Thursday, May 27, 2010

I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends!

We creatives are a fragile bunch. Since I think everyone is born with creativity, that means all of humanity has their share of insecurities and fragile feelings! Some people are adept at protecting their inner child, and some of us will never learn this since it is our nature to let life in through the front door! Self protection is an afterthought for us. And most of the time, the experience is a good one. By being less wary and more open I have experience great joy in relationships and deep lasting friendships. I understand and appreciate both ways of living life.
In my journey I have noticed that my creativity is affected by others in both good and bad ways. But when it comes to my creative side, I've found that I need to be a little more protective. That doesn't mean less open. No, that just means I need better boundaries and screening.
Creativity is fragile. That part of me is fragile. I've learned to surround myself with the people who understand and appreciate my life's calling. I'm not saying I am not friends with people who don't appreciate my art. I'm saying that I don't drag out my inner creative to people who might damage it. It's hard enough to stay creative with the rejection one gets from critiques in school, from not being accepted to this show or that, from those who do not "oooo and ahhh" over your best work, the list goes on! Your putting part of yourself out there artists! These works are your children! Treat them as such. Respect them and the process and don't listen to those who do not! (do not confuse this with those who give constructive criticism. But get that from someone you respect and who has your best interest at heart!)
But those who are supportive of your creativity are gems. And I have gathered many into my corner. Recently I wrote a friend that I didn't feel like gardening anymore, a hobby we shared like the obsessive compulsive perennial buyers we are. She wrote back to encourage and included this: You've lost that gardening feeling.Oh, that gardening feeling.You've lost that gardening feeling, cuz it's gone, gone, gone, and you can't go on,Whoa whoa whoa. (a Righteous Brothers borrowization).
That's creative! That makes me laugh and gives me joy, and even made me want to plant something. But larger than that, that humor and creativity from one of my best and lifelong friends, translated to me! Juiced me up and made me laugh!
In correspondence with another friend during that incredible snow in February that left us all crazy, he wrote that he was canceling our meeting to make snow angles. I wrote back with a cocky "OK then. But try an angel instead, angles tend to cause trouble." His response was classic and made me laugh as you can see above in the photo!
And yet another friend invited me to her garden to witness and paint the beauty and unfolding miracle that was blooming in her front yard. This simple act of sharing her vision and the beauty that she and her yard possessed produce a painting in kind. Not bad for a couple of hours of perfection! You take that when you can get it.
Those are example's of friends who shared their own creativity with me. It gave me appreciation for my own, since I could appreciate theirs! And then there is my best friend and also my husband and kids. My sister and mom and dad. These people have nurtured and protected my fragile creative side and helped it grow. I am blessed to have them and their support.
Yes, people energize me with their wit, creativity and humor. I need people. People who need people are the luckiest people in the world. OK, wrong song! But seriously, surround yourself with those who respect who you are and what you do creatively, even if it's just for fun in your spare time. Limit your time with those who would seek to bring that down, knowingly or not. I doubt they know they even have this effect on you. This is a hard journey, don't make it harder on your inner creative!
Most of all, people treat you the way you teach them to. (Dr. Phil) The bottom line, and the root of the issue is: do you believe in your own value and the value of what you create? If you don't, why would they treat you better than you treat yourself? Do you feel you/your art is important?
It's something to think about, huh?

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Mothers Gift

Last spring I received an unexpected package on the porch. It was from a mail order nursery and I knew I had not ordered anything that spring. Upon opening the package and looking at the invoice, I found that my mother had ordered these flowers for my yard the previous fall while she was bed ridden and dieing of cancer. I remember her telling me that if she couldn't enjoy them anymore, I should. She died that December. As you can imagine, I cried, and cried. For day's. And I eventually planted them. They seemed to not thrive during that year and eventually disappeared. I thought I had killed them. I was very sad to think that the last gift my mother had given me I had lost.

This spring those little buggers returned! How surprised and sentimental I was when I noticed they were back. This last week one sent up a beautiful spike of small peach flowers which darken each day at the bottom as new ones open above in a paler shade. Whenever I see them, I naturally think of my mother. But now, since a year has passed, I can see them without so much sadness. I feel like they responded last spring to my grief and shrivelled from sight to ease my pain. (yes, I think like this!) But this year maybe they returned to bloom and remind me that though all things must die, there is more.

Now I know that most likely, they will die off again in late summer as many perennials do, to return again the next spring. But the irony was not lost on me. My mother gardened her whole life. Raised on farms, she had a need to touch the soft warm earth each spring and coax vegetables and flowers from the soil in every place they lived. While stationed in Alaska, (I was not a twinkle yet) she discovered permafrost. Permafrost is when the ground thaws out, but only about 6 inches or so. Things sprouted up, and died a week later. Their roots could not go deep enough to make a life in the cold Alaskan soil. The year she died, my heart had permafrost.

I have to say, of all the things she passed to me my love for gardening is one of the things that makes me think of her the most. I am doing a series of floral watercolors right now and I keep thinking about how mom each spring would drag home flowers that she could not plant because she hadn't the strength anymore to dig the ground. But she could still spend $$! So she would coerce my father or pay my son or beg me to plant them for her! And the yard just filled up with color!

This all reminds me that I have to keep painting. I may work on a painting and have a permafrost experience some days. But sometimes the rewards from planting are the surprise flowers that come from what you thought had died or from seeds you had forgotten you had sown.

Look for the surprises in the small things and appreciate their willingness to teach you!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Path

I spent a lot of my childhood in Colorado. Dad, being the adventurer he is, was always taking us all over the state. I like being outdoors and have fond memories of blue skies, wide open spaces and mountain vistas. It was not populated like it is today and you could adventure without seeing another person for days. It was a close to paradise as I can imagine. (if you like that sort of country! And who doesn't?)
Since I believe in creation and the Creator, I think I am not whole, not balanced if I spend too much time away from nature. Everywhere we've lived has had a wooded path to walk. In Illinois we lived right by the old cable car lines that were the first commuter "trains". Those were turned into a long series of paths that went on forever. Here we have one that winds through the back of the neighborhood. I try to walk every day. I also walk around the other developments sometimes if there is snow on the path or it's muddy, etc. It's just not the same.
Walking through woods has a medative effect on me. (in my imaginary world I do Yoga on mountain tops, dessert sand dunes and tropical beaches. In the real world I walk the path!) No distractions but the occasional rabbit or jogger. My mind wanders. And I see the gradual change in the cycles of life. The spring is brazen with color. Maybe a visual reaction to the drab winter landscape, our eyes are assaulted with color. Lots of it. But what stands out each spring is yellow. That's the color I think of when I think of spring.
Now all I see are white flowers. The wild rose blooms, dogwood, the locus tree blossoms and something that resembles honeysuckle. The white shows up well against the foil of green that is so predominate in the warm months. I think there are colors that are dominate at certain times of the year. Have you noticed that as well? And the funny thing is-that color shows up in my work at the time! And with each change of color, I have a new favorite! Have you ever explored one color? Try it. But I'm babbling now!
Who cares? And what is this got to do with creativity? Well, I guess I was thinking that I get my best ideas for paintings on these walks. Or I see something I need to come back and paint. If nothing else I get exercise so I can stand to paint in the studio a while. I believe the recent popularity of plein air painting is in response to artists needing to get out of the studio and paint from "life". Always the better option.
And nature is never static or boring. Often hard to get along with, nature is in a state of constant flux. So the idea of painting the same scene many times will always result in a different painting.
Friends who don't paint landscapes tell me that all that green gets boring. I don't quite understand what there are looking at! Yes, summer is green. The sky is blue. If your not looking close!
So my thoughts are this: find your inspiration. Today its the path. Tomorrow it's the child on the swing set. For me, I can always count on creation to spark my creativity!