Thursday, 25 February 2021

Exploring the creativity of the #CreativeLife (Part 4 of 4)

Creativity is Community

The post today might seem counter-intuitive to you because painting a canvas or writing a novel is usually a solo event. How does a community come into play in a creative life?

I think most people could appreciate the fact that the author needs the services of an editor and cover designer, but these are professional services usually paid for. If your concept of a community follows the same interpretation as mine, you are thinking of people on a creative path sharing the experience of creating, if not together, then in togetherness.

No one can create for someone else, but being there in a supportive role can provide the necessary structure for both the new artist and the experienced creator.

How the community forms and supports its members

#CreativeLife, Linzé Brandon, tag with abstract rose drawing tattoo style
Linzé's February 2021 tag
for the rose prompt

When I first started writing I had no clue what I was doing and I had no one else to turn to ask any questions, so I learned from books. But even the best books on creative writing, cannot tell me what is wrong with my story or how I could improve it. That changed when I did a creative writing course that included peer feedback. While it started as a nerve-wracking experience, it ended as the best thing I could have done. The feedback was useful and I learned a lot, but I also met like-minded people.

Other writers with the same need for support often required nothing more than an encouraging word or helpful suggestion. It is here that the Pretoria Writers' Group was formed.

Artist communities work on the same principle and I love watching the new artists grow as they develop their skills. I have been there too. I now belong to both writers and artists groups and was recently invited to join a Facebook group where its members are both writers and artists in their own right. Are their creative lives special in some secret way?

If I look at all the creativity happening in the daily lives around me, including my own, having more than one creative outlet is not that unusual at all. It is being part of a community of similar minds, that provides the support for its members to spread their wings irrespective of their skill levels, that makes all the difference in the success of the members in enjoying a creative life.

In March we are going to explore some of the challenges of the creative life and how to deal with them.

Until Monday, stay safe and live creatively!

●︙● Linzé  🇿🇦💜


Monday, 22 February 2021

The #CreativeLife 2021 - review of week 7

Frustrating week. I have several jobs ready for testing or finishing, but waiting for my clients to either fix something or submit the correct documents. Then there is one job where we have to get the batteries discharged. Since these are not your average phone battery, it will take time and some serious safety measures to get it done this week.

Week 7 of 2021 (calendar)

Our art group is working on a junk journal, and we decided to start with pages dedicated to a colour per page. I have done a few examples (not only with a colour theme) to get everyone inspired. Everyone is just having fun with collaging and mixed media without the pressures of producing perfection. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

The junk journal is a project that will take a few months, so I have added a fine art challenge too: abstract work in watercolour pencil. It is going to be a challenge for both the experienced artists and the newbies alike. But how else do we improve our skills, right?

With the commission also due soon, I have to confess to procrastinating a bit. I made a serious effort on Saturday, but this coming week I will have to put in the work otherwise that will be a very bad way to treat a client. Not something I want on my list of accomplishments.

I need a break, but it will not be possible this week. However, a more focused approach will help to get things done sooner, then I can take a few hours off later in the week. Now that is what I call motivation! LOL!

Stay healthy, and live creatively until Thursday!

●︙● Linzé 🇿🇦💜


Thursday, 18 February 2021

Exploring the creativity of the #CreativeLife (Part 3 of 4)

5 ways to start owning up to your creative side

Do you find it easy to own up to being a teacher, or doctor, or engineer? Then find it near impossible to tell people that you are a writer, an artist, or sculptor. Why is having a creative life such a difficult thing to put out there?

Here are 5 ways to rethink your creative life

Keyring with a tiny illuminated letter, artist Linzé Brandon
Keyring with a tiny
illuminated letter L
1. We grow up being told that a creative life is not good enough, we have to study or do something real. Since I only started my creative life as an adult, I was thankfully spared this problem, but studying engineering was definitely not something that most people of my parent's generation considered for a woman. So perhaps I was pushing back already in preparation for the life I am now living.

2. We live in a society of instant gratification. A creative outlet requires dedication, learning, time, and practice. Lots and lots and lots of practice. Which makes the instant “getting it right” not an option, no matter how many hacks, or short cuts, or secret tricks you look for. Skill comes with time, there is nothing instant about it. Without the hacks, people often give up quickly to move on to the next big thing.

3. We compare ourselves to others, thank you social media! There are hundreds (probably thousands) of YouTube, IGTV, Pinterest, and who knows how many other channels of people sharing their own creative projects. Whether it be art or other projects, what you see online is the result of other people's sweat and suffering to gain the skills they can now rightly share with the world. 

Then we pop along and compare our efforts with them, only to decide that we are worthless at watercolour painting, and go try something else, or worse give up entirely. But the internet is also useful, you might say. You would be right, but comparing yourself as a beginner to someone who has been painting for years is simply a waste of energy. If you want to use the internet as a resource to learn, then choose to follow people who are good teachers. Practice what you learn. Every day. And then step up to learn something new. Practice some more. Before you know it your skills have improved.

4. Don't throw away your “failures”. There is a channel I follow where the host says that the medium is just paper and if you don't like the result you can just throw it away. I don't agree.

Keyring with "live inspired" words and dragonflies stamped image
Keyring with "live inspired"
words and dragonflies
stamped image


I had the first pastel drawing I made framed. It is still hanging in my workshop. The reason I keep it is to see how far I have come in my journey as an artist. If you want to compare yourself to someone, compare your present skills with your past skills, and then appreciate how much you have grown.

I am not saying you have to keep every single drawing, but to have the “failures” on hand can be a huge motivation to keep practising.

5. I am an artist! It took years before I was ready to own up to being a writer. Even after my first book was published, it was difficult to get those words out. After seven years of learning and practising drawing and painting, I am now teaching others to draw and paint as well. They asked, and I decided to say yes because to teach means that I continue to learn and improve my own skills.

Saying the words out loud, even to yourself in the mirror, makes a difference to the way you can live your life. I live a creative life because I choose to do the work. I choose to practice. I choose to teach. And I choose to accept commissions because I am an artist.

Take that step today, because you have a story to write, a story to paint, a story to sculpt, a story to collage. Take the leap, because you are an artist, you deserve to live the creative life you want.

This video is a good place to help you get started.

Stay healthy, and live creatively until Monday!

●︙● Linzé 🇿🇦💜


Monday, 15 February 2021

The #CreativeLife 2021 - review of week 6

An interesting week at the lab where I had to tell a client his product failed (but the fix is on its way so holding thumbs it will pass the test this week) - not fun, but part of the job.

Also, have an interesting situation for the next product where I have to do the same test, but a completely different configuration. Have I mentioned that my professional life is not dull? LOL! I know like a million times, but it is still true though.

The #inktober52 prompt due this week is a drawing of my favourite insect, the dragonfly. I did a dragonfly last year in my Stoic journal where I drew and painted the wings on watercolour paper. I then cut them out, added a gloss layer over them and then glued them into my journal. Looks really cool, so I thought to do something similar. Instead of painting, I did the wings with black ink on tracing paper, cut them out and then glued them to the drawn body on the page of my sketchbook. Check it out on Instagram if you like dragonflies too.

I also made a keyring since I need it for a set of keys I want to keep separate from my already heavy load of keys. It has a tiny piece of art paper inside with an illuminated letter L on one side and some stamping on the other. The next moment I have an order to make 30 more. Gulp! But I look forward to creating more tiny pieces of art, so keep an eye out for that very soon.

But it's time to do some planning for this week (including making those key rings) so I am off and I will see you again soon!

Stay healthy, and live creatively until Thursday!

●︙● Linzé  🇿🇦💜


Thursday, 11 February 2021

Exploring the creativity of the #CreativeLife (Part 2 of 4)

 This week we are looking at one aspect of creativity that many people (sometimes) forget about: learning.

I love learning new things, and perhaps you do too. But many people associate learning with school where tests and exams are necessary evils. Like most of us, I didn't like those so much, although gaining the knowledge or the skills were still worth the effort.

The same goes for any creative activity. Even engineers have to think outside the box and that is creativity too.

So what have you learned recently? Maybe you don't even realise that you learned something new or improved a skill that you already possess. Learning to draw or paint is a skill that I didn't have a child. Yes, I have been doing it for about seven years now, but I had to learn to draw and paint.

The more I practice the better my skills get for sure, but the practice also has an added benefit: inspiration. Yes, I know you are thinking that inspiration is for amateurs and there is some truth to it. But improvement comes with practice, learning, and practising some more. And the more you do, the better you see the things around you that can inspire you to challenge yourself to learn more.

Portraits have always been the one thing that scared me so this year I am learning and practising and learning and practising some more. I do not want to become a professional portrait artist, but becoming more skilled at drawing people will help me become a better artist.

If you want to learn to draw but have always been too afraid to try, check out this video, it just might inspire you to pick up a pencil. Be warned, you may never want to put it down again! 😉

Stay healthy, learn something new, and live creatively until Monday!

●︙● Linzé  🇿🇦💖



Monday, 8 February 2021

The #CreativeLife 2021 - review of week 5

 I am sure you are familiar with the expression “it never rains when it pours”, and that is what we have been building up to at the lab since the start of the year. Assessing equipment from various clients to provide them with quotations for the tests that they require for both local and export markets.

It has become a predictable game for us: slow starts and then suddenly almost everyone submits the work at the same time and we are overwhelmed. It is what the rest of this month looks like on my work schedule. Since we have been working nearly all through 2020, it is necessary to also take time to properly plan downtime. Being overwhelmed causes anxiety (at least for me) that can be avoided with a well thought out schedule.

Creativity is not just about art or writing for me, because of this often unpredictability of my work. Of course, planning may seem to be something we do everyday, but thinking about the test schedule instead of jumping in can help to get things done without the anxiety that comes from too much to do, and to little time to get it done.

Getting things done is also satisfying when an ink and watercolour painting now sits in my portfolio, instead of on my drawing board. Not my best work I think, but not finishing it was worse than a few mistakes here and there that I do better on with the next project. Learning is part of creativity, otherwise we stagnate.

Other than mentioning that my monthly newsletter also comes out today, I can report that I am also working on a junk journal of sorts. Stay tuned to see what those pages look when it is done. And it will not be vintage alone, I can promise you that! 😅

Stay healthy, and live creatively until Thursday!

●︙● Linzé 🇿🇦💜

PS: I drew a gryphon for inktober52 this week. I also have a book with a gryphon as the main character. Follow the links if you are curious. 


Thursday, 4 February 2021

Exploring the creativity of the #CreativeLife (Part 1 of 4)

 This month we are going explore creativity a bit more. What is creativity and how does it work. We are also going to explore some things that many people do not consider to be a creative activity but when you understand the fundamental idea, you might change your mind too (as I did).

Today we are looking at how creativity is defined by multiple sources.

CREATIVE: “Creating, able to create, inventive, imaginative, showing imagination as well as routine skill.” (Oxford Concise Dictionary, 1983)

CREATIVE: “Involving the use of skill and the imagination to produce something new or a work or art; having the skill and ability to produce something new, especially a work of art.” (Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, 2015)

CREATIVITY: “Creativity is an action, not a feeling.” (The Practice, Seth Godin, 2020)

Commit yourself to do the work instead of waiting for some feeling to tell you that its time to create. (paraphrased from The Practice)

CREATIVITY: “Creativity, ..., is a process by which a symbolic domain in the culture is changed.” (Creativity, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, 2013 ed)

Note: a symbolic domain is described as music, physics, art, etc.

Our daily supply of attention is limited and we need to decided how much of this limited resource we are going to spend on the creative process. Because it is a learning process. We need to learn the fundamentals before we can create something new.

🎻 A musician learns musical notation, instrument skills, understand the genre, then create.

📚 A writer learns what makes for good storytelling, style, grammar, plot, dialogue and so on, and then creates the manuscript.

🎨 The artist learns to draw, how to use the tools, studies styles and techniques, and mediums and then creates. (paraphrased with a few extra examples.)

That's a real mouthful, but next time we will leave the academics behind and explore creativity from a practical perspective.

Stay healthy, and live creatively until Monday!

●︙● Linzé 🇿🇦💜

PS: Newsletter out next Monday.


Monday, 1 February 2021

The #CreativeLife 2021- review of week 4

The week started off all guns blazing or is it all radars scanning? LOL! I am busy testing a golf ball tracking radar, and after carrying it around for a bit on Friday, I can attest to the fact that it is heavy. Good exercise! 😂
   We had our tag challenge due this week and I am happy with how mine turned out. I used a serviette, textured paste with a stencil, and then painted it with gold acrylics to add some accents. The challenge for February is going to be fun too. I created the tag challenge because the tags are small and small projects are less intimidating.
Art art, mixed media small art, paper art, violin with musical notes, Linzé Brandon
My January tag

   With more work coming in soon, I had to spend some time helping to work out a few quotations for a company that manufacturers a huge range of products. Will be fun to get those products in the lab soon.
   If you read the news recently you will have seen that South Africa was hit by a tropical storm that hit land in Mozambique to the east of us. Where I live we have only been receiving loads of rain, although the parts of the country directly bordering Mozambique have been hit hard by floods and high winds. If you are a praying person, please think of the people who were hit by this disaster on top of the current pandemic.
  
   I promised to keep these posts short, so I am stopping here, for now. In February we are going explore creativity a bit more, so remember to subscribe to be notified when the post is live.

   I am also going to add a link or two from people or websites that you might like to follow if you are a crafter, artist, or creative person who likes to learn new things like I do.

In the meantime you can check out this course about Becoming Creative on Udemy.com (I get no financial benefits if you decide to purchase this course, I just liked it.)

Stay healthy, and live creatively until Thursday!

●︙● Linzé 🇿🇦💜

The CreativeLife in review - planning, time management, and the creative life

  Hey there, creative friend! It's been a week or more since my last post but mostly because I have been taking time to do other things....