Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Making someone happy!

Norman is a tennis player. Even seeing out of just one eye, he is a tennis player. If he did not enjoy watching the game, playing the game, beating his opponent, or simply hitting the ball for the fun of hitting the ball, he would not be a tennis player. And as a true player, he collects all things tennis, like this multi-colored collection of tennis sneakers and the antique racquets that fill up our garage. In his retirement, a small thing like colorful sneakers makes him happy. Why not?

Being creative is what makes me happy. Happiness starts with a new idea, the prospect of turning an inspiration into my own creation. I've got a whole stash of happy thoughts just waiting to be painted, drawn, built or sewn at any time. It's amazing how I can remember anything at all with all those happy little dreams taking up residence in my head. There is pure joy in the development and decision making process. There is pure joy in setting up a composition on a canvas, selecting fabric, arranging my work area and starting a project.

Then there is the process. How could I not enjoy the process? I get into this weird zone with my work. It almost becomes a form of meditation with the strokes of my paintbrush flowing out of my hand without any effort at all. Music can be playing in the background, a podcast can be really interesting to listen to, but I hear nothing at all. It is really something to experience.... that zone of perfect creative harmony.

Completing a project can often be the most painful experience of all and the most thrilling at the same time. When is something done? I could re-work a section of a painting for months before I get it right. I am still re-working the border of a two year old quilt because I was not happy with the look and I knew a little hand stitching would be just the thing to make it perfect. I will put a project away and look at it on another day. I will take a picture of it on my iPad or phone just to see it in a different size or perspective. When something is right, I get it. And while no one else in my family will notice what I think is not finished, I will keep at it until the thrill of it being completed meets my artistic eye. I am my worst critic, but if I ever lower my standards, then why bother doing it to begin with? And it is always worth it. Always.

This is the season of giving. There is pure joy in gifting something I made to someone else. I almost always think that it comes down to making someone else happy. When something is done, the thrill is over and I am on to the next dream of another project. Only by making someone else happy can I keep that thrill alive. I love gifting my work. I love creating things with my hands. I love making people happy. It is my way to show them that I appreciate all that they do for me. It can be as simple as a handmade greeting card for Norman or a quilt that I worked on all year as a gift for Katie.

"Play it again, Sam"
Acrylic on canvas 24x30"
Sam recently dented the side of his ukelele and asked me to paint it. A couple of years ago, I painted a canvas for him with his fingers posed on the Steinway. It took me months to complete it. I was really proud of the result and thrilled for him to own one of my paintings. But I think he was just as excited to see his tiny painted ukelele and play me a song on the instrument once he re-strung it. Sam being his creative self on a Hawaiian painted uke...a gift that keeps on giving!

Happiness hits us all in such different ways. May we all find our "happy" in the New Year!





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