Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Daringly Creative Christmas

December is upon us, so let's get creative and tackle our Christmas List. The economy is not good, in the U.S., and elsewhere in the world, so let's think about some creative gifts to stretch those dollars and give that checkbook a rest.
Some of my creative friends on CCS are using Advent Calendars that prompt creativity each day. Others are busy in the needle arts to create scarfs, sweaters, or mittens for children this winter.
Some will paint portraits, bake cookies, enlarge photos, sculpt platters, or stitch wall hangings for loved ones. Several years ago, I baked sugar cookies, put them in antique teacups, wrapped them in cellophane, and tied a ribbon across the top. One recipient declared a new family tradition on the spot. {Note to Self: I need to do that again this year! LOL...} Last year, I stamped fern leaves onto white linen squares for my niece to use as table toppers or napkins in her new apartment, pictured above.
Lemme tell ya! It certainly beats traipsing around the crowded malls or standing in line amid the cheap plastic dust-catchers at the discount stores.

So, I dare you.
Where do your talents lie? Does a stressed single mom need a sitter? Does an elderly neighbor need snow shoveled, or leaves gathered via blower or rake? Does a child need a teddy bear sewn with loving hands? Would a single Dad like some sugar cookies to share with his kids during the holidays? Would your mother appreciate a portrait of herself with her mom and you as three generations of love? Paint it or Photo Shop it! Is there a jewelry maven in your family? There are lots of bead selections to choose from online; just string them and attach a clasp.
Now, that wasn't so hard, was it?
A handmade item has a little part of you invested in that gift, so start thinking about how you can share yourself this Christmas.
After all, you are the most precious gift possible...
Just like that one and only baby boy in the manger to whom we should all wish a Happy 2008th Birthday.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Perfection or Completeness...

Sometimes, in an artist's life, perfection rears its ugly head. It appears to most of us at one time or another in our lives, and to an artist, it can be just as paralyzing. Some of us refer to it as the "P" word...
It keeps us from accomplishing anything, before we even begin. The whispering spectre of our Inner Critic convinces us that if we aren't going to do things without blemish, then those endeavors are worthless: "Why try? What will others think? Someone will point out that mistake or omission, and what will you say? Stick to what you do well, so you won't look foolish..."
The whispers continue endlessly, don't they?
Until you leave the easel, the studio, walk away from the worktable, the music, the sewing machine, put the pen down. Sometimes, you feel that's the only way to shut up the voices?
It isn't.
There are things you can do to quiet the doubts and fears, so you can find joy in creating.
Try talking back.
Tell your Inner Critic to check out your past successes.
Tell your IC that you're going to just slop some paint around, or play imperfect music, or write some bad poems, just for the moment.
You're not going to show it to anyone, so that's not a problem. It's just for your pleasure, so it doesn't have to be scrutinized.
Pick up that brush, pen, or needle and fool your IC into quieting down by not wanting perfection, but COMPLETENESS.
You want to do one project to its completion. Period. It doesn't have to be Tchaikovsky or Renoir or Wang. You just want to finish it.
When you finish it, DON'T tweak it, don't make adjustments, quit FIDDLING with it!
Hang it on your wall. Hang the sewn pocketbook. The essay. The score you composed. Frame it in a store-bought frame. Quick! Do it now. On the wall it goes.
Put your name on it.
You did it.
Now, how are you going to celebrate?
Your favorite cuppa something? A nap to view your work as you doze off?
A walk through a park with your head up and a smile on your face?
Maybe some new supplies for your next imperfect project?
Now, you're complete.