Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Thoughts on Creativity -- Yes, You Can! Yes, You Are!

I can't count the number of times I've had comments on this blog that say, "I wish I was creative like you." Or, "I just can't do art at all." (Big mistake -- linking art with creativity. Yes, it is creative, but it's also technical, too, or can be. There are so many things that are creative that we don't always put in that category.)

Not too long ago, our friend Katie at Let's Add Sprinkles wrote about how when she was a child, her sister was labeled as the "artist" and Katie "Susie Homemaker." I could relate.

I've seen this happen more than once. But when I was a child, it happened to me.


We should never allow ourselves (or others) to be labeled. It holds us back. Or maybe it makes us fight back harder.

My cousin Patty -- my three-years-younger cousin -- is indeed a natural. From the time she was seven or eight, she was drawing remarkable things -- chubby babies, horses (beginning at the tail and working up) and more. I drew stick people with round heads and triangles for dresses.


I tried so hard to be an artist like Patty. I was nine or ten and my mom did her best to help, making sure I had books and materials to help me learn. She encouraged me in every way possible. But one day, hoping to build my esteem in other talents, she said, "You know, everyone has a gift. Patty is an artist. You write. That's just as important."

Oh, did that make me mad. And more determined. I studied fashion ads in the newspaper, Millie the Model comic books. I learned how to draw a profile. When I was in sixth grade, the teacher called my mom in for a conference to ask if I was "all right." For my art project, I drew probably a dozen floating profiles in a sea of blue that I titled "Heaven." No deep psychological issue or loss -- I just hadn't learned learned how to draw good bodies yet.

I copied things. All kinds of things. You couldn't tell my Charlie Brown and Lucy from Charles Schulz's! I wouldn't call it art, but I would call it trying. And that's how you get to Carnegie Hall -- practice, practice, practice. 

Every summer at the lake, Patty and I would paint, quite often the smooth rocks we would pull from the water. 


I would paint little children in the style of Joan Walsh Anglund. Patty would paint clever, original things. But by then it didn't matter if it was original or not. I was painting. (I still use those rocks as door stops at the lake!)


 As I went off to college, Patty would send me delightfully creative letters, illustrated with a fifteen-year-old's impression of college life in the fall of 1969, which was actually pretty on target! By then, I was putting all my time into my theatre major. The only art I was doing were sketches for costume and scene design courses. Then it was on to my career in broadcasting where I wrote and edited every single day for more than 30 years. In between event planning and fundraising, wrote ads, articles, brochure copy, press releases, radio and television spots. Or maybe events and fundraising were done in between all the writing.


When I left the office, I volunteered in my community, did some freelance writing and lots of crafty things. I made jewelry and ornaments, knit, needlepointed, worked on my photography and painted sweatshirts (which really isn't the kind of painting I had in mind.) I started doing some art shows. They wouldn't pay the rent, but I was being creative.

Meanwhile, four hours away, Patty was involved in her work doing direct sales and marketing. She was good at it, she had "the knack." But she didn't have time for painting anymore.

Flash forward several decades. I rediscovered art, this time with collage and art journaling, joining groups and going to workshops where I largely did mixed media work. 


Then about five or six years ago, I fell in love with watercolor.  Who would imagine that I would be doing commissions for pet portraits and paintings of homes? And yes, I still write.


Patty? Well, she started painting again, maybe ten or fifteen years ago, focusing on wildlife and landscapes. 

 She's had work in shops but mostly does it for the love of it.

And you'll never guess. She is writing. Her poetry is magnificent -- it flows from her, almost unbidden and as a series her poems weave a magical, otherworldly story. 

Our Greg is a remarkable artist and somehow is making a living from it in a competitive world, working in large form. From the time he was six or seven and drew a figure of a guitar player -- in proportion -- we knew he had a gift. 


His younger brother Kevin was "the athlete." More than once when they were growing up, Kevin would say "Greg is the artist, I can't do that." (The art teacher they shared in high school several years apart did nothing to help build esteem or skill, either.) Yet even when Kevin was about eleven, when we went to a museum, he could look at art and seemed to have an understanding of it. Not of the techniques used, but the thought behind it.

Yes, Greg is still doing his art and making a career of it. Today, Kevin spends the time he isn't working or playing with the boys making furniture and home accessories, carefully working a board of wood into tables and wine racks.  And, when it comes to household things, like building a pergola or a home reno thing, Kevin's your guy.  I would call his work art.


 Don't allow yourself to be labeled. If you want to be an artist and can't draw a straight line or a realistic figure, go abstract. If you want to write a poem and can't think outside the limerick format, try free verse and don't worry about the rhyme. 


I believe we all are creative in our own way. It's how our universe survives. Some of us paint or draw, knit or build, sew or work with intricate miniatures. Others of us create gorgeous tablescapes, have remarkable gardens or develop fabulous recipes. And don't try to convince me that computer programmers who can master code well beyond me or scientists who combine elements that can create vaccines and medications aren't creative. It's just a different way of thinking and I'm grateful they can do that!

We all have the ability to create. To think out of the box one way or another and come up with something meaningful. My art will never be in a museum but that's not why I do it. I do it for love, for fun, and because when I do, I feel better, more at peace. 


In these challenging days, you might feel that way, too.


This year is the first in two decades I won't be doing my November sale locally. However, many of my paintings, notecards and felties are available if you are interested! 


I will happily send you a pdf of what is available at your request. Just let me know in the comments.

Because after all, the holidays are coming!

Sharing with:       Pink Saturday      /     Life and Linda   

52 comments:

Regina said...

I went to ma card making party and I had so much fun! I honestly didn't think I was creative enough. But I made such beautiful cards! I would like to learn to paint. We are addicted to Bob Ross and have been watching his Joy of Painting series. I think I might enjoy it.

Laurie said...

👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍❤️

My name is Erika. said...

I know what you mean about labels. Mine is the full story. Degree in biology, which means I can’t be artistic? Right? Wrong. Not sure I am a natural or not, but so many people didn’t understand that it was possible to be both. Hurrah for this post Jeanie. It is so very true!

bobbie said...

Amen, amen, amen!!!

Iris Flavia said...

Thank you, that was a very encouraging - and logical - post. You are right, crafting was what I turned to after decades when I unexpectedly lost my job, it calmed me down. That and sport.

Valerie-Jael said...

Lots of lovely art and creativity, keep going! Hugs, Valerie

Joyful said...

I enjoyed your post and would tend to agree. I've never considered myself an artist who draws or paints but I would like to be. I simply have never done it or made time to learn and practise. So far I don't feel I have had time. I'm slowly working towards having and making more time but I need to do certain things in order to 'free' my mind. I loved all your photos and paintings today too. Thanks for the inspo.

Rustic Pumpkin said...

Did you know girls can't be astronauts? Well, that's what our Careers Development Officer told me in a seminar, humiliating me in one brief moment in front of my peers. So, I drifted. Aimlessly, without purpose, but all the time I kept doodling or scribbling words. I never did get to go into space, but I do still write and make art. Might not be great, but I make it. I now call myself an artist without hesitation.

Tracy said...

I was labelled as academic when I was young, but I always enjoyed making things. Forty years after leaving school I always have projects on the go and enjoy learning new crafts. I often wonder if those classmates who got top marks for craft work ever do anything in that line now, or if they just trot along to the shops and buy stuff.

Ruth said...

I loved your post. I am a "That's no good..." and give up. You really make me think just "Do it!" and take pleasure in the moment and the process. I wonder if I can and if I can't then maybe now is the time to pass on all the assorted materials and equipment I've amassed over the years so that someone else can.

DUTA said...

One can learn to do things, especially in these times of you tube tutorials. I've learned sewing and doing all kinds of small repairs. I can compose some rhyming poem in 3 languages, but to be able to draw/paint one needs a spark of natural talent- and I've never had that.
I've always envied people like you who can draw and paint so marvelously! But now, at my age I'm happy to just enjoy the works of others.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Interesting comments, Jeanie. i am sure that creativity means different things to different people. I am always impressed, for example, how Miriam can assemble what look to me like scraps of cloth, and before you know it a quilt is taking shape. She has many years of experience, of course, but she can make an idea into reality in wonderful ways. My daughter can say, "What would you like for dinner...shrimp, fish, vegetarian......" and then follow up with, "do you want Asian shrimp, southwestern, creole....?" and then gather various spices etc from her cupboards and put together a fabulous dish. A group of children I recently took on a nature study walk made a thank you card for me completely out of natural materials. It goes on. As for my own creative flair....well, give me a week and I'll think of something!

eileeninmd said...

Hello, Jeanie

I always love your art work, you are creative. I love the kitty and owl watercolors, just beautiful. The felt ornaments are cute too. The painted rocks have become really popular lately. Take care, wishing you a happy day!

Sami said...

Such a great post Jeanie, you have a way with words for sure, just as you have a love of painting.
I've always been artistic, in fact my whole family is artist in some way or other - musicians, writers, artists...
I used to love painting, mostly landscapes, but I haven't painted for about 15 years as my walls are full of my artwork, and sometimes I wonder if I can still draw and paint. Right now I'm into upcycling furniture with paint, so it's now my artistic outlet.

Debbie-Dabble Blog and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

Jeanie,
What a wonderful post!! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it....And yes, labeling is not a good thing....I was labeled by my Mother as a "Gypsy" because I didn't care what other people did or thought and I followed my own path...I know I have told you that I can not draw but I do know I am creative in so many other ways.....And I have found with retirement , now that I have time to think about things, I am more imaginative and creative....Thanks so much for stopping by and for your encouraging words!! Take care!!
Hugs,
Deb

Pamela said...

Great post! I agree. I’m surprised to learn you started doing your watercolors five or six years ago! I thought you’d been doing it all your life. There are so many ways to be creative.

R's Rue said...

You can

La Table De Nana said...

You are very creative..I love seeing your pieces..oh my that detailed letter is a treasure..Your felties are really very cute:)
I am grateful for my art supplies too:)

Pam said...

I love when folks, esp kids show an interest in ART. Love it and hope that they keep on with it. Art comes in all forms I have learned over the years, from the art of being able to crave an amazing pic in a pumpkin to decorating a cake. I started around 12 or so (I think) with doing things like macrame to embroidery and to me that is an art when the end is something created. Course like I have stated before, my problem has been not settling on one thing but needing to try them all!! haha. I have to make myself not try things I see on Pinterest cause I don't want any more supplies in my stash!!! Love your watercolors. Esp that sweet looking fur.

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

Great post! My family and teachers always encouraged my artistic abilities...

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

What a fun, uplifting post, Jeanie. I love how you not only gave encouragement, but also shared some of your incredible art.

I know my skills and my limits. I love how over the years you have branched out and created more beautiful things, too. Thanks for such encouraging advice, dear.

creativeseconds.com said...

Terrific encouraging post ~ We all have to watch our words even the encouraging ones as they can be creating labels. great real life examples ~ Blessings to you!

Joanne Huffman said...

Well said. When I was in college, I had an art teacher (mandatory prerequisite class for a drama class, as I never took an academic art class after my 8th grade art teacher told me not to waste any teacher's time by taking an art class) tell me that if he had me for a year, he could have me draw as well and realistically as any of the art majors in my class because it was a technical skill and "anyone can be taught to render" - he told me the secret to being an artist is an internal perspective and that I had that, more so than many of the technically proficient "renderers" in my class. It filled my heart with joy. By the way, I have very fond memories of out watercolor challenges all those years ago.

Rain said...

Hi Jeanie :) Great post! Loved reading about you and Patty. :) I was labeled a black sheep who wouldn't amount to anything. My gosh, parents can be such idiots...I certainly amounted to someone I love! :) I really love your painting with the winter scene!

Linda said...

Thank you for this post Jeanie. It's a shame that so many of us believed what we heard from the adults in our life and allowed it to box us in.

I am glad you pushed back and I am glad that you share it with us.

Martha said...

Love this post. The labeling thing is so true. I could write so many examples from my own life and my children too. When it comes to art, I'm one of those people who can't draw a straight line and hadn't done anything with it since I was a child. At the end of 2019 I decided I was going to dedicate 2020 to learning and dabbling in art. I sure picked a good year to do it. It was my therapy though this horrible year. I still can't draw so I did abstract and also lots of crafty things, junk journaling, making paper bead wall hangings, painted rocks that I hid around town for others to find to name a few. It's been a really fun process!

Karen said...

My father was a very talented and respected carpenter in his community. I never really thought of him as an artist. One time he bought my nephew a box of Lincoln Logs. Little John couldn't wrap his head around what a lot cabin looked like, so Dad pulled out a pad of paper and drew a photo. What a work of art! I told my Dad he was a very talented artist but he just blew me off. How sad.

The French Hutch said...

Jeanie, this is the right post at the right time! So many need a little push to move forward with a dream. I love all of your art, from your paintings to your adorable little felt designs and I am always inspired by your art and stories. Thanks for sharing your encouraging post..........Happy weekend.

Victoria Zigler said...

Excellent post, and well said!

ashok said...

Totally agree with your analysis...

Divers and Sundry said...

What an encouraging post! Thank you for this :)

Prims By The Water said...

How fun to read about you and Patty. Both artists with your own style. Reminds me of my own cousin Charlene who could draw. Everyone commented on her artwork, but never mine. LOL I still draw and she does not. Janice

Linda Sue said...

delicious post- CAN'T is just another four letter word! I do not accept it.

NanaDiana said...

Jeanie-I think I come here as much for the reading as for the artwork. You do a splendid job of both. I do think that labeling can seriously interfere with what one could/would become without being labeled. (just so you know-my brother was 'the good one'-so you know what that made me)...lol
I am so glad that the boys found an outlet that works for them to use their God-given talents. And building a gazebo is just as much an art form as having a piece of art in a gallery.
Thank you for this wonderful post. xo Diana

Sandra Cox said...

You have a plethora of talent in the family, yourself included.

gigi-hawaii said...

Beautiful art. I have a nice art collection in my home.

Lowcarb team member said...

A lovely post full of great art and creativity.
Your words were very positive and encouraging and I enjoyed reading them, thank you.

Do you know, as I type this there are only 63 days until Christmas!!!

All the best Jan

Sketchbook Wandering said...

Oh my!!! I relate to a lot of what you wrote. I love hearing about the pasts of creative people. My drawing was so much about fashion when I was 11-ish! I didn't know Millie the Model but I loved Simplicity pattern drawings. Joan Walsh Anglund actually was a big influence on me. I was imediately drawn to the use of vibrant watercolors with ink. One might criticize her for being "cute" but I still adore the sweet, simple, loving nature of her images. I just saw the film Blinded By the Light. I think it is related to what you are writing here. But the theme of having a teacher who believes in us, that is big. Teachers were always instrumental in my creative growth, not just art teachers but others whom I adopted as mentors. I'm still evolving in the acceptance and discovery of my own gifts verses the gifts of others. The comparing thing is not good for my spiritual growth. Lots to write on this subject, and yes, along with your charming watercolors and felties, your magnificent photos and your expressive writing, you share with us so beautifully. Thank you.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

she is very talented - I am mad about her owl painting with the berries - what a beauty!

Misadventures of Widowhood said...

What a fun and inspiring post!

Pam Richardson said...

Great post, Jeanie. I was so shy as a child and never would have dreamed that I would day have stand in front of a large group of women to speak! You are a very creative soul and multi-talented. I am a firm believer that everyone has a gift to be used, it must be encouraged and cultivated. Side note, I read Joan Walsh Anglund to my granddaughters and I love her art!

Sandra at Maison De Jardin said...

Jeanie, I love this post and truly believe we each have talents and special gifts. You have many, especially your art - such a gift. I especially love your watercolors of houses, such as in the photo today. You also have a special gift of being an encouraging soul. That is not given to just anyone. Have a great weekend.

Anca said...

You are very talented, I always enjoy seeing your watercolours.

I love this post. As a child, the paintings I did for school were not realistic, but I loved painting abstract things and my teacher loved them. I think she was the only one who did though. Not that it mattered, as I never considered art as a possible career for me anyway.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I agree with this post completely. Some have more natural ability and others have to work at it, but if the desire is there, you can do it. I was labeled as the book work and my younger cousin was the artist. She got these cool art sets from my grandparents and I got books and pjs. We laughed about it but it didn’t really bother me because I didn’t enjoy art very much... this is probably a character flaw but I don’t enjoy doing things that don’t come naturally to me... and art really doesn’t. But I have found other artistic outlets like playing piano and knitting. These are great fits for a left brained math person because you are following a score or directions. Granted right brain people enjoy these arts as well, they just might do more improvisation on the keyboard or make up their own patterns. I appreciate the art you share and it’s interesting to hear how you’ve had to work at it. I would have guessed it was all something you came by naturally!!

Rita C at Panoply said...

Jeanie, what a thoughtful post! Yes, please send me your pdf of available art!

Bella Rum said...

What an inspiring post. I loved the story of you and Patty, and Gregg's work is amazing. That was too funny about your teacher calling your mother about your drawing. Disembodied heads! LOL

anno said...

Labels are hard to escape -- mine was "a good speller," thanks to winning a 7th grade spelling bee; I was still hearing about it in my senior yearbook -- and I appreciate the encouragement this post offers to hold to one's own ambitions... regardless of how well they fit the labels others have applied. Thank you, Jeanie! (And that watercolor of Lizzie is amazing! Please send me a PDF; I'd love to see what you are offering this year.)

Jenny Woolf said...

I loved this description of your artistic journey. I love your pictures and the felties are quite charming and so colourful. I specially like the little owl.

I agree entirely with what you say about "labels." I find it hard not to give kids labels - at least mentally - as I watch them grow and see what kind of people they're turning into. But I don't tell the kids themselves what I'm thinking, unless it is something really nice. They need to find their own way.

I'd love to have a talent like Kevin's. In fact, I'd love to be able to make things at all. It seems so hard to me.

And oh, we were so very impressed with Greg's work, and would love to hear (and see) more about it.

Barb said...

Labels are so restricting. I was a "bookworm". But,as I grew older, I thought of myself as a writer and even a poet. In college, I tried my hand at a few art classes even though I was an English major. Much later in my life, I started using photography to express myself. Now, I try to encourage my grandchildren to branch out in their skills. Trying new avenues of expression is fun even if it doesn't lead to fame, fortune, or a career. My oldest grandchild who started using my camera at age 5 to record our hikes is now 17 and a talented photographer. He has an eye for composition and has far surpassed me in his photography skills. I feel happy that I offered early encouragement to his creativity.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

This was a longish post, Jeanie, and that said I enjoyed reading about your cousin Patty and your own experiences with art and writing. It seems that things do come full circle. I have always enjoyed writing from many years ago with pen pals to later being a journalism major then working for weekly newspapers and eventually corporate publications. Today, I am thankful that blogging has given me an outlet to continue writing. As much as I also enjoy photography reading manuals on "how" to take photos has never been as interesting to me as looking at the works others have done before and now.

Tracy said...

LOVED this, Jeanie! Trying--it's the best practice, isn't it??!! I admire your path of writing and art--I think the two overlap beautifully. Fun to hear/see about your cousin Patty, and where art has taken you both through the years, and this shared love...and how you both are doing art and writing! Love seeing how the boys in you family create too... it's all in the family! ;) Creative activities have always been a part of my life. Some forms of art have come and gone, I've dabbled. But I love to make. Yarn and fiber have been my mediums of choice for many years now--just now gaining courage to create/write my own patterns. It takes time. I think a lot about creativity is, like you says, taking down the labels. And letting go of labels like "good" or "bad" in reference to what we create. We're all creative beings--made from creativity, made to create. Dropping the labels and taking the leap to try. We never know unless we try! :) ((LOVE & HUGS))

Marilyn Miller said...

So glad you hung in there and didn't give up. You are indeed an "artist".

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