Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Time, Priority, Ideas

My current full-time job is the kind that is feast or famine.  I either have a LOT to do, or not much.

In those slower times, I sit staring at the computer screen at some spreadsheet that needs to be filled out, and my mind starts racing around this track that has been laid out in my head.  Decorating, art projects, creative business ideas, marketing, social media, friendships, lack of connections, are my girls prepared for life as adults, and . . . you get the idea, right?  With each thought that sets up at the starting line, I can hear the noise of the engines revving louder and louder until the flag waves, and they're off!

These thoughts and ideas are a blur as they race around the track, with only a second between each of them.  I find myself holding my breath  - you know, like when you are on a roller coaster, heading up that first really tall climb, and you suddenly realize you are holding your breath? Yeah, like that... (or is it just me?)

Then I'm back in front of the spreadsheet, realizing I need to get back to work. 

I try to make lists of the ideas I can catch, but sometimes when I get home, I am onto a different track with different schedules, thoughts, projects that need to be addressed like laundry, dinner, dishes. . .

These are my days.  Not all of them, but many.  I try to get the important things done, like dinner (sometimes), laundry (you can't NOT do that), and sleep (eventually).   The creative stuff doesn't always make the cut, but I am trying to work on that.  When I have a project someone else is waiting for, it gets priority.  If it is just something I want to work on, well, it can wait. I'm not entirely sure why that is.  I guess I don't give myself the same priority and sometimes the ideas seem frivolous, so they aren't really worth the investment of time and energy.  Sometimes the energy isn't available!

Why does it work that way?  Am I the only one?  Why don't I value my ideas and myself enough to give time to experiment more often?  I read about making time, treating these things like actual appointments, but it is difficult for me. I can begin days with the best ideas and plans to get things at least started, but...then life happens.

Then today, I found this article: 

4 Ways to Make Space in Your Brain to Create

It is from the Quiet Revolution website, and has some good tips for trying to, well, make space in your brain, to create!  There are several different theories presented from authors and creatives like Anne Lamott, Ray Bradbury, and more.  With suggestions and illustrations, it offers a variety of ways to make space, to think about the ideas that we form, and capturing those ideas to turn into creative projects. 

"In other words, find a routine for your creativity, and stick with it."

What are some ways you make your ideas come to life?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Monday - Checking in

Well we made it to another Monday!

In the spirit of accountability, I am here to say I didn't work on any paintings this weekend.  I did help with the birthday party craft of Pokemon ornaments, which seemed to be a fun time for the kids at the party.
These are the examples I was asked to paint ahead of time...
Here are some the kids worked on...Pikachu was very popular...
I worked at my part time job Saturday evening, and our youngest had the opportunity to volunteer at the camp she attended earlier this Summer, so Sunday we took her up to New Hampshire to drop her off. 

So even though I could have made time to work on some things, I cleaned out the refrigerator, took care of a friend's cat, and picked up a few groceries for the week. 
There you have it.  Do I feel guilty?  Maybe a little.  I try to rationalize things, but I know I won't finish any paintings until I work on them.  So I have to take that responsibility on myself. I do try to look for beauty in the everyday things, keeping my curiosity handy to explore or capture images with my phone as I go.  (Though some subjects are difficult to capture when they don't sit still...)

Let's see what this week brings!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Trying new skills, and honing old ones


The Summer is really getting away from me!  I have been working on a couple different painting projects, which, if you follow me on Facebook, you have seen the beginnings of those. 

I have yet to finish them, as I hone my skills on procrastination. . .

This weekend I have a birthday party craft to help with, but I also hope to also get some more work in on these paintings.

I want to loosen my painting skills to some degree, to work with a little more freedom.  I am finding when I sit down to work on the paintings, I have the mindset that I use when painting small ornaments. 

I work in small strokes, small amounts of paint, and small movements. 

Granted, these paintings are not the large wall sized backdrops I used to paint in a week for Vacation Bible School,

 but I need to practice developing my style a little more, and worry about the exact details a little less. 
Maybe at the end of the weekend I will have more finished works to show you!  (I also need to practice accountability...)  :)

Do you have any tips for keeping on top of projects?  How do you find motivation to work on finishing up tasks?

Friday, June 24, 2016

Getting to Know A Little About Me


Hi there!  I am not sure if I have ever really introduced myself in this space, so here is an abridged version:

My name is Holly, and I was born and raised in the Midwest, but now live in the Northeast.  You can also read a little bit on my About page.

I have always loved drawing, making things, exploring.  When I was in elementary school, I remember making small pieces of furniture out of paper.  I'm sure it was nothing fancy, but it was fun!  I remember carrying a sketchbook and pencil with me to my brother's basketball games and just doodling.  In high school I took some art classes, and while I wasn't the best in the class, I enjoyed the process.  I ended up studying art at a small liberal arts school, but by the time I finished, I was ready to stop creating.  It took me close to two years to find that inner drive to get back to painting, to actually enjoy working on creative projects again.

I worked on some watercolor paintings, and enjoyed the process as well as the final outcome.  I still have those paintings.  
Fast forward a few years to when our two girls were quite small, and I was a stay-at-home mom, I painted a couple of ornaments as gifts for family members.  Money was tight, and I am not one to give a gift just because.

Why Ornaments?

I decided on ornaments, so that they wouldn't have extra "trinkets' to have to deal with.  An ornament can be hung on the tree, and then packed away for a time.  When it is taken out the next Christmas, it can be like opening the gift all over again, with memories of the giver, and the gift itself!  I also like there to be some meaning behind it.  The gifts were for two of my brothers-in-law, so I painted the house where they grew up. "The Estate at 1088" is what they call it, so I put that underneath the picture. (Sorry I don't have a photo of those...)

I know one of them has the ornament on display in a china cabinet.  I don't think it ever made it to the tree, and I'm okay with that.  I'm glad they feel it is special enough to warrant such a spot in their home.

This Business

When my youngest was in preschool, I had an opportunity to participate in a "Mom's Night Out" the school was having.  I painted the school on some ornaments, and as people purchased them, I would put their child's name on.  I also started taking orders for custom ornaments, and that is where this small business began.
It has grown mainly by word of mouth.  Someone receives an ornament, and wants to pass the same meaningful thought on to someone else.  Or someone gives an ornament, and it is received with such joy, they want to continue giving that joy to more of their friends and family.  

I love the heartfelt stories I get to be part of, as people see their childhood home, or the smiles as they see their furry family member portrayed on the ornament, and are moved by their own memories and thoughtfulness of the giver.

There is something about the connection to home, or a pet, or a special place that draws emotion and memories to the surface.  That is a gift. 

To Be Continued. . .

I paint on canvas, I continue to experiment with watercolors, I bake, I take photographs.  I try to look at the world through a curious perspective.  I try to ask questions and keep learning.  I encourage you to do the same. 

The effect art can have on us is pretty amazing. 

What do you create?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Confession, and Learning to Take My Own Advice

There is a painting that my mom said I should do, based on a photograph of my girls that was taken back at my parents' house when the girls were much younger. 

I started it quite a while ago, and it sits, only partially finished, tucked on a stack of blank canvases behind the door in the room where my painting supplies sit.  I would like to pull it out and finish it.

The truth is, I'm afraid.  There I said it.

I like the way it looks, and the way it is (was) progressing.  I know it isn't finished yet, but I'm afraid of messing it up, which in my head sounds something like "irreparable damage."  Dramatic, no? 

So even though I talk a good talk encouraging others to try to overcome their fear in creating, my self talk isn't quite as strong, or as confident.  I do have moments where I can step up and jump in and keep moving, but there are also times where I pause just long enough for the fear to creep in and throw down those nails that deflate any confidence I had. 

I need to take one step at a time to keep moving forward.  Practice makes perfect, or at least practice makes better, right? 

So I am putting it out there:  I will continue working to finish this piece.  I will post my progress on Instagram @plainhollyjane and Facebook:  if you want to check in and help keep me accountable!  :)

And if it doesn't turn out the way I like, then I can try again, and again, and get the idea. 

So here is to taking my own advice! 

Do you have advice for overcoming fear of creating, or continuing a project?