Tag Archives: art

Ole, and Elizabeth Gilbert

I read a post on Momentum Gathering about the sort of Yoda wisdom of creativity: “Try not. Do, or do not…”  It’s how the act of making something, doing something, writing something gets the wheels turning.  And pushing yourself to create something — even if it’s horrible — is still creative; you can always fix it later.

This idea is one that I find resonates for me.  I discover it over and over again — in various media.  Do something.  Consistently. Show up and work, and the sparks will start to fly, the creativity will come.

Musicians know this.  Musicians practice scales and exercises to train the muscles to let the music flow through them.  They warm up before expecting something brilliant.  I don’t know why I continue to expect myself to be able to draw or write or paint without training my muscles and warming up.

And then where does creativity come from once you’re ready?  This is a wonderful talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love on creativity and its sources.  Enjoy!


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Take back your creativity

This winter I found myself in a slump.  It happens.  I started a new job and was overwhelmed with details.  I was taking classes on Dreamweaver and WordPress.  I didn’t have many henna clients.  And slowly I just found that it was harder and harder to make creative things happen.  I wasn’t getting flashes of inspiration.  I’d lost my mojo!

For me, creativity is like an engine whirling inside.  When it’s running smoothly, ideas fly and I am happy and productive.  But when something jams the engine or I’m not getting proper maintenance, my creativity slows down and even stops.

Fortunately, I found an e-course at just the right time.  Take Back Your Creativity by Michelle Nickolaisen.

At last! A practical approach to creating space for and nurturing creativity! The modules are perfectly focused and full of useful information and advice.  I especially appreciated the advice for re-arranging things to maximize creative time; it’s so easy for me to get sidetracked with chores (especially when I’m avoiding something) and this helped me to schedule my time effectively.

The workbook is a fantastic resource and I will use it over and over again to help me keep on top of priorities and to stay focused on projects.

I especially appreciated that everything had multiple formats so I could print stuff out or read it on my Kindle.  I especially enjoyed listening to the interviews while I was driving — so refreshing and inspiring — and then catching the details later in the transcripts.

And after practicing the suggestions and doing the worksheets, I found myself thinking about painting and photography and henna once again.  The conscious act of creating “creative space” where you block out time and make yourself do something — anything — doodle, write an essay, take photos, make dinner with intention — and do something on a regularly scheduled basis really works!  The exercises were simple, but effective, and now I’m back to my creative self!

Take Back Your Creativty button

For more info, click here

Yea!  And I loved the course so much that now I am an affiliate.  Check it out — it might change your life!

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Curiosity and creativity

“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.” -Leo Burnett

Curiosity drives questions….and questions spur thinking…and ideas are born.  Creativity is not just for artists.  Some of the most vitally creative people I know are not artists; they’re scientists.

Real scientists must be creative or they won’t get the ideas that get them the grants to do the research the answers the questions they can’t help asking….scientific research is based on looking beyond what appears to be there.  Science requires people to ask questions.  And questions lead to creative thinking.

Unfortunately, many people equate science with number crunching, data sequencing, and very dull calculations.  BORING. Even for the people who do them. Those are important parts of science, but they aren’t the whole story.  Real scientists face problems and have to solve them.  Organizing data and crunching numbers can be tools for finding the knowledge that solves the problem, but they aren’t the end.  There is actually no end….one answer creates more questions, and more questions require more research, which raises more questions….for the curious person with a fire in the heart.

And that is the essence of creativity.  To be on fire to figure things out, to see things in a different way, to understand the essence of something.  Scientists ask questions about the outside world, and artists ask questions about the inner world; both share a curious passion for learning and creating and sharing.

cat and fishtank

Curiosity and my cat, Sahara...

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Art or Craft?

Art or craft.  This is a topic that comes up a lot among henna artists, and today I was hanging out with silk painters and the same issue arose.  One person complained that there were people “out there” who don’t take the art seriously and they production paint and sell things cheaply — which cheapens the Art and devalues the Artists…. so they should charge more.

Seriously? I think there is a wide spectrum between art and craft and FINE ART and low-end art.

My parents are fine artists.  They SEE something universal and try to convey that with their artwork.  My father has never achieved his goal and thus has never exhibited his artwork.  If fact, I’ve never seen his paintings and sculptures, but he talks about them a lot.  My mother hasn’t quite reached Nirvana, yet, either, but that hasn’t stopped her from sharing her art photographs with others.

Me, I’m not sure I do art.  I make things because it makes me supremely happy, and I like to share what I make with other people because it makes them happy.  I can draw flowers for 6 hours straight and if my clients are happy, so am I.  I get into the moment of creating that henna drawing and try to infuse each one with joy.  But none of us are confused about whether or not it’s Fine Art.

I draw henna designs on shirts and bags and lamps and silk.  They make me happy.  But I don’t see them as ART.  I’m a craftsperson.  I do the best I can, but no-one is going to see the meaning of life, the universe and everything by looking at my henna or other drawings.  However, if they make people smile, then my work is done.

henna inspired silk blouse
Hand-painted and jeweled silk blouse
Henna on lampshade
Indian-style bridal design hand-drawn in henna on a lampshade

Money. The silk Artist who was complaining today said that the other folks who sell things for prices that most people can afford were selling themselves short and cheapening all the other artists’ work as well.

I’m all for charging what an item is worth.  But I have to admit that my t-shirts which take 1/2 hour to draw are not worth as much as the blouse I hand-dyed, took 3 days to embellish, and encrusted with swarkovski crystals and glitter.  If I charged what the blouse was worth, it would not sell.  The silk Artist would say it’s perfectly OK for it not to sell because you maintain its value that way.  The practical person in me says, “Um, I have to contribute to the mortgage payments and food budget…”

The silk Artist lamented that there are no real patrons of Art anymore….me, too.  I’d love a sugar daddy…um, patron.  But for every Michealangelo who was patronized, there were a zillion guys out there selling their stuff by the river trying to earn enough to pay their rent…. Did those popular artists who hawked their wares by the Tiber cheapen Michealangelo’s work?  No. But I sure hope they were able to pay their bills!

I think there is a place for all of us on the art spectrum.  There’s the stuff we produce with as little labor for the results as possible (my t-shirts) and there’s the labors of love (my silk blouse — which I did not sell; I had to give it to a friend b/c I knew it would make her supremely happy.)  The silk Artist creates such beautiful and intricate things.  She pushes herself and her techniques and the artform in bold directions.  The rest of us are inspired by her, but we can’t afford her work.  I hope she has a patron….

Anybody want to be my patron?  Hmmm.  Guess I’d better keep making things that sell…

reposted from Musings from a Hennaphile, September 23, 2010

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