Creative Tip: Take a Field Trip

One of the best motivators to clean your house is to invite guests over. Am I right? Well, the same goes for visiting nearby museums. Sometimes it takes a visitor to get you out the door.

That’s what happened this weekend. It’s been forever since I’ve trekked (all of 18 miles) up to Bentonville to visit Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. When family came to visit this weekend to celebrate my father-in-law’s 80th birthday, we decided to spend a day touring the museum. #bestdecisionever

State of the ArtRight now CB has an exhibit called State of the Art, which is incredible. It’s only here until Jan. 19th, so I would have kicked myself if I missed the chance to see this American wonder.

To quote the ads, “Over the course of a year, the (curatorial) team logged more than 100,000 miles across the United States and visited nearly 1,000 artists looking for people who haven’t been fully recognized on a national level, yet.”

The result is an exhibition that draws from every region of the country and offers a diverse look at American art. Everyone should have a chance to review and absorb this beauty. The museum feels this way, too, which is why admission is free of charge.

This field trip did wonders for my creative spirit. I didn’t realize how stagnant I was until I saw such inventive and thoughtful art.

I snapped a few pics of my faves to share. It was tough narrowing these down, though.

Compilation

(L to R) 1. Avery & Clara in the crocheted tunnel by Jelia Gueramian; 2. Hand-cut paper moth by Hiromi Mizugai Moneyhun; 3. “Forever” by John Salvest made with secondhand romance novels; 4. “World Map” by Emily Erb made with dye on silk. I wanted to wrap myself in this veil of softness – but that would have ended our visit all too soon.

Forever Books

A close look at some of the books in “Forever”.

crochet tunnel

A wide shot of the crochet tunnel. It was wild and colorful – like a page out of a Dr. Seuss book.

Lottery Tickets

“Ghost of a Dream” by Adam Eckstrom and Lauren Was made with discarded lottery tickets. There’s a closeup pic on the bottom. Can you believe someone found beauty in a scratch ticket?

Ghosts of Consumption

Here’s another ghostly image. “Ghosts of Consumption” consists of objects and trash found in ocean water off the coasts of Hawaii, Alaska, Greece and Costa Rica. I spy a bike petal. Whaat?

 

Telescope

A telescope made from holes in the drywall by Chris Sauter. Brandon had to point out how this was made – and it was even cooler once I made the connection to the wall. Thanks, sweet B.

Circle

I was really drawn to this painting by Kelsey Brookes. It’s reminiscent of 60s culture, and the center of the painting “moves” as you walk past the art. Super interesting.

Compilation2

I love this collection pulled together in one picture. (L to R) 1. Emergent” by Isabella Kirkland, an artist and scientist who has documented endangered and extinct animals; 2. Daffodils encased in glass composite by Flora Mace; 3. “Anthropocene 1” by Pam Longobardi painted on copper

Stairwell of String

This pic was snapped in the stairwell where hundreds (maybe thousands?) of multicolored threads were stretched from wall-to-wall creating a gorgeous spectrum by artist Gabriel Dawe. A sight to see!

While the tour ended here, the impact of the outing has stayed with me. I was reminded how important it is to get out of our comfortable homes and workplaces every now and then to see what the rest of the world is up to. I certainly I felt a jolt of inspiration on this visit, and I wish this upon every creative soul out there (and that includes you).

When I started this creativity blog, I told Brandon how sad it is to hear people say, “Oh, I’m not creative.” That simply isn’t true, and I want to help people connect back to their creativity.

If you woke up and dressed yourself today, you are creative. Look at the fabrics, the colors, the accessories, and the way you styled your hair. You made creative decisions all morning! The secret is to recognize and be grateful for your expressions – and more opportunities to feel this way will show up.

It’s okay to start off by following other people’s lead. My daughter Avery came home from our field trip and started painting her own version of Sonya Clark’s “Albers Interaction” series.

Avery's Art

Avery’s painting is at the top. The bottom art is by Sonya Clark who wrapped colored thread around stacks of hair combs. Clark actually makes a direct reference to Modernist painter Josef Albers and his “Homage to the Square”. So it’s like inspiration inception!

Avery started to dismiss her work by saying she just copied what she saw. I told her that her work is just as important because she made it her own. Once she got it, she felt inspired to keep going. That’s the point. Keep going. See what new paths you can carve, and don’t stop there. Even if it takes being inspired by someone else to get you started.

Trust in yourself and your creative voice. It knows the answer to everything. Sometimes it just takes stepping out for a bit to hear what’s inside.

Avery Admiration

Avery contemplating our visit at the museum  – or just looking for some fish 😉

What’s your favorite place to visit for inspiration? Share with us here, on Twitter or Instagram. Use #CreativeTipTues or tag me @Katejandersen.

Most creative wishes to you!

-Kate

Share

Start the Year with a Vision Board

Yogi Berra quote

I’ve always liked this quote. It’s funny, yet carries buckets of truth.

January is one of the most inspiring months. It delivers a fresh start filled with hope for an exciting year. My husband and I have a tradition each December where we wake up early on a Saturday (which we did this past weekend!), brew a few cups of coffee and plan for the year ahead.

We love our coffee visits. Any time. Any place.

We love our coffee visits. Any time. Any place.

Brandon enjoys planning as much as I do. We’re not overly type-A, by any means. We just like having somewhat of a plan in place. Our annual session always culminates in a vision board, which is a motivational thing for us. It includes words and pictures that represent our goals.

This article offers great thoughts on building a vision board to help your creativity.

To start, here’s the process Brandon and I go through to create our vision boards. Hopefully some of these steps (and a good cup of coffee) will help you, too!

{ONE} Determine Goals

First we just talk. We share personal goals and create family goals for the coming year. We try not to overanalyze. We quickly jot down ideas and assign rough budgets to everything. We’ve come to learn if we skip the money part, our plans are harder to achieve. Even if it requires saving over the course of several years, things and events won’t happen without saving and planning for them now.

{TWO} Pick a Word

Once we’ve chatted, each of us picks a word of the year. It’s a word that has a personal meaning, reminds us of our overall goals, and sets off a spark of motivation when we hear it. So if we’re in a slump or feeling defeated, simply saying the word can jumpstart our engine.

Last year my word was “emerge”.

I found myself in a bit of a rut, occupied with general busyness. You know the kind that keeps you from sitting still and asking what you really need to be happy? That was me, in a hamster wheel afraid to find out what would happen if it stopped. I finally grew tired of feeling dizzy and drained, so I jumped. I spent some much needed time figuring things out.

I ended up changing my work schedule, starting a blog, volunteering more at the kids’ school, and saying “yes” to more social invitations. I found myself “emerging” in new ways and feeling okay with it all. There were tasks that were terrifying, but I did them anyway. I made mistakes, but I learned to stop scolding myself. I embraced imperfection for the first time and kept walking in new directions – regardless of how awkward I may have felt at times. While I will always be on a journey of emerging, I decided to add a new word this year: action. As in, “get up and go, already!”

Now that I have a little more confidence under my belt, I think I’m ready to march toward some dreams I never thought were possible.

{THREE} Create a Vision Board

sample vision board

This sample vision board is from Martha Beck.

Once goals are figured out, and we have a word that can kick us in the pants when we need it most, it’s time to make a vision board.

You can either create one out of poster board and magazine clippings, or go for something digital. Brandon likes using the O Dream Board. You could also try Dream It Alive or any photo collage app on your phone.

I actually like using Pinterest. This year I’m creating a secret board, so I don’t have to share it with the entire world. The title includes the year and my word of choice, so something like: “2015 Vision: Emerge & Take Action.”

Spring hiking

I used this image on my vision board to encourage me to get out and enjoy our beautiful parks and trails with the family.

Next I’ll find images that represent each of the goals on my list. In the caption I’ll write action steps I need to consider. This helps provide guidance and direction for the vision board.

As Antoine de Saint-Exupery stated, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

I’ve already started my vision board. In fact, I just need to add a few more details, so I’m off to finish it now. Good wishes for your personal planning. I’d love to know your “word of the year” or what kind of goals you’ve set for yourself. Share it in the comments or tweet me @Katejandersen.

Your ideas could help inspire someone else – and that’s a beautiful thing to accomplish!

Much love to you all this year,

Kate

Share

Creative Tip: Collaborate with Kids

Creative InspirationDon’t you adore the carefree nature and creativity of kids? It seems the younger the child, the fewer filters they have for things that are silly or absurd. They’re incredibly open-minded and able to rationalize things that are seemingly impossible.

I remember a conversation with my son, Evan, when he was a little guy. He said the sun warmed the earth by reaching down with its invisible arms and zapping everything with heated light sabers. His complete confidence in the idea was not only adorable, but also inspiring.

It’s good to forget logic every now and then and play the “what if” game. What if the sun did have invisible arms? You never know when this type of harmless exploration could lead to great inventions.

At the very least, it encourages us to see the world with fresh eyes and broaden our imagination.

There’s an illustrator named Mica Angela Hendricks who believes in collaborating with kids to enhance her creative ideas. She pulled out a sketchbook one day and allowed her five-year-old daughter to add finishing touches to her drawings. The result was astounding. She began to work closely with her little girl to create beautiful and wildly imaginative pieces of art together.

A selection of Mica's work is available for purchase at Society6.

A selection of Mica’s work is available for purchase at Society6.

Give it a try for yourself!

I’m not an illustrator, so I might adapt this idea with cutting pictures from magazines and then working with my kids to build out the story. I saw something like this on Artmommie’s blog.ArtmommieAnother fun idea would be to create a book together. Start with a writing prompt, then take turns writing lines of a story from there. Here are Ten Terrific Writing Prompts I developed to help you get started. You can go back and add pictures once the story is written, and then have it published through a site like blurb.

blurb

Blurb is a great site for printing your own books.

I’m sure there are hundreds of ways to collaborate with your kids and ignite more creativity in your life. So be sure to share your awesome ideas in the comments or tag me on Twitter or Instagram with a picture you’ve created and use #CreativeTipTues.

As always, have a creative day!

-Kate

Share

Creative Tip: Live Like an Animal

As humans it’s our nature to have a bit of a wild side. At our core, we’re really just a bunch of animals (highly domesticated, of course). We have a beautiful and innate ability to explore, run, climb and capture. But sometimes we get caught up in the trap of our own advanced minds. We over think situations; we doubt our abilities; and we allow ourselves to feel alone in our problems. We lose touch with our true selves and feel stressed, worried and sometimes stagnant.Dog TherapyIf you ever find yourself feeling this way, perhaps it’s a sign you need to connect back with nature – your true source. Maybe take a walk, breathe some fresh air, and spend time with an animal. Animals, whether they’re out in the wild or snuggled up on our couches, can serve as an amazing source of inspiration.

I believe animals have three special qualities we can emulate to help us live more meaningful and creative lives.

  1. Instinct: animals never question their decisions
  2. Authenticity: animals simply are who they are
  3. Health: animals constantly exercise, eat what’s right, and rest when needed

Pull out your journal and explore some questions for each of these qualities.

Instinct

  • Do you trust your instincts when designing, writing or creating? When is it harder to do this? Why is that?
  • When it comes time to judge and edit your own work (which is something you should always do after the ideation process), do you follow your instinct for what should be changed or which direction to choose?

Authenticity

  • Do you know your own authentic voice? Look at your previous projects or home. What do you see that’s consistent about your style and your decisions?
  • When do you most feel like yourself? What types of activities are you doing?
  • When you’re in the process of creating, how can you quiet the critics and turn up the volume on your inner voice?

Health

  • Do you take time to exercise? Sometimes a simple walk around the block over lunch is enough to recharge your creativity and mood.
  • Are you drinking enough water and eating foods that make you feel good? There are so many fad diets, and I don’t think you need any of them to be healthy. I believe deep down, you know the foods that are right for your body. Take time to slow down and listen.
  • How many hours of sleep are you getting? Do you feel like it’s enough?

Another interesting exercise to try when you’re faced with a challenge is to think of a solution from an animal’s perspective. It might feel weird at first, but think about how a lion would solve your problem. How would a small bird approach the situation? See where it takes you, and you might find a few surprising answers from simply changing your point of view.

Let me know how this works for you. I’d love to hear your feedback or any tips you’d like to share about how you stay creative. In the meantime, have a wildly fun and inspiring day!

-Kate

Share

Creative Tip: Take a Walk

Blessed are the Curious

“Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures.” This darling print is available on Etsy.

The weather outside might be frightfully cold, but bundling up and taking a walk is a wonderful way to ignite your creativity and fresh thinking.

According to a research study at Stanford (I feel so smart just saying that), a person’s creative output increased by an average of 60 percent when walking versus sitting down. No wonder Beethoven was said to have taken long, solitary walks through the valleys of Vienna, and Henry Thoreau claimed that his thoughts began to flow ‘the moment my legs began to move.’

Taking things a step further (sorry for the pun), business innovator Nilofer Merchant delivered a TED talk where she suggests something called “walking meetings” to help ideas flow better.

Why walking works

There are several theories about how and why walking works so well for expanding creativity. Among them include the fact that exercising elevates your mood, which in turn helps open your mind to creative ideas.

Another thought is that walking requires you to take a break from the task at hand. Letting go of the need to produce something allows you to absorb information and ideas around you. This incubation period is easily activated by walking.

Although the exact reason still remains a mystery, research shows that you can boost your creative skills in as little as 10 minutes of walking each day. So why not lace up those tennies, grab your sketchbook and take a spin around the block? You never know where the path will lead you.

Step it UpWhat’s your favorite creative tip? Let me know and I might feature it in an upcoming post! Remember to use #CreativeTipTues on Instagram or Twitter, or tag me @Katejandersen.

Have a creative day!

-Kate

Share

Creative Tip: Embrace the “Yes, And…”

Improv Tips

More great thoughts on this topic at 99U.

Most improv classes teach the importance of “yes, and…” It means when something is given to you (a line, a prop, a gesture), you accept it and add something new. So if someone hands you a bike helmet and says, “Let’s fly to the moon,” you don’t look at them with crazy eyes and reply, “Um, nooo.” You might say, “Yes, and let me grab my elbow pads and oxygen tank.” You keep the momentum going and see where it takes you.

Embracing “yes, and…” is perhaps one of the best lessons in creativity – and life for that matter.

When it comes to creativity

Always be accepting of ideas that are shared by others or come to your own mind. Your instinct might be to shoot down ideas that defy logic, but some of the best and most creative books, photographs, paintings, movies, recipes, or gadgets didn’t always seem reasonable or even plausible at their inception.

Think about how services like Skype would have sounded in a brainstorm: “What if people could login to their computer and be able to see and talk to their friends who live out of state – without any phones?” Someone was willing to say, “Yes, and what if it worked internationally?”

When given the chance, always be willing and courageous to add your “and.”

Wedding PictureThis translates to relationships, too.

Today is my 14th wedding anniversary, and I think about how much improv happens in this life that Brandon and I are building together. From the moment I said “yes” to his proposal, we’ve been adding “ands” ever since. Before we knew it, “Kate and Brandon” turned into, “…and babies, and a house, and a rabbit, and a new job, and a move…” It hasn’t always been easy, but our willingness and courage to accept each other – while being willing to add new experiences – has certainly made the journey more exciting. A little humor never hurts, either.

Here’s to more “yes, ands…” in your life!

Reflection questions:

  • When was the last time you said “no” or shot down an idea?
  • What would have happened if you said “yes?” List all of the possibilities, even the crazy ones.
  • What’s an idea you’ve been afraid to share? Write it down and add a “yes, and…”

Feel free to share your thoughts and use #CreativeTipTues or tag me. I’m on Twittter and Instagram as @Katejandersen.

Share

Creative Tip: Enjoy the Season!

Christmas kindness

Designed by The Neat Nook

There’s no question the holidays are a special time of year. I love catching up with friends, eating good food, and exchanging thoughtful gifts.

If we’re being honest, it can also be a bit stressful. The weeks leading up to Christmas are hurried and hectic. There’s the decorating, baking, shopping, wrapping, shipping, entertaining, and sometimes traveling to be done. When you’re a momma, you also have school plays, church pageants, class parties and teacher gifts to manage. Whew!

How does anyone stay calm and joyful with so much business going on? It’s not easy. That’s for sure, but if you have the right mindset, you can stay fairly calm through it all.

Try these five quick tips and see if you feel a difference. They won’t guarantee rock star parking at the mall, but they might help you ease up on the horn when someone snags your spot.

  1. Check in with yourself.
    • Stop in your tracks when you’re feeling stressed, and take note of what you’re doing. And I mean all the way down to the verb. Does baking pies from scratch and making the crust look like a string of holly berries (like the picture you saw on Pinterest) send you spiraling into tears? If so, change the plan and simplify. Get the premade crust or better yet, order from your favorite restaurant and call it good. No one will judge you.
    • Also notice what activities make you feel energized and creative. Allow yourself plenty of time to enjoy these things! Personally, I could wrap presents all day long. I adore playing with papers, tissues, boxes and bows. I would swap wrapping presents for making homemade pies any day.
  2. Do only what you can (and want) to do. Delegate the rest.
    • Write down your entire to-do list so it’s out of your head – where it only stresses you out.
    • Cross off anything that doesn’t fill you with joy and is also unnecessary. Synchronizing your outdoor lights to music – when you’re not technically savvy – would fall into this category.
    • Put a star next to anything you love and that only you can do – such as attending your child’s Christmas play.
    • Find a way to delegate or simplify the rest. Enlist a crafty cousin to make a few small gifts, or pay a neighbor with treats to help hang your lights. Get creative!
  3. Stay within budget.
    • One of the biggest stressors this time of year can be money. Plan a realistic budget that includes all of the details (like stamps for those adorable cards you ordered).
    • Keep track of your receipts as you go, so you know where you stand. If gifts are getting out of control, switch gears to something handmade or repurposed. If you’re thoughtful about the present, it will be appreciated – regardless of the price tag.
  4. Make a new friend.
    • Empathy can go a long way when you’re standing in line waiting to pay at the register. Strike up a conversation with the person in front of you and you might realize just how lucky you really are this holiday.
  5. Be kind to yourself.
    • Whatever you choose to do this holiday, make sure it makes you happy.
    • Don’t try to do too much, and certainly don’t try to make everything perfect. Perfection is unrealistic. If your 2-year-old won’t stop pouting in the family picture, let it be. If you burned all of the cookies for the school party, feed them  to the ducks and pickup some store-bought goodies. Serve them on one of your prettiest plates and you’re back in business.
    • The bottom line is, give yourself a break. And have a glass of wine while you’re at it. You deserve a happy holiday just as much as anyone on your gift list.

Cheers, my friends! Here’s to the most joyful and relaxed Christmas season, yet.

Share

Creative Tip Tuesday: Pause to Play!

Play MemeHello, my sweet creative friends. I have a fun tip for this Tuesday. It’s all about play!

It’s easy to get so caught up in the daily hustle of our adult responsibilities that we don’t think about stopping to have fun. I’m totally guilty of this. Sometimes the thought of watching a funny video, learning a joke, or taking a trip to the park seems as indulgent as a bubble bath in the middle of the day – especially with so many tasks on the “to-do”.

But being playful is incredibly important. Even if it’s just a few minutes jamming to your favorite song in the car, feeling this kind of joy can do wonders for your spirit. I absolutely love this quote from author Dr. Stewart Brown,

“The opposite of play is not work. The opposite of play is depression.”

It’s essential to our well being to take a few minutes each day to laugh and play like the child we once were. Brown also says, “Play shapes our brain, helps us foster empathy…and is at the core of creativity and innovation.”

There’s no better time than right now to embrace your inner child and do something fun. You’ll be amazed at the way your mind starts opening and your heart starts feeling.

Here’s an exercise to try.

Grab your journal and make a list of five things that makes you feel playful. If that feels hard, think back to the last time you laughed. And I mean snort-laughed in the air like you just don’t care. Where were you, who were you with, or what were you doing that made you have such a great reaction? That might give you some ideas.

Pick one of your five activities, schedule 15 joyful minutes, and go do it! Then write in your journal about your experience.

  • What did you choose to do?
  • How did it make you feel?
  • When was the last time you did this activity? If it’s been awhile, why haven’t you done it sooner?
  • What can you change in your current schedule to make room for more play?

I hope you’ll give yourself permission to have recess today. Have fun and let me know how it goes. I love hearing from you!

Share

Creative Tip Tuesday: Notice the Small Things

IMG_4512

Design from The Neat Nook

This week, I encourage you to notice something small and seemingly ordinary, yet that strikes you as beautiful. If you can, take a picture of this object. Write a caption about what makes it stand out. Post it on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using #CreativeTipTues so everyone can see what you discovered.

Why is this important to your creativity?

What you’ll notice about this exercise is you’re forced to live in the present moment. Suddenly you’re not thinking about what’s on your mind or what’s next on your to-do list. You’ll find yourself immersed in the details of life as it stands in front of you.

Here’s an awesome list of seven reasons to be present, which I think you’ll enjoy. Obviously #2 rings true to my heart.

Being fully present is one of the best ways to tap into your creativity.

Once you start slipping into the past, ideas about what has been done before start to creep into your thinking. Perhaps there’s even judgment attached. Going the other direction, it’s easy to leap into the future with worry about deadlines and expectations. All of these thoughts block new ideas and shut down possibilities. Staying in the “now” keeps you focused and aligned with your true creative potential. So the best gift you can give yourself (creatively speaking) is to put yourself smack dab in the present and just see what develops.

Have fun searching and creating! I hope to see some of your images online. Remember to tag #CreativeTipTues or message me on Instagram @katejandersen.

Share

Creative Tip Tuesday: Try Something New. Anything.

It’s Tuesday! That means I’ll be sharing a creative tip today. This post was inspired by my sweet and amazingly talented friend, Leslie Sisti. We work together at a PR firm where we both get to share our love of creativity and writing. Leslie has been a fashion blogger of A Blonde Ambition for several years now and has become wildly successful. She’s the real deal, friends. When I told her I wanted to start a blog, she kindly offered tips, encouragement and even a chance to guest blog to help get things going. There aren’t enough flowers in the world that could properly thank her!HeaderTrans_zpscb139c50Here’s where I tried something new.

As nervous as I was, I took up Leslie on the offer to guest blog. (It’s posted today, so be sure to check it out.) While I’ve been a copywriter for decades and even led teams as a creative director, you’d think writing a blog would be as easy as breathing. Somehow, trying my hand at this feels entirely different. I’m usually writing on behalf of clients. So while the words are mine, the message always belongs to someone else. There’s a veil of protection in case someone doesn’t like the work. Or strangely enough, if someone loves what I’ve done, I can smile in the background and not have to take center stage. So, blogging. It’s personal. It’s honest. It’s imperfect. And most importantly, it’s something new for me.

I’m excited for the journey. My hope is you’ll join in my adventure and be inspired to try new things, too. It doesn’t have to mean quitting your job or planning a trip to France (although I’d LOVE to visit my dear friend Kristina!) Enough small adventures will lead to big discoveries. Here’s an inspiring TED Talk by Matt Cutts that shares his adventure of trying something new for 30 days.

New things can include writing with your other hand, taking a different route to work or buying plantains instead of bananas. What will happen is you’ll start to notice patterns about the things you choose – and the things you love. You’ll hear your inner voice. You’ll see your confidence grow. Perhaps most importantly, your true self will emerge. And that’s good for everyone.

What the world needs...

Graphic designed by The Neat Nook.

Go try something new today and tell me about it. Comment, email or post it on Twitter, Insty or Facebook using #CreativeTipTues.

My love and cheers to you all! – Kate

Share