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.
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.
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.
For the first time in many months (sometimes it feels like years), my family and I had a Lazy Sunday this week. We woke up whenever we wanted to. We had no commitments. We did not need to be someplace at a certain time. We decided to go to our local Botanic Garden and see the blooming Corpse flower. This has been a big event at our Botanic Garden in Chicago when these things bloom because they are very rare, very weird-looking and very smelly. Hence the name Corpse flower. Then we just walked around to see some of the Bulb garden which was filled with daffodils. We had a leisurely lunch. It was fantastic. My goal for years has been to have a day like this once a week, a Lazy Sunday. For families sometimes this is impossible especially if the children are in sports. Coaches do not care about rest and relaxation. Our culture does not seem to value relaxation anymore. I’m not quite sure why because I think it is one of the most important things you can do to boost your creativity.
These past two weeks I have found my artistic motivation very low and I have not felt well enough to continue my 100 day project. After a much needed pep talk with myself, I remembered the first article I ever wrote for this blog, Very Relaxed. Being frustrated about not feeling well is frankly not a way to be very creative. The secret is to be very relaxed. I will continue my 100 day project when I am feeling well enough to be very relaxed and enjoy the process again. I thought I would share my first article below as a reminder of Bill Murray’s advice.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art just opened a David Hockney exhibit entitled 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life. Each person is someone he knows personally, like his dentist, Museum curators, etc, Each person sat for a "20 hour exposure" as Hockney says which can be rather intimidating having someone study you for that long of a time.I heard about the exhibit through an interview with Hockney on the PBS Newshour. Read more about the interview HERE. The following exchange jumped out at me as I listened to the interview.
As I wrote about last week, I decided to do the 100 Day Project at the very last minute. I decided I would use some of the lessons I’ve learned from the 100 Day Project over the past few years, basically that a daily challenge gets you to create stuff you may not otherwise create without that structure. So I thought about a project I had hidden away in my “do this sometime in the future” mental file. I’m always fascinated by transparent colors and overlays of different colors using watercolors probably because that is one thing I can not do with solid colors of fabric sewn together.
I decided yesterday, the day before the 100 Day Project of 2018 starts, that “ I am in!” In December of 2017, I stopped my Every Day Project that had continued for two and a half years since the 100 Day Project I started in 2015. To be honest, I have really missed the every day creative practice. So I thought I can do a project this year learning a new creative technique I have been dreaming about for quite a while. The beauty of the 100 Day Project is that it gives you an excuse to do something you have been thinking about doing anyway and it gives you the necessary structure to actually just start.
Spring break vacation is this week so I am including an article I wrote about the 100 Day Project in 2016. If you are struggling to just create something because you know you feel happier with a creative outlet in your life, this article may be helpful to you if you want to do a 100 day challenge or even a 7 day challenge. How you set up the parameters of the challenge are key to the success of the challenge. More about this year’s topic next week.
I have been thinking about starting a new weekly series later this spring in May or June. April is dedicated to three upcoming EcoMemory commissions. However, I do miss the regular routine of working on a series. So I am daydreaming about what to do. We have this one oak tree in our backyard which I’m fascinated with because we planted it a few years ago smack dab in the middle of the prairie in our backyard. From our house we look east and see the sunrise over the prairie. Every day is different. Every season is different. My idea is to create a weekly series of pieces similar to Monet’s Haystacks series where the subject matter is the same but the lighting and seasons change. The focal point is my favorite oak tree surrounded by the prairie grasses and flowers with the trees surrounding the prairie further away.