Creativity in everyday life- Tips from my grandmother #1

6 Tips I Got from My Grandmother 

My Grandmother, whom we called ‘Mémère’, was a big influence on me but I did not realize it until later. Going to my grandmother’s was my ‘zen’ moment. She liked or loved me as I was and in the moment.. In hindsight, I was probably better behaved at her house than elsewhere because she allowed me to be the person I was. These are the things my grandmother taught me before she passed away…From her, I learned:

1. I am a person worthy of being listened to. She listened to everything I said. She never interrupted. She would smile and give me positive feedback on my questions. She always slanted life towards the positive. I learnt that the glass is always half-full.No matter where you are, or what you’re doing, always believe that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Do the best you can to control your circumstances. Learn to accept that you can’t always control everything. Once you’ve done all that is in your power, if it’s meant to happen — it will.

As an artist, I take the time to be like my grandmother and listen. Clients like it because they feel special. They listen back, most of the time. Just listening and adding positive comments changes people’s attitudes towards your creative practice. They see you as a nice person and therefore your creative practice is a positive.

2. Focus on one thing at a time. Invest energy into that activity. Don’t get distracted. You don’t have to do it all, and you don’t have to do it right now. Be present, be active, do the best that you can.

As an artist, this took me a long time to learn. I tended to work on painting and sculpture at the same time. A little bit here and a little bit there until it was done. As time went on, this became more and more difficult. I learned to do less and focus on what I was doing. This did not mean that I stopped doing sculpture. I did sculpture in blocks of time and painting in other blocks. I focussed on one media at a time.

3. Don’t change yourself to suit others. Be true to your own personality. Always say what you really think, even if it’s not the popular opinion. Be gentle when you say it. Don’t hurt people if you can help it.

As an artist, you will be asked to create artwork that is not in ‘your style’. Be careful with this temptation. You do not want to loose your reputation for your own style. I am not saying that you should not do these commissions but be careful that you do not get known as the artist who will paint in any style and then your clients will forget that you have a style.

4. Everybody changes. You travel, get a new job, learn new information and therefore change. Every day we learn something new which changes us in some way or another. Sometimes we realize we’re not who we used to be, but that’s perfectly normal.

As an artist, your style will change. Your style will evolve at the same time that you experience new things. This is also normal. Rarely do artists keep with the same style. Some gallery owners will ask that you stick to a style. You can stick to a style and still change. You can incorporate new elements into your existing style. For example, add a new color or a bit of collage to your paintings.

5. Being happy is important. Don’t accept a job just because it will pay you big bucks. Make sure you like this job. In this way, when you’ve reached old age, you’ll understand that the best things in life are things that money can’t buy — love and friendship. Take the time to be nice.

As an artist, you need to balance your creative side with your personal life. Relationships are important so try not to work marathon type hours too often. Don’t forget your family. Learning to balance home and career is one of the hardest parts of having your own business as an artist.

6. There are happy moments in life but not ‘happy forever after’ endings. You will always have challenges to surmount. Never be afraid to leave everything and start anew, no matter how old you are.

As an artist, you will get great commissions or sales that make great happy moments. These will come and go. If ever, your work is not making you happy, don’t be afraid to change. If making sculpture in plaster is no longer selling or you are no longer inspired by it, change to something else. If you are not inspired, it will show in your work. The work will begin to stop selling. Change now while you can.

I hope this helps you.

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All photography and artwork by Doris Charest

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Till next time …

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