Make Art with the Creativity Book
I just came back upstairs from my office. I worked upstairs in the kitchen today because of the sun. Sometimes it’s needed, and it’s scarce in the basement. I went down to get my twisty Crayola Crayons. I had to dig through a large pile of books and papers on the credenza (you could call it my dresser, if you want, but I prefer credenza since it’s supposed to be an office). They’re still in their original package and only used once. I bought them one morning when I was out of town and felt desperate to capture an image from a troubling dream I’d had the night before. The ballpoint pen and memo pad in the hotel desk just wouldn’t do it.
The dream had color. I needed color.
So I bought the twisty Crayolas. I like them. They’re long, like a colored pencil, and encased in plastic, so I don’t get the waxy crayon feeling on my fingertips that sometimes makes me want to drop an ordinary crayon. Each is made of a mix of colors. Blue and green, yellow and orange, violet and black, pink and plum. Depending on how the Crayola is held, the streak of color changes on the paper. The result is imprecise, unexpected, hard to control.
I don’t mind it. It’s rich in varied texture.
I’m using the twisties to color Claire Burge’s book, Spin: Taking Your Creativity to the Nth Degree. I don’t think she’ll object. In fact, right in Chapter 4, she says to doodle in and make art with the book. So that’s what I’m doing. I start by coloring in some of the illustrations. The words on page 21, and the sketch of Claire’s African mama, Margaret, on page 31.
Slow Down and Doodle Your Thoughts
Oftentimes it’s easy to read a thing straight through, and not think deeply about what is being read. The simple act of coloring the illustrations in Spin slows me down enough to think about the stories, ponder Claire’s questions. In one story, Claire shares how, in a time of fear and grief as a young child, she retreated to her cupboard.
I flee to my room. I am turning ’round and ’round, moving from my toy box to my bed then to my cupboard where I climb inside.
Margaret finds me there, pulls me out roughly. She is agitated, muttering in Zulu. I don’t understand what she’s saying, but many years later I come to understand that in Zulu culture you never take a child off her mother’s back when she is distressed. Never.
She bends down low again. I am mounted and safety-pinned in. She goes outside and finds things to do, many things that will keep her hips swinging. She sings low, mourning with me. I fall asleep and when I wake up, I am warm against the heat of her body.
Find a Place to Hide and Nurture Your Creativity
At the end of Chapter 6, she asks, “Where did you hide as a child?”
I roll a twisty Crayola between my fingers while I consider the question, drawing shapes on an open space on the page. I see myself, a bashful, self-conscious child, hiding under the kitchen table with an Oreo cookie while my mom and a friend share coffee over my head. I see myself in the Airplane Tree, a place of solace and retreat in the woods partway down my old neighborhood street.
On the page I’m drawing a small child outside an open closet, and I remember the “monster” game I played with my older siblings. It usually ended, by design, with me being captured and jailed (I was the monster) in a closet (like Claire’s cupboard). Most times, I nodded off to sleep, quite content in my captivity. The image I doodled? Two-year old monster-me being set free from the closet, and mad as hell (or making it look that way), an image drawn from a photograph I carry in my wallet.
As I grew older, I sought the consolation and security of the closet voluntarily, often going in with a flashlight and book or curling up on a pile of blankets for an undisturbed nap on long afternoons. Claire says that “creativity needs a place to kick off its shoes.” While I’d never have taken my shoes off (the photo attests to that), I’ll agree that the security of a hideout can give one the space needed to nurture imaginative thought.
Discuss Your Creativity Process with Us
We’re reading Claire Burge’s new release Spin: Taking Your Creativity to the Nth Degree together this month. Are you reading along? Claire shares delightful, tender stories about her childhood, followed with questions activities related to finding a place of security, about cherished experiences of the unfamiliar, about dreamlike experiences, about issues of emotions and social justice.
What activities did you explore? Did you find roots of your own creativity in your childhood experience?
Review the “9 Lies I was Told and Believed About Creatives” (Chapter 10). Choose one or two that you’ve been told — do you believe it, or did you once?
What did you do on the pages of Spin to make the book your own? Perhaps you’ll share your thoughts with us in the comments, or link to a post you’ve written at your own site.
Join us for the full discussion of Spin: Taking Your Creativity to the Nth Degree
November 6: Where Do You Hide? (ch. 1-10)
November 13: Chapters 11-20
November 20: Chapters 21-30
November 27: Chapters 31-39
Buy Spin: Taking Your Creativity to the Nth Degree now and join us for our book club discussion