This past weekend I went to a paint your pottery place with my three sisters (sister, sister-in-law, and pseudo sister). As always when we get together, it was an adventure. Of the four of us, I had never been to the pottery place before and I am the least artistic, by a lot. I mean if there is a visual artistic talent continuum, I might be the baseline for no talent.

The top talent of our group were my sister and sister-in-law. My sister is a talented artist. When she was a teenager, she would draw these elaborate animals that looked like numbers for the page numbers of her letters from camp. I vividly remember a beautiful swan she drew to be a number two. We also had a family craft tradition of drawing on these special plastic plates. Her sun and rainbow plates were legendary. During the Lockdown, my sister-in-law got really into decoupage and learned how to make candles. You can check out her stuff here on Instagram. She also got her real estate license. (That last bit has nothing to do with creativity. I just wanted to show what a go-getter she is. I spent my Lockdown, thinking the world was going to end, drinking a lot of wine, eating a lot of Oreos, and binge reading cozy mysteries.) As for my pseudo sister, I wasn’t sure where she was in our sister artistic continuum, but I knew she was above me.

A Fabulous Foursome

My sister picked the biggest coffee cup you have ever seen and started putting letters on it to spell peace and happy and drawing her trademark sun and some clouds. My sister-in-law arrived with a project in mind – a bowl with an elaborate design. She had reference pictures on her phone of the the types of birds she was going to ring the bowl with. Pseudo sister chose a shot glass. A very wise choice in terms of surface area to paint. She took her inspiration from one of the store’s finished pieces that had lime slices on it. The store helpfully provided a stencil and she went to work. I chose to paint a narwhal coffee cup. As you know, I am a coffee cup collector and the thought of a self-painted narwhal cup made me smile. I have a minor neurological problem with small motor control, which means that using my hands for detail work like painting is a bit harder for me than most people. I thought painting the narwhal would be easy because it was mostly one color with a little detail in the face and horn.

I find our range of creative approaches really interesting. We have some creator archetypes here.

  • The Free Wheeler – Having an idea and discovering more along the way.
  • The Planner – Coming with a project and reference material.
  • The Handywoman – adeptly using tools (the stencils).
  • The Realist – knowing her limits and picking a project to suit.

So what are the take aways?

  • Everyone approaches creative projects differently. So find the approach that works for you. And if it works for you, don’t compare your process to someone else’s.
  • If what you are doing isn’t working, try something different.
  • Every project is different, so what worked last time might not work this time. Be open to shifting your approach, even mid stream.
  • Play to your strengths or recognize your weaknesses and set expectations accordingly.
  • And finally things rarely turn out the way you planned.

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