I have been creative as long as I can remember.
One of my first creative memories was when I was in grade one. I had to sculpt a person out of vegetables and toothpicks as a companion project for the children’s fable, ‘Stone Soup’. My vegetable sculpture was a success and I was called in front of the school assembly to show off my work. I remember feeling SO proud that anyone would be interested in anything I had made!
I also remember an interest in entrepreneurship. When I was in grade five, our teacher developed a good behaviour reward system. At the end of every 2 weeks, we would go to the ‘store’ and buy trinkets with tokens that we had earned for positive behaviours. As it was a few weeks before Father’s Day, I decided to make my dad a pop-up card in my free time. My friend Ian, who sat behind me in class, asked to buy it with one of his tokens, so he could give the card to HIS dad for Father’s Day. Within a week I had a booming business selling paper crafts. There was so much demand that I had to hire and teach a friend how to make the craft to keep up with supply.
‘Store’ day eventually approached. My teacher eagerly set up his trinkets only to realize that none of the students had any tokens to spend! He quickly discovered that I had his entire currency in my desk and immediately confiscated all of it. He was so mad. So much for celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit!
As I continued through childhood and into my teenage years, my voracious appetite for creating, specifically anything to do with arts and crafts, grew tremendously.
I found people who would teach me, and when I couldn’t, I would take books out of the library or buy whatever craft books I could find at thrift stores. If I couldn’t find a book or instructions, I would try the craft anyway and cross my fingers. I’m pretty sure if you named a craft, I have at least, made an attempt at it. Even the obscure ones. Try me….Once, I made an entire family of corn husk dolls…
Something that has helped shape me as an artist is environmental awareness. Ever since I can remember I’ve had a keen affinity for nature. The thought of pollution was as devastating to me then, as it is now. Of course, we are in a much worse situation than my 5-year-old brain could even imagine, but it has had a reaching affect on my art. I always try to upcycle (using discarded or unwanted items to make something new) and try to use sustainable practices in all areas of my life, especially my art. Gardening to me is another form of my creative expression; a symbiotic relationship in which I tend the earth and it rewards me and my family with sustenance and beauty.
I have to take a moment to mention my parents. They are without a doubt, one of the biggest influences in my quest for knowledge in the creative/practical arts. My father is a ‘jack of all trades’ and an actual journeyman of 3. He can fix almost anything. He gutted and rebuilt 2 of my childhood homes and there wasn’t any home improvement DIY he wouldn’t attempt. He researched when he was unsure and always trusted his uncanny ability to figure out how to make things work. I was a helper for many of his projects and got to watch true problem solving in action. My mother is artistic and brought me to my first art lesson at the Art Gallery of Alberta when I was 5. I remember taking my first adult water colour class with her when I was 10. She also taught me how to sew clothes, cook, and preserve food. Both my parents are garden enthusiasts and taught me and all of my siblings how to sow, tend and harvest a garden.
My whole life has been one of a creator and artist. It is who I am.
I haven’t always been confident in my abilities and only started referring to myself as an artist a few years ago. I didn’t think a stay at home mom, who dabbled (I’ll admit, excessively) in crafts, qualified as a ‘real artist’. My transition from ‘dabbler’ to artist/entrepreneur started when I stumbled onto a little business idea a few years ago when I was trying to decide on a baby shower gift for a friend. I had no money so I scoured my house for materials for something I could make. My husband had a beautiful green wool sweater that was tossed in the giveaway bag because it had shrunk in the dryer. I grabbed it, cut it up and in an afternoon I had made a cute hand crafted teddy bear. It was a hit! I started buying as many cheap wool sweaters as I could and made every sort of art and craft that can be made with felt. I started booking craft shows and was quite successful. A few more babies arrived and while I had to put my upcycled sweater business on hold, I never stopped experimenting with other mediums of arts and crafts.
I realized a few years ago that I couldn’t expect anyone to give me the ‘artist’ credit unless I first believed it myself. I started calling myself an artist and almost immediately the artistic opportunities started to grow. As the opportunities come along, even when I am unsure of my capabilities, I try to remember that all I need to be successful is the ability to teach myself through research, ask for advice from other artists, use trial and error, rely on my creativity and problem solving skills, and most of all, to work exceptionally hard to do my absolute best.
Something that has been integral to my creative experience are the people who joined my creative journeys, whether as a teacher, a peer, or student.
My closest friends were mercilessly ensnared in my crazy crafting escapades. One favourite memory in particular: when I was 9, as my dad was renovating our house, I stole tools, nails and wood, and hid under the porch with a friend trying to build a drafting desk so I would have a ‘proper’ place to draw. The plan may have worked if I hadn’t, ever so slightly, sawed into my hand.
My closest friends were also my earliest students.I taught them how to crochet or would have impromptu craft parties. Everyone would walk away proudly with something they had created and excited by their new skill. When I was in college, I taught a bunch of students to crochet, to the point that the faculty had to ban crocheting in class so students would take notes and pay better attention to the lecturer! Now, when I have the chance, I love having friends over for craft parties. I love sharing my knowledge and it gives me so much joy to be able to teach someone a skill and then see them own that skill.
Becoming a mom has given me a completely different appreciation for arts and crafts as I get to explore creative activities with my kids. Art is such a huge part of our lives and it is the go-to activity for my kids. They spend hours EVERY DAY sketching, drawing, and sculpting. Learning new ways to integrate creativity into my kids lives, and developing art curriculum to teach them, has given me a whole new passion for creativity.
My biggest motivation in starting this blog was to record my DIY adventures in order to find ways to connect with like-minded creators, to encourage anyone who stumbles across this site, that they were born to create, and to give them practical ideas and advice on how to do it.
I am so excited to document my journeys in arts, crafts, home decor, kids arts and crafts, upcycling, sustainable living, gardening, preserving, my attempts at urban homesteading, as well as candidly discuss how I effectively use creativity to combat mental disorders. I would love for you to follow me on Renaissance Revival’s Facebook page in order to see updates for new posts.
I would also love to hear from you! Feel free to comment on the blog, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would really love to hear your feedback and start some conversations!