my big creative year : memory

dress updress up 1970-ish (I’m in black)

I can’t think about myself creatively without thinking of my childhood and my memories of it. I think this is the richest part of my mind, a library of detailed and evocative images I return to again and again. For my creative life it is the place that everything comes from. Everything. It runs deeply through all of what I make – whether it is my intention or not.

When I approach it directly – when I go looking for those images and sensations and moods and textures and attempt to express them, as purely as I can, I sometimes lose my self consciousness, my judgmental self gets out of the way. I think it has to do with the quality of memory itself – shadowy and shifting, elusive and sometimes fragmentary – it requires patience, careful listening and something slower and quieter from me.

It’s something I’m curious about – these impressions of experiences that my brain made and kept.  I’m curious about all these pictures that exist in my mind and nowhere else and I wonder how to express them as fully as I can without my current perspective and judgements getting in the way.

octobersThe image above is from my “this is where i am from” series: I remember when I was 10 or so, alone in my room, noticing that I was experiencing an exquisite moment. I was lying on my bed reading Anne of Greene Gables. It was late in the day on a Sunday and almost to cold too have the window open- but not quite.



  1. I can really relate to this desire to mine memory to re-live feelings and experiences. I paint and draw and write poetry, and particularly in my poetry I reach back in time for those “exquisite moments” you mention. Here is a brief poem I wrote about one special moment that you might enjoy:

    It was a sunny day
    Victorian house down a dirt road
    With an orchard

    Pretty inside
    Bathroom in lilac and blue
    Bath time

    I sit on the porch
    Legs up
    With my coffee

    Oh that the sun would shine
    All the time
    Like that

    • Thanks for that Lisa – I love it. It does paint a picture, cast a spell.

  2. I loved this post, Ann. My childhood memories are so fragmented and yet there are many. I’ve been curious about what I remember, the memories so random, seemingly. But I haven’t mined these memories to inform my art, at least not consciously. Now I will pay more attention.

  3. I’d love to hear more about this. Getting in touch with that drive and energy from my childhood feels like it would be healing and inspirational. Can you talk more about ways that you “approach it directly”? Thank you again for your honesty and inspiration.

      • Ann, Thank you for the example. I was thinking there was some secret or complicated idea but this is so simple and wonderful.

  4. hi ann
    really evocative much conveyed in a few words!
    i am wondering if it is possible to have a memory that is not veiled thru the years of our experiences?
    can we ever go back? is the witness that we are now part of the joy of growth? does a picture tell a story or do i tell the story?
    just a few questions…lets chat when we are at squam and maybe we can tease the soul out of this a bit more
    with joy and wind,

  5. I actually didn’t read Anne of Green Gables until I was an adult. I will remember the same feelings that I had forever, too. I love how you said you return to your little moments again and again. Isn’t it wonderful to have those personal places to return to. …love your little dresser…it’s perfect:) Laura

Comments are closed.