Creativity in Parallel
Andrea and I went back and forth a few times about "what" she could feature on the blog. An avid supporter since I started, she had a similar concern that I heard from other moms I reached out to participate. She wasn't making/working on one project or thing in particular. The first few moms I highlighted are working on specific projects - from refinishing furniture to creating amazing baked goods. When Andrea brought the idea to me about finding ways to be creative in everyday life, between working full time and raising two kids, I was sold. That was really the main point of this blog. We are all doing/making/creating in different ways and different spaces. Sometimes that gets lost and sometimes we find it again. It ebbs and flows. Needless to say, when you see Andrea's work and writing below, you will see she is an amazing artist and creative spirit. Read her story below to get yourself inspired.
Before Kids and After Kids - Finding the Little Moments.
It took me several years to recognize that I didn’t have to abandon personal creativity until my kids were older and I had again had more free time to myself. I had been thinking of ‘art’ time (ART…time, hah!) as separate time rather than integrated into little moments and during random opportunities throughout the day. Once I emerged from the blurry, sleepless fog of having a baby and toddler in the house, into the land of elementary school-aged kids, I realized that creative opportunities abound, they just look a lot different. Before Kids, evening letterpress or illustration classes, browsing architecture sections of bookstores, and long crafternoons with friends (shout out to monkeys and mittens!) were frequent endeavors. With Kids, that quickly all felt like a distant memory, especially with juggling a full-time job non-design-focused job outside of the house, volunteer initiatives, kids’ activities, trying to find time to run, etc. It’s only been in the past several months or so that I’ve recognized that there are little chances every day that offer opportunities to create.
What do you enjoy making?
Before Kids: Books as art, handmade cards – sewing thread on paper and letterpress, thin black ink sketches, and darkroom/film photography...sometimes all combined into a single project.
After Kids: Capturing glimpses of imagination via kids – recording their stories, photography of them being mindful of the world around them, card making with kids, etc.
One evening last June I realized that it would be interesting to record stories told by my 4.5 year old. The result was fascinating, reflecting how much they physically see around them, combined with how they see the world, shapes or can shape their imagination and thoughts…resulting in tales of Hello Kitty jumping out from elephant ear plants and sleeping under a fan…all objects in the room around her even though she didn’t seem to take note of them while relaying her stories.
In an ideal world I’d try to more deliberately combing the Before Kids art with the With Kids art …but I’ll take what I can get for now.
What has, or currently, inspires you?
Attending an arts-oriented high school, spending a summer during high school at NC School of the Arts studying visual art, and Architecture school – especially a semester traveling around Europe where our only assignment was to draw all day.
I have also always loved children’s books, both Before Kids and With Kids. Some children’s book illustrators have an amazing ability to capture the boundless imagination of childhood. Some of my favorites, which I can never get enough of looking at, are Aaron Becker, Lisbeth Zwerger, and Jon Klassen.
I also spend inordinate amount of time perusing Pinterest and aspiring to putting down my phone and creating more, but continually drawn to all the inspiring work that’s out there. Stuff I like.
Amplify Rather Abandon.
I try to live by the idea that we all have more time in a given day than we think, and am of the opinion that our goal in life should be to somehow leave the planet and its people better than we found it. I’ve found my Myers-Briggs personality type - INFJ - to be an astonishingly good descriptor of what I hope to figure out how to accomplish – somehow meshing art and creativity with humanitarian and planetary needs. A recent work 360 review underlined this for me, especially the idea of looking for ways to be creative at times that aren’t distinctly art-focused, with a prior co-worker suggesting that I should consider applying the creativity in my personal life to my work initiatives. My sustainability director job has the need-to-help-others piece, but the creative thinking aspect comes into play in ways other than art, such as attempting to be creative in strategic thinking.
I am also trying to find opportunities to apply creativity in parallel with my kids, via recording their thoughts, drawing and making alongside them. Two bloggers who I think have done this well (to amplify rather than abandon what you love to do) in the cooking and travel realms are Dinner a Love Story (cooking meals that you like and kids will eat) and Almost Fearless. The University of Virginia’s monthly Fralin Family Art JAMS is one of my favorite events, with is the opportunity to spend time in an art gallery and studio, in a kid-friendly way.
Our art corner in our house – an easel with piles of art supplies around it – has been a great way for random acts of creativity. It’s easily accessible and they can quickly draw or paint on it in between breakfast, getting dressed, and getting ready to leave for a soccer game. It makes for a mess, but for now, I’ll consider it a form of interior decorating!
A day on your own.
1) Make lists with Sharpies in Moleskine journals.
b. Sew on paper - books and cards.
c. Organize my house Marie Kondo-style and then hygee it up.
d. Volunteer with City Schoolyard Garden or other local nonprofits.
f. Plan travel adventures.
OR, just read in a hammock all day.