Friday, January 20, 2012

Idea boards....

The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas, and throw the bad ones away.  ~Linus Pauling

When I was growing up, my mother maintained a studio in every house in which we lived. If something struck her as inspiring, she'd pin it up onto one of her idea boards. Her idea boards overflowed, and she also maintained files to hold bits of thoughts. Some of these were fabulous quotes that she found intriguing. Others were cartoons from the New Yorker, or even whole articles. Most often, however, these were bits of fabric, photos or sketches to do with design. Mom was the art director for her family's paper goods company, and it was her job to coordinate between what was happening out in the world with her artists, and balancing that with her own sense of the creative process. As she moved into the hotel business with my father, she wore two hats; one was her continued vision for the paper goods company, but she was then also responsible for designing the spaces at my parents' Santa Barbara resort, both inside and out. My grandmother was the same way. She had ideas in design neatly organized in her sewing room...which doubled as her drawing room, sculpting room, painting room and craft space. Grandma was the most talented dressmaker and landscape artist I've ever known. And yet, she did these as hobbies for fun. I used to look at the idea boards of both my mother and grandmother and wonder how many of these bits of illumination would come to fruition. I loved how they looked...mismatched, yet compelling. They were a deluge of creativity, an avalanche of suggestions.I wanted to frame the boards themselves to keep in my room.

Even though these boards were created to inspire art, they themselves, in my humble opinion were the art. The random gathering of home fashion pulled from magazines, postcards from extraordinary places, fabric swatches, old photographs, handwritten notes from friends and any number of surprising bits of vision. Some of these pinned pieces were to decipher; the gorgeous bedroom, done up in green and ivory, was obviously translated to mean a room to least in feeling or individual pieces. The scrap with just a few words, the piece of frayed, worn out gingham  or the restaurant menu were a bit harder to understand. I did know, however, that the creative process ran deeply, and that the tired piece of gingham might not be 'about' the tired piece of gingham. Rather, it could be a reminder of an event, whose memory would trigger a design different that the ratty fabric. Significance, I learned, in idea boards, often had less to do with what was up on the board exactly, than it did for what each piece signified. So, in many ways, the pin boards belonging to the most important women in my life were actually a view into the way their minds worked creatively. The items they pinned were archetypal. 

I wish I possessed the gene for creativity and style that my Mama and Grandma have. Grandma could see any couture dress in a store, look at it for a moment, and then go home and make it. Only better. Mama could gather up the most disjointed, unlikely group of furniture and textiles and create exceptional, eclectic and harmonious spaces. Me? I have no sense in either of these abilities. Both women could look at a blank canvas, and could pull forth a painting that seemed to have always existed from within. I can't even draw a stick figure. I have the utmost admiration for this potentiality. I lack depth perception, so I always pick out furniture of the utterly wrong proportion for any room. I can barely hem pants, let alone sew a dress. I can walk into a room I think is dreadful, but have no idea how to change it. Conversely, I can experience a breathtaking space, that just drips style and comfort, and yet be utterly flummoxed as to how to recreate it.

Therefore, when my friends told me about a fun website, called Pinterest, I was certain I'd be unable to do use it. After all, I'm neither creative nor inspired. I don't wake up dreaming about green velvet sofas or styling an outfit around black flats. I wake up hoping for coffee and sunny skies under which to walk my dogs.  Who knew that I'd become a "Pinaddict" within 24 hours of my first pin? My friend, Debbie, was teasing that she's turned so many people onto the site that she might as well call herself a Pin-pusher, "Hey little girl....wanna pin?".

Joking aside, it really is a fun site. You can create virtual pin boards online, maintained by the glue, no cutting, no scrunched up napkins and no running out of thumb tacks. You can find ideas for everything from fashion to Fettuccine recipes and from puppies to painting. The boards begin with a few standard ones...'For the home', 'Food', 'Books worth reason'. The possibilities to create your own, however, are endless. You can borrow ("repin") ideas from other people. This isn't considered stealing, but is the basis of Pinterest! It's the sharing of those things that inspire us and is meant to be a public endeavor. You can also upload photos of whatever takes your fancy...using the handy "Pin It" tool...and thereby, share them with the Pinterest community. I've created a dozen boards so far...and none of them are even close to compete. It's an ongoing process for everyone...we keep virtually "pinning" as long as we choose to.

Pinning is great fun. Pinning does make the "pinner" feel much more creative. Pinning creates a new community. But, pinning is addictive. Don't say I didn't warn you!

But, please excuse me. I have an idea about an all black and white board. I must pin...