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  • Writer's pictureGina Greenlee, Author

Jack Up Your Creativity

Woman Licking the Tower of Pisa in a  Ice Cream Cone

Years ago I attended Boston’s Open Studio Weekend. At the time, I was living in an artist colony in Hartford, Connecticut. This was a former gun factory converted into partition-free live/work units with15-foot ceilings and concrete floors. Raw-space living was new to me. I had to reinvent the studio’s interior without a blueprint.

At the Boston event I wasn’t looking to buy art for my walls. I didn’t have walls. In “anything goes” mode, I would spot an artifact and imagine its function different from that originally intended. Unconventional living space plus a modest budget demanded new ways of seeing.

I wandered into a studio that contained unusual goodies, perhaps to some, “useless” items. Like the rest of the crowd, I browsed curio bins. An elevated trough filled with tint-colored acrylic balls (the size of jawbreaker candy) intrigued me. One side of the balls was flat. Immediately, I thought, knobs. Ideas for all kinds of use – practical and decorative – popped like carnival corn. Half a dozen people crowded round the balls, hands rummaging. I began to fill a shopping basket with colors that appealed to me. From conversation around the trough, I realized the growing crowd liked the balls but couldn’t figure out their “purpose.” They pawed through them aimlessly.

A newcomer asked me, “What are these?”

“I have no idea.”

“What are you going to use them for?”

“Knobs, hooks for hanging necklaces, belts, anything,” I said.

A collective “Ahh” from the group. Then, pairs of do-it-yourselfers traded decorating ideas. The fire had been lit. More people entered the Boston studio, the crowded trough now a curiosity. Soon, I was elbowing for space to finish selecting from the balls that previously, no one knew what to do with.

Try this:

· Visit Home Depot (or the hardware section of a large retailer such as Costco or Sam’s Club).

· Walk the store.

· Check out merchandise unfamiliar to you.

· Pick up an item, turn it over a few times and ask yourself, “What does this look like?”

· Here’s a jump start: think body parts. Does this look like an arm? Head? Foot? Heart? Kidney?

Soon your mind will be on a journey.

Do not go to the hardware store because you need a part for your toilet. Do not attempt to cheat (yourself) with “I can combine buying kitchen paint with my play prompt.” You can’t. Why? Because I said so. You are at the hardware store for one purpose: to play and see with new eyes.

Girl Doing Gymnastics

It’s healthy to stretch your body’s muscles and connective tissue. Similarly, your creative energy also benefits from workouts. Incorporate them into your daily routine.

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Play with Possibilities


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