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Monday, September 23, 2013

Coloring Outside the Lines

Before there was writing, there was art. I graduated early from Etch-a-Sketch and Spirograph to charcoals and ink. In first grade, my teacher Miss Lucy snatched away my coloring book because I'd decided to color outside the lines of the cherries we planned to hang on George Washington's bulletin-board tree. That way, I could bear down harder and get a richer red color before I cut out the cherries. I had plans.

Suddenly, my plans included sitting isolated in the corner while those who colored inside the lines continued to work happily. My dark-red, beautiful cherries went in the trash.

Life ain't fair--that was my first lesson learned. Next was, artists are misunderstood.

Eventually, of course, words won out over pictures because I was under the sad delusion that writers earned more money than artists (not realizing that if I really wanted money I needed to color inside the lines all the way
into business or engineering).

Fast-forward a few years (well, okay, a lot of years) and you'll find me in a word-oriented day job that offered little opportunity for growth and not much outlet for creativity.

So I took up quilting. Not making bed quilts, mind you, but art quilts and wall hangings crafted of tiny pieces of fabric to form an image or tell a story. Color, pattern and texture brought me creative satisfaction. Then Hurricane Katrina hit, and my hobby kind of drowned in a morass of apathy and floodwater.

Creativity will win out, though. Two years after Katrina, I took a new job with little growth opportunity and not much outlet for creativity, and decided to write a novel. It was new and shiny and made me happy. I played with words in a way not so different from coloring outside the lines. Storytelling was fun.

Then came publications, and contracts, and deadlines, and less opportunity to color outside the lines--stories have to fit in genres, after all. Suddenly, I had two full-time jobs. One of them, the writing, was still creative and fun, but my artistic eye began roving again.

Now, I'm back to art. I'm rusty, but armed with Photoshop CS6, a


scanner, and some digital imagery, I'm enjoying the fun of digital  journaling. And coloring outside the lines, of course.

How do you keep the creative hounds at bay in  your life?

35 comments:

  1. Suzanne,
    I want to put your first-grade teacher in a corner with a dunce hat! There will always be people who insist we color within the lines, not realizing that if everyone does things the same way, there will be no more art, invention, or discovery.

    Writing is my creative outlet, even though there are rules and contracts. It's fun to do side projects not under contract and that I have complete control over. My day job also has a creative component to it. It involves problem-solving and applying different knowledge in various situations. In some respects, I like that I never know what I'll face in a day.

    My just-for-fun creative outlet is decorating my house. I like shopping for the perfect piece of artwork and seeing all the elements come together in a room. I used to enjoy putting meals together too, but I kind of lost the joy since it has become a chore.

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    1. Very cool pieces you're doing, too!

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    2. Thanks, Samantha! You're right....I think the reason I like to do short fiction occasionally is that it lets me out of the box my novels need to fit in. I don't see ever getting tired or burned out on writing! House decoration is a great creative outlet!

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  2. Ah my creative outlet, I do have one. I do graphic design, and not just for clients. I design when I'm bored, I design when I need an escape, I simply design. I am proficient in photo shop, indesign, illustrator and paint shop pro. I see a picture worthy of working on, I work it. Over the last few months I've finally turned my hobby into a business, and I'm now designing real book covers for real authors.

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    1. I love graphic designers--I work with two on the day job, and love seeing what they do with (magazine) text I send their way. I'm not nearly that artistic, but I did recently get the Adobe Create Cloud suite and am eyeing Illustrator with some fear and longing--I'll crack it open eventually, although I've barely scratched the surface of what Photoshop can do. I use inDesign on the day job, so it's kind of lost its luster :-)

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  3. Shame on your teacher, I had a similar experience but, with my language, speaking Spanish was not the thing, then for undressing my dolls, I took apart their clothing to learn the construction and create more garments. I too, love the hue of colour, the textures of fibers and the touch of natural fabrics. God has blessed me with positions of employment, first as a hair dresser, then bridal consultant and florist all I have enjoyed to a point until I was taken advantage of...now I sew and read to my heart's happiness and delight! you are very talented, keep up your creative joy!

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    1. I know...how many well-meaning teachers crush children's creative spirits? I think all kids are creative but they lose it along the way, so much of the time. I love fabrics and textiles too--the colors! Sadly, my garment-making ability is kind of pathetic. :-)

      As for language, my nephew's wife is from Bogota, and I'm so excited that they're encouraging their two children to be bilingual. Those kids are in preschool and are already fluent in both English and Spanish, which is just awesome.

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  4. I like to scrapbook and crochet. Love your pieces-they are beautiful. Shame on your first grade teacher!

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    1. Yay, another scrapbooker! I always thought crochet looked relaxing (not to mention being able to make some cool stuff).

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  5. Photography is my hobby. I do some semi-professional shoots, but they're always fun. :-D

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    1. Photography is a great hobby--I used to do a lot more than I do now. Except I'd have to leave my desk ;-)

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  6. Reading would be #1. Every day I do some Zentangles, pen and ink organized doodling. And Model Railroading is a hobby of mine. N scale and N-trak modules. [1:160] Have built a working drive in theater and Cat plant modules.

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    1. Your Zentangles are awesome, Roger! Model railroading is very cool--I've seen some really amazing setups, and sounds like yours would be. I'm smiling over the drive-in theater; used to love going to the drive-in!

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  7. Replies
    1. You need to move to my house, Sandy! I do not like to cook. I like to clean up even less. I blame it on having to cook dinner for my family every night as a teenager since both my parents worked.

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  8. Yeah... the reason I don't draw anymore is because a teacher told me my style was too comicbookish and he always gave me bad grades.

    I do try my hand at cross stitch from time to time these days.

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    1. My mom used to do cross-stitch before she started painting, and I have some really beautiful pieces she did. That's another hobby I think sounds really relaxing!

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  9. I am jealous of you people! I used to be creative, but lost it along the way. And I agree that school kind of puts kids in a box & they all have to do the same thing. My daughter is an excellent student & musician, but I worry that it won't be enough once she gets out of school. I majored in literature, but spent 21 years as an insurance adjuster. If that doesn't stifle you, I don't know what will! My son, on the other hand, has a creative mind, didn't go to college & is now drifting at 21, so I don't know what the answer is! And thank you ladies for writing such wonderful books, so we can all escape to different worlds once in awhile.

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    1. I think school, and then jobs, do their level best to kill creativity! I'm supposedly in a creative field (magazine publishing) but politics and schedules make bad creative bedfellows :-) Your son will stop drifting when he finds his passion!

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    2. Thanks for that! Your babies are always your babies, I guess & the worrying never stops!

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  10. I love Quilting and planned some of my own - hangings and bed quilts...I desperately want to make a Wedding Ring quilt out of my wedding colors - but I don't have the room for my sewing machine and the kitchen table has school stuff all over it. So no quilting at this time.

    I've turned to making chain maille jewelry for fun, usually at night when I veg in front of the tv because I can't focus anymore on the computer.

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    1. Chain maille! I love that! I never tried a wedding-ring quilt. The precision needed to fit those circles together always freaked me out. They are seriously beautiful, though :-)

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  11. Love those quilts, Suzanne! I took a lap quilting class once and really enjoyed it. I used to like to cook, scrapbook occasionally, and assorted other endeavors, but with 2 busy kids, I'm luckly to get my writing done. Someday I'll go back to the other stuff!

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    1. Yes, I think keeping up with kids would definitely eat up hobby time! You'll get back to it, though, I'm sure. I hope when I retire from the day job to write full time (which I hope to do in four years), I can get back to quilting.

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  12. Wow! I love coloring outside the lines. I have tons of coloring books and I color things the way I want them to be, If I want a polka dot cherry that's what I color. My granddaughter loves to color along side me. Also, I make Christmas Ornaments. Different color schemes every year. I made a quilt once, mg Grandmother taught me. Time gets away from you though and I haven't made another one. I keep trying to write a book, I have a couple ideas in my head and while they are in my head they sound great, I am having trouble putting them on paper. vampireroyal@yahoo.com

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  13. Wow! I cant believe you got into trouble for coloring outside the lines! Thats crazy! I've never been the artsy type. I wish I was. I just never could seem to do it. I would love to learn to quilt. Those are very beautiful. I do help my mom make this one kind of blanket that we were taught from my grandma. Im not sure what there called exactly. You stitch along the outside, then I call them little poofs(my technical term) of the string in the middle to hold it together. :)

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  14. I used to crochet and sew, but I haven't done either in years. I guess cooking is about as creative as I get anymore.

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  15. Sad that their are teachers out there who don't realize how demoralizing the can be to young minds. I'm so glad it didn't end up holding you back.
    I write and create cakes. I love baking and designing cakes. It allows my imagination to flow and afterwards I get to set yummy cake. :) I also write, I tend to dream in stories so usually every morning when I wake up I take the time to write what I've dreamed.

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  16. Besides writing? I have made a couple baby quilts and really love it. I like matching color and pattern. I don't mind making the blocks, but the quilting part I'm not such a fan of. I love to cook.

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  17. what a poopy teacher!! Ummm... I'm not artist at all... but I read :) and go for lots of walks with my dog and see what nature creates. Thanks for sharing your art! in all it's forms!

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  18. I cannot even draw a stickman so I leave that to others. Years ago, I did two needlepoint replicas of Renior’s “Young Girls at the Piano” and Fragonard’s “A Young Girl Reading.” I found a wonderful little shop in Paris when I lived there and was able to get the canvases and all of the colored wools. Each one took me about 18 months to complete but I am very proud of them and they are hanging on my wall. I have instructed my children that after I’m gone to PLEASE keep them and not throw them into a garage sale. :-)

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  19. I was very fortunate in my elementary school teachers (especially 2nd grade) who passed on her love of reading to the class, and I have been an avid reader ever since. After marriage (too many years ago to mention), my wonderful mother-in-law taught me her love of crocheting and I have since then used my "somewhat" creative mind to crochet all sorts of things for friends and family. I also learned the love of cooking from my dad and love to create all types of different foods. I even had a side catering business up until a few years ago, when health issues limited my ability to do it any longer, but I still enjoy creating special meals for my family when they visit!!

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  20. Wow! Very nice creations! I've done a bit of quilting too... Seeing yours makes me want to get back to it. :-)

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  21. It is lovely Suzanne, and I think genres are blending nicely nowadays, the "borders" are no longer so rigid. I don;'t have a creative bone in my body, I can't even draw a straight line with a ruler, but I love reading other people's creative work :)

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  22. I've never seen an Etch a Sketch! o__o I generally like using traditional mediums for art but lately I'm starting to pick up digital painting, mixed media is fun too! :)

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