Lunch at Blue Sage Restaurant my fave out in the country. Artichoke lobster fondue appetizer. Yeah. This should be tried. Don't worry I had an eating buddy to help me.
When you feel a little stressed and there's 100 other things you should be doing, you stop and paint something random. Of course. This has nothing to do with anything. Drawing with a paintbrush is hard. Good for me. Feeling better already.
Do you have a stress reliever?
I have a saying that I painted on a large bowl at Color Me Mine. It says, "If a thing's worth doing, it's worth overdoing." It's a personal mantra and Micheals Store pulled that off in a most luxurious way.
OVERDO - Doing too much, using too much, having excess or going to the extreme.
Obviously, over doing can be over done. If it's over done all the time then it ceases to be overdoing and just becomes the norm. (Hope that all made sense overusing the words over done and doing ;) For most of us our lives are not over run with over doing.
The 8th thing I learned at Michaels Makers Summit - Don't Underestimate The Wow!
With everyone on the simplify bandwagon I sometimes wondered if overdoing was a bad thing. But being on the receiving end of the Michaels "over doers" it became clearer to me why I sometimes overdo.
Don't underestimate the wow! The dazzle and things just dripping in detail are utterly worth it if you want to delight someone. That's why I do it. I want others to go away having had a memorable experience. Feeling they're significant. Knowing that they were worth the extra effort. And I suspect that was a part of the Michaels Team's purpose.
How did Michaels wow us?
First was picking a place like Carmel Valley Ranch. They didn't have to pick someplace so nice. So many beautiful spots at the Ranch! The intention was clear, they wanted us to feel special.
Second were the instructors. It's not everyday that one of your instructors is the super watercolorist/artist Jane Davenport who comes from Austraila to teach, or another that does parties for Rihanna and weddings for people like Robert Herjavec (Shark Tank) to Kym Johnson or a sweet, inspiring message just for us from Heidi Swapp. And there were even more teachers. Yeah, Michaels Store overdoing!
And the last that I'll share was the gifting. It seemed every time we walked into a room there was another gift waiting. Not that I minded being surprised. So generous.
I didn't know what to expect but I know I didn't expect what I experienced. It's hard to impress creative people who tend to be a little on the overdo side themselves. But Michaels wowed me. Being able to do that shouldn't be underestimated. Job well done.
As a side note, the Michaels Team didn't ask anything from us other than to sign a form that we wouldn't disclose anything we shouldn't. I realize they benefit from the Summit in underlying ways, they're a business, but if you treat people well and especially wow them then there's an obvious relationship that builds. I shopped at Michaels before this fantastic few days and I don't see that changing. I don't have any contracts or affiliate this or that with them. No one's making me write all this. Since I didn't have to do anything before, during or after, it left me free to really think and learn from the Summit. I just enjoyed myself immensely and thought the 20 of you my friend/followers would enjoy the creative ride too.
The other 7 things I learned from Michaels Makers Summit 2016
One the first day we were there several of us had lunch together. At one point the waiter asked if we wanted to move together to another room. A back room. He was very polite in his suggestion but it seemed a bit off. We said no thank you and returned to our conversations. I remarked that maybe we were too loud for the other few guests that were there. But we just laughed that off.
Then in the morning I came late to breakfast. As I walked down the hall before I even got into the room I thought to myself, "Self, this is a loud group!" Then in classes it was none stop talking. The only time I noticed that there was a lull in the conversations was when we listened to other's artists craft instructions. That was it.
I thought maybe it was just me. Then on my Instagram comments Holly of 504Main made an observation about the noise at dinner the last night. I was happy to realize it wasn't just me. Which made me stop to think about why were we so noisy?
As I watched everyone I learned the 7th thing at Michaels Makers Summit - Tribes have Energy. At least creative ones do. There was non-stop talking, laughing, moving about visiting and just general merriment. Everyone felt comfortable. We spoke the same language. Got the same thrill from the craft. Appreciated the detail and effort of all the planning. And recognized each other from previous online or in person connections. We'd found one of their tribes and it was freeing.
It was the coming together of the tribe in real life that made for a tangible energy that was manifest in the sound. It was a joyous noise. And I venture to speak for many that the tribe left all of us creatively rejuvenated.
The 6th thing I learned at Michaels Makers Summit - Authenticity is Extraordinary!!
We go through different phases as an artist. But the end goal is to create from our authentic core. Our own personal inner artist. Creating the art in us instead of copying the art around us.
Copying has its place in the beginning of an artistic journey. Part of skill building can include copying. Sometimes we learn by imitation. It helps to figure out what the artist did to achieve their results. It's always better to understand from the artist directly (like when we were able to have Jane Davenport teach us a class) but that's not always possible. So we copy. But copycats are always a step behind the original.
Here are my skill building attempts at copying.
Trying gouache (Left) to see how Kadir Nelson did these adorable Illustrations. Though I don't know what medium he used.
This is my copy in oils (Left) of a Carl Bloch Painting (Right) "Christ and Child"
At first with skill building it tends to have more frustration than it does flow. We're learning, struggling to get out a decent rendering with the new medium we're learning. When we've mastered the medium, our art mentality and personality then we work at releasing our art voice. That's when we start to get interesting.
Someone's art doesn't just end up on the canvas. It's how people talk, tell stories, or confide in each other. It's how they walk, move or gesture. It's what they wear, how they wear it or accessorize it. At the summit I saw so many authentic people. Those comfortable in their skin, style and spirit.
Some figure it out sooner than later in some parts of their life, other parts take more time. Either way authenticity is a journey worth traveling. Being counterfeit is no way to live. Let's not give up on authenticity because it really is extraordinary.
The fifth thing I learned at Michael's Makers Summit - Nurture a Takeaway.
If you're going to invest time in a gathering, like Michaels Makers Summit, then there should be something that you take away from it. You should come away a little different. I've learned about the idea of choosing between the good, better, and best choices. In this case of attending Michaels Makers Summit the "good" would be to have enjoyed myself. (Which I absolutely did!) The "Better" would be to have taken away ideas. (I had many.) The "Best" would be to take ideas and actually do something with them.
Nurture means to feed, protect, develop, support and encourage usually for a period of time. Takeaways are the conclusions, impressions or action steps gained from some type of gathering.
First are the impressions. I had 3 while there. Two of my ideas came directly from Jane Davenport (everyone had a girl crush on her). I've been following Jane on Instagram for awhile so when I saw her at the summit I was curious. Then I was delighted because she taught us a class. Here's a little gem of Jane talking about watercolor.
If you noticed in the video she was holding up one of her sketchbooks as she talked. Those books are amazing! I was so inspired by the few she showed us that I determined that I wanted to make a (#1) large watercolor book like this to use. I'm excited.
Jane shared a story about how she was coming from Australia and painting on the plane. She was so into her drawing that she didn't realize she'd gotten paint on the guy next to her. That story inspired (#2) paint on the plane or anywhere really. Just paint more. So on the way home I painted on the plane. It was so easy and I wondered why I'd not thought to do so before.
The last thing I was inspired to do was to (#3) eat outdoors. We ate outside for 3 of our meals and it was so lovely, relaxing and felt intimate in a way. I live on a beautiful property and I haven't eaten outdoors much. (Mostly because of the bugs but I learned a trick that should take care of that.) So I'm determined to create a space that we can eat outside more often.
The nurture part is taking the time to develop and feed each of these new ideas. To change. To be different.
The fourth thing I learned at the Michaels Makers Summit - Artistry is an Art and it was everywhere at the summit. Artistry is something that you don't have to do but for the love of something it drives you to do it.
This was a chance for artists to be spoiled by other artists. It was beautiful. Every detail. Everything. Everywhere.
First was Carmel Valley Ranch. From a distance, driving up to the Ranch, you could already see the care taken on the grounds. Once at the Ranch and over the next few days we got to experience so many sensory delights. The manicured lawns, moss covered trees, vineyards, winding paths, secreted below ground lawns, hidden grassy alcove, lavender patch entry (oh the fragrance!) to the gardens, the gardens themselves, all the sunflowers complete with black crows, roses, dahlias, little mini pumpkin patches, raised boxed garden beds, overlooks into the hills, and views all around. With wild turkeys and chickens allowed to roam freely. And apples that weren't fresh enough for guests placed about the paths for the wildlife. So many details!
The dining areas inside and out were lovely. But especially the outdoor ones!
The Staff was nice, helpful and everywhere. Even placing plates of clove sprinkled lemons to ward off the bugs from the garden. It worked! And lavender spray on the pillows.
Then there was the Farm to table food. I didn't spend a lot of time photographing my food because I was too busy enjoying it.
I'm sort of a picky eater but all the food was amazing. Soup wasn't just soup, beef wasn't just beef, and nothing was ordinary. Only artistic. There was not a bad meal. They have wonderful chefs!
They make salt! Who makes salt? People would not fault a place for not making their own salt. That is driven by artistry.
The decorations on every table, at every meal, with lights strung above and lanterns in trees. They weren't necessary but added dazzle to the evenings.
Artful surroundings. Artful decorations. Artful food. Artful people. There are artists, then there are artist's artists. We were treated by real artistry and I learned that carrying it off over and over is truly is an art.
Rejection. Ugh. Grrrr. I hate it. HATE it. I remember one "we decline your submission" letter that I sat for hours depressed. Or maybe it was days. I've had so many rejection letters I don't know how long it was. As creatives it's a reality that we have to face.
The 3rd thing I learned at Michaels Store - Michaels Makers Summit - Learn to Eat Rejection. Well I didn't learn it directly from the Summit but more indirectly.
I did this painting in 2009.
Receiving rejection letters would make me question myself. Question my ability. Then berate myself. Next wonder why I even tried. And then go for long periods without creating. I knew I needed to come to terms with rejection. Hence the painting. But it wasn't as easy to embrace as making the painting. In fact, it's been an 8 year battle.
I entered the Michaels Makers Summit contest on the last day. Why wait until the last day? Because somewhere inside I just figured I wouldn't win a spot. But on the last day I thought, "If I don't enter then I have guaranteed no chance and I've written the rejection letter myself." Truth bombs hurt. So I entered. Then I got the acceptance email and something clicked.
Shortly after, I actually entered another contest I KNEW I wouldn't win. Who does that? I did. And I will again. I realized I'd come to terms with rejection. I saw so many other benefits (like making myself deliver on deadline, creating patterns, analyzing the brief, etc) from participating even despite the known rejection. By the end of designing for the contest I wanted to be rejected because I was so pleased with my output that I wanted it for other things. This happened twice this summer. That's when I realized that I had a place for rejection.
As I sat at the summit having a great experience I thought to myself, "Self, you almost didn't enter because you feared being rejected." That would have been a big mistake. So I'm glad I've learned to eat rejection instead. It's made me stronger.
At the Michaels Makers Summit we were able to do craft projects - macrame, bracelets, invitations, mixed media, and watercolor. One hundred creative women doing the same projects.
The 2nd thing I learned at the summit - Keep your head down. Literally. Not the idiom of trying to lay low and not be noticed. But keep your head down when your're working on a project and not notice the work of someone else. The thing is, when you're among your peers you might have the tendency to look up and start comparing your work to theirs. But at one point I realized that I kept my head down and concentrated on my own work until I was done. Then I looked up and saw all the wonderful work of others around me. I was relieved that I hadn't looked up earlier because it might have hindered my creative experience. Might have made me second guess myself. Might have me change what I was doing.
You never find out who you are creatively when you are worried about what everyone else is doing. Or comparing yourself. Or copying someone else. Or being uptight.
Instinctively I've been keeping my head down for a long while. It wasn't until at the summit, after I finished my project then looked up, and saw so much talent that it clicked for me that it was a great habit to have. So the next time you're in a group of people working on something - Keep Your Head Down - and concentrate on finding what's inside you.
There were about 100 creative women at the Michaels Makers Summit and I wanted to get to know everyone. It was a whirlwind and that didn't happen. But there were many I did connect with. They made an impression even if the visit was short.
I thought about how that works. How and why does one connect with someone else you just met? One reason stood out to me - people shared their story. Sometimes I didn't even remember someone's name but I could describe them by the adventure, drama or funny experience they shared. It didn't have to be a big story it just had to be their story, something that happened in their life circle.
Our stories help shape others stories. We remember them. Like these stories I heard this week...
@phyllisadventures - who's works for whole foods and teaches kids to create (and inspired a young boy excitedly venture into cooking) and is taking her first solo trip down (or up) the coast after Michaels Makers Summit
@gentrygygi - Her family watercolor business where they're all creative and she once traveled through my state and spontaneously stopped off at Missouri Star Quilt Company (near my town) and even though it was closed on Sunday just had to get out to walk around
@ucreateblog - hearing her tell of her fave movies/shows and how when each one came up her eyes would light up and she'd say *that* was her very fave, so fun
@melissmia - who loves her life and job of creating, traveling, having experiences all over and feels blessed that all of her loves (or at least heavy likes) came together
@amyrobisondesign telling of her getting a new Shilouette and becoming a design contributor but seeing her amazing gift to be able to strike up a conversation with anyone, ask all kinds of questions and jumping right in with the sharing
@kim_geiser_studios and her ready laugh, wanting to create poolside, her colorful bracelet and her awesome jewelry necklace stamped with "passion" that she seems to live by
@idknowhowshedoesit - being so lovely, talking about her family, her name (Gloribell) being a combination of her mother and grandmother's names and sharing how certain brands send certain products (and @kim_geiser_studios getting them shipped to her house) that you'd never want to blog about
@damasklove who shared her hiring story with HSN & American Crafts, how she works in the middle of the night, and seeing how she's a natural in front of the tv camera
@hissyfit_inc - giving out "makers gonna make" felt patches and @blendingbybetty giving out pins, mine says "dreams", both making their little gifts themselves
@crizza03 - how she encouraged Martha Forbes in class and helped set up her Instagram account (@theplaidlama)
@prettyprovidenceblog - shared a story of someone she knows (she might not want me to say who) accidentally left their gun (conceal carry permit holder) in their bag as they went through airport security and ended up in jail
@theartandsoulshop - being an admitted extrovert that was coming down with something and had to lay back (a hard thing for an extrovert) near the end
and @idknowhowshedoesit, @thedesignconfidential, and my artist/christian friend for listening that first night to my story (the one I didn't intend to share and ended up sharing a few times) about Leila dying and learning what creativity means to me.
So many more - @smiley_carolyn, @KsCraftShack etc etc etc but I must stop! All lovely women.
See. Stories stick. They touch people. We remember them. So, share vulnerable. Share bold. Share funny. Share hard. Just SHARE YOUR STORY.