Thursday, March 29, 2012

Are You Fed?

It is not unusual for me to think about food and getting fed (especially when Girl Scout cookies are within my reach), but this week I've been thinking about getting fed creatively. I've been working on a piece I am donating to a project called Feed Me: the 7 x 7 Show benefiting Meals on Wheels. All this talk and thought about food has me thinking about the importance of proper creative nutrition.

What really satisfies my creative stomach growls?

looking at edgy photography in fashion magazines
reading artsy blogs
reading poetry
watching artist documentaries
looking at my old art journals
sitting in nature
playing with my art supplies

Much like my brain when I smell an opened bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, a few minutes doing any of these activities leaves me with the insatiable urge to to dive in. I want to write, doodle, or paint on any piece of paper I can find.

However, unlike a bag of Doritos, these nurturing activities are actually good for me. They could easily be dismissed as a waste of time. Could looking at W magazine actually be good for me? For some reason, it is, at least in the creativity-inspiring sense. I don't know why and I don't really care why, I just know it flips some sort of switch in my brain.

What feeds me will be different from what feeds you. We each have a unique diet. 

What makes your creative stomach growl?

Are you fed?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I'm Taking a Cue From Mother Nature

Last Monday, the pollen count here in Atlanta was over 9,000, the highest on record. I keep looking up and searching for a giant set of chalkboard erasers that someone must be clapping up there. Even Peanut comes into the house looking like she has just applied a neon yellow powder to her floppy muzzle cheeks.

We're swimming in it.

But there's more to it than just a mess. Once the rain and the wind blows the pollen away, we are left with a glorious, almost technicolor burst of color and sweet smells, birds chirping, squirrels scampering, and fat bees buzzing.

All that mess is worth it.

How did it take me so long to see this bit of encouragement from the universe? It seems all worthy creations are a mess at some point. A quilt before it is pieced is nothing but a heap of scraps. A piece of pottery begins as clay wedged under your fingernails. Most marriages (even the "good" ones) have their  share of tears, hurts, and tangles that rarely come undone. And anyone that has raised children knows that messiness begins at labor and morphs yearly. And all of these creations are worth it. Without question.

Like lots of you, my workspace is a disaster when I am creating. I don't stop to tidy or clean up little blobs along the way. I just stay in that magical place where ideas and images are coming at me nonstop. When the work is done, I sigh and look at the mess. I feel a bit like an outside observer, thinking, "What happened here?" But the messiness is required.

As I look ahead in my creative life, I know that the right path for me involves one that will be messy. I need to swim in. I need to step into that minefield of risk. There could be self-doubt. There could be disappointment. And (gasp) there could be failure. I see tears and heartache.

But after the messes have cleared, I also see the potential for a glorious, technicolor burst of joy.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bloggy Friends Are Fun

Look at these wonderful paper beads I just got in the mail this afternoon! My friend Mandy Russell and I had a little bead exchange this month. It was fun to be surprised. There's nothing better than something handmade! Mandy also sent some wood pieces that I can use to create a little shrine of some sort using the technique she wrote about in the April / May issue of Cloth Paper Scissors. Can't wait to play around with that.

Mandy and I have been working together in an online workshop created by another bloggy friend, Tara (aka Dudley Redhead.) We've been working on weekly creative assignments. 

Creating a Collection

Paper Buttons
Picasso Sewing Machine

Our final project will involve mailing goodies to each other. I can't wait to find another package of art in my mailbox. 

Working together with other artists from other states and countries is one of the best things about blogging. If you haven't tried swapping or getting into an on-line workshop, do it! March is Craft Month here in the U.S. Why not celebrate by having a little virtual gathering of your own?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

It Has Sprung

It is almost 80 degrees outside. Thank goodness I splurged on a pedicure last Friday and painted my toenails green for the upcoming Irish festivities. Who would have thought that today, only the 13th of March, was a gold sandal day. A bit obnoxious, but life is too short to pass up a pair of $7 gold sandals when you see them, and I'll be sporting these babies yearly until the straps break or they get the stinky feet funk.

What to do on a gorgeous day like this? Get inspired. Not much time, so I am out to the back yard with my camera, trying to look at everything just a little bit more closely. 

A sparkle catches my eye as I walk along the pink blossoms that fell from this glorious tree. It rained earlier today and there are still tiny drops of water resting in the curves of the delicate petals.

Back in the house, I can't stop thinking about how things in the natural world just do what they do. They don't plan or watch trends or wonder if their product will sell. They just bloom, grow, and drop their leaves as they please.

I've been working on a collage project and have an enormous pile of papers and scraps all over the top of my work table. Taking nature's cue, I've decided to play around with the papers on my scanner. No planning or scheming. No gluing or taping. Nothing will be permanent. I'm just going to smoosh them into my scanner and see what comes out.

I can't compete with nature, but I'm thankful for a playful moment inspired by flowers in bloom and the sun warming my pale toes. These collage papers have scattered. My work table is a mess again. A little moment of discovery, like a walk through pink petals. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

This Old House

A while back, I said that my husband and I were kicking around the idea of trying to sell our house and move on up to something a little more swanky. Well... we're not. We are disappointed in our decision, but we know it is the right one. Ever have decisions like that? You want so badly to pick the ice cream with the whipped cream and the cherry on top. But you know it will just give you indigestion because you are lactose intolerant. So you pick the dairy free lime sorbet. Still good, but hard to get excited about.

In the end, we decided we valued freedom more. And we knew deep down that spending so much of our hard-earned savings would be painful once the shiny wore off. So, here we stay. And the goal now is not to get out of here, but to sell this place to ourselves. Look for things to love about it. Fix the things that we've been holding out to fix "when we get ready to sell."

The kids are thrilled. They like the squeaky stairs, the wonky windows that need to be replaced, and the fireplace with tacky brass trim. It is the only house they know and they don't mind. They are much more forgiving. 100% content. I have so much to learn from them.

Learning to be content can be a real struggle. Though I feel a sense of calm now that our decision has been made, I know my evil twin will rear her ugly head the next time I get a Crate and Barrel catalogue in the mail. But I think about all the time I have wasted sitting in the seat of envy, dreaming about living in such perfection. Next time, I think I'll just toss that catalogue into the recycling bin.

Because we are staying, we have the freedom to consider new opportunities, order pizza whenever we are feeling lazy, and splurge on a fabulous pair of shoes every now and then. Friends will enjoy visiting, for the really good ones will be happier when they see that their friends aren't too fancy. They can spill a little wine on our carpet, put their feet on the cushions, and even bring their dog along. We won't mind.

The decision-making process has been painful and soul-searching. But now that we are on the other side of it, we feel a sense of peace about it. We have also cleaned out all kinds of closets and junk piles. I feel a wonderful sense of redirection and commitment to a richer and more creative life. Here's to more with less.