Born from Light and Shadow

Most mornings, I begin the day in bed with my notebook, crystals, and cup of Jasmine Green Tea. Usually, I’ll meditate for a while. Mostly, I write, read or sketch. Often, I look out of the window to be with nature and the trees and, always, I notice the ever dancing light.

Even on the gloomiest of days, the light finds its way in, energising me, and it creates moving pictures on the walls, flickering like the first movie-making ventures. Here’s a clip…

The light show reminds me of the zoopraxiscope, created by photographic pioneer Eadweard Muybridge in 1879, or the whirl of strobe lighting. There is something uplifting about this ever shifting light that moves me into a different way of feeling.

My attention is often drawn to the light and shadows in the ever changing landscape of my aqua-turquoise satin duvet cover. It is here where I see pictures and realise potential story threads, and I am always amazed by the figures, landscapes, and shapes that appear.

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Like others, I find it easy to see beyond what appears to be there. This is referred to as pareidolia -from Greek for ‘alongside’ or ‘instead'(para) and ‘image’ or ‘form’ (noun eidolon) -, which is considered to be vague and random stimulus being perceived in a different and usually significant way. Examples of pareidolia include being able to see the ‘man in the moon’ or faces, angels or galloping horses in clouds or seeing Elvis in a slice of bread, and is described as a type of apophenia, which involves seeing patterns in random data.

My duvet is the perfect backdrop for the imagination, and especially in the morning, when I’m still fresh from astral and dream-time. Curious figures and landscapes, born out of light and shadow, temporarily appear, and I attempt to capture what I see through quick cross-hatched sketches like these…

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Leonardo da Vinci wrote of pareidolia as a device for painters. He said, “if you look at any walls spotted with various stains or with a mixture of different kinds of stones, if you are about to invent some scene you will be able to see in it a resemblance to various different landscapes adorned with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, plains, wide valleys, and various groups of hills. You will also be able to see divers combats and figures in quick movement, and strange expressions of faces, and outlandish costumes, and an infinite number of things which you can then reduce into separate and well conceived forms.”

Everything is open to perception and interpretation but, to me, these images offer visual prompts for stories, adventures, and other worlds, where events are playing out in some dimension or another. They are the beginnings of possibilities as transient as the moment.

See how the light gets into everything?

It’s where every moment begins and ends…

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Walking for Inspiration

Struggling to find ideas? Here’s what walking can do for you…

I’m not a serious or even consistently regular walker, but I do love to walk and, as a writer, I find it’s vital for my creativity. Once I’m motivated and in my rhythm, a walk takes on a life of its own, opening up my imagination and providing me with an endless stream of ideas.

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A good walk reduces mind-clutter to make room for creative reflection, curious thought or simply the pleasure of enjoying the moment. It allows me to stretch my legs and enjoy the tonic of different scenery after lengthy stints in my writer’s nest. Walking also offers a chance to escape and explore a patch of this magically diverse landscape, and I’m always excited by the prospect of discoveries with each footfall. Inspiring stuff for a curious mind!

Feeding the Imagination

I’ve done my share of bad weather walking over the years so perhaps you can forgive me for saying that, these days, I much prefer fair-weather walking. I’ve been lucky to cherry-pick such days. That said, there are pleasures and insights to be gained from being caught out in a rain shower or fighting my way against a fierce gale. All experience feeds the imagination and there’s something about embracing the elements, which brings out the drama in one’s creativity.

Tuning into Creativity

When I tackle a route, I usually cover anything from two to eight miles. That’s no great distance. After all, in the days of poet Wordsworth, William and his sister Dorothy, along with their literary companions, often walked anything between 12 and 20 miles a day – and on a regular basis. It’s no surprise that Wordsworth and the likes of ST Coleridge gained so much inspiration on their walks. Their poetry is full of nature’s magic and musings experienced while out on foot.

 

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You don’t have to walk such great distances to tune into your creativity. Even a short walk of a mile or two is beneficial. If I’m honest, I favour walks of just three to four miles. I like to vary my pace, and take time to stop, explore, reflect and devour the changing scenery.

Capturing the Moment

I’ve spent hours on the circular Rydal path in the English Lake District, stopping frequently to admire the shifting light or to watch the reflections on the Lake. It is a route of about five miles, savoured by many artists and writers past and present. I like to just `be’, and this is important for creative thinking. Moments of stillness allow you to be fully aware and capture the present moment. Like a story, walking has a certain beginning, middle and end. The imagination shifts through the landscape during a walk, and those stopping points provide ideas, which can be committed to a notebook.

Spontaneity Sparks the Imagination

Walking a familiar route is a pleasure, but it’s often the unplanned walks and newly discovered paths – the spontaneous `let’s see where this path takes us’ – that excites the neurons and teases the imagination. These particular walks offer a playground for the senses.

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I’ve discovered magical woodland glades, rocky outcrops with endless views, secluded paths where only the sedating trill of wildlife fills the air, and timeless landscapes, which leave a permanent imprint on the memory, simply by taking another unplanned path. In some cases, I’ve only walked less than a mile or so to find these little treasures.

Creativity in Motion

Sometimes, I sing when I walk (to myself of course) or recite poetry or, if I’m with willing companions, discuss the profundities of life, the universe and everything, but it’s the silent moments that are the most insightful. It’s during these times that thought deepens or I sense life’s natural rhythms flowing through me, and an idea for a story unfolds. The action of walking silently through the landscape brings clarity to the mind, and opens consciousness to a plethora of ideas and solutions. It truly is creativity in motion and I always return inspired and mind spilling over with inspiration.

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Walking is, without doubt, great exercise and a celebrated pastime for many people but, for me, it is also a vehicle that takes me right to the heart of my imagination, allowing the creative playtime that I’ve always craved since childhood. Whether it’s just being out in the fresh air or the action of moving through the landscape, thoughts are given the space needed to think creatively, and there are few activities that are so effectively inspiring.

By Carol Anne Strange

By Carol Anne Strange

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