Category Archives: In The Studio

Where Ideas Come From: The Compost Heap

Where Ideas Come From: The Compost Heap

I prescribe to the belief that nothing is truly original, that true creativity is as simple and as difficult as building new connections between preexisting ideas.

Most of my creative projects arise out of an accumulation of years of discarded thoughts. Countless ideas that I’ve scrawled in notebooks only to be left in a pile in the corner, gathering dust.

Like food scraps, these ideas are shaved off of other projects. Some I created, others I merely participated in, and more I read or learned about after the fact. The first few steps down a wayward path, usually starting with “What if we….” or “Wouldn’t it be cool if….” On their own, these premature ideas are nothing to make a meal out of and could easily have been thrown in the trash. Instead, as an avid documenter, I collect these ideas and throw them in a mental compost heap.

There they sit, some for a few days and some for ten years, and overtime their original creative potential becomes the rich soil out of which a new project is born. In order to start something, all I have to do is start digging. Some of the ideas remain intact and unworkable, too interested in their own appearance to lend their nutrients to a greater goal, but others have been broken down to such an extent that they can be remolded, recombined, and that’s where the real fun happens.

This is the rich dirt of creativity: the decomposition of cast-off ideas. It’s why no effort, no project, no thought is ever truly a waste. Today’s distraction can be noted down and put aside to become part of tomorrow’s inspiration. Sometimes our ideas bloom immediately into wild-legged beasts or materialize as shimmering mirages, but many of them just need some time to ferment. Or, in the case of this metaphor, to decompose.


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Making Magic

Making Magic

–written by Hearth Member, Jaclyn Wood The Harry Potter Hearth Dinner is approaching. Do you have your costumes ready? It’s easy to put together a house uniform, but unfortunately there is no wand shop in Harvard Square. That’s no problem for a community of makers. To make this most important magical tool all you needContinue Reading

Why I Knit My Canvasses

Why I Knit My Canvasses

-written by Miranda Aisling I knitted my first canvas in early 2011. It was my final semester in college and I was deeply entrenched in creating a series of wall-size abstract oil paintings for my senior show. The first paintings for the show were stretched on traditional canvas but as my scale grew I realizedContinue Reading

Why You Should Pay For Art

Why You Should Pay For Art

Since I started my artistic career as an undergraduate studying painting and pottery, I have worked in a variety of artistic arenas.  I’ve made my way through museums, galleries, established and new art centers; farmer markets, craft fairs, and huge arts festivals.  During this time I have discovered to different expectations from the art world: Art should beContinue Reading

Keeping Creative New Year’s Resolutions

-written by Hearth Member, Amy Beth Harrison “Any beginning is a time of special power for habit creation,” Gretchen Rubin writes in Better than Before. Although New Year’s is a rather arbitrary date, the feeling of a new beginning can help you make some changes, especially ones you deeply care about like creative goals. WhatContinue Reading

How to tell if a painting is finished

How to tell if a painting is finished

As I write this, I’m tucked in bed surrounded by eight paintings that span my artistic career up to this point.  An old college experiment that I still love, perhaps to spite the fact that my professor told me it wasn’t my strongest work.  A piece from my thesis exhibition next to a slightly strongerContinue Reading

Art as Therapy

A review of Art as Therapy by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong written by Hearth Member, Amy Beth Harrison How therapeutic is looking at art for you? The point of Art as Therapy by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong is that the experience could be so much better.  I wouldn’t be a visual artistContinue Reading

Creative Resilience Tools

Creative Resilience Tools

-written by Hearth Member, Amy Beth Harrison As we FINALLY move into spring here in Boston, it’s a good time to make a creative fresh start. Creative slumps are just part of the territory of being a maker, but they don’t have to define your creative practice. Here are some ideas to help you thatContinue Reading

New Year;  More Art

New Year; More Art

–written by Hearth Member Amy Beth Like many of you, being creative is important to me. So as I was forming New Year’s resolutions, I knew I wanted to do more art this year. I have designated art time each week, but I have noticed that it is often derailed by a stressful week, hiccupsContinue Reading

Learning to Destroy

Learning to Destroy

Last Friday I welcomed ten odd artists into my apartment.  They arrived haphazardly; bundled against the cold and toting food to share and art to consider.  They were all members of the Boston Critique Group whose monthly meetings I have sporadically attended since I crossed paths with the founder, Katherine Vetne, over two years ago. OverContinue Reading