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October 5, 2012

Poetry Friday--Spark Challenge

A few weeks ago I participated in the 17th Spark challenge. To quote the Spark website,
Open to writers, musicians, and visual artists of all kinds, SPARK takes place four times each year.

During each 10-day project round, participants create a new piece of work using someone else’s art, writing, or music as inspiration.
This was my third time participating, and my randomly assigned partner was Amy Ludwig VanDerwater from The Poem Farm! How lucky was that?

The first time I participated, I did so as an "artist." I hardly consider myself an artist in the normal painter sense of the word, but I have been working for a few years with photographs and combining my haiku and other poems with manipulated images. Since there was an over abundance of writers who wanted to participate in that round, I volunteered to be an artist. I enjoyed it so much, I decided to continue as an artist for Spark challenges.

I sent Amy a photo for inspiration and she sent me a poem. Amy has written about our partnership here and here. I thought I would share my process in creating my response piece to this poem that Amy sent:

Isn't it great? And I love the strong visual images. Here are things that came to mind after reading it: dreams, horses = dreams, nightMARES, flames = heat. And then, this thought came unbidden, "The heat of our dreams is not the same as night sweats." At that point I started to think about putting together images.

I found this image from an out-of-copyright book at Project Gutenberg. I liked it immediately because it showed a sleeping girl surrounded by books.

I cropped the illustration so that the girl was central. Then I thought about adding a horse, but decided that it would be too overpowering. I definitely wanted to include the flames from the poem and the heat of one's dreams. I layered a photo of a fire over the girl and made the flames fade so that they're not-in-your-face (disclaimer: I don't know anything about the jargon that graphic designers use, so I hope you understand what I'm talking about. Maybe one day I'll take a class.)

I discovered that Amy likes birds, and I like birds, so I wanted to add a bird to the image. Again, I used an illustration I found in an out-of-copyright book. I like the way it illustrates how dreams can be both beautiful and fleeting.

Since I didn't use a horse, I decided to use a line from Amy's poem that included horses, and made it gallop across the page in red. I finished up with the "heat of our dreams" line that I mentioned above.

As I said, I'm not an artist, but, I think artists and writers probably approach projects similiarly. All this explanation was to get you to consider signing up for Spark #18 when it comes around in December. You can challenge yourself to move out of your comfort zone and become an ARTIST in another medium. Just be creative!

Head over to see Laura Salas for the Poetry Friday Round-Up. Laura is one who is not afraid to take on new challenges--if I remember correctly, she recently did a stint in a marching band as one of the people who waves big sticks!


  1. This is incredibly cool, Diane. I love your explanation for your collaging--because I always think this stuff looks neat but have no idea how to do it. I love that you have a layer from that illustration of the girl and books, for instance, but it's barely even recognizable as such. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. You are an artist! I love this concept of layering, and you chose such lovely images to work with. Your words about process make me think about the way we revise as writers too and also about other ways artists and writers are alike. Thank you for letting us see how you did it - I felt so lucky to be paired with you and wondered how you did this! a.

  3. Thanks, Ladies. I always enjoy learning about others' processes, so I thought it would be good to share mine.

  4. I love this! I am going to look for Spark and sign up. I did some illustrations for a Patti Digh book a couple years ago, and they got accepted. It was such a fabulous experience! Thanks for sharing your process with us. Very Cool!

  5. You're right, Diane - the imagery in both the poem and illustration is terrific!

  6. Thanks, Matt and Andi. I would suggest you look into it. Notice will go out as it gets closer to the next challenge. I'll try to remember and post it on Facebook.

  7. Wow and just wow...I loved the layered of artistry in t his, thought and visuals and the blending of it all. And the end result is so arresting!

  8. I love hearing about all kinds of process thinking. Creativity is so RICH and yummy!!

  9. Thanks Tara and Mary Lee! I just want to put a plug in for PicMonkey.com, I found it after PicNik was discontinued (after Google purchased it). Although there are some PicNik features I miss, PicMonkey keeps improving (or maybe it's me who's improving?). I think anyone can be a photo manipulator. And did I mention it's lots of fun?

  10. a lovely artistic journey; thank you for sharing with us Diane

    much love...

  11. That is just beautiful, Diane. I loved reading about your process. I wondered about Spark when I learned of it this year through a Poetry Friday post. It's wonderful that you took the leap to create in another medium. I have no idea how you did that layering, but it's very impressive and lovely.

  12. It's really quite easy. If you ever want a lesson, Joyce, just let me know! (I'm serious.)