Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

What I Missed and How I Found It

June 24, 2019

 

How did I miss Good Omens? Okay, so I often have to ask myself a similar question when I come across something that everyone else knew about (the young Gary Cooper comes to mind). My husband and I watched the Amazon miniseries made from the novel after our son recommended it, then our daughter reminded us she owned a copy of the book and had left it when she went to graduate school. Even if you see the miniseries first, it is well worth your time to read the book. Aside from being darn good entertainment, the writing is fabulous. It’s the kind of book you read and say, “Self, this is what you should be doing with your story.” I was particularly impressed with how Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman wove in physical details about their characters throughout the story. I thought I had a good grasp of that technique, but I was wrong. This is the way it should be done. Read it for yourself and see.

Luck and wisdom!

Good Times at Art Quilt Santa Fe

May 29, 2019

For the last ten years, I have gone to Santa Fe every spring to help out with Art Quilt Santa Fe. This year was the last session, and what a wonderful time it was. Although I was there as a classroom assistant, not a student, I still got to experiment when there was a lull in class.

Metallic blue and eggplant, using a faux-mori folding technique

Betty Busby has been the teacher almost every year. Her silk painting techniques are fabulous. Although Art Quilt Santa Fe may be no more, Betty teaches all over the world, so check out her schedule and see where she’ll be next. You’ll thank me later.

Soft greens – perhaps for an embroidered forest?

The hidden treasure about taking workshops is the chance to meet other students who can inspire you. Two of the other students noticed some embroidery I was doing when the students and Betty didn’t need my help, and brought out their own hand stitching projects to show me. Since both of them are far more advanced than I could ever hope to be, it was a gift from the thread goddess to see their work. I was so inspired, I actually finished a piece I had been working on for several years.

Inspired by a Montana pine forest

I will miss my annual trip to the Southwest, but will treasure what I learned there – especially about taking advantage of every opportunity I possibly can to gain new skills.

Luck and wisdom!

The Wonder of Workshops

February 4, 2019

Tri-Valley Writers, a branch of the California Writers Club, is putting on its third writers conference on April 13. I’m president of the branch this year, so naturally I’m biased in favor of the event, but even so the day is going to be pretty special (shameless promotion alert, here’s the website link). I’m telling everyone I know to consider attending because there is nothing like gathering with a group of like-minded people pursing a shared passion to ignite creative bonfires.

You would think, given my last statement, that I would always be searching for workshops and conferences. Not so. Luckily, I have friends who point out the treasure I’ve overlooked, like the Mechanics Institute in San Francisco, which holds workshops and classes on just about everything. I attended a wonderful writing workshop on sentences presented by Nina Schulyer. We spent three hours reviewing sentence structure, and playing with different forms to create amazing emotional effects (For you art quilters, imagine the fun of spending three hours experimenting with different embroidery techniques to enhance the overall artistic vision and impact of your piece.).

Schulyer has written a great book called How To Write Stunning Sentences. Still, there’s something magical about being in the same room with creative minds. You learn from each other almost as much as you learn from the presenter. So, look for those hidden gems around you – the adult learning annexes, small conferences, extension courses – and register for as many classes as time and your budget allow. You’ll thank me later.

Luck and wisdom!

Thrift and Character Development

July 23, 2018

Noah Longshore, my dad’s father, supported a wife and four sons as a coal miner during the Depression. What he didn’t know about thrift from being the youngest of twelve children, he learned in the ’30s, and the lesson stuck. He journaled throughout his life, but would be mindful of the paper.

Lani Longshore Noah's diary

Noah’s diary

This page contains entries from four different years. Noah would use the same journal until most of the pages were full. Reading his diary was a completely new experience for me, since I am used to seeing only one year at a time. I wondered how much of what he wrote on any given day was shaped by what he had written the year before, or the year before that.

Then I wondered if this might not be a fabulous technique for character development. What does it tell you about your character if he saves paper as if it were a treasure (which, of course, it is)? What does it tell you about your character that he can review his life in chunks if he so chooses? What questions would it answer about your character if you put together three (or more) events spaced over several years on one page? Let me know if you find the idea intriguing.

Chiura Obata and My Fabric Stash

July 18, 2018

I have no problem choosing a book by its cover, such as Chiura Obata: An American Modern by ShiPu Wang. The cover is a watercolor of the Grand Canyon. It spoke to me because I have fabric in my stash that matches those colors and textures.

Art doesn’t have to match my fabric collection to intrigue me, but it certainly helps. Here is another watercolor that I adore.

This piece cries out to be translated into beads and embroidery.

Obata was born in Japan in 1885 and moved to California as a young man. He died in Berkeley in 1975, having lived through two world wars and the Japanese internment in this country. Neither his fame as a graphic artist nor his teaching position in Berkeley spared Obata from three years imprisonment in a camp in Utah. He set up art classes while in the camp, continuing to produce drawings and paintings despite the injustice of his circumstances. His art is poignant, soothing, and – when you know his story – incredibly optimistic. He is just the role model I could use when life becomes overwhelming.

Luck and wisdom!

Inspiration Prompt #4

July 16, 2018

Neither my computer nor any of my electronic devices are working today. I am writing on a borrowed device, which is always scary. My prompt today is to describe fear. When I was training for my first black belt test, I wrote terror haiku. If poetry doesn’t work for you, use what does (except for scribbling on the wall with permanent marker – that creates a whole other level of anxiety).

Lani Longshore nail file

When I finish chewing my nails, I will need this file.

Design Dilemma

July 11, 2018

As much as I love to quilt, I’m not great at coming up with quilting designs. I’ve got stacks of books, templates, and examples, but they don’t always answer the question, “What does this quilt need?”

What to do with the white space beyond the blue border?

This quilt has been sitting in a stack for years because I don’t know what I want to do with all that white space. Also, I don’t know how I want to mark it since (A) I hate marking and (B) I don’t want to discover I’ve made a mistake and have to try to erase whatever marks I’ve made. It’s real easy to push the quilt to the back of the closet when I have not only a design dilemma but a technical dilemma.

A Styrofoam cup makes a great canvas

One of my friends suggested I grab a pencil and let a quilt design flow from my fingers with a doodle. As the above photo demonstrates, I doodle on everything. Doodling is not the problem – choosing is the problem. So, I’m opening the floor to you. Any suggestions?

Luck and wisdom!

Inspiration Prompt #3

July 9, 2018

Gizmos are great

I love gizmos like the item pictured above. This one has a compass, magnifying glass, ruler, straight edge, curved edge, and long cord for hanging around your neck or on a pack. What kind of person would need such a multi-tasker? What kind of person would think of cramming so many tools into one small object? When I start building worlds for my science fiction stories, I have to create the tool as well as the society that makes it, and I often start with things available here, but not ones that I normally use. Your prompt is to imagine a tool your character would need, using the item above as a starting point, and build the world of your story around it.

Inspiration Prompt 2

July 2, 2018

Old school dictionary and encyclopedia

My book club discovered Dictionary Stories by Jez Burrows. It is literally that – stories made up entirely from example sentences in dictionaries. Some of the stories are so good I hope Burrows will someday pick up on them and write chapter 2. My prompt today is to take your dictionary off the shelf and find a word, example sentence, or bizarre secondary definition and see where it takes you. Please share your first lines or concepts!

Inspiration Prompt 1

June 25, 2018

We inherited this clock from our daughter. We had been storing it (and some of her other possessions) ln case she decided she wanted it later, but she said she was ready to let it go, so we are using it now. The notion of inheriting things from your children has me wondering if I can write a story about a clock that travels backwards in time. That got me thinking about other visual prompts I could present. After I came up with a second idea, I said, “Self, use these for a blog series.” So, for as long as I can find something in or around the house, that’s what I’ll do. Share your first line if this inspires you!Lani Longshore clock