This past Saturday was great. Art Village celebrated it’s 4 year anniversary. It was cool to see people painting, working with clay, talking with one another and looking at the artwork around the studio. The whole place kind of buzzed with inspiration. As I watched the dynamics of they day, I couldn’t help but notice how our little studio has grown over the last 4 years. It’s kind of interesting to look back to where we started with this crazy idea.
From the beginning I’ve had a big idea of what I want Art Village to be. And when we opened 4 years ago, we started down the path to building the dream of creating a inspirational space where people can come and make art, buy art, have access to art resources and equipment, and be connected to other creative people. And though I think we created an atmosphere of inspiration, the picture I had in my mind didn’t quite match up with what I saw in front of me.
As with anything, sometimes, you have to make due with the resources you have available to you at the time. And I believe we did that well because of the community of people that developed over the years. However, sometimes, that disonance created a bit of discontentment and at times I would find myself pushing to make things happen that weren’t ready to happen yet. Then, almost as if someone opened the door, we seemed to have a fresh opportunity. Perhaps it’s our new location, but I have a sense that we are moving again.
You may have experienced something like that in your life. You have a great idea, or a dream, but as you walk it out, it doesn’t quite match your imagination. I think this is a good thing. The discontentment can spur you on to make adjustments and look for more opportunities. It helps you see things in different ways and teaches you to be flexible. The dream for Art Village is still beyond what is in front of me today, but this Saturday, Art Village seemed closer to that dream than ever before. And that’s exciting to me.
If you have a dream, or a nagging desire that won’t leave you alone, I want to encourage you to keep moving with it. We don’t always know what the next chapter will hold for us, or when we will enter into a new season. But I believe that those dreams are in us for a reason. And sometimes when we push and try to make things happen, we make it harder for ourselves than if we would just allow the path to unfold before us. So relax and enjoy the journey ahead. You’ll be amazed how things fit together in the end.
On a side note, Channel 7 was nice enough to visit us on our anniversary. Click here to view the video clip.
Last week my niece Emily invited me to her school. Her class opened a poetry cafe. It was really a cool idea. My sister and I went to the classroom where our 8 year old host brought us to a table and sat us down. We looked a menu and ordered 5 poems to be read. Emily came to the table with three other kids and they proceeded to recite the poems we ordered. When they were finished, they brought us a mint and thanked us for coming. And even though one of the poems was about a runny nose, I felt inspired and a little more cultured as we left.
The thing that struck me was how serious the kids took this exercise. They were immersed in the experience and we were swept up into it as well. For those 10-15 minutes we were living in a world where you order poems from a menu. I’ve been thinking about how our lives can be created from our imagination. We can really make stuff up as we go along. So many times, we are waiting to get permission to do things we’re passionate about. I say “Why wait?”
I once heard Jack Canfield talk about a party he went to called a “Come as You Will be in 5 Years” Party. Those who attended, pretended they were living the life of their dreams for that one night. I wonder what it would be like to live our lives as though we were already living the life of our dreams. I think it would be an interesting experiment to try. As you go through today, try to think like a kid and imagine a world where anything is possible. maybe take a leap and do something completely different and weird, just because you think it would be fun.
Chapter 2 in the book 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women was all about validating the quirky creative activities we want to do but also can feel a little guilty about doing. I think a lot of us believe that if I’m doing something that is not “productive” than it’s not important. Creative pursuits tend to fall into the category of “trivial amusings”.
Our world praises product. If we come to the end of our day with nothing but an enjoyable, inspiring experience, than we think the day was wasted. But I don’t think that is true. We need times to stop working in the traditional sense and start making time to work on our inspirations or allowing ourselves to be worked on from within. I believe we miss many opportunities because we don’t slow down long enough to look or listen.
Just like people who talk incessantly, often miss the opportunity to deepen a relationship. We need to stop long enough to listen to inspiration. We cannot hear very well if we’re running 90 miles an hour on full throttle. We weren’t created to work that way.
It’s important to honor inspiration. One way to do this is to practice playing. Gail mentioned a book called Life Paint and Passion. I love this book. I’ve read it a few times. I’ve noticed about people who come in to take classes, especially painting and drawing classes, that they get so bogged down with making the perfect painting or drawing, they forget to have fun. Kids learn by playing, but as grown ups, we think playing has no usefulness. I believe that playing is important. If we approach our creativity with a little bit of playfulness, results will eventually show up.
This chapter also talked about taking time to capture our ideas. I remember working as a graphic designer and after talking with a client about their goals and vision, I then would take time to ruminate about the conversation before starting on the project. I often put ideas in my mental marinader and when the inspiration is ready, the creative solution presents itself. But there is almost always a time of incubation. This is the law of gestation.
The last bit that was covered in this chapter was about creating a sanctuary. This is so important because we connect to our Source when we get alone. I think we are very affected by our surroundings. It’s important to have a space where meaningful things live. Objects such as books and artwork, music, and things we like to help connect ourselves to inspiration.
The last part of the chapter talked about creating rituals. I like the idea of rituals. There is something about getting centered that helps creativity to flow. I know when I’m getting ready to do something creative like painting, designing, or working on my field guide, I like to get my space cleared, have a hot beverage and prepare my materials. There’s a preparation time that is actually part of the creation process.
I encourage you to look at your own life and see where you can incorporate these things into your life. You’ll find that the hardest part is giving yourself permission to take the time. So, go ahead and realize that these things are important to live a creative life.
This last week I joined an online blogging book club where a group of creative individuals read a book and comment on it on their blogs. The book I’m reading is called The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women and I’m pretty excited about it. I’m always looking for an excuse to read more about living a creative life.
Chapter One is called Acknowledging our Creative Self.
The thing that really stood out to me in this opening chapter one was how familiar the story was. When Gail said “Like so many other midlife women, I was burned out from too much care-taking. I yearned for a gentler, slower pace and wanted to express my creativity more directly,” I thought about how many times I’ve heard people tell me that same thing at Art Village. Because our purpose is to give people permission to make art, I’m very sensitive when it comes to encouraging people to express themselves creatively.
Many people have some painful past experience that has lodged itself into their heart and that experience creates a fear of expression. I think it is important to acknowledge that everyone, (yes, that includes you) has a creative voice that needs to be expressed. Whether you have always wanted to paint, draw, write, make music, garden, cook or dance, now is the time to give your self permission to do it.
Gail also talked about the “positive power of mistakes, and our self-imposed limtations on the creative process.” Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our imaginations of failing, it paralyzes us and keeps us from doing and being who we were created to be. What if we were allowed to fail without being judged? What risks would we take? We may find that the real risk is the not stepping out. Once we can let go of that fear of looking foolish, we can relax and actually enjoy the process of creating something new.
So if there is that gnawing in your soul, that thing you’ve wanted to try, that art you’ve wanted to make, make it! Don’t be afraid. You are creative.
The days are getting longer. I’m sure spring will be here soon. Well, I know it will show up eventually. This is a great time to infuse our lives with creativity. I am doing this by keeping an artist field guide. In it I document creative ideas and images that I come across. My field guide is not organized and it’s getting filled with scraps of doodles, little paintings, random notes and photos.
I think by noticing the art in our lives, our lives become more creative. I usually carry around a notebook or five with me at all times to take notes of things that inspire me. Now I’m carrying a little case of markers, glue, colored pencils, pens, and scissors. Everything is fair game to put into my field guide. I’m having a great time collecting artifacts to put into my field guide. My niece and nephew have been contributing to my guide by making drawings for me as well.
If you want to bring a little inspiration into your winter, grab a notebook, journal or sketchbook and start your own artist field guide. You find that keeping track of the small inspirations makes the days a little springier.
When you walk or drive around your community, and really start looking at the businesses, the clothes people wear, the music you hear, the buildings, the cars, have you ever wondered where all this stuff came from? If you really think about it, you’ll notice that just about everything we see around us started out as a figment of someone’s imagination.
Not much can be formed without it first starting out as a thought in someone’s creative mind. Not only are the things in this life created from imagination, but our life circumstances are also products of our imagination. If we ask ourselves, what do we worry about? What do we imagine our future to be? The answers to these questions can effect our reality.
I think it’s important to pay attention to what you imagine, because the imagination is a powerful creative tool that will create your reality. Imagine good things, big things, great things.
This summer we’re doing a lot of workshops at Art Village. This last week we did a project called crayon etching. This may sound like a simple elementary school project, but I’ve seen some amazing pieces of art using this technique.
To make our crayon etchings, we first colored an entire piece of paper solid with different colored crayons. Some people chose every color they can get their hands on. Some decided to choose a color family like pinks and purples. Some just colored randomly. Others drew shapes to color like triangles and rectangles. The coloring part of the project was long and rigorous. You have to make sure that the paper is nice and waxy. They all did a great job coloring their papers.
Next, came the dramatic part. We painted over the entire crayon drawing with black tempera paint. This was actually a little scary for our participants. They asked me “Are you sure this is going to work?” They had just spent a good 45 minutes coloring this paper and now we were covering the whole thing with black. It felt like we were ruining it.
But then came the fun part. Once the papers dried, we began scraping away the black and scratching designs into the black painted surface. Now the colors that were underneath, began to come through. The pictures were luminous. It was such colorful contrast to the black paint. “This is so cool!” they said. And it was.
I think life is kind of like a crayon etching. Sometimes we spend a whole lot of time and energy trying to achieve something. We are coloring our papers. We choose just the right colors. We make sure we’ve covered it well. We put our heart and soul into a dream or a goal. Then, something happens and it looks like all that work is ruined. Some circumstance covers our colorful life with black paint. The color is gone.
If we stop here, we can think, “I’ve done all this work and all I have out of life is a depressing piece of black paper.” But if we realize that this is not the end, we can take this black surface and begin to scrape away a new and exciting piece of art. Something wonderful starts to appear out of what seems like a hopeless black circumstance.
I want to encourage you to look at life not as a static spot in time, but rather a fluid process. There is an ebb and flow to life and there’s always a way to move forward towards something good. I believe that every obstacle and struggle is just the beginning of a great opportunity. We just need to be willing to keep looking for the possibilities. Everything can be turned into something good. Enjoy the journey and see the beauty.
Art Saves Lives!
Have you ever wondered how you got here? If you could go back in time 5 years, is this where you would have imagined yourself to be?
Four years ago, Art Village was a figment of my imagination. It was a crazy idea that was sketched in a notebook I carried around with me. Those notes and ideas eventually came together to form a business plan. And three years ago we opened our doors. This last Friday we celebrated our 3 year anniversary.
I remember opening day thinking, “Am I making the biggest mistake of my life?” It seemed like I was playing business. I wondered if anyone would show up to paint pottery or sign up for a class? The first day I think I had a couple people come in and look, but that was all. When the first people came in and actually sat down to paint something, I had to restrain myself from giving them all hugs.
Now three years later, we had a full house. It was so great to be with the people who started out as customers and have turned into friends. It seems that Art Village has become a part of many people’s lives. Now, I can’t even imagine not being here.
I am so fortunate to be surrounded by such creative and positive people. The artists who make art here and the staff that works with me every day are inspiring to be around. The business has really taken on a life of it’s own. And I can hardly wait to see what we’re going to be when we grow up.
Looking back on the journey so far, I think about how things have come to be. I don’t believe in randomness. I really believe our imaginations are powerful. An interesting thing happens when we start to imagine better things for our lives. Those thoughts embed themselves in our mind and we start to notice things that are related to those thoughts.
I’ve seen this phenomenon when people take a drawing class. Once they start looking at shapes, shadows and lines during class, they then start noticing these things in the world around them. Even though the world around them stays the same, they look at their world differently. They’re the ones who have grown and changed.
We can apply this principle to all areas of our lives. I want to encourage you to find a dream that you can set your passions towards. Every great accomplishment starts out as just an idea. It starts out as a figment of someone’s imagination. But the amazing thing is that those images can become reality. Grab your notebook and start scribbling down your crazy ideas. Your mind will start to search out things to help you reach your dreams. You’ll start noticing opportunities.
Art Saves Lives!
My friend Elizabeth came in to Art Village the other day to show us her latest project. She used six ceramic tiles and on three of them she drew three wedding portraits of her grandparents. On one she painted a set of wedding rings and on the other two she painted some flowers. The details were amazing. You could really see all the planning and care it took to create these awesome little works of art.
It’s always fun to watch Elizabeth work on her projects. She comes in with a plan, usually an elaborate one. She diligently and meticulously sketches and paints her pieces. When completed, she takes the extra step and finishes it off by framing it in some unique way.
Watching Elizabeth work on this project made me think of how each of us approaches things in life in our own unique way. Most of us have heard of the four basic personality types, and it’s fun to see how each personality approaches art making.
Some artists are planners. Like Elizabeth they like to make sure that each step is completed to perfection and they diligently continue on until the project is completed.
Some like variety. They like to try different types of art and art making is often a social activity to be shared with friends. We see this in our clay classes. People sharing ideas and having a good time.
Some are very results oriented. They just want to get it done. My niece approaches art making in this way. She’ll make a book complete with narrative and illustrations within a half hour.
Then there are those who enjoy the process. Life is a journey. Why hurry if the act of art making is fun in itself? This is my nephew. He’ll come in to paint a ceramic piece and keep adding color over color until the piece is just dripping with glaze.
We all have a combination of these personality styles and bents in our approach to life. There’s a little bit of each of these in all of us. I think it’s fun to try art making from the viewpoints of these different personalities. These are a few exercises to try.
Planners – Choose a painting or drawing from art history and try to duplicate it.
Variety/Social – Find some friends and do a joint art project like a collage or altered book where everyone works on a little bit of it.
Results – For one week do a small painting or drawing a day – fast and furious
Journey – Staple a large piece of canvas to a wall to create an ongoing work of art. Add a little here and there over time. It will be the ever changing, never -ending artwork.
Notice how you approach art. What feels good to you? What approach is more of a stretch? Knowing your art making personality makes it easier for you to appreciate your way of art making without comparing to other people. That’s what’s so great about being a unique creative being. None of us are the same. So embrace your art personality.
Art Saves Lives!
We at Art Village just finished judging a coloring contest that was hosted by D&D Auto. The theme was cars of the future. The kids were given a blank space to create any kind of car that they could dream of. When Dave asked me to judge the contest for him, I had no idea how many kids would participate. I think we had around three hundred entries. The task was a little overwhelming but it was a lot of fun to see what the kids came up with.
One of the cool things about kids’ drawings is that anything is possible. They drew cars that ran on air, pollen, soda, the sun, and water. These cars could fly, make ice cream and candy, go under water, be lived in, jump up and down, talk to you like a friend and be shaped like just about anything. There was even an Amazing Hot Dog Car that ran on ketchup and mustard.
I noticed an interesting thing as I looked at each age group. As the kids got older, the crazy ideas started to diminish a bit. It was a subtle change, but as each grade got higher, there were fewer ideas like buttons that will take you to Florida and more practical features like getting 51mpg. There was still a lot of creativity, but I could see a slight shift from the dreamer view of anything’s possible towards the more practical view of what’s probable.
I started thinking if our lives were a coloring contest called My Future, what would we draw? Would we draw crazy ideas that would embarrass us if someone else saw them? Or would we draw what we hope our future is going to look like based on our current economic situation and if we catch a few breaks?
I think we should use every crayon in the box along with every other drawing instrument we can find and draw the most outrageous and exciting future we can dream of.
I recommend a little exercise. Get out that piece of paper and draw your future, a future where anything is possible. Pretend you are in first grade again. If you could live the life of your dreams, what would that look like? This might seem silly, but it’s actually a very powerful exercise to help create success in your life.
What happens when you write or draw out plans, dreams and goals, is that your mind will begin to pick up on external clues to help bring you closer to your dreams. An opportunity you may have let pass you by in the past is now recognizable because you have planted a visual in your mind.
I believe that we are responsible for the lives we have and we can start to change our lives by first daring to imagine something better. Dream big.
Art Saves Lives!