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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Do you identify as a creative? Do your friends say “Wow you are so creative”? Are you a writer, photographer, crafter, engineer, mom, manager, plumber, firefighter, teacher, bellydancer, etc? Creatives take many forms. You do NOT need to be an artist.
Would you be interested in a casual conversation about creativity with me? I’ll record our conversation and then share it via my blog either in written or podcast format.
Are you local? I would love for us to sit at my bench in The Oodlearium and chat over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Given the state of the world, we will do whatever is safe and convenient. Not local? We live in amazing technological times. We’ll figure something out.
In a few weeks I will return to my classroom, which will relegate these chats to evenings and weekends. We’ll find time!
We have so much to learn from each other’s interests and experiences. I’m so excited to share your stories with my readers!
How do you join in on the fun? Refer yourself or a friend by filling out this form. If the person is a good match for The Oodlearium Chat with a Creative, I will reach out to set up a chat.
I’m running my third half-marathon on Sunday, November 7th. I am training my butt off right now and it is really hard— especially with the start of the new school year and all the chaos/mental exhaustion that entails. But I really want to do it— and not just do it, I want to beat my […]
It has been a rough week here in the oodle universe. My summer break is rapidly drawing to a close and while I have had a full summer, I am far from feeling ready to start my 18th year of teaching. Yesterday I did what I do most Saturdays—rolled out of bed and met my […]
The 25th anniversary revision of The Artists’ way by Julia Cameron has almost five thousand 4.5 star reviews on Amazon and a 3.9 rating on Goodreads with 100,000+ votes. People like this book and many people swear that it has changed their life forever. I definitely do not fall into that camp. I have my […]
I have a card on my shelf right behind me here in The Oodlearium that says Begin Anywhere (John Cage). And that my friends is exactly what I am doing today. I have wanted to do a weekly or even daily creative challenge to help people revive their creative mojo or perhaps even to tap […]
Quote I’m contemplating Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainty. Erich Fremm I am NOT good at letting things go, but when it comes to creating a pour painting or an alcohol ink tile, I have to let go of any notion that I am controlling the outcome. Yes, I select the colors, […]
It struck me last week when I was having a conversation with a friend a few days ago that I have been spending most of my creative energy lately on painting. Nothing at all wrong with that, but I am trying to push myself to explore new creative paths. That being said, my husband paid […]
I am bit behind with my This Week in The Oodlearium, but that is the way things go these days. So here’s a bit of a catch up. A local event space called Imago lost their building when the roof collapsed this past winter. They are currently distributing bricks from their building to local artists […]
When I signed up for Karen Abend’s Sketchbook Revival I was immediately blown away by the amount of content that is offered completely for free. There were two sessions every day for fourteen days. The sessions ranged from 25-60 minutes and they were incredibly inspirational. I knew that I would not be able to participate […]
My goal was to spend my spring break getting my brain back in working order. That meant I was going to spend a TON of time in The Oodlearium and making art. Here I am on the last day of my vacation and the list of what I did this week was so long that […]
I am grateful that I put together an extensive list of things I wanted to do over spring break so that I could make the most of my time off. My list was ambitious, but I have been plowing through items and I have spent more time than ever in The Oodlearium…and it has been […]