Mee’s Magic Eye
I’m going to try my best not to get giddy, but...
You might have noticed that I have been struggling to keep up with posting a photo every
day for Spark of the Day. That’s partly because I have been busy recently designing the new Walking Weirdly game Explore Indoors, and partly because the lockdown means I’m not getting out and about so much. So over the weekend, I sent a message to the fantastic nature photographer Malcolm Mee, to ask if he would contribute some images - and he said YES!
Malcolm has been taking wonderful nature photos for many years. On Flickr, he is nondesigner59, and he has thousands of followers who have enjoyed the 3000+ images he has posted - so far - since he joined in 2008. I have a couple of his photos on my walls at home: one of Castle Hill in Huddersfield bathed in serene yellow light, and another of frogs and frogspawn, which always makes me smile. Because, as well as his usual wildlife and landscape shots, Malcolm has a ‘magic eye’ when it comes to detail. And a few times each week - at least for the lockdown - we are lucky enough to be seeing Mee’s Magic Eye here at Spark Creativity!
I’m off for another dance around my kitchen now!
Ta leme, Fiona.
Yes, I have been quiet. I have been head-down creating Explore Indoors, a unique new Walking Weirdly game designed to help us all get through the ‘lockdown’ - and I’m really excited to say that it’s ready! If you already know you want to buy an online set, here’s the link to the download...
There are 24 different cards, each one offering a unique way to explore your living space, stretch your muscles and get a bit of mental exercise. They're perfect for people who are ‘stuck indoors’, whether for a long time or just for a rainy afternoon when the kids are driving you nuts!
If you’ve played one of my previous Walking Weirdly games already - the Classic or the Snappy version - you’ll know that those are physical sets of cards: ones you can take outside, hold in your hand and shuffle... or drop in the mud! But the Coronavirus lockdown means that we can’t explore the outdoors in quite the same way: we are all limited in how often we can go out, and how far, and where. And the practicalities of producing and posting physical sets seemed too much of a challenge, too. So Walking Weirdly - Explore Indoors was born...
Are you a doodler? I am, and I always have been. The edges of my notebooks have been full of abstract patterns since I was old enough to write.
I was really lucky at school, and not many teachers seemed to mind my doodling; but as I grew older I sometimes found people disapproving: some colleagues, for example, seemed to think doodling meant I wasn’t listening to them.... Of course, if you are a doodler like me, you’ll know that the exact opposite is true: the more I doodle, the harder I am thinking. If you’re not a doodler, you may not believe me - but maybe this TED Talk will persuade you!
Quite often, my doodling leads me to ideas I wouldn’t otherwise have had, and sometimes, it leads to - or from - my creative designs. My textile art, particularly, often feels like “doodling with thread”!
I think that if you look at my doodles and textile pieces, you can see some connections and echoes quite clearly...
These doodles are not designs, though: I haven’t used them consciously or deliberately to develop the textile art. In fact, all of the examples here were scribbled after the textile pieces were made.
There is something about doodling that a ‘unlocks’ a gate to art and creation, for me and many others. Doodling is the raw instinct of creativity; messy, unpolished, fun, careless, private, full of energy and compulsive. If I’m not doodling, I am very unlikely to be making any art either.
So, you can never do too much doodling! And if it’s a long time since you last did any, now is definitely the time to start! Don’t think too much about it - or at all: next time you’re watching telly, on a long phone call or reading a blog (like this!), grab a pen and a scrap of paper, and see what your hand creates!
Uh-oh, we’ve got competition!
Have you heard the news? Grayson Perry and Channel 4 are launching a new TV series, Grayson’s Art Club. It’s aimed particularly at “the average Joe on the sofa” and aims to encourage everyone to try more creative things, like sculpt, draw and paint... Just like Spark Creativity, then!
“I want to make art an ordinary part of life
Grayson’s Art Club will be part of a raft of Channel 4 Programmes called Lockdown Academy, and a new show called House of Craft starring Kirstie Allsopp is also on the cards. Channel 4’s chief executive says it’s part of their mission to “lift people up and make them feel connected with the rest of the world when they are isolated at home”.
Of course, that’s also what Spark Creativity is all about too. We don’t have the fame of Grayson Perry or the audiences that Channel 4 can draw, but we DO have things like our Spark Creativity Facebook page where anyone can share creative projects and ideas easily and our Spark Creativity Cafe and After-Cafe, which ran for the first time yesterday. If you missed them, don’t worry: we’re running every Friday lunchtime while the Coronavirus crisis is keeping people at home, so join us next time!
Meanwhile, here is an interview with Grayson Perry that I really love...
He’s talking about how the most exciting creative work is often online and often ‘outsider art’ made by people who aren’t part of the art world (and my Instagram feed is certainly proof of that!)
And if this inspires you to try something creative for yourself today, have a look at the Spark Kindling Creativity ideas, or maybe have a go at the one below...
Today is the day our new Creativity Cafe starts, and I’m excited!
I don’t know about you, but I have been feeling a bit glum this week. Actually, glum doesn’t cover it: I have swung between fear, grief and blind panic... Or sometimes more positively, optimism that maybe (just maybe) we can eventually create a better future out of this terrible Coronavirus crisis. Because I have seen some amazing things in the last couple of weeks. In many places, communities are coming together to support their most vulnerable members and there is a huge amount of new mutual aid - people helping people, because it’s the best thing to do. There has been some real kindness and sharing of insight and understanding. There has been an explosion of creativity online, on YouTube and Instagram and all over, like this video that seems to be from the Hertfordshire Allotment Society!
So today’s Creativity Cafe is my attempt to add to this fabulous explosion of creativity - and to encourage you to add to it too... It’s open to everyone (well, the first 99 people to join) and it’s FREE. And it’s just 30 minutes long, so have a break from whatever you’re doing, put the kettle on and make a tea or grab yourself a coffee, and join us! Bring paper and pencils with you if you can, so you can join in with all the activities... Hope to see you in just a few hours!
I’m as twitchy and restless as a house-fly today. I have started twenty different little tasks, then been distracted by something else... I bet I’m not the only one. And funnily enough, I was just getting irritated with myself for my lack of focus, when these two came and settled on the table in front of me!
Even small acts of creativity can help you manage moods like this: doodling is great (I’ll talk more about that in a day or two), and so is anything messy, like splashing paint around or playing with clay or dough... Writing just about anything works for lots of people, whether that’s a poem or a splurge of the contents of an over-crowded brain... Why not have a look at the images on the Spark of the Day page, and see if one of them inspires you?
This afternoon, I played around manipulating this photograph until I liked how it looked: it’s surreal, and I think it’s kind of disgusting and beautiful at the same time, which interested me and made me smile. And we need all the smiles we can get at the moment!
Ta leme, Fiona.
I’m really delighted to welcome Josh Robinson as a guest artist on the Spark Creativity website. He has provided us with some of his amazing line-art illustrations to use on our Colouring page. I have shared 2 today, but I’m going to keep you in suspense and share others with you in the next few weeks!
I first saw Josh’s drawings 2-3 years ago. Their geometric style looks simple at first glance, but if you look carefully, you’ll see loads of hidden detail. I think they’re mesmerising... And perfect for colouring!
©️ Josh Robinson 2018
If you’ve got a great bit of line-art you think would be perfect for colouring - or just for sharing with people - we’d love to see it! Please get in touch using our contact form.
Ta leme! Fiona x
(P.S. Did I mention? Josh is my son!)
Creativity will help us through
These are strange times. Many of us are now ‘social distancing’ or ‘self isolating’ at home because of Coronavirus/Covid-19 - including me. Very sadly, all of this spring’s Spark Creativity experiences and holidays are now cancelled or postponed, and I’m expecting to have to rearrange the summer ones too. I’m so sorry if you’re one of the people affected by this, and I know you’ll be as gutted as we are. But it’s the right thing to do to keep us all as safe as possible, and I really hope you’ll join us in the late summer or autumn or next year instead.
We need new ways of creating and learning together, especially now. So I’ve been working hard over the past few weeks to develop lots of new creative activities and resources for you, which you can use online or at home. I’m making new Small Sparks Videos every week and sharing loads of inspiring photos. I have created original printable line-art illustrations for Colouring, and every week I will be sharing a few ‘Kindling Creativity Cards’ to get your creative juices flowing if you ever get stuck!
If you’re feeling a bit isolated or you’d just like to meet up with me and others, I’ll be running online Creativity Cafes every Friday starting next week, via Zoom. These 30 min sessions are free and ‘first-come-first-served - so why not join me there?! Afterwards, if you’re still itching to create more, you can also join Creativity ‘After-Cafe’ sessions for a small fee.
And if you can still get out for a walk, Walking Weirdly is a new and unique way to explore and experience even places that are very familiar to you. Digital sets will be available to download very soon (I have some physical sets too, though at the moment these are in Greece - but get in touch if you are too!). I’ll do a whole separate blog post about Walking Weirdly soon!
I’ve made many of these activities and resources FREE, because I know that we all need extra creativity and loveliness at the moment... And last but not least, if you are able to buy something, join a paid activity or perhaps just ‘buy me a coffee’, I’d be really grateful, because I’ve lost almost all my income for the first half of 2020 - maybe longer... Please help me now if you can, so I can keep helping you to spark YOUR creativity through these difficult times.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.