The creative leak

Yesterday a thought blasted like a horn through my foggy mind as I stood somewhere gaping at my phone and thumbing through pics and info:

This phone is making me stupid!

Then, softer, clearer: This behaviour is making me stupid.

Straight away I considered an extended break from teh socialz, particularly FB. But I am reluctant, because there are upsides to the place. I am glad to have excellent friends there. They post good links and quality lolz.

Then today I spotted this headline in a friend’s feed:

Drowning in a Sea of Information: A personal account and analysis of information overload

and immediately clicked because that’s what I mean. Too much information.

I wasn’t surprised to find that others are already considering our stupefying online behaviour. Digital information is affecting our thinking, and our eyes scan the printed page differently than a screen.

Spending so much time online (TEN! HOURS! A! DAY! according to this piece I flitted past) also has the potential to drain the well of creativity or certainly suck up a sizeable portion of time that could otherwise go to creative pursuits or the very important time doing nothing.

Creative thought happens when I’m in the moment (as they say), and rarely when I’m connected to a gadget. In other words, feeding your head (as Lewis Carroll didn’t quite say, but Grace Slick did) is not so much about reading every.single.thing. that you can get your eyes on, but about giving your mind time to wander.

Personally, I don’t feel I can concentrate the way I used to. I find it harder to sit still and focus for long periods of time. Sometimes, reading a book, I catch myself skimming left-hand pages and reading right-hand pages.

But I don’t think the phone has killed my creativity (yet), and I’m not swamped (yet) by idea debt…my lifelong need to draw has resurfaced lately and I’m happy to give it as much free time as I can. But that resurfacing could be a warning sign from deep in the brain: fix the creative leak. Feed your head.

There’s a site to help with that! I could take two minutes and start now.

Then, perhaps it’s time to consider a different approach to connected life.




Moar uke

So there’s lots of art in this blog, right. Why did I call it she plays ukulele?

It’s because–regardless of what I have done in my life, from living in other countries to drawing a lot to having kids to working various interesting jobs–when I meet new people (which happens often because of the lots of different things I like to do), my introduction almost inevitably includes the phrase “She plays the ukulele”. (Except for one friend, who always introduces me with the phrase “She got shouted at on the phone by Phil Spector!” Which is true, but another post.)

This info is apropos of the fact that I realised how little uke content is actually in my blog. So that needs fixing. Here’s me and Sailbad the Sinner busting out Elvis’s ode to tinned pineapple, “Beach Boy Blues”, at the Hillbilly Hoot last week. We are happier than we look, although it was a really cold night and I admit we do look downright grim.

Maybe we were sad that it’s not beach weather. Anyway, it’s always uke weather.

hillbilly hoot ukes

Cold night at the Hillbilly Hoot

Obligatory uke geek comment: I am not the uke collector that the man to my right is/was but I have a handful of em. This travel Kala gets the most outings. I almost always pack it along to the Hoot, even if I don’t think I’m going to play. It fits in well especially when the stage gets crowded. At which point people always go “That thing is so LOUD”. (Piccie by Ian Fisk)



People watching 

Cities are great for practicing observing, remembering, and drawing from memory. People come and go so quickly that you don’t get much time to see.  

quick sketches of people

see, memorise, draw, improvise

Finding the story

Some days when I don’t know what to draw, a small narrative will reveal itself. Usually about process. Today, the story is how my hands are not really communicating with my brain. Could be the heat. Could be the caffeine. 

pen and pencil drawing

hands wont listen


Taking time and making time

How many of us blame our lack of time for our lack of creative output?

Drawing of house behind fence in rainy weather

I started this drawing last week while waiting under a café awning for a rainstorm to break. I chipped away at it bit by bit during the week, and finished it today during my lunchbreak.

In a few minutes here and there, I got something accomplished. Now I have to remind myself: large projects can be tackled this way!

In her wonderful book about writing, Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott quotes EL Doctorow:

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

And I agree with Anne when she continues: “This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard.” If we refuse to start making things for lack of time, nothing gets done at all.

If you’re still stuck for time, here are some helpful ideas from the also wonderful website Tiny Buddha: 10 Tips to Nurture Your Creative Life: Making Time and Space.

A brief beginning

I have had very little time to play music this week. Or draw. I did both, though.

Tonight my soul was feeling like this:

sunset over water

Evening pinkness in the west

And I drew this picture of two lovey-dovey pencil pine trees in my neighborhood that are always deeply engaged in conversation:

pencil drawing on post-it note

Pencil pines shooting the breeze

They are totally lovey dovey lovey dovey all of the time.

My Little Red Uke

I headed out to Three D Radio’s Hillbilly Hoot with my red uke a coupla times lately, once as 3/8 of Ukulele Circus (bit of a Sideshow really 🙂 and once backing the Miss Lily the Pink Cowgirl.

Check out this take on the 1965 tune “Little Black Egg”, originally by The Nightcrawlers, a Florida garage band, and some superb tunes from other Hoot folks too.

Miss Lily’s tune is about a minute into the next one but it opens with some classic Hoot hijinx (aka groaner jokes) from compere Lone Tony Joe, followed by a song from Dingo, the Hoot’s human jukebox.


Find out more about the Hillbilly Hoot here, and check Treddly6’s YouTube channel for more clips…