Monday, February 23, 2009

Creative Stirrings

I'm not sure my energy level today can be attributed to a feeling of Spring in the air. The temperature is far too cold and the winds are much too brisk, yet I can feel something exciting headed this way. I haven't seen any buds on my trees or tiny flowers peeking out of the mulch, and yet my sense of impending surprise and delight are overwhelming.
Part of my excitement may well be because the studio is spotless (had to clean up for last week's stamp club don't you know), and because I have a few new products in stock with lots more coming in March and again in April. Another reason could be the purchase of two more drawer units from IKEA for the studio as I slowly change over to a more streamlined floorplan. But I'm guessing it's because classes are about to begin again in the studio.
I've got numbers and letters in my system, along with rusty, vintage ephemera mixed with vibrant paints and inks. I know that doesn't sound like a possible combination to you, but trust me, it's coming in the form of classes.

It takes so much energy to prepare class submissions for conventions that I'm drained of new motivation once they're shipped out into the world. Having said that, I'll be headed back to Stampfest in Orlando at the end of June and I've got new classes to create for the selection process, which means more brainstorming in the wee hours for me. Designing bangles, pendants, and beads for CHA was also an ongoing effort for months, continuing right into my hotel room in CA just days before the show actually began. I do my best work under pressure and flying out a week early for vacation was more pressure than any one person should ever need.
I can tell you I'll be teaching three classes again this year at Stampaway in Cincinnati. One will be at the store, Stamp Your Art Out, on Wednesday night, August 5th. I won't say this is the best of the three, but I will say this class uses the most new product from CHA. Think new techniques mixed with new goodies and an explosion of color, and you'll be on the right track.
It's far too soon to give away all the details or to post photos, but ladies, if you're going to find yourself in OH in August, don't hesitate. I'm told there are fewer classrooms at the new venue (Sheraton) and that they're smaller, which means you'll need to register straight away once Connie has them posted.
No doubt receiving official notice of the classes selected has given me a boost. Working on submissions 10 months in advance can be daunting. But the good news is that for all three of my classes I'll be adding more new products discovered at CHA than those mentioned in my descriptions or used on my samples. And just think...there's another CHA in July which means the possibility of even more!!
I'll be posting a new studio class schedule in the upcoming days. If you're local, or willing to make a day trip by car, check back for the details. And of course I'm counting on my local guinea pigs to sign up for the Stampfest and Stampaway countdown classes in the studio in May, June & July. If you've never joined one of these adventures, I'll give you a brief explanation. I have a loyal base of ladies willing to be my guinea pigs in the studio where I do a dry-run of an out-of-state class. If I'm tempted to provide 12 products in a convention class that's limited to 2 hours, I have my gals play all day and I time each product introduction & application. If it takes too long, it's cut from the final class. On the other hand, these jewels are honest enough to tell me when to say when, advising which techniques to keep and which to rule out. If I give them too many options, they select their favorites and its up to me to tweak what I pack so that class time isn't lost choosing from 8 colors. Instead I limit the color choices to allow more time for actual play with something else that's brand new.
I think everyone who's taken a class from me will agree that the colors I provide may not have been their first choice, but they learned a few new tricks, went home with new toys, and most importantly, the knowledge to duplicate it with their own color palette. I'm constantly inspired by artwork featured in magazines and publications, even though I may not have cared for their choice of color. But I look further than their finished piece anyway.
A perfect example was 2 years ago while my husband was in surgery. I sat in a waiting area at the hospital with a tote bag full of magazines, a packet of post-it flags, and a journal & pen. I found a table by the window, selected a chair, and pulled out one magazine after the other, wasting no time reading articles since I knew I couldn't possibly concentrate. Instead I'd flip the pages until I spotted something and immediately thought of something else I'd do. So I'd flag the page, jot myself a note in my journal, and keep flipping.
Finally, another woman sitting nearby asked what in the world I was doing. Seems several people were intrigued by my concentration and couldn't imagine what I was up to as they sipped cold coffee and looked at the same newspaper sections over and over as the minutes turned into hours.
So I turned back to one of the many flagged pages and showed her a photo of children's party hats complete with bright colors, pom poms, and a sense of frivolity. What I saw wasn't a child's birthday party setting at all. Instead I saw one of my retreats, with tiny party hats as place cards. Each hat would have a person's name to mark their seat for a specific class. If you've attended one of my retreats you know that you're seated at one table on Friday night for the paper arts, but you're moved on Saturday morning for the wearable art. And you weren't the only person to move. Each participant was also moved around the room over the course of the 3-day event, giving everyone a chance to meet new people. So that simple magazine page gave me an idea for a new party favor my guests would take home at the end of the weekend, but would also enjoy following around the studio during the 5 different projects of the event.
Another magazine showed tulle used on a card, knotted in the center to create the look of a bow. So why not a flower made of tulle puffs in a variety of colors, pulled through the holes in the center of a button? Then the button could be added to a canvas or a purse or a tote bag, not just to something made of paper. Why I could even see them sewn onto my luggage so my black bags aren't lost in a sea of other black bags on that airport carousel.
Creative inspiration is all around us if we slow down and really look as we're going through the motions of our day. Have you got a dirty looking mouse pad next to your computer? Why not cover it with some of that new sticky-back canvas Ranger offers as part of the Claudine Hellmuth Studio line? Use her paints to dress it up. Stamp it with a fabulous flourish in black. Then grab a small foam stamp of a flower or use a pencil eraser and add some polka dots in different colors to create a bright spot on your desk.

You don't need a studio to create art. You need inspiration, a few supplies, and time. I hope I've given you the inspiration. Now gather your supplies, and give yourself 10 minutes to make something fabulous.

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