“If we suppress our wackiness
we’ll seal off the source of some of our most truing impulses.
Our potential will dwindle. We’ll no longer feel the sweet daze and speed of the push of it.”
—David Greenhood, the Writer on his own
Today’s post is a tribute to wackiness.
Artists, writers, musicians, chefs, bus drivers…whatever your line of work, let a little wackiness come through. When I lived in Manhattan, I rode a bus whose driver sang – and I mean sang – out the names of the stops as we made our way through the city. Manhattan then was a playground of wackiness with No Parking signs that read, “Don’t even think of parking here.” That bus driver might very well have spent his nights singing with the Metropolitan Opera, but his wackiness turned an otherwise tedious bus ride into a thing of joy.
Fred Babb is an artist who’s made his own way with wackiness. His line of tee-shirts, earrings, cards and more caught my eye years ago in the Artist & Craftsmen store in Portland, Maine. I was a poor beginning artist and writer, so I bought only a card, but one that stays with me where I can see it every day. The message in Fred’s inimitable style reads (the capitalizations are his):
“art in America → A man appeared at my door wearing a shirt/with Lovely barns and wagon wheels printed on it./He said, ‘I’m From The Police Department. ART Squad./We’ve had Some Complaints. You’ve been making/ART that is Causing People To think. I’m afraid you’re/under ARREST.’ I said, “Take Me Away.’ “
Although David Greenhood addressed his book and advice to writers, every piece of it is good for anybody in the Creative Biz – that’s just about everybody one way or another. Take this line, for example, about certainty:
“Nobody can blueprint spontaneity. Without that, we work like copyists instead of like authors.”
Change authors to artists (inventors, gardeners, cooks, carpenters, mechanics, jazz dudes – I could go on) and you’ve got your thought for the day – or the month or year or forever.
I’m feeling a little more wacky than usual today as I’ve packed up all my art supplies and carted my paintings and unused canvases to storage in anticipation of a relocation. I left out one sketch pad for a little drawing, but I’m missing that animal I love that wags its own tail: Color.
To get my fix, I started doing a big jigsaw puzzle of flowers with wonderful colors. Jigsaw puzzles are a great and instructive pastime for artists as they force the eye to really see color. A puzzle of a Van Gogh painting, for instance, helps one see that he didn’t paint iris leaves green, he painted them green and slate blue with touches of yellow. When searching for a piece, you learn not to look for green, but the other colors as well. But I digress.
As I was working on the puzzle, I realized that the color combinations on the pieces looked like abstract paintings, so I pulled out my camera, shot a few pictures, and cropped away the jigsaw shapes. I didn’t do anything else. Here are some of the results.
An artist longing for color will do many things! Wackiness drives us to unimagined places and in this instance, I’m enjoying the view!
Where have you been on the Wackiness Highway lately? If you haven’t traveled this road in a while, loosen your stays, unmoor the dinghy, create something that surprises you instead of what you intended to create.
David Greenhood again:
“The way to become consummately stupid is to do (also to have) everything obediently right from our earliest years. Try for niceties last, if ever.”
Also try not to be consummately stupid.
14 thoughts on “A Tribute to Wackiness or What Happens When All the Paint is Packed”
That’s a wonderful distinction! Yes, it’s true, you may not have seen the last of me yet. Will be writing to friends in the neighborhood when plans are firmed up. Should be there around the end of October. I’m interested in what’s changed and what hasn’t and how we all look now that we’ve crossed a few more bridges. See ya soon!
Good to hear from you again, Moll. And that you might be in the neighborhood some day. I tell wacky from whacky by remembering that erring mobsters get whacked, not wacked.
Well, here’s the thing about wacky/whacky. Both work. Whacky is an older spelling. And someone else sent me a message about the spelling, too. As my linguistics prof pointed out, languages are living things and change from time to time. I guess somewhere along the line someone decided the “h” was too much trouble or something, but it’s still good, so whack away!
Headed to the northwest one of these days…feeling the need for some green space…do you ever get up there?
Hi—-And to think I’ve been spelling it whacky forever. Guess that makes me even more wacky ? Whence to next, m’lady……xo Marcia
Well, my wacky once on Whidbey friend, I am blessed to have such great friends. You and Harvey are right at the top of that list…
Wendy, your wacky friend who use to live west of Whidbey..loved knowing Molly will remain wacky..no matter what life throws at you..always the teacher..all who know you are blessed 😊
And so are you, my wacky friend!
Every child should be lucky enough to have a teacher like you! xoxo
I LOVE this so much!!! It is amazing how quickly the wackiness gets “schooled” out of so many!! Sometimes when I’m being silly with my class, singing or using funny voices or just being playful with them, even these kindergarteners seem totally taken aback and surprised! Of course they eat it up, but their comments like “You’re so silly Ms. Jeanine!” sometimes make me think that already they don’t have enough silliness in their lives, at age 5! I worry they’re already under the impression that silliness doesn’t always belong in the grown-up world, and I HATE that! There should be more wackiness and silliness everywhere!!! ❤️
Wacky is wonderful!
I love the story of the taxi driver…It’s always a joy to hear from you, Lesley.
What a great connection – Bill Cunningham. He led a wacky and charmed life in the city. I always loved that he lived at Carnegie Hall. When I lived in Manhattan, my friend Jane came for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade!!!
Fun! Love your jigsaw photos.
Just as I was beginning to read “When I lived in Manhattan…” my silence was interrupted by David asking if I wanted him to read to me the article in today’s NYT about the new book on Bill Cunningham — Manhattan, wacky and colorful in his way!
I love this post. I was reminded of a taxi driver that drove us from one place to another in downtown Hong Kong and sang to us all the way, in Chinese of course, but it was beautiful. It certainly silenced the kids! I’ve never forgotten it. I learned Chinese Brush painting when I lived in Hong Kong and Singapore and learned always to look for blue in the leaves. And what a great idea to look at jigsaws of paintings as a way to see them differently.