When I was in art and creative writing classes, I always resented having to follow prompts or obey the teachers' instructions. I guess I was always a sort of obstinate child - a byproduct of being so precocious, I suppose. I also never considered the results of these exercises "art," since I place so much value on originality and intention when it comes to the act of creating. But lately I've been reconsidering my attitude to artistic instruction. I've been playing around with some of my materials, and I just bought a shiny new set of acrylics, but...I'm feeling a bit lost. So I decided to get back to basics and check out a book of creative exercises from the library. Yes, many of the activities are silly and some are just downright dumb (make a car out of a soda can??), but lo and behold I've already gained some inspiration. The idea, I've come to realize (finally - stubborn me), is to get the mind working in ways it's not used to and start problem-solving; for me, taking scenarios I might not necessarily like and turning them into something I find beautiful or useful. For the next few days I'll be setting my pride aside and going old-school.
On that note, here's a short poem from one of my college creative writing classes that started as a prompt and turned into something I really enjoyed. Based on the work of Lisa Jarnot in Some Other Kind of Mission (a really fabulous book, if you haven't read it):
Light memory. Laughing blindfolds or green sugar spoons. Risk! Reckless, shantytown i mean rosemary Italian gin. Now i'm combining by accident, forgive me. I cried twice when you left. dark night, overnight. flashbulbs break silence and diners open and still bad gin but now no longer frightened of you leaving. I could tell I'm not accomplishing. the desired effect. Forgive me.