"What we see depends mainly on what we look for." ~Sir John Lubbock

THIS BLOG HAS MOVED TO www.michellehedgecock.com. Feel free to explore past posts here, then please come by for continued creative fun! If you like what you read, don't forget to "follow" my blog at its new site, to continue to receive creative fun and inspiration in your mailbox! Thank you.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Coyote Haiku

The coyote’s song
Blesses my soulful journey,
Beautiful. Haunting.
(M. Hedgecock)

Ready to go wild with your creativity? Take a lead from the highly adaptable and vocal coyote, aka Canis latrans, its scientific name meaning “barking dog.” Read a little about the vocalizations of this iconic canine. Hear its song, then sing your own through a poem, painting, on the wheel, your voice...

Coyotes are found throughout North America, from Alaska to New England to Panama. I feel blessed whenever I hear their calls, whether I’m in the desert or the mountains. The coyote is one of the few wild animals whose vocalizations are commonly heard night or day (desertusa.com). They will howl, yip, bark and yelp to communicate with other individuals. Whether you feel a tingling, primitive instinct of fear, or smile when you hear its song, your first coyote howl in the wild is sure to stir your soul.

Below are some interpretations of common coyote vocalizations from DesertUSA.com:

Howling - communication with others in the area. Also, an announcement that “I am here and this is my area. Other males are invited to stay away but females are welcome to follow the sound of my voice. Please answer and let me know where you are so we don't have any unwanted conflicts.”
Yelping - a celebration or criticism within a small group of coyotes. Often heard during play among pups or young animals.
Bark - The bark is thought to be a threat display when a coyote is protecting a den or a kill.
Huffing - is usually used for calling pups without making a great deal of noise.

Listen to these
wild coyote songs for creative inspiration! Ahhh, truly one of my favorite sounds and favorite desert muses  :)

What is your song today?
This post originally appeared in my previously named blog "Restore Your Nature."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Challenge Accepted

A great way to maintain or rev up your creative drive is to fuel it with alternative, creative experiences. Challenging yourself is essential for keeping ideas flowing, building confidence, and staying creatively productive.

I challenge myself by trying new things, by taking on things I’m afraid of trying or feel I will fail (hello future post). I challenge myself when my inner critic emerges. It is sometimes challenging for me to stay focused on my dream goals, but I usually enjoy the challenge in experimenting with new media. In fact I tried a little something new recently—digitally altered photographs. And I did not let the fact that I don’t have Adobe Photoshop or another useful program stop me. Instead, I used a variety of programs already in my computer (whatever it came with) as well as online resources to have a little fun creating some original images.

You know me, sometimes I like to cannibalize my own projects, maybe reincarnate a personal project into something different. The Gigantic Gallery gave me the perfect opportunity to experiment with self-portraits as part of their current Cartes de Visite show—of which I am so excited and honored to be a part (please go check it out if you’re near Portland, OR, you’ll find five of my works there)!

I was inspired by the Spiritualism movement on the 1800’s and used Picnik to alter images of my hands and face from this project to create creepy “spirit hands” and a trapped spirit face for three of my self-portrait cards. For a fourth image I altered a photo of myself with my head foolishly inside a dinosaur’s mouth using ink, pastels, and Picnik online. I could have died if it hadn’t just consumed most of the family that was ahead of us. Finally, the fifth “Mother Nature” image emerged by digitally combining six photographs layered and altered using Word, Paint, and Picnik online.

Once finished, I hand wrote on the photo cards (many of the CDVs have notes written one them by the photographer or studio) to create a more authentic appeal. You’ll have to visit the Gigantic Gallery in person or online to see my spirit hands and face, but I’ve included the other two in this post—although without the full affect of the handwritten notes.

So, yes I used images and programs I was already familiar with, yet I challenged my abilities by combining these resources in a fresh way (for me), creating something entirely new (new for me). And I loved it! My creative confidence is up, many ideas are swirling in my head now that I have a fresh creative resource at my fingertips. This is allowing me to stay productive, and to continue moving forward with my creative goals.

Big or small, how are you challenging yourself today?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Photo Doodles

Photo doodling is a great creativity exercise to try and a fun way to let your mind wander. Artist/author, Stephanie Corfee, reminds us just how this tried and true outlet can turn family photos into treasured works of art in her book, Creative Doodling & Beyond.

Begin by grabbing a few black and white or color copies of your favorite photos. Grab a Sharpie or drawing inks in a variety of colors and start framing out and doodling around the subjects in your photos. Add text, deface faces with silly designs, or lose yourself in detailed doodlistic patterns.

Embellished designs on favorite photos from family gatherings, vacation, or that girl's night out can make a unique gift!

Below are a couple of my own family photos I played around with doodling. I loved reliving the special feelings felt on these days and I later noticed that the doodles that evolved seem to fit those memories from that day!

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Dash of Calabash

A dear friend of my late grandmother's is a children's writer/illustrator. The illustrations and story of one of his books, "The Calabash Cat" was inspired by a calabash engraved gourd he received during his travels. The book in turn has inspired hundreds of students--young and old--to try their hand at their own calabash inspired drawings.

The Calabash, or gourd engravings, originating in Chad are typically designs featuring animals with another animal inside them, embellished with "Zentangle" like designs within and around. In some drawings I found several animals within a larger animal, but I'm not sure if that is a regional thing, something directly related to a particular historical narration or story, or simply different artistic interpretations of calabash art. Either way, I love the style, it offers such visual stories, etchings combining animals that seem to have leaped right into another animal, blending two (or more) creature spirits into a lively illustrated story.

Inspired by the Calabash Cat, I was further
prompted by a paint chip I came across
named "CALABASH” in the hue of native
squash (gourd)!
I was inspired and eager to try my first "calabash" drawing. I chose an octopus because they’d been on my mind, and because it left room for error with so many flowing lines. Once drawn, and after a few mistakes, the bird nearly emerged on its own, so I followed through with a few extra details, keeping it crisp with contrast so as not to lose the image. Finally I filled in the surrounding “water” with a simple, repeating pattern in an effort to show movement.

How about a little creative doodling inspired by CALABASH style art? Even if you are not comfortable free-handing an animal, trace a simple silhouette or just go for your best attempt! You really cannot mess this one up. Grab your black ink pens, smooth drawing paper and start doodling. Fill mistakes with black ink, creating new designs and spaces (shhh…top secret art tip for covering up mistakes!). How many animals will speak through you?

See/hear “The Calabash Cat” by James Rumford here www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5cRVSvvASg
Calabash Octopus drawing:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Creativity Walk: Partner Mandala Making

Participants writing poem notes
from exchanged word lists.
This past weekend I led creativity walk in the beautiful La Quinta cove. On this particular walk we were blessed by a little desert rain, a rare event perfect for quenching our creative thirst. We began with a word gathering walk, followed by poem notes writing. As the rain started to fall a little heavier, we worked our way back to a shelter where we finished off our partner mandalas.
Inspired by a cooperative time-filler found in Family Fun magazine, I have found partner mandalas to be a great exercise for building creative confidence no matter what your artistic ability.
Two pairs of partner mandalas.

Each artist gets one color marker and a square sheet of paper. 
Partners begin by drawing a circle in the center of their paper, then they swap sheets and add an element to the design (a ring of dots, dashes, zigzag lines, or a more detailed element). Continue swapping and adding elements until your mandala is finished.
During our "hike" I encouraged participants to include natural elements in their mandala designs, drawn directly from our surroundings. Images of tracks, clouds, rain/water, palms, trees, flowers, rocks, lightning, snakes, bones, footprints, etc. emerged. The photos (to theleft and at the bottom of post) are of the partner mandalas created during the hike.
Try these alternatives!
  • Find a area with plenty of natural materials (rocks, leaves, twigs, petals, sand, etc.) and have each partner alternate turns adding a ring using these materials only.
  • Create a color page mandala. Use brown, grey, and/or black markers to create mandala designs you can transform yet again by coloring.
  • Create a family mandala during the holidays or a vacation. Leave a jar of colored pens or pencils along with the ongoing design out where family members can add their own ring related to their experience(s). You can assign each family member a color or let them choose as they go. *Try to keep colors alternating
  • Make a journal madala. During your next vacation, retreat, or as a personal journaling exercise, add a daily ring to your madala design to represent the emotion or experience(s) from each day.
  • Try this partner technique with your children, you might be amazed at what you both come up with, I enjoyed this process with my 5 year old son! We loved the designs we created together.
Partner mandala examples, nature inspired.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Don't Let Fear Get You

The other night I began a video project, using my scanner. I was inspired to do so through an HGTV show where a design client was a scanner artist, scanning various items and tweaking images in some way. It looked fun and I had to try it...and I suggest you give it a try too!

I started scanning my hands and fingertips, getting some cool effects. Then I moved to my face. The images revealed slightly distorted versions of me that came off with a cool, kind of creepy feel. This in turn inspired me to make the video below, using a succession of my scanned self-portraits.

It is a way to encourage fellow creatives like you to recognize your fear demons--let them motivate you, but DO NOT let your fears take you down. We should not put so much energy into our fears that they manifest into big, terrorizing, creativity-bashing monsters keeping us from our creative growth.

This is something we should remember, no matter where our "fear demons" emerge as negative blocks in our lives, creatively or otherwise. Please watch the clip below (1 min:11 sec) and let me know what you think in the comments!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Chalking Off In The Canyons

Entrance to Andreas Canyon.
A few weeks ago I spent the morning in Andreas Canyon, one of three incredibly beautiful, incredibly inspiring native oases carved from deep canyons at the base of San Jacinto Peak and the Santa Rosa mountains. The Indian Canyons, as they are collectively called (and managed) by the local Cahuilla tribe, are one of my favorite places to retreat to for a nature/wildlife fix to charge my spiritual, creative, and physical energy.

I was there for a MeetUp with my Let Nature Be YourMuse group. We were there to honor our creative time, simply gathering to make art in the canyons for the morning. I decided to try something new for me—a new medium, something I had never tried before yet have been wanting to for some time: soft pastels.

After exploring around for about 40 minutes, I found my spot. I dropped the chair, the backpack, the blanket, the camera, and water I’d been lugging around and settled in. I pulled out my sketch pad, my clipboard, tape, and my brand new box of pastels, and I set up.

I sat facing a year-round stream, with those yummy layered mountain outcroppings and dense palms framing a nice little scene. It was so lovely. And all of a sudden so complicated. Where do I start? Maybe I should I start out with something simpler? Then I remembered a couple of tips I came across, 1) start with your background first, and then another important tip, 2) make sure you start with dark colors first. Okay...?

I shared smiles with a couple hiking up the rocky steps to my right and they commented on the "beautiful setting I was going to paint." My inner-artist-ego fluttered. I just LOVE it when I happen upon an artist “in the wild” deep in the creative process, reinventing the landscape before them—their work always looks wonderful to me, and I always believe they must have been painting/drawing for years. I wonder if this duo thought that of me? Eh, probably not as my paper was blank. Glaringly blank. Hmm.

I pretty much sat there staring at the palms for a good solid 15 minutes. How do I do this, actually? More hikers. Hmm. Busy trail today. I noticed a nice round bobcat track next to my chair in the mud. Hmm, a freshy. I took a picture of it scaled with a AA battery. Then it happened. I made a deliberate mark on my paper. More hikers came by and now I had to look like I was doing something with it—my cue to just keep drawing! I thought to myself, don’t think Michelle, just experiment, be free loca. And I did. I kept drawing, rubbing, drawing and rubbing. Blowing clouds of chalk off my paper now and then.

My first attempt at soft pastels. Not only did I dis-
cover a new medium I think I'm going to love, at
this point I have a personal, artsy escape to a place
I love on those days I can’t get there.

It turns out I got into to the whole experience and really loved working with those pastels! By the time I had to leave, I was proudly sporting grimey, oily chalk hands and fingertips (maybe bring a towel next time).

I can't wait to continue working on this piece. I’d like to practice some techniques for defining elements on the trail off to the right, and balance out the palms with more palms, foreground too. Oh darn, I forgot to actually use the tape. I haven’t caught that dense oasis feeling yet—arghh! This critical yammering *gasp,* wonder if I overdo it?

Needless to say I am a little intimidated to make that first mark again. Fear creeping back. But I can do this—honestly overall it was just too fun. And next time my “FEAR” flag-waving inner critic can be my towel boy ;)

Onward toward second attempt!