Friday, May 23, 2008

What's Inside Your Head?

The other day I had the honor of judging the art work of students from the Manchester, New Hampshire area. My local art association offers a scholarship each year to the student we deem the most talented, who plans to go to college with a major in the fine arts. I was blown away by this year's winner. Her use of color, composition, and medium were superb, but all of the judges agreed that what put her over the top was her subject matter. She has the ability to take a central idea, manipulate it, and let her imagination run wild to realize a fully developed story in a single image in every single one of her paintings. She got me thinking about fully realized creativity...

I am fascinated by human creativity. Whether the outlet for our creative efforts is the fine arts, gardening, dramatic arts, music, or writing, human expression is a wonder. How amazing it is to me that we can take what is in our heads, use an appropriate medium to get it out, and allow others to see our thoughts. Effective communication can help others see things in a new light. Our creative efforts can even make people feel our emotions.

One student showed a picture of her version of heaven. The painting was done in all golds. We saw the back of a girl's head, looking over a stone fence at an expansive castle-like building. This image was done for a class assignment. The object was to paint something that could not be expressed with words. From the painting I garnered a feeling of wonder and beauty before the artist identified the subject. Very effectively, she communicated her vision of something larger than herself, something that brings her peace and happiness. Immediately, I felt her emotions when looking at her painting.

In my garden photography, I aim to point out the beauty and wonder I feel while in a garden. There is no place I feel more at peace with myself and my place in the universe. My husband (who is not a gardener) once told me that I make flowers more beautiful than they really are. I don't think that is true because I see the beauty that is in my photographs when I look at flowers, but I'm glad he feels that way. I know that he looks at flowers twice now because he sees something that he didn't notice before I took up garden photography. I have helped make my vision his. I have helped him feel my sense of wonder and my happiness in the garden.

Though I am usually showing a beauty that is there, sometimes in my imagery I try to show things that are not there. One of my favorite things is to visit a field of flowers and imagine a newly formed landscape. It is a form of meditation for me I suppose. I'll sandwich fields of photos together to show my alternate vision of the landscape. The images that begin this post show samples of this type of work and creativity.

While choosing the landscape and appropriate planting for my own garden, I am out to accomplish the same thing. I have a vision of my yard. In my mind's eye, I know what the finished product of my gardening efforts will be. One day, I will realize the vision and finally get it out of my head for all to see the true potential of my landscape and the comfort I gain from it. And with this realized final product one will also be able to see a part of me, melded with with nature, at its my most peaceful self. This is what I have deemed "The Gardener's Soul." It is the creativity inside a person or a person's inner self achieving a melding with the world around her and expressing itself in the garden.


Amy said...

So true, what a wonderful post! I love your last paragraph...that's just how I feel about my own gardening endeavours.

Esther Montgomery said...

This is going to be rather prosaic after such a lovely post - but I'm wondering if you could give some advice about clover?


My small patch is growing well - but it looks best where the ground is very dry. Where it borders on the flower bed (which I water) it is getting too tall.

I tried cutting it with sheers, thinking smaller clover would grow in from below - but that doesn't seem to be happening. I'm just left with unslightly stalks - and the spaces between the stalks is in-filling with grass (which is what wouldn't grow there before!)

Has yours grown tall enough yet to hit this problem?

Have you cut it?