When people find out I'm an artist, a painter in particular, they continue the conversation with, "You ought to paint...." then they describe an image they have in their mind. It happens All. The. Time. I often wonder why they don't do their image. This along with other experiences leads me to believe that everyone is born creative in some way, shape, or form. Everyone has an inner artist. The proof? For this example, the fact that there was an idea, a creative idea, floating around in their head. And I'm positive it wasn't the only one. So then, it's only a matter of execution.
But when I ask them why they don't paint (or draw, sculpt, write, or form) that idea they are ready with the answer school/society has brainwashed them with.
"I'm not creative!"
How many times have you heard that? Or said that? Over time we either embrace or abandon that thought (which I think means most people). I did both. I abandoned creativity for only a few years, part of that story is below.
In my mind creativity and art are not the same. Creativity is the power to create, to bring something to life. The something made, the end result, is the art. And often we get caught up comparing our artistic images to others. If it inspires us then that's good. When it doesn't (which happens for most) it's the end of our expression. But one can never make art if one never ventures to be creative.
I'm an artist. An artist is someone who takes an emotional chance, risks their pride, learns to not judge the end of a project in the middle of doing it, has done plenty of do-overs, keeps completing the art, self critiques, and learns. Then willingly repeats and refines the whole process.
There is sheer joy (and work, and frustration, and do-overs, and life analogies) in making something. A lot of us stop being creative at the frustration part. I'm a maker, I totally get that.
There've been many times when I've been so at a loss that I've needed (and often gotten) someone to help me. That's part of why my creative life includes teaching. I want to help you. I've brainstormed and broken down art and craft projects into bite-sized bits to help get you from where you are to where you want to be.
I know this isn't your normal "about page". It's more like having a conversation. (You're part of the talking can be in the comments you leave here and there.) Hang in there with me because there's a little more I'd like to share.
This is the other part that really gets personal of why being creative matters to me.
After being creative as a child and somewhat as a teen, I finally gave up doing anything artistic after a college art course, it made me hate creating. After 2 1/2 years of being married we started having children. We had 3 children in just over 3 years. Our first was born with a congenital anomaly that required surgeries and rigorous care. Followed by the other two life became demanding of me.
I wanted (still want) to be a good wife and mother. It's eternally important to me. At some point, it became apparent that I couldn't be good at giving in my relationships without a little getting. I needed something to fill me so I'd be good to my family. Tapping into what I liked when I was younger, I enrolled in a couple of art classes. To sum up, creating again was a breath of fresh air, a time to turn on another part of my brain, to accomplish something that wasn't going to be undone and to fill a personal void.
Even with adding more children and church responsibilities I kept at different creative classes and projects. I'd volunteer and do things for free as well as sell projects I did. It became a part of my lifestyle. It wasn't really about the art I was creating but about me. It was keeping me mentally healthy. But I didn't know that exactly until the summer of 2013.
That day in August was the day everything changed for me. Our oldest, Leila, spent her first nine days in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and it was almost exactly 28 years later that we spent a week with her in the hospital watching her die. The irony for me was that when she was born we prayed so hard she would live and then that week just after her birthday we prayed she'd be released. Leila died. (In the process she bore a son and left a husband, now deceased as well.)
You don't have to have lost a child to know suffering. That experience takes on any number of forms. After her funeral a phrase I'd heard several times in my life came to mind. "My heart broke into a million pieces" actually felt literal. The depth of sorrow made my new normal lower than it had ever been. I didn't feel joy anymore.
I cried everyday (it seemed like all day, though it wasn't) for months. I did fine doing all the things that I needed to do but something was missing. My intellect knew it but my mind didn't have the wherewithal to figure it all out. One day my husband, Allen, approached me with an idea he'd been inspired to suggest. One of our rental houses became empty and he offered that I use it for a studio since I was busting out the seams of the one in our home.
It seems like such a small thing (not in actual size, the StudioHouse is 3 stories, but in gesture.) I still remember the moment that he brought it up. My heart skipped a beat. An excited beat. A beat I thought was dead.
Working on the StudioHouse represented to me and reminded me of my creative heartbeat that I'd resigned myself that I wasn't ever going to feel again. Not to dismiss everything that so many good people did for us at that time but I believe God knew what I needed. And I don't think it's just my need. Or just a need for sorrow. There's something in the creative process that heals and keeps us emotionally and mentally healthy. I felt it before but I know it now.
Creativity is a big, wonderful, life building process that can stand on its own. That's the reason I changed the focus of Shannon's Studio. It could no longer only be about the end result of me making art. Now Shannon's Studio is about us creating and making art. About ME + YOU.
Because I've been creative for so many years I've built a strong skill set. (crafts, wood, fabric design, painted furniture, clothes sewing, craft sewing, pattern making, cake decorating, graphic design, digital downloads, oil, acrylic, gouache, and watercolor painting, pencil, colored pencil, and charcoal drawing) You don't need me to make something. But I think I can help you make something you'll hold up and say, "Look what I made!" Whether it's ME + YOU or just YOU, find something, anything, that's interesting and CREATE.
little wise one
little old wise one
little wise owl
But the meaning that I read as a girl and
have known the longest is...
small but wise
I've always kept that in the back of my brain
with the aim of working toward it.