Monday, September 25, 2006

Strategy #3 Break Free from Perfectionism

This is where I can really get stuck. Those thoughts swirl in my head “I’m not as good as …”, “If I can’t do it perfectly, why start?”, “It’s not going to turn out exactly like what I want…”. I know it’s probably not popular to say this but too much media really brings this out in me- too many magazines, too much Internet, too many books. Sometimes, I have to force myself to stay away from the library (I LOVE the library!) and I have to go on hiatus from the computer. I have to hide the idea magazines. I rarely ever scrap with magazines in front of me, but even if they are hidden I will find myself comparing my work to others I have seen. I love the artist who explains this perfectionism delimna by telling a story of the Creator who sits on one shoulder and the Critic who sits on the other. Who am I listening to today? Who do I need to squelch? The fact is there are definitely times when I need the critic to come out and help me make decisions-which piece goes to the gallery? What photo do I frame for the living room? What photos tell this story perfectly on this scrapbook page? But, when I’m in the heart of making something, that is when I need to tell that Critic to “be quiet”. (Actually, I want to use stronger language here because sometimes that critic is literally shouting at me, but you get the point.) I’m telling myself today “There are NO MISTAKES in my studio-only opportunities to be more creative than I imagined myself to be”. Repeat after me “There are NO MISTAKES, there are NO MISTAKES, there are NO MISTAKES”… and sometimes it is OK to create something simple and beautiful "just because" (or because you need a gift for your mom tomorrow!) :)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Strategy #2 Make Goals and Celebrate Success (Plus-A review of SCRAPPED-the new movie about scrapbooking)

The flowers have died, the chocolate is gone, but the book is still here. My advance copy of my first book "Painted Scrapbook Pages" arrived two weeks ago today. We celebrated in fine style-ate supper together around the table, did homework, and I started a few new canvases. Really a rather ordinary day as a scrapbooking artist living in midwest small town suburbia-celebrating with the people I love. So, there is this thing-this huge thing- in the eyes of other people- A BOOK! Wow-I've now been published-my life must be revolutionized. You know, I'm so pleased to see it finished, it really does look fabulous, but...

"Being published" seems like such an elusive dream for so many. "If I were published, I happy, be satisfied, feel like a real artist..." the list goes on and on. I AM happy to be a published artist. It is the realization of a long held dream and a bit of joy I will carry around always. It wouldn't of happened if I hadn't made goals for myself-little everyday kind of goals-like try something today with masking tape. It is a wonderful thing in my life to have something finished-something that will last. So many of my jobs are things that I do over and over again without any permenance (fix another meal, wash another load, clean up another spill) but has it made me a happy and contented woman-is the answer to bring me lasting joy?!? NO-that kind of joy comes from the richness of my life-my hubby, my kids, my church, my friends and family and knowing that I am living everyday the life God planned for me. If you are looking for that kind of contentment from a publishing experience, you are going to be disappointed.

I watched SCRAPPED last night. Wes Thomsen, the guy who made this movie about the thing that is scrapbooking, so graciously sent me a copy this week. There is so much I could say about this production, but the heart of the matter is that he got it right. He started the movie with all of the typical scrapbooking stereotypes in full force (why would you spend so much time? Why do you need all that stuff?), but gradually he goes deeper and deeper into what drives us as scrapbookers to record our lives. I was touched, I was motivated, I was inspired-thanks Wes for sparking my passion again. I don’t want to give away the ending of the movie, but I do want to share a similar experience.

In the process of creating my book, I had completed most of the technique pages and was to the point of creating actual layouts with my hand painted papers. I had a beautiful deep toned paper-rich browns and blacks- that was begging to become a heritage page so I went to my grandma’s apartment to ask for some clarification on names of some photos she had given me awhile ago. She gave me the accurate names, but in the process out spilled this story-this amazing story of how my great-grandmother came to America. How at age 18 her father bought her a dress and a ticket to America and told her good-bye– go on with your life. How my great-great grandmother had died when she was young and so she was raised by a step-mother with five children of her own. “From generation to generation” I can see how this life story has filtered down into my own life and all because I asked.

You got it right Wes-the scrapbook is the vehicle that carries us into places we would of otherwise missed-rich, unexplored places of our own history and everyday lives. It’s about relationships and story-not about getting published or "success" as the world sees it-but about digging deeper into this amazing, complex life we lead. There is the wealth, there is the richness, there is the passion.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Strategy #1 Overcoming Fear

Fear- every time I think I’m over this one it pops up again. I’ve read that creative individuals often struggle with an extra high sensitivity to constructive criticism and fear. OK-so I get that-I understand it in the intellectual sense, but why then it is still an issue? Why do I keep going back to this every so many years? Why does it flare up again and again?

In our society we don’t often talk about our fears. It is seen as a weakness-a sign of lack of strength or willpower. A wise friend even asked me the other day “so what EXACTLY is it that you are afraid of?” Hmmmm….difficult question, but I’ve come to know what fear sounds like in my head.

“What will she (whoever that “she” might be) think of this latest scrapbook page I did? It doesn’t have any pictures and I used colored pencils for the background. No one else is doing that kind of stuff?!?”

“What will ‘so and so’ think of my newest painting hanging in the gallery?”

“Do I dare donate this piece of art-will someone think that it is ridiculous, ugly, unnecessary?”

“What will someone think when they walk in the house and see this new paint color on my living room wall?”

These conversations go on and on in my brain and it is so hard to stop.

But, I think the bigger your dreams, the farther you want to stretch yourself, the scarier fears you can dream up. My hubby even said to me that sometimes failure seems easier than success, because if success comes our world might change. Yes, the fear of change, the fear of vulnerability, the fear of “what will other people think”?

My goal is to take my fear (I think we all have it and the secret is just to figure out what to DO with it) and turn it into FOCUS. What one thing do I need to do today? What is my next step? Who is it that God needs me to be today? I know that fear is not from Him. He made me creative and He expects me to use the gifts I have. I have been coming back to this verse of the Bible over and over thru the years-anytime fear rears it’s ugly head in my direction.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Yah-I need to kick that “self-discipline” into focus. That’s called time management and goal setting and following through in our modern culture. I need to plug into a bit of that God-given power that says “if it’s OK with God and OK with you-go for it-don’t let other’s opinions, perceptions and questions stand in your way”. I need to wrap everything I do in love-love for my husband, my kids, my friends, and love for my art. That’s FOCUS and that’s going to change my day-today.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Strategies for Actually Getting it Done

It's easy to be passionate about your hobby. It's easy to think about it, dream about it, shop for it and read about it. What's not so easy some days is to actually DO it. What gets in the way for you? Why do you think about it, shop for it and all the rest and still have a pile of photos and supplies staring at you? Scrapbookers everywhere seem to struggle with this-I struggle with this. What gets in our way and keeps us from doing our craft? What keeps us from avoiding our art? I LOVE scrapbooking, and yet sometimes I'll admit I just don't do it. I can't get started. I dream about the "someday when I have an entire weekend or a whole week to myself" while the photos and supplies keep piling up.

I have taught scrapbooking, stamping, painting and art classes for years. I have taught or experimented with about every technique out there and still I struggle with "getting it done". Every time I get together with scrapbookers I hear this same frustration over and over. "I can't get it done". "I don't know where to start". "I'm just not sure what to do with this." "I don't have time". "If I had more space or if I was more organized or if I had this cool tool-then I would get my scrapbooking done." I'm quite certain that more supplies isn't the secret to actually getting it done. I think the real problem is the story line playing in my head.

How can I change the story line in my mind? How can I actually start to get things done? I think this is such a crucial question-not only for me personally, but for the scrapbooking industry at large. There are only so many supplies that any one room (or bag or closet) will hold. Eventually, we will get on overload and what happens is not a burst in creativity and actual creating..."overwhelmingness" takes over. We give up.

Strategies-other industries/businesses have strategies-plans for "how to get things done". But, I think there are some different realities for the craft world as a whole and my own personal studio in specific. I'm going to use my blog over the next few weeks to share some ideas and thoughts that have helped me in the past to actually get things done-hopefully you'll get some new ideas and I will get some more motivation myself. Maybe together we can scrapbook with passion... without all the junk getting in the way.

Strategy #1 Coming Monday...