You have the power
To make or break my day
You square, heartless ogre
Lying in a dark recess
Of my bathroom floor.
Gingerly I place one bare foot
Then the other
On your cold, gleaming surface
Waiting for that number
That ungodly number
To glow in your digital eye.
Usually, I step off grumpy
My score undeserving
Of my goodness the past week.
It’s a rare day
When I can celebrate.
It’s an injustice
I have to endure
For something has to keep me
& my low metabolism in check
Ensuring my pants remain
But this morning
I’m savoring that steaming cup of coffee
With real cream
Munching on that sumptuous cookie
Laced wth butter & cinnamon
& laugh all the way out of the house
Brushing the crumbs off my coat
As the screen door
Slams shut behind me.
One of the most common complaints I hear as an art teacher and in conversation with others in the realm of art is “I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” Here’s the news…… you don’t have creative bones in your body. You have creative muscles. Whereas bones (at least in adults) don’t change much, muscles are changeable and can be strengthened.
We were all born creative beings. The problem with many is that their creativity was not nurtured either at home or at school or both. Then there is that nasty aspect of self-consciousness that creeps in as we grow-up. Still, creativity can persist in sneaky ways. I ask people to look at the manner they dress, decorate their house, garden, cook, parent, solve problems at work & so forth. It’s there waiting to be manifested.
Now if you are hungering to express yourself in the arts, you have to be willing to endure
the painful practice of getting your creative muscles in shape after years of disuse. Just like getting yourself in good physical condition it can be uncomfortable & discouraging. But “show up” on a regular basis & you will get stronger, confident and feel good about yourself. No one learned how to play a musical instrument without regular practice and one will not sound very good at first. Even among those individuals who were born with any inherent talent from music to athletics, most need some kind of training & practice to succeed. Artists are no exception.
Give yourself permission to start. My childhood talent got unleashed at 40 when the instructor of my 5-year-old son’s clay class agreed to let me be a part of the class. There is nothing like being around a bunch of uninhibited kindergartners to unleash your creative force. Twenty some odd years later I am still a ceramic artist.
My advice to those eager to flex their creative muscles? Go take an art class. Best yet, sit in on a children’s class. Treat art as an inquiry, not a means for a finished product. Don’t judge yourself & allow for the messy, fun process of being a beginner.
One book that was my biggest cheerleader on my creative path was Julie Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. All her books on creativity are fabulous but this one will help get you motivated. Now go forth & enjoy the journey.
Imagine you are a plant and you don’t need roots to tether you to the Earth. Instead you live in a cluster of other like-minded individuals, anchored in the canopies of trees & bushes in tropical & sub-tropical habitats. You have a great view with the company of birds & other tree dwelling animals. Forgoing roots, you inhale nutrients from soft breezes & the rain since you have developed trichomes, specialized structures on your leaves to do so. What looks like roots at your base are actually anchors that hold you to another tree or shrub. Like any other plant you can flower & make seeds but additionally you can produce “pups,”vegetative clones from your base.
Welcome to air plants, genus Tillandsia of the Bromeliad family (pineapples are bromeliads). There are approximately 650 types of Tillandsias that exist. They are the nonconformists of the plant world- maybe that’s why I love them. I had been vaguely aware of these plucky little plants from displays in specialty stores. My minor in college was botany I I always considered myself a plant geek. Then one of my 6th grade science students gave me an air plant on a holder that his mother made from a rock, wire & beads. Instantly I was smitten.
I began to imagine the possibilities of other artistic applications to combine with air plants. That was my last year of teaching before retirement. I was looking for some kind of artistic endeavor to immerse myself in post teaching that could tie in my numerous interests and perhaps generate some additional income. Thus I created ArtisanAirplants, a creative business endeavor where I could combine my work in ceramics & found objects with Tillandsias. Up went an Etsy shop and entry into art shows.
Some months later I found myself with 200 or so of these unique plants that looked like they could have escaped from another planet. I started designing pieces designed for a certain species of air plant in mind. Many of my ceramic air plant holders are intentionally twisted & bent playing off the whimsical qualities of the plants. My work often reminds people of something out of a Dr. Suess landscape. I also like to juxtapose them with non- natural objects such as vintage tools & hardware.
On travels around Oregon & beyond I am always on the lookout for what universe has to offer me for my art. You might find me frequenting thrift stores & garage sales for unusual accessories. My kayak & backpack will often be loaded down with rocks and other interesting pieces of flotsam & jetsam to use for pieces. Treasure hunting is an integral part of my artistic process.
If you are a plant lover, one great thing about Tillandsias are that they are so small that you can have lots of them. They adorn several of my window sills, walls, and hang over my kitchen sink. I have a living bathroom “curtain” made of Spanish moss. Kids love them. I tell my kid customers that they are easier to take care of than a hamster.
There is a sad misconception that abounds that Tillandsias need little or no care. If you do decide to bring air plants into your home, please be aware that they need care similar to a houseplant, ie proper lighting, ventilation, & watering. The main difference is that since they forgo soil, you need to water them by soaking & misting. Avoid buying from big box stores as they don’t know how to care for them properly. You best bet is a specialty plant store or an online air plant company.
Consider them the next time you go to buy a gift, for a loved one or yourself. They will make happy company.
Weekly Photo Challenge
Weekly photo challenge