En Plein Site

I am so in awe of people who paint (and sing and sculpt and create!) and people who invest in developing their creative gifts. Like my friend Laurie. The very thought of volunteering to paint school play backdrops makes me shudder but it led her to a passionate pursuit. Please welcome Laurie!

Create Challenge Guest Post #4 – Laurie Heath

Though I have long admired the artistic world of painters and artists, I took a circuitous path to painting. My first degree was in Special Education, my second in Interior Design and, although these are creative fields, something was always missing. I first realized my love for painting when I volunteered to paint three 10’ x 30’ canvas backdrops for our son’s fifth grade class play.

Since then I have painted off and on…sometimes off more than on. When I left the field of interior design, I took a painting class with Pam Glover, a Plein Air painter in Orinda, California. I learned the basics from her and have continued to take workshops from other painters. I stopped painting for about five years with the down turn of the economy and started painting again in just the last year.

Painting is a spiritual endeavor for me, an expression of my love of the outdoors and an attempt to capture through my eyes the light and beauty of God’s creation. I find the outdoors to be invigorating and capturing nature with its colors and light quality challenging. Some days are better than others, and some days I leave feeling like, “Why am I painting?” It seems to be part of the process for me.

Like many painters, my moods, the weather, time constraints and my dog can and do distract me from the creative process. The blank white canvas can be daunting as well – but I continue because I love it. There is something about seeing the colors, mixing them together, which excites me. I seem to cycle through favorite colors and painters which provide inspiration.LHeath boat

This painting I did In October 2008 after hearing a sermon by Rev. Jim Rueb. The sermon message was regarding the down turn of the economy. Jim said something to the effect, “We are all in this boat together.”

The following Wednesday, I went Plein Air painting to Port Costa, and I spotted an old row boat under a tree with yellow leaves about the hull. I painted it very quickly, and thought, Yes, we are all in this boat together… The name of the painting is Le Bateau of Faith.

LHeath bio

Laurie Heath lives and paints in Orinda, California. Her inspirations come from nature, color, and master painters, specifically the French Impressionists and California Landscape Painters. Having spent her childhood on a Nevada cattle ranch, she continues to enjoy the outdoors as a skier and hiker. She has shown her work with the Glover Group and Preserve Lamorinda Open Space. See more of her paintings on her Tumblr site.

O Creativity, Where Art Thou? The Myth That Keeps on Giving

As I invited people to submit a blog post during 2016 around the word, “Create,” I can’t even recall how often I heard the words: “But I’m not creative!”

Oh, friends, Yes, You Are! As my friend Jonathan explains today, being human means being creative. Every one of us taps into our creative potential every day. Listen up as Jonathan gives us freedom to think differently and unlock our creative potential.

Create Challenge Guest Post #3 – Jonathan Metcalf

creative potential

You’re either creative or you’re not. End of story.

At least, that’s what the majority of adults across several countries believe.

My friend Rob shared a study on creativity commissioned by Adobe few years ago.

Adobe got input from thousands of people in the US and Europe, and only 25% of respondents felt they were “living up to their creative potential.” I felt sad because I interpreted that to mean only 25% of people felt they were creative. I wondered why they couldn’t see creativity in everything they do?

Creativity is an intangible quality that is hard to quantify, but many believe is easy to recognize. If I were to ask you where one could go to see creativity, you might suggest a museum or art gallery. Others might point to a dance studio, concert, advertisement or photograph as examples of creativity.

Wikipedia describes creativity as a “phenomenon whereby something new and somehow valuable is formed.”

Describing creativity as a phenomenon makes it seem rare. However, creativity is not rare at all. It is almost a cliché to see an artist performing the ritual that precedes getting down to business. They create the perfect environment in anticipation of summoning their muse.

Even though both the commonly accepted and authoritative definitions make creativity seem elusive and fickle, we are surrounded with unrecognized creativity all the time. Creativity is often confused with talent, and often most associated with artistic talent in its countless forms. Creativity is not selectively reserved for artistic pursuits.

Creativity is solving problems using your knowledge, skills and life experience. An artist may have an idea, but the problem they solve is how to bring it to life using their skills. It is exactly the same as any other person figuring out how to use their knowledge and skills to complete a task.

We look right past the artful ways we deal with the obstacles and challenges that face us each day. We label grocery shopping as mundane, so we miss the creativity of organizing the list aisle by aisle, then arriving at the freezer aisle last. Inventing the week’s menu doesn’t register on the “creatometer,” nor does the way you schedule your day to make it to the supermarket in addition to working, running errands and driving carpools.

Creativity is a two-stage process. First, there is the inspiration, idea, need or suggestion. Next is formulating a plan to make it happen. Many adults feel pressure to produce, creating a disconnect between productivity and creativity. In getting things done, we are actually being creative. We start with a concept of what we want to do or make, then we find a way to do it. That’s real magic. There is no productivity without creativity.

I marveled at a Moraga mom who created a Google Sheet for organizing the soccer carpool. I commented to my wife, Melinda, that it was a creative way to keep everybody on the same page. She said that it was applying something in a different way, what teachers consider evidence of learning.

Dictionary.com defines creativity as “the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.”

Melinda, a teacher, links creativity with learning. Creativity is applying life learning to solve the problems of everyday life. If you don’t know how to solve the problem, you go in search of the answer. You learn, and then transfer that new knowledge to solve the problem.

If you do or make something, you are a creator. The definition of creation is “to bring into existence.” God, our Creator, brought us into existence with the full measure of His creativity already installed. Our creativity is such a natural part of us that we are unaware of how often we draw upon it as we go through our day.

Creativity doesn’t strike when you least expect it, but strikes so often that we don’t recognize it. All those people in the Adobe study who feel they aren’t “living up to their creative potential” could be overlooking a huge part of their God-given abilities by falsely believing they are not tapping into their creativity.

If you have an idea, solve a problem, formulate a plan, or find an answer, you are creative. If you bring it to life, you are a creator. Being human means being creative.

JMetcalfJonathan is a husband, father, and fifth generation California native. Working in audio/visual production, Jonathan splits his time between dark studios and the outdoors. He does his best thinking while roaming the East Bay hills with a dog named Annie. His fondness for tiki culture fuels his love of surf tunes, Hawaiian shirts and Mai Tais. Contact Jonathan at Jonathan@MetMediaVIdeo.com.

Create Beauty

Create Challenge Guest Post #2 – Mandi Diehl

2016 Wednesdays on this blog I will create a platform for friends to share their perspective on and experience of creativity.

Today’s guest post brought up a visceral memory for me: sneaking into my mom’s bathroom, friend in tow, at about age 8. My mom’s beauty cabinet beckoned with mystical glowing attraction. I snaked her Bic disposable razor up my dry leg, my friend aghast (clearly I was doing this wrong, but how I was I to know?). Next, I smeared 1977’s shade of blue shadow across my eyelids. I loved it, thought no one would notice because, Beauty! My friend obviously saw the difference, and maybe she wanted to shrink into the shag carpet…?

No longer sporting 70’s blue, I wear my daily makeup way more natural these days. My friend Mandi Diehl finds joy in makeup. She is a make-up artiste to be admired, maintaining her creativity and sense of play as she empowers women to feel beautiful and simultaneously serves her family. Please welcome Mandi!

“Beauty isn’t about looking perfect.
It’s about celebrating your individuality.” –Bobbi BrownMDiehl 1

Makeup isn’t always considered to be very “creative.” People tend to look at it as something necessary to cover a flaw, to conform to societal norms, or a mask to conceal yourself entirely. Makeup is seen as something for the vain, rather than the artistic. While I have those moments of, “Thank the good Lord for whoever invented concealer because there’s a volcano on my face,” makeup to me is so much more than covering up.

I look at a face the way I imagine a painter or sketch artist looks at a canvas: clean, clear, and open to creative influence. The difference for me is, while canvases are all the same, faces are not. Faces have so many shapes, textures, and tones. Eyes, noses, lips, and cheeks all vary person to person. Lines, contours, and wrinkles are all diverse. While an artist can shape a canvas with paint or charcoal into whatever they desire, I love that a face doesn’t work the same way. A face defines what the makeup does. It defines what shades work will with its undertones, what blush suits the color in its cheeks, and what eye shadow really makes those eyes shine.

I have done makeup for weddings, photo shoots, proms, and parties, on a variety of faces. My clients visit me for special occasions, give me an idea of what they’re looking for, and I create that. It’s always a joy to watch them look at themselves in the mirror and say, “Look at me!” I love that I get to be a part of something so empowering for them. Helping women feel so confident and so beautiful on the most important days is amazing.

Creating and experimenting with looks on my own face has also been incredibly inspiring. After I had my second baby, my husband and I made the decision that I would stay home with my sweet kiddos instead of going back to work. While being a mommy is my favorite thing in the universe, it can also be isolating. You can lose yourself in the day-to-day care of your household and little ones, you don’t have a lot of adult contact, and it gets easier and easier to put yourself last. The creative process of “putting my face on” helps me find myself. Makeup is that deep sigh of relief for me. It’s that thing that makes me, me.

MDiehl 2

Mandi Diehl is a wife and work-at-home-mommy of two. She loves Jesus, super hot lattes, Pirates baseball, and the Pacific Northwest. Contact her for makeup consulting at stylesbymandi.com or stylesbymandi@gmail.com.