Little Changes in Art

Have you ever noticed the subtler things we do with our art? The little changes we make that hold a bigger impact?

When creating art, be it writing, photography, or anything else, it can often be improved with little touches. That doesn’t mean to say that big changes can’t help, perhaps you’re working with a photograph that really has no merit, perhaps your story has gone on a bit of a tangent or you need to kill your darlings, but lets discuss the little changes.

These are the kinds of things that, when done correctly, nobody may notice, but when done wrong/not done at all, they can often stand out. They’re also the kind of things that people without the ‘eye’ for them might not see, but may feel. People who aren’t writers, may not be able to say why they prefer one writing style over another, just like people who aren’t musicians, like myself, can’t necessarily grasp what makes one song better than another. We may feel it inside, we may naturally pick one cover of a song over another, or favour one photograph despite it’s subject matter being same to its kin. Sometimes the artist has tweaked something, and it’s made a big difference, and sometimes it goes without notice.

And doesn’t this make art amazing? It’s something I truly love, the ability to affect someone without them realising why, and I believe its partly to blame for arts subjectivity. In my photography work, I often make little changes to photos that I like to think really helps the overall image. However, these are changes that someone might not even realise are there to begin with. They can be something as simple as cropping a photo, realigning it, changing its colour, to something a little more complex like adding grain, or playing with the tone. Greg came to me the other day to change a photo because there was some fluff on the shoulder of a groom. It was my photo, I’d taken it, and I hadn’t even noticed this; upon changing it though it felt like a huge difference to me... I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed it before.

Now you might think this is me being too much of a perfectionist, perhaps it wouldn’t affect someone else. Then again, there’s no way to know whether it would without you seeing both and a comparison defeats the objective of a subconscious affect. I strongly believe, though, that there’s these little details in art that slip into your subconscious before you can register them. It’s the same with writing, the difference between a good writer and a great one is often these little aspects that set them apart. It’s also something I see a lot in films, where over time I’ve come to understand more about camera work, cinematography, and directing decisions. Having this understanding, this lens, helps me to articulate what I think makes or breaks a piece.

Just like some people don’t notice the changes, I think sometimes we don’t even really notice we do it either. We might change a few words round in a sentence and find it flows that bit better. Did the sentence work before? Certainly! But it might not have held the same impact. I think by being conscious of these changes though, we begin to understand what we aim to do with our art. We can develop a deeper appreciation for what we’re all trying to achieve.

What do you think? Are there subtleties you enjoy weaving in your work? Do you think there are hidden layers in art we don’t necessarily pick up on, but that impact us none the less? Let me know in the comments below!

The Future of the Clouds

The Tagline for this website has always been “I like to pretend I am more clever than I am“, and it’s a sentiment I still hold very true. I really do pretend I’m more clever than I am, I often give my own opinion a lot more credit than it’s due. However, it’s not really a sentiment that fully reflects what I’m doing here with Clockwork Clouds anymore.

Clockwork Clouds aims to be a place to promote positivity and incite inspiration; it’s also a place that loves a good bit of alliteration. Clockwork Clouds began simply as vessel for me to write down and make sense of my own thoughts, it then became a place for me to publish my own written work, and lastly it became a place to spread a positive message and encourage others to do the same.

This is where I think Clockwork Clouds has been going from the start, as I think it’s what I’ve always been trying to do as a person.

I’m a huge advocate for us all helping each other, whether it be through the sharing of personal experience, the offering of advice and lessons learnt, or simply allowing someone else a window into our world. The blogosphere, and the internet in general, can be a great place of acceptance, and I think we should aim to continually increase that. After all, a greater wealth of positivity can never be a bad thing. Sure, I’m still here to promote myself too… I want to post my writing, my photography, and my opinion on things, but I try to tailor my posts to carry a more positive theme, I try to encourage other people and, when reflecting on myself, I try to make sense of things or provide some piece of insight.

So, what does this mean going forward? Well, nothing is going to change too much. What I’m discussing here is what the blog has become, so in may respects we’re already there. However, I’m also going to be pushing forward to make sure we share some more positivity and encourage inspiration in others. I’m going to be making an active effort to share more creativity, be it my own work or the work of others, and I’m going to be making sure my posts have, if not a creative element, then a positive one.

If you’d like to take part in the Clouds, be it through a Guest Post, Collaboration, or simply sharing an idea or two, feel free to let me know!

My Therapy

“I don’t feel like writing so I’m writing.”

That’s how I began this post. I wrote this one line.

The thing is, writing is more than just my hobby, and it’s more than a future career. To me writing is my therapy. I use writing to make sense of my own feelings and get my own head straight. Almost all writing I do is intended to be read by someone, regardless of whether it actually is, and that leaves me thinking about what message I want my writing to have.

The reason I started this post was because I was feeling down. This happens to me once every other month or so; I start questioning the point of it all, I start doubting my ability to achieve anything, and I start wallowing. The thing is, it’s so easy to foster negativity. By it’s very nature, negativity encourages us to do nothing about it as it encourages us to do nothing at all. That leads me to not wanting to get up in the morning, not wanting to go to work, not wanting to take photos and, most of all, not wanting to write. It often takes me days of being in this state, days of simply ‘existing‘ but not living. So, I forced myself to write.

When I write, it’s my therapy, and when I write my spirit lifts. As I wrote that very first line of this post I instantly felt lighter, then as I wrote more I started realising that many of my thoughts and fears, many of the things promoting this negativity within me, were down to simple reasons. Things like not sleeping properly, things like not feeling confident about the future, things like not feeling grateful or proud for the things I have. The more I wrote, the more I realised I could fight this negativity; by quantifying my demons in words I was able to combat them in my mindset.

Then I deleted my post. I deleted all those negative things. That post wasn’t fit for my audience, it didn’t carry the message I want a post to carry. It was me whinging that life wasn’t quite going my way, but in reality the main issue was myself. Instead, I’ve turned that post around into this, one about fighting that negativity. This is what the Clouds stands for; it’s here to promote positivity and inspire imagination. I wanted to tell you that even when you’re having a bad day, or a bad week, or even a bad year… You can often combat it by doing something you love, even if sometimes you have to force yourself to do it in the first place.

Of course, there are times when the bad simply outweighs the good, medical conditions or family tragedy are not simply combated with the pursuit of a hobby, interest or love. My point though is to not underestimate their ability to help, they may at least take the edge away, and through art and creation we may learn to understand ourselves.

Do you have those periods of time where you just want to give up? What keeps you going? What is your own personal therapy? Let me know in the comments below!

Tower White: A 3LT

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The stairs coiled round, cold, frictionless, making the ascent a harder task than they had ever predicted.

Tower White had been their destination for too long; they had celebrated when they’d reached its carved, crystal base.

Never once had they considered the climb.

*****

Well, would you look at that! Two Three Line Tale’s in two weeks… Two for two! Thanks to Sonya and to her prompt. My last 3LT can be seen here, The Last Jellyfish: A 3LT and the previous was The Trooper: A 3LT.

Unexpected Appreciation

Don’t you just love it when someone appreciates something you do? When it wasn’t your intention but receive it anyway?

At the weekend I had some downtime, I had no plans for an afternoon besides the usual household chores and tidying. So, I got to editing some photos. It’s been awhile since I’ve edited anything without it having a work related purpose. When you’re sat on around 600 photos for a client, I can’t bring myself to take some time out editing personal photos, it just feels like time wasted. Now, with the little lull of freedom I have between gigs, I took to editing some photos of my friends Dog, Odin. You can see the finished results here: Level Up Photography: Wordless Wednesday #17

I had the photos for awhile now, many of them from over a year ago back when he was a puppy, and some more recently of him at a friends BBQ. I always thought it would be nice for my friends to have the photos, but I can’t bare to let anything go uneditted so they’ve sat on my computer gathering virtual dust. With my free time, however, I suddenly felt inspired to edit them up, and I can’t describe how glad I am I did.

After sending the photos I expected a “Thank you”, I expected the “These are great” lip service a couple of friends will give you. I received so much more though. They both sent me messages saying how much they loved the photos, they want to get them printed onto a canvas to put up in their home, and they said it made them miss their dog (as they were currently on their way back from a holiday). My one friend messaged me to say I should do professional pet photography… These were the kinds of comments I just wasn’t expected, I wasn’t braced for. Their gratitude was heartwarming. Their gratitude was inspirational.

I love photography. I love all aspects of it, from taking a more thought-provoking artistic piece, to capturing a memory on film. Hearing their comments about my work made me swell with confidence that this is what I want to do with my life. Not just photography-wise, but with my writing and with all my pursuits. I want to make people smile, I want to connect with people. I don’t necessarily want to impress people, though that would certainly be nice, but I would like to bring out a positive reaction from them, I’d like to do something that has an impact, albeit a small and fleeting one.

I’m lucky enough to have received these messages on the same week my last client text me to say how happy they were with their wedding photos. A text message which, when I read to my Mom, made her cry. Those prideful tears, which I’ve felt myself this week, are further assurance that I am going in the right direction.

This week I’m feeling confident in my work. This week I’m feeling assured of my goals.

How has your week been? Let me know in the comments below!

Big Up Your Blog!

Do you want to be part of a community that helps each other to learn, grow, share, and inspire? I know full well I do, it’s a big reason why I got set up here on the Clouds, but it’s also why I joined Big Up Your Blog!

When my post went out about “1 Year On the Clouds!” I never really did my one year on here justice. It was always a post I had left in the WordPress scheduling that I always meant to come back to closer to the time, but due to my unforeseen absence the last month I never did. It seems a bit late to write it now, but I can certainly tell you something else about my 1 year here.

When I first started up blogging I did so without truly knowing anyone else on here. I had one friend that was also blogging, and I had recently met Shelley at a Creative Writing course in little old Solihull… That was it. Blogging is a wonderful community though, and if you’re lucky enough and take part in enough things, you soon discover the other amazing blogs and accounts that are out here in the Blogosphere.

One such site I found was of local Brummie Suzie. Shortly after I came upon Suzie’s blog, she started a Facebook group. Now, I’ve been wary of Facebook groups for blogging, I don’t ever really share my own blog to Facebook (I’m not ashamed of it, it’s out there and it’s public, I just don’t push it onto my friends), and I’m also well aware that these groups tend to just be “I’ve written this“, “Share my post“, with no genuine heart behind the messages. That’s not what I’m about. It’s my personal goal on here to inspire and be inspired, I’m about positivity, I’m about love, and I’m about sharing when it’s caring. Big Up Your Blog! is a blogging group that actually does all that too.

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Together, Suzzane “Suzie Speaks” Elliot and Em Inkles have managed to create a blogging community that is as familiar as it is welcoming. They’ve fostered a group of people who share these values; help, support, inspiration, love, care, and perhaps most importantly, pride. They’ve created a forum where you can ask a dumb question, and be assured you receive an intelligent response. They’ve established a platform where you can get follows and likes, but for the right reasons, where people understand we’re trying to promote ourselves, but are not afraid to promote each other. This is exactly what the Clouds strives for, and it’s present in every fibre of Big Up Your Blog! too.

Everything about the group is in the aid of fostering love and sharing care. It’s about appreciating each others work, more than just giving out the occasional blind retweet. It’s about being proud of what you write, and of encouraging that pride in others. Honestly, I have the group to thank for so much of where my blog is now. If you share the same values as we do here on the Clouds, I definitely recommend giving them a look. The group isn’t always open, it closes its doors to help its community interact without getting drowned out. Right now though, their doors are (somewhat) open and they’re looking for new bloggers with an interest in helping each other.

What do you think? Are you a part of any blogging communities? Does Big Up Your Blog! appeal to you? Let me know in the comments below! Or, better yet, join the community whilst it’s doors are currently open!

Shakespeare Would Have Been a Rapper

If Shakespeare was alive today, he would have been a rapper, spitting lyrics over beats and battling with the best of them.

Ok, maybe not, maybe he’d just be a critically acclaimed writer/director combination, but I’ve been listening to Rap and Rap Battles recently and something in them struck me.

My music taste varies considerably, in my youth I was a typical ‘Metal Head‘, with the long hair and black clothing, and whilst I’d have denied it back then, I’ve always enjoyed a cheesy pop song. Nowadays I’m far less judgmental, I’ll listen to anything and, if it’s catchy, I’ll be singing along. Since I don’t understand music (I don’t play a single instrument), I don’t hear how ‘technical‘ a certain song is; it’s not the Lens I see through. I understand words though, and lyrics stand out to me. 

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Me at 16… Yes… 16! My hair got even longer before I cut it off at 18.

Speaking of words, I love Shakespeare. I’m not a mega fan, I can’t tell you where each quote comes from, but I’ve seen a majority of his plays now (either at the RSC or via the Live Streams into a Cineworld Cinema). One thing I love about Shakespeare, more than anything, is his ability to manipulate his language, his ability to twist a phrase. Shakespeare even manages this in a play title, lets take ‘Much Ado About Nothing‘, which actually has three meanings. Much ado about nothing, where ‘nothing‘ means literally ‘nothing‘, thus making a big deal out of something that isn’t, a mountain out of a molehill if you will. The second meaning is the word ‘noting‘, which would have been a near homophone in Elizabethan times, and thus meaning to make a great deal out of gossiping, literally ‘noting‘ what other people are doing. The third, and raunchier interpretation, is due to ‘nothing’ being slang for ‘An O Thing‘ in Elizabethan times, meaning, quite bluntly, a Vagina. This makes the third meaning of Much Ado, to mean making a great deal out of sex, another running theme of the play.

This is what I think ties Shakespeare to Rap. Good rap is more than someone speaking fast over a beat, its the ability to turn and twist a phrase. Poetry creates an illusion, it can portray emotion, it can paint pictures and take you places. A good poem leaves me with a lasting feeling, and whilst there’s cross over between Poetry, Spoken Word, and Rap, I feel the latter relies far more heavily on the clever‘ one liners that are great in the moment. Is it more fleeting? Perhaps. However, the most quotable of Shakespeare is the stand-out lines, the ‘Country Matters‘. If you sit and break down rap lyrics, you realise the amount of ways they can make a phrase turn, the double, or even triple, entendres. There’s such play on words, irony, pop-cultural references, political statements, that a comparison to our favourite playwright is easily made. Sure, there’s also a lot of false bravado and sex talk, but isn’t that basically Shakespeare too? 

The reason I’m writing this isn’t really to tell you Shakespeare would have been a Rap artist, instead it’s to analyse what I like, and something that’s occurred to me this week is that I like Shakespeare and Rap for similar reasons. Shakespeare grips me when a line stands out, Rap gets me when a line makes me jaw drop in a similar fashion. To boil it down, what I simply love is language and an ability to use it. Language is such an amazing gift that we’ve been granted and it’s important to note that people are utilising it all over the world, in so many different mediums. It’s not just the classics we should look to for our inspiration. Authors write with poetic lines, whilst Poets weave stories through their stanzas. Genres converge, and I think some people see it whilst others refuse to look at other mediums due to the culture that surrounds them. Basically, I’m saying take a look at everything around us, challenge yourself and see where writing is being used differently. There’s enough room in this world for anything, and we should seek inspiration in everything.

What do you think? Am I making sense? And how about you have you ever noted a similarity between two vastly different genres? Let me know in the comments below!