I thought I’d start something fun for us: Inspiration Friday

Every few Fridays I’ll share a concept or idea I’m studying, or intrigued by, or that I’m let changing my perspective. Hopefully, you’ll be inspired to see something in a new way. Or try a new direction or technique in your art. Or simply broaden your understanding of the world. (This post is from my newsletter published last Friday, September 27, 2013)

Lately I’ve been swooning over Italian author Italo Calvino. I’m reading several of his books, but the most immediate treasure is “Invisible Cities.” It is as rich as jeweled brocade silk. I stop every few sentences and savor, often repeating the words outloud, they are so mesmerizing.

I’d read that he was difficult to translate for becase he’d spend as much time with the translator hashing out whether to use a comma as he would choosing a precise English word. The inhalations, the pauses, in the flow of words is just as important as the words.

Which brings me to space: how important space is in art. Empty space. Quiet space. Unfilled space (which is not the same as empty space). Some of my favorite pieces of music include silence, however brief. Many of Georgia O’Keffe’s paintings use open space in a way that expands me.


This sculpture by French artist Bruno Catalano gives us an intriguing and delightful use of space. Isn’t in fun how our imagination is so actively involved in this sculpture? We get to fill in the void. Or enjoy what the void offers. Or both. We are part of the making of art. (Here is the artists’ website)

For more creative use of space, visit and follow my Pinterest board, “Soaring Creativity” at http://pinterest.com/margiedeeb

The couple up the street from me has a very large extended family. She takes care of her many grandkids and other children each day during the summer. This summer I befriended four of them, girls aged 8 – 13. I’d had contact with them previously when they climbed our dogwood trees, and when I visited their lemonade and brownie stand last summer, and when they sold American Heritage Girls Candy this past holiday season. But our real friendships began this summer when, on one of my daily walks with Marley, our Catahoula dog, I saw that they’d been drawing in chalk on their grandmother’s driveway.

I couldn’t resist. On my next walk, I brought my own chalk and began to draw a little here and there among their drawings when they weren’t home. One morning beside one of my sneaky doodles were the words “Who drew this?”

Another morning I walked by, and big blue letters scrawled the sentence “I’m going inside to write a song.” I answered with a drawing of a pink bird, a gold ring, and the words “Write a song about a bird and a gold ring.”

The next day, in pink, the words “a bird found a gold ring” were written beneath mine. Chalk birds flew all around the driveway.

One day, when the driveway was blank, I wrote in the bottom corner “Where are the drawings?”

When Marley and I arrived the next morning, beside my question was the reply “we’re sorry, here they are” and an arrow pointed up to a menagerie of colorful daises, birds, suns, smiley faces, and scribbles.

Eventually they caught me in the act of drawing. And still we continued to exchange conversational chalk images that seemed to be speaking on levels more conscious than words. I would draw, they would mimic the drawing in their own colors and styles.

I looked forward to what their driveway would reveal each morning. At night I conjured up all kinds of things I could draw for them. This game of ours was getting bigger. It was my turn. I knew I had to do something to wow the kids. I wanted to surprise them.

One morning I drew the outline of a huge sea monster spanning the width of the driveway, it’s scale-backed, polka dotted, arched humps emerging from and disappearing into the gutter beneath it. From between it’s pointed teeth came the words “Color me.” Not wanting them to see me, I drew quickly. I was giddy. As if I was doing something illegal, afraid of getting caught. I walked home trying to act normal though my mind spun. What would they think when they saw it? Would they want to color it? Would they like it? When I reached home just minutes after I’d finished, I turned and looked up the street to see chalk bins open and tipped over, the girls running in every direction, hair flying, squatting, bent over, stomachs pressed to the cement, knees bent, laughing, and squealing. I watched, elated.

I walked up for a peak the next hour. They let me take pictures, but they were intent and focused, so I left. That afternoon when I arrived they spilled out of the front door into the driveway all jabbering, pointing, and gesturing simultaneously to which sections they’d colored or drawn, proud of their contributions. The sea monster had come to life. Not only was he fully and brightly colored, now waves of undulating blue supported him and dolphins and ships while birds and clouds circled his scaly head.


Together we created this creature. They had given it life and a home. I asked them to pose for a picture. Now they entered it’s world. They climbed upon his back. One positioned her head near its open mouth.

ImageThe “call-and-response” chalk drawings led the five of us on more creative adventures in chalk and other mediums: video and body painting.

My new girl friends up the street and I have built a realm in which to playfully create with the carefree, uninhibited spirit so critical to true creativity; that spirit I’m too quick to let slip away. When I am too long tangled in the rigors of how my work “should” be for validity, to be accepted, to sell, to be published, I lose sight of the joy of the process. Eventually I end up choking and stagnant. To draw with kids sea monsters that will disappear in the summer evening rain is my response to this ever-present challenge.


Quick Sketch (20 minutes)

Snowy Egret
(pastel and ink)

QUick Sketch (20 minutes)

Great White Egret


Drawing from Cirque Du Soliel “Totem” 2012

30 minute sketch (on a 4″ x 6″ index card I tucked into my husband’s lunch) after seeing the magical beauty of “Totem” December 2012

Drawing from Cirque Du Soliel “Totem” 2012

30 minute sketch (on a 4″ x 6″ index card I tucked into my husband’s lunch) after seeing the magical beauty of “Totem” December 2012

Drawing from Cirque Du Soliel “Totem” 2012

30 minute sketch (on a 4″ x 6″ index card I tucked into my husband’s lunch) after seeing the magical beauty of “Totem” December 2012

30 minute sketch after seeing the magical beauty of “Totem” December 2012

I’m an artist, calligrapher & writer, so I approach pens (and pen reviews) from these angles. I’m also a pen and pencil addict.

When erasable ink pens first came on the market I felt disoriented. Why would I want to erase ink? I use ink because it is permanent. But I’ve changed, and it is freeing to draw, doodle, and write in ink and know I can erase if I need to.

All in all, I like the Pilot Frixion color-Pencil-Like Erasable Gel Ink Pens. Especially for doodling. They erase well, and the eraser is on the end of the pen’s cap, which I like. The pen feels very good in my hand: I like the friction grooves etched into the body.

Color: the yellow is too pale to see, the green is a lovely  dark forest green.

Beware Disappearing Ink (Good for Undercover Ops!): I was drying a drawing next to paper I’d written on with the pens, and some of the air reached the paper… and the ink disappeared!

What I like:

  • Ink is smooth, applies easily
  • Very little skipping (only when drawing fast long lines)
  • Erases well, leaving only a slight ghost of the drawing/writing

What I’d like better:

  • If the ink were a little more saturated in color (especially the black)
  • If the ink didn’t skip at all when making longer lines quickly (this is a minor point: I was making long lines with a ruler, and there was too much slippage for that purpose)