Monday, March 18, 2019

Stay Curious - Unlock Your Creative Ingenuity Key # 10

“Much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.” ~ Steve Jobs

When visiting with other 'creative' people, one common trait always shines through - CURIOSITY.

Curiosity has also been a major factor of my personality and creative journey. So how does one determine if they have the type of curiosity that leads to imaginativeness? Let me share with you some of the things I've discovered.

Curious Creatives - have a million questions. In fact, they drive others nuts with all the questions they can ask about any topic, anywhere, at anytime. They can't help it - so be supportive and just bear with them.

Curious Creatives - fluctuate between constant communication (talk, talk, talk) and periods of hermit like behavior. In there hermit phase, it's not that they don't want to have anything to do with you anymore, it's just a way to process all the information their curious nature has accumulated.

Curious Creatives - have a perpetually energized mind. Their curiosity and design intuition never takes a break. (That is probably why they nap a lot).

Curious Creatives - love the quirkiness that makes them a little weird and different, not because they're arrogant or self-centered, but because they know that somehow this oddity is their path to originality. They treasure and guard it even if it makes others misunderstand them.

Curious Creatives - live in a dual reality. One is the 'genius stage' which is marked by frenzied activity. The other is the 'slug stage' that is marked by zero inspiration. Thank goodness for the 'slug stage'. Without it a Curious Creative would experience burnout quickly and never create again.

Curious Creatives - are often perceived as procrastinators, an irritating factor to those who live and work with them. I'm not sure why this is so, but I know it's true in my case. Maybe it's because I do some of my best work when under the pressure of a deadline; but I'd rather blame it on my lazy creative muse.

Curious Creatives - are often labeled as people who can't focus or have a one-track mind. But the real truth is that when they're in the creative sphere, they're simply immersed, buried, or spellbound.

And here is a small tip to keep you on the good side of any Curious Creatives you might know. Don't rudely or abruptly drag them out of the immersed state unless you have an emergency. Why? Because while in the creative sphere, multi-tasking is simply impossible. If you interrupt them, you've destroyed their world of imagination and design. And believe me, it takes a lot of effort for a Curious Creative to rebuild that world.

So, are you a Curious Creative? Do You know a Curious Creative? Drop a comment. I'd love to hear from you.

Create With the Heart, Build with the Mind

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Armchair Traveling for Inspiration - Destination #2 - Toy Story Land - Disney - Florida, USA

What is armchair traveling and why is it beneficial for 'Creatives'?

What - Armchair traveling is exactly what it sounds like. It's experiencing the sights, sounds, smells, and thrills of traveling while remaining in your comfortable spot at home. Due to age, health, circumstance, or financial considerations, not all of us are privileged to travel as much as we'd like. However, that doesn't mean we can't rack up miles while reclining in our favorite chair with a cup of coffee and hot cinnamon roll while we browse a book, travel magazine, website, travel channel, etc. 

Why - Creatives need constant inspiration, new ideas, and breaking away from the ordinary to capture something illusive that takes root and grows in their imagination, eventually emerging as a design, craft, or work-of-art that is uniquely their own.

Destination #1 - Toy Story Land - Florida, USA
Photo Courtesy of Little Feet Big Adventures

This time of the year many of us are planning our summer vacations. The final choice doesn't really matter, but what does matter is that you're prepared to take advantage of every inspiring aspect of this choice. The first priority should be your family's enjoyment and relaxation. But that doesn't mean that you can't fill your Inspiration Notebook with fabulous ideas for future creative projects. 

If you'll be armchair traveling this summer, what could a 'Creative' find in this one scene from Tory Story Land at Disney in Florida?

Look at how this color plan creates excitement and screams FUN. A very effective color palette for creating that anticipation in children. But children aren't the only ones who are moved by color and react emotionally to particular color sets. Color combinations can move adults to experience a playful, romantic, or serious mood. Test different color ranges on yourself and record your experience in your inspiration notebook. Sparking emotion and mood with color are tools designers use when creating original art and illustrations. 

Other aspects from this scene that are useful are the contrasting shapes: straight lines, waves, angles, and circles. These bold shapes in all their splendid color creates a fantasy of imagined excitement. When designing your next collage, quilt, painting, fiber art, sculpture, etc., you could draw from these elements if you preserved them in your inspiration notebook. 

I don't know about you, but I'm really getting into this Armchair Traveling for Inspiration. Until our next jaunt together, keep your minds and hearts open for inspiration wherever you may find it.

Click here to experience more of this travel destination.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Watch Over My Shoulder - Seven Moons Fabric Art Series - Completion Phase #4

There is not much in the world of design that is more exciting than the completion of an original work. This is especially true for me since I don't preplan these projects. In this Seven Moon series of articles, I wanted to show that creating an original design is as simple as beginning and then, not giving up on your inspiration until you reach the finish point. For me, it doesn't matter where I end up, it's the process I love. Allowing myself to feel my way through the different stages and working free from constraints until something emerges, almost on its own will.

This piece measures 16" x 21" and is a technique using cotton fabrics and a fusible web. One of the practical benefits to creating abstract art is the opportunity to play with different color palettes. It's a great way to discover what color combinations are your constant favorites and then bravely mixing them up to form equally beautiful sets. It supplies the experience we need to build confidence with color, composition, shape, and balance.

If you've enjoyed this series and would like to see more of these in the future, please drop me a comment below. If you haven't yet viewed Phase 1-3, you can find those here.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Reward System for the Stay-At-Home Creative - Unlock Your Creative Ingenuity Key # 9

WHY do we Creatives, especially those of us who work from our homes, need an effective recognition and reward system? The basic purpose of such a program is to improve our motivation, creative growth opportunities, and personal benefits.

When working alone, motivation and productivity can suffer. It's really hard to always be at the top of your game, to be a self-starter and top producer. This is where a well planned personal reward system will keep us super-charged and goal oriented.

While we all enjoy rewarding our family and friends, we often experience a mental block when thinking of rewards for ourself. So here is a list of rewards I've personally used. Use this list as an inspiration platform to create a personalized set of rewards just for you.

Spa Day: Book an appointment for that massage you've been wanting. And why not take a friend with you.

Education Day: Buy that special workshop, tutorial, or seminar you've been wanting to  experience.

Collectors' Day:  Give yourself that perfect item to add to you collection

Garden Day: I use this reward every Spring when I want to add something extraordinary to my yard design.

Better Tools Day: Have you needed a new desk or chair? How about that expensive light fixture, video camera, etc. This is upgrade a tool day!

Hire a Maid Day: Have your entire house professionally cleaned. You'll love this one!

Gadget Day: This is not the same as the Better Tools Day. This one has to be some new gadget that
you've never used before but envied others who did.

Personal Assistant Day. Hire a temporary assistant for the day to help you with whatever work you'd like to complete. Get that studio organized, etc.

Stock the Snacks Day. Get your favorite beverages stock piled. Add some unique and healthy snacks along with water, fruit and nuts. As I've always said, Creatives Need Snacks.

Storytelling - Key # 8

Create with the Heart, Build with the Mind - Key #6

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

2019 Scrap Busting Challenge - Participant Showcase for February Projects

We're two months into our 2019 Challenge. How are you doing?

I hope you're having fun finding a zillion ways to tackle those bags of scraps you've got stashed away. One small project each month is doable and stress-free. Don't overthink or plan elaborate items. Just find something you'd like to keep for yourself or an item you'd like to give away.

It's never too late to join the challenge. Jump in and have some fun...

Here are the February projects that were submitted by a few of our challenge participants. They've been creative and their projects may inspire some of your own.

Carrie submitted Butterfly Bling as her February project.

She created this mini quilt using inset shiny bling fabric and free motion quilting

Carrie is on track with two projects completed for the  2019 Scrap Busting Challenge.

Kitty submitted her sewing machine cover for
January's project.

Kitty submitted these ribbons made for a local
quilt show for her February project.

Kitty is on track with two projects completed for the  2019 Scrap Busting Challenge.

My February Project is creating motif's for greeting cards I'll be making later this month. A great way to use up some of the scraps that I have left over from my fusible web art projects.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Storytelling - Key #8 - Unlocking Your Creative Ingenuity

Every Creative knows that there is a story behind every project, craft, or artwork. There is a reason, inspiration, or need for making it happen. Often, that story becomes the inspiration point and reveals itself in the finished product. At other times, it stays firmly tucked away in the creator's mind.

When creating fabric art, this aspect of storytelling is always active in my work. The first clue you might be a storytelling creative is whether or not you feel compelled to give your project a name. I have to do this and, when I do, the project immediately takes on a life of its own. It becomes a personality with parameters of expression.

Since I'm also an author of contemporary fiction, I'm familiar with creating a story synopsis, capsulizing a story into a few paragraphs. This process forces a writer to adjust their focus until they've captured the core essence of their story. The same task can help an artist to capture the singularity or core idea or feeling they are endeavoring to create.

Try this exercise the next time you have an idea that you need to broaden or solidify. Think about your concept and the end result you want to achieve. Then write an actual story description for your project. Think about what's called a book blurb. Thats the snippet of information on the back cover of the book that gives you an adea of what the story is about. That small amount of information is a powerful tool for selling that book and it can be a powerful tool in giving you a clear vision of the project and where you want to take it.

Here is an example: This is the companion piece to my larger piece of artwork named, For The Love of Autumn. You can view that here.

My project description: 
Autumn inspires with courageous color. Leaves morph into artistic brilliance as if defying their imminent demise. In a moment in time, and with just a whisper, they release their hold on life and gracefully float downward. This is the time of year when I pause to reflect on the beauty of a single leaf.

You might like:
Key #5 - Discovering What Shouldn't Be

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Watch Over My Shoulder - Seven Moons Fabric Art Series - Phase #3

What is Abstract Art? According to the dictionary, it's "art that does not attempt to represent external reality, but seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, forms, colors, and textures." 

Have you viewed Phase #1 and #2 in this series? Click on the #number to view those also.

What can we learn about ourselves when doing this type of art? In whatever medium we choose to use, abstract art opens doors in our brain and allows us to break away from the structured reality of simply making something by routine or pattern, and instead, to create something new, original, and untried. In the process it reveals things about us and our creativity that we wouldn't see without it. It reveals how we see color relationships, our favored shapes, our use of connectivity, and our spatial concepts.

What are the main elements that keep repeating themselves in abstract art? Shape, value, line, color, contrast, texture, and spatial features. There is always some element of reality, though the artist is the one in charge of what is being abstracted and to what degree.

I love this type of art and encourage others to dabble in it as well. It's not the only type of art I do, but it's the only type of art that removes all fear, anxiety, and preconceived expectation. For me, it's the only type of art where the ending justifies the beginning, giving it validation and creative license.

I'll be finishing this project in Phase #4. Meantime, why not tell me about your adventures with abstract art forms.

Monday, February 25, 2019

When, and to Whom to Give Handmade Gifts and Why?

The WHY part of this question is simply answered. If we care enough about someone to present them with a gift, then we should care even more about how the person receiving it will respond. Depending on culture, upbringing, and attitude, not everyone still values handmade gifts. For instance, a special teenager in your life may much rather have a new electronic gadget than a handmade quilt for their bed. However, given a few years, that same teenager may be begging you to make them their own quilt.

Handmade Tic-Tac-Toe Board with fabric pieces
If we're reasonably sure that the person will appreciate a handmade gift, then the next question is what kind. Think about their fashion or decor preference, their favorite colors, motifs, and textures.

The next part is a no-brainer but needs to be mentioned. Whatever we make, we should be reasonably skilled so that the quality of the item will not suffer. We don't have to be an acclaimed artisan, but we want the item to convey our sincerity.

Fabric Art Greeting Cards are one of my favorite gifts to create.

If you love unique gift tags, check out my post - Designer Gift Tags

I found another adorable idea at the Thread and Thrift Blog by Mandy Pattullo. 

I gifted this fabric art to a friend who fell in love with the doodling concept.
The last thought, but an important factor that I use when creating handmade gifts, is to try and make my items a personal extension of myself and my art. Most of my close friends don't love fabric the way I do, they don't hoard every small scrap, and they don't envision the day they would ever willing use a sewing machine. However, each of them appreciates the imagination, texture, pattern and color that I utilize in my fabric art and my handmade gift items. So, when creating for them, I try to just be myself, have oodles of fun, and create something uniquely theirs.

When was the last time you gave a handmade gift? Do you have a list of favorite items you enjoy making for friends and family?

Friday, February 22, 2019

Creatives Need Snacks - Margaritas to Sugar Cookies

Today is National Margarita Day and I'm all for that refreshing limey drink on a warm summer day. However, it's February, rainy, and cold so some warm out-of-the-oven sugar cookies are a better snack for this 'Creative'. But just in case your basking on a sun drenched beach soaking up inspiration for your next project, I'll leave you with a little margarita gift before giving you my favorite sugar cookie recipe.

Are you ready to make some sugar cookies. Most basic sugar cookie recipes are about the same. But with any family recipe that has been tweaked and handed down through several generations, there will always be some variation. So try this recipe as is, or tweak it to fit your taste.


3 cups of flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup of butter that is soft (room temperature not melted)
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg

If the dough is a little too stiff - just add a tablespoon of warm water until you get the consistency you want to work with.

Instructions: Preheat oven temperature to 350°

  • With a mixer, cream butter and sugar together for 3 - 4 minutes.
  • Stir in vanilla and egg 
  • Mix in flour, salt, and baking powder 
If you want to make cut-out cookies, first roll the dough until it's about 1/4 inch thick.
You can also hand pat or shape your dough if you prefer.

Cut-out cookies will usually bake in about 6-8 minutes. They should be done but not browned.

Eat as is, or sprinkle with sugar, powdered sugar, sprinkles, or spread frosting on top.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Watch Over My Shoulder - Seven Moons Fabric Art Series - Phase #2

Before considering Phase #2 of the Seven Moons Fabric Art Series, if you haven't already, you may want to first view Phase #1. Sometimes the beginning is the hardest place to start, especially when working on an original design.

Beginnings don't need to be elaborate concepts. All original artwork begins with a simple stroke-of-the-brush, the first cut of fabric, stitch of thread, etc. The most important step is to just begin...

Moon number seven finally agreed to come on stage and is tucked away in the top, right corner. Next I started contrasting the circles with odd shapes of different sizes. Then, I thought it would be nice if all the moons were connected by a pathway on which we could stroll through the moons at a leisurely pace. 

Remember, that as a fabric artist, I work-in-the-moment. Which means that I respond to random thoughts or inspiration as I'm working. When designing an original piece, I don't preplan, sketch, or outline my concept before I begin. I enjoy letting things develop naturally. It's a little scary sometimes simply because I never know where I'm going to end up until I get there...

I hope you're having fun looking over my shoulder as I work. It's nice to have your company. I'm going to take a short break now and make some brownies. This moon walking can make a person hungry. Be sure to visit again as I'll be working on Phase #3 soon.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Watch Over My Shoulder - Seven Moons Fabric Art Series - Phase #1

So many of you have emailed me or taken one of my workshops and the comments I hear most are, "I wish I could just watch over your shoulder while you create." 
So I'm going to try a new series of blog posts that I hope will allow you to do that in a virtual way. These are not meant to be detailed tutorials, but rather, informal work sessions that I hope will spark your imagination, giving you some ideas or thoughts on how you might adapt my design to fit your style and technique. 

I use a black background fabric and an array of cotton fabric, quilting quality. I use a fusible web product and adhere my shapes to the background with a mini/tacking iron. I work on a heat resistant surface, a padded quilters pad.

I like creating abstract designs. One reason is it allows me to use lots of fabric shapes/scraps left over from other projects. I usually start with some concept of shape, color, or motif that gives me a platform to build on. I do not pre-design or preplan my projects. I work by the seat-of-my-pants. Some artist's might say that they work intuitively, instinctually, naturally, etc. However we express it, it simply means we work in-the-moment.

The platform concept for this project is circles, seven of them to be exact. Everything else will grow from these seven shapes. WHAT! There are only six circles? Don't worry, the other one is a little shy and will show up in Phase Two of this series...

Random Acts of Kindness - Key #7 - Unlocking Your Creative Ingenuity

Key # 7 Random Acts of Kindness Spurs Creative Thinking

Have you ever noticed that when you're stuck in your normal routine too long you become very self-absorbed resulting in apathy and fatigue? Your energy level drops and creative initiative is virtually nonexistent. 

On the other end of the spectrum, when you're focused on doing something randomly nice for someone else, ideas begin to pop out of nowhere. Enthusiasm begins to build energy, energy then gives way to creative action. 

Key #7 is one of the best ways for Creatives to jump onto a new project or design. Why? Because you're busy thinking of unique gifts that fit a specific person or need. Play-days aren't just for kids, not if you're a Creative anyway. Be sure to schedule time each week or month, depending on your life style, and decide what random act of kindness you can devise. You might create a small gift, as in the telephone pouch I made for my granddaughter (shown above). Or you might bake something, offer to run errands for an elderly friend, or make a card for a sick friend. Whatever Your random act of kindness proves to be, it will increase your creative ingenuity.

Have you seen Key #3 (Understanding Perfection)
Have you seen Key #5 (Discover What Shouldn't Be)

Saturday, February 9, 2019

2019 Scrap Busting Challenge - Participant Showcase for January

How is everyone doing on their scrap busting projects. 

I hope you're having fun finding a zillion ways to tackle those bags of scraps you've got stashed away. One small project each month is doable and stress-free. Don't overthink or plan elaborate items. Just find something you'd like to keep for yourself or an item you'd like to give away. You can find some ideas in my Scrap Busting Challenge - Project Idea Series in the right sidebar.

Here are the January projects that were submitted by a few of our challenge participants. They've been creative and their projects may inspire some of your own.

Marsha submitted two items for her January project.

She explains more about her projects in her blog post.

Shirlee submitted this January project.

It’s also on her blog

"Made with paper clips and the remnants of a beaded necklace. I wrapped wire through the beads and around the paper clips to attach them together."

Wilma submitted this January project.

"I make a small crazy quilted pincushion in a serviette ring for the scrap busting challenge."

You can find the description and picture on her blog

Carrie submitted Puffin on Parade as her January

She created this mini quilt using decorative stitches and applique.

This was my January project

I made four of these, three to give away and one to keep.

See my blog post here.