Many times when I have a deadline for art, I go blank. My creative well dries up and I become uninspired. So, as the deadline for a recent ATC (artist trading card) swap began to loom, I suddenly had no clue on what to do for the “FIVE” theme. Well I had some ideas, but they weren’t grabbing me. I wanted to try something different, expand my horizons. (ATCs are the perfect opportunity to do this, to try something new on a small-scale.)
I glanced over at the bookcase full of outdated science books I was keeping, half for perusing…and half for mixed media and collage pieces. I randomly picked a book, “A Biography of the Sea” by Richard Carrington. This treasure was published in 1976 and woefully outdated as far as the science content. I flipped through a few pages and landed upon mermaids and mythological creatures, then music & literature inspired by the sea, then I flipped back to its natural history and species like sea turtles, sea stars, whales–and I was hooked!
Page upon page continued to fan a creative flame inside me. Descriptive passages echoed a fascination of the sea, eyewitness accounts of sea monsters fired up my imagination, and the outdated science fueled a challenge to any embers of college biology filed in my mind. And just like that, this book became my muse!
Should you ever find yourself in a creative funk, try opening a random page in a book and doodling or drawing a picture related to the text. To turn this into a creativity exercise, open a dictionary page (or scan a copy), blindly pick a word and draw that image directly onto the page.
These images are of the nine cards that became my “Biography of the Sea” series of ATCs inspired by the book. The illustrations are directly inspired by the text in the background. Some images are before cutting down to the standard ATC size (I actually like those better!). But you can make out the cut lines to get an idea of how they came out. They are in order of appearance:
- “Forgotten Mermaid” w/five bubble streams
- “Five-banded Sea Dragon” in progress
- Mermaid in progress
- “Giant Squid” (up to 5 meters in length) in progress
- “Juvenile Sea Turtle w/Five Bubbles”
- “Brittle Sea Star”
- “Hatchling Run”
- “Whale Songs” (w/five musical words)
- “Copper Sea Snake” (five copper dots on body)
- “Sky & Sea Stars”
I hope you enjoy them and feel inspired to find your muse in the pages of a book!