My word of the year for 2022 was JOY. And recently I got to wondering...
How can I tap into that year of chasing joy and share some of that with you? How can I encourage you on your own adventures to find those tiny flutters of joy? And that's when I remembered the sidewalk crack flowers. What the heck am I talking about? Well, here's one:
I suppose technically that one is in the crack of some pavement. But just look at that tenacity! That is, in fact, a weed. It is a redstem stork's bill. I've even seen it referred to as noxious.
But isn't it cute!? And it has the coolest seedpods, too. Which is where it gets its name.
I even did some painting in my sketchbook a while back inspired by these pretty little weeds.
It's what got me started playing with topo lines again, actually.
So, of course, I decided to try it in a bigger painting, which is now available on Society6:
If you'd like, you can read more about this piece over on Patreon.
I'd like to do some more of these, actually...
Anyway, though! With it only being January, there aren't any of these little guys blooming just yet. But I've started to see some new growth, yes in the cracks of the sidewalks and roads and even cropping up in the large swaths of gravel landscaping that abound here on Fort Irwin. Do you ever notice the wildflowers growing up in the cracks of mundanity? There's a certain magic to it. That tiny show of bravery, a seed landing in the most inhospitable of locations and still having the audacity to grow there anyway. And bloom! What an incredible force of life a simple little weed can be. Here's another favorite picture from last year:
These aren't technically sidewalk CRACK flowers, I suppose. But I got weeks of joy out of watching these happy little yellow flowers blooming along the edge of the sidewalk as I walked back home from dropping my son off at school. I've started to look for them again now, those sidewalk crack flowers, even though it's still a bit too early. I'm excited for them! You know I DID see a brittlebush blooming in January last year... So now I'm even MORE excited to see what the first flower of the year will be! (Probably a dandelion, let's be real.)
That brittlebush made it into my sketchbook too, actually:
Ooh, I can't wait to see that first burst of yellow this year! Recently while walking back home after morning drop off, I paused to try to take a picture of a leaf sparkling in the sunshine with a bit of frost still on it. It was difficult to capture, of course, but after I took the photo I noticed another cool thing: the grass cast some really interesting shadows across the crystal encrusted leaf, too. Take a look at all the texture and color in this otherwise kind of boring picture!
How many colors do you see? I see white and silver and blue on the leaf, contrasting with a pretty brilliant yellow that is its stem. The grass is a mix of straw and fresh growth, some of which is also sparkling with frost, too. I could have walked right by this little leaf without noticing it. But the sun sparkling off the grass caught my attention, if only briefly, and I remembered. I remembered that I'm looking for magic. I'm looking for beauty in unexpected places. And so I interrupted my husband talking to go back and take a picture of it. And I am so very glad I did. Because it made me smile. And maybe, just maybe, it's made you smile, too. If you're looking for a reason to chase joy and smile a little more, even when the world seems to want you not to, you might enjoy a podcast by Brené Brown I recently listened to. She and Karen Walrond chatted about making it a habit to access joy. I think it's a pretty powerful listen.
Here's a quote that I've been carrying around with me, not in my pocket, exactly, but saved in my phone, so it's sort of the same thing! "Art is an echo of the creative force that birthed the galaxies. Creativity is the way that the cosmos evolves and communicates with itself. The great uplifting of humanity beyond its self-destruction is the redemptive mission of art." - Alex Gray And so I challenge you to also become a seeker of beauty and joy emerging from the cracks of mundanity. Look for those tenacious little wildflowers sprouting up in the oddest of places. Notice the colors. The textures. The shapes that you see. And then WONDER. Wonder at all of that inspiration right there under your feet! Wonder how you can bring that inspiration into your next creative project. Imagine finding the perfect shade of yarn that matches that pretty little flower you saw growing someplace unexpected on a particularly pleasant afternoon walk - and then turning it into a hat or a scarf that you can wear and REMEMBER that joy and wonder from a simple moment. A moment when you PAUSED and WONDERED and SMILED.
And if you find a flower growing in the cracks of the sidewalk? Snap a picture and send it to me! It'll make me smile, too. And sharing joy can change the world. I truly believe that. Stay curious, my friends.
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