Pull quotes: That farmland spark

“Before the turbines I had a very happy, hardworking life that actually makes me cry when I remember it.”

- Lynda Barry talks to Vice Magazine about how lobbying against wind turbines in her backyard has stalled her creative work, and details how she typically starts her day as an artist. Working from a small barn with no computer, she begins with a reading of poetry or philosophy at dawn. Then to warm up:

“I would grind my ink on my inkstone and paint out the alphabet slowly on legal paper. Sometime during that painting of the alphabet I’d get a feeling about something to make. If it felt like writing then I’d work on my novel—writing it with a paintbrush. Slower writing is better for me. Better for my ideas. [snip] If there was no particular feeling I’d keep on writing the alphabet and moving my brush around the page in an unplanned way. Something always came up to meet me from this activity. There weren’t many bad days.”

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Barry also discusses using images and memories to start the creative process, a technique which Jeff Lemire discusses in a post at the Powell’s Books blog, about using childhood locations for inspiration:

“I’ll admit, the rusted old farm equipment, teetering windmills and concrete grain elevators that littered the wide open fields of Essex County meant little to me growing up there. I couldn’t wait to move to the big city. But, ten years after leaving EC, and living in said Big City, the sparse lonely landscaped of my childhood started to evoke a strong, almost guttural pull inside of me. Moreover, they seemed like a natural fit with the jagged, expressive inking style that had become the earmark of my cartooning.”

We can’t help but wonder: Is there something about the farmlands which triggers artistic inspiration?

Posted by Aaron Humphrey

Comments

  1. Growing up in the Midwest, living in the suburbs of Omaha (which at the point had been part of Omaha for ten years), and spending my summers in the small (1200) town of Lake View, Iowa, yes, there is something about farms and nature which inspire creativity. With a farm, it’s a mixture of the human with the natural. (Yes, the natural is all prepared by Man, but Nature stills plays a big role, especially with the weather.) Small town life, especially that with little technology (we used the neighbor’s phone for emergencies, our television pulled in five channels) allows one a simplicity to engage as others have done for centuries.

    Driving through the Great American desert also allows one’s mind to drift, as you drive by countless fields of corn and soybeans. (If you are driving long distances, and have the time, take any U.S. Highway. You’ll see more, eat tastier food, and the traffic will not be as problematic. Do not stop in any town with more than 5,000 people. Eat at restaurants and diners with the owner’s name on the building. If there’s an historic building, consider touring.)

  2. John Tebbel says:

    Bronx is up, and the Battery’s down. And read ‘visceral’ for ‘gutteral’ in the second excerpt. –the mad pedant, who puts the cog in lexicography

  3. michael says:

    I admire Lynda’s art, not her stance on ecologically friendly energy.

  4. AaronH says:

    Just to clarify for those who haven’t read the whole Vice interview: Barry isn’t against wind turbines, just against having them built less than 2,640 feet away from somebody’s home.
    It’s a rather specific stance, so I’m not sure that it’s fair to extrapolate that she is against ecological friendly energy.

  5. mark coale says:

    NIMBY.

  6. snoid says:

    “Just to clarify for those who haven’t read the whole Vice interview: Barry isn’t against wind turbines, just against having them built less than 2,640 feet away from somebody’s home.
    It’s a rather specific stance, so I’m not sure that it’s fair to extrapolate that she is against ecological friendly energy”

    In other words…I’m all for ecological friendly energy as long as it’s not in MY BACKYARD… typical liberal hypocrite.

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