Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Memories Spark Creativity

The Hole in the Road

One day a man was walking down a road.  As he walked along he fell into a deep hole.  The next day the man was walking down the same road. As he walked along he remembered there was a hole in the road.  But it was too late, because as he took his next step he fell into the hole.  On the third day he was walking along the same road, and he remembered about the hole.  But again he fell in.  This time a stranger was walking by and helped the man out of the hole.  On the fourth day the man once again found himself on the road, remembered the hole too late and fell in.  This time when a stranger walked by and offered him a hand the man said, “no, thank you, I can climb out myself.”  And he did.
On the fifth day he took a different road.

As an artist this story reminds me to use my memories for inspiration and imagination to help me solve problems. The process of making art is so therapeutic.  I continuously look for new ways to create art that reflects things that are important to me.  I keep journals of these ideas and use these “memory sparks” as the starting point for a new masterpiece.In order to improve our present we need to be aware of our past.  

Anyone can use memories to be creative. On way is to make a memory book. You can buy a blank sketchbook, re-purpose an old book, or simply start with several sheets of blank paper that you can bind together later .  Pick a theme for your book or just let it be a eclectic compilation of your thoughts.  You are the artist, the author, the historian and the audience so there are no rules!  Just use the power of your happy memories to improve your present day.

The following is a list of memory book ideas.  Interpret them your own way with whatever supplies or skills you have.  Or try something new!

  1. A Gratitude Journal - There’s an old French proverb that says, “Gratitude is the memory of the heart.”   Create a list of people, places and things that you are grateful for.  Draw images or cut out pictures to illustrate these.  Dedicate pages to these different blessings.
  2. Childhood Memories - Pick a day from your childhood and write an illustrated story.  Find a children’s book to use for inspiration. I recommend books by Ezra Jack Keats (The Snowy Day and Peter’s Chair), by Jan Brett (The Mitten and The Hat), and my childhood favorites by Russell Hoban (Some Snow Said Hello and A Sorely Trying Day). Include as many sights, sounds, tastes and smells that you can remember. Use photos or drawings for the illustrations. Consider turning your characters into something other than humans!
  3. Call someone you love and ask them to tell you a memory they have about you.  Write down or record that memory.  Create a picture from this inspiration.
  4. Create a piece of art that is inspired by the memory of falling in love.  This could be as intense as your first love or as simple as your first teddy bear.
  5. Dedicate pages to people, places and things that give you good memories.  Pets, people, houses, places, teachers, foods, songs, etc.
I’m not sure who wrote the story about the hole in the road, but I do know that it's about addiction. I also know it is such an important lesson about memories.  I believe we can always use the past as inspiration for a better present and  a brighter future.  I don’t mean dwelling on the negative things from the past. Instead learn from mistakes, make better choices and rejoice in recounting the good times.  
My mom, around 1954,
a newlywed on the road with the love of her life, my dad.
That looks like a good time!

You never know when you’re making a memory.”
- Rickie Lee Jones


  1. I couldn't agree more. Our past, good or bad, makes us who we are. How we use those memories can create beauty and joy. We can use art to process the memories as well use the memories to inspire us. It's a circle of the creative mind.

  2. This is a great post! Visiting from UBC :)