Monday, May 30, 2011

Inspiration Mondays: In a world of light and movement

I had a very busy day at work today. My brain was tunneling through problems, trying to make things right. By the end of the day, I could feel how weary my eyes were and how pinched my face was from concentrating so hard.

I turned around and looked at a workmate of mine and said, "I've only just realized what it is you've got on your shirt." (That's you, Owen.)

It was a silhouette of a creature with long flowing hair. A mythical person? Thor? I never found out what it was, but it was striking against the pale teal of the shirt. Interesting.

Later on, while Rascal and I were out for a walk, I looked around, thinking about silhouettes and shadows. I've been recently fascinated by the effect of a well-placed shadow. Visit a haunted house (I mean, a pretend haunted house, it's easier) and look around at the shapes cast on the walls by the special filters put over top of lamps and lanterns: cats, bats, spiders, trees. They are effective, no? Turn a corner and be confronted with the silhouette of a gnarled hand stretching over you. Freaky.

Take these items in my Etsy favourites as an example:

Silhouettes suggest that these things exist in a world of light and movement. Even an amoeba can sense light, and therefore, a shadow passing over it. Birds scatter at a flash of light, or at sudden darkness. Even you start at a dark shape moving in front of your closed eyelids when you sleep in the sunshine.

What humans can do that most other sentient creatures can't is fill in the colours and features of a silhouette that are unseen by our naked eyes. We can even imagine the sounds created by those shadows. We hear the flutter of a bat's wing, feel the stickiness of a spider web, listen for the chirping of a bird, just by looking at their silhouettes. This is why psychologists get so much of people looking at inkblots: we can make something out of shadows and shapes that aren't really there.

So, what does this mean? Where does this fit in a blog about handmade things, knitting, crochet, garments, creative endeavours?

There are plenty of people out there who never move beyond the realm of scarves. They claim that sweaters and other garments are complicated, and therefore far too difficult to create. Some are afraid to try new styles, modern shapes, unusual cuts.

There are even more people who never venture into the world of drawn art. It's too precise, too many techniques that we don't know or even know how to begin to create.

But you exist in a world of light and movement.

You can not possibly know what these items will look like until you try them, and until you experiment with the myriad of textures, yarn weights, fibres, colours, or until you pick up a pencil and experiment with strokes, smudges and shading. The miracle of your eyes is that they will fill in the rest, fill in what you missed, what is out of place, and what can be done differently next time. If an amoeba can sense a change in light, you can sense what is out of place, or what has been placed absolutely correctly. It takes practice, and a willingness to experiment with the chance that you may end up with something that doesn't look quite right.

It's the difference between imagination and creativity: starting with an idea versus moving forward and creating something that did not exist before.

It is possible because we're built for it. Trust your eyes and watch the silhouettes come to life.

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