Where creativity grows

Category: Creativity Chat (Page 1 of 2)

This week in The Oodlearium

Creativity Hour.
When I embarked on my creative journey with The Oodlearium, one of the pillars of creativity I wrote about was meeting regularly with other creatives. That was my primary reason for wanting to start a podcast. I have put that idea on the back burner for right now. I have too much going on to put the time into it that it deserves. I will revisit that idea as summer approaches. In the meantime, I am trying to set up a virtual creative hour with other creatives. The idea would be to set aside an hour once a week to chat with other creatives. Talk about the projects you are working on…questions you have…ask for advice…or just get ideas for your next creative adventure. If this is something you would be interested in being part of, drop me a PM and I’ll add you to the list. 

52 Frames.
Last week’s theme was leading lines. After an amazing ice storm that left every tree looking like it had been flocked, I pulled over on the side of the tollway to snag my picture with my phone (something I never do!). 

This week’s theme was to shoot from below. I spent a lot of time rolling around on the floor trying different shots of some Lego robots I built last summer before I eventually decided on a shot of the Lego VW bus I built. This is the next installment in the “This is how I roll” series. Yep, I’m 45 and I built a VW bus out of Lego blocks. And, yep, a part of my brain is trying to figure out how I can actually have a real VW bus.

Pour painting.
The Oodlearium has canvases sitting all over the place. There is a set of four that I have waiting for summer when I can build a custom frame for them. There are others just sitting on the shelves behind me.  I love each one more than the previous…which makes it hard for me to just give them away. Long story short, it has been a few weeks since I last painted. Today I was struggling with the writing I was doing, so I pushed my notebook aside and did a quick pour. It is such an incredible release— no matter how it turns out, I always feel a bit brighter afterward.

I have taken a personal day to watch the Inauguration festivities and am planning a red/white/blue themed pour in honor of this important day in our nation’s history.

Pilot Pens and Ink.
Last week I mentioned that I was geeking out on ink for my Pilot pen. The inks finally arrived this week and I was over the moon excited. I learned so much about inks and pens. Tom bought me a Pilot Metropolitan from The Goulet Pen Company, which is a mom and pop shop in Virginia. I ordered a whole mess of inks not knowing that inks are proprietary to the pens…buy a Pilot pen and you have to buy Pilot inks. Who knew! Anyhow, I have a new stash of all different colored inks for the upcoming card season. I cannot say enough wonderful things about The Goulet Pen Company. They have amazing customer service! They responded quickly to my question about my order and offered various options for my situation. I look forward to purchasing from them again. 

The Oodle Doodles.
I am still working on the Oodle Doodle back stories. They are pushing me and challenging me in ways I never imagined. I am planning to set up individual pages for each Oodle on www.theoodlearium.com. Look for a separate announcement telling you when you can start following their launch! 

In the meantime, the Oodle Doodles have been printed and have already started making their way onto cards for random occasions. Today my sister-in-law sent me a text with a picture of all my oodles from my Christmas cards from the last five or so years. I was so tickled to see that she had kept all the cards and that they brought such happiness to her. Mission accomplished!

George Berlin
I have been following an artist, who traveled from the US to Taiwan to collaborate with a local artist on a major art installation. It has been amazing to follow his journey. Check him out on Facebook and Instagram. You won’t be disappointed!

The Practice by Seth Godin
Tom and I are reading a new book by Seth Godin called The Practice. I cannot recommend this book highly enough for anyone seeking sage advice and encouragement to pursue your true creative self. I find myself bookmarking or highlighting every single passage. Check it out!

Until next time.

Creativity Chat

How important is education to your creative process?

A willingness and desire to learn IS crucial to the creative process. This has been true in all aspects of my creativity journey. Most weeks I decide to learn something new in order to complete my 52 Frames submission. In most cases I could just click something that fits the theme and move on with my week. However, what is the point of that? I started this project to help my photography grow. In the 2.5 years since I started, I have made photos I never would have dreamt of because of my willingness to learn and try new things.

When I started crocheting, I made baby blankets and that was it. One day my husband asked me to make us hats for Christmas. My desire to learn and try something new has opened up many doors for me. Now I am learning to make dresses for my baby niece. 

For a long time when I started doodling, I had a small set of “birds” that I would draw. After I made my wood blocks for the Oddball Art Machine it would have been easy for me to just continue drawing those same designs. But I wanted to expand and learn more. I started drawing fish and robots and now my space birds. 

I never was interested in painting, but recently I decided to give paint pouring a try.

Does it matter if I choose to continue doing what I always did? Absolutely not. After all it’s my life and I can choose to live in whichever box I want. But, I can say for sure that my willingness to branch out and learn new things has made my creative life much richer and much more fun and rewarding.

Creativity Chat

Do you use creativity to escape?

Absolutely! My creative endeavors are fun for me. At one point in time I decided I needed financial validation of my artistic/creative worth, so I started doing portraits for friends and family. I charged reasonable rates and in some cases I even volunteered my time/talents. After a few years I grew to dread doing the sessions. I had been taken advantage of more times that I want to admit. Saying no to certain people was complicated and stressful. Eventually I made a blanket decision to stop doing portraits all together and only focus on doing things for myself. 

When I started 52 Frames that was my best opportunity to practice photography just for myself. During the school year, I gave myself an hour to an hour and a half each week to plan, execute, edit and submit my image. Some weeks it was the only time I had all week to explore my creativity. No matter what it was time that I carved out of my week to escape from all the drama of the real world.

During my summers off, I have much more free time to explore any creative whimsy I dream up. If I want to spend six hours making a custom explosion card for my nephew’s birthday I can do so. It is much more difficult to lose myself in a project when school is in session. Therefore most of my other creative pursuits are a bit more practical. I needed some vases for my shelves, so I repurposed some vases with copper spray paint. It’s freezing cold outside, so I crochet a set of hats and scarves to donate to the homeless in our community.

I’m looking forward to retirement when I can lose myself in projects for days as a time!

Creativity Chat

Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?

My best friend once told me that I could do anything I ever set my mind to. I asked her how she could be so sure. She did not hesitate even a second before answering— “Because in our almost 30 years of friendship you have always done anything you set your mind on.” Those were powerful words that I always hear chanting in the back of my head. If I want to do it, I figure out a way to make it happen. 
Despite my girlfriend’s unfaltering confidence in me, there are definitely times when I have wanted to quit— even though the goal was really important to me. Have you ever listened to a podcast and thought the person was speaking directly to you? That is what happened when I was listening to retired Navy Seal Jocko Willink on the Tim Ferriss Show.  A listener asked him for advice on finding motivation.  Jocko talked about the difference between discipline and motivation. Motivation is fleeting. If someone is hungry they lose their motivation. If someone looks at you the wrong way, they lose motivation. If someone is tired they lose their motivation. Discipline is what you do even when you don’t want to. You show up and do what needs to be done.  Anytime my own grit wears thin, I have never had a problem borrowing some from Jocko.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing and outdoor

Creativity Chat

What is playing in your CD player/Ipod right now

Ever since I started using Pandora as my main means of listening to music, I don’t really pay attention to who the artists are anymore. I have a handful of stations that I listen to regularly. I recognize the music, but with rare exceptions I have no idea who is actually singing. So when my husband walked past my office the other day and did some silly leg move and then joked that he was being all uptown funky I did not know that it was a Bruno Mars song. I quickly Googled the song and was dancing around my office like a crazy person. And of course I had to add a Bruno Mars station to my Pandora stations. I know that I am a little bit late to the Bruno Mars party, but his tunes definitely get my creative mojo going! A few days later we started talking about how much we love 70s funk. Pandora has some great funk stations that have gotten me all charged up and excited to be creating. 

52 Frames Theme- song lyrics
Don’t stand so close to me…ice ice baby (COVID19 theme song)

Creativity Chat

Do you think that creativity involves putting your heart and soul into your work? Or is it more like letting your mind flow freely to witness the surprising results of your actions?

I was out for a walk last night with a friend and we were talking about creativity. She rattled off some brilliant sentence about how most people are held back by their fear. I told her to remember that thought so that I could get it right when I interviewed her! I think she is definitely on to something. People are afraid, because every time you create something you put a piece of yourself into that creation. For some people it might be something small, but for others it might mean they went all in. Any spot on that spectrum can leave a person feeling extremely vulnerable. I see it in the 52 Frames album each week. Photographers have the choice of what level of critique they want on their images. The choices range from “I’m not interested in any critique, but feel free to comment” all the way through “Shred away, I feel no pain.” Recently I started volunteering to comment on 25 random images each week. I have noticed how many people shy away from the “shred” option even though in two and a half years no one has ever said anything that could even be construed as mean or hurtful. Still people guard their hearts. At the same time people are accustomed to overinflated positive feedback in the form of likes on social media. It is funny how we put such value in something that is in reality so meaningless. Perhaps a conversation for another day.

Here are two examples where I put my heart out more so than normal with 52 Frames submissions.

Hands. This theme came up in the middle of the BLM protests, but also during PRIDE week. I wanted to give a special shout out to my friends in the LGBTQ community, but I had no idea how this would be received by our international framer community.

Details. This challenge came the week of the anniversary of my cousin’s suicide. While I was not 100% pleased with my image, it had my heart completely wrapped up in it.

Creativity Chat

What do you do on a normal day that contributes to your creative work?

During a normal non-COVID19 school year, I have little time during the week to work on creative projects. However, I always have my 52 Frames project going on in the background. I try to schedule a few hours every Saturday to work on my image. Early in the week, I look over the challenge and read the tutorials. I then let the theme percolate in my brain during the week. Even if nothing comes up, I am training my brain to look for ideas. My life as a teacher is one big creative exercise. I am constantly solving problems and figuring out how to make different things work in less than ideal circumstances. If you look at your challenges as opportunities to practice your creativity it might make it easier (as my neighbor says) to embrace the suck. No guarantees. I am just thinking of this idea as I type and I know that I will have A LOT of opportunities to try that idea out this fall.

Covid19 Nerdy Bird and Fuzzer bringing smiles to people during a really stressful time.

Creativity Chat

Where and when do you feel most creative?

While I always love creating, I definitely feel the most creative when I am doing something for someone else. I can sit for hours and hours to make something perfect for another person, whereas when it’s for me, I tend to cut corners. 

I always tease my father-in-law because he is very picky about when he will golf. It has to be a Wednesday. It can’t be too hot or too cold. He has to be able to use a cart. Three of his friends have to be available. Which means that he probably gets to golf three maybe four times a summer here in Illinois. I am happy to create any time I can. Some of my favorite times are when the beautiful morning light is casting a gorgeous glow in The Oodlearium. At the same time, I absolutely love sitting up there during a huge storm listening to the rain pound on the skylights. But, here I am a warm summer night sitting out on our patio just the chirping of birds and buzzing of bugs in the distance- perfectly content. I am truly grateful for any time that I can spend making something and have no rules or regulations. 

Creativity Chat

Is there anything special that you do to get into a creative mindset?

I take issue with the idea that someone gets into a creative mindset. For me, I am always living my life with a creative mindset. I don’t turn it on and off– hoping I can tap into it when I need it for a project. If you read my post on how to cultivate a creative mindset, you can see the tips I give are things that people need to do as a part of everyday life. It’s not a prescription or a recipe, it’s just a list of things that I have done regularly throughout my life and I have found to help. That being said, the more I create the more the ideas flow. Ever since we began work on the physical Oodlearium space, I have felt a constant creative flow. I am trying new recipes, experimenting with new materials, learning how to use new tools and much more. It has been an incredible feeling.

Creativity Chat

How has personal experience influenced your creativity?

I didn’t have any profound experiences with creativity as a kid despite growing up surrounded by creative people. Whether mom was working on a cross-stitch project or dad was building his model train layout or Grandma was crocheting baby blankets, creative energy was never far from me. I did not grow my confidence in my creativity until much later in life though. Most of what I did even into my 20s was very derivative. I made the same projects over and over again— only altering simple variables. I didn’t even recognize how creative my childhood was until much later in life. 


You can read the rest of this story in my article: Pivotal moments in my creative journey

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