Waiting for lightning to strike…

I am waiting for an idea.

There’s a certain irony to this. I need more ideas the way I need more deer mice in the cupboards crapping on the silverware. (Speaking of which, I caught one this morning, and didn’t even bother trekking out to the empty field to release it–it’s bloody cold out and I’m groggly. I let him go in the greenbelt behind the house. He looked a little stunned when he dropped to the leaves–perhaps he couldn’t believe his good fortune. He’s almost certainly back in the house by now, but at least he’s got a good story to tell the other mice.)

But anyway, the idea. I need something that will lend itself well to the oil pastel on clayboard experiment I wish to do, which means that rather than the broad general morass, it is a SPECIFIC SORT of idea I need, it has specific parameters (which I’m only vaguely clear on) and any old notion won’t do. The ideas surround me in a cloud, like mosquitoes, but rather than just grabbing a random one and running, I am looking for one specific one, with a crooked probascis, and a blue spot on the back right leg, and hoping it will bite me soon.

There is a specific feeling when the idea hits. It’s like lightning, or rather it’s metaphorically a pale shadow of what I imagine lightning would be like, since I’ve never been struck by lightning and hope to avoid it. I had this friend who was–it hit a silo next to him and arced to him–and he said that it didn’t hurt it all, he had no memory of the actual moment of impact, but the fact that he couldn’t use any muscles from the chest down was rather troubling. It wore off eventually, but they kept him in the hospital for awhile. Where was I? Oh, right. The idea. Waiting.

At times like these, I look at art, waiting for inspiration. The type of art doesn’t seem to matter, since the idea usually doesn’t bear any resemblance to what I’m looking at–I’ll be staring at Alma-Tadema and suddenly my brain will go “Disembodied spleen in an explorer’s hat!” and ZOT! we’re good to go. I have no idea why this works. I am, in essence, wandering around with a big steel pole, looking at various thunderstorms and waiting for an arc to knock me flat.

What will not work, dear reader, as kind as some of you are, and as eager to help, is suggestions of painting ideas, because that never works. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times that has worked. (Okay, the Cuttlefish Hat painting. That’s the only one, actually.*) I appreciate the thought, quite sincerely, mind you, and they may be great ideas, but there is no lightning with other people’s ideas. I don’t know why. Wrong species of mosquito, wrong type of storm, something. If you still want to help, however, send me links to good or interesting art. (Sculpture, 2-D, photos of neat animals–whatever. The type doesn’t seem to matter.) That sort of thing does work, and I will appreciate it greatly.

Maybe inspiration is like a combination lock, only instead of numbers, there are…thingies. So you look at marble–woodpecker–coffee cup–anime fight scene–chiaroscuaro–and with a creak of ancient machinery, the lock clicks, the door slides aside, and lo! a painting idea sits in its dusty niche, and you just have to get it out without tripping the pressure sensors that will drop a giant rolling rock on your head. And our brains are full of locks, and you just wander around slotting different things in and trying to find a place they fit. Some of them have been half-done for YEARS, but you can’t get the last two thingies. Some of them will never open, some of them will open and be ignored because you can only fend off so many angry natives at a time, but every now and then you slot something in and you hear the distant rumble that means a door is opening and you fling yourself over the pit traps and down the long hallway and over the tripwires and there it is, gleaming in a conveniently located shaft of sunlight. Then you just have to get back out and jump on all the little alligator heads in the pond and you’re home free.

Or, um, something like that.

*James is the only exception to this, that crazy smallrus peddler.

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