The Story Behind My Four Corners Series Updates

 Four Corners, 2017.

Four Corners, 2017.

I turned this series into two medium size artworks wrapped around a canvas. I used 12 daily squares in each piece. This design looked a little boring in the photos of the daily squares I posted on Instagram. But when I sewed them together for these 2 pieces, WHAM. They look awesome together. They would go great with mid century modern design or good old IKEA furniture. I think it is the typical Swedish blue of a lot of IKEA furniture that makes me feel this way.  They are available for sale on my website HERE AND HERE. They look like tumbling boulders running down a hill to me.  I wrote an article about my original inspiration.

Here is the original article.

My next series, Four Corners, is loosely based on a painting I saw by Helen Frankenthaler. My Instagram friend Brianne of @briannealves posted about Helen Frankenthaler last year and I have been hooked ever since. I have decided that whenever somebody mentions an artist I'm not familiar with, it's in my best interest to check that artist out. In this case, Brianne has a fantastic sense of color and design and I've been following her since I started the 100 day project in April 2015. We share a love of the color blue. So I knew I would most likely be fascinated by Frankenthaler's art. 

 

 From the Artsy.net website

From the Artsy.net website

I've read a few books from my local library on Helen Frankenthaler. She started the influential color stain technique where she poured thinned out paint onto an unprimed canvas. For some reason, she is not as well know as her husband of 13 years, modern artist Robert Motherwell. I have included her biography from the Artsy site.

I wanted to see more of her art than I found at the library. One way I look for well reproduced photos of art online is on the website Artsy. You can follow artists and even see some pieces for sale at galleries. There's a short biography of each artist. It's a great way to noodle around looking for inspiration for colors or designs and learn about art history and contemporary art. 

Helen artsy.jpeg

Now as I've said before this is not about copying somebody else's Art. This is about looking for things that trigger an interest in you. By way of example, I've included the Frankenthaler paintingthat was my starting point for my next series. Here is a run down of my thinking process. The photo shows the Four Pochoirs for sale on Artsy. The one that inspired me is on the upper left and is called Wind Directions.

As I thought about my next series and looked at Wind Directions, I decided I wanted to modify all the colors. I didn't want a white background. As I said, one of my favorite colors is blue so I'm mixing in many different blues as the main color for the background. As for the design, I love Frankenthaler's attention to only the corners. Ironically, the third quilt I ever made was based on a traditional pattern called Snowball. The design is only remotely similar. The traditional Snowball is a little uptight with consistent triangle corner shapes and usually the same color triangles in the corners. Frankenthaler's painting is a wild child with each corner being a different color and shape, and is not related at all to the other corners. 

My idea for the design for my next series Four Corners is to pick a color palette with enough variety to make the color interesting, similar to Frankenthaler. I want to "up the contrast" with the blue center and will use oranges, lime green and lemon yellow (think Mike and Ike candy colors). Of course, I want to make each square visually interesting by having different shapes in each corner. Different shapes. Different colors.  I'm looking for something much more free-form than the traditional Snowball.

 

 My third quilt from the early 2000's using Snowball blocks

My third quilt from the early 2000's using Snowball blocks

As I said, when I saw Frankenthaler's painting, I thought of a Snowball design but realized I could have a lot of fun with all the variations she uses in her painting. One of my major themes to help people working in a series is to say...

You need some constraints and some freedom. You need a structure to get you started. You need flexibility and a sense of play to want to keep doing it. 

I feel this will be a perfect balance of those parameters in my next series. 

 

Authenticity vs. Influences Updates

I spent a week in New York City this month. The topic of Authenticity vs. Influences was something on my mind as I saw original artworks by some of my art heroes. I saw a piece by Helen Frankenthaler, several Cezanne's and Berthe Morisot's. Frankly, I am still processing all the art we saw in just three museums in New York City.  I have been thinking about how to incorporate the art that inspired me into my own style of art.  Still a work in progress.

Here is my original article.

The phrase, Be Authentic. What does it really mean? In my mind, it just means being who you really are. It means you aren't trying to emulate other people or forcing yourself to act a certain way. You do what feels natural to you.

Sometimes this is easier said than done. Why? I do not know. Because being yourself seems like it should be the easiest thing in the world. Authenticity applies to all aspects of our lives. How you live your life, your career, hobbies, food you eat, etc. In the creative world, many artists go through phases where they're a little "too attached" to their influences. I know I have. My son pointed out to me that on one of the band Cream's songs, Eric Clapton mimicked an Albert King guitar riff note-for-note. This does not mean he was plagiarizing him. But Albert King is one of his influences.Clapton listened to all the early blues and rock musicians. Even as accomplished as Eric Clapton was and is, his influences came through. Eric Clapton's guitar playing has such an authentic sound, I can tell it is him playing with just a few notes into a song.

Using your Influences as a stepping stone to authenticity seems like a natural progression. You have to start somewhere. You gravitate to things that you naturally align with. Take it for a spin. See how it feels. And then evolve from that. This all makes sense. I do not think I could've gone directly in to my current abstract designs without evolving into them. 

For a while, I would not look at other people's quilts or art online because I was concerned about unconsciously adopting other people’s style. Now I know that if being authentic is your goal, you are not going to mimic other people's art. You will emulate lots of influences in your own unique blend and take it from there.

In the book I'm currently reading, What Are You Looking At?: The Surprising, Shocking, and Sometimes Strange Story of 150 Years of Modern Art, the author, Will Gompertz, says

 
If 10 people were to stand on a hill and take a photograph of the same view, using the same camera, the results would be near identical. If the same 10 people sat down for a few days and painted that view, the result would be markedly different. Not because one individual might be a more accomplished artist then another. But owing to the nature of humans: we can all look at the same view, but we don't see quite the same thing. We bring our own unique mix of prejudices, experiences, tastes and knowledge to any given situation, informing how we interpret what is before us. We'll see the things we find interesting and ignore those we don't.  Page 80.

Everyone will come up with different things because of the way they see the world. 

 

 Earth series. Day 186 of 2016. 6 inches square. Green horizontal lines with multiple green rectangles included for the land. Orange, yellow and green vertical lines for flowers with blue sky peaking in.

Earth series. Day 186 of 2016. 6 inches square. Green horizontal lines with multiple green rectangles included for the land. Orange, yellow and green vertical lines for flowers with blue sky peaking in.

When I approach my current series, the Four Elements: Fire, Air, Water and Earth, I see landscapes broken down into their elemental geometric forms. I can look out at the prairie in our backyard and see geometric shapes such as green horizontal rectangles for the land with orange and yellow vertical rectangles for flowers and vertical blue rectangles for glimpses of the blue sky. I use these design ideas in my current Earth series.

The section in What are You Looking at? on the artist Paul Cézanne was particularly fascinating to me.  Gompertz states that Pablo Picasso called Paul Cézanne  “the father of us all.” Paul Cézanne opened the door to modernism. He apparently also thought you could break landscapes into basic shapes like spheres, cones and cylinders. Not to compare myself with Paul Cézanne, but to make my point, we both looked at landscapes and saw geometric shapes with obviously very different outcomes in our art. He saw 3D shapes of cylinders and cones and spheres. I see a very flat 2D version with squares, rectangles and lines. The idea may be similar, but again another outcome. 

 

 Paul Cézanne's Bibemus Quarry, 1895 Oil on canvas, 65.1 x 81 cm Folkwang Museum, Essen This painting is a good example of geometric shapes in his art. Source:  HERE

Paul Cézanne's Bibemus Quarry, 1895 Oil on canvas, 65.1 x 81 cm Folkwang Museum, Essen This painting is a good example of geometric shapes in his art. Source: HERE

So now I no longer concern myself with worry over mimicking other's art. My daughter and I went to the Madison art show this past weekend.  I enjoyed seeing all the different creative expressions in all the different mediums. I was inspired by some of the bright colors and abstract oil paintings and woven hand blown glass pieces.

I can see all these as influences in my art. But at the same time I can realize my art is an authentic expression of how I see the world.

If you are interested in art history from Impressionism to Modern Art, I highly recommend this book What are You Looking at? by Will Gompertz for its conversational style full of good stories about the artists and how one style of art leads to the next.

The Idea Behind the Gulf Waters Series Updates

The Gulf Waters series may be one of my favorites. I love all the blues. It was effortless to make. We were on vacation with our children in Florida and I still remember each of my sons picked out the colors and designs for a daily square. I liked how I documented my inspiration from one thing to another that just takes one second but much longer to write about.  As I said, everything seemed effortless.

Here is the article.

The idea for the Gulf Waters series started with a black and white junco bird outside my window in our redbud tree in March 2016. I always imagine these birds as little nuns in black and white habits. The idea came to me to make a quilt in all black and white. My immediate concern was that I did not have enough solid black fabric. Ok . Improvise. I could expand out to grey along with the black and white. Then I realized I have loads of bright blues like Caribbean water colors. I decide to switch to blues and greys as my color palette. This is perfect since I was going to be spending time on the Gulf of Mexico in March. Hence the name of the series, Gulf Waters. Things were starting to fall into place. Next idea, I needed some color accents in each square. The question is, should I use the same color in each square or the same color family, or totally random. Hmmm. I decided on Kona cotton tomato red to contrast with the bright blues. I have always loved turquoise blue and bright red together as a color combination.

Since I was in Florida for Spring Break during this 25 days, I needed a project that I could easily hand sew with some precut strips of fabric to sew together. This meant long strips and big squares as part of the design since they would be easier to hand sew. When I travel, I bring a small sewing case for a few needles, thread and a small embroidery-size scissors along with a variety of precut fabric strips in my color palette for the series. I use a lot of bias fabric which is cut diagonally across the fabric grain and can be stretchy. To stabilize my squares, I use a piece of thin cotton as a foundation fabric. I have used Ikea sheets cut into 7 inch squares in the past. It becomes my canvas where I lay out the fabric before I start sewing to see how the design will look. I audition the fabric choices for both color placement and the over all design. When I am satisfied, I start to sew the piece of fabric onto the foundation fabric by machine or hand sewing if I am not near my sewing machine. I keep sewing until I am done and the 7 inch white square is fully covered with fabric. Lastly, I use my 6.5” acrylic square ruler  and a rotary cutter to cut the square down to this consistent size.

 Days 76-100,  Gulf Waters,  2016.

Days 76-100,  Gulf Waters,  2016.

In this case, this series started with the color palette. Once I knew what fabric to use, I turned to the design. 

Now for the design decision. In 2015, I was inspired by aboriginal artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s art to make the piece titled, Homage to Emily. I used one of her classic designs and added a color palette from one of her other works depicting colors of her native Australia, reds, oranges, and magenta. I thought this design would be perfect for the hand sewing portion of this Gulf Waters series. Not one to do the same thing twice, I decided to make some slight modifications. The lines would be vertical instead of horizontal. In addition some the same strips would have two or three colors instead of just one color. This adds quite a bit of complexity into the design.

I just completed quilting Gulf Waters. I love the red H in the middle of the quilt. The utter randomness of all the lines really speaks to me.  I never know how all of the daily squares will look together except in my imagination.  This piece exceeds my expectations.

 I used light grey thread to quilt all three layers of the quilt top, cotton batting, and backing fabric. The grey thread weaves in through the design vertically just like the fabric strips. For complicated designs like Gulf Waters, I try to keep the quilting lines simple and minimal to let the colors of the quilt top really stand out on their own. The finished quilt is 30 inches square. I am continuing to catch up on the quilting of all the daily squares and will post them on Instagram as I finish them. 
 

Constraint and Freedom Updates

After making many 25 Day series projects for almost 3 years, I have learned some things about how to keep creating art on a regular basis interesting for me. My goal is to have little or no resistance to get into the studio. The idea of some rules (constraint) and some flexibility (freedom) is a concept that works for me as a balancing act to make creating fun without overwhelm.

Here is an article I wrote about it. 

What makes a good long-term project idea? I've written a little bit about this before. However, I decided I would dedicate an article to this topic since it will be helpful for people interested in starting the 100 Day Project or a similar type of challenge project of your own design. 

The two words I will leave you with are Constraint and Freedom. You need some limits to reduce decision fatigue but you need some freedom to explore. This tug and pull of artistic freedom within self-imposed limits is what I create for myself every 25 days with each new series I create. If I looked at the realm of possibilities without reigning in some of my wild ideas, I would get nothing done. Guaranteed. 

The main parameters for a project are the size or scope, materials, colors, design, and a framework. 

If you set a size for the daily project that is too big, it is too easy to quit. Seriously, think about what can I do in 15 to 30 minutes a day. I have seen people in the 100 day project of 2015 who were so ambitious with the daily project that they just could not keep up. The purpose of the long term projects are to get you to create more on a consistent basis, not to beat yourself up as a failure. This first decision on size and scope can make or break your project. Choice wisely.

Materials.  Find something that you love to engage with. Something that you're very curious about. It should be a little bit challenging and a little bit comfortable both at the same time. 100 days is a long time so make sure you can travel with an abbreviated version of your project.  I hand sew my 6 inch square when I am on the road. Need inspiration? Walk around the nonfiction library shelves. What did you like to do when you were 10 years old before anyone told you that you couldn’t do it?

  Homage to Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Days 176-200, 2015.  30 inches by 30 inches.

Homage to Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Days 176-200, 2015. 30 inches by 30 inches.

 Colors. What colors do you like and what colors will make you expand your boundaries a little bit? Neutrals, cool or warm colors and combinations between them. Many projects can be color based such as only black and white photos or only warm colors like in my piece Homage to Emily Kame Kngwarreye where I used colors Emily used from her homeland in central Australia.

Designs. For each 25 day series, I like the design to be process based with simple guidelines and lots of opportunities for variation. I have found this parameter to be the most challenging to balance constraint and freedom. Design guidelines that are too specific are stifling. So I just use general guidelines. Some examples I've used are alternating lines or wedges of ivory and warm colors like in my Homage to Emily Kame Kngwarreye. The variables were the height and angle of the lines which made the entire piece full of movement.

The design guidelines for my current series Fire are three radiating lines from the base of the square. If you do not use Instagram but want to see my art, you can click HERE. I test my design guidelines and think about the amount of variables I can explore. If it's too simple, I will get bored. I won't have enough freedom. The freedom and excitement of the possibilities is what makes you want to go back to the studio every day. This Fire series has given me the perfect balance of constraints with warm colors and blue for a contrast and the freedom of design guidelines that allow me to experiment with the variations while still staying within the design guidelines.

 Four of the daily squares in my current series  Fire.

Four of the daily squares in my current series Fire.

Framework. It helps to think about how all these pieces will work together at the end of the project. In my case, I sew 25 days of daily squares together into a large square of fabric art within the same series. You end up with a cohesive body of work at the end of the project. Consider how you would want to share it. Look for an exhibit space. A local coffee shop or park district. Self publish your writings. Open up an Etsy store to sell your work. Publish all the photos in a photo book. Give them away to friends and family.

Lastly, if you've selected a project idea that is not working, change it up in midstream. Why not? The goal is to make more art. Everything else serves that purpose. 

In what ways do you already set self-imposed limits or constraints and how do you balance that with artistic freedom? It is like a creative cook only making dinner with what is in the fridge. Or a illustrator who is only drawing birds. Or a painter who only a paints abstracts. Or a photographer who takes photos of what she sees each day that inspires her. Or setting up a time to be creative every day and do whatever you feel like in that time. 

This is why constraint and freedom are so helpful. You limit yourself just slightly enough to know how to proceed but you are still excited about all the different ways you can approach your art.

If you want to be more creative, I encourage you to start even a week long project just to get you creating. Once you start, you may not want to stop.


Color Choices and Context Updates

Now that I am focusing on Custom EcoMemory projects, I am really looking for ways to keep the project colorful but still true to nature. I usually focus on sunrise and sunset colors to really get some interesting colors from the Warm family. This balances out the Cool colors of green and blues depicting vegetation and water. I am still always on the lookout for unique color combinations. The tried and true method of mixing values like a light, medium and dark version of the same color helps gives variety and texture to many of my custom EcoMemories. This is the first thing you learn in quilting, balancing the color values. Great tip.

Here is an article I wrote about color choices. 

I bought the wrong green Kona cotton fabric at my local quilt store. I was going for chartreuse. And then I changed my mind thinking it was too bright and bought Peapod green. It reminds me a bit of the avocado appliance color from the 60s. I was not so happy as I looked at it closely when I got home. But then I realized I used this same Peapod fabric in one of my favorite series, Sunrise Over the Water. It just goes to show you.

 

 Day 126-150 Sunrise Over Water, 2015. Peapod green is the light green color seen in the horizontal strips.

Day 126-150 Sunrise Over Water, 2015. Peapod green is the light green color seen in the horizontal strips.

 

It is all about the context.

The Peapod green fabric looks great with the blue-greens of the water portion and the oranges and magenta of the sunrise section. It added the light value I need for this piece.

The same thing happened with the orange fabric I bought. I wanted a bright orange and I ended up getting a red-orange. Oh well. I know I can make it work based on the Peapod experience since it is all about the context. In the meantime, I'm going to play around looking for color combinations I think will work for both of these fabrics.

To get some color ideas, I often look at Instagram hashtags. People put hashtags in their posted photo descriptions so all those photos with that hashtag can be seen in one place by searching for that hashtag in the app or clicking on a hashtag when you see it as a live link. This is one of my favorite ways to explore on Instagram. A huge source of inspiration for me is the #abstractart where I hang out the most. I am drawn to the color combinations and the textures from the paint. 

Now, I rarely use the same colors I see. The point is not to copy. The point is to get inspired, to let your imagination wander around in the possibilities. Then I go off on my own tangent. 

Sometimes the most interesting ideas come from unlikely sources. For example, my current series Sun Corn is based on a photo I saw of heirloom corn seeds. I was drawn to the warm yellows and the cool deep purples. The article was in the New York Times about chefs buying heirloom corn directly from the growers which is helping this struggling crop economy survive.

 

 Heirloom corn photo from a corn seller  Masienda

Heirloom corn photo from a corn seller Masienda

So I imagine colors together by looking to outside sources for inspiration to get me thinking. Often times the best way to make the final color choices is to pull out the actual fabric and just "audition" it for a series. As I audition fabrics in context with each other, I am looking for contrast sometimes or peaceful harmony other times. It brings to mind nervous fabrics waiting in the sidelines hoping to be picked which seems silly now that I wrote that. No fabric will have to wait for too long. I have learned it is all about finding the right context for each fabric.

To make my color choices more fun this year, I have joined a fabric club where a quilt store in Kentucky called Quilters Square sends me Kona solid fabric every month for 2016 with each month focusing on a different color. I received 25 different yellow fabrics last month and look forward to receiving oranges and reds this month.  For someone who loves color this is all a dream come true.

If you are a visual artist, I encourage you to expand your color input. Look for unusual sources of color combinations from unlikely sources. Some of my "go to" color idea sources are:
Sundance catalog
Art Museum websites
Magazine ads
National geographic photos
New York Times articles
Bill Cunningham videos about fashion in the New York Times


If you feel stuck in a color rut, just start looking and you will get that inspiration to move forward again. 
 

What is Creative Flow and How Do We Get There Updates

I wrote this article in March 2016. It is still one of my all-time favorites. I truly believe +creativity -stress. If I did have a cause, this would be it: to help people see the benefits of a creative practice, of any size. The benefit is in the doing. Here is the original article.

Maybe you have heard of the term creative flow. It is when you are so immersed in the creative act that you experience a sense of flow where you are totally in the moment and the ideas appear almost effortlessly one after another. You feel so absorbed in the task that you lose a sense of time and place. It would take a fire alarm to drag you away from your activity. This is one of those things that you just know it when you're in it. I know what it feels like and tweak the conditions to get there regularly through my creative habits. Of course, some days your creative pursuit does not feel so flowy. That is OK. I keep it short on those days. But I still am in the studio. I never just give up. I may make something I am not happy with, but I just show up.

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Artist in Residence Completion and Summer Plans

I delivered the commissioned Happiness = Our Nature Playground artwork to the Montessori School of Lake Forest last Friday. I met with the students of the families who commissioned the artwork and they helped me finalize the artwork which included:

  • nailing down the staples I used to attach the artwork to the stretched canvas frame
  • nailling on the mat board to cover the back of the stretched canvas
  • nailling on a sawtooth hanger
  • putting double-sided tape on the label to put onto the back of the artwork on the mat board
  • helping me put double-sided foam tape on the wall label so it can adhere to the wall next to the artwork.

I got to show them how to use a hammer in a gentle way to not warp the canvas frame. Pretty cool. I wanted them to know that artwork is not just about the painting or the sewing in my case. To finalize artwork it takes many more steps before you present it to the client.

Happiness = Our Nature Playground, May 2018. Commissioned by three families at Montessori School of Lake Forest as a donation to the school.

Lastly, we wrapped the artwork in butcher paper with blue and white bakery twine. We presented the art to my friend Julia who works at the school. As we were about to unwrap the artwork outside, we saw a great blue heron fly right by us over the grassland next to their property. Yet another special moment spent in their nature playground.

The major elements of this custom artwork are the two tall trees with the diagonal yellow line for their tree swing on the left, the creek and frog pond in the middle, the grey fort leaning against the tree on the right with the horizon line of grasses and trees topped with a sunrise. The best part was when each child explained to Julia their favorite section of the artwork. One student loves bright colors and explained the sunrise colors with the brown of the tree line and the tan for the grasses at the horizon. Another student loved the brown of the trees where they kick off to go higher on their swing which is shown with the yellow diagonal line as if they were ready to swing back into the artwork frame. One student showed Julia the grey triangle fort with its stash of redwood sticks at the bottom. Another student showed the creek and the frog pond running through the property because that is what he made for his torn construction paper project. One student was not able to be there for the last part but she loved running in the playground on the trails. The students hit all the major elements of the artwork without me even discussing the major elements we should tell Julia about.

I felt a big sense of accomplishment presenting the artwork to the staff. At first, getting input from 5 children seemed intimidating to me at the beginning of the project. Little did I know that they would bring me into their world and help me see their playground through their eyes. All the information I learned from interviewing the students was included in an EcoMemory report for the school and parents along with photos of their torn construction paper artwork, my color palette and my design decisions for the final artwork.

This whole Artist in Residence experience has been a joy. I am grateful to every one who made it possible. The staff has been so open-minded and creative in starting an Artist in Residence program for their students.  I love being surrounded by smart people who think outside of the box to be creative and try new ideas. That is what this Montessori School of Lake Forest is all about. You can read more about the entire Artist in Residence process HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE.

As for me in the studio, I am currently working on two more EcoMemory commissions over the summer. But I do have openings for commissions starting this Fall. If you are interested and would like some more information about the process, just send me an email and we can talk.  

I am doing something different this summer with my Studio Notes blog and Instagram. Since I have 2.5 years of weekly articles, I decided to delve into my archive files and revisit some of my favorite articles and add in some written updates. Similarly, on Instagram I am posting some of my Favorite Daily Squares from the Every Day Project correlating to the weekly Studio Notes theme. Hope you enjoy them!

Happiness = Our Nature Playground

I am back in the studio after a month break. My current project is an EcoMemory artwork commissioned by three families for a local Montessori school. This EcoMemory project was offered as a fundraising opportunity for families to donate money to the school and purchase a custom piece of art that will remain in the school. The subject matter of this EcoMemory project is to capture these 5 children’s favorite places in their nature playground. This school is fortunate enough to have a wooded area, a creek, wetlands and a prairie area. This is the last phase of my Artist-in-Residence at this same local Montessori school. You can read more about it HERE and HERE. It has been a great adventure working with the staff and students at the school.

Phase 1 of this EcoMemory project was to meet the five children whose families bought the commission. It was truly a magical visit because they took me on a tour of their nature playground favorite places and shared fabulous details of what it’s like to be a child at recess at the school. I got to see it through their eyes. I felt like I was 10 years old again.

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Revisiting Lessons from a Kitten

So our cat Koa is now two years old. As an update to my article Lessons from a Kitten, I can add another lesson, letting go of perfectionism. There are many sweet things about our two cats. But there are some annoying things too. I can handle these imperfections because of all the good they bring to our family. I can focus on the good qualities. It is ok that they are not perfectly behaved cats. Here is the original article.

Lessons from a Kitten

We got a new Siberian kitten last Saturday. He is 11 weeks old and, of course, absolutely adorable. His name is Koa. We named him after the native Hawaiian wood Koa because he's an orange tabby and looks like the Koa wood's grain pattern. Needless to say, I have been spending a lot of time with him because he pretty much needs constant attention and supervision unless he is sleeping.

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Why Is Creativity so Fascinating?

Partridge Point in Lake Superior, 2017.

My geology professor from college, Dr Palmquist (who I have written about before HERE) signed up as a subscriber to my weekly Studio Notes after I gave him one of my first EcoMemory prototypes as a gift. My EcoMemory is based on a rocky island in Lake Superior where I did field work with Dr. Palmquist for my senior project.  

He recently emailed me saying, "How did this interest in creativity start?"

The rocks on Partridge Point. How cool are they?!

It got me thinking because when he knew me as a college student, I was all about the math and science. I wanted to be an environmentalist and geology, the study of the earth, seemed to be the closest major I could find. Later I realized I like knowing how things were formed. That’s what a lot of geology is about; how the earth formed, how rocks were formed.  You tell a story based on the available science at the time of what happened, just like the volcanic action going on in Hawaii right now. Every geological event tells the story of what is happening in the earth.

What I really like the most about geology are the minerals, the colors and the shapes of igneous rocks and metamorphic rocks. It really was the starting point of me noticing color and shapes. I had told myself I wasn’t creative because I was a scientist and good at math. My creative friends were the real artists who could draw. Now I know this is a ridiculous statement. Everyone is creative in their own way. The definition of what creativity looks like is expanding. I am not the only one fascinated by creativity. More and more people are seeing themselves as creative. Even though I was fascinated by colors and shapes and would spend hours looking at the mineralogy specimens in our large drawers at my college and local rock shop and gem store, I didn’t put it all together until much later.

I started quilting 10 years after college as it was an activity that needed precise measurements and accurate sewing. It seems like a natural fit for me. Once I learned the basics, I started doing my own thing using color and shapes. This progressed to my current custom EcoMemory process where I help people reconnect to how they feel in nature through my art. To learn more, click HERE.

Like a lot of things that people become super interested in, my interest in creativity was a nagging feeling of trying to answer a question I have been pondering for years, "Why did I think I wasn’t creative when I was younger? Why did I think I needed to go to art school to be an artist?" So I decided I would just teach myself about creativity and it never ceases to fascinate me still 20 years later.

I’ve had the good fortune to be living in a time when other people are just as fascinated in creativity. Lessons about creativity are not specific to one media. This was the biggest surprise to me. I have learned from authors, painters and musicians. There are many books, TED Talks, and podcasts to listen to. I recently found a new book I just started to read. The book is called Creative Quest and is written by Questlove, the band director for the Roots band on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. I already read the first chapter and can't wait to read the rest.

Why do I continue to learn about creativity? Creativity can be elusive. The more you try to force it, the more it skitters away from you just out of reach. It can be a mental minefield out there looking for creative inspiration and deciding which lead to follow. Learning from other generous souls who have written about their experiences makes you realize you are not alone. These writers/speakers provide markers on the trail of where to go and how to navigate the hazards along the trail. I am grateful for the support and keep reading/listening to people who are fascinated with creativity in all its forms.