Thursday, July 28, 2011

On Creativity, Collaboration and Dreams

When I was a child my two sisters and I were always writing, illustrating our stories, putting on plays or dreaming up some other creative project.  We (mostly) worked very well together.

One spring afternoon we sat at the kitchen table discussing our latest project (this time a science fiction novel called The Blue Sun).  My mother, who was in an adjoining room, couldn’t resist quickly writing down our bursts of ‘brilliant’ inspiration.  I wish she had done so more often.  Her account is hilarious—and we have a record of our collaborative style.  And in just a few telling words she captured the personalities of our 7, 9 and 15-year-old selves.

My mother was a fashion artist and painter.  She also made wonderful stuffed animals, including a 1” tall teddy bear. I became a ‘designer’ at 7 when I drew a picture of mouse and asked her to make me a stuffed version. She re-created it exactly, down to its over-long eyelashes.  My family includes artists in many fields, and we have talked of having a ‘compound’ of houses where we could live close by and work together and inspire one another. Or have a shared studio (in a barn, perhaps?)—our own Omega Workshop or Bloomsbury Group!
These thoughts have all returned—and inspired these three blog posts—after seeing again the wonderful John Frame exhibit at the Huntington – alas, now closed.  A brilliant and visionary wood sculptor (his work is indescribable—check out his website).  Though he is the creator of his amazing pieces, he has been aided by his family’s many talents—photography, filmmaking, sewing skills—which played a part in his exhibit and his artistic projects.  Frame also curated a show at the Huntington on William Blake; in the exhibit notes he wrote of the artistic assistance of Blake's wife in his work.

My sister and I are planning to write a mystery together. We often exchange wild and fanciful project ideas-- some of which might actually be do-able!  She has been an invaluable critic, editor and technical advisor for my writing/illustrating work—and my blogging!  All three of us still want to collaborate--maybe one day we will yet have our ‘barn’!


  1. Thank you so much for this wonderful post, Diane. I'm always intrigued by these glimpses of your life growing up and am itching to learn more. I hope you and Barbara write the Browning version of "The Penderwicks" once you've finished your mystery novel.

  2. Thanks Joan! I haven't read "The Penderwicks" yet but I will look for it now!