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09/01/2013


New Beginnings • by Karyn Denten


Karyn Denten Feeling Stuck
Shortly after college, I landed a dream job working in Newport Beach, CA, at a small design studio, designing logos for new restaurants, clubs, boutique shops, and high-profile fundraisers. Some of my logos were published in design books and I attended events with movie stars!

When my kids were born I decided to quit my job as a graphic designer and be a stay-at-home mom, putting my family first. I loved being with my kids and considered myself fortunate to have the choice to stay home with them. As time went by and I got further away from the career I once had, the more I felt as though I was losing a part of myself. I did a little freelance work here and there, painted birthday banners I sold at local boutiques, and dabbled in refinishing furniture, but it didn’t feel quite right. And a bit of unhappiness crept up and stuck for a while. I was not content with the direction my life was taking, not realizing at the time that I was the only one who could do something about it! I felt stuck.

Making a Conscious Decision
When Etsy was first introduced I was in awe. I was inspired by the artists’ and crafters’ work and I thought, I can do this. My confidence was shaky—I was a graphic designer once, but an artist? That pesky voice of doubt turned me into my own worst critic.

One day I reluctantly sat down to sketch and instead I wrote, “Life is long, rethink yourself.” An affirmation, self-encouragement, a just do it! ... The definition for rethink is this: think again about (something such as a course of action) esp. in order to make changes to it.

I thought, just start drawing. Draw like no one is watching.

I made a conscious decision not to let any preconceived, self-imposed limitations hold me back and to look forward at what can be, instead of looking back at what once was.

Believing in Myself
My first art prints were of hand-drawn letters for kids’ rooms. Then I began illustrating the kind of art I would hang in my own kids’ rooms. I also started hand-lettering quotes to remind and acknowledge the inner beauty and courage that everyone has deep within. It was so exciting to get those first orders—and it still is! I feel the connection. Recently, I designed a line of encouragement cards called “Cheer & Shout.”

I want everyone to know amazing things can be achieved when you believe in yourself and try!

To learn more about Karyn Denten, visit den10studio.com.

08/18/2013


More Art • by Aimee Dolich


Aimee Dolich Working as a self-supporting artist serves up a tricky challenge that I know I’m not alone in facing: how to produce fresh, creative work on a disciplined schedule without falling into a rut or burning out. The obvious answer is stepping away and taking a break like I would from any other job—but being an artist isn’t like any other job. When I get overwhelmed, bored, or like I’m going nowhere with what I’m doing, my whole system threatens to shut down on me. In these situations, I call to the rescue ...

More art.

I redirect myself into something entirely process-based to remember how it feels to create without a specific purpose. I cut up magazines. I whip out my crochet hook (I know all of two crochet stitches and they are extraordinarily stress relieving; I just keep going back and forth and back and forth in rows). I finger-knit miles of yarn and then undo them. I look for patterns in nature and seek color and life around town. I talk to a creative friend and hear a fresh perspective in that different voice. I read a book and make lists of words I like. I dip my hands in a medium I’ve never tried and slap paint randomly on things. I love being in process mode—it’s like plumbing for the mind. It clears out the channels and opens them up to new ways of thought.

Once the ideas start flowing again, I’m refreshed and excited to get back to the artwork at hand. But I’m always listening carefully for the voice inside that notices when I’m tipping out of balance, and whispers in my ear: “Not everything needs to be for sale.”

And I heed those words with heart.

To learn more about Aimee Dolich, visit artsyville.com.

08/11/2013


The Positive Influence of Art • by Rhianna Wurman


Rhianna Wurman It is my belief that you are truly living when you embrace your talents and share them with the world. The ability to make art has been that wonderful gift for me.

Steering my Creativity
At a very young age, I knew I would be an artist when I grew up. In elementary school my eyes were opened to the world of creating things with crayons, paper, scissors, and glue. It consumed my little soul. When the time came to attend college, I decided to major in fashion design and instantly felt connected with other creative-minded people. Still, I struggled and often couldn’t finish projects when they were due. At the end of my first year, I had to make the decision to continue with fashion design or switch my major. It wasn’t until I had a heart-to-heart conversation with one of my teachers that I realized I simply needed to steer my creativity in a different direction. It was then that I discovered graphic design.

Taking a Leap of Faith
From the first class, I knew I had found my true passion. I honestly felt like I was back in kindergarten and my imagination could run wild with creative freedom. During my senior year, I was offered an internship at a printing company that turned into a full-time position as soon as I graduated. At first it was exciting because I was applying the tools I had learned in school, but I soon realized there was no creativity involved. It was my job to make sure the design handed to me was press ready; I was simply a part of the post-design process.

My creativity was stifled, and it was dying to get out. In my free time I was able to channel my feelings and energy into drawing and making things for others. The need to create became as essential to me as breathing. I could no longer ignore it. I opened up my own Etsy shop selling my original illustrated prints and cards, and shortly after I took a huge leap of faith and left my full-time job to focus solely on my new venture. It has saved my soul and opened me up to a world of possibilities and opportunities.

Connecting with Others
A challenge I run on Instagram called “Doodle a Day” has become a huge part of my life. It’s a creative outlet for those of us who love to draw and create. Each month I post a list of new themes for each day of the month and everyone draws to the theme and shares it on their own feed. Seeing everyone’s interpretation of the daily theme is so inspiring. It’s been an amazing artistic journey for me! I wouldn’t have believed the doors it would open up for me when I first started the challenge. It’s been a way to experiment and grow in my own abilities, express my thoughts, be focused, and come out of my shell in a way I never expected.

The most surprising part is the relationships I have made in doing this challenge. I have connected with so many wonderful people who either jump in and do the challenge themselves, or simply enjoy following it. I am blown away when I receive touching responses like, “I needed to hear this today” from a quote or thought I’ve illustrated. You just never know what good things may come out of creating something. It has become my purpose to inspire others and uplift their spirits with what I make.

Embracing my Gifts
I am so thankful for the role art has played in my life. I am glad it gave me a wake-up call when I needed it. I’m glad I’ve learned not to ignore the gifts I’ve been given, because amazing things can happen when you embrace them.

To learn more about Rhianna Wurman, visit rhicreations.blogspot.com.

08/04/2013


Art Connects • by Holly Abston


Holly Abston "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." — Mother Teresa.

Belonging to Each Other
We belong. To each other. We are connected.

In our world, those connections can easily be broken down. We are compartmentalized: small town/big city; black/white; rich/poor; woman/man; Democrat/ Republican; red state/blue state. The list goes on.

Art Does Not Discriminate
But Art. Art does not discriminate. Art does not have a preference. Art connects us. I love to see a group of people in a room who, for all other intents and purposes, may have no common ground. But get them talking about art, looking at art, or making art, and suddenly those things that seem to define us take their proper place in the background. We are laughing, crying, chatting, and discussing the things we can all relate to in life. After a few moments, we are all humans, learning from our shared human experience. After a few moments, who you voted for is of little importance. After a few moments, I find that I love you for who you are. I love your creative spirit, your heart, your passion.

The Heart of the Matter
Art removes our hard exoskeleton of self-inflicted labels. It gets to the heart of the matter, the heart of us.

Art reminds us that we belong to each other. Art saves.

To learn more about Holly Abston, visit hollyabston.com.

07/21/2013


Art Saves • by Jennifer Rodriguez


Jessie Turner A Driving Force
The desire to create has been a driving force within me for as long as I can remember. That need to express my inner thoughts is more powerful during times of both extraordinary happiness and my darker days. My preferred creative medium during these periods of expression is art quilting. These particular art quilts are always created with stash scraps—fabrics that have been with me for a period of time and no matter how small, still retain value in my eyes. The quilts are typically done in a raw appliqué style; I find that when my emotions are overriding the vision, I don’t want to be tied down to precision and measurements. The process allows me to think and to feel without censorship, and that final creation brings me peace.

Art Brings Peace
In the winter of 2009, my husband and I lost a pregnancy. We had only known about the baby for a few weeks, but we were so excited and shared the news with our daughter. I remember picking out a pumpkin at Halloween for the baby and the excitement over a June birthday. The loss knocked the wind out of me and I had little desire to create. A few short months after the loss, we conceived again and were blessed with our second daughter. My depression lifted and I was motivated once more to sew baby blankets, dresses, and more. However it was only after I created a very personal art quilt about the loss that I truly felt at peace. The quilt is bright and hopeful; it hangs in my studio as a sweet remembrance.

More recently, my husband and I were blessed yet again with our third and last child—a June baby. I worried incessantly during this pregnancy. Would I lose this June baby again? I buried myself into my studio and created a new art quilt. A large art quilt that now hangs in my baby boy’s nursery. It is also cheerful and bright, a visual wish for my son to explore the world.

Moments Demand Art
There are so many times when life surprises with amazing joy and overwhelming grief. These moments demand more than words or a fading memory; for me they demand art. Whether the art be grand or impermanent, it is the process of creation that allows us to relive the happiness or find closure to the pain. Indeed, art saves.

To learn more about Jennifer Rodriguez, visit allthingsbelle.blogspot.com.

07/14/2013


Art Saves • by Jessie Turner


Jessie Turner Art Teaches Me
Art and the creative process have shown me more about myself than any other practice. When I create art I am its student, and it always teaches me exactly what I need to know.

When I tell the story of my imagination, I find the words and meaning the piece tells me in its quiet voice and then I speak them out loud, into form in my hands. Then later, sometimes a while later, I will understand what that piece way saying to me … of myself. The image was ahead of me leading the way. Pulling me towards its truth. Speaking to me in a tongue not yet familiar. Healing me with the medicine of its message. It shows me the way, the direction I need to go, like the symbol in a dream that I sleepily awake to in the morning. To me it is the richest way to live. To hear the soft whispers of these image teachers and put them into form. Lucky for me, other people want to learn the same things and take in the lessons and the medicine they are offering. Art Helps Me Understand Myself
I believe that the most meaningful, and sadly most forgotten, purpose of creating art is to help us understand ourselves … and anyone can do it! By creating a space and asking the right questions, we give the subconscious mind and our inner wisdom a chance to speak. By getting out of our own way and moving past the inner critic, we can create something that reflects back to us the truth that we have been seeking. Canvas or raw materials is our perfect classroom with our perfect teacher.

Art is Beautiful
And then there is beauty—sweet, simple, blossoming, powerful, breathtaking, humbling—beauty. It’s not that I think that all art should be beautiful, but in a world where there is a never-ending supply of things to bring us down, our spirits are lifted by surrounding ourselves with beauty, and especially by creating it. We need to remember why we want to make change and make things better in the present and the future. Beauty will guide us there and fuel us along the way.

Making art has been my guide to self-understanding, to healing, and to celebrating life as an adventure of experience, and for that I am grateful. Every day I am grateful.

To learn more about Jessie Turner, visit jessieturner.ca.

06/30/2013


Art Helps Me Become the Person That I Am • by Nathalie Kalbach


Nathalie Kalbach Surviving my Childhood
When I was a kid, my art was surviving my childhood. I survived by just being pleasing, bringing home good grades, and vanishing into the background as much as I could in order to prevent outbursts of fury, which would lead to incidents too hurtful to recall them in public.

This being said, when I was “old enough” all I knew about me was that I wanted to get far away from my childhood home, and to be independent. I moved out, I became a paralegal to make enough money to live on my own, I attended evening school for year, then I attended the university to study law and become a lawyer. I didn’t want to become a lawyer because I was really interested in law in the beginning or thought I would love it … although interestingly enough I did like it a lot once I started it. I simply wanted to become a lawyer because I thought I was worth something if I had such a degree, if I was successful with my job, and if I could be financially independent.

Learning There Was a Me
I was lucky and happy to meet people that would love and care for me in ways that I never would have thought I was worth. I wasn’t resented when I voiced my opinion, I wasn’t laughed at when I did something wrong, I wasn’t fought down when I was me; I was treated like a person should be treated. But still I felt at odds with myself and I didn’t know who I really was or wanted to be. When I first realized that being a lawyer wasn’t really the path that I wanted to go down, I knew I was doing right by quitting, but it was a long process. I never regret this step, never once! I continued working in my job as a paralegal. I was good in my job, I liked my job, and I started to feel that I was doing okay in my life, although it felt still stiff as the passion was missing. Then one year I was introduced to paper crafting—funny enough through my husband—very quickly followed by mixed media art.

I started creating every day and I started learning techniques and about media through the Internet since the possibility to attend workshops in Germany was very low 10 years ago. I couldn’t stop thinking about creating something and I enjoyed doing something just for me, just for the sake of doing it and without a goal or the bigger picture in mind.

I loved the process of doing art almost more then the outcome itself. I learned that black was not my favorite “color,” and I started wearing colors like green because I noticed that I loved green and teal. I started to focus on the now and enjoy the moment and not on things past or far in the future. I learned to let my thoughts and feelings out, acknowledge that I have feelings, and be then ready to move on. I learned to let it go if expectations weren’t met. I learned that you cannot please everyone and that this shouldn’t be a goal anyway. I learned that I was creative. I started to learn that there was a ME.

Making the Best Decision
I was very fortunate that I was asked very early in my creative journey to teach workshops in mixed media. I loved and I still love it. I want to free creativity; I want my students to enjoy the process as much as I do. Two years ago I came to a point where I had to take almost all my vacation in the law office (don’t forget: Germany—where I got 6 weeks of vacation) just to be able to teach. Time to create something was getting low too, as I was traveling to teach everywhere in Europe, the U.S., Israel, and even Australia.

This is when the idea started to form to be a full-time mixed media artist. When I told my husband and my friends and my bosses at the law office about this, I thought they would think I was crazy and tell me to not even consider this. They think I am crazy for other reasons I am sure, but becoming a full-time artist is not one! They knew how much art had become part of me, how art saved me, and they knew I would be able to do this. They all supported and still support me in my passion, making this the cherry on top of the art cake.

So, I quit my well-paid job and I have been a full-time mixed media artist for two years now. It was the best decision ever … besides marrying my husband of course! I feel good … I feel that through living art I finally become the person that I am … and that is the best thing that could ever happen to me. Art saved me.

To learn more about Nathalie Kalbach, visit nathaliesstudio.com.

06/23/2013


Art Saves • by Ashley Calder


Ashley Calder Are We Enough?
Every day we are bombarded with images and messages telling us we aren’t enough. We aren’t thin enough, or tall enough, or dressed well enough. We aren’t small enough, or wealthy enough, or happy enough. We aren’t blonde enough, achieving enough, or beautiful enough. Your house isn’t big enough, your car isn’t fast enough, and your vacation wasn’t fabulous enough. If you work, it’s not hard enough; if you stay home with your children, you aren’t doing enough.

When my girls grow up, will they wonder if they have enough, are enough?

Little Lost Moments
I scrapbook to tell the story of us, little lost moments forever remembered in paper, pen, and photos. These stories are about a house that was too small, girls who were too cute, a dad who was nearly too doting, the Christmas morning that overflowed the tree, the birthday that was almost magic. We remember the funny things that were said, and the fun things we did. The time the car caught on fire, and the time the cat died. The time she found the dead moth and cried, and cried. We had messy floors, skinned knees, sunny picnics, and tea parties.

We will always remember, we love; this life of ours is enough.

To learn more about Ashley Calder, visit ashleycalder.blogspot.com.

06/16/2013


Strengthening Creativity • by Rhonna Farrer


Rhonna Farrer Everyone Can Create
My mantra is “uplift and inspiRe.” With everything I cReate, I try to keep this in mind. I love this quote by Uchtdorf: “The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before. Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty.” No matter what your creative flair is—music, cooking, art, blogging, design, DIY, gardening, styling, make-up, fashion, friendships, decorating, or writing—it’s creating something that wasn’t there before.

Creativity is Like a Muscle
Now, creativity is like a muscle. You have to exercise it every day to fine-tune, hone, and strengthen it. Learn HOW to exercise your creativity every day! A muscle must be worked out, challenged, and introduced to new things so it can get stronger and defined, right? Your creative muscles are the same way!

So, what happens when you don’t exercise your muscles? They go … mushy. They lose definition and weaken. Your creativity is affected the same way. These muscles react the same. So, create every day. No matter what it is. Challenge yourself and I promise, you will NEVER run out of creative ideas! Daily creative play is essential.

Exercise your Creative Brain
Art saved me. I’ve been creative since I was very young. In kindergarten I remember coloring in a coloring book with my mom. She blew me away with the color scheme she used: lime green, orange, yellow, and pink. I remember LOVING that color scheme and how the colors made me feel. It made me happy. I felt uplifted and inspired. I was surrounded by creativity, art, and joy when it came to my childhood because my mom, uncles, and grandparents were always so creative with their art. In high school my dreams were dashed as my art teacher told me: “You will never amount to anything as an artist.” I LET him dash my dreams and for years I put it out of my heart and mind.

BUT. The creative desire to make art was still down deep in my soul. I started to play creatively each day. Soon, I realized I NEEDED to create art. It was a soul-healing time and for a few years I really “found myself” through art. I decided to get my degree in Art Education so I could be the kind of art teacher that would uplift and inspire my students!

In college, we had a class with a challenge to find out how to exercise our creativity—this is where it began. I started with 20 exercises for a paper/project. As I fine-tuned these creative exercises through the years, I found what pumped up my cReativity to a whole new level. I now KNOW, LOVE, and USE my 100 Creativity Exercises every day. Since then, my art and creating IS my happy place and I never have a creative rut! IT’S ALL ABOUT TRAINING YOUR BRAIN—CREATIVE MUSCLE—TO SEE THINGS DIFFERENTLY AND CREATIVELY!

Art Saves my Soul
I've learned that every single day isn't perfect. But, whatever comes to me—challenges, trials, or even smiles—art saves my soul. Daily creating is essential! Enjoy the process. Commit to it and the creative ideas will come so fast and furious, you won't have time to get them all out! THE KEY: share your ideas with others! Don't hoard your creative ideas. This is HUGE to me. I believe all creative ideas are sprinkled from heaven, and many people can catch them at the same time … It just depends on what you do with it. If you sit on it and hoard it, not sharing it … You're going to lose it, and you may get bitter when you see someone else’s execution of that idea and say, "Hey! That was MY idea! They stole it!"

BUT, if you run with that idea, and share that spark ... Not only is your creativity growing, but you are inspiring someone else and giving THEM the ideas to run with ... All of you are creatively growing. The ideas aren't yours ... They come from a higher source ... and when you recognize that and share it... More ideas will come. I promise.

To learn more about Rhonna Farrer, visit rhonnadesigns.blogspot.com.

06/09/2013


My Heart's Content • by Susie Campbell


Susie Campbell A Place of Great Darkness

I suspect, like myself, some of you have found yourself in places of great darkness, where perhaps loneliness reigns, where fears overtake your heart and mind, and where there seems to be very little in way of light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve been bullied, experienced the loss of close loved ones at a relatively early age, and remained single until my mid-forties (with the added bonus of people often asking me what was wrong with me because I was unmarried). I’m pleased to announce that I’m now a very happy newlywed! Anyway, try as I might not to, I’ve tended to be the girl that sees the cup half empty and in my experience, life can be tough and heartbreaking. But there’s plenty of joy and hope to be found too! Some of us just have to be determined to dig a little deeper to find it!

Faith in God has been my lifesaver. Becoming a Christian in my late teens turned my world right way up. God lovingly rescued me from the darkest places and He has brought much restoration and transformation in my life. Because of God’s great love, it is well with my soul. Our world is imperfect and I’ve continued to have difficult situations to face and battles to fight, however, I joy in knowing that I don’t journey alone.

Surviving with Patchwork
My mother lost her fight with pancreatic cancer when I was 25. I was devastated and although I continued to live my everyday life as normally as possible, deep down my world had collapsed into sorrow and despair. My mother had been my cheerleader and constant supporter. She believed in me in a way that I’ve never experience again and I continue to be awe of that mother-daughter bond that we shared. I was terribly lonely, I was very single, and I was beginning my first year of teaching in a primary school.

How did I survive?

At some point during that tragic year, I found myself enveloped within a patchwork community. This group of amazing ladies took me under their wing and they worked with this girl that could barely thread the needle on a sewing machine, let alone sew a straight line. They helped me to complete a quilt that my mother and I had been working on together prior to her death. I’d made the cross-stitched blocks and my mother stitched them together, along with other fabric squares, to make a quilt. In time I decided that I wanted to increase the size of the quilt, and so with the help of this wonderful community of quilters, I was able to complete this bittersweet project.

Joy in Creativity
My creative life has since taken many twists and turns and I now find myself playing in the artful world of mixed media. I find inspiration through my faith, family, and friends and hope to portray my love for them and for this precious, fragile life in the work that I create. I have much love for the constantly growing community of crafters and artists I meet along the way (both locally and globally). A number of them have taught me new skills and techniques, some have challenged me to break boundaries and stretch my wings, others have encouraged me with words of wisdom, and then there are those that I am privileged to call my friends. I have been able to do much more than I dreamed was possible within my creative life and I’m so very thankful for those creative people who love to share with, encourage, and care for those around them. I may not be living the dream of a fulltime artist, I may not be a huge success in the eyes of the world, but I have learned something much more important than all of that...

Joy is found in relationship and can be expressed in many creative ways...

My heart is content and I am inspired by faith, family, and friends.

To learn more about Susie Campbell, visit susiesheartscontent.blogspot.au.

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