What is the trigger? Last night at our Hopper meeting, I mentioned how looking at the studies of some of Hopper's paintings inspired me to re-examine the paintings themselves, that by seeing an image slightly different and then getting to compare the levels of progression or even just the media and color or lack of color used, how these differences helped me to shake loose what was denotative in my interpretation of the final work (I of course didn't phrase my thought half as eloquent last night).
After attempting to state this idea, in the hopes that it might possibly get others to talk about "surprises" that might have occurred to them over the course of writing these Hopper pieces, I immediately felt...apprehension.
I thought I might have discovered a potential engine(s) for ideas. I wanted to discover if there were other ways to observe the paintings aside from the methods I felt we had as a commonality approached.
Jen's initial response was to clarify that she didn't want us to deviate from the paintings that were presented to us as potential subject matter, that using the study or a sketch was acceptable so long as we could reference back to an actual painting among those chosen. She mentioned how if you want to write a play about Hopper's boat paintings, that is not the project we have undertaken. Granted, I agree...but even if the narrative objects we populate our short plays with might not be the subject of those pieces...I wonder still how those objects we are not using yet perhaps still aware of...work on us and possibly trigger out subconscious and then signify the paintings and objects we are literally embracing..i.e. is that sad looking girl barely hitting the piano keys dreaming about a sail boat.
Anyway, I had a very hard time I think articulating my idea which led to hemming and hawing on my part because every one's body language...It seemed that no one was picking up what I was dropping. I was trying to elucidate what I thought might be a interest way to experiment with "ways of seeing" a painting, but when I scanned the faces of the other writers I saw a lot of lost looks and furrowed brows. Suddenly, it was as if I were at a therapy session. And, the only reason I tried to push forward was not to "feel" better about myself, it was that I really think that there is something to be gained by sharing ideas about the nuts and bolts of making art or triggers or engines of creation...and that I was hit with a bit of personal profundity in my discovery. To the credit of my fellow cohorts who are extremely supportive, the awkward wrestling with this notion went on a little longer than it should have probably.
The general consensus I felt last night that the engine for creation for others was to look at the painting, observe its objects and inhabitants and from there derive a narrative. Simplicity. A sound approach to be sure. But are there other possible approaches that could enrich the possibilities of what we can accomplish using the materials available to us?
For example, the nudity (we sure talked up the nudity last night). There are figures of nude women looking out windows in many of the paintings. Now perhaps I can ask myself questions about the images that pertain to what I am immediately seeing...
For instance...Why this women, this room, what lies outside the frame, why those objects (that book, that cloth, etc.), why the light, why the tree or the tenement building in the background, why this angle?, what is in the liminal space of the work that perhaps I am not seeing?
Are there other ways to trigger creativity related to this, that we aren't utilizing? For instance how this nude relates to other nudes in the history of art, if I compare Hopper's women to Ruben's women, or Venus De Milo, or Pin Ups from that time period, etc. how each of them makes me feel, and then use that to imbue, to signify, etc what I'm seeing in the Hopper piece, and make a narrative that utilizes that in conjunction with objects in the Hopper painting...
Or how fragmenting Hopper's imagery might inspire something. For instance, if one blacks out the facial expressions of his characters, does that change your way of seeing that might be useful when writing. By removing color, rotating the image, removing an object, etc. etc. Or focusing on the facial expressions...how does this woman's expression in "Western Motel" compare to the expression of Mona Lisa?
So why all this pondering, second guessing, finger tapping? Well, I confessed to the group last night that I thought that the very best I had in me in regards to Hopper Project had already been written. I doubted whether or not I'd be able to write anything else. And, when you feel like "well regardless of what others think, I feel that piece nails everything I have to say about what these paintings mean to me.", it can be a discouraging feeling especially when the writing portion of the project is still in full swing and with be for another 2 months. So, I wondered out loud about some of my triggers hoping that others might have similar thoughts to share.
Do you dear reader have certain sorts of tricks, triggers, etc that kindle creative that turn the engine that generate words on a page?