Wednesday, February 15, 2006
This photo has nothing to do with anything - it's from Christmas, obviously, I just felt like putting up a photo of Jim and me, because I feel like I'm making amazing new friends sight unseen, and I was hiding behind my single artfully enhanced Photoshop self-portrait, but here we are. Nice to meet you all! It's really quite amazing to me, this little community I feel forming in the small colorful, wise, wonderful, seeking, searching, intimate spaces of people's blogs - I never got it before, I never understood what blogging was about or why anyone would want to read about what I did today, or why I would want to read about what they did today, and now I GET IT! I AM interested in what you all did today. It's like a marvelous extension of my own life to meet Claudia's children, read Frankie's email from her best friend, see Meg's boyfriend's awesome snow dragon, and on and on. And I suspect I am THINKING more than usual, or at least, in a more focused way. Sitting down just now to the computer I told myself, even though my last post was stale I wasn't going to take the time to leave a new one because I need to get to work, and also because I don't know what to write about, but then I read Meg's and Jamie's thoughts on creativity, and left long comments on them (with the worry, I must admit, that I was using up all my thoughts for the day leaving comments instead of writing my own post - but hopefully I'll have more thoughts!) and felt completely inspired to write, too. So, that's all a very enthusiastic preamble to talking about creativity:
I see something happening in the world that is wonderful to me: creativity is being taken out of the hands of the "elite" and given to everyone. You don't have to be a gallery painter, you don't have to know how to draw, to make gorgeous art. I'm talking about the paper arts boom, often mis-named "scrapbooking". Somerset Studio magazine (yum yum), craft stores filled with the most amazing papers, stamps, inks, doodads, hinges, yarns, decoupage papers, etc etc, and all the books that are being written to show us all, even if we have no arts training: it's in us all. I think that drawing has always been a sort of gatepost to calling oneself an artist, and it kept a lot of people from identifying themself as such. If you don't draw, where do you start with the blank page? We all know the power (for good & evil) of a blank page! But now, there are all these wonderful resources to show you how to play again, like Jamie was talking about, with matte medium and paint and collage and stamps - and without drawing a line you can make something so extraordinary. And you may gain the confidence to try drawing, if you feel like it, but you don't have to. I've watched this explosion, this revolution in art, happening quite outside the framework of the "arts world" (most snooty painters I know wouldn't be caught dead in a "scrapbook store") and I cheer. Even though I HAD been to art school, this revolution swept me up and changed MY life too.
I was an oil painter, an illustrator, ekeing a living selling prints and cards of my work at an outdoor craft market, getting some illustrations published in children's magazines, when 3 Christmases ago a friend of mine, Maggie, had a Christmas card-making party -- I'd always in the past felt obliged to do a painting for my Christmas cards, and the pressure made it sort of un-fun. But I would't have time for that, so I got a little idea of a collage lady with a quote on her dress, laminated, with a delicate little waist to tie a ribbon around, and dangling beads for feet, and I made THOSE at her party, and whoa, was it fun. It was sitting indian-style on the floor in pre-school-fun-kind-of-fun. And... people loved them. I started selling THOSE at the craft fair, and I sold out every day. My eyes opened a little wider. I spent the two months the market was closed making new designs, and that was the beginning of Laini's Ladies, which is now how I make my living (along with the very new addition of selling my first novel.) Play is so important! And believing in your creativity. And as for learning how to draw, you certainly don't have to draw to be an artist, but it is a wonderful skill to have and I mean it absolutely when I say: anyone can learn! I didn't start until my mid-20s as a result of writer's block and needing another creative outlet. I was astounded with every drawing I did how much better it was than the last. It made me wonder, if I keep at it, how much better can I possibly get? It's a very exciting thought, and I challenge anyone who thinks they'd like to learn to draw to DO it. In secret if you want, you don't have to show anyone, this isn't like learning to dance, it can be private, just between you and your notebooks. When I was teaching art (for a brief time) I did stress the difference between wishing and really wanting to do something. To "wish" you could draw is like saying you wish a fairy would touch your head with the drawing wand and the gift would flow into you; you're probably not willing to put in the work. Like how I "wish" I could play the guitar or sing -- I know I won't try to learn. But if you really want it, more than you want other things, there are steps to take. It's not like wishing you were taller or an heiress or something; this is utterly in your power.
Posted by Laini Taylor at 9:00 AM