Stretching my mind, another way to play.

In following with the theme of play that I have been talking about for the last several posts, I wanted to say that for me, play in the studio does not always mean taking paint to canvas. Working with miniatures is something that I have always enjoyed but it has been years since I’ve truly played with them. I had taken today off work and it seemed like the right day to do something just for myself.

A couple of months ago the wall clock in my office at work finally died completely. No amount of tinkering or batteries or anything could make it run, and all 3 of the hands joined each other down at 6 o’clock. Just as I went to throw it in the dumpster I stared at it and thought, “gosh, but that’s a great circle with a nice cover… I wonder if I could do a little diorama in that?” There you go. That’s the spark that you need to play. I brought it home and it sat in the studio until yesterday when I looked over and thought, “maybe I should just go ahead and pitch that thing?” No, I needed to follow through.

So instead I pried off the cover, ditched the clock mechanisms, and traced out the cover on a piece of art paper. Now I knew how big I needed for the backdrop. It was an 8″diameter clock so it’s quite large but when I actually took the clock apart I discovered that I only had a shallow depth of about a 1/2 inch. That was surprising and not as deep as I would like but this was, after all, just play.

This process is really just like what they do in museums. First I painted the water color back scene. Museums paint the backdrop first to add setting for some kind of 3-D image in the front, like a taxidermy animal to focus on, and then add a 3-D environment to bridge the space between the animal and the scene.

I sculpted the little critters from skulpy and baked them in the oven along with the potatoes last night. The weeds and realistic growth are actually just plucked off of one of the dried weed arrangements scattered throughout my house. So I blocked, glued, painted the little figures, and just dithered this fantasy landscape into being. There is nothing here that is rendered perfectly, nothing makes any political statement, and nothing has the validity of a story… but you know, sometimes you just need to relax and play. Instead of ending up in a dumpster it will have a second life as a diorama of a fox on some little hilltop overlooking a lake and some distant hills. As for me, I remember how much I loved playing with things that are small, painting things that are small, and crafting.

Never hesitate to play. It is through play and creativity that we awaken all those places in our mind that are necessary to do the good work in all the other areas of our life. Find something fun to do that isn’t tied to work, chores, or revenue. Just play.