Thursday, March 27, 2014

The compulsion to create

 Power Poppy by Marcella Hawley

I’m sure many of you can relate. I feel a compulsion to create. Or maybe it is an obsession with creating. Obsession? Compulsion? Compulsion? Obsession? Let’s call the whole thing off! Because no matter how you label it, the feeling is there, and to act upon it brings one of my deepest satisfactions.

In creating the illustrations for my debut collection of clear stamps for Power Poppy, I may have let my compulsion get a little out of hand. It seemed for a few weeks, every time you’d turn around in this house, there was a new heap of books, magazines, postcards, photos, seashells, seed pods, paint chips, plant tags, or ribbon remnants. It was like I couldn’t turn off my eyes. I wanted to soak up every single bit of inspiration I could to fuel my mind and help me sort out the kinds of images I wanted to create for you.

Flipping through long-forgotten sketchbooks and garden journals got me in the frame of mind to remember the past, but infused me with the spirit to create something new.

I searched through books of quotations and ruminations and salutations for just the right tone for my collection’s sentiments. Practicing my handlettering was a wonderful exercise (somehow gone dormant in recent years) with pencils, paintbrushes, ink pens—I even got out the calligraphy quills! (You won’t see any of that in the new collection, for something was rusty... not sure if it was the nibs or my skillz. Probably both).

And boy did I ever listen to music during this process. Music is the best! The right song at the right moment really fans my flames. Hard-bop jazz, Motown and Stax soul, Debussy and Ravel, gritty, old school hip hop—and of course, one of my favorite genres of music, noted for great harmonies and catchy guitar hooks: Power Pop.

So! While doing all of this compulsive listening and looking, and knowing that Spring would coincide with the launch of my first collection, I settled into an overarching theme for my collection, and it is Renewal.

Being a gardener and overall plant nerd, the sense of renewal that comes with the arrival of Spring is almost a spiritual experience for me.

All of the photos of plants in this post are ones I took in my garden last April with my iPhone (man, those things are handy!). Bloodroot, Narcissi, Fritillaries, Bishop’s Cap, Bluebells, Celandine Poppies, Grape Hyacinths, species Tulips... and so many more juicy delights unfurling fresh leaves and blooms every day. I almost can’t take it, it’s so good. You’ll see a few of my favorites illustrated in the set we’ll be revealing tomorrow. I can’t wait to hear what you think!

While I do love to draw flowers and plants like nobody’s business, I figured I’d better draw other things too. (But can you EVER have too many flower stamps? I’ll respond for you: No. No you cannot.) To that end, I’ve got a pretty funny new set for you inspired by music, and based on the old-fashioned, time-honored pastime of making mixtapes.

Come again? Yes, I said mixtapes, people. Back when we had boom boxes and cassettes and would create a unique playlist of individual songs recorded from albums and CDs (and often in my early years, taped directly from the radio). It was a great way to share the songs you loved with someone else, in a creative arrangement, and with a lot of heart. I believe that every mixtape tells a story. (Aww!) And, for folks with an artistic bent, some of the real fun of making them was decorating the case and liner card. As a teenager—and through my 20s!—I’d spend hours hand-lettering mixtape covers, and I still have lots of them in a big ol’ crate (I usually made two copies, one to give and one to keep).

You may find songs or lyrics you recognize in our mixtape set, and there may be some you don’t, but I’ve created images that will be fun to use in any case. Looking very forward to sharing that one with you in a few days...

Are you feeling me? Compulsion or obsession? Whatever it is, it sure was a whole lot of fun getting to this place. The Bloom Brigade is out in force today, showcasing the most enticing peeks of their creations for this Renewal collection. I know you’ll have a lovely time popping around their blogs, and I’m about do just that:

Allison Cope
Christine Okken
Cindy Lawrence
Danielle Kennedy
Dawn Burnworth
Julie Koerber
Kathy Jones
Katie Sims
Leslie Miller

Stacy Morgan 
Tosha Leyendekker

Mid-Morning Addendum! I had one more photo to show you this morning, but I was also getting my kids ready and off to school, and I plum forgot it. It’s kind of a juicy one, so thought I’d better pop it up here. (Have I mentioned I’m new to blogging? Oh, it shows? Gotcha!)

Here’s a look behind the scenes... sketches and notes for a set I designed while surrounded by snow drifts and subzero temperatures. I wanted to conjure thoughts of Spring and the blooming Azaleas that seem to light up every corner of town right around Mother’s Day here in St. Louis (Hardiness Zone 5b, for those of you playing at home). In my drawing space—which can be my desk, the dining room table, or my lap while sitting on the couch in front of the fireplace, among other spots—I surround myself with things that make me “feel” the image I want to draw. I’ll also have the aforementioned photos, magazines, and books open to various pages surrounding my ENTIRE AREA. It’s a bit chaotic. But somehow, from that chaos, I hone in and draw the images I want. Zipadee-doo-dah!

Have fun and enjoy this wonderful day. (Word Up!)


ChristineCreations said...

Marcy, I loved this post. I have always longed to see your creative process that gets the art from your head to your hand, and to see that it comes from your soul too. I LOVE your hand lettering, and to hear that you spent so many hours creating mixtape liners to be beautiful and fun totally speaks to you.

Thanks for all the inspiration, and for the constant source for feeding my compulsion and obsession to color :)

Hugs lady!

CASTOWNE said...

If you decide to give up illustrating, you could become a writer. Love reading your words and getting sneak peaks of what is to come. As far as the question...compulsion or obsession?...I think they are synonymous in a stamper's world.

P.S. Stop teasing us, and let the shopping begin! LOL!

D- said...

Thank you for sharing your creative story.
Your compulsion or obsession is a gift and I am so happy you are sharing it with us.
Looking forward to your wonderful stamp sets.
Crafty hugs,

CherylQuilts said...

Totally excited, Marcella, and I love reading and seeing the photos! I totally agree - you can NEVER have enough flower stamps! NEVER!! LOL! Hugs and eager to see the release!

Traci S. said...

I can't wait until tomorrow! Talking about azaelas...we have them blooming all around our yard in all different shades from baby pink to vibrant fuschia. Now, we don't get snow in Florida...we are almost in summer.

Your blog brought up such great memories. Mixed tapes...such a big past time. Past, past time.
Thanks for showing your creative process.

I loved how Cindy Lawrence colored the beautiful combination of flowers and words on her blog today! It is so colorful. So full of life. I love what you are going to offer, if this is a sample!

He IS Able!
Traci Starkweather,

Dawn B. said...

I agree about the writing process. You are very good at both. So fun to see all the behind the scenes delightfulness. Your heart shines through and I feel like I am peeking over your shoulder. Great post Marcy.

Allison Cope said...

Wow.... I love to see how you draw up inspiration Marcy! I totally understand the idea of surrounding yourself with things that emit the feelings and emotions of what you're trying to achieve. Like right now, I'm sitting at my desk getting ready to create something new and I have the tunes playing and I've got my "inspiration folder" open on my computer so I can draw ideas from it! Congrats on being one step closer to the reveal! Hooray!!! Can't wait to see your stamps FLY off the shelves!!! Big hugs!

dpkennedy said...

Fun, fun, fun! Can't wait to start showing them all off! Marcy, you rock!!

LaurieJ said...

I am very much looking forward to the Renewal set. The peeks have me excited! I'm a gardener, so I've been chomping at the bit to get out there and see what is emerging, but sadly it's still cold here and I still have some snow piles in the yard. Maybe that will change this weekend when things are due to warm up.

Carol Southern said...

You can never, never have enough flower stamps!!!!
I have heaps and still always see more that I love.
Your blog is terrific, I enjoy reading it so much.
Looking forward to seeing all tomorrow.

Elizabeth Knehans said...

I"m a St. Louis girl myself and can't wait to get my hands on these stamps. I've been buying your designs for years through Flourishes and look forward to supporting your new venture. Gardening is my other creative passion, so I'm giddy with delight over these sneak peeks.

Karen W said...

Wow I can hardly wait until tomorrow and order!!!! Gorgeous creations already!

Julie Koerber said...

Oh Marcy.. I have to say that looking at your rough sketches and getting glimpses of your sketch books NEVER GETS OLD! ;-) I am just so happy that you get to share these things with everyone now!

Heather Jensen said...

I absolutely adore your designs. One of my favorite things to do as a child was coloring. I loved being able to bring that joy back in to my life when I was on the Flourishes team coloring beautiful botanical images you designed. I can't wait to get a hold of some of your new stamp designs. Congrats to you on this fabulous new journey. I know you will do well. You have an amazing design team to showcase these images.

Tracy said...

Oh boy did you bring back the memories with the mix tapes. LOL The azaleas look amazing. Ours are already blooming so I'm afraid they'll all be gone by Easter. I'm so ready to see the new stamps!

Candy said...

I love your designs and I love reading about the inspiration behind them!