Where creativity grows

Category: Creativity Chat (Page 1 of 2)

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

Creativity Chat

Who or what inspires you?

The easy answer is everything. In a world where people can easily share so much via social media, I feel like I am surrounded by amazingly creative people. I love scouring Pinterest for ideas of places to start on a project. I have a laundry list of photographers I follow through 52 Frames. 

  • Jimmy Deresta. I don’t really like his style of videos that he shares on YouTube, but I love listening to his podcast called Making It. He and his girlfriend have created the creative lifestyle that my husband and I want to have when we retire. He is a no-nonsense hardworking artist.
  • Devin Champagne. Week after week Devin creates the most beautiful images of her daughters. Even though I am not a portrait / lifestyle photographer, I am incredibly inspired by her vision.
  • Gordon Ramsay. While he bounces around his kitchen a bit like a maniac during his show on Amazon Prime, I always feel like getting into the kitchen and trying something new after watching him.
  • Erik Weihenmayer is a blind athlete and founder of the organization No Boundaries. He is the penultimate problem solver. Nothing in his life is easy and it helps to put my life in perspective.
  • Matthew Maday and Cassandra Turner. They are both ultra-marathoners, who compete in races around the world. They recently purchased a farm in Spain and are learning how to rehab it into a working farm where they can live off the grid.

Creativity Chat

How do you deal with creativity blocks?

In my head I was confident that I did not get creative blocks, but then as I was typing I kept saying to myself “What about this situation” and “What about this other situation?” Hahah— it happens much more often than I realized. 

In terms of artistic endeavors blocks come primarily with my 52 Frames challenges. Over the past two and a half years, I have learned so many things about photography and myself from that project that I cannot see myself stopping any time soon. However, there are weeks when the challenges are REALLY hard. I am not one to enjoy a lot of post processing. I don’t have models regularly available. And. And. And. In my last mini group I was working with I would complain nearly every week that I had no idea what I was going to do for the theme and finally one lady said, “Don’t worry. I know you’ll come up with something. You always do.” That really goes back to a lesson I learned from my running club last fall as we were preparing to run through an Illinois winter. Our fearless leader said just show up and the rest will take care of itself. Time and time again I just show up and I always come up with something. Sometimes what I come up with is better than other times, but it is so incredibly important to just show up and be part of the creative process. 

52 Frames has a time constraint, so that makes having a creative block much more inconvenient. For other projects, I usually walk away for a little while and come back with a clearer head. Most of my projects are not high staked, so there is no pressure on me. I have a tendency to wait until the last minute on some projects, but that is my own fault.

When I am stumped at work, I am grateful that I work with a group of veteran teachers who are willing to talk through ideas on how to present a lesson or deal with a discipline issue or a difficult parent. As a German teacher, I have always had to rely on asking others for help, because I have been the only German teacher in my building for the majority of my career. 

I know it sounds like I am some zen totally unstressed person, who just goes with the flow. That could not be further from the truth, but for some reason creativity blocks just don’t get me down, because I know they are never long term. They are usually just a sign that I need a break and some self-care. Then I can get back to it.

Creativity Chat

Do you think that creativity is part of human nature or is it something that must be nurtured and learned? 

I believe that every single person is born with creativity. Look at the wonder in little kids eyes as they discovered the world around them. They are born problem solvers. Their tool box of course grows as they mature, but at their core they know that crying when they are hungry gets someone to give them food. If they are in pain, they figure out that someone will help them if they scream. As they get older, give them a box of crayons or a container of Lego blocks and they will create for hours and hours. It is not until people start expressing opinions that people’s creativity is stifled. In my case, I grew up in a household where creativity was valued and encouraged. Therefore I have grown up with a creative mindset. If someone did not have that experience, they can still cultivate a creative mindset, but it does take effort. 

Creativity Chat

What is creativity to you? 

I have read countless definitions of creativity. So many people confuse the idea of being creative with the idea of being artistic. This definition resonates the most with me:  

The use of imagination or original ideas to create something.” AND “The ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.”

So at its most basic, creativity is simply the act of creating something that didn’t exist before.

That means something for me and of course something totally different for the next person. Source

What does creativity mean to you?

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