Guest series 2012: I asked fellow bloggers, makers and creators to write on their creativity and focus their essay on one of four topics: creativity and health, creativity and business, creativity and parenting or creativity and process. I am very excited to have a wonderful lot of fellow creative folk guest posting here at whipup.net over the next couple of months. Please welcome…
Joanie Gorman is from Northern California but has lived in the UK for 14 years; she lives in Hampshire with her two children and their dog. She writes for The Green Parent magazine and teaches art part time. You can find her most mornings in the woods nearby hill walking with her funny border terrier, Pippi. Her family call her Nini, she blogs at Nini Makes.
Thanks for having me back Kathreen, the topic on how parenting has changed how I create really got me thinking.
Children have changed my world in so many ways – lack of sleep, worry and the disappearance of personal time spring to mind too quickly if I’m honest. But my two have also brought about a marked change in my lifestyle creatively. Creativity is naturally woven into our lives everyday whereas before children, I would be “making time” to create.
I went to art school and university and was lucky enough to have landed a good design job before I graduated. I worked hard for years, without really taking a break until my children came along. Slowing down to make room for my son and daughter in my life helped me start to see the world more closely as if viewing it from the eyes of my eight year old self again.
My career even changed from art director to art teacher and writer, a very happy evolution. The greatest task involved unlearning everything I learned in art school, the children I teach and my own children have been very good at helping with that. I still use so many techniques I acquired at school and I had brilliant teachers, but now I create without rules, and find inspiration in everything around me.
I’m inspired by my children’s art and the honestly in everything they create. Whether it’s making fancy dresses for toys to wear to tea like when they were younger, or making their own gifts and writing music now that they’re a little older. The act of making is a natural extension of their lives and they make things for the joy of it, not to gain praise or admiration.
The countryside around us is stunning and we see plenty of it during long walks. We’re lucky to live in an area rich in history and beauty – full of inspiration; even a lichen and moss covered wall will get our imaginations going. Like the one we recently came across from a small settlement abandoned in the 14th century during the Black Death. We followed every inch of the wall and marvelled at the types of stone used, the patterns they made and the craftsmanship involved.
Craft is huge part of our family traditions too. Like making piñatas for the children’s birthdays each year. We’ve made them for every birthday for the last 13 years, and never two alike. Though piñatas can now be found in shops in the UK my kids would never want to be cheated out of the fun of making our own. I know one day they’ll be making them with their children too.
I feel lucky my children appreciate handmade and love to learn new skills. Nothing made me prouder than watching my son embroider a perfectly stitched heart on a cushion he gifted me, or when my daughter painted a sea life scene with incredible flair. Though they don’t often seek my approval, I find myself seeking their approval a lot, like before I submit a new project to a magazine or when I’ve made a gift for someone; if they want to sit down and make one themselves right then and there, I know I’m on to a winner.
It won’t be long before I have two teenagers in the house. I hope they’ll continue to realise the joy in the act of making and not get too absorbed in a passive, digital world. Our TV broke a few months ago and there’s been no revolt at all – after a couple of days we forgot we ever even had one, I’m thinking that bodes well for their creative future.