*A beautiful “Little Mermaid” scene by the award winning illustrator, Lizbeth Zwerger. It looks as though the mermaid is talking with her “old grandmother.”
As I mentioned over at my podcast, I’m nearly there with The Little Mermaid recording. This is part 4 (of 5). Initially I thought I’d be able to accomplish this piece in four installments, but I was mistaken.
My husband thinks I shouldn’t publish the recordings until I’ve wrapped up the whole story, but for some reason, I can’t work that way. I prefer to work on things in installments. Everything in my life progresses in installments. To that end, I knew I couldn’t complete The Little Mermaid until I’d published “Part 4.”
The creative process is utterly mysterious. I no longer try to comprehend it. I don’t need to know why anymore. I just do the creative process the way it’s handed to me.
I managed two whole leafy strands of seaweed over the weekend. This week, I trust that I can move much further along on this scene because I have mini-break — a one week break, that is — before my next class begins. I’m looking forward to discovering what emerges.
Have you ever gone swimming in the ocean and suddenly found yourself entangled in long strands of seaweed? I used to be such a daring ocean swimmer, and can remember coming across, and swimming through, bunches of thick seaweed that had drifted to the surface. Goodness, but I would never think of doing that now. To swim out so far? Whatever was I thinking? Sharks! Yikes!
I was just visiting the beautiful seashore…on a short trip with my husband. I remember telling him that I didn’t have time to go on another trip. I needed to work on a paper. The house needed cleaning. How was a mini-vacation possible? But as it happens, he was right about this excursion. And while there, I experienced a burst of inspiration I wasn’t expecting. Indeed, thanks to this visit, I have so many seaside and underwater scenes whirling about in my mind that I can hardly wait to create and share. (Julia Cameron, of Artist’s Way fame, would approve.) I’ve neglected my shadow boxes, yes. When I’m waist deep in an academic program, I become deeply preoccupied with classwork…to the exclusion of everything else. Academics maintain a powerful hold on my consciousness. I tend to think that I can’t afford to do anything else but study and work — and this feeling intensifies as the program progresses.
“Nonsense,” the muse whispered in my ear as I stood on the shoreline, observing the way wisps of cloud skimmed the surface of the ocean. “Half an hour a day,” she said. “You can work on your shadow boxes for half an hour a day.”
It seems I’ve become an appreciator of The Snow Queen as a horizon, but found myself stuck on that final scene — unable to reach it, for now.
I’m going to work on The Little Mermaid, but won’t commit myself to creating the scenes in any particular order.
I am still working on the very same shadow box, for this one is taking its own time and refuses to be rushed (not that it could have been rushed during the last school term). It is a puzzle within a puzzle, and I have been trying to solve it (it’s Kay’s puzzle, and mine, too). And what was it that was bothering me about it? I had a suspicion that it was my Snow Queen figure, and I thought that my clue to her reworking might be found inside C.S. Lewis’ tales of Narnia — in particular, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I’ve mentioned before that the two stories are connected. As I listened to the wonderful BBC drama of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I reworked the Snow Queen.
The art of creation is a spiritual process. There’s a mystical quality that is elusive, though at times it seems tangible, too. It both is and isn’t. To create is to dance with the indiscernible, to be at peace with the unknown.
I’m also working hard to finish the last Little Mermaid recording. It’s also proved unusually elusive, but I won’t give up. I’m almost there!
The White Witch of Narnia.
I find myself laughing as I write that it’s been about two months since I’ve been able to get back to my shadow box. My most recent class officially came to a close yesterday. Seemingly at the stroke of midnight (one might even say, “like clockwork”), I went right to work with my newly purchased Golden acrylic paints. I’ve learned that Goldens are some of the most coveted acrylic paints (that and another brand I’m not recalling at the moment). I’ve used Golden’s “Ultramarine Blue” to darken the corner of this shadow box. I’ve been wanting to darken it for…two months. My dark blue corner also needs a sprinkling of stars, and I’m trying to figure out how to do that. I think Tim Holtz will be of some help to me in that regard. ;-)
The Snow Queen’s palace is shaped by cutting winds, and is a kind of labyrinth. Sometimes her palace is the starry sky, sometimes it’s the northern lights, and sometimes it is ice and snow, “glorious and beautiful.”
I recently finished recording part 4 of The Little Mermaid. At this point, I just need to edit it. I’m also slowly working on a recording of The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius. It’s a monumental undertaking, but I think I’ll post it chapter by chapter, just as I’ve done with Andersen’s work.
Christmas is coming. Celebrate!
*Update: A sprinkling of stars, sans Tim Holtz.
Friends and listeners, it’s been just over a month since I’ve last posted here, and the reason for this is that I have so much school work. Tremendous amounts! I mentioned in an earlier post that I felt extremely fortunate, at one point in the school term, to be able to cut out even one snow beast (reminder: Gerda and the angels must defeat the Snow Queen’s beastly, snowy soldiers in order for Gerda to reach the palace gates). I’m getting such a profound education at Pacific Oaks College, but there’s hardly time for the beautiful Mr. Hans Christian Andersen at the moment, a great artist I feel deeply indebted to. Alas! My shadow boxes have suffered for it, and my heart is breaking, too. They’re my imaginary family, and they want to know why I’ve forgotten them. Have you ever seen The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore? It’s William Joyce’s love letter to books, books, beautiful books. My relationship to Andersen’s characters feels a lot like that. The story’s characters are growing rather upset with me. Indeed, they assume a life of their own. Many artists have mentioned similar relationships with their characters, and now I finally understand what they mean.
Though this isn’t fairy tale related, I wanted to mention that my essay, Measuring Success: Recalling Larry Kramer, was published on The Press Enterprise’s Inlandia Blog.
I made it a point some time ago to stop looking at the statistics for both my website and podcast, but last Monday, when I posted the third mermaid podcast, I had no choice but to view the statistics. PodBean had modified their dashboard, and the statistics — apparently drawn from the various sources where my podcast is available — were thrust upon me. And yet, the statistics were…kind. I was surprised to learn that upwards of 75 – 100 downloads were taking place on a weekly basis. And I wanted to say Thank You. Thank you for your kind listenership.
Only this evening, someone told me he’d never heard of Hans Christian Andersen. “Really?” I said. “But what about The Little Mermaid?”
“Oh,” he said, lifting his brows in mild surprise. “Is that Andersen? No wonder the name sounded familiar.”
“You knew, never having realized that you knew,” I told him.
“You can be a voice for Andersen,” my wise friend told me over coffee as I began working in earnest on both the blog and podcast.
“It’s beginning to look that way,” I told her. “I feel protective of my faraway friend Andersen, the brilliant artist we forget to remember.”
Ever since that long ago evening when my mother read The Snow Queen to me and my sister on our purple leatherette couch, Andersen’s stories, their powerful significance, have been working their way towards me. Indeed, ever since I realized that the Snow Queen is also Narnia’s White Witch! She must be! And I’m trying to communicate their beauty the best way I know how — through the recordings and paper embellishments. Ah, how I love to think on these things! My husband once told me that I could stand to ponder Portobello mushrooms on occasion — as a change of pace.
I’m working on the fourth and final Little Mermaid podcast. I’ve had an easier time making the recordings than I did at our last residence. We moved the computer into the walk-in closet so I could avoid dealing with the humming refrigerator, but while it’s pretty soundproof in here, there’s no predicting when the pipes will “decide” to squeal. And when the pipes squeal, they do so with a grinding, growling, metal fierceness — as if the entire apartment structure has discovered something disagreeable within its walls that it must purge forthwith! I have to contend with the strange bellowing pipes at 4:55 p.m., 2:12 a.m., 9:36 a.m. — whenever they “decide” to commence screeching. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen too often, and I expect to finish the Little Mermaid’s journey soon! In the future, I’m also hoping to bring some other readers on board.