On the Trail of Creativity

17 Nov

I have been looking for ways to link my writing and illustration.  What sparks the creative process?  A writer’s critique group I joined introduced me to oulipo two days ago.  Everyone in the group did five exercises that evening, each with a different constraint.  When the time came to share our efforts, the readings were really amazing.

Here is one of my writing examples.  One constraint was to use the word ‘trails.’  The second constraint was to conclude with the words from a previous exercise, in my case, ‘perfectly appropriate.’  I’ll post the related artwork in the next week along with another writing example.

Trails of sweat are not something I see anymore outside a gym.
I used to see streams of it in summer.

Men murmuring curses at defunct car engines
or wielding two-handed hedge hackers
or mowing crisscross patterns on the lawn.

Women wringing laundry by hand,
ironing starched shirts, sheets and pajamas,
baking in 100-plus degree kitchens.

To child eyes, perfectly appropriate.

If you are a visual artist or work in any media besides written words, have.you experimented with oulipo to jumpstart any projects?  Could you please share your results? 

If you write, have you used oulipo?  What happened with your writing?  What other improvisational techniques have you used?



Copyright ©2011.  Adrienne May and WinsomeWays, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.


8 Responses to “On the Trail of Creativity”

  1. Helga Pearson Friday, Nov 18, 2011 at 3:35 am #

    It was so great to talk to you guys and see your work last night. Very nice to ‘meet you in person Adrienne. Your drawings were staggeringly good! To think you did that from memory, sigh, I have such a LOOong way to go 😀

    • Adrienne May Friday, Nov 18, 2011 at 7:18 am #

      Likewise Helga. Thank you for your compliments and encouragement. I look forward to the monthly critiques and meeting other illustrators. It’s like water on thirsty ground. Thank you for being my ‘very first in my life’ blog comment. Hooray!!! 🙂 I also know I still have a long way to go.

      I’ve enjoyed reading your blog posts about Mark Mitchell’s online illustration course. Amazing how we go through the same struggles. Press on!

    • Adrienne May Friday, Nov 18, 2011 at 8:56 am #

      Hi Helga. Thanks for the link to Pam Smy. I just went to her blog. It’s great. I really liked her display of page spreads and seeing her process. Minimal color goes a long, long way. She’s like one of the old masters style blocking out paintings. Also reminds of animation studies. Its funny how physical picture books are often a kind of slow speed animation.

      Sorry you were unable to post a second comment here. I think I was in the way. Had to fix a typo and fumble through Google site verification. Best wishes!

  2. Caroline Monday, Nov 21, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

    Adrienne, I am unfamiliar with oulipo but was struck by your ability to bookend the use of the constraints and fill it in with such poetic, visual memory. Keep blogging! I’d love to see your work. Wonderful to see you Sunday, too.

    • Adrienne May Tuesday, Nov 22, 2011 at 8:16 am #

      Hello Caroline,
      Thanks for your encouragement and it was great to see you also. There’s nothing like finding new concepts or familiar faces in unexpected places. I’m so glad you visited my blog and hope you’ll drop in again.

  3. Jamila Monday, Nov 21, 2011 at 11:15 pm #


    Awesome writing sample. I will have to check out oulipo to see if using it sparks anything on the writing or illustration front. Keep on keeping on! 🙂

    • Adrienne May Tuesday, Nov 22, 2011 at 8:10 am #

      Hello Jamila,
      Thanks for visiting my blog and I’m glad you like my writing example. I hope you return as I plan to post more oulipo-inspired writing over the next few weeks. Blogging and oulipo are new to me and I would love to hear about your endeavors.


  1. Illustration Friday: Round « - Friday, Dec 2, 2011

    […] On the Trail of Creativity Archives Select Month December 2011  (1) November 2011  (3) Categories Select Category Illustration Friday Words & Pictures /* 0 ) { location.href = "https://winsomeways.wordpress.com/?cat="+dropdown.options%5Bdropdown.selectedIndex%5D.value; } } dropdown.onchange = onCatChange; /* ]]> */ Art & Writing Links […]

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