First Grade Poetry Slam!

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Way back when I used to write and read lots of poetry. Everything was so passionate and drama-filled. Remember those days? Now things are joyful, messy and still drama-filled, but in the way where someone is rolling around on the ground because he can’t have a lollipop for breakfast.

Poetry seems so much more civilized than my life right now.

But I know it’s not. Life is about discovering meaningful, creative outlets and their divine purpose in one’s life… in the present moment. And at the present moment, I am rediscovering poetry as my daughter learns about it for the first time. To say this is an amazing experience is an enormous understatement.

This week I attended a poetry slam at The Mercury Café in Denver where my 7 year old daughter read her poem in front of a packed audience. Her first grade class began studying poetry in April during National Poetry Month, and spent the last two months writing, reading and memorizing their very first poems. Four classes of first graders came to the stage last Thursday, many dressed in Beatnik-style clothing, and confidently read their individual works aloud as their classmates sat around them criss-cross-applesauce style. There was even snapping for applause in between each reading. Wolf!

This is one of the coolest, cutest, funniest, awe-inspiring things I’ve ever seen. To watch these kids muster the courage to read their thoughts and feelings, PUBLICLY, made my heart want to burst out of my hipster t-shirt. And many of the poems were really good! Like publish in a book good. Kids… their instinctual creativity is what it’s all about.
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So, to follow up this awesome introduction to the world of poetry I’ve began buying poetry books for my kids.
Along with the Shel Silverstein classics, I recently purchased Enormous Smallness, A Story of e.e. cummings by Matthew Burgess. Awesome book. Not only does it share some of his poetry, it tells the inspirational story of how he became a poet and is chock full of beautiful illustrations. My daughter has also been furiously writing more poetry and making her own books. How fun is that?

What about you, do you read and write poetry with your kids? What are your favorite kid’s poetry books?

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Ignite Your Creativity | Spark 3: Take a Class!

pf_strawberriestHappy holiday weekend, friends. It’s been a whole week since I last wrote! The end of school year craziness has taken off and we are all super excited for summer break. We’ll be driving across the country in early June and stopping along the way at some new vacation spots. Once back in Colorado, summer camps will commence as well as our ‘summer checklist’ of fun things to do. Typically this includes short road trips, new parks, new coffee shops (my favorite) and outdoor gardening/DIY projects. I can’t wait! pf_doubleberry I also can’t wait to start Spark 3 of Carrie Bloomston’s book, The Little Spark: 30 Ways to Ignite your Creativity which is Take a Class. I have been putting this off for years… Why? I don’t know. So I’ve done it. I signed up for an Illustration/Picture Book class on Craftsy.com. Have you ever taken a class here? Craftsy offers super affordable online classes ranging from cake decorating to weaving to gardening. And, if the curriculum structure for all the classes is similar to mine, it includes seven, 20-40 minute video lessons that can be downloaded and viewed whenever/wherever convenient. My class was only $35! Lately, my biggest creative urge is to draw + write, so I think building up my illustration chops will feel really good. In addition to an online class, I’m looking at a class that takes me to a studio or classroom. Right now I’m trying to decide between Mixed Media Art Boot Camp or Poetry. What would you do? Or maybe I’ll just go and draw naked people once a week at drop-in life drawing class. If you’ve never done this before, I highly recommend it, and not just because there’s naked people. pf_maxfruit Oh, and the strawberries… another little project I’m trying is to #DrawEveryday, if even just a little bit. Particularly with my kids for relaxation time or for mommy wine time. I’ve come up with the idea for all of us to draw the same subject matter and share with you our different interpretations. This could get good. Last week I pulled out some week-old strawberries, explained what a still life was to two eager kiddos, then went to town. I had only 15 minutes while I was cooking, but it was so fun to just grab whatever materials (crayons, chalk pen, ink, colored pencil) were available and do it. As you can see, my son is super-advanced and has taken strawberry drawing to an abstract level that even art critics would admire. Have a great rest of your weekend and let me know if you’ve got any classes lined up!

Ignite Your Creativity | Spark 2: Create The Space

I need a place to draw more birds. Drawing by Tiffany Handshoe Bachman

I need a place to draw more birds.

The second “spark” in Carrie Bloomston’s book, The Little Spark: 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity is: “Create the Space.” 

Easier said than done.

So, I have been working on a space for quite some time. In fact, I am always working on my “space.” This drives my husband crazy. I can’t help it. I love being surrounded by beautiful things that are also functional. But, functional is always evolving when you live and work at home with young, curious kids.

Carrie says: “The creative space is a launchpad, refuge, retreat, temple, labyrinth, and safety net. It gives you a sense of purpose. Your space is your flagpole on the moon… Claim it as your own and don’t let it get mixed in with the daily flotsam of life. Own it. Mark it. Protect it. In this way you advocate for yourself, your pursuits, and your special creative time.”

Perhaps that is why my space isn’t finished yet—it just hasn’t included the right materials or purpose for its existence. My work space started as an office, but I now realize, I want an office/studio. I need a space that allows for business and play, computer work and the messiest of art. And where I want to protect this special area for myself, I also need to create an area where my kids can be creative with me while I work. This is key. I’ve listened to myself over and over again gently telling them to “please give mommy some space” (then not so gently), and all they want to do is be in the same room with me. I know there is a balanced approach.

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So my first step is to remove the white rug and add an art table with stools. This gives us an area to work together or separately. My second step is to declutter and get rid of the piles of papers, bills and school forms that can be recycled or stored. And lastly, consult Design Mom. I’ve been following Gabrielle for eight years now and love everything she writes about. She just came out with a new book, Design Mom: How to live with kids. A Room-by-Room Guide and mine is in the mail as we speak! Her blog and book highlights so many brilliant families, artists and moms who organize their homes and work spaces into areas that are not only amazing to look at, but exude a warm, fuzzy, family-feel, allowing everyone to be everywhere at anytime. No more off-limits living rooms, right? Read the article here. (She also highlighted my sister and I on her blog once here!)

“Design Mom: How to live with kids. A Room-by-Room Guide” by Gabrielle Blair

My goal is to be finished by the end of the month (before vacation!), and when I’m done I’ll show you the finished space. What does your space look like? Do you need a place to be creative? I think we all do.

Follow @designmom on Instagram and her Facebook page here.

The “So What” Test

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Today I decided to sit down and do some origami with my daughter. Ooh, was it fun. Really! I could have sat there for hours practicing swans and frogs and foxes, but alas, she got bored and went off to play and I had to make dinner.

The thing is, I sat down and did it. I got creative with my hands and became completely mindful, if even for a little bit. And we both learned something and shared something and those are just wonderful things, right?

So, I got excited and thought “I’ll write about origami tonight and the symbolism and where you can buy a kids origami set… and…” AND when I started, I soon realized “this is completely boring and no one will care about this.” Hmph.

Which then got me thinking about an artist I follow named Austin Kleon. I bought one of his books for my talented niece last year on her birthday. I try to buy her an inspiring book every year for her special day, and now I’m making a habit of buying myself that same book, lucky me.

“Art is 99% robbery” blackout poem by Austin Kleon

The book is called Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative. (I like books with lists in them, can you tell?) Great little read. The premise is…. wait for it…: that nothing is original. Everything is influenced by something, and as an artist or creative individual, we must learn how to harness our interests and inspiration in a way that helps pave our own creative path. This is nothing new, get it? In other words, don’t wait for the perfect, brilliant, one-of-a-kind idea because friends, it may not happen. He talks about just starting (as I discuss in a previous post), schooling yourself, how side projects and hobbies are important, e.g. origami!, and the secret: do good work and share with people. Of course, there are six more things nobody told you about being creative so you’ll have to buy the book to discover them.

He has written three other books you can read about here, including his first publication of newspaper blackout poems that started his career.

So what does this have to do with origami? Nothing. This is all just creative flow, people. However, I thought of Austin because of his “So What? Test” graphic in Show Your Work, which quickly made me realize that sharing my origami stuff was a “toss it” idea, and sharing Austin, himself, was a “share it” idea. Ahh, I love when a plan comes together.

“So What? Test” graphic by Austin Kleon in Show Your Work

(If you’re interested: Swans represent deep and lasting transformation that is about to happen… and you can get our fun set here.)

 

 

 

Empathy Cards by Emily McDowell

“No Good Card For This Sympathy Card” by Emily McDowell

You know those times when you just don’t know what to say? Of course you do. We all experience moments (or years) where we can’t find the words that express how we feel to someone we care about. Well, a talented female artist is addressing this issue in a beyond clever and inspiring way.

Emily McDowell is a Los Angeles-based illustrator and designer who recently launched a new line of greeting “Empathy Cards”. Before starting her very successful greeting card/art product business, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma at only 24 years old. Emily went through nine months of chemo and radiation, went into remission and has been cancer-free ever since.

“The most difficult part of my illness wasn’t losing my hair, or being erroneously called “sir” by Starbucks baristas, or sickness from chemo” says Emily, “it was the loneliness and isolation I felt when many of my close friends and family members disappeared because they didn’t know what to say, or said the absolute wrong thing without realizing it.”

“Being an Artist” card by Emily McDowell

With this brilliant greeting card concept, she hopes to provide “better, more authentic ways to communicate about sickness and suffering” through humor, honesty, wit and sometimes a dash of sarcasm. Basically, just keeping it real.

Empathy isn’t her only thing, though. Her cards communicate to every type of relationship and person. Check out this fab Mom’s Day card. Don’t you just love it? Forget the gushy stuff, it says it all.

 

“Freaking Great Mom” card by Emily McDowell

To read more about Emily and her inspiring story go here and here. To buy cards and products, visit her studio’s shop or check out the enormous list of retailers. And absolutely, follow @emilymcdowell_ for supreme fun-ness. Enjoy!

 

Patterns by Kelsey Oseid

Artwork by Kelsey Oseid @kelzuki

I just started using Instagram. Where have I been all these years? That is where I discovered freelance illustrator, Kelsey Oseid. How beautiful and interesting are her patterns and drawings? I love the whimsical yet historical/folksy quality they emit. I discovered her from a favorite blog’s, (DesignSponge) Instagram feed which highlights Kelsey’s work. And guess what? DesignSponge is actually offering a series of pattern downloads from Kelsey, for digital wallpaper and tech backgrounds, right now! Get the first pattern here and visit Kelsey’s Etsy store here. *Remember, free for personal use only! It would look so great as a bed spread…

Ignite Your Creativity | SPARK 1: Just start.

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So as you can see, I’ve been away for a few days… already fibbing on my offering of “daily doses of creativity and inspiration.”

Oh well.

I had a friend visiting! And it was fun and we were busy. Life does that sometimes: gets in the way of our plans, and well that’s the point, isn’t it? We then have the options of freaking out or picking up where we left off. I choose to pick up where I left off and that includes starting my first blog series.

As some of you know from my facebook page, I was recently introduced to author/artist Carrie Bloomston (from my friend who visited, no less!) and soon after, I picked up her new book entitled The Little Spark: 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity. Before I even ordered this perfectly serendipitous read, I was already igniting SPARK 1 of her “ways” which is:

Just Start.

I had been wanting to pick up my blog for several years, but along with regular “lifestuff”, I had become paralyzed by Perfectionism. Do you ever get stuck here? I am, by nature, quite fond of orderly things, details, visual alignment, cleanliness, organization, and being as right and perfect as I can be in my craft. This includes grammar, spelling, historical accuracy, technical knowledge and composition down to the way my plate looks — truly annoying stuff like that. Well, not annoying unless it is preventing you from moving forward. Carrie says “Perfectionism is the enemy of the creative act.” I, now, wholeheartedly agree.

Great example: A friend of mine, on a whim!, started a creative project of her own just a few weeks ago. She waived perfectionism and just put herself out there, into a vulnerable spot that proved to be both successful and inspiring. After one conversation with her I decided to Just Start. Put my ideas out there, start drawing, begin conversations with people who know what they are doing so maybe someday, I will too. Just Starting this exploration back into my creative innards feels amazing, even if my writing is super clunky or my visuals aren’t remarkable. It doesn’t matter because at least its happening.

So I’ve decided to make this a weekly series: Ignite Your Creativity. As I move through the book, I will share with you the 30 ways I am using The Little Spark to ignite my own creativity. (Of course, you should buy the book if you would like to take this journey with me! Available at Costco too.) I’m excited to take these weekly steps towards my creative passion and would love have some friends join in! Feel free to comment weekly on the blog posts or tag us using @poeticfoodie, @CarrieBloomston, #IgniteYourCreativity, and #TheLittleSpark when posting on Instagram or Twitter. What creative desires are lurking in side you? Learning to bake French pastries? Oil painting? Writing a book? Whatever it is, Just Start.

Ignite Your Creativity blog series is based on the book, The Little Spark: 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity by Carrie Bloomston. ©2014 by Carrie Bloomston. Learn more about Carrie and her work at such-designs.com  (and see a new video about the book!) Check out my friend’s video series, @GreenPlateKate, here!