Thursday, April 23, 2009

On creativity and contentment

I was riding around in the car today with my six-year-old son, thinking. (Oddly enough, despite the many distractions including other drivers, my son's chatter and nonstop NPR, my car is the place where I do some of my best and biggest thinking.)

Like so many other days, today I was noticing that a great many people look just plain miserable. I look at them as they walk down the sidewalk and navigate the parking lots. Grimaces and frowns sometimes seem the default facial expression--people burdened by who knows what assortment of woes. Horrible shoes, old age, heavy bags, 50 extra pounds or, these days, plain old existential dread. I think how easy it is to fall into that trap of just reacting in a miserable way to everything...hurrying to beat the clock, cursing the driver who just cut us off while yammering on his cell phone, reflexively looking at our watches in line at the post office (as though someplace else is more important than where we are)....and how much of that reflexive unhappiness is so very unnecessary.

This is where the creativity comes in. "You know, honey..." I say, raising my voice so it can be heard in the back seat. I look in the rear view mirror at my little boy, whose eyes are gazing out the window. "It's important to question everything." And then I make my usual futile attempt to explain what I mean. "...So many people are so unhappy, and they don't need to be. We don't have to try for so much. We don't have to need and want so much. It's OK to be happy with simple things."

That doesn't sound particularly creative. But it is, because from sunup to sundown we are bombarded by things that tell us to be dissatisfied. The news, for one thing. Advertisements. Arbitrary authority, like schools, which lock us into thinking one way--one way which just happens to put us on a crazy stressful rat-race track that starts with high-academic kindergartens and ends with MCAS and college admissions. We're homeschoolers (unschoolers, mostly) so I am able to keep my son's life very free, very unstructured. His creativity can soar nonstop and nothing gets in his way; no one tells him to close that book, change the subject, get up, go out, sit down, study this, think that. It might sound like I am digressing, but I'm not, really. Keeping him free--his body, his mind, his spirit--for as long as possible is my way of arming him for that world out there, where corporations or institutions tell us what we should buy all day long, but whose products clearly don't deliver what we all seem to desperately need: an unshakeable, detached contentment from whatever it is they're trying to sell.

If we had that, I think I'd see a lot fewer furrowed brows out there as I run my daily errands. Mine included.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Wooden-tile gifts

I am having fun today working on wooden-tile magnets, pins and pendants. They don't have the biggest profit-margin, but I can't resist the solid feel of the wood and I love how they come out. And we all know it's important to have fun creating!

These wooden tiles are from a wonderful supplier on Etsy called TheGeneralStore. He sells them in different sizes, and he's so prompt! The tiles are bigger than Scrabble tiles. I know Scrabble tiles are all the rage, but I like my pins and pendants to be slightly bigger so the art can be seen better.

I leave some of them natural, some are painted white, some painted black. It all depends on the colors in my design.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mother's Day cards for moms of animals

Last night I finished my latest card design. It's a Mother's Day card for mothers whose kids just happen to have 4 legs and fur.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

This used to be a plain wooden box

It had been a pale wooden box that I picked up from the recycling center, just 5"x7". Now I love it! The red felt I put inside really complements the colors in the design, I think.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Good dog vs. bad dog

A local pet supply store suggested I do a variation on the good dog-bad dog theme. So I had a little fun with these today. It's fun doing art that is not serious.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The nightstand that wouldn't take No for an answer

Today I was out scavenging thrift stores for furniture to paint. Do you know how it is when you see something and it just says "Buy Me"? I spotted this little narrow nightstand and immediately ran over to it. I didn't much care for the price, but by the end of my shopping trip it was in my basket anyway. I kept going back to it. Solid construction, a lovely shape and size. I'll be lucky if I can part with it once it's done. (The idea is to paint it and sell it. That's the whole point.) Even in its funny yellow color, other people noticed it in my shopping cart and commented. I picked up a few smaller things, too--a picture frame and small recipe box. I am having a lot of fun. No idea yet how and where I will sell my new creations. I'll figure that one out later.

Creative impulses running wild!

Trying to focus my creative impulses is like trying to herd cats.

If I got paid for making a variety of cool, creative things, I'd be doing pretty well. For instance, the other day I created some earrings out of paper. Dictionary pages, to be precise. (A friend has borrowed all my jewelry findings, but once those are back I will put up a photo.) I've got numerous wooden decor items (furniture, frames, etc.) in various stages of transformation into colorful works of art. My desk is covered with little tiles of wood being turned into pendants, pins and magnets. And I've been reading Photoshop tutorials so I can improve my digital coloring process, which should benefit my card business. At night I read up on Art Licensing and from time to time I tweak and rearrange my wholesale offerings on

Really. Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, all this stuff was just fun. It's still fun, of course, but the small voice whispers more loudly when I'm not following a certain, direct line between art and money. Bills beckon.