Creating Now and Always

“A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner – continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you – is a fine art, in and of itself.”

                                                                                         – Elizabeth Gilbert from Big Magic download
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

– Arthur Ashe

Every few months I write a post about some creative project that I am working on. It is usually about a new skill I am hoping to learn or really picking up an old skill and project and working to finish it. I am a person who needs to be doing things and so projects are important.

I have found recently as retirement extends and the pandemic incloses us in our homes this is more important than ever. I also know for me that my project needs to have some sort of purpose. I am not good at doing things just to do them. The garden IMG_5415needs to produce cut flowers or veggies to eat, my writing is stronger when I write for my blog than in my personal journal, I only sew when something is needed (face masks).

So I have spent the last few months trying to get myself back to painting plants. I have been taking Botanical art drawing/painting classes for a few years now. I work hard during class and then it all just stops. It finally hit me that I need a project. Something I am working on that will have a finish. I need a beginning point and an ending point.

This is where Author Ashe’s quote comes in.

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

Well, I am not a full on botanical artist. I am not able at this point to bring that detail into my work. I do however have enough skill to start, with the hope of improving IMG_0420over time. So I found a project that will get me focused and can have a finish. I found a project that allows me to start at the skill level I am and provides me with room to grow.

I can use the materials I have (except for a new journal) and I can use the skills I have already learned. I don’t really need to take another class for awhile. I can review the lessons learned and now I practice and work.

The project is a journal that contains images of the plants in my garden. Since I spend all summer in the garden. I take pictures in the garden. Why not sketch and paint the flowers I am growing. It is all here and does not require me to go anyplace but home.

This journal can be as big as I want or as small as I need it to be. I can stop or do other volumes if I like. This garden journal can be passed on to my daughter or son or grandson as a reminder of the plants I have grown. I can include the photo images of each plant that I take to help me draw. It allows me to practice and build on skills. It gives me focus in a safe space and yet has a purpose behind it. It will keep me thinking, working and being creative.

It may help me

“…bring forth the jewels that are hidden within  – it is a fine art, in and of itself.”

Do you have a creative project in your life? Writing, sewing, building, painting, gardening – what do you do that is creative and nurtures your soul?

What do you do that amplifies, makes it a bigger, a happier, an expanded, and a hell of a lot more interesting life?IMG_6836 Rough draft of the spring crocus- beginning to learn



About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
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8 Responses to Creating Now and Always

  1. TammyB says:

    Thank you for your words and sharing the wonderful quotes – they are going in my notebook

  2. Ramona says:

    I love how you’re always looking to a project for engagement. Truly the sign of a lifelong learner. Enjoy drawing from your own garden and creating a keepsake for the future.

  3. Fran Haley says:

    I was just having a conversation with someone this week about the vital nature of creativity. It’s a need implanted deep within us, something necessary to human life. Doesn’t matter if it’s small-scale or large – it brings fulfillment. The quotes you chose set this off so well – they are true! And I applaud your courage in sharing your new artwork – it’s BEAUTIFUL. 🙂

  4. jumpofffindwings says:

    We are creative beings even if sometimes our efforts aren’t for the good of all. THIS one is a terrific idea. How wonderful to pass this your “How My Garden Grows” on to your family. What a gift! I also respect the return to a skill to refine especially when it obviously represents your passion: “Since I spend all summer in the garden.” (Do you know the children’s book Mrs. Rumphius by Barbara Cooney? You’d love it, and you two are kindred spirits!)

  5. Anita Ferreri says:

    I love how you need/want a sense of purpose to all you do and share that desire. I am pretty sure that whomever is lucky enough to receive your garden journal will be thrilled! Keep on it!

  6. What a beautiful creative pursuit! I can see how satisfying it is. Love your thinking – Why not sketch and paint the flowers I am growing. Why not, indeed!

  7. Rita K. says:

    You are an inspiration. Ur project sounds awesome. Hope you will share your progress.

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