Story and Images (and ART!) by Blake Blackmon
One of Blackmon's paintings hangs above the mantel in a local residence.
“I think art is the thing that fixes culture, moment by moment.” - Ottessa Moshfegh
The arts have always played an integral role in my life. From providing moments of escape from the chaos in my brain, or more recently the world, to filling me with joy and light, there is an elevation that comes from communing with a force that feels beyond yourself. There is a magic spark that ignites the moment something clicks, a lyric that speaks to your marrow, a brushstroke that ties the whole painting together, or a sentence that speaks volumes. As many of us find ourselves bound to our homes, let us remember that yes, even when the volume of this crisis booms louder and louder, the arts are still relevant, they are still important. Give your tired mind much needed fuel. One of the best things about the arts is that it is cyclical: a moment of inspiration leads to an inspired thought, action, work and so on and so forth. I find myself needing to lean upon the arts extra hard right now, and hope I can inspire some of you to do the same.
Blackmon at Glossier earlier this Spring. Connect with her here!
Arts & culture resources I’m turning to for a bit of joy among so much unknown:
Anyone that knows me knows I love to read. During this time I am straying from the more intense literary style novels and memoirs I love (waiting for my pre ordered copy of Stray by Stephanie Danler with bated breath) and instead turning to what feels lighter in that the plot is completely transportive, hey I mean if you can’t leave the house right? Currently I’m reading Circe by Madeline Miller. It’s got a blend of epic, fantasy, and is a unique take on many of the classic greek mythology stories many of us are familiar with. Also: strong female lead, check. Other novels I have read and loved that I feel would be a nice read at this time: The Principles of Uncertainty, Normal People, Figuring, Americanah, Bird By Bird
I’m also working through the latest edition of The Paris Review, my current favorite subscription. It offers short stories to read when you want something wrapped up in a sitting, beautiful poetry, and always a visual element in the center juxtaposing art and literature together. The author interviews are also so inspiring as well, and give me a jolt to do something creative.
Every Friday I receive a big source of joy and inspiration in my inbox thanks to Austin Kleon’s weekly Friday Newsletter. It’s a free newsletter featuring a list of links to anything from enlightening articles, new music, his always fascinating musings in his blog and so much more. You can subscribe here: https://austinkleon.com/ Also, if you’re not familiar with his books I cannot recommend them all enough. His most recent book Keep Going is literally like a manual for how to stay creative and sane while working from home during this strange time.
Another free newsletter I love comes Wednesdays for a midweek pick me up, but also this site posts new content daily: Brainpickings. You can easily get lost in the fascinating information and links. Their Instagram is full of wonderful quotes and lovely images.
I’m a firm believer that you can’t read a Mary Oliver poem and not walk away feeling hopeful. This poem is an especially wonderful place to start: Wild Geese. I frequently flip to a random page in her book Devotions which has given me so much from inspiration, to hope to comfort. She captures beauty and gratitude so well.
A work in process.
Blake Blackmon, 2020.
See: I absolutely loved this fun, virtual exhibit by Danielle Krysa (aka one of my favorite Instagram follows @thejealouscurator, which you could just scroll here for a few hours and have your mind blown). The show was meant to debut at Modfellows Art Gallery in Nashville, but in lieu of current events they debuted the show live via Instagram. Check it out on their Instagram @modfellows_studio. I was so inspired by her concept, all the artwork references things her inner critic, which she has comically named “Arlo,” says.
Two of Blackmon's paintings featured in series of original poetry 'More Colors Than Words.' Check out more of her work here!
Make: Creating something with your hands is a great way to clear your head and escape everything for a bit. When I just need to create something, but don’t feel like taking it too seriously, I turn to collage. Simply the act of cutting out pictures and words I like to eventually piece together feels so therapeutic. Last night I ended up painting on top of a large cutout and my heart was so much lighter afterwards. It’s not about what you create being good, it’s about infusing some lightness and creativity into your day. Some of my favorite collaging materials are: Darling Magazine (after being lovingly read multiple times, which I also recommend), thrifted art books, and old books. Use whatever you have and want!
Make: I’m also turning to the comforts of putting brush to canvas. I find making abstract work to be so freeing if you can manage to not overthink it. Using mediums like ink and techniques like splattering that are difficult to control teach us to loosen up a bit, let things happen a little outside of how we planned and adjust accordingly, moving forward to continue to create something beautiful anyhow.
I constantly have music playing in the background, whether I’m working, creating, or going for a walk. I also have too many scattered playlists for every whim or mood, but I’ve compiled some songs into one playlist that I enjoy putting on right now especially while I’m making art or going for a walk.
Whenever I find myself feeling low, putting on a song or album I love and can sing all the words too always seems to lift my mood. I’ve been doing this a lot with one of my all time favorites Florence and The Machine.
I hope this resonates with some of you, and in the very least inspires you to go out and find the things that can bring creativity and light to your days.