Creative Of The Month:
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you consider yourself a Creative.
When I paint, I enjoy everything in my life a little bit more. Patterns, details and colors that I never noticed before are suddenly in the forefront of my thoughts. The needles of pine trees, or the way the sunlight folds into the warm and fuzzy lines of my favorite sweater – all raise their voices to me and seem to sing: ‘paint me, paint me, paint me.’ I didn’t notice these details before I was honed into painting. Now I see so much more in all the beautiful details of my life around me! And it seems that the more I explore my craft, the more time I spend in the garden, where I can see lovely details unfold every day in my little back yard. This cycle of refreshment from the garden leads me to paint, and painting brings me back to the beauty of my garden.
2. What was your favorite art class or were you self-taught?
I am primarily self-taught, although looking back I can see the path shaping me towards this pursuit, and the many people who helped me along the way. I had a wonderful art teacher in High School, who really spent time teaching me on the building blocks of drawing. He helped me see so much detail in my own work. My mom is an incredibly talented Artist, as well as her mother, my Grandmother. It seems to flow through our veins. I feel incredibly blessed that this is the medium I’ve been given to get to express myself in this world.
I have been drawing for my entire life, and painting for the past ten years. I have always, always loved to create. When I was doing other jobs, or pursuing other interests, I would see people painting or drawing, I would always feel that tug at my heart, and I would think “gosh I WANT to be doing THAT.” I didn’t want to say it out loud, but inside I always wanted to pursue illustration and painting. After I became a wife, and a mama, Time wasn’t slowing down – only speeding up. Something finally clicked inside of me, and I realized that if I ached to paint, I needed to paint. I set up a space in our home at my great-Grandmother’s old roll-top writing desk. It is ready at all times; paints, water, paper, pens – they are there, waiting for me to sit down and create.
3. Who inspires you the most?
That’s a hard one. There are so many people and so many things all around me which inspire me on a daily basis. We pick up little tidbits of wisdom in books we read, conversations with good friends; we get flashes of an incredibly shaped image, see something familiar, but at a new and different angle. Sometimes its the way the sunlight hits a flower petal just right, or I am inspired to pick up my pencil right then, because I notice the way an ocean wave resembles a snowy mountain peak. It’s hard to identify one mode of inspiration that triggers that ‘must create now’ button inside of me. Since the beauty in nature is fleeting, there’s a quality about it that demands to be drawn. I often snap pictures of plants I pass by, because I know that even if I come back five minutes later, it could be different. That urgency inspires me to capture it in its beauty that is here today, gone tomorrow.
4. What would be your biggest and wildest dream concerning your creative talent?
I would love, love love to make a book or two of my works. Maybe collaborate with an amazing author and create something beautiful and meaningful together! That would be a dream come true. I would also love to finish our back garden shed into an incredible greenhouse/artist studio where I could teach small classes to amazing folks who want to learn to express themselves in watercolor.
5. If you were a plant what would you be?
I like to think of myself as the Mint Plant. A resilient green type, who grows and grows. Prefers the shade, but enjoys some sunshine too – as long as it’s not too hot. Doesn’t require much upkeep, and is a splendid addition to any garden because of it’s lush calm presence, and soft but refreshing fragrance.
6. Describe your ideal creative work space?
At my Great-Grandmother’s roll-top Writer’s Desk. Warm coffee or tea nearby, preferably sweetened and with extra cream. And I prefer the cozy, cool rainy days to paint with, because the light is bold and cool. My phone is off, and my paintbrush is on.
7. Do you listen to music while you create? If so, why type?
It really depends on the day I’ve been having. Sometimes a good podcast or an audio book is my companion, other times it’s just silence. Silence, as they say, can be golden. Especially when you’re a mom to two little ones and they are both finally napping. Lately though I’ve been listening to the Sufjan Stevens “Carrie & Lowell” album on repeat; it’s peaceful, calming and a bit transcendent.
8. What makes your heart beat? What do you really believe in, stand for, and want to tell others about?
As Creatives, fear is no stranger to us. Dealing with the voices of fear and self-doubt when they come up is a real struggle. Fear immobilizes you and tempts you to give up. For years I struggled as an unproductive artist. I wanted to paint, but the sheer act of pulling out all of the materials and taking the time it felt like was required to create…just felt like a luxury I couldn’t afford, in time and effort. And if I did mange to create something – what did it say? What could I say or contribute that hadn’t already been said or done? After years of listening to that demoralizing voice of self-doubt, I’ve come to see that when I fight it, I win. We must Create to be happy. We were meant to pursue that passion. I think Madeleine L’Engle’s book, “Walking on Water” says it so well: “But unless we are creators we are not fully alive. What do I mean by creators? Not only artists, whose acts of creation are the obvious ones of working with paint of clay or words. Creativity is a way of living life, no matter our vocation or how we earn our living. Creativity is not limited to the arts, or having some kind of important career.”
Also, as I’ve pushed back against that fear, I’ve learned something invaluable. We create in cycles. If Fear wins one day, try to paint again the next day. Do something to help break the slump in creativity; exercise, garden, speak to an encouraging friend that believes in you and your talent. I also read books to break up my self-doubt and fear. One of my favorites is “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. The author takes apart the creative cycle in small, one-page chapters, and helps you identify what’s holding you back. And once you can see the cycle, and the obstacles, it doesn’t feel as intimidating. Once you’ve rested and you try again, you’re better and stronger than you were before.
The meaning of life is to find your gift.
The purpose of life is to give it away.
Also, I’ve learned that as I create more, a certain pattern has come out, and that is my recognizable style. I think everyone has one; it is like their unique fingerprint. Every artist has their own style. And every person has an art – whether it’s cooking, gardening, hospitality. We all have one; the key is pursuing that passion enough to discover your unique fingerprint, or style. Keep pushing. Listen to that urge inside to try again. Reference styles you like, but let your own personality come through in the lines and strokes. Make a few lists of things you love, outside of art. See if you can combine those interests with your art (i.e., I love gardening, so I’ve combined that with my art). Try new colors, new combinations. Take local classes, ask questions, try new mediums. Just keep showing up, and try, try again. Practice makes better; never perfect. Because perfect is boring anyways, right?