Where creativity grows

Category: Creativity Chat (Page 1 of 2)

This week in The Oodlearium

What a week this has been! We are deeply entrenched in the coldest and snowiest winter we have had in quite some time. I won’t lie- it has been hard to stay focussed on the good. That means that The Oodlearium has been even more of a sanctuary than in a normal week.

A dear friend and fellow creative recently told me about a website called CreativeBug. I am pretty anti-subscription services primarily because they can quickly get out of control (Prime, Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, are just a few examples). However, when she forwarded me an email that said I could get 5 months of the membership for $5, I hopped on without giving it a second thought. Over the course of the week, I have been playing around with a few different classes. I did a bit of work with brush lettering, which is something I have wanted to learn for a long time. I started the creativity boot camp, but need to get some more supplies before I can continue work on that one. When I stopped I had created a relatively creepy self portrait that quickly got crumbled into a ball and recycled.  I ended with a bit of work on doodling that inspired me to start work on a different project. I’m looking forward to playing around a bit with learning something new each week without the pressure of feeling like I made a huge investment. Check it out!

I am absolutely not a materialistic person. In fact materialism is something that turns me away from people, but this week I received two packages in the mail that have been awesome additions to The Oodlearium. A few weeks ago I ordered an hourglass from Etsy. I am disappointed to learn that Etsy no longer is a site for artisans to sell their handmade work. Anyhow, the hourglass I purchased arrived and looks beautiful on the oodle surface. I use it when I am writing to make sure I stay focussed on what I am doing and not on going back and forth to check my social media. It has been awesome. And my second Pilot Metropolitan arrived and I am so excited to be able to have an everyday pen and a special pen for cards that will have my colored inks in it. 

Last week I think I mentioned that I was going to host my second creativity chat today. There were three of us and it was fabulous. I was in a pretty meh mood when we started, but by the end I was overjoyed. My friend Karen lives in Israel and she taught us about the Jewish holiday called Purim. She was dressed in costume today as part of a long standing tradition she and a good friend have for this holiday. Someday when my husband and I visit her in Israel we want to go during this time of the year to experience this holiday— the focus of which is doing kind things for friends and strangers to make them joyful. What a beautiful gesture! Another friend taught me all about the Cricut vinyl cutter and inspired me so much that we went out and bought one today. I am thrilled at the prospect of what we can do with this amazing tool. 

I have amassed quite a collection of pour painting canvases, so I am trying to avoid making new ones without some goal of moving a few of the ones I have out. I had a few canvases from when I first started painting that were not successful. This was the first time I ever tried painting over a canvas and trying a second pour. The colors I chose were not the best, but the pour definitely worked. I have a few more that I can rescue, so that was great news!

My husband spotted a few fun items at the craft store this morning— a plastic mask— perfect for Karneval. I’m going to pour that later this week. Then also some super cute wood cut out bunnies perfect for Easter ornaments. So many ideas…so little time.

Finally, this week’s 52Frames theme was one of the most challenging ever—golden hour! Remember what I said about the weather. I am proud of myself for coming up with a way to meet the challenge, but it was tough for sure. Check out my image on Tuesday when the album goes live.

One last thought before I go…I need to write a separate piece about creativity in the kitchen. I had a unique experience in the kitchen yesterday and I am excited to share it with you. I just can’t do it right now 🙂

Until next time, oodle on! 

This week in The Oodlearium

We are smack dab in the middle of winter in the Midwest and I am overwhelmed with gratitude…for our warm house…our food security…and for the job that makes those two things possible. There was a 76 degree difference in temperature between our house and outside this morning and I was shaken to my core thinking about the people who don’t have those three things. 

The frigid temperatures meant lots of extra time spent in The Oodlearium this week.

Chess

I told Tom this week that I was interested in giving chess another try. He has been devouring on-line games for the last few weeks and it has piqued my interest in the game. After a few practice games, I really did realize that I could improve if I invested some time into practicing (imagine that!). I always thought chess was for people far smarter than I am. It was an eye-opening realization. 

Ladies Creative Night Out

One of my pillars of a creative mindset is to regularly interact with other creatives. This past week I kicked off my Ladies Creative Night Out. It is a small group of ladies who are looking to discuss projects they are working on, be inspired by other creatives and in general just take some time for their hobbies. Our first chat was super small, but we discussed a lot of different resources for classes, supplies and inspiration. Can’t wait to do it again on the 14th.

The World Needs More Love Letters

It has been a few years since I first heard about this organization that allows people to request “love” letters for friends and family going through rough times. I am so excited that one of the letters is perfect to use for a virtual get together for my German Club students. But I was moved by the letter request for a lady named Lisa from NYC. She has a thankless and grueling/heartbreaking job and is also fighting cancer while her mom is also fighting cancer. Life is so unfair! One card was not enough for her, so I made her a set of “open when” cards with inspirational messages on them. I wish I had my magic wand to just erase her pain, but hopefully these little packages will bring a smile to her face over the next few weeks. Want to join in on the spreading of joy? Check out their site here.

Oodle Doodle Cards

When Tom first gave me the idea to write the backstories for the Oodle Doodle family, I scanned and colored each doodle. I thought it might be a good idea to print a set of wallet sized images of each doodle…just in case. Holy moly have these been so fun to have on. hand! I have used them for all sorts of cards— the love letter package for Lisa, birthday cards, thank you cards and much more. 

A pen obsession

Hardly a week has gone by when I haven’t mentioned my Pilot Metropolitan pen. This week is no different. After ordering a ridiculous amount of inks a few weeks ago, I have actually decided to snag myself a second pen to keep plain black ink in. Then I will use the fun green one I bought today for my colored inks. What kind of world do we live in when I can have two different pens just for different colored inks. Just another shout out for the awesome staff at Goulet Pen Company. They are a small mom and pop shop out east and I can’t imagine buying my pen supplies from anyone else. 

My idea journal

One of the ideas I had from the Ladies Drawing Night Out book was to create a collage. I was making the idea much harder in my head than it needed to be. Yesterday morning I was sitting here at the Oodle Surface looking at my idea- journal…with a blah cardboard cover…and it struck me. Why don’t I practice on there? It doesn’t matter how it turns out (thank goodness because it is a mess!) I had a stack of flower catalogs from White Flower Farm, some glitter paper scraps and a glue stick. It’s far from perfect, but it definitely fits the “start somewhere” mantra I am always preaching to others. It fits the “embrace imperfection” mantra that my pal Yosef from 52 Frames is always preaching. 

52 Frames

This week I took on an administrator role for a mini-group within 52 Frames. It is fun to interact with a small group of photogs from around the world. Many of them are relatively new to 52 Frames and I know how nervous I was when I joined the project, but even more so when I joined my first mini-group. I’m looking forward to getting to know them and learning from them as well.

Last week’s theme was “horizon” and my goal with my photo for the week was to make people smile. Mission accomplished! Kudos to Tom for giving me the idea to use our wine charms as my subject. 

This week’s theme is single point of focus. We received an amaryllis bulb from a friend for Christmas and it picked the perfect week to blossom. This link will open when the album goes live on Tuesday. 

Until next time, oodle on!

Jen

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. 

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