• Gina Greenlee, Author

Jack Up Your Creativity

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.

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

The Writer’s Toy Chest

Cookin’ the Books

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