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Pure Imagination: A World of My Creation

Jasmine McGee Mos Def Painting

I’m not a connoisseur of words, yet I know how to use them to my advantage. Utilizing proper grammatical equations, I treat the keyboard as though it were a canvas and my fingers are individual paint brushes conducting every stroke. There are many analogies to describe the emotions that  writers experience, yet I prefer to rely on an analogy that is second nature to me. Art. A three letter word, an eccentric philosophy student whose legal name is Art, a painting, a song, a film, and the application of human creativity and imagination.

I’m known as a writer, a student, a young black female, a girl gamer, a tall woman, a former musician (ah the days of playing the flute in band), and a bold spirit. Yet many people are always blown away by my artistic passion. My blog has become a creative corner in which I’ve expressed my view points on life through the conventions of language and media, which in it self is a language of it’s own, but my artistic side has remained a photo album on Facebook.  After juggling through random videos on my wall and my different style choices within every photo I take, people usually run across my “Art is Lyfe” album on Facebook and are shocked.

It’s no secret that those with avant-garde approaches to life tend to have an array of interests. A true visionary doesn’t limit themselves to one aesthetic, yet opting to combine different elements in order to let the madness in their mind escape. My imagination, in it’s purest form, is a terrain resembling Little Big Planet.  Similar to the game, my imagination combines childhood ambitions with adult realities and futuristic concepts. I’m constantly thinking about about formulating a new spin on basic topics and creating paintings that express the song in my head or the words I want to evoke in the minds of the viewer.

By no means am I a professional artist or the next Edward Hopper( in my dreams I paint that well), but I have earned the title of an artist and writer. Growing up with a mother, professional African-American fine artist Janie McGee, I was exposed to the picturesque world of visual art. I loved studying her intricate brush strokes and her combination of colors that exemplified radiant brown skin. I never had a mother who fed my promises in order to satisfy my childhood attention span. Instead of scattering toys in front of me (even though I had some great toys, including a huge Barbie collection) my mom would hand me a cup, a few paint brushes, paper, and set up a little station for me to sit next to her while she crafted a masterpiece.

We would spend hours watching classic movies on TCM, laughing, and working on our paintings. I always looked forward to those summers when school was out and my mom would give me creative art projects to complete. Ever since the age of four, which is when my mom began teaching me how to draw and paint, I had knew that art was going to be a permanent part of my life. I had sold my first painting around that same age to her mentor and friend Thomas Blacksheare, who is another successful African-American artist. I grew up going to art shows and arts/entertainment events that my parent’s would host at whatever studio space my mom was renting or at our house. I grew up surrounded by the arts and I grew up understanding that the most important things I had been blessed with in life would always be family, a loving God, house music, and my imagination.

My imagination became my support system in the happiest and darkest moments in my life. When I was homeless in 2004 and living in an old barn house on a campground in St. Mary’s county Maryland, I relied on my sketch pad from Michaels,a few pencils, and a small diary to get through that time. I had been promoting and showcasing my art in shows with my mom since a very young age, but selling paintings and always having my work on display was facing competition with a desire to write. After publishing my first article in a national teen magazine earlier that year, I had began to understand my voice was worthy of being heard.

Writing and art fed both parts of my soul, but I began to focus on writing as a career. Since elementary school, I’ve always been in art classes and theatre classes every year in school. Theatre became a passion of mine because it touched another part of my soul, that desire to be heard and seen while evoking an emotional response in an engaged audience. Creating characters has always been something I was fond of, especially when I faced rejection at school from the “popular” crowd. Even now, I still find myself holding onto these passions that got me through the good and the bad days, those days when you wished the sun really did have a smile.

The arts have always been a voice in my life and I continue to satisfy my artistic cravings. When my imagination is speaking to me in the form of a painting or drawing, then I go gather my materials, put on some house music, and I create. When I have essays swirling around my brain, I grab my laptop, put on some jazz or house, and I write. The process typically involves some musical stimulation, but I also enjoy the moments of creation in pure silence. Silence allows my imagination and my hands to have a conversation that isn’t influenced by other human innovation.

When it comes to describing who I am as a writer and a visual artist, the only thing that comes to mind is “Pure Imagination.” As a child Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory was one of my favorite movies due to the creative elements. The original scene from the movie with Gene Wilder and his sassy attitude left an imprint on my mind. The concept of a room filled with so many chocolate delights, colorful creations, and the pleasure of freedom being fulfilled, topped with a beautiful song, created a majestic idea. The original movie with Gene Wilder is superior to the Johnny Depp remake and the song is one that pays homage to imagination.

The song “Pure Imagination”, originally written by Lou Rawls, also has a modern upbeat version by the Stylophonics. Over the weekend I went through my Ipod and began playing the Stylophonicssong over and over again in my head. I hadn’t listened to it in a few months, but it served it’s purpose in refreshing my imagination. My mom always told me that the most beautiful thing about my personality was my imagination. Ever since I was young I never understood the concept of the word no and would embark on a new journey every day to satisfy a creative itch. Nothing seemed impossible at that age. But as an adult it’s harder to commit to pure imagination and separate ourselves from the daily stress and harsh reality of society.

But imagination shouldn’t be a task as daunting as filing your taxes. As the song says, “If you want to be in paradise, simply look around and view it/ Anything you want to do it/Want to change the world, there’s nothing to it.” Those may seem like simple phrases but they hold complex meanings that can free your mind. Being creative is about releasing your inhibitions and taking a chance on your mind. It’s not a calculated process that requires approval from society, but it’s more so a spiritual awakening that begins with the childhood lessons we learn concerning getting acquainted with our imagination.

Remember those days when you drew doodles and stick figures with dinosaurs crawling out of their heads? That’s what imagination is all about, yet creativity amongst adults tends to get lost in the politics of the arts. Don’t worry whether your going to be the next best selling author or the next world class artist. Imagination isn’t based upon merits and social acceptance. Imagination thrives off the experiences of the world and the experiences yet to be discovered. If you want to be in paradise, then simply look around and view it. Pure imagination is right in front of you, it’s just waiting for you to open your eyes and create a world of your own creation. So what are you waiting for?

©Jasmine McGee