Watercolor Painting

Creativity: Motherhood vs. Art

Creativity, Motherhood

I met a woman recently who commented that she had never pursued her art as fully as she’d have liked because her mother had discouraged her with the message that she couldn’t make any money doing art; that it wasn’t practical.
My heart broke for her. I could see her passion as well as feel the hurt and hesitation that crippled her inner artist. My immediate desire was to help, to encourage and try to counter the damage that had been done. I told her it is never too late, that she is already an artist.

I was simultaneously grateful for such supportive parents of my own who have always encourage and praised my creative endeavors.

This beautiful woman, is the mother of six children.

In addition to being horrified that she was discouraged from being an artist, my mind also immediately thought of all the times I’ve heard motherhood put down as an un-lofty or unworthy endeavor. Motherhood certainly doesn’t make any money- less money even than being an artist! While I hope she has not suffered similarly for her choices about motherhood as she was discouraged about pursuing art, in our day and age, I’m not optimistic. I’ve been exposed to these horrible ideas all too often myself to be naive enough to think that another has been sheltered from them.

It represents the sad state of our society today that two of the most worthwhile creative endeavors are demeaned so horribly. I cannot think of a higher more divine mode of creativity than that of creating human life. And I don’t know a single artist who doesn’t seek to influence the world in some way with their art. Is there any greater, more accessible method of influencing the world than through the next generation? These lofty goals should be praised! Not discouraged. Especially in a society that claims a woman is capable and free enough to pursue whatever she wants.

Creativity is a divine endowment. A unique and exclusive gift from deity to humankind. Creativity ought to be celebrated and re-enthroned as the virtue it is.

Creativity transforms lives, whether through a painting, a song, a story, an entrepreneurial endeavor, a delicious meal, or simply, noble motherhood.

Watercolor Painting

Freedom And Boundaries

Luxurious Living, Personal Muse-ings

The celebration of Independence Day every Fourth of July, is a celebration of freedom. This American holiday is, in my opinion, one of our most substantive holidays in terms of ideology. Freedom is at the very heart of American culture. It permeates the whole of our society from our government, to our politics, to our economy, to our social structure, and our core values. Certain freedoms were of such importance to our founding fathers that they were articulated into our Constitution. They are protected by law.

Freedom also takes center stage in much American debate. Often it is an issue of the freedoms of the individual versus the freedoms of the majority. These debates are heated and there is passion on both sides. My intent is not to get into these debates themselves, but to address the idea of freedom itself. More specifically, the principle that true freedom always exists within boundaries.

Many people mistakenly believe that freedom is the absence of consequences. This is not the case. In fact, it is not even possible for freedom to exist outside of, or independent from, the natural law of consequences. Here in America, we are free because we have laws, or restrictions if you will, governing social behavior and economy, etc. When we obey these laws, we are free. When we do not abide by law, there are consequences. Often consequences limit our freedoms.

All of nature is governed by natural law (e.g. the law of gravity, or the laws of physics). For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. These are natural consequences- part of the natural law. They are not something humans can circumvent. True freedom comes from awareness of consequences to actions and making decisions accordingly, by choosing a desired outcome and not an action in and of itself.

Freedom has existed within boundaries from the beginning. When God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, it was with certain laws. God also granted to Adam and Eve their agency, they were free to choose for themselves. However, when God’s laws were transgressed, there were consequences. (Of course God is loving and merciful, so He gave to Adam and Eve the law of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, whereby sin and death could also be overcome by repentance and obedience.) This principle of freedom within bounds is woven throughout the entirety of Christian doctrine.

Some examples to illustrate this idea are things like, being free to drive a car in accordance with traffic laws. Or being free to interact on social media in accordance with the rules of any particular forum. The freedom to use a licensed product in compliance with stated terms and conditions. Freedom from stress over a test after diligent study. The freedom that come with knowledge and skill after disciplined practice, whether it be in art, music, medicine, science or any form of industry. The freedom of a teenager who has his or her parents’ trust. The freedom of choice when considering options such as universities, after qualifications have been met. Freedom from debt when bills are paid and budgets are followed.

The absence of law, restriction or consequence does not create freedom. Without law there is chaos and anarchy. A society that is truly free understands and reverences this principle. An individual who is truly free is obedient to the rule of law. The pinnacle of freedom is found in the rule of one’s self- mind over body.

I am free as society intends me to be free, when I obey the laws of the land. I am free as God intends me to be free, when I obey His laws.

I love the words to the American hymn “My Country, ‘Tis Of Thee.” Particularly appropriate in this context are the lyrics of the fourth verse:

Our fathers’ God, to thee,
Author of liberty,
To thee we sing;
Long may our land be bright
With freedom’s holy light.
Protect us by thy might,
Great God, our King!

America is free when “In God We Trust.” God bless America.

Be Creative

The Creativity Myth

Creativity

There are two kinds of people in the world. People who are creative and people who believe the lie that they’re not. The idea that some select chosen few are creative while the everyone else is left to languish is a complete myth. Everyone has the capacity to be creative. Unfortunately for many people their creative efforts were stifled at a young age. Even more unfortunate is when it is never recovered.

In truth it is never really lost, just neglected; abandoned for the belief that it never existed to begin with. Creativity, like a muscle, will atrophy when underused. One’s creative faculties must be exercised. Luckily they can never atrophy into extinction. The flames of passionate creativity can always be rekindled. However this process does require work, sometimes difficult work. Just like the necessity for physical therapy to recover capacity in muscle functioning. Severely malnourished creativity may need to undergo some intense therapy.

The false beliefs of inability, skepticism and doubt must be extricated. To be creative is a choice. It is a purposeful and conscious shift in mindset. Here’s how:

First accept that you are creative. Creativity is part of our divine endowment as humans. You have the capacity like everyone else. Believing this may require redefining your self image. The way to change your beliefs about being creative is to stop telling yourself that you’re not. Abolish the negative internal dialogue that tells you can’t or that you aren’t. You can create! You are creative!

Second, develop skills. Know that your ability to be creative has nothing to do with drawing skills. Those who are creative are not so because they draw, but rather those who draw do so because they love the creative process. Although drawing skills are not prerequisite, skills and expertise of any kind are imperative to enhancing creative capacity. Or rather the ability to develop skills. Happily, if you can do it once you can absolutely repeat the process with a new set of skills. Skill, the ability to do something well, is one of the raw materials of creativity. For example, in order to create music, one must first learn (and perhaps even master- to some extent) the fundamentals of music. Even a musical prodigy like Mozart wasn’t a prodigy because he was some how magically able to create music ex nihilo, with no prior knowledge, study or experimentation. Rather, he was a prodigy because he had mastered the necessary skills at an early age.

Third, learn to make connections. This is related to the idea of having vision, or the ability to see or make seen things otherwise obscure. Unlike developing skills which is primarily a physical activity, the ability to make connections is a mental capacity. It to must be exercised. In their book, Creative Confidence, the Kelley brothers, Tom and David, talk about developing empathy as a way to tap into our creative resources. They argue that the ability to relate, and connect with others is another vital resource of creativity. Jacob Bronowski in his essay The Creative Mind talks about creativity as the ability to find hidden likenesses between two seemingly unrelated things. He describes this process as a way of recognizing and identifying parallels similar to the way poetic metaphors juxtapose subject matter to create a harmony of idea. He further describes the unique connection that happens between creator (or artist) and observer when the observer rediscovers for himself that which the creator has presented.

Fourth, produce. Make production a greater passion than consumption. Put your skills and your ability to make connections to use. Produce something, anything. It doesn’t even have to be a physical thing. Production is where creativity begins to reap the rewards that enrich life. And as Bronowski points out, meaning is enhanced when not only the creator benefits from the process and the product, but the consumer does too. Art, music, poetry, literature, a delicious meal, a relationship, all must first be created, then enjoyed.

Once you stop believing the lie that you are not creative. (especially if you believed it for lack of drawing skills) you are empowered to use your creative abilities to enrich your life. Chances are you already have skills. You can make connections. You can produce. You are creative, even if you can’t draw.

What will you create today? Share in the comments.

Every Home Should Have Original Art

5 Reasons Every Home Should Have Original Art

Art, Luxurious Living

Every home should have original art. The benefits of art are reaped on all levels, from individual, to family, to society. Here are five benefits of having original art in the home:

    1. Original art is personal.
    2. Original art has a story.
    3. Original art generates conversation.
    4. Original art creates culture.
    5. Original art is a luxury.

Original art adds a personal touch to any environment. Its creation is personal as well as its meaning. It wasn’t made by a copy machine or mass produced. It was made by human hands, individually, one at a time. Because original art was made individually, it is unique, and one of a kind. It is exclusive because there is none other like it out there in the world. Its unique quality adds a richness unachievable by copy machines that copy work. This is why it is not the same experience to see a photograph of a place as it is to be there. By the same principle, a photograph of a work of art doesn’t do justice to experiencing the real thing. This is not to say that photography isn’t an art form in and of itself. It most certainly is, but here I’m speaking of originals versus copies. A photograph may be an original piece of art, but a photograph of the Sistine chapel or of Michelangelo’s David is certainly not the same as experiencing the real thing. Similarly, having a photo of someone is not the same as meeting them in person. The original is always the best.

Original art has a story. A story of its creation, a story of its creator, a story of its meaning in the eyes of both the creator and the viewer. Stories bring meaning to life. Stories are one way we relate to each other as members of the human family. Think about it, how often have you felt close to someone- even a stranger you have never met- after you have heard their story. Our culture is full of stories. The news, our entertainment, stories of athletes, stories of musicians, politicians, cancer survivors. Stories of suffering, stories of success. Often these stories provide meaning and purpose. Our appreciation is deepened when we know a person’s story. Art is a powerful way of communicating these stories.

Original art is a conversation piece. It generates conversation, engaging host and guest in meaningful and pleasing dialogue. Conversation deepens relationships. Conversation is an opportunity to share our stories. Generally people who come into my house know I am an artist and appreciate seeing my work in person. This is both gratifying to me as the artist and enjoyable to them as the viewer as well.

Art creates culture. By purchasing original art, you become a patron of the arts. Your support allows the artist to continue to produce work. Collective patronage of the arts, in harmonious conjunction with the production of art, creates culture. Being a patron of the arts isn’t something that touches the individual purchaser of the work alone, but others as well. Purchasing art is a contribution to society in the sense that it an individual testament to the value of art in society. Individually the purchase of art is a declaration of value, collectively it established culture. A culture which values the arts is rich indeed. This culture can, and should, be cultivated in the home.

Art is a luxury. The idea that art is a luxury is deeply rooted. Original art has long been associated with the aristocracy, the rich in society who could afford it’s luxury. Having original art in your home elevates the environment and makes it more luxurious. Because of this historical association with the aristocracy, original art is often viewed as expensive. While this may be true of some art, it is not true of all art. There are many sources for affordable original art, if you know where to get it.

Do you have original art in your home? What benefits have you experienced from having original art in your home? Share in the comments.

 

 

 

Acrylic Painting

Announcement and Updates

Current Projects

My gallery shop is live as of November 2, 2015. I will be adding paintings daily. This is both thrilling and terrifying. I have accumulated a large inventory of paintings over the last decade it’s been since I’ve had a studio gallery to display and sell my work. I’ve participated in shows over the years, however traditionally an art show will only take one or two entries, so I have a lot of work crowding the walls of my in-home gallery. I’m excited to be able to share my work in an online gallery, and find new homes for it. Subscribe to my newsletter for exclusive coupons.

This month I will be participating in NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month. This is an annual online event where participants commit to write a novel in one month. I will be using this month to write my rough draft for book three in a mythological fantasy series which I am currently working on. I hope to have book one published in 2016.

I am also working on a short non-fiction book: Why You Should Be An Artist Even If You Can’t Draw: 12 key principles to empower your creativity and improve your life. I believe there are two groups of people, those who are creative and those who believe the lie that they’re not. My endeavor in this work is to encourage and empower those who don’t believe they are creative simply because they haven’t developed traditionally creative skills like drawing. I wish to show that there is much more to creativity than simply drawing, and indeed drawing skills are not imperative to creativity. This book is in the editing stages. I will be looking for beta readers for this project which will include access to the pre-publication manuscript, but under the obligation to read within a set time frame and provide necessary feedback prior to publication. If you are interested in participating, you may email me at norma-sue(at)hotmail(dot)com.

I have a lot to keep me busy this month. What creative pursuits are you working on?

Defining Luxury

Get Luxury For Free

Luxurious Living

Luxury is most often associated with the idea of money, but luxury, by definition, is a condition, not a cost. It is a mindset, not a monetary value.

Luxury is defined by Merriam-Webster in a few different ways that add meaning to the idea that luxury is not defined by money. Here they are:

  1. A situation of great comfort, ease, and wealth.
  2. Something that is helpful or welcome and that is not usually or always available.
  3. A condition of abundance.
  4. Something adding to pleasure or comfort but not absolutely necessary.
  5. An indulgence in something that provides pleasure, satisfaction or ease.

Notice in definition number one, the only reference to anything resembling money, the use of the word wealth. However, monetary wealth is certainly not the only or even the most fulfilling definition of wealth, nor the qualifying characteristic of measuring luxury.

Consider other key words and phrases like “a situation” or “a condition.” Situations of ease and comfort are created by far more characteristics than simply money.

Definition number two, describes a condition of scarcity. It may be true that money is scarce, but it’s not the only thing. Having a close, reliable friend could qualify for this definition, as could having more time or a necessary skill, neither of which require money, but perhaps an investment of another kind. Likely you’ve heard of “making time” as opposed to having time. Or even the admonition “to have a friend, be one.”

When I focus on the other conditions suggested by these definitions such as comfort, ease, and satisfaction, numerous possibilities present themselves to make life more luxurious irrespective to the amount of money involved.

For me luxury is measured not in how much money I have, but in my surroundings. Surroundings can be luxurious without being expensive. One way I define luxury is being surrounded by beautiful things. There is much beauty in life, but there is also much of the crass. Luxury carries with it the idea of expense, but beauty is not always, nor does it have to be, expensive. It is true that many times expensive things are luxurious, but beautiful things, luxurious things, are not always expensive.

I love beautiful things. I love to collect beautiful things. However, there is a little more to my idea of luxury than simply that.

For example, making dinner is much more pleasurable and definitely easier (pleasure and ease being conditions of luxury) in a clean kitchen. Life does not always provide an abundance of money, but I can certainly be wealthy and live luxuriously with an abundance of comfort, satisfaction, and pleasure. I simply had to realize for myself what things represent conditions of luxury, but also do not cost money, or at least cost money that I don’t have.

I realized that many of these things were things or situations I can create. Luxury can be created! Sometimes this requires a little more effort or planning, but I discovered I enjoy the planning and the effort is always worthwhile in the end. I can make life more luxurious simply by making it more beautiful.

By these definitions, excessive spending isn’t prerequisite to luxury. Luxury doesn’t cost money. At least, it doesn’t have to cost money. Luxury needn’t be expensive. When luxury is prescribed to as an idea, not a monetary cost, all kinds of possibilities open up.

What are the things in your life which bring pleasure, comfort and satisfaction, but don’t cost money? What can you do to create and abundance of these things?

Creativity: a contingency

Plan C: Make Lemonade

Creativity, Personal Muse-ings

“C” For Creativity. Creativity isn’t just for making art projects. Creativity is for making life better, no matter your circumstances.

As a child, I always wanted to be a mother when I grew up. That was plan A. There were several influences which contributed to this desire. The primary would be my religious beliefs. The second would have to be that my own mother was a homemaker and raised eight children. I love my big family. The idea of a career never really appealed to me. Another could have been simply that I didn’t really know anything else.

This didn’t really ever change as I got older, though I did learn more about what other pursuits interested me, as well as a broader definition of a career. After I got married, I was fully ready and prepared to put my education on hold for the higher and nobler calling of motherhood. But things didn’t happen as my husband and I had planned. So, on to plan B, I continued my education. I thought, the Lord knows I’m willing to quit school to be a mother, maybe He wants me to graduate. A few years later I graduated. In my personal prayers I started telling the Lord I was ready now. Still no children.

Struggling for answers to why my heart’s desire would be denied to me, wondering what the Lord wanted me to do instead, and even what I wanted to do with my life, I was faced with the awful reality that I hadn’t prepared a contingency. I had no plan C. The necessity of a plan C had never occurred to me.

Practical thinking said, get a job, but I already had two part-time jobs. Teaching positions, plus a few private art students. I was using my degree in art. The thing was that I had never really faced the reality of a career as anything more than temporary or in addition to being a mother.

Facing the reality of plan C after I graduated was a very discouraging and emotional time for me, and I hid this fact from most who knew me, further isolating myself from friends and associates.

What ultimately rescued me from depression and despair was the realization that I’d been given an opportunity. Rather than despairing over my inability to change my circumstances, I needed to focus on being happy doing what I could. There were a lot of things my friends with small children couldn’t do. I’d majored in fine art (entirely impractical, I know) so now I’d have to get creative with my creativity. Rather than focus on what I didn’t have, I started asking myself what else I wanted. What were the things I’d told myself “maybe someday?” Publishing a book was one of them. So, in need of a plan C, I decided to see if this was “someday.”

I know I’m not alone in saying life isn’t always what we expect or want it to be. But there are always possibilities that will bring joy. As Maria said in The Sound of Music, “When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.” The Lord doesn’t always give us what we want, even if it’s a righteous desire. God gave us a portion of his creative powers. (Read more about Art and Creation here.) Sometimes we have to get creative with our contingencies.

Our greatest disappointments just may turn out to be unexpected opportunities, perhaps for something we never would have considered otherwise. Instead of being a mother, I have two dogs, a Bachelor’s degree in fine art and I’m writing a novel. I never would have planned my life like this, but I’m happy. And the next time life hands me lemons, I already have a recipe for lemonade. The key is being creative.

How have you made lemonade out of life’s lemons? Share in the comments.

5 Cautions for Creative People

5 Cautions for Creative People

Creativity

Every virtue in excess can become a vice. This is true of creativity. Here are five ways creativity can be a vice and how to deal with them. They are:

  1. Distraction
  2. Loneliness
  3. Sensitivity
  4. Perfectionism
  5. Competition
    1. Creative people are easily distracted. There are so many options and ideas to choose from. Learn to focus, work hard, and finish what you start. Finishing what you start will bring the needed closure, clarity and motivation to move forward. It will teach you things that you can’t learn any other way. I know of this first hand. In a conversation with my mother, I made an exasperated statement in discouragement and overwhelm, which was not only self revelatory, but has helped me to overcome the very frustrations that plagued me. I said, “It’s exciting to start new projects, and it’s gratifying to finish them, but the middle part just feels like work.” I remember my mother laughing, and it was her laughter which helped me put things into proper perspective. I realized where I was struggling and what I needed to do to overcome it.
    2. Creative people are subject to loneliness. Learn to balance the introvert that has learned to focus so intently that they inadvertently cut themselves off from the outside world. Introverts risk loneliness and depression if they become too isolated in their quest to create. Learn to collaborate. Get out and meet new people. You will be surprised how this gets the creative juices flowing. Likely you already know, but you need to learn to recognize and regulate when you’re isolating yourself. But also be careful not to self-sabotage because you think your ideas are the best. Creative people are proud of their ideas- all of us. Give yourself both time to socialize and stay connected. Don’t starve your inner muse because you must always be working, but don’t procrastinate by not taking the time to focus on your work when independence and quiet solitude is needed to do this. Remember that it is not only in isolation that we risk loneliness. Being present in public is not the same as connecting with people and maintaining healthy relationships. This too requires work and skill. Loneliness can also stem from feeling misunderstood. It is one thing to create a work, but it is an entirely different skill set to help others see the vision of your work. Know that communicating the vision of your work to others is separate from the work itself. Be patient with others and yourself as you learn this skill too.
    3. Creative people are sensitive. Learn to disassociate your identity and personal worth from your work. You are not your work. This sensitivity is a blessing, but it can also feel like a curse. It is a rose, complete with thorns. This sensitivity infuses your work with meaning that resonates with your audience. You put your heart into your creation, but when it’s finished you have to learn to take it out again. A University professor of mine, Jeffrey Carter (you can see his work here), shared a perspective on this that helped me recognize this mentality in myself for what it was. Recognition is the first step to dealing with it. He said, that his ego wasn’t tied to his art, but that it was tied to his music. I hadn’t thought of this consciously before, but I had felt it. I saw my own experiences in a new light. It shifted my paradigm around my work. It was a message I could implement because it was one I related to. Before I began my journey as a fine artist, I thought I wanted to be a singer, but I had a hard time disassociating myself from my work. My performance never seemed to live up to what I knew was my potential and this was discouraging. Looking back I recognize that although I had learned to sing, I had never learned to perform. That too a different skill set. As a painter I discovered I could stay behind the scenes while my work was on stage. Another professor, James Lorigan, shared this advice with the class: When you create a work of art it’s like a little puppy. You love that little puppy and become attached to it. Sooner or later, every puppy becomes a dog. “Sell it before it’s a dog.”
    4. Creative people are prone to perfectionism. Like distraction, this to can lead to feeling overwhelmed. Creative people constantly face the need, and the desire to improve. This is because we learn and improve in the process of doing. In the time it takes to do something, you’ve learned how to do it better. Leonardo DaVinci said, “Art is never truly finished, only abandoned.” I have learned to tell myself, “I’ll fix it on the next one,” and move on. Another hopefully positive message on this topic is a quote from Ira Glass. ira-glass-quote
    5. Creativity is not a competition! Competition is merely a vehicle for improvement. There will always be those who are better than you and there will always be those who are not as good as you. Let those who are better inspire you to new heights, new ideas. Then turn around and inspire someone else. To lift another is a truly fulfilling experience. One of the most beautiful things about creativity is that it promotes an abundance mindset. Creativity is a well of possibilities that will never run dry. Learn to have the same abundance mindset with your peers that you have within yourself and your work. There is not a limited number of ideas and you won’t run out. Two people can come up with the same good ideas. Your voice is unique even if your ideas aren’t. But so is everyone else’s. Learn to see these would-be competitors as opportunities to network and collaborate not as opponents to beat. Don’t get too hung up on praise. Praise does not make an idea good, just as the lack of praise does not make an idea bad. Recognize that the primary purpose of praise is not accolade or affirmation but connection and rejuvenation. The audience is having their own creative experience that must be respected as part of the whole. Be quick to praise another.

How have you overcome your creative vices? Share in the comments.

Books are a Luxury

What 10 Books Have Improved Your Life?

Ex Libris

Books are one of life’s luxuries. Throughout history, literacy has always been associated with the aristocracy- the class of wealth, power and luxury. This is still true of our modern affluent society, though perhaps less obvious and even taken for granted. Nevertheless, reading is arguably the most readily available asset to bettering life. Reading is a luxury.

A while ago I was challenged by a friend on Facebook to list 10 books which have affected my life. This process took much thought, debate and narrowing down. It was not only an introspective exercise then, but it the idea has lingered with me each time I have picked up a book since. As an avid reader this has provided a plethora of opportunities to be aware of the information I’m consuming, not only in books but elsewhere.

Here is the list I posted on Facebook:

    1. The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Christ, because I know it’s true. This book is the word of god, just like the Bible.
      1. 5. The Holy Bible, KJV, because how can I claim to be Christian and not have the life of the Savior affect my own. And Tyndale’s translation is simply masterful, which I have come to appreciate more through my study of Latin and ancient Greek.
    2. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, by John Gray Ph.D. because this book taught me about myself as much as about others. Just a note that I could add a whole slew of similar books, but I chose this one to represent them all. I would also include in this category the book: You Don’t Need to Slay My Dragons, Just Take Out the Trash, by Beverly Campbell, because this book added the spiritual element I felt was missing, to the Mars and Venus idea.
    3. Believing Christ, by Stephen E. Robinson, because this book brought to my attention the destructive side of my perfectionist tendencies and taught me to rely more fully on the grace of the Savior.
    4. How to Get Ideas, by Jack Foster, because this book opened my eyes to a new world of creativity. And I would add that this is another category where I have read other valuable books and essays with similar and compatible ideas. This one represents the lot.
    5. How to Make a Living As a Painter, by Kenneth Harris, because this book was so different from all the others I have read on the subject and it communicated to me what success ultimately means and that there’s not any one right (or wrong for that matter) way to do it.
    6. The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare. This book was among my favorites as a child and remains so today. It is a gem. I have read it so many times. I own three copies- all in different states of wear.
    7. A Quiet Heart, by Patricia T. Holland. This book was a gift most timely given. An inspiration. It has become a precious reminder that daily communion with the Spirit of Christ is a vital part of a healthy soul.
    8. Sunset’s Western Garden Book, because let’s face it, my garden would be dead without it.
    9. Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Book 12 the Centauromachy, because this was the story which inspired me to tell a story of my own.
    10. The Twilight Series, by Stephanie Meyer. (Before you laugh, hear me out. This is not a team Edward or team Jacob thing.) I enjoyed the series and was entertained for the time it took to read it, but the true inspiration was the feeling that the story I want to tell is at least that good and if this could be successful, then I could too. So, a toast to the pursuit of dreams.

Ok, ok I sort of cheated with the 1.5, but the scriptures really do go hand in hand and I needed room for another book without having a number 11. This was difficult, believe me. (Well, difficult in terms of narrowing it down to 10, not in terms of knowing which books have impacted me.)

Are you a reader? What books have had the greatest impact on your life? Share in the comments.

Every Home Should Have Original Art

Why Every Home Should Have Original Art And How To Get It

Luxurious Living

Sure I may be biased as a fine artist, but I believe that every home should have original art. Why? Because original art is a luxury. And who doesn’t want their home to feel more luxurious?

There are two ways to get original art.

  1. You could buy it.
  2. Or you could make it.

The first option to having original art in your home: buy it.

You’re probably thinking that “original art is expensive! I don’t have thousands of dollars to invest in a painting.” While expensive may be true of some original art, it is not true of all original art. If you think all original art is beyond your price range you probably haven’t shopped around far enough.

A high-end art gallery with hundreds of dollars of overhead isn’t the only place to buy art. There are art fairs all over the country (and likely the world) where artists (probably the starving ones) are selling their original work, searching for patrons of their creativity. Still think that’s out of your price range?

Try your local high school or community college. These institutions are filled with art students eager for their first clients. I know I was. And it wasn’t just about the money either. There was a sublime satisfaction in the plausibility that my work was “good enough” that someone actually wanted it enough to pay something for it. Students know they’re still learning their craft.

In addition to owning original art you’ll also be doing the artist an invaluable service not only by validating their efforts, but by giving them some practice in the real-world skill of selling and negotiating while working with you as a client. Because believe me, for any artist, negotiating prices for their work is the hardest part. And I would add that now, fifteen years later (not to mention that much more skilled at what I do) it is those first few clients who helped shape my career and who most qualify for special discounts and deals. Every artist would much more desire a patron than simply a one-time customer. When you demonstrate patronage you are more valuable as a customer and the working relationship moves beyond a simple transaction of money.

If you thought about it I’m sure you already know personally at least one artist whose work you admire. There is affordable original art out there.

The second option to having original art in your home: make it.

I know, I know, you’re thinking “that’s easy for you to say, you’re a painter.” But, as a painter, I can testify to the sense of fulfillment that comes from having my own art on display for the world to see. Well, any who enter my home that is. If in the very least it is a conversation piece with guests when you can say, “I painted that myself.” Still skeptical?

Enroll in a class. I can promise you as an art teacher with 15 years experience helping creative skeptics just like you, that with a little expert help from a teacher, you will be amazed at what you didn’t know you could do! Try it. You might even enjoy it.

I had a young student who sold his work of art within ten minutes of completing it at my studio. As a nine-year-old, “five dollars richer” made his day. And the buyer went home with a lovely piece of original art.

The thing about children and art is that children have no inhibitions to their creativity. Still struggling with the courage to pick up that brush? A child will do it without hesitation, and as a child you did too. Unleashing your inner artist is very much like freeing your inner child. Remember what it was like to be that child willing and able to try the new and exciting without fear of judgment or the stifling prospect of being “good enough.” A child will always tell you they’re a good artist. They have no doubt about it. Until they learn to doubt it.

Sponsor a child artist or better yet be creative together!

One final note about displaying art. No matter the quality of the work, the right frame can make or break the art. Yes I know, believe me, frames can be expensive too. But they don’t have to be. They do however have to compliment the work and not detract from it. Choose wisely. The simplest piece can look exquisite in the right frame, while the wrong frame can detract from the most beautiful painting. More on frames later.

No matter which of these methods you choose, having original art in your home will always add an element of luxury.

Do you have original art in your home? What significance does the work hold for you? Share in the comments.