“Art is born in attention. Its midwife is detail. Art may seem to involve broad strokes, grand schemes, great plans. But it is the attention to detail that stays with us; the singular image is what haunts us and becomes art.”
“A mystery draws us in, leads us on, lures us.”
Julia Cameron The Artist’s Way 1992 p. 21
I rarely call myself an artist. I am quite happy to call myself a “dedicated quilter”. I’m passionate about creativity in its many forms. I believe we each possess a lurking creativity ready to emerge with encouragement. Yesterday I explored a thrift shop before I taught Circle Play 101 at Cuttin’ Up. Browsing, or perhaps I should call it dowsing, I rediscovered the Julia Cameron book The Artist’s Way. Cameron boldly encourages “attention to detail” even as many of us who teach quilting or practice quilting know how all those details add up to an integrated whole–whether it be a piece of writing, a sketch, a drawing or a quilt!
Or photography! Driving along our river road heading home after the heavy rains of last week, I stopped to admire this seasonal waterway. Streaming down the mountainside, this flow moves on to Beaver Lake and eventually to the Mississippi River then the Gulf of Mexico. I was returning from a brief errand, but I did not let this magnificent sight become a blur along the road. I paid attention–and even recorded the sight.
The first picture captures more details–which do you prefer? There is no right answer–only a preference on your part. Perhaps you like both. Perhaps you are annoyed to see two similar pictures.
Wet and slippery, large rocks dominate this bluff overlooking the river. These boulders have slid down from the higher bluff as the river has undercut the bank. I’ve passed this spot several times a week for thirty years. Sometimes we’ve seen a swooping Kingfisher bird and enjoyed its raucous call. Some winters we regularly see Bald Eagles perched above the river looking for a meal. Usually we are looking for activity but drive by without stopping. Today these ancient rocks are dressed in emerald green mosses contrasting with the wet leaves and the lighter lichens drawing my gaze.. and camera. Obviously I stopped to admire the ordinary.
This dramatic pairing of leaning boulders always makes me wonder how the co-joined arrangement happened.
Cameron declares that detail is the midwife to art. This is a clue about how we can nurture our own creativity. By being present in our lived lives and acknowledging our surroundings–especially the natural world–we can thrive.