Power Builders 03.27.15

This is Week #8 of my Power Builders creative links. If you’d like to see last week’s, you can find it here.

I call this series “Power Builders” because that’s what these little items do for me. They make me more powerful in my art and in my life. I hope they do the same for you. Some of the links will be about how other creative people use their time, structure their work, find inspiration. Some may be videos, music, or podcasts to inspire you. Some of it will be directly quilt-related but much of it will not. What you see in Power Builders will depend on what I find. Feel free to link great things in comments, too.

Today’s focus is on inspiration and also on how we share that. 

1) Do you remember Bobby McFerrin? Most people will associate him with the ubiquitous song of 1988, Don’t Worry, Be Happy. What they may not realize is that breakthrough song was only part of a long career, both before and since. With ten Grammy awards, he’s as well known now for his improvisational chops, shifting effortlessly in wordless song. He carries his audience along with joy. The reason I’m including him as a power builder is that his goal in performing is to provide listeners with unparalleled joy, a new perspective on creativity, rejection of the predictable, and a sudden, irreversible urge to lead a more spontaneous existence.” We can all use more of that!

Here are two links to let you explore more. First is an interview with the site On Being with Krista Triplett.  To listen, hit the PLAY EPISODE link on the upper right of the page. While the site has a spiritual focus, and indeed the interview includes discussion of his spirituality, the real emphasis of the interview is McFerrin’s artistic inspiration. The second link is a wildly popular demonstration of the musical pentatonic scale. He leads his audience in singing with his movements. While leading the audience, he sings as well, a different set of notes. You must see and hear it to believe it.

2)  Bill Watterson, the creator of the much-beloved Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, is a completely different kind of artist from Bobby McFerrin, but he also led us in rejecting the predictable, and in a new view of creativity. In this Washington Post interview, he discusses his inspirations, as well as the development of his art over many years.

3) While on the topic of inspirations, here is a short overview called “Inspiration: Where Do Artists Get Their Ideas?  Not surprisingly, one of the prime sources through time is religion and ritual. But we also use art to record history, tell stories, teach lessons, preserve images, and experiment with media.

4) Inspiration is a key to making art, but art is limited in value if not shared. Here is an interesting article on the value of art museum field trips, especially for children whose world may be narrower due to economic or other family circumstances. The lesson for those of us with the privilege of art may be simply to share it more generously.

So what good does a field trip to an art museum do? Researchers catalogued a range of benefits for those who went, ranging from critical thinking skills to measures of tolerance and “historical empathy,” but perhaps the most striking finding is how magnified those benefits were across the board for children from schools in rural areas and serving low-income populations, with effect sizes double or triple those of other students. In fact, most of the positive impact from these field trips accrued to students who had never been to Crystal Bridges before, whereas “much smaller or null effects” were observed in relatively more privileged students who presumably have easier access to enriching experiences like this one.

5) From openculture.com, a post on street art. Google is providing location information for more than 10,000 items of street art, freely shared for all to see.

6) Finally, a fabulous source of vintage artwork from books at reusableart.com. This is all in the public domain due to age. Take a look at the categories on the left margin. They range from animals and alphabets to transportation and trees.

Artist unknown, from the book The Old Oak Tree by Miss Moncrieff, 1881.


What has inspired you this week? Let us know in comments.


14 thoughts on “Power Builders 03.27.15

  1. zippyquilts

    Yes, Bobbie McFerrin! Happily, I know him as a collaborator with Yoyo Ma, another fantastically creative person. And while we’re on musicians, gotta add Willie Nelson, who seems willing to experiment with most any type of music, including a collaboration with Wynton Marsalis! BTW, I’m enjoying Austin Kleon, who was mentioned on your blog a while back–thanks for making me aware of him!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I don’t love all that Willie does in his experiments, but I do love that he’s willing to try. (One of the very best best best albums is Pancho and Lefty. Of course, I love Merle…) Austin Kleon has great stuff. I’m not interested in all of that, either, but he is a real explorer and we get the benefit of it. Glad you’re enjoying it all.

  2. BulgingButtons

    Ok, so I had maybe just a little more fun playing around with music than I expected to. I love that there are so many wonderful resources to stimulate your brain gathered together here. Great job!
    xo, BB

  3. snarkyquilter

    I’ve been having fun looking at the street art. Forget those snooty galleries; let’s get art out where people can enjoy it. And I’m hoping to find some images for fabric transfer on the reusable art site.

  4. Tammy in NC

    I love the reusable art site – such great images. I can see some of these as applique and the borders section as inspiration for quilting motifs. Thanks for sharing all of the powerbuilder ideas. Now, here’s my prob – so many ideas in my head at night I can’t sleep, then when up I can’t pick one to start with!

  5. denmck

    Thank you so much for sharing these resources and helping others to find additional ways to spur their creativity. Power Builders is aptly named!


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