"The majority of those who put together collections of verses or epigrams resemble those who eat cherries or oysters: they begin by choosing the best and end by eating everything." That was written by Chamfort (1741-1794). I collect words. Words communicate thoughts, emotions, and sometimes they are only used in art -to take us off on a voyage to another time and place. Much like images, but sometimes more thought provoking. I'm known for my use of words in my altered books and art journals. I love finding phrases, or quotations that fit the page. Usually my books are done with the images first, then the backgrounds, and finally the words. It's such fun taking a little finished journal and finding the right phrases and words to use. Do you work this way too? Do you have favorite sources for your words?
I have an envelope full of words cut out from different sources. I also have a huge file of quotations in my database. But, more often than not, I go hunting for the words when I need them - because it's more fun that way. And they seem fresher and more spontaneous. It's the hunt. Much like going on a shopping spree - only it's not hard on the budget. Here are some of my favorite sources.
1. Books of phrases and quotations. You can't beat the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations for a good read. Our local used library book store has a shelf of books about words. Dictionaries, thesaurus, political quotations, speech writing books, slang, foreign phrases , etc. It's the first shelf I go to. Quotes about golfing.
"Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead" Gene Fowler (1890-1960). Maybe this is why I'd rather borrow words from someone else....
2. Magazines. Articles often have interesting headlines, or captions under the photos. Advertisements ofte have interesting wording. "Dazzle" "You'll be so surprised" "No More Pit Stops" "Travel the globe without jet lag", are interesting phrases that fit nicely into travel journals.
"When's the last time you took a shower?" is a phrase I found and coupled it with a picture of a little frog in a pond. This makes everyone giggle, because it is nonsense. One of my friends, Nancy, brings me her mom's old magazines. They are the nostalgia type, and very often the headings and titles of articles make good use of words. "There was nowhere to go but down." "Her clever shortcut didn't go unnoticed" "Intuition was her secret ingredient"
3. Vintage books. The phrases used by authors in old school books, novels, poetry books, and even old dictionaries and encyclopedias can be interesting. Sometimes I challenge myself to pull out a couple pages from an old book, and attempt to find enough words to fill my little journal with meaningful words and phrases that are interesting and thought provoking, or just plain silly.
"We see things very differently" meant one thing to Jane Austin - and something else when it is on a page with two little birds on a wire facing each other. It would mean something completely different if you put it on a page with a man and woman. Or a cat and a dog. Or two crossed eyeballs. Or two flags from different countries.
The words "shunning shoes was the norm for her" means one thing if on a page with a nude - and something else if it is a toddler wading at the beach. "where do all the daisies go?" Using random words and placing them with other random word can give interesting results. "I snapped" "among a sea of shoeboxes." and
"the man in my bed" "I met at my mailbox" "I'd been abridged" "it was pitiful". See how you can build a little story without thinking up your own words? is this cheating- or clever? I vote for clever.
4. Lyrics from songs that you hear on the radio, or that you remember. Words that stick in your head. Think of Country western songs, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson. Think of the Broadway musicals where the lyrics often carry the story line along. "I've grown accustomed to your face". People who need people.
5. Ephemera. The cookie bags from McDonalds have interesting phrases to cut up and use. "Our secret is no secret". Look around at other packaging in your cupboard. There is bound to be something there that you have not noticed, and that can be used. Trader Joes' puts out something called the Fearless Flyer, which contains really fun old copyright free art, and lots of interesting phrases. Here are a few phrases I cut out of junk mail.. "Yes, but why now?" "Because now - today- you have something yo may NOT have in the future" "Lasts a lifetime" "Evergreen"
6. Rubber stamps. It's amazing how many interesting phrases and single words are on rubber stamps. Sometimes I just can't resist a good quote on a stamp. Makes it easy to put on a post card with some art. And they are also useful in art journals and altered books. "Mama said there'd be days like this" is a useful stamp. "Reach for the stars" is another. "Never talk dirty to your parakeet" always brings a smile. "Tread l;ightly" "Everything happens for a reason"
7. Contemporary books. The library book store sells lots of picture books with good captions. Things like the Bad Dog book, or books about love, or about mothers. These are intended as gift books. A favorite phrase I used recently was "To be honest, Barbara, you're not a thong person". Booth of my Barabara friends got a kick out of it. I paired it with a picture of a nude sculpture, back view, onto which I drew a thong.
Lillian at the senior center has taken on the hunt for these books, which she brings to me hoping I'll find good phrases to use. I"m going to make her an art journal using some of the words she supplied.
8. Movies. Most of us have phrases we remember from movies. "Are you talking to me?" "I could have been a contender". "May the force be with you"
I hear thunder outside now, and it's late, I'm going to close up. I may need to add to this later. I hope this has given you something to think about. That's all folks.