists are great because they honed their skills, they pushed themselves, they practised and practised until they earned emotional responses deserved of their ferocious hard work.

So. When you go and try drawing a flower now (and you really should), or colour in an adult colouring book, think about how you feel, and focus on your technique, learn from your trials and one day, maybe your oil paintings will be hanging in my hallway, your book nestling in my kindle, or your music filling the air. You don’t have to be famous to make art, you don’t have to be even remotely popular, and even if your cat hates your poems and tells you to stop using Oxford commas, don’t let that stop you, because creating something that makes you feel satisfied is plently good enough 🙂

Why am encouraging rampant creativity? Because I want to learn new ways of expression and I don’t want to be the only one posting an array of stuff that I might be proud of as tiny achievements but will probably, for the large part, be a bit sucky to start with. I’d like to mention that I have a great deal of respect for technical proficiency in all walks of life, and believe that no matter how much of a maverick you may think yourself, reigning in on the anarchy and learning the basics is a valuable lesson to learn in pretty much every situation. Let’s face it, you can’t know everything about everything, and, no, I don’t think it’s cool to colour outside of the lines, it’s just lazy. But moving the lines, redrawing, reinterpretting, now that is what I’m aiming for.

There are so many amazing skilled people out there who make animations, take great photographs, who write and record music, who draw comics, I mean, how on earth do they do that?! Have you ever tried? Where do you start? We largely take for granted that we see and hear polished works every day with little thought as to how they were made. But I want to have a go too!! No matter how painful it is!

Oh, and send me your pictures of flowers if you draw them!