Playful Stretching

January 13th, 2009

Flyingcatdream I began this piece last week, with the aim of just playing with caran d'ache pastels. And this weekend, I painted over it a bit with acrylic, creating this dream-like image of a flying girl and cat.

I dream about my own cats quite a bit, often in the context of anxiety dreams where I'm trying to travel with one in my suitcase or saving them from a burning building or something like that. Dreams are often the source of great art images for me. This piece on the left didn't come from a dream, it just felt dreamy. But other images I've created have come directly from images I saw oh, so clearly in a dream. Another great reason to keep a journal or sketchbook by your bed!

In this piece, I was simply playing, making marks, mushing color around. Kathryn mentioned in a comment today that play can be intense stuff sometimes. It's true! I think because play is so much fun, it can be a fabulous way to stretch ourselves beyond what we'd normally do. It's a neat way to "trick" ourselves into experimenting, exploring, and diving deeper.

In the service of play we may go just that much further with a bit of inspiration, an idea, a possibility. Playing with children, for example, is always a great way to stretch your imagination muscles. Kids are fabulous at play and possibility, silliness, and fun. An empty box is a bed for a doll, a hat, a house, a turtle shell, or a time travel machine. Try using play as a means of stretching yourself and see what comes up for you.

I'm reading The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women by Gail McMeekin, as part of Jamie's book group. I've read it a few times already as it's chock full of inspiration! The first chapter is called, "Acknowledging Your Creative Self" and it begins with a quote that I think works so well with our theme of Play this month:

Your creativity is waiting for you like a dancing partner. -Barbara Sher

My hope is that those of you participating in the Creative Every Day Challenge this year will fully acknowledge and embrace your creative selves. You are all so wildly creative, it makes my heart sing!

18 Responses

I love this piece, Leah. It’s gorgeous. Today I’m loving this idea of play, and realizing I don’t have nearly enough playtime in my life. Your post really inspires me to make play a priority.

A few things:

First, I ADORE this piece. Especially since my word of the year is “fly” and I feel like I am just beginning to understand what it means.

Second, I too have anxiety dreams about my cats. My partner says they are all about my vulnerable self, my playful self, and how I am desperate to protect it.

And speaking of play, third, I have found that I have had too limited an idea of what this word means. I’ve used that idea to tell myself that I am not playful enough. Then I realized yesterday that by virtue of following my dreams and my heart, I am playing, pretty much, all the time. That, yes, “playing” can look quite serious, indeed-y!

There is that psychological line of thought that when children are playing, they are not playing at all, in terms of adult definitions of the word: they are actually working and they take it very seriously.

I love that idea of play I alway think that the inner child always need a voice.

Im not sure if I posted but play is very very inner child loves to play..

Really sweet piece, Leah. I love the vibrant colors and the action of the cat in it all.

Thank you for posting about the 12 secrets of highly creative women book group — I’ve always loved that book but haven’t read it for a few years. I’m happy to dust it off and read it anew. I’m also looking forward to spending a creative every day year with you. Thank you for the idea!

it’s a very strong piece Leah and a bit dark…at least that’s how it works on my imagination:) and that’s why I like it:)

That dancing quote is probably inspiring so many of us right now! Imagine the numerous collages/paintings it will create!

Yes, I play with my grandkids and adore what I learn and just watching them play is such tremendous JOY!
Your dreams give you treasures to be sure…The CD I just took to the post office might well help with some of the anxities too. ;-)
Love the painting!

This painting reminds me of a Chagall painting. Your play with pastels and acrylics really do give it a dream like effect. I am enjoying TNC and look forward to your interview!


HI Leah
I am loving the topic PLAY. Jason’s second cousins are up at the moment staying with their Nan and Pop and I have had fun playing with them – see what we made on my webpage.
I am also looking forward to going back to work as I love the imagination that the three girls I look after have and can’t help but get lost in their imaginare PLAY – as well as all the hands on play that we do as well.
Just wondering what theme have you got planned for February?

hi leah!
i love your new painting and how it came to be! playing is a perfect theme for inspiration.

:) melissa

What a beautifully playful piece! You captured the mischievous nature of the cat, and the colors! Splendid! :)

Oooh, I love this–didn’t know you could paint over pastels with acrylics, I’ll have to try that.

I love dreams, dream art, dream poetry–I just posted a dream poem. The colors on this are terrific.

I am playing tonight with a new piece trying something new for me. I got the idea from Steve Emery. Only I’ve adapted it to myself. Play, dreas, YAY! beautiful piece.

I love the dress and the way the colors coordinate!

That should read dreams! (Sorry!)

oh this is so beautiful… and i love those cat vids up above… i like cats too, but my hubby loves birds. so we have a parrot… a noisy, messy bad bird. but she does like to cuddle. :)

I like this piece – it could almost be an illustration for this month’s theme. I like that red shape in the upper right – building? forest? columns? birthday cake? It made me grin. And the red below it ties the whole thing together somehow – I like how you often do that.

I love your use of color in this piece and that crazy cat that is running in circles…that’s so perfect a cat play move… :)

as always, I admire your work!

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