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Creative People: The Ostlers – a family creating together

One of the things that I admire most about my sister (and there are a lot of things) is that she has a TOTAL mother-heart. She and her hubby LOVE their family and they love to be together, which is wonderful, but can be problematic when you are trying to make your artistic dreams come true! Both she and her husband are incredibly creative people. Fiona writes novels and has a theater background (including acting, writing and directing) and is amazingly musical (songs just pop into her mind – wow!) Bret is an artist, I mean everything that the man touches turns into art! He does photography, draws, writes poetry, and is very musical. As a married couple, each has supported the other in their aspirations – he has a band, she a writing career.

But recently, they came up with a BRILLIANT idea. What would happen if they created together? What if they involved the whole family in creating together? That way they could work on their dreams, talents, and passions, but have family fun as well (and teach the kids valuable lessons about creativity). The solution? The Bret and Fiona Show. It’s a YouTube family comedy sketch show. They involve everyone, create original songs, write and produce, film and edit.  It’s truly amazing to think about how much those kids are going to learn about the creative process!!!

Here’s their first season –

1. Family Band: in which Bret quits his job in order to start a family band.

2. We Have Cookies: in which Bret is unable to get his job back, but finds a silver lining in a bad situation.

3. Fiona Strikes Back: in which Fiona uses her musical ability to slap some sense into Bret.

4. The Mommy List: in which Fiona goes back to work and leaves Bret in charge of the home.

5. Staycation: in which Bret can’t stand being a stay-at-home dad and moves the family into a hotel.

6. Travel Agent: in which Fiona loses her job and only writing a song can bring her out of her sadness.

I put in my favorite videos, although they’re all fun and there are some holiday special songs as well. Check out all of their shows through the links above.

It led me to think for a long time about what I could do with my girls. What would be a creative activity that we could all do together? One that will be fun, teach them some skills, help us to learn to work together, and fit into our time and money budgets – but most importantly be something that I am passionate about creating. I think I’ve come up with the right fit, which I will write about soon.

What about you? What can you and your family to create together?  With summer coming up, this is the perfect time to do something wonderful together!

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Creative People: Sonia Singh and the Tree Change Dolls

I have been so impressed by Sonia Singh’s Tree Change Dolls (see the video below) –

I especially loved the looks on the girl’s faces as they held and played with their dolls. One of the girls said, “They kind of look like they’re the same age as you,” and you could see that in their play. I think that the innocence of childhood is so beautiful and should be protected and nurtured. While I do prepare my children for the world that they live in, I am very careful in the way that I prepare them. I have had a very hard time choosing dolls for them and the girls and I have gone the rounds about which toys I’ll buy. In fact, I fell in love with Fanny, by Hollie Hobbie for that very reason, (see this post on my book review).

Sonia talked about the fact that her intention wasn’t to make a statement about the sexualization of girl’s toys, but as her work has become viral, it has created a debate and I believe that part of that is, as her husband said, “They really look lovely this way.” It’s true. There is a sweetness to the dolls. And, it does reflect a choice that the toy manufacturers are making. Based on at least some of the debate (and many of the mothers out there) it seems that a lot more people would also like to have dolls that are sweet and simple. I do love American Girl Dolls for that reason, but they are quite expensive, and this is a great way to save the expense, create, and teach some valuable lessons all at once.

It’s clear that Sonia’s main purpose was to make a statement about upcycling and reusing (as evidenced in her own words, but also in the name that she chose for the company). I am struck by the message that she has given both about choice and about creativity. Knowing that she can’t become a doll manufacturer on the scale of a toy company, she runs an etsy store and has created some videos encouraging others to create their own dolls. On her tumbler site, she encourages others to create saying,

I encourage others to recycle and upcylce old dolls and toys. Do it yourself, do it with friends, do it with children and others in your family, do it with strangers. There are so many plastic dolls already made that could still be played with and could inspire the creative minds of children with a little attention and creativity.

She also points others to some Do It Yourself videos on how to do a doll “makeunder”. The first is on how to remove the paint and change the face of the dolls –

and then she has one on what to do about missing feet and/or shoes, that one uses chemicals and is not recommended for children, but is interesting to watch –

I am so edified by this! I sometimes forget that I still have a choice and can fix the things that I don’t like in the world. We can change our clothes, toys, media, etc. and create things that are uplifting and wholesome in the world around us. Thank you Sonia for such a brilliant idea and for encouraging others to create as well!

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Be “that” Dad! (Or, Let’s all channel the inner creator – which is what the post ends up being about.)

Recently I ran across “the Dad that draws on sandwich bags,” David Laferriere, a designer and illustrator whCreative Dado creates art with a sharpie and a ziploc baggie, so that everyday when his kids open their lunches at school, they are met with something amazing!

Check out a video about him here and links to his website and his flickr account which is definitely worth a look.

In the video, he stated that “it was a way to kick-start his creative juices in the morning” which is such a win-win! Be creative, show love to the kids, become listed as one of the world’s greatest Dads. NICE!

My first thought today is, “in what ways can I creatively show my kids that I love them?” I know that whenever my Mom sent me a note in my  school lunch, I relished it.  Just a simple little, “Have a lovely day, my treasure. XOXO, Mummy” (My mom has a British background. 😉 ).

I am more of a mediocre artist, so as I studied this amazing Dad, I began to think about things that I like to do creatively and how I could use those creative juices in a way that would show my love?  Kids are excited when they are the center of attention. What a great way to bond with them.  I decided to pull out the old (and some new) poems that I wrote about them when they were toddlers, dust them off, add a layer of polish and see if it will make them smile.  Here’s one –

Ruby in her red galoshes
In the wet and mud she sploshes,
In the tub when she washes,
At the table, munch and moshes.
Sploshes, washes, moshes – 
Ruby loves her red galoshes!

Until …
Ruby spies pink glitter slippers,
Though this time she is much hipper,
As the shoe is much, much quicker,
And it matches the skirt with zippers.
Hipper, quicker, zipper – 
Ruby loves pink glitter slippers.

Until …
Ruby spies the green high heel
Now, this is the real deal!
Matches it with a dress of teal,
Twirls and she gives a squeal!
Deal, teal, squeal – 
Ruby loves mom’s big high heels.

Until …

Okay, it’s silly, I know. But there are a couple of things I want to say here about creation.

  1. I LOVED writing that. It was silly, and fun, and I loved the spark of imagination that came as I wrote.
  2. I am PETRIFIED to share it. You can tell because I practically apologized for it right after I shared it (I said, “Okay, it’s silly, I know”.) If I had more courage in my own creative abilities, I’d say something like – “Did you want me to sign a copy of that poem for you?  ‘Cause that’s gold!”

Why do we doubt our abilities? (Ok, maybe I’m making that statement too general. Maybe you are different and everything that you do is amazing.  If so, that’s awesome! Ride that pony, keep creating!) For the rest of us … I’ve noticed something about a lot of my students. When I push the ones that have undeclared majors on what they would really like to study, they usually say something like interior design, or cooking. But they blush and say it under their breath.

Why is that, I wonder? I’m not judging them for cooking. I’m not thinking “How dare you want to major in cooking!  Go back to the social status that you were born into – to be a stable boy. Your father was a stable boy, your grandfather was a stable boy, and so shall you be. There will be no dreams here …” It’s not happening. Usually, I’m wondering if somewhere there will be a pastry in it  for me. 😉

When I went to college, I finally got the courage to take a few creative writing classes (which I reveled in) and some theater classes (which I loved almost equally). But, I was too scared to major in creative writing or theater. I’m happy with the path that my life went on, but I counsel everyone to study what they love.  You will excel when you are doing what you love, not what just what you think will make money, because if you hate it when you’re doing it, you won’t make money in it anyway. Yes, you know that I’m right on this. Just think about “that” doctor at the clinic that no one wants to go to because he/she is a misery to be around.

For those of us who already have a path (college degree, work, family, etc.), practice your creative dreams! Practice on your children, who think the world of you, anyway (especially if you create for or with them). Practice on a blog that mom and only your most loyal friends will read.  Dare yourself to perform at an open mic night, or a community play (you can pull off that English accent!) Practice on sandwich bags, or soccer fields as a coach (where you can create those magic plays that only you can dream up).  But most importantly, engage your children with you in your creativity. It will give you opportunities to bond, to talk, to dream together. Each of my older daughters is now writing a book, as in “Mom, can I borrow the computer? I have to work on my book.”  Then we read our writing to each other and discuss plot, character, settings, etc.

Maybe in doing this we and our children will become creators rather than just consumers, (that’s a win for kids who are glued to devices all day!)  Maybe we can get closer to that child who is having a hard time. Maybe we can gain courage in our abilities and talents. Maybe we could be able to have that spark of inspiration fill our souls a little every day.  Now, that would be awesome!

Ruby's Shoes

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Creative Chocolate Chip Cookies

Can you even believe this? My dear friend (who is amazingly creative in the kitchen) just gathered and posted 100 chocolate Chip Cookie recipes (some are hers, and some from friends all over the blogosphere!)

CCC-collage-1I am in awe of her creativity and her passion.

Click on the picture above and find yourself in an amazing world of chocolate and yum.

There are cookies for the Healthier eater (Healthy Avocado Chocolate Chip) and cookies for the “I don’t care I’m having my bacon anyway” eaters (Bacon Chocolate Chip cookies) and some for everyone in-between! (My choice is the caramel stuffed chocolate chunk cookies – ’cause I’m a sugar overload kind-of snacker!)

While you’re at it, check out Jen’s site. She has worked so hard at creating amazing recipes.

Here are a few –

  • Frozen Hot Chocolate, (what a great summer treat!)
  • Orange Sugar Cookies (that are DIVINE! I make them every year)10 Mocktails Kindle cover
  • Soft Pretzels (My hubby just saw these and started drooling!  Jen pairs them with a cheesy mustard dip. One day I’m going to request just a warm cheese dip).

There are dips, breakfasts, beverages and so many desserts that you will get LOST on her site.

She also has an amazing ebook (perfect for those family summer parties), 10 Summer Mocktails a steal at $0.99!

Jen Stott – (of Jen’s Favorite Cookies) you get the Creative Cook award!!!

 

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Paper Doll Palooza and Interview with Creator Cory Jensen

Sof with paperdolls

When I was in kindergarten, I got the chicken pox and was home on the couch for a week.  (Now, thankfully, my children will never Golflex fashion 1920know that “joy” due to the chicken pox vaccine, but I digress.)  My grandma and mom tried to help cheer me up and pass the time by making homemade paper dolls.  They tried to make the magazines of the day work , but the images were not like those of yesteryear.  When they were young, the girls in the magazines could be cut out and homemade paper dolls created because the pictures and drawings were roughly the same size and it was easy to make them fit together (see the advertisement for goldflex frocks).  Though we couldn’t make it work with the 1980’s magazines, that memory was the catalyst for my fascination with paper dolls.  On my sick bed, I imagined the gorgeous styles, clothes, and scenery and how I would play with them.

Fast forward to the computer age and my own children.  It is so easy to find beautiful paper dolls online that talented artists have created to be shared.  As we were searching, we came across some of the most beautiful images that I have seen.  My daughter went CRAZY!!!

I mean look at these:

Cory Jensen - Aladdin1

Cory Jensen - Aladdin2

GORGEOUS! Right?

An artist named Cory Jensen has a facebook page dedicated to paper dolls that he’s created.  He takes no money for them (as they are fan-based), but I think that it is a wonderful way to build a resume – and I’m sure that with his amazing talents, he will go far!

I contacted Cory in order to write this post and he was so willing to share some information about his creations and talent.  He modestly said that he didn’t have any professional training and wasn’t a professional artist, but I’m sure you’ll agree with me that he is a talented artist nonetheless.

1. How long have you been an artist?

I have been interested in art my whole life and I have been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil! So minus the 2 years where I could only scribble, I would say I’ve been an artist for 20 years!

2. Where did you get your training?

As I said, I have never had any actual training or schooling in art…yet. Although, I would like to attend an art school in the near future. I never even took art classes in high school, which I do regret. I watched all the Disney classics when I was a kid and I was in awe of how the drawings literally came to came to life on the screen! So even without realizing it, from a young age I was studying these movies and learning the basics of art. Obviously, Disney movies have remained a big part of my life and I continue to study them as well as the work of countless artists. So, I wouldn’t say I am self-taught, but taught by hundreds.

3. Do you do “Paper Dolls, by Cory” for a living, or for fun?

As of right now “Paper Dolls by Cory” is something I do for fun. I started making these “retro” style paper dolls several years ago and posting them on my DeviantArt page. People seemed to like them and I liked making them so I started “Paper Dolls by Cory” to reach more people. I would like to make a living of making these paper dolls but because most of the dolls I make are of copyrighted characters I don’t feel comfortable selling them. I would, however, like to create original paper dolls and sell those in the future. But for now, knowing that people enjoy my work is enough for me!

4. Are your paper dolls hand drawn or do you use a program on the computer?

 I start off the dolls by hand drawing very rough pencil sketches which I then scan into my computer. Usually, the first sketch is far from perfect so I scribble several notes on what needs to be adjusted on the computer (i.e. slight pose changes, and proportions.) After I scan them I start using a program called PaintShopPro 9, which is essentially a less expensive Photoshop. I also use a Wacom Bambo Create pen tablet to more easily draw and color on the computer.

5. What other types of artistic work do you do?

 Almost all of the art work I do is done digitally. But I am always sketching ideas in my sketchbook and even on receipt paper from where I work…they don’t like that too much…ha ha I love to draw people! Whether it is a Disney character, someone I know, or just someone I thought of. My goal when I draw a character is to convey an emotion, from the eyes and facial features, to the pose and gestures. I feel like I have done good work if someone looks at a piece of art I’ve done and they feel something.

6. What advice do you have for kids who are interested in becoming artists one day?

Explore the world around you! Find what interests you, draw it, and study it. Draw what you see and how you see it. Make the world your own! I’ve found that another good way to learn about art is to look at other artists’ work. Study their technique, ask questions like “why did they draw that expression?” or “why did they use that color?” Let them inspire you, but find your own artistic voice and style.

7. If someone wanted to purchase a set of your paper dolls, or commission some work, where could they go?

 I don’t yet have paper dolls available for sale, nor am I currently taking commissions, but when I do the information will be available on my Facebook page.

I want to wish Cory the best of luck for his future and thank him for the hours of fun that my daughters had with his creations.  I know that he will go far!

  • Do you ever do paper crafts (or Paper dolls) with your kids?
  • What are your favorites?
  • When I was young, my brother had a set of Cowboy and Indian paper villages.  Any other great ideas for boys?
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Creative Homeless

This, I know, is an odd post to write, but I’ve been noticing a trend among the homeless in our city lately, and it’s a breath of fresh air. They have been waving and smiling and trying to brighten our days.

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I love this guy, and you better believe that when I have cash on me I give him what I can. It’s not just him though, I’ve seen others that have been doing similar things to spread good will. Just wanted to celebrate the creativity, and the joy that he spreads. Thank you, sir, for having optimism even in desperate situations.

And now on a completely personal note-
I haven’t been posting lately. For that I’m sorry, but my dad died, and so the last few months have been very packed. You can read more about it on my light refreshments blog.

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Childhood Creativity Leads to Education

stella-erhart

I mage courtesy of The Ehrhart Family via the Huffington post, and CNN.

I just read a series of reports on an eight-year-old, Stella Ehrhart,  from Omaha, Nebraska who dresses up for school everyday as a different historical female figure or other character.  According to several articles, she said that she wants to dress up as people that she wishes to emulate and has dressed as Grace Kelly, Rosa Parks, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Billie Holiday, just to name a few.   They say that she opens her book about Influential Women and then opens her closet and creatively finds a way to dress like that person.  The costumes aren’t necessarily expensive or over-the-top, she just finds simple ways to represent someone.  The teachers use it as a way to do some impromptu history teaching.

I am so impressed with her drive and creativity and the support shown from parents, teachers, and classmates.  When so many young girls today are unwittingly dressing up to emulate movie stars and pop icons what a commendable way to express creativity, especially in such a productive and educational way.  Bravo Stella!

Read more about her in these links: