The Write Mood

"Autumn" Mood Board, 16 December 2019. Copyright 2019 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.

The mechanics of artistic thinking is as interesting to me as what it produces. One part of my creative process I have not written about before is the use of mood boards.

Sometimes they are abstract—mental images of the scenes or incidents I wish to embody in verse; sometimes concrete—collages of photographs and words. Whatever the form, as I compose a poem (or musical work), I draw upon these as a source of ideas.

To illustrate, I include a simplified mood board1 for “Autumn” (the poem I am currently composing). In 2012, when the original version was composed, I had not yet developed the mood board approach—moreover, the poem was very much an impromptu affair.

Since then, my process has improved significantly. The mood board visuals keep before me what inspired the verse—evoking words and phrases to express the theme.

  1. The photographs are not my own: top left is by Kuzmenko Viktoria, top right by Daniel Kay, bottom left by Neenawat Khenyothaa and bottom right by Gints Ivuskans.

Cattle on a Hill

Cattle on a Hill, 5 December 2019. Copyright 2019 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.
Cows in the stubble with their young. (It is early summer in South Africa.)

I captured this impromptu photograph whilst out among the hills, late yesterday afternoon, and shared it with a friend. “It complements your art,” he said. The inverse, however, is true: my art seeks to complement it—indeed, the Overberg1 inspires the Theme (Wonder), Subject (Natural Beauty) and Style (Simple Lyric Poetry) of my work. Here, every resource must be husbanded, and the minimalism of the landscape is the result of drudgery. Both shape my attitude to words when I extol this region in verse.

  1. A rural region of the Western Cape province of South Africa.

An Exaltation

A Flock on the Foothills, 18 October 2019. Copyright 2018 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.
To my left, a flock on the foothills.
When I survey pastoral scenes such as these, I wish that I could outstretch my arms and embrace them! In my desperation, I do so with words—fumbling lines that do none of it justice. If I could write poetry so sweet, verses so simple—silences so sustaining!
Sheep on a Hill, 18 October 2019. Copyright 2018 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.
To my right, a flock on an eminence.

Photographs taken 18 October 2019.