Take the Sky (and Upend it onto the Earth)

blue sky with green earth both flattened vertically on the painting surface

Take the sky and upend it onto the earth

How do we generally look at a landscape? The land rolls out in front of us and the sky lifts up from the horizon way off in the distance.

A simple painting of that could be: the bottom half of the canvas would be green and the top half of the canvas would be blue.

Consider this on a painting: the land is fully, from the bottom to the top, covering the canvas. It’s a gorgeous green field fully covering the canvas. The painting is a green square.

And on the same painting, consider that the sky is fully, bottom to top, covering the canvas. It’s a gorgeous, ultimarine blue sky that is covering the green field.

What you have now is a blue square covering a green square.

Saying it creatively, I’ve literally placed the sky over the land and I’ve opened the sky up here and there so that the land can peek through. In this painting, the sky and the land are one.

Profile Happenstance (or, when things just line up)

friend backlit in home office with plants

Trash on the sidewalk creates bright white profile

Magic.

Here’s the timeline:

Friends have an in-home office set up and because they just had a baby, all the plants from one side of the room had to be moved to the other side of the room so there was space for the baby to play. We were laughing because the dad was now engulfed by his own, very tall and healthy, houseplants. I tried taking photos of him in his jungle office but got frustrated when the flash wasn’t working.

I deleted all but one photo because I wanted a reminder to try again after I figured out the flash.

Next day, I saw a face in some trash on the ground. I thought it was so funny that I took a picture of it.

Day after that, I was going through my camera roll and right there, sitting side by side, were these two pictures. The pure chance of it all. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Jungle office photo was, in my mind, a failed attempt. But the brightly lit area in the photo turned out to be an incredible match to the profile I saw in the trash photo! I would never have seen this if they hadn’t been side by side. But there they were, lined up and waiting to be discovered.

Magic, I tell you. It’s everywhere.

Use Side Doors (or, the most surprising headline grabber, ever)

paper sign on store door, too small to read

Paper sign on door, can now read first part of request

Paper sign on door, large request ending in tiny letters

Create wonder. Create surprises. Paint your painting; shoot your photo; sing your song; write your novel and in each one create moments that pull us, entice us, bring us in a little closer – and then, simply surprise us.

I was reminded of this in the most interesting way: I was on my way to work thinking about the day ahead when I saw a store door with a paper sign taped to it. The white paper stood out against the dark vertical door frame so it caught my eye. From a good ways away I could read the first line. It said in big dark letters: Please Use The.

The rest of the text was too small to make out and I got curious. Now I was actively watching the sign. Please Use The what? The big letters were telling me the request was important; the small letters were making me move in closer.

The fine print said: side doors.

Who in the world decided that those words had to be written so small and who in the world put that sign together? I’ll tell you who; a person who completely understands the concept of enticing and delivering.

Keep an eye out for these opportunities when you are creating or look for these moments when you are participating. They are simple and they engage us.

Exchange Angles (or, what you see isn’t always what you see)

Severe architectural angles on buildings on Exchange Place

Many years ago I was in Europe sitting in the shadow of a cathedral looking straight up and attempting to draw the buttresses that were protruding from the wall.

It just wasn’t working. What I was seeing and what I was drawing didn’t make any sense. My drawing buddy told me to take my pencil, hold it at arm’s length, line it up with the angle the buttress made, and then, keeping that line, lay the pencil flat on the paper.

Try it sometime. The angle was probably 80 degrees but my brain kept flattening it out. But to draw the building correctly, I had to find and believe the extreme degree of that one line.

Something to keep in mind: train your eyes to observe what’s really there. The moment you take your eyes away, your brain takes over. When your brain takes over it begins to translate what it thinks it saw. It’s quite a task keeping it real.

I offer that story to you as you now look at this picture.

Dissect these angles. Which ones would your brain have dismissed as impossible if you were drawing or painting this scene?