Creativity is a lot like looking at the world through a kaleidoscope. You look at a set of elements, the same ones everyone else sees, but then reassemble those floating bits and pieces into an enticing new possibility.
~ Rosabeth Moss Kanter
The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.
~Julia Cameron, author of “The Artist’s Way”
All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
Have you ever sat and watched children at play? They have yet to lose the joy of taking a simple object and creating something marvelous with it.
For most people somewhere along the way that ability to create without self-consciousness is lost. There are many reasons and barriers to creativity: fear of rejection, lack of motivation or time, undervaluing one’s ideas, stress, and lack of confidence.
My mother told me when I was just 5 years old, “Susanna, you can do anything if you want to badly enough.”
I thank God, I had a mother who believed in me and made me believe in myself and my talents.
For all of you, words of wisdom, “You really can do anything if you want to badly enough….”
You just have to feel it, know it, dream it.
I can’t teach any of you to be writers. You either are or you’re not. There are no good writers, just good editors. Read, read, read. Write, write, write.
I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I won my first writing contest in 5th grade – First place in the state of Arkansas for an essay for the Daughters of the American Revolution. I went on to win that award two more times. When I was in high school I had my own column in the school newspaper.
At the University of Arkansas I studied English, with an emphasis on creative writing and chemistry. Weird combination, I’m sure many of you are thinking. I like to tell people I use both sides of my brain. Most of my professors are gone now, but I will never forget any of them.
I still remember the first day of Creative Writing class. I had a Newfoundland hound named Bear who was my trusty companion. He went everywhere with me. That day he went to class and sat under the conference table right near the professor, Jim Whitehead. Every once in a while Jim would light a Camel and reach down to scratch Bear dog behind his ear while he made a comment on someone’s poetry or short story. He was a big, burly man with a booming, deep Southern voice, and an amazing sense of humor and irony. Jim, along with Miller Williams, and Bill Harrison was instrumental in developing the creative writing program at the University of Arkansas.
I went on to do freelance writing, articles about travel and art, or whatever struck my fancy. I won first prize in poetry the Southern Writer’s Conference in 1991 with my poem “My Footsteps Go Unheard Throughout the Night”. During that time I began my first novel, completed several short stories and wrote a children’s book, “The Sea Treasure”.
After a divorce, I entered nursing school at Westark Community College, now the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, to pursue my passion for medicine with the intent to go to medical school once my daughter was older. After becoming a registered nurse, I continued my education and received my BSN from Arkansas Tech University in 1994.
Ready for a break, I bought a historical home in Fort Smith and learned the art of carpentry. I remodeled half of a 5500 sq. foot home without any help in only 6 years. At the same time I worked with the University of Arkansas Engineering Department on a product redesign. In 1997, I also took the opportunity to acquire my license for massage therapy from A Healing Touch, Inc., in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Today, I continue to pursue my writing. I am working on another children’s book titled, “I Was Born On a Plane Above Mississippi and Other Tall Tales” which I am writing with my youngest daughter, Ally.
In addition to nursing and massage I am a legal nurse consultant, write nursing and massage articles, and edit medical abstracts for a company in Japan.
Thanks to my mother, I still believe there’s really nothing I can’t do.
Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution.
When I was 22 a friend asked me if I wanted a job. I became a professional photographer. I worked for several different companies including Nimslo Professional Products, Olan Mills, and Sharum’s Children’s Studio before opening my own business, Carousel Children’s Studio. I discovered I had yet another talent. I have photographed tens of thousands of people all over the country. My favorite subjects continue to be children. I love their enthusiasm and awe.
I’ve also been fortunate to be able to travel in my work. I have traveled across the contiguous states, Alaska, and have lived in Hawaii. Of all the places I have been I consider Alaska to be the most beautiful with Hawaii a close second.
Photography is just one of my passions. I work with digital format now although I still occasionally work with film. I take assignments on a limited basis and just enjoy going out to shoot whenever I can.
The Art of Friendship
Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget.
Friendship is an art much like music, you have to practice at it to be any good.
I have many friends who are writers and artists. They have graciously allowed me to include them in my creativity page.
My friend John Allan Roberts is an artist and teaches art in Houston. He works with a technique called encaustic painting which utilizes pigments mixed in beeswax. The technique is so rare that only a handful of people master or teach it. To the right is a painting from his most recent exhibit.
MM Kent is a former Texan who moved to Arkansas when he was a young man. Kent is a largely self-taught artist who brings decades of experience and experimentation with color and technique to his lush colorful figurative work and cityscapes. MM Kent is widely collected, and has won numerous awards for his work including best of show at (The Arts Alliance Center at Clear Lake).
Slippers ~ MM Kent
My friends Rose and Ben are musicians. Rose has been singing since she was 14. She met Ben shortly afterward and they formed a musical duo. She said when they met she knew she was going to spend her life with him. Recently, they added marriage to their partnership. Rose and Ben are not only musicians but writers as well. They just got back from Nashville where they performed at The Bluebird Cafe. They have also been chosen for a feature film that will begin production soon.
Trout Fishing in America consists of the very talented musical duo Keith Grimwood and Ezra Idlet. I first met Keith and Ezra when I was in college and roaming Dickson Street in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in search of musical entertainment. That was exactly what I found -entertainment. Keith and Ezra have their own special style of making people smile. Their love of music has brought them into the realm of 3 Grammy nominations, 3 National Indie Awards, and multiple Parents Choice and American Library Award
“Music is sacred ground. It’s a place where you have to tell the truth about what you’ve been through, who you are, and where you’re going. I love how a good song can show you the world through someone else’s eyes in three minutes.”
The first time I met David Wilcox was in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. I had decided that after being a fan for several years it was time to see him in person, and I would travel up to 500 miles to do so. I got on his website and was elated to discover he would be just 75 miles away for the Ozark Folk Festival two weeks later. I immediately bought my ticket and waited anxiously. On the day of the show I drove up the mountain to Eureka Springs, had a flat tire and thought I would miss the show, but made it safe and sound. David played for well over 3 hours to a crowd of about 200 people at the downtown auditorium. What struck me was his enjoyment of performing, his stage presence and a talent that rivals anyone. I have often said in describing his music and writing to others, “David Wilcox is a cross between Eric Clapton, James Taylor and Lyle Lovett.” He’s one of the best singer-songwriters in the business and one of the best guitarists I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing perform David also performs locally at McGonigel’s Mucky Duck on Norfolk. He and his wife and son travel the USA and Canada touring. In June 21 – 28, 2008 he will performing and teaching a guitar workshop during a fan cruise to Alaska on Norwegian Cruise Line.
Jon Sheptock is an amazing man with an amazing voice and amazing story. Jon was given up at birth because of physical disabilities – yet he is the most able person I know. He is a preacher, motivational speaker, and has a voice that will bring tears to your eyes. He has traveled the world sharing the Word of God! Read his story and be sure to open the link with your volume on.
A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.
Music is like dance to the soul…a symbol of joy. Singing is like praying twice.
I love music, all kinds, especially live and in small venues. I love whistling because I feel like it…Listening to James Cotton, Dizzy Gillespie, BB King, Coltrane, David Wilcox, Dixie Chicks, Indigo Girls, Santana, John Mayer, Bonnie Raitt, Norah Jones, Eric Clapton, James Taylor, Trout Fishing in America, Rose and Ben, Lyle Lovett….the list is really long and I’ve been blessed to have seen and met many of the greats. I saw Dizzy the first time when I was 10 and again before he died… I’ve seen the entire Tonight Show band separately as visiting artists and together once…again blessed. I saw Lyle Lovett once during a thunderstorm…he kept singing even when the lights went out.
Dance is a delicate balance between perfection and beauty.
The history of dance is as old as the history of mankind. Dance has been used in ceremonies throughout the world and is the ultimate and purest expression of self. Dancing is wonderful exercise and a great way to socialize whether as an active participant or one who appreciates the arts. There are as many types of dance as there are cultures or music. Dance can be divided into function: theatrical, religious, ethnic, recreational or can be classed by genre or style, such as classical and modern dance. Modern dance encompasses many styles including jazz, tap, ballroom and disco. In recent years, dance has made a major resurgence in popularity with such television shows as Dancing With the Stars.
The only word I can use to describe these beautiful 10 year old twin girls is extraordinary! Nia and Imani Lindsay have won a scholarship (half a scholarship each) to train with the nation’s top ballet theatre program, the American Ballet Theatre. They were recognized and awarded the scholarship for their “Young Dancer Summer Workshop.” Not only are they remarkable ballet dancers, who started walking at the age of 8 months, these young Canadians are trained in acrobatics, jazz, tap, hip hop and contemporary dance and carry themselves with the grace and maturity of some dancers never achieve.
The girls are also trilingual, speaking Spanish, French and English. I would say they are the future of ballet but if that doesn’t pan out they might possibly our next diplomats offering some their own wisdom on bullying, being twins and their love of dance.
I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.
Theatre dates back to ancient times. As early as 3000BC, ancient drawings and paintings confirm the existence of drama in cultures around the world. Theatre has a rich history in Asia and the Orient, Persia, Greece, and Rome. During the Middle Ages when society was dominated by religious influence, theatre and drama was intended to teach religious doctrine. Women were not allowed to perform because female actors were considered prostitutes., therefore men played both male and female parts. In the Renaissance Period, As an art form theatre provides a wide range of possibilities, from musical theatre and comedy to one man shows, and dramatic arts. Whatever your preference, the city of Houston has a world class theatre district and a commitment to the performing arts.
The Art of Horticulture/Bonsai
Bonsai is man and nature in harmony.
Horticulture is the art and science of growing fruits, vegetables, flowers and ornamental plants. For the same reason I am drawn to creative people in the arts I am drawn to people who love nature. I am blessed with a number of very good friends who own and operate landscaping and nursery businesses. Long time friends, Mona and George Landry of Fort Smith, Arkansas, Tom and Cheryl Perry of Alma, Arkansas, and a more recent friend, Bill Wyatt of Grace Outdoors in Nassau Bay, Texas.
Several years ago, I began the mystical journey of the art of dwarfing trees. Bonsai are miniature versions of mature tropical trees. The art of Bonsai dates back over a thousand years to China. Later the art was introduced to Japan adopted by means of Zen Buddhism. Bonsai were introduced to Western culture around the early 1900′s. Their gnarled, animal like appearance is attained by careful pruning and shaping for aesthetic appeal. Growing bonsai can be very challenging due to environmental condition and plant temperament. Over or under watering can lead to disease and plant death, so the art of bonsai takes both scientific knowledge, skill and patience.
In an ancient Japanese scroll written in Japan around the Kamakura period, it is translated to say : “To appreciate and find pleasure in curiously curved potted trees is to love deformity”.
The Art of Massage
The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious – the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.
Massage is both art and science. As a nurse and a healer I understand all the intricacies of the human body. However, each massage is a creative journey, each person an individual. The laying of hands dates back thousands of years before the birth of Christ and is spoken of in ancient writings among the Chinese, Romans, Egyptians, Greeks and Europeans. Massage was used in these ancient cultures to treat both pain and disease.
Today massage is used to treat a variety of illnesses, addictions, and pain. Massage is used in Intensive Care Units, for all ages – newborn to elderly, in hospices and health centers, drug treatment and pain clinics.
When people are ill their stress increases causing further imbalances such as increased blood sugar, cholesterol, cortisol, anxiety ,decreased immunity, and even pain.
Stressors, such as a hectic lifestyle, exposure to toxins, and lack of coping mechanisms can lead to illness, lethargy and blocked energy.
Stress and illness are interrelated and each exacerbates the other.
Massage improves health and lessens morbidity and healing time. People who receive massage have better outcomes when ill and fewer episodes of illness and injury due to better muscle tone, flexibility and better immunity against disease. Massage enthusiasts will also tell you they have better quality of life, are happier, and that massage opens their minds to possibilities and creativity.
Simon Beck is an unique artist who uses an unusual medium – snow. He is well known for his art. Here is a video of his 2013 work at Grandvalira Ski Resort. (Added with permission from the artist Simon Beck.)