Thank you!

Doesn’t she look happy, at peace and elated! This shot of the Cleveland Museum of Art Dancers was captured at the Cleveland Garlic Festival.

The joy and elation pictured above is what I felt over the last few weeks as I read the comments left on this space. The birthday wishes, and just the fact that you guys took time out of your daily routine to stop by and see what I was up to! Thank you so much.

You know as a creative soul I started this blogging journey as a way of keeping myself in the practice of writing on a regular basis. Life kept getting in the way and I would find a reason not to post. Not enough time, nothing to write or the idea I wanted to write about was time sensitive and on and on. My next goal was to showcase my photography. Once again life got in the way and the number of posts continued to diminish.

Throughout this process what I have found is that the process is made a lot easier when you develop a sense of community – a following. When visitors stop by and greet you and comment on your latest postings there is a sense of accomplishment. With that accomplishment comes elation and a reignited sense of purpose.

So thank you all for helping me reignite my purpose and for helping me develop a new community. I hope you will continue on this journey with me and offer your views both positive and not so, but always with a sense of encouragement attached.

I hope to hear from you soon, and I look forward to sharing more highlights of this journey with you.


Why Do You Create?

So the question is fairly simple, what is the driving force behind your creations? Are you seeking approval, joy, accolades, or do you love what you do?

I’m sure that is something we have all grappled with a time or two, and I was reminded of this today over at “Beyond Layers” when Kim Klassen our guide recounted some awesome feedback she received on some of her work featured on Flickr. That’s a good thing right? Well of course it is, that is until you begin to base your work on accolades, positive feedback and how you can outdo the last piece in order to receive more praise.

Now I don’t believe praise is wrong, and neither does Klassen, but the key to your creative spirit should be what makes you as an artist happy. It may not always be the best or receive the most praise but at its core it is a piece of you – your creation!

I’m paraphrasing, but Kim questioned if we (artists) found ourselves constantly checking for new comments on our work, and basing our creations on the thoughts of others? Well I didn’t have to think about it because I know the sense of elation I have each time I receive comments on my photos. I feel validated in some way, but also I feel inspired. The support and camaraderie I have found on the internet really helps to fuel my creative spirit, but I haven’t always had this platform – nor have many of us.

The one area I continue to struggle with is with my writing. It is always difficult to start a new piece and see it through to the end, because I have demons or little minions telling me it is not good enough. This is a battle I fight regularly, but I also seek out support in the form of writing groups. Here I am seeking more guidance and constructive criticism over praise. I don’t want to hear all praise without a suggestion for improvement, but ultimately I think that’s what we are all looking for when we open our souls and share our creations with the world.

So here’s to less obsession over positive comments and a shout out seeking constructive criticism that can guide us to higher levels of creativity.

So why do you create???

 Now, I’ll share some of my latest creations – Enjoy!

Continuing Color Week at Beyond Layers

My Creative Story

As I peel back the layers and expose my creativity in Kim Klassen’s Beyond Layers class one of the challenges or prompts is to tell my creative story. This was our first prompt last week, but it has taken me almost a week to conceptualize this story and sit here to share it with you.

I hope you’ll grab a nice cup of your favorite beverage and take this journey with me.

As a youngster I did my fair share of coloring, but I was not one prone to start an art project – give me a book and I would be lost for hours. One of my favorite photos of me as a child is of me lying on the floor with my legs bent at the knee with a book in front of me. At first glance you see a child reading, but if you inspect that photo closely you will find I have fallen asleep!

Now my Mom was one to have you involved in several activities and having studied Early Childhood Education she also had many projects for us that included painting and creating. I eagerly joined in, but I can’t say I was pleased with the outcome so I concluded art was not for me.

Early on I did have fascination with cameras and even had a Kodak Instamatic that I used to capture early memories. This would be the closest I came to being creative – or so that’s what I thought at the time. I’m not sure if it was my efforts to emulate my Dad or an early notion of recording history, but photography planted itself in my life and has since become a fixture. By the time I was about 13 or 14 my parents gave me my first and only 35mm Nikon FG that I still own and use from time to time today.

As a voracious reader it would naturally follow that I would love the written word and follow some sort of literary path. My path was not literary, but journalistic. I’m not sure when, but I was fascinated with the news and newspapers specifically. So I took all the English classes offered in school including AP and studied journalism in college. While seeking out English classes I avoided Art classes if at all possible. Unfortunately, I came up during a time when Art and Music were still a part of the curriculum so I really didn’t have a choice. I toiled through the assignments and my Mom even displayed my art.

Creative – not me. As a journalist with a weekly newspaper I used my camera to help tell my stories, and to document family events and my travels. I never looked at this as being creative. Over the years I learned how to do page layout and design at the newspaper, which I used later to create computer generated cards and invitations – creative, not me.

I didn’t take to crafts either. My Mom and sister loved crafts from needle point to sewing and finally knitting – not me. When my Mom took up knitting she and my sister tried to get me to join but my response was “I have two left thumbs.” I did give it a half-heart try, but to no avail. Then a few years later my sister announced she was pregnant with her first child and I decided I would try knitting again. I knit a cute, but imperfect blanket for my niece and I was hooked. Creative – not me.

About a year later when I was planning my wedding I created the invitations and a friend of my Dad’s – a tenured Art Professor and Artist received the invitation and was so impressed he framed my “artwork” and gave it to me. Creative – maybe I am.

My framed “Art” Wedding Invitation

Since that time I have taken up card making, I knit regularly and I have created wedding invitations for a few people. I have also taken up photography again. Today I still struggle with the designation of “Creative” but I’m working on accepting the “Creative” in me with Beyond Layers and renewed confidence.

Wrist Warmers I knit for a friend.
As I close I want to give a shout out to my “Cyber” friends! Over the past year I have met many women who have offered a wealth of advice for free, but more importantly have given me and many others the confidence needed to continue honing our skills. Also, the many participants in e-classes who have offered their kind words when viewing my work – it gives me hope and inspiration! The ladies I speak of include but are not limited to Shutter Sisters, Karen “Chookooloonks” Walrond, Kim Klassen, Kat Sloma, and Big Picture Classes.

One Little Word 2012 + 365 Photo Challenge Day 5

As I approach the end of the first week of 2012 all I can say is WHEWWW! I hope that translates into a very heavy sigh!
This has been a very busy week on the work end (what pays the bills) and not a bad week on the personal end (means the creative future work that WILL pays the bills). Not to be deterred I have kept up with my 365 Photo Challenge and working on One Little Word 2012.
My word for 2012 is FOCUS. I chose this word to help guide me into the new year and new ventures. For a number of years I have been less than regular with my postings to this site primarily because I haven’t taken the time to focus on what I want to say, and most importantly what I want this site to represent. I can’t say that I have found the answer, but I believe if I take the advice of so many people and begin to plan I will find the answer.
My plan was not to write about the One Little Word project today, but with such a hectic day at work I was struggling to come up with my photo for today when I began concentrating on my word. Before I go much further I should explain OLW for those of you unfamiliar with this annual project. The brainchild of Ali Edwards, a guru in the scrapbook and photography communities, OLW is the practice of choosing one word that will act as your beacon throughout the year. This is my first time using the practice, but based on what I have read on other blogs, it really helps free that inner spirit striving to come to the surface.
Ali leads you through monthly emails, videos and assignments that help you incorporate your word into your daily life. One of the first assignments is to define your word, find synonyms and explain why you chose the word.
This evening while checking the thesaurus I came across CENTER and experienced an `aha’ moment. Focus does draw one into the center, and if you are truly focused you are Centered! Thus, the photo below. Talk about focusing!

One Little Word 2012 – Focus

Enjoy and do stay FOCUSED!

What Do You Do…Create!

I’ve been away quite a little while, but I have been busy creating! With all of the creating I have done of late not much of it has included the written word which has always been the backbone of my creativity. The funny thing about creativity and creating is that the creators are often so hard on themselves. You never think you are really any good. There is a voice that lingers in your head questioning your every step and stating with authority that you are not “all that and a bag of chips” even though you may think so.

This voice or gremlin (thank you Karen Walrond) is very loud and fills your mind, and head with so much doubt you begin to suffer from creative block. Writers refer to this as Writers Block, but I speak of creative block because as the title says I create! I create through words, photography and papercrafting! These are the things that bring me joy, but these are also the things that leave me feeling less than more often than not.

Kat Sloma recently wrote a post about the many hats she wears and how it is difficult to answer the question “What do you do?” with a single response. I too would be limiting myself and the things I love to do by simply stating “I am a Marketing Manager,” in response to that question.

As I close out 2011 it is with the strong desire that I will learn to ignore the GREMLINS in my mind and continue to pursue and practice the things that I love to do.

Here’s some of the work I have been creating of late:

Taken for both the texture and the composition – I came across this fence during a recent Photo Walk.

I really love this next picture because it shows how beautiful, and intriguing nature can be. I have recently become a big fan of the outdoors and trying to see the beauty that exists around us, but that we rarely take the time to see.

Hairy Tree is what I call this photo, because I never recall seeing a tree with all of this hair or fur.

This last shot would fall under the category of paper crafting I believe and is my first attempt at Subway Art. Thanks to Jessica Sprague for her recent class Mouse, Paper, Scissors – Give which incorporates Photo Shop and paper crafting as ways to create wonderful gifts and works of art. Joining Jessica in presenting the class is Heidi Swapp. The class has been a true journey and I’ve learned a great deal about Photo Shop! If you’re not familiar with the work of Jessica Sprague, you must check out her site here.

Subway Art

Getting Back My Creative Mojo

I am once again attempting to get my creative mojo back. I started the week off with a bang, but each passing day has found me lacking. I have however found some really interesting sites that may help to re-ignite the muse. I think that part of my problem is the fact that I have so many interests, and only a few hours in a day to enjoy them. I consistently say that work gets in the way of life, and that is so very true when it comes to moving the creative juices.
I think the juices started to flow thanks to my all day Saturday session at Creative Creations Papercrafts, where i spent nearly eight hours creating a slew of Christmas cards. There were a number of really interesting techniques and stamps and the icing on the cake was the fact that I picked up my Big Shot Express that is supposed to help me do all of the embossing that I am dying to do. Well instead of coming home and playing around with my new toy I went out with the hubby and spent the evening and early morning dancing and having a good time. What’s so bad about that you ask, well in actuality nothing except for the fact that the next day I was wiped out! I’m not as young as I used to be and I have been trying to recuperate all week.
On the writing front I did at least post a new list of freebies in my efforts to purge a large portion of my personal library, but that didn’t take a lot of energy or creative juices to get it started. So what creative projects should I be working on? Well there are two book reviews and I’m not sure why I am procrastinating with these because I truly enjoyed both books. At the root of this problem I think is a feeling that the reviews won’t be good, but I’ve got to start somewhere – right? The second project was NaNoWriMo which I started, but I think that I gave up that idea almost as soon as I wrote the first 700 or so words.
The problem there was starting with a totally new project that I had not really thought through clearly. I still think I want to write the story, but I’m not sure if it is a novel and I won’t know that until I do some more research. So I’m at a standstill in the writing area although I do have a couple of projects that I could and should pull out and begin to work on.
Next there is knitting and boy do I have a number of projects that I could and should be working on! I started some foot warmers that I hope will be a Christmas present, but if I don’t begin knitting soon I won’t get those done. This is usually a pretty productive knitting time for me and could be this year as well because I do have a few people that have requested hats etc.. and I would like to get the sticks going, but here again is that procrastination.
This procrastination doesn’t surprise me. I think it may have something to do with the loss of my Mom this past February. She introduced me to knitting and we regularly attending a number of knitting workshops at this time of year in preparation for the holiday season. So to say that it is hard to get into some of our shared activities is definitely an understatement.
Then there is the whole holiday thing. From Thanksgiving until after the first of the new year I am usually in such an upbeat and happy mood and I just don’t know how I’m going to muster it this year. Part of me is saying that it would be almost sacriligious to enjoy this time of year, but the other says Enjoyment, Family and Festivities are all the things that my mother would want me to engage in this year – even more so than in the past.
With that positive thought I am thinking about participating in an online photography workshop – Picture the Holidays, which is designed in part to help the participants find and keep the joy of the season. It’s reasonably priced and may be just what the doctor ordered to get me into the spirit.
I found out about Picture the Holidays through some random surfing yesterday, and I really enjoyed the site Shutter Sisters! I think I’ll become a frequent visitor and hopefully participant. They have some great projects and ideas over there, so if you have any interest in photography I’d stop on over there.