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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Let's talk about creativity

"At its core I believe creativity comes from using one's imagination to dream up possibilities that are explored without fear of failure."

That's a quote from me.

For as long as I can recall I've always been a creative thinker. I credit my parents with any innate talent I inherited from them because not only did I receive it genetically, they both nurtured creative thinking in me from the time I was a small child.

My mom was very crafty always coming up with fun art projects using beads, glass globs, felt, pipe cleaners, trims and glue. She would always be working on projects that she could sell as a side business including macrame and things made out of fun fur. LOL those were the days :) My dad was always creative in more pragamtic, McGyver'ish kinds of ways making things "work" around the house and yard.

As a child I drew, and drew, and drew lots of pictures, mostly of animals and predominately horses. Even when I was insecure about the way I looked, talked, dressed, and acted I always knew that I could draw so it was, in a way, a salvation but at the same time a crutch.

St Lucia Amazon Watercolor Painting

In junior high and high school I learned to paint using oils, in private lessons and at school, and in college I learned how to paint with acrylics. It wasn't until after college that I taught myself how to use watercolors using the paint in a more unconventional way with very little water and dozens of layers of pigments. I'd venture to guess most people who know me don't realize I have any fine art abilities at all. Sometimes I even forget I do because it's been so long since I've painted :( But there's more than one way to be an artist.

From grade school to college my ability to be imaginative grew. One day in college we were instructed to bring a spool of wire and pliers to class. At the start of class the instructor said "Make something using a single strand of wire" and that was all. While most in the class made spheres or abstract shapes, I made this, a horse crafted from a single strand of wire.

People often ask me how I think of the things I make. Especially after Halloween LOL. The following best explains how I processes creative thoughts:

1. First and foremost if you want to be a creative thinker you have to get rid of the word "if" and replace it with "how" as in "How can I make this happen?" not "If I can make this happen."

Beaded Pineapple Cake Topper

2. The next part is harder to explain. My mind thinks in pictures. That's how I create. I have an idea, I picture it in my head as a finished product, and then I think step by step, what do I have to do to bring the idea to fruition. If I think hard enough I can (almost) always find a way to make it happen.

3. When constructing, there's also the ability to intuitively know or have a realistic sense of the weight of each element because the weight determines what any structure can bear, how a medium will work, and allowing enough time for second attempts. If I'm not sure, I experiment and learn.

An extravagant custom head dress made to complement a Vera Wang Gown

The path to completion is not always easy and quite often it isn't fast. The photo above illustrates a head dress that was a replica of the same style headpiece the bride's mother wore at her own wedding but we were going after a daintier aesthetic. I wanted square sequins to complement the embroidered ribbon petal details on her wedding gown. Because nobody sold small, square, French satin sequins I used the tiny scissors on a pocket knife and cut hundreds of round sequins into squares. The finished effect was exactly how I wanted it to be, the intensity of the work? Very high.

For a decade I had a blast creating custom couture bridal accessories. Working with beads, wire, ribbons and trims were things I had a natural affinity for. The talent I gradually honed with experience.

Since retiring from the accessory business I've enjoyed creating on my computer making custom designed websites and the cartoons and illustrations you often see here in the blog.

I also found a way to tap into thinking creatively when I joined the Daring Bakers' Challenge using the basic instructions we were given each month but going above and beyond when it came to how I styled my desserts.

And once a year I go all out and let my imagination run wild when I create Kitai's Halloween costume. I'd have to say that making his costumes is my most liberating form of creative expression because there is no right or wrong. Just fun!

Even blogging is a creative process. It takes creative writing, photos and illustrations to create the posts here on The Flirty Blog. Some people tell me they aren't good bloggers because they aren't good writers. Well guess what? I didn't used to be a good writer either. In fact I still very much consider my writing skills a work in progress. It took several years of posting in an online forum and now 5 years of blogging to get me to the point that makes blogging "appear" effortless for me. It also takes looking at life in such a way that I can see what I call "bloggable moments" another skill that takes time to refine. I can look at an experience or moment in time and picture in my head what a photos I'll need for a post and take them, or what a cartoon illustration should look like, then I make it.

All in all I'd say that, for me, being creative is not comprised of specific and individual actions. It's the way I constantly look at the world: Full of potential and possibilities. So if becoming more creative is your goal and you want to tap into and develop your sense of creativity the best advice I can share is to focus on possibilities and opportunities rather than limitations and you'll be on your way!

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