Growing creatively: Part 1

I’ve been having a lot of conversations lately on creativity. Thursday last, I sat in my friend’s living room and we talked about all the things women do in that circular non-linear way that we best communicate. Children, husbands, school, life, work. And then a good dose of faith and creativity. Fast forward almost a week and I’m still thinking about it. Something feels good and right about these conversations. It’s the power of connection – MEANINGFUL connection where you are nourished at the end of it all. I have all these thoughts and ideas on the topic, especially having hopscotched through a class at church on \ Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection last semester. There is so much rich content here, friends. Creativity is essential to wholeheartedness – I believe it to be true! So I’ve been writing about creativity on my own, and I’m going to share it in a few parts over the next few weeks.

Pencil Shavings Studio visits Jill Rosenwald at her Boston studio 12

I grew up sketching, coloring, and writing stories. Page after page of words, easily available and accessible to me like choosing items off a shelf, scratched onto paper. Notes and drawings for the pastor during church, quickly scrambling to give them to him after the sermon, hopping up the steps to the stage where he expectantly and lovingly awaited me in all my childish enthusiasm. I was artistic and I loved it. It felt normal and natural to always be with pencil in hand in some capacity. My mom provided me with loads of books in those early years, and I devoured them. An elementary school teacher in her earlier years, she had an innate way of fostering that love for words.

Stories were pure magic to me and I could get lost in just about any book. In the summer, I’d hole up in my bed with a pile of books and work my way through them into the early hours of the morning. I wasn’t afraid to read things that weren’t “age appropriate.” In fifth grade there was a total obsession over Scarlett O’Hara’s green velvet hoop skirts thanks to a movie binge and subsequent visit to New Orleans (THE SOUTH! PLANTATIONS!). In a bookshop in NOLA I picked up a paperback copy of Gone with the Wind and attacked it voraciously for weeks, all 1000-odd pages of it, dubiously sharpie-ing out every instance of the word ‘damn’ until I got too tired of doing that as it was far too time-consuming. After that, it was John Grisham and crime novels.

scarlett ohara

In my teens, my dad specifically was the one who cultivated culture in my heart through music and books. There were museum visits on trips, and long Saturday afternoons spent in the bookstore where we would listen to CD samples (remember back in the day at Barnes & Noble when you could sit and listen to 100 CDs at once?) and yell across the room “You’ve got to listen to this!” He promised he’d buy me any book I ever wanted to read and that he always hoped I’d love God, music, and reading. And so I did – I devoured page upon page, and simmered deeply into music of all kinds. Opera, classical music, movie themes, ballet, Frank Sinatra, Broadway. Next to zero pop music as it wasn’t really pervasive in the conservative Christian culture I was growing up in.

But art itself – those hand skills of pencil drawings and mark making – somehow stopped once art classes became “electives” (unnecessaries?) in junior high and high school that didn’t really count for much in the grand scheme of graduation. It was also mentioned that I used too much glue by my art teacher, a mark against me to my sensitive creative soul that I was, merely, “Too much.” Funny how those words mattered and I remember them now 30 years later.

And I have a feeling I’m not the only one who heard criticism and therefore, stopped art all together around this age.

Continued next week …