Ordinary People Create Art

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Imagine the ideal artist.  What is he like? What does he care about?

The ideal artist, in my mind, cares about internal things. He’s more interested in expression than interpretation.  His heart is in the process of creating, not in the response to his creation.

He’s slightly eccentric, seeming to give little notice to the whims or attitudes of others in regards to his artwork.  He doesn’t need outside approval to fuel his passion to create.  He needs only the space and time to look inside.

His art is never finished, only abandoned when it no longer suits his purpose.

Some people love his work.  Others find it foolish. It doesn’t matter to him.  His work is oxygen.

Bad art doesn’t make him a bad person any more than good art makes him a good person.  He is an artist.  An artist creates.

Sometimes he creates with a plan.  Sometimes with reckless abandon.

He is not a genius.  He is not a perfectionist. He is flawed.

His flaws find their way into his artwork.  Some flaws can be covered up, others can be worked around.  Some leave empty spaces where his mind sees a masterpiece. None of them are worth quitting over, even if they stop his work.  Stopping is only temporary because his inner desire is to create.

He creates original art.  Distinctive art.  Not perfect art.


When I imagine the ideal artist, this is what I see.  Yet, when I think about myself as an artist, I expect perfection, acceptance, and praise.

The truth about being an artist is that there is no good reason for anyone to really care about the work you do.  It matters to you because it’s your conception of an idea, birthed through your hands and sculpted by your virtues and talents.  There is no way to possibly convey that depth of meaning to a general viewer. They only see the final product. Not the late nights, the calloused hands, the mad frustrations, or the inner turmoil.

The expression of one’s self is the core reason to create art.  But if this was truly believed by artists en masse, then there would be fewer artists quitting their vocation.

When there is a lull in praise and admiration of an artist’s work, you feel it must be caused by your lack of talent.  Suddenly your work is irrelevant and unwanted.  This quickly translates into a personal interpretation. You are irrelevant. You are unwanted. (Artists are always looking for a reason to beat themselves up.)

This happens often when an artist graduates, concludes their gallery show, or concludes a series of works. The climactic end has a dangerous drop off on the other side. You’ve worked like mad and met every deadline and expectation and then, suddenly, the audience is gone.

Artists call it “drying up.” 

If you’ve stopped creating because suddenly there is no audience to praise your work, remember that YOU are not dried up.  Neither are your talent or your abilities dried up. Only your audience of praise.

Your job as an artist is to continue to create artwork that teaches you how to create artwork.  Most of what you create doesn’t mean anything to anyone but you. But something at some time will.

The key is to NEVER quit.  And if you’ve stopped creating for whatever reason, remember that stopping isn’t quitting unless you never start again. 

 

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Take Yourself On An Artist’s Date

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art, create, creative, artist, date, introvert, ideas, inspirationThis past week has been super busy with lots of travel and events.  We took the kids to two agricultural fairs, went on a whale watching tour, spent a whole day sewing with my daughter on her birthday, enjoyed a production at the theater, watched the kids in a parade and re-designed a bedroom.  Wow. What a week.

Although it was crazy busy and exhausting, I’m so excited for this week.  I’m fairly busting at the seams with new ideas and can’t wait to get started. Every part of last week was perfect for feeding a creative mind.  Maybe even a bit much to take in all at once.  I feel like I gorged myself on filet mignon, cheesecake, and fine wine.  (All of which is a metaphor since I don’t consume any of it. But you get the picture.)

The fairs were full of vendors selling things they love to make.  There were all kinds or artists selling their pieces; garments, pottery, hand-bound books, paintings, carvings, wool, yarns, bags and purses, furniture and toys.  It was amazing to see all the beautifully creative things that were there and refreshing to see artists doing what artists love.

The whale watching tour was a great way to connect with nature.  To enjoy the ocean air, the wind, the salty waves, the birds and the marine life.  Apart from the absence of whales and the seasick passengers, the trip was incredible.  Porpoise and dolphins.  Tuna and jellyfish.  Puffins and Gannets.  For a few hours, I was part of the vast expanse of the ocean and nothing else mattered.

The day spent sewing for my daughter’s birthday was so much fun.  It’s been forever since I spent an entire day doing something crafty.  We invited a friend over who showed us how to make some little sewing projects like a small zippered travel case, felted mittens, and pillowcases.  I was left with tons of ideas for Christmas gifts and projects for my Etsy store.

Perhaps my favorite creative time this week, though, was spent re-decorating my daughter’s bedroom.  She just turned 11 and has found a passion in doing hairstyles.  A few months ago we gave her a mannequin head to style.  Now she has an Instagram account where she shows off her styles and some tricks she’s learned.  I wanted her to have a nice place to take her pictures.  (Background is everything.) So I found some inspiration from Pinterest, got clear on the needs of the space, set a budget, and went shopping.  By myself.

This excursion had two objectives.  One: find the perfect items for the bedroom makeover and Two: take myself on a date.  

It’s so important for creatives to spend some time alone.  To think, create, read, shop, or whatever you enjoy and fills your creativity tank.  We need time to fill up on the things that inspire us and make us think deeper.

The “artist’s date” does just that. 

Many artists are introverts.  They have no problem with going out alone and immediately see the benefits of taking herself out on a date.  Others may find this awkward and be tempted to take someone else along.  The problem with that is your focus is moved to your company.  Conversation is led in other directions.  Whims of someone else may steer the course.  The time to mull over ideas and take things in is rushed.  The creative mind needs its own space to play.

Many times, plain old guilt will keep you from taking yourself out.  You might feel like you’re leaving someone out, shirking your duties, or being selfish.  Of course, it’s not, but that doesn’t always make a difference in how you feel.  So let me give you some advice on taking yourself out on an artist’s date.

  1. Put it on the calendar.  – You decide how often feels right.  Some can go out every week.  Some once a month.  I suggest you don’t let it be longer than a month between dates.
  2. Do something that only interests you. – I went shopping.  And since my daughter happened to be visiting with friends and my guys (son and husband) don’t really enjoy the process, I was free for a few hours to wander as many stores as I wanted.
  3. If you can’t physically go out, go out in your mind. – Read a book, listen to a podcast, watch a tutorial, scroll through Pinterest.  This might be helpful for moms with little children at home.  These don’t require a lot of time and some can be done while folding laundry or washing dishes.
  4. Take a small notebook with you. – Write down all the ideas you have while you’re out.  Whatever inspires you and what you’d like to do with that inspiration.
  5. Be consistent.  – You may not be able to go on an artist’s date every week, but don’t let it go too long.  You must keep your creative tank full.  You do that by having a regular flow of ideas and inspiration coming in.  Otherwise, you’ll dry up and become blocked.

Creative minds need a little extra care.  It can’t be left idle or under stimulated for too long.  I suggest you put your next artist’s date on your calendar right now.  It doesn’t have to take hours and it doesn’t have to cost anything.  It’s the quickest and easiest way to fill up.  Be good to your creative self.

If your interested in some more inspiration and perhaps a peek at the tween bedroom makeover, join my email list and I’ll send you a little something every month!

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10 Ways to Spot a Creative Person

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creatives, loners, craft fairs, museums, galleries, coupons, So, I’m crazy busy this week with homeschooling field trips and fairs, but I wanted to write a little something to let you know you’re not forgotten.  Thanks for understanding.  You’re all so awesome!

 

Creatives are often loners.  You’re content to do your own thing because being creative gives you true joy and an inner peace that can’t be manufactured by someone else. The process is the best part.  But after it’s finished, you just want to share it with someone who will appreciate it.

So how do you find other creatives?  Try these hints.

  1. They are addicted to Pinterest and Instagram (Boards include: patterns, color inspiration, book quotes, dream house and tasty treats)
  2. Has a stash of art supplies (It’s like a goldfish, the bigger a space you give it, the bigger it grows.)
  3. Buys books to feel normal. (And may die someday under an avalanche of unread books by the bed.)
  4. Goes to craft fairs and galleries to get inspiration for the next project. (Not to buy.)
  5. A delightful evening includes walking the aisles of craft stores and browsing creative books in the bookstore.
  6. Keeps a running list of art supplies in Amazon cart.
  7. Knows exactly what they will use that 50% off coupon on  at Joann or Hobby Lobby, no hesitation.
  8. Snowed in? Canceled plans? Great! Now to finish that quilt.
  9. Enjoys talking about the creative endeavors of others almost as much as their own.
  10. Often gives away their finished work as gifts, because they can’t see the real value of it.

I suggest you gather as many creatives into your circle of friends as possible.  Although we often like to create solo, we all need encouragement and validation from other creatives. We’re an eager and friendly group of people who want to encourage everyone to find their inner artist.

So, keep your eyes open and pictures of your current project handy.  Maybe you’ll find me!

 

Thanks for being a part of my creative community! If you are looking for even more inspiration, join my email list and I’ll send you a note every month!

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The Reason You Can’t Be An Artist

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artist, fear, suppressed, career, practiceEveryone is born an artist.

A measure of creativity is given to everyone.  The human brain is creative by nature.  It responds to stimuli in fraction of a second.  You can take up the second part of a conversation, unscripted.  You can plan your day in the order you choose.  You can make up silly rhymes.  You dream some really weird stuff.  There is creativity in you.

Those who claim to have no creativity are mistaken.  They have simply not allowed their inner artist out to play.  Their creativity has been suppressed.  Locked away.  Hidden in the shadows.

Maybe you were told that the arts are extracurricular.  Maybe you believed in the “starving artist” stereotype.  Maybe someone guided your creativity in a safer and more lucrative direction.

Well-meaning parents, teachers and friends will help you suppress your inner artist.  If you’re good at writing, you should become an editor instead of a writer.  If you love color and design, you should design business cards instead of selling your own masterpieces.  If you love fashion, you should become a shop owner, instead of a designer.  If you love music, you can be a teacher, instead of a performer.

Instead.  Instead of being an artist, you become a shadow of the real artists.  You follow the people who were brave enough to do it.  Maybe they had the right influences early on.  People who said, “Yes, you can do it. And you should.” Maybe they just had the audacity to run and play in their art instead of trying to tame it.

You will edit the works of real authors, design business cards for the real entrepreneurs, sell the clothing of the real designers and teach the music of the real composers.  For years.  You’ll make a someone else’s creativity your career.

And your inner artist will knock on your heart now and then.  It shows up in feelings of being under appreciated, unfulfilled, job dissatisfaction, jealousy, frustration, and longing.

It’s not uncommon for men and women in their 40’s and 50’s to still not know what they want to do with their lives.  They don’t realize that keeping their inner artist locked up is the cause for the confusion.

Your creativity will get louder as you get older.  Time is running out.  It knocks louder and squirms inside.  Like a baby ready to be birthed.  Sometimes it manifests itself as mid-life crisis.  When a person suddenly leaves a marriage, throws their retirement at a failed start-up, or moves to another country.  They believe a change will somehow satisfy the real starving artist inside.

But you can’t be an artist.

Because if you’re an artist, you can’t be a good wife.  If you’re an artist, you can’t be a good parent.  If you’re an artist you can’t be a good provider.  If you’re an artist, you can’t be a leader, a friend, a Christian, an executive, a teacher, a volunteer.

Fear tells you the only way you can be creative and live as an artist is to make a trade off.  Fear tells you something really dear to you will suffer.  Are you willing to sacrifice it?  Inevitably the answer is no.  So you tell your creativity to stay in the shadows.  You can’t be an artist.

Actually, you can.

The trade off isn’t real.  Somehow we think that giving into our creativity is selfish or strange.  But when you realize that everyone is an artist, suppressed maybe, but an artist nonetheless, you can start to feel at ease in creativity.

The great thing about your creativity is that it doesn’t need a lot of time or exercise.  Just a bit on a regular basis.  It will grow, develop and become a healthy, happy part of your life if you give it a chance.

You manage to take care of yourself and your responsibilities just fine.  You are constantly saying yes to extra things in your schedule.  Adding some time to feed your artist will not destroy the other things you love.  In fact, you will be happier and more satisfied.  That will overflow into your other relationships.  You can be an artist and a good person.

Say yes to your artist.  Go buy some crayons.

What’s something that you’ve always loved to do?  What hints has your inner artist given you?  What trade off has fear threatened you with?  Share your thoughts here.

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How To Unblock Your Creativity

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blocked artist, unblock, writer's block, The blocked artist is the worst and most frustrating position to be in as a creative.  You want to create.  You need to create.  But nothing flows.  You try to find the zone, but you’re not sure if your even on the same planet.

Writer’s block is something we’ve all heard about and probably all experienced.  Especially in school when you had to write a 10 page essay and that first page is still blank and staring you down.  Lots of thoughts are going through your head, but most of them sound like, “This is the worst assignment ever. I have no ideas. I can’t think of a thing. Yup, it’s completely blank. Nothing. Crickets. Can I write about crickets?”

Creatives often mistake this block as a void of ideas.  You can’t think of anything to put on the canvas.  Your words just aren’t coming together into a coherent thought.  The wheel is turning, but there’s no clay on it.

The problem isn’t the lack of ideas.  It isn’t a void and you’re not used up.  The blocked artist is, in fact, blocked.  Clogged up with lots of very un-creative things to the point where nothing else can squeeze past.

You live in the real world.  As much as we creatives like to create our own environments and escape to more beautiful places in our minds, you still have day-to-day stuff to deal with.  Things like laundry, dishes, shopping, and schedules.

You may not realize how this stuff really builds up, but it does.  It’s like the creativity flows off the top and then all of a sudden all this mundane sludge rises to surface.  It’s boring and frustrating and hindering.  But you just can’t seem to get past it. The creative block is lodged in place until you move it.

The good news is that you can move it and it’s really not that hard.  And it doesn’t really take much time.

Here’s the super simple and minutely creative way to unblock.  Write it down.

Everything.

Every random thought that pops into your head.  Every thing that you need to take care of.  Every frustration.  Just take 30 minutes and write it all down. On paper.  With a pencil.  Clean out the debris that’s keeping you blocked.  Think of this practice as artist’s Drano.

As you write, there will be action items that pop up that you know you’ve been procrastinating on.  Nothing will keep you blocked longer than ignoring something that NEEDS TO BE DONE RIGHT NOW!  Make a list of action items that come out of your 30 minute brain dump.

Then go do them.  Don’t put it off any longer.  You’ve got creative stuff to do.

Think of it this way.  Your plate is only so big.  You like the exotic stuff, the fancy treats, the rich flavors.  But sometimes you have to eat the peas and carrots to make room for the delectable desserts.  Everyday responsibilities are the peas and carrots.

Art is dessert.

You’ll find, after you’ve emptied your mind of all the IRL (in real life) stuff that’s been keeping you blocked, the fun stuff bubbles up.  When it happens again, (it will) you will know how to take care of it.

Creativity starts with the mundane.  Pottery starts with a mound of clay.  Poetry starts with the ABCs.  Jewelry starts with rocks.

Unblocking is easy. It starts with 30 minutes of random thoughts.  On paper.  Until you have something to work with.  Get your creativity flowing again.

How often do you feel blocked as an artist?  Do you find keeping a journal helps you ward off feeling blocked?  I’d love to hear what you think.  Comment here.

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Superheroes Don’t Need Jobs

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talent, job, creativity, stress, schedule, control, create, You’ve finally accepted your creativity and decided to grow it instead of suppress it.  You made some art and put it out there.  People love it.  At least, the right people love it.  They tell you, “That’s awesome.  You should do that.  You should sell that.”

And you think, Great idea.

So, you start a business.  You advertise.  You get customers.  You get deadlines.  You get responsibilities.  You get a boss.

You want the freedom that comes with being creative, running a business and being your own boss.  The problem is that you are your own worst critic.  A hard task-master with high expectations.

You end up with a job.

It happens.  But it doesn’t have to.

You can be creative.  You can make money with your talent.  And you can keep your talent from becoming a job.

Here’s a few ways you can do that.

#1. You set the schedule.

When you commit to a project, don’t estimate when it will be done based entirely on the amount of time it takes to complete it.  Think, also, about when you want to have it done.  If next week seems like a rush, push it out two more weeks.  Then, if you complete early, your customer will be super impressed.  This falls under the “under promise, over deliver” category.

#2. You choose the clients/ projects.

Pick projects that you want to do.  Work with people you want to work with.  If the clients is going to be a pain, or the project is too big, too boring, or too tedious, you get to say no.  You get to.  You don’t have to take it.  You don’t have to turn it down.  However, you do get to decide.

#3. Reward yourself.

You are putting yourself into this thing.  Your creativity is nothing without you.  Think about it.  You’re a superhero.  You are taking something intangible and making it tangible.  You are making something immortal out of something mortal.  You are pulling order out of chaos.  You are awesome.

The work is hard.  No doubt about that.  Every creative adventure is like squeezing the juice from a lemon.  You feel wrung out when it’s done.  Satisfied, but wrung out.  Reward your hard work.  Whatever you want.  A bath.  A book.  A night out.  A chocolate.  A coffee.

Superheroes don’t need jobs.  The reward is not the money.  The reward is the satisfaction of doing something well that only you can do.  These little treats are a reward, not for the work, but for being you.  For being awesome.  You’re not rewarding the work, you’re rewarding the talent.

#4.  You’re worth it.

You’re worth the money.  You’re worth the reward.  You’re worth the accolades.

I don’t use the term deserve because deserve sounds like entitlement.  We aren’t entitled to anything in this life.  We have a right to pursue happiness, pleasure, and purpose, but we don’t deserve it.

You’re worth it, though.  You are a rarity.  There isn’t anyone else like you with your skill set.  That alone makes you extremely valuable.  It makes your work valuable too.  It’s worth the effort it takes to share your creativity.


Keep your focus on talent.

It’s your talent, it’s your time, it’s your life.  You decide and you control it.  Don’t let your talent become a job.  We need you to enjoy it so you’ll keep sharing it with us.

Because no one can do it like you do.

 

Is the thought of your talent becoming just another job stopping you from sharing?  Have you let your talent become a job?  What are you doing to change that?  Leave your comments here.

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Don’t Judge Unfinished Work

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Nothing kills creativity faster than comparing your work to someone else’s.

Just the thought that someone else has already done what you want to do is enough to make you second guess your dream.  When you see that someone else has not only done it, but succeeded.  And not just succeeded but made it big… well, that’s hard to compete with.

Yes, you want to make some money with your talent.  I understand that it’s important to market and advertise so you can gain customers.  I realize that the marketplace is full of competition.  But marketing isn’t always just about the competition.

Think about it.  The market is huge. With a capital HUGE.

Just look at how many brands of PLAIN potato chips are on the shelves in the grocery store.  Just the plain kind.  Not flavored.  Not limited.  Yet, there is enough of a demand for all of them to have a piece of the market share.  Let’s not even talk about the limitless selection of toothpaste available.

Larry Burkett wrote more than 70 books about Christian finance, but it didn’t stop Dave Ramsey from building an empire on the exact same topics.  Is there any shortage of self-help books, nature photographs, quilts or pottery??  Absolutely not.  There is room for yours too.

Don’t look at the guys who have already succeeded as your competition.  Think of them as mentors.  They started small just like you.  They struggled and had doubts and wondered if it would really amount to much.  We all have to go through the growing process.

Think of your work as a living thing.  Like a tree.  The idea is planted, watered, given sunshine and a chance.  And finally it sprouts.

It’s small and not very stable, but we never criticize a sapling for being weak.  It’s a sapling.  We know that if the sapling is cultivated and tended regularly instead of being trampled or cut down, it will undoubtedly continue to grow.  Eventually it will be strong and towering, just like ALL the other trees around.

Your work is no different.  Don’t criticize your work for being a sprout.  Keep at it.  Tend to it regularly.  Don’t judge it.  Your job is not to judge your work. Your job is to put it out there. There will be enough other people to judge it.  But that’s not what really matters.  What matters most is growing this creativity inside you.  To see what will become.  Give your creativity every chance of survival.

You can keep growing as long as you don’t let comparison and self-doubt trample your dreams.

 

List 5 of your competitors or people who have already succeeded at what you want to accomplish.  What can you learn from them?  How did they start out?  Comment here.

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