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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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Summer Creativity – Cardboard

Summer Creativity  Cardboard

A while ago, I wrote a post on a book that had captured my imagination when I was a kid about a girl with a cardboard box and all of the things that she did with it. I imagined all of the things that I could do with a cardboard box – if only my mom would get one large enough for me!  Through the years, I used boxes for dollhouses and furniture and sets for carport plays.

Recently, I found this video about a little boy’s imagination, and I was ASTOUNDED!!

(I know, I know, I am late on the trend, but after showing the videos to my girls, they ran out to make something. What a great change from the “I’m bored” I’m already getting this summer!)

What a kid! What a great dad to allow him to build it all!  I also want to shout out to the filmmaker for seeing such amazing potential in the creativity!

If your kids are bored this summer, what could they do with some cardboard, tape, and a little imagination?

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Shared Human Experience Reflected in Art

This has been quite an amazing year for me. My father passed away on November 24, 2012 and my daughter was born on October 15, 2013.  When Dad passed two days after Thanksgiving last year, I could have never guessed that less than a year later I would hold a new baby in my arms.  What a blessing she has been, and both the pregnancy and her birth has helped me ease through the past year and the anniversary of his death.

This morning, I came across this phenomenal performance by the Hungarian Dance troupe, Attraction, that mirrored my own experience, and I had to share it. (The group was the winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2013).

It is so amazing to me that their beautiful and emotional performance is one that can reach across language and culture and can help comfort me, even as I relive and process this year of life events.  

Just this weekend, I spoke with a friend who is dealing with her mother’s cancer.  She basically said, “How can I be a mom if I lose my mom, my source of comfort and knowledge?” I felt the same about my Dad, my human search engine, cheerleader, and source of all knowledge and help.  Others have come and with their talents and love have helped to fill in the gaps.  It will never be the same, but now I know that I need to make my children my friends and my support in the way that Dad was to me.  I may not have him, but I will have them, and I can be (in part) to them, what he was to me.

When Dad passed, I was shocked when we showed up at the viewing and found that there were flowers all over the social hall, which had been sent, mostly, by others who had tragically lost someone early.  I found comfort in friends who also had lost their parents too early.  Now I know how to comfort those who have lost.  Maybe that is the reason that we have shared human experiences, so that we can understand each other.  So that we can know that we are not alone.  And, so that we can help each other deal with both the difficult moments that life brings and the joyful ones.

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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 Comedy

I have just found a new comedy sketch show called Studio C.  It is so funny, so creative, and wonderfully, I can watch it with my kids and not cringe in uncomfortable moments (you know the ones when you wish your kids didn’t just ask you, “Mommy, what does … mean?”).   It’s easy to just resort to toilet humor, and other distasteful items, but in order to have this kind of material, the writers and actors need some serious creative skills!  Now of course, some of the sketches aren’t funny (you can’t win them all) and sometimes they go for a silly punch line, but overall, I have been most impressed with their work.

So kudos to the writers, cast, and crew and the creativity and hard work that goes into producing great material.  Hope you enjoy one of my favorite sketches about a young college freshman and his roommates.  (I laughed so hard, I cried at the creepy, eerie, and wonderfully funny Spencer).

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Book Review: Flora and the Flamingo

Molly Idle’s Flora and the Flamingo is such an enchanting book – and absolutely wordless.  Now, as a writer – I am a huge fan of words, but this book is an absolute FEAST for the eyes.  My preschooler (who is getting tired of all of the ABC’s and “sound this out” that I’ve been feeding her lately) was thrilled with a book that she could lyricise.

See for yourself –

But I will give a quick warning, however, it is not for the younger babies.  There are wonderful tabs that you pull down to reveal more pictures that young ones will thrill at pulling off the book, thus destroying the masterpiece.

I’ve also become a fan of Molly Idle who was an artist at DreamWorks and has now jumped into children’s book illustrations – you can find her website here.

Blue Boy GainsboroughI am amazed at illustrators and the stories that pictures can make.  Sometimes I will go to a writer’s conference and I’ll hang out in the illustrator panels or spend time in the art galleries.  There is so much that a picture can say, and with each person, it can be a different story. I remember that my 4th grade teacher had us write the story behind Thomas Gainsborough’s Little Blue Boy (see the picture on the left).  I can’t remember the story that I wrote, but I remember looking at the picture and thinking, Who is this? What is his story? Today I think I’ll write the story of why his stomach is poking out and where the missing button went!

(My husband just said, “He ate too many mince pies, and when he was at high tea, his button popped off and hit Aunt Adelaide in the eye!” I’m crying laughing!!!)

I think I’ve thought of some fantastic creative ideas for the long summer that we have looming before us.  I only say looming, because I do NOT want the summer to be a TV festival for my girls!  Any ideas for the pictures I should use?