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Creativity begets creativity


A collaboration between four artists

I love it when one person’s creative efforts inspire another. Too often, as artists, we’re concerned about protecting the legal rights to our creative products. We fear others will benefit from our hard work and imagination.

When it comes to artistic inspiration, I’ve always wanted to share what I’ve produced – and what I’ve learned along the way. I work for Winnipeg singer-songwriter Steve Bell, and he feels the same way. It doesn’t mean we want to give our work away for free. But when our work inspires someone else, it’s a way to “pay it forward.” In fact, Steve’s travel photography inspired me to start painting again after a 20-year hiatus.

Recently, Steve travelled to Cambridge, England, to perform at the annual C.S. Lewis Summer Institute. While there, he met Malcolm Guite, a lecturer at Girton College who’s also a singer-songwriter-poet-vicar – and rides a Harley. He’s quite a character!

Steve and Malcolm became fast friends. Malcolm’s sonnets are very popular in the U.K., and Steve was inspired to use some of them as lyrics for songs on his upcoming 2012 Christmas CD, Keening for the Dawn. Malcolm’s voice, reading some of the lyrics, will be included on the album.

Steve told me the story, and I immediately went online to find some photos of Malcolm. One photo, in particular, inspired me to pick up my paintbrush. It was part of a series taken by writer-photographer Lancia E. Smith, a friend of Malcolm’s who was writing an interview series featuring the poet and theologian.

When I first approached Lancia for permission to use her work for a series of paintings, she was hesitant. “Faye’s request represented an unlooked-for opportunity to learn how to behave with trust in context of creative community,” writes Lancia on her blog. “I promptly said yes, even though I was nervous about it.”

One of the things that deeply struck Lancia about this rare opportunity was the chance to “see what I see through someone else’s eye and heart and skill – depicted with nuanced observation. [There are] unique qualities that painting can capture and interpret, that can’t be done the same way through photography.”

At that point, Lancia, Malcolm, and I agreed to link our websites together for
widespread sharing of the collaboration. Lancia sent me the entire set of photos she had taken of Malcolm – an artist’s dream! There were so many pictures I wanted to paint. I chose three main shots and decided to compose a trilogy (shown in this spread).

After the first painting, “The Journey,” I took a class in multimedia and was inspired to incorporate a collage of some of Malcolm’s handwriting into the paintings. Steve helped me by choosing two of his favourite poems, “Mozart at Greenbelt” and “Saying the Names.” Malcolm wrote them by hand and emailed them to me.

Reflecting on the collaboration, Malcolm writes, “What we have here is four individual artists in four different media; poetry, song, painting, and photography, all making something new and different as they exchange ideas across the Atlantic, and yet this new and different work ultimately arises out of the common life in Christ, the indwelling Logos. Remarkable.”

These artists have been generous with their talents, and I count myself blessed to be associated with them. What a gift from our Creator!

Faye Hall and her husband Darrell are members of North Kildonan MB Church, Winnipeg.

For more information, see www.fayehall.com; www.stevebell.com; www.malcolmguite.wordpress.com; www.lanciaesmith.com. Malcolm’s forthcoming book Sounding the Seasons: 70 Sonnets for the Church Calendar Year is due for release in fall 2012 by Canterbury Press.


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Katrina August 15, 2012 - 16:41

Beautiful work – so inspiring! I believe my favorite is “Saying the Names.” I love the idea of incorporating his handwriting into the painting. Thanks to each of you for sharing your creativity!

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