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False Starts and From the Heart

Don't listen to anyone who tells you creative work is easy. It IS enjoyable, but it isn't easy. I love to paint - it's my one true passion in the creative world and it brings me great peace and joy to paint. But I also like to make things, any things! I make the wreaths for our front door, little baubles and trinkets and key chains, new recipes, paper mache, linocut prints....I am always thinking of things to make.

Recently, as the sun has started to brighten the days a little more I've felt absolutely compelled to make something NEW. I looked through all my creative stuff (there's a lot), and found this entire bag of wooden beads. So I decided to make a garland. You've seen them on Etsy and I even saw one at Crate and Barrel recently. They really are pleasant. Just low key little keepsakes. So I decided to create my own. I painted all the beads all my favorite woodland colors and found these CHARMING little cutouts on Etsy and entertained visions of s new career as a garland maker. I tried different threads and string and sisal rope and.....I tried different knots and patterns and configurations. And the couple I completed, they did turn out well - I mean, they are cute and nice. But creating them wasn't an exercise in joy - it felt stilted and forced.

The garlands weren't truly something I created either - they were something I saw and wanted to recreate. And there's nothing wrong with that at all right? I mean we always want to imitate things we like whether it's a new TikToc dance or a great recipe we find. But when I finished these little garlands, they just felt....flat. Cute decorations sure, but creating them didn't fill me with that totally satisfied feeling. So I quit them. I am keeping the couple of little ones I made but not planning to pursue my fortunes in wooden bead garlands.

In slight despair and wondering if maybe my day job had eaten all the creativity I had left, I sat down to doodle on 2x6 paper scraps. What I ended up with was something from the heart, something that not only gave me genuine creative joy while I was painting, but also made me feel proud and inspired the next day. When I paint, I know if what I am doing is good or not but I am also a terrible self-doubter, so the real test is to leave it alone for 24 hours and look at it again. And this little bookmark, small and humble as it is, was the real deal the next day.

I feel like I fumbled through the garland idea and implementation for a week or so only to learn it wasn't something I particularly enjoyed. But I picked up a paintbrush, got lost for an hour, and smiled the next time I looked at my finished work.

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