A couple of years ago, a good friend introduced me to the world of stamping, knowing that I already loved to craft and create handmade cards. I will always be grateful that she did! I was at home with my two young boys and had given up a hobby that was too time consuming and difficult to maintain with little ones around. I was feeling depressed and lonely a lot of the time. I was having those awful “What Now? Who am I?” symptoms that many of us women go through trying to find/prove our worth outside of being wives and mothers, even though I am very happy being both! Crafting lifted me more than once from that downward spiral of depression!
Have you ever noticed that many artists suffer from depression? Wait a second, let me rephrase that. Have you ever noticed that many people suffering from depression become artists? Throughout our history we can find links between art and depression, and I have spent a lot of time thinking that it is no coincidence. I think that we are naturally drawn to what is good for us, and if we allow ourselves to accept what we need, we can greatly benefit from it.
I have always been drawn to arts and crafts in its multitude of forms and have tried my hand at many. It was not long before I figured out that for me, crafting is a great stress reliever, it improves my mood, calms me, and helps me focus when my mind is racing.
Once I opened the door to this new creative outlet I found myself stepping through many other doors too. As I sought to learn more about paper crafting, I opened myself up to sharing my own work with others, and I found a courage that I didn’t think I had. I went on my first online forum and began talking to people from around the world about the one thing that connected us all; crafting cards, and I soon learned that we had many other things in common too. I made new friends online, some of whom I have met in person, and care for deeply. We support and inspire each other in many ways. I found that with the confidence to share my art, there also came more self respect for who I am, and what I can do, which goes a long way toward being a happier person!
Nearly two years ago I decided to start my own blog, to share what I was learning and to further explore the crafting world, naming it “A Necessary Creativity”. A friend asked me why I came up with that name…my reply was and still is; that for me, CREATIVITY is not a hobby; it is a NEED! A need that I will always try to fill, because I know what’s good for me!
Thank you to Kathy and Barb for inviting me to share, and hopefully encourage someone to get creative for their own good! Grab a cup of coffee or cocoa, and come on over to my blog to see what I’ve been up to. I’d love to hear from you!
Have a creative day! Deena Perreault
"The only real guarantee in life is change. I believe in placing my confidence and hope in the uncertainty of change." – Jim Stevens.
While in Vietnam, Stevens was shot in the head during a combat mission, which left him with permanent severe migraines. In 1994 a migraine caused a stroke in his visual cortex, leaving him legally blind. He was disability retired from his position as a professor at the University of Colorado. Soon after, Stevens’ wife left the family and he became the single parent of two young daughters. Stevens also stopped creating art.
The next several years were spent in anger and depression trying to cope with his disability.
In 1998, Stevens was introduced to the martial arts under the guidance of a patient yet gruff instructor who made him see possibilities beyond his disability. In 2000, after adapting his technical skills utilizing special lenses to work with his disability, Stevens began to slowly and patiently relearn his craft and produce art again.
In 2002, at age 52, Stevens became the oldest, and only blind man to ever win the men's fighting competition at the Rocky Mountain Martial Arts "Tournament of Champions." In 2004, he achieved the rank of Shodan - a Shaolin black belt.
The Courage to start Carving again
After being prodded by the martial arts instructor, I struggled for two years to get my artistic skills back and that struggle changed my life. If I had given up, which I wanted to do many times, my life would not be what it is today. I discovered that when you love something like I love my art, and refuse to give up, you can change your life. Call it art or craft, when you care that much, you can overcome the challenges. At times, my daughters even helped. They would look over my shoulder and say things like, "No, Dad. You missed that line. It goes this way."
My struggle and the help I received to restore my skills has reaffirmed my belief in myself and my love of the art I do. Today, Stevens is also an internationally collected scrimshaw artist, carver, and sculptor whose work can be found in several art galleries around the country. He is also the author of three books on the art of scrimshaw technique published by Schiffer Publishing. He has won both First Place and Best of Show at several juried competitions and has been recently accepted as a Kennedy Center VSA Registered Artist in both the visual and literary arts.
Award winning Hollywood screenwriter Paul Cooper is currently writing a screenplay about Stevens’ life. According to Cooper, “It is a story that needs to be told.”
You can learn more about this incredible American Hero and see more of Jim Stevens work on his website: www.ScrimshawStudio.com.
Jim, Kathy and I both want to say, "Thanks for your service."
Paper Therapy . . . A Mom’s Story
by Karolyn Loncon
After browsing this amazing blog, I feel as though my story is somewhat insignificant. But reading these stories has brought to my attention that art, in whatever form, somehow heals people, no matter what their problems are. I hope that my story will encourage someone whose story is similar to let art heal them.
I started papercrafting after my oldest daughter left for college. I had been such an integral part of her life all the way through high school, and relished every opportunity I had to be a part of her world. I was the team mom for her softball team. I traveled with the team to help arrange for meals and snacks during the games. We went to every single softball and basketball game, whether she played or not. At times I felt as though I was the only mom in the area that owned a car and had a driver’s license because I was forever transporting a carload of kids to dances and events. But as I said before, I loved every single minute of it. I was needed, it was my identity, through and through. It never occurred to me that my daughter needing me would come to such a screeching halt . . . until she left for college. It was a time that I should have been proud and excited – and I was. But my oldest daughter is very independent, and she was chomping at the bit to get her freedom, to leave the nest, and to start her own life. A few days after she left, she called me and said, “This is my home now, mom. Your house isn’t my home anymore.”
THEN DEPRESSION STRUCK:
It was like she’d put a knife right through my heart. I was devastated. I cried and cried for days, and found myself in a total depression. This lasted for about six months. At some point in the middle of this funk, a friend called and asked if I wanted to scrapbook with her.
Our first scrapping session gave me such a sense of relief in my depression that we continued to meet, sometimes several days a week. I scrapped, created something beautiful, and remembered . . . remembered all the amazing times in the lives of my kids. It was so therapeutic.
I can tell you without hesitation that it was these scrapbooking sessions that made me realize that your children leaving the nest was all part of the process of life going forward. It’s not that I’m no longer a mom, and it’s not that I’m no longer needed . . . they will always need their moms, no matter what. But our role in their lives changes, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. It’s a good thing . . . it really is.
HAPPINESS THROUGH CARD MAKING:
A few years ago, my friend called and invited me to a cardmaking class. That was all she wrote. I could apply the same principals of being creative, making something beautiful, and having something to show for it in card making. And it didn’t take me six months to finish a project!! I love sweet, whimsical images, I love coloring, I love coordinating beautiful scrapbook paper with yummy cardstock, adding cute embellishments, and applying a sentiment to create something that I can send to someone to make them feel better about whatever is going on in their lives. Applying ink to a stamp, laying out the elements in a pleasing to the eye format, tying a pretty bow – the entire process just makes me happy. Everyone needs to know that they are loved, wanted, needed, appreciated. Cardmaking has been my outlet, my therapy, my means of realizing that life does go on and that’s a good thing. The results of my cardmaking – the kind words from others, the sweet compliments from a recipient of one of my cards, and the positive feedback that I’ve gotten from stamp manufacturers and store owners – have made me realize that cardmaking can be therapy, not only to me, but to others as well. I love that . . . it makes me feel needed in a different way. Doesn’t everyone love to feel needed?
Thank you for the opportunity to share my story. I’d love for you to stop by my blog – called “Paper Therapy” - sit down with a cuppa joe, and hang out with me while I share my cards and the process that makes me happy.
Karolyn is giving away this set of yummy 4 cards. To enter, simply post you comment on her entry belo and we'll pull the winners name out of a hate. Good Luck! Giveaway ends Feb 27.
Tia Crystal has literally turned dark days bright with just a few strokes of a paint brush. The London-born Tia says she always had that artistic streak in her. But, it wasn't a life her family really understood or supported. The mother of three barely tasted that distant but strong feeling, working in interior design and cake decoration.
She struggled with anorexia, bulimia, and self esteem issue. But, at 40 years old it all changed during a simple stroll on a street in Italy when she found a paintbrush on the street.
Tia accepted the moment as sign to pursue her true passion ... fine art. In just a few years, Tia has completed more than 500 paintings, just opened The House of Tia Crystal gallery, and has sold her work worldwide.
Her dramatic use of colors portrays Tia's exuberance and love of life, a feeling she hopes those who collect her fine art consistently feel. She credits the pursuit of her passion, for turning the tables on her toughest times. Tia believes her life story and work support her philosophy, "art inspires the energy of the soul".
To see more of Tia's beautiful art, please visit: www.TiaCrystal.com
We love sharing her story and can't resist showing you one more of her incredible paintings. We hope her story inspires you as it as us. Be well.
This is another beautiful post by Gail Green. You can read her last installment here.
So many of us "boomers" are going through a period in our lives where we are having to watch our aging parents deteriorate or go through catastrophic illness....all while we still have our own children who are unable to move out because of the current economy, full time jobs at the height of our careers, and the beginning of our own aging/medical issues.
While doing crafts are very healing, there are also other things that can help one deal with caretaker burnout and stress....pets, nature, writing/reading inspirational pieces....so many things, including inspiring and helping others in a non-caregiving capacity.
Life has been way too stressful and I'm starting to feel very burned out from the unpredictability of each intense event, as well as the learning curve to know what is to be done for each step.
In the midst of this, I was contacted a few days ago to teach weekly drawing lessons to a 13 year old with small motor skill problems. Today was our first lesson and, like everyone else who has ever taken private drawing lessons from me, he began the hour feeling unsuccessful and ended it with an enthusiastic "I really think I can do this!" He positively beamed.
Experiencing the change in this young person today and knowing that each subsequent week will have this bright spot, has given me hope and brought me back to the joy of creativity. Helping this youngster learn how to see the world through different eyes so he can draw has also helped me see things in a different perspective (pardon the pun!). His joy has become my own and has helped remind me that creativity can stir the soul even in the midst of a storm.
You can learn more about Gail Green at www.GailGreen.net and www.SweetPetatoes.com
The Australian Aborigines understand this creative experience as a parallel reality they call "Dream Time". It is a space where the collective unconscious flows. Just as our dreams allow us to empathize with every conceivable human drama, and help us to work through our wildest hopes and fears, so do the arts.
As an artist, I do not approach a canvas with such heavy expectations. In fact, just the opposite - It is just play. I push colors around with a brush, and as with music or dancing, the end is not the point. It's the creative process itself.
But when I become deeply involved in that process, a certain meditative state can be reached. Thoughts continue streaming, but they don't rattle the brain. They just flow right through my brush. As the process unfolds, I may take a step back and realize a deeply personal imagery has revealed itself onto the canvas. It's as though my subconscious knows exactly what my eyes need to see. More than that, I have the distinct feeling that something greater than me is working through me. For this reason, I consider every painting like a personal divination or tarot card of sorts.
Having my art in the public eye has opened up a whole other dimension to my relationship with it. I have learned to be sort of lovingly detached. For a long time, I felt that my art and I were inseparable and I feared criticism of it would likewise be a personal attack on me. Generally speaking, people are kind, and I have mostly heard from those who love my work. As it turns out, I've found that allowing praise to go to my head feels just as weird and uncomfortable as taking criticism too personally.
What I mean to say is, sometimes a viewer's experience of my work is far more profound than the energy that went into creating the piece. It has caused me to view my art like my children. I may have brought them into the world, love them dearly, yet they are bound to form their own independent relationships with all walks of life. Others may appreciate aspects in them that I was never even aware of!
Ultimately I must say that I have been incredibly blessed to be involved with the arts, both as a creator and as appreciator of other's creations. As they say, art is "food for the soul".