anna brones

writer + artist

2022 Words for Creating and Being: May

leave a comment »

Untitled_Artwork 12

New month, new prompts in the 2022 Words for Creating and Being series.

These are words for contemplation, words for action, words for creativity. Use them as you see fit. Use them as a starting point for a drawing, a poem, a painting, a song. Use them to spark something. Use them as a question, use them for contemplation.

1. dream
2. rest
3. forage
4. speak
5. dig
6. appear
7. watch
8. wonder
9. trust
10. limit
11. wild
12. deliver
13. seek
14. investigate
15. flow
16. branch
17. commence
18. try
19. blend
20. identify
21. force
22. savor
23. germinate
24. thrive
25. ripen
26. explore
27. question
28. lengthen
29. glimmer
30. burst
31. delve

What happens when we sit with a word? When we unpack it? When we investigate every single letter? When we consider what’s behind the definition? That’s what these words are for. They are intended to create space for contemplation, they are an ask for you to invest time in the creative process in all of its forms.

You can find previous monthly lists of prompts here.

As always, these monthly prompts and a lot of my other work are made possible thanks to supporters on Patreon.

Written by Anna Brones

May 2, 2022 at 10:34

2022 Words for Creating and Being: April

leave a comment »

New month, new prompts in the 2022 Words for Creating and Being series.

These are words for contemplation, words for action, words for creativity. Use them as you see fit. Use them as a starting point, use them as a mantra. Use them to spark something. Use them as a question, use them as an intention.

//

1. laugh
2. allow
3. involve
4. appreciate
5. proceed
6. lean
7. rebuild
8. awaken
9. center
10. release
11. puddle
12. commit
13. plan
14. resume
15. discover
16. refine
17. journey
18. grow
19. find
20. stumble
21. alter
22. strengthen
23. articulate
24. perceive
25. control
26. arrange
27. clarify
28. attention
29. stir
30. change

What happens when we sit with a word? When we unpack it? When we investigate every single letter? When we consider what’s behind the definition? That’s what these words are for. They are intended to create space for contemplation, they are an ask for you to invest time in the creative process in all of its forms.

You can find previous monthly lists of prompts here.

As always, these monthly prompts and a lot of my other work are made possible thanks to supporters on Patreon.

Written by Anna Brones

April 1, 2022 at 06:54

2022 Words for Creating and Being: March

leave a comment »

Untitled_Artwork 5

New month, new prompts in the 2022 Words for Creating and Being series.

Words for contemplation, words for action, words for creativity.

I know that things are heavy right now. Which is even more reason for us to take time to be present, to think, to connect, to create.

1. pause
2. feel
3. immerse
4. focus
5. grace
6. respond
7. decide
8. resistance
9. see
10. root
11. open
12. revive
13. forge
14. voice
15. support
16. plunge
17. contemplate
18. there
19. amend
20. emerge
21. choose
22. trim
23. expand
24. notice
25. connect
26. intertwine
27. invite
28. revitalize
29. transform
30. struggle
31. adapt

What happens when we sit with a word? When we unpack it? When we investigate every single letter? When we consider what’s behind the definition? That’s what these words are for. They are intended to create space for contemplation, they are an ask for you to invest time in the creative process in all of its forms.

You can find previous monthly lists of prompts here.

As always, these monthly prompts and a lot of my other work are made possible thanks to supporters on Patreon.

Written by Anna Brones

March 1, 2022 at 20:24

Puns to Tell Your Friends You Appreciate Them

leave a comment »

A few papercut puns that I made for Valentine’s Day, mostly as a reminder to tell your friends you love and appreciate them.

Written by Anna Brones

February 14, 2022 at 08:35

2022 Words for Creating and Being: February

leave a comment »

New month, new prompts. 

This is the second month of 2022 Words for Creating and Being (here are the ones from January). As opposed to last year when I made more specific prompts, a single word offers a little more room for interpretation. They can be for drawing, for writing, or simply for contemplating.

Let the word sit with you for the day. Say it out loud, feel it on your tongue, hold it in your head. Then see where it leads you. 

1. here
2. ground
3. answer
4. become
5. return
6. infinite
7. cloud
8. peel
9. uncover
10. approach 
11. ramble
12. grip
13. deviate
14. kind
15. rise
16. resolve
17. tend
18. glide
19. remove
20. stretch
21. abundance
22. align
23. begin
24. build
25. dedicate
26. shadow
27. complete
28. radiate

What happens when we sit with a word? When we unpack it? When we investigate every single letter? When we consider what’s behind the definition? That’s what these words are for. They are intended to create space for contemplation, they are an ask for you to invest time in the creative process in all of its forms.

You can find previous monthly lists of prompts here.

As always, these monthly prompts and a lot of my other work are made possible thanks to supporters on Patreon.

Written by Anna Brones

February 1, 2022 at 06:25

Coffee Outside, on a Walk

leave a comment »

Coffee Adventures Outside is a yearlong, monthly collaboration between myself and Alastair Humphreys, released each month somewhere around the new moon. This is the final installment. We hope that you will continue to partake in coffee adventures, wherever you are. 

As we inch into the new year, this marks our 12th installment of Coffee Adventures Outside. A full year of prompts and encouragement to use our coffee habits as an excuse to get outside. It is perhaps fitting that we conclude this year of microadventures with one of the things that we love the most: a simple walk.

Coffee has a long history as a companion on long walks or journeys. Wilfred Thesiger, perhaps the last of the old-guard of English explorers, crossed the Empty Quarter desert in Arabia with meagre, ascetic supplies but plenty of coffee. At dawn, after prayers, they would bake bread for breakfast and then drink coffee, “which was black, bitter and very strong. The coffee-drinking was a formal business, not to be hurried.”

Whether you are interested in crossing a desert, or strolling somewhere a little less ambitious, we agree with old Wilfred that a cup of coffee improves the experience of going for a walk.

One of the reasons we love to walk is that it helps us to think. Such a notion dates at least as far back as to Augustine of Hippo who declared, 1600 years ago, “Solvitur ambulando: it is solved by walking.” Combine a walk, then, with the brain-fizzing boost of a black brew and you may feel ready to put the world to rights again.

Walking into the woods (or wherever you choose to find your nature), is a stimulating experience. The gentle rhythm of our footsteps encourages our brains to meander, as does the smorgasbord of new sights and sounds at every turn. A cup of coffee on a walk is a gentle, continuous stimulation. It is, we feel, a very different experience to the pleasures of running or zooming along at speed on a bicycle. There is time today for our thoughts to roll around and grow. Whilst your walk may get the blood flowing and raise your heartbeat a little, it is still a meditative, reflective experience. 

As Rebecca Solnit writes in Wanderlust: A History of Walking, “I like walking because it is slow, and I suspect that the mind, like the feet, works at about three miles an hour. If this is so, then modern life is moving faster than the speed of thought or thoughtfulness.” Nature allows us to think, walking allows us to experience the world around us at a different pace than our usual one. 

The poet Walt Whitman asked, “But are not exercise and the open air in reach of us all?” No, not everyone, unfortunately. Those of us who are free and able to exercise in nature would do well to remember and appreciate our good fortune. But the point made by Whitman was that it does not take much or cost much to savour some time in fresh air. It applies to the idea of the ‘Nature Pyramid,’ and the recommended doses of nature at different time scales. We need nature in big chunks and smaller ones, and the pyramid urges us to pay attention to the different quantities of nature we include in our lives on an hourly, weekly, monthly and yearly scale. 

Every walk is different, of course. You may set out with an objective in mind, a goal to march towards. You could choose to follow your nose and see where you end up or toss a coin at every junction. If your walk is a circular route then everything you see will be different, all of the time. How does that change the creative thoughts you have along the way compared to an out-and-back walk where you see familiar things but from a different perspective and with different eyes? Or try sipping your coffee on a well-worn trail and compare how that makes you feel to walking a route you have never done before. 

Our days are so often driven by efficiency and busyness and a pressure to get things done. Walking with a cup of coffee (or taking a thermos and stopping for a break) is a gentle but important push back at that cultural expectation: you are deliberately choosing to do something slow and ‘unproductive’. Immersing yourself fully and completely in a single activity for a chunk of time is a rare experience these days, but it is a vital one for anyone interested in tapping into their creative side. It is surprising, too, how productive such dawdling often proves to be. 

So today we urge you to go on a walk with no goal or schedule—pass the time simply by putting one foot in front of the other. Take your thermos with you, and stroll for the sake of strolling. Find a spot to sit and pour a cup. Take note of where you are. Here your body and mind can wander. 

We have entered a new year. There are hopes and dreams ahead, but there is also the present moment of today. Let your coffee remind you to exist here for a while.

Share photos of your adventures with us: #coffeeadventuresoutside. Various prints, cards, and even a calendar featuring the artwork from Coffee Adventures Outside can be found here.

Written by Anna Brones

January 7, 2022 at 09:14

2022 Words for Creating and Being: January

leave a comment »

New year, new prompts!

Last year I put together monthly lists of creativity prompts. They were mostly intended as drawing prompts but they worked as writing prompts too.

I wanted to continue this year but felt that drawing prompts could often be a little prescriptive. Creative plays a role in my daily life, but I am personally not someone who does well with strict daily routines. I wanted some kind of prompt that felt a little more open to interpretation.

Enter the 2022 Words for Creating and Being.

Creativity isn’t passive—creativity requires action. Most of all, creativity requires curiosity and contemplation.

Modern society doesn’t always provide a lot of space for that, and if we are seeking to be more creative this is an excellent place to start. To kick off the year, I read Pico Iyer’s The Art of Stillness and this stood out:

“It’s easy to feel as if we’re standing two inches away from a huge canvas that’s noisy and crowded and changing with every microsecond. It’s only by stepping farther back and standing still that we begin to see what that canvas (which is our life) really means, and to take in the larger picture.”

So these monthly lists of words will be a space for doing that. Use them as a springboard for writing, for drawing, or just for thinking. Take the word to paper with a pencil. Take the word with you on a walk and ponder. Share the word and see what conversation it sparks. These words are intended to create space for contemplation, they are an ask for you to invest time in the creative process in all of its forms.

I didn’t launch this list on January 1st. There’s so much pressure on the first day of the year to start something new. I think we need a pause before we begin, a little extra breathing room. So that’s what … is for.

//

1. …

2. presence

3. exist

4. quiet

5. solitude

6. exchange

7. rejuvenate

8. dull

9. absorb

10. wind

11. howl

12. extend

13. breathe

14. befriend

15. capture

16. collaborate

17. dark

18. cultivate

19. hope

20. plan

21. consider

22. reflection

23. unearth

24. deepen

25. marinate

26. beam

27. ignite

28. expression

29. renew

30. arrive

31. create

We spend our lives surrounded (and sometimes inundated) by words. We read books, we have conversations, we write emails, we scan headlines. But how often do we really spend time contemplating them? Time holding a word, turning it on its head, considering it means and what we want it to mean? 

I can’t wait to see what spending stillness with some words will lead to. 

You can find previous monthly lists of prompts here.

As always, these monthly prompts and a lot of my other work are made possible thanks to supporters on Patreon.

Written by Anna Brones

January 2, 2022 at 11:59

Coffee Adventures Outside 2022 Postcard Calendar

leave a comment »

Over the past year, Alastair Humphreys and I have been collaborating on our monthly Coffee Adventures Outside series.

I’ve turned the series into a calendar for next year. Every month features artwork from the series and a shortened version of our longer prompt.

The calendar is also designed so that you can cut the artwork off at the end of the month and turn it into a postcard. Consider it a calendar and postcard pack all in one.

You can order here. And there are also a variety of prints and cards from the series available as well.

Written by Anna Brones

December 8, 2021 at 14:06

Coffee Outside, with a Friend

leave a comment »

Coffee Adventures Outside is a collaboration between myself and Alastair Humphreys, released each month somewhere around the new moon. We hope you’ll join us in our coffee adventures, wherever you are. 

Our coffee adventures outside over the past year have helped us bring a sliver of solitude to our busy routines, some treasured physical space, and an espresso sip of mental space in which to allow difficulties some time to filter, sift and sort themselves, as well as the uplifting space to allow our creative ideas to unfurl and reveal themselves. These have all been good things. 

But there is another way to right wrongs, to think differently, hatch plans, and recharge our mojo, another way to pay attention to the natural world on our doorsteps and enjoy a delicious, well-brewed cup of coffee. And that is to do all of these things with a friend. Florence Williams sums up how we feel in The Nature Fix with her succinct summary to, “go outside, often, sometimes in wild places. Bring friends or not. Breathe.” 

Carving out inviolable chunks of time to share with our friends is one of the most important things we can do in our life. (Spending time in nature and pursuing creativity are also high on that list.) So put the kettle on, call a friend, and head outside together to enjoy your brew. Will you choose to ask a friend who already enjoys spending time in the woods, or an urbanised friend who might find the idea surprising but intriguing? That is up to you. 

As end-of-year festivities draw near, we’re easing into the wintry season and darker days. This month we welcome the winter solstice, a celebration of midwinter and a promise that the light will return soon. It’s a time when we often want to draw inwards, physically and emotionally. While we certainly need this hibernation time, we also benefit from the full experience of nature in all her seasons, and the deep connection that can come from a chat with a good friend. 

Thoreau wrote of winter walks, “Take long walks in stormy weather or through deep snows in the fields and woods, if you would keep your spirits up. Deal with brute nature. Be cold and hungry and weary.” So be sure to wrap up well in your warmest winter woolies, for we are at the end of the dark end of the world now, the cold austere days when the world is at its most minimal and stripped back. He continued, “in the coldest day, and on the bleakest hill, the traveller cherishes a warmer fire within the folds of his cloak than is kindled on any hearth. A healthy man, indeed, is the complement of the seasons, and in winter, summer is in his heart.” In his or her heart, indeed. For this cold season is as important to our year as all the others. Katherine May’s Wintering rings true in this moment, “wintering brings about some of the most profound and insightful moments of our human experience, and wisdom resides in those who have wintered.” 

Winter we must, but our hibernation, while encouraging solitude, can also be a welcome time for the companionship of a friend because the world is quiet now, and this allows space for chatter and laughter between friends. “In winter we lead a more inward life,” wrote Thoreau. “Our hearts are warm and cheery, like cottages under drifts, whose windows and doors are half concealed, but from whose chimneys the smoke cheerfully ascends.”

Go outside, together. Celebrate this year that has almost passed, and settle into the winter days. Wrap your hands around the coffee cup, breathe in the warm steam, and savour it, with your friend. What could be better? 

Share photos of your adventures with us: #coffeeadventuresoutside. Various prints, cards, and even a calendar featuring the artwork from Coffee Adventures Outside can be found here.

Written by Anna Brones

December 4, 2021 at 06:00

Daily Creativity Prompts: December 2021

leave a comment »

New month, new prompts!

The last month of the year, the entry point to the darker season. The welcome of solstice, the celebration of festivities. It’s can also be a bit of a hectic/frantic season if you do any kind of elf business, so I am taking some time every morning like I did last year to look at my Advent calendar, drink a cup of coffee, and do a drawing.

This also marks an entire year of me making monthly lists of daily #creativefuelprompts. I haven’t done them all (except for the monthly mugs!), but making them has been a reminder to constantly invest in creativity, no matter what the investment is. Thank you to all of you who have done some of them, many of them, or all of them if you’re my friend Margret (seriously she did an entire year’s worth).

You can find previous monthly lists of prompts here.

Want some more ways to slow down and enjoy this season? I’ve got my annual digital Advent calendar running this month as well which you can still sign up for. As always, these monthly prompts and a lot of my other work are made possible thanks to supporters on Patreon.