Archives For Creative Giants

This week is a big one for me and lots of teachers and kids.  Another first day of school.

One thing that constantly amazes me about children is how confident they are when they are young.  They all believe that they are great artists, athletes, musicians.  They just believe they are gifted.

It doesn’t take long for that naivete to wear off and by the time they are teenagers, kids are well aware of their limitations.

I’ve come to believe that the most creative adults among us have somehow hung onto that childlike lack of self-awareness.  Like, somehow they never learned that they can’t.

For the rest of us, it’s usually not our limitations that are holding us back.  It’s just us holding ourselves back.

It's Amazing What You Can Do - LifeAfterArtBook.com

Stop saying you “can’t” and just give yourself a chance.

Today, I’m so humbled and grateful to welcome Ed Cyzewski to my blog.  Ed blogs at In a Mirror Dimly and has written numerous books on topics ranging from theology to Christian unity to creativity.  He’s a fantastic writer, and an all-around super guy.

How David Sedaris Helped Me Write Pretty One DayEdC200

Four years in seminary exposed me to thick, heavy academic theology books. They were all I knew about writing. They were all I imitated.

State a thesis. Defend your thesis. Beat your head against your desk as you format footnotes. Edit to make sure your ideas are clear.

That was writing for me. I thought it was fine. Not great—just something I could do reasonably well.

I’d forgotten the years I’d spent writing silly stories in elementary school.

I’d forgotten the encouragement of my high school English teachers.

I just wrote ideas: bland, simple ideas constructed on a scaffolding of research.

By the time I started to entertain the possibility of writing full time, I happened upon Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. I’d seen it release while working at a Borders Bookstore, but it wasn’t until after seminary that I started to read something other than theology or Christian living books.

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Hey everyone!  I am so pleased to welcome Erika Morrison to the blog today.  She has such an inspiring voice.  You can find her at her photo-104blog and Twitter.  I love the story she’s sharing today about ordinary moments, going to Panera Bread with Jesus and how to be a true “Life Artist.”

Hi! My name is Erika Morrison. I am, by nature, an anthropologist, an alchemist and a Life Artist. I see stories and symbols in the mundane substances of everyday life and the unseen mysteries right here and everywhere.  Come see what I mean…

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Creative Giants: Katie Axelson

February 18, 2013

I’m really excited to continue our Creative Giants series with Katie Axelson!  Katie is a professional writer and contributes regularly to The IMG_4757-1-300x232Write Practice (which you should be reading religiously.)  You can also find her at her blog and twitter.  Today’s story is all about finding the freedom to make messes, the way we did when we were kids, and I’m so thankful for her sharing today in preparation for Life After Art.

I sat staring at the mug wondering how to paint it. Noticing my struggle, the studio owner swooped up beside me and began to ask questions about the mug. Eventually she got me to confess that I wanted to splatter paint but didn’t want to make a mess.

“We’re all about making messes here,” she said. She picked up my unpainted mug and set it on the floor – away from other people but in a clear walkway. As she handed me a splatter brush and palette, I asked if she wanted me to lay a tarp down move to an inconspicuous corner so I didn’t get paint on the floor.

No, she told me right there was the perfect spot for mess making.

Her words took me back to fourth grade when our art teacher assured us that art rooms were for making messes (and cleaning them up).

I whipped the brush and watched baby blue flecks fly across the room, some hitting the mug but more hitting the floor. I looked up for confirmation that this was ok but she had disappeared to help another lost soul find his inner artist.

Maybe the point of this exercise wasn’t really making “art,” but making a mess.

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Today, we’re continuing our new Creative Giants blog series in anticipation of Life After Art.  You know how I said that creativity comes inliving one handed lots of forms?  Well today’s guest is an excellent example.  Ryan Haack’s blog, Living One-Handed is an amazing primer on the creativity it takes to live, you guessed it, with just one hand.  (His blog is entirely typed with one hand too.) Ryan’s got a great story for us today.

McDonald’s was the scene of the crime.

My cousin and I were sitting in that merry-go-round thing.  Joining us in the saucer were three very small boys.  They were staring, but saying nothing.  I could tell by the looks on their faces that they were wondering what happened to my left arm, when one of them finally squeaked out, “Um…what happened to your arm?” I looked at my cousin and we both smiled knowingly.  “I’m sorry, what?” I asked the boy.  He looked at his friends and mumbled again, “Your…arm…what happened to your arm?”

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you’re asking.  What happened to my…” I said as I looked at my left arm and then…  “MY ARM!  WHERE’S MY ARM?! NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” I screamed!  We both jumped out and started running around, yelling, throwing woodchips.  We climbed to the top of Officer Big Mac and banged on the bars, laughing like crazy.

Come on, a kid can only say, “I was just born that way” so many times before he snaps.

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I can’t believe we are just a couple of months away from Life After Art hitting bookshelves!  To lead up to April 1, I’ve assembled a couple of blog series.  This first one, “Creative Giants,” is going to be full of guests, talking about their struggles and triumphs in their creative pursuits.  Remember, creativity comes in lots of forms.  It’s not always about traditional “creativity.”  Today, I’m really glad to kick things off with my good friend, Ally Vesterfelt.  She blogs, tweets and she and her hubs, Darrell run Prodigal Magazine, and her next book drops later this year.

Ally-vesterfeltMy whole life I’ve been accused of not listening.
In high school, it was the most persistent and embarrassing. A teacher would give an assignment; she would explain it verbally, from the front of the room. She would take notes on the white board as she was talking. She would even hand out an assignment sheet, so that there was no confusion. Then, she would release us all to do our work.
I would think about it awhile, an idea would spark, and I would get started, energetically.
But inevitably when the time came to turn in our assignments, the teacher would look at my finished product and say, “were you even listening?” 
I would have given my best thought to the assignment, worked long hours to complete it and felt a swell of pride as I stood up to present it. So when a teacher would show me how, according to the assignment sheet, I had “ignored the instructions” I would feel so ashamed.
Maybe I was just stupid, I thought to myself.