Note: this isn't a project, just a sharing.
My partner is selling his old house in the country. On the property is a steep hillside that leads, eventually, down to a stream. It looks like a section of the hill was treated as a dump for many years. Or, if not a dump, let's call it an alternative to recycling, because the only stuff you'll find is made of glass, with the occasional rust-covered tin or metal object mixed in. The bottles and jars aren't particularly old — they might date from the 1940s-60s. There are half-empty jars of Vick's Vap-o-rub (the name helpfully imprinted on the bottom), Noxema, and a tiny bottle of Listerine. And there are lots of jars that once held jam or sauerkraut or applesauce.
I was there a couple of days ago, looking for anything still intact and interesting. Here's what I took home with me, in their fresh, pre-washed state:
The one broken bottle in the front was saved only because it was made in Northampton, Massachusetts, my old town. I might put all of these in a bottle tree kind of contraption.
Among the loosely strewn, mostly-empty containers were a few that had invited some local flora inside. They are the most authentic, artisanal terraria you could ever hope to find, being formed, as they are, completely without human intervention. What could be more natural?
I only took one of these home, though I was strongly tempted to take all of them and sell them to wealthy hipsters as the world's most real, authentic terraria on Earth. This one has its own lid, and might not require being half-buried in a hillside in order to continue to live. We'll see.
I confess, I was an art major in college. Like, Fine Arts. Not at all like the kid-friendly crafts I've been working on lately. I am mostly happy with the state of things right now, but I do sometimes wish I had the time to use my creative brain in a slightly different, more inward, more self-pleasing way. Enter the Daily Prompt.
There are many daily creative prompt calendars out there to choose from. The two I've liked enough to actually follow through on (and can, therefore, recommend for fun, interesting, non-cheesy prompts) are FatMum Slim's Photo-A-Day, and TinkerLab's Daily Sketchbook Challenge. The idea is simple: Each day, take a photo or make a sketch (or painting, or collage) that's prompted by the day's word or phrase. If you want to share it, post the image on Instagram and tag it with the appropriate tag. You can then search the tag to see how other people interpreted the prompt.
I like to consider doing things like these a form of self-care. The prompters encourage participants to have fun, don't stress, and try not to judge your work too harshly. I might have added that last one.
I just started doing the SketchBook Challenge, and I don't care that I'm jumping in mid-month. This is not a contest. Today's prompt is Rainbow, which got me to pull out a box of oil pastels I haven't touched since high school. (I have a love/mostly-hate relationship with oil pastels.) Then I did some old-fashioned collaging and hand-tearing of shapes, and came up with this idyllic scene you see below.
Is it a little obvious? Sure. (Did I take this photo with my iPhone, lit by just a table lamp? Naturally.) But in making it, I spent 15 minutes quietly playing around with art stuff with no expectations or self-judgment. That's a good thing for me to practice doing.
By the way, here's what the above artwork looks like, uncropped.
I kind of like this fourth-wall-breaking image better than the cropped version. It certainly has more directions in which I could take it. So now I have a totally new process I can explore. Bonus!
Have you tried any daily creative prompts? Which ones did you like? Let me know below!
I'm Debbie Way, an artist and writer who enjoys making things.