Creativity

I’ve been thinking about creativity a lot lately.

I think I buy into a misconception that engineering is a left-brained activity –devoid of creativity, the opposite of the arts. The reality is that my job demands creative thinking 40 hours a week. I’ve never designed a system that was just like the one I designed before, and it always seems to take the combined efforts of a room full of people to come up with a suitable solution for every problem. It’s tough for me to go to work all day, then go home and still have the energy to paint. I use up my creative energy solving problems at work, and come home with little left to apply to my art.

People who aren’t familiar with art think it must be a relaxing activity – a release, if you will. But it isn’t. Not for me anyways.

For me, painting is anything but relaxing. Painting can be exhausting. It’s one of the most difficult things I’ve ever tried to master. I’ve been oil painting for 5 years now and am just now starting to turn out work that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to hang in a gallery. And when I look at my best paintings now, I know with 100% certainty that I still have a long way to go.

I used to struggle with the reality that I didn’t have the skill to do what I wanted to do with my art. I think that society conditions us to believe that artistic talent is something bestowed on us by God, and that the greats were born with the ability to create masterpieces. When we fall short of perfection, it’s easy to believe that we just weren’t born with enough talent. It makes for an easy excuse – a reason to give up.

I’m starting to understand that this is a big lie. I’ve met a lot of successful artists over the past two years, and none of them got where they are without a lot of hard work. That might sound like common sense, but in the art world I don’t think it is common sense. People believe that creativity comes in great flashes of light, and only to an inspired few.

I believe that you might start with a bit of talent, but that it isn’t going to get you anywhere if you don’t know how to channel it.

When I was at the bookstore the other day, I picked up Twyla Tharp’s book, “The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life.” The title is kind of gimmicky and self-help oriented, but it looked interesting and I thought I’d give it a read. I’m glad I did – I got a lot out of it.

It’s not so much a guide to being creative as it is a thesis on the creative process and a view into the work habits that have turned Tharp into a successful choreographer. It talks a lot about what one needs to do to foster the right environment to support the creative process, and it’s not full of touchy-feely suggestions like you might expect. It all boils down to discipline and hard work. Again – common sense, but a refreshing reminder that art is not about staring at a blank canvas waiting for inspiration. It’s about deciding what you want, and having the discipline and preparation to get you there. I’d recommend this book to anyone who is remotely into the arts – whether it be music, writing, dance, or visual arts, I think the concepts in it are applicable, and it’ll get you thinking about what being creative means.

Creativity

I’ve been thinking about creativity a lot lately.

I think I buy into a misconception that engineering is a left-brained activity –devoid of creativity, the opposite of the arts. The reality is that my job demands creative thinking 40 hours a week. I’ve never designed a system that was just like the one I designed before, and it always seems to take the combined efforts of a room full of people to come up with a suitable solution for every problem. It’s tough for me to go to work all day, then go home and still have the energy to paint. I use up my creative energy solving problems at work, and come home with little left to apply to my art.

People who aren’t familiar with art think it must be a relaxing activity – a release, if you will. But it isn’t. Not for me anyways.

For me, painting is anything but relaxing. Painting can be exhausting. It’s one of the most difficult things I’ve ever tried to master. I’ve been oil painting for 5 years now and am just now starting to turn out work that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to hang in a gallery. And when I look at my best paintings now, I know with 100% certainty that I still have a long way to go.

I used to struggle with the reality that I didn’t have the skill to do what I wanted to do with my art. I think that society conditions us to believe that artistic talent is something bestowed on us by God, and that the greats were born with the ability to create masterpieces. When we fall short of perfection, it’s easy to believe that we just weren’t born with enough talent. It makes for an easy excuse – a reason to give up.

I’m starting to understand that this is a big lie. I’ve met a lot of successful artists over the past two years, and none of them got where they are without a lot of hard work. That might sound like common sense, but in the art world I don’t think it is common sense. People believe that creativity comes in great flashes of light, and only to an inspired few.

I believe that you might start with a bit of talent, but that it isn’t going to get you anywhere if you don’t know how to channel it.

When I was at the bookstore the other day, I picked up Twyla Tharp’s book, “The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life.” The title is kind of gimmicky and self-help oriented, but it looked interesting and I thought I’d give it a read. I’m glad I did – I got a lot out of it.

It’s not so much a guide to being creative as it is a thesis on the creative process and a view into the work habits that have turned Tharp into a successful choreographer. It talks a lot about what one needs to do to foster the right environment to support the creative process, and it’s not full of touchy-feely suggestions like you might expect. It all boils down to discipline and hard work. Again – common sense, but a refreshing reminder that art is not about staring at a blank canvas waiting for inspiration. It’s about deciding what you want, and having the discipline and preparation to get you there. I’d recommend this book to anyone who is remotely into the arts – whether it be music, writing, dance, or visual arts, I think the concepts in it are applicable, and it’ll get you thinking about what being creative means.

Home Sweet Home?

So, Nate and I have always had this dream of living in the mountains, and we’re always on the lookout for the perfect mountain property. My main requirement for a piece of land is that it be in or near a cool mountain town, and that it have a nice view. Nate’s a little more picky and wants to be near a lake (slightly hard to come by in Colorado – not much water here!!).

Over the past two years we’ve fallen in love with Steamboat Springs, and decided that even if we never move to the mountains we’d at least like to have a cabin somewhere near Steamboat where we can spend summers and go for ski trips in the winter.

Turns out that there’s a lake just south of town called Stagecoach Lake. There used to be a ski area near the lake that operated for a few years in the 70’s before going bankrupt. The area was just starting to be developed when the ski area went under, and hasn’t been developed much further since. Because the area hasn’t been fully developed (many lots don’t have utilities at all), the lots are still semi-affordable (yay!).


My husband, being the water junkie that he is, decided that this was the perfect location for our future mountain cabin. Disappointed that no waterfront lots were for sale at all in 2005, he took matters into his own hands and sent letters to all of the waterfront property owners, asking if they would be interested in selling. Two of the property owners are willing to sell, and we’re seriously considering buying one of the lots.

Since we were in Steamboat skiing this weekend, we drove down to the lake (it’s a 20 minute drive from downtown Steamboat), and took a look at both lots. Both lots are technically waterfront lots – the only land between them and the water is owned by the state. One lot sits lower and closer to the water, and one lot sits higher but has a better view. We’re trying to figure out if the lot closer to the water would be a better investment before we decide which one to buy.


(Yes, I really am a big nerd. But the diagram is meant to be illustrative of the lot locations, so I just had to include it.)

Either way, I’m excited. It would be a great location to build – isolated enough to be a nice getaway, close to good skiing and a cool town, next to a wilderness area with a bunch of trails, and on the water so Nate can waterski in the summer.


Let’s just hope we can agree on what lot to buy and get things moving!

Home Sweet Home?

So, Nate and I have always had this dream of living in the mountains, and we’re always on the lookout for the perfect mountain property. My main requirement for a piece of land is that it be in or near a cool mountain town, and that it have a nice view. Nate’s a little more picky and wants to be near a lake (slightly hard to come by in Colorado – not much water here!!).

Over the past two years we’ve fallen in love with Steamboat Springs, and decided that even if we never move to the mountains we’d at least like to have a cabin somewhere near Steamboat where we can spend summers and go for ski trips in the winter.

Turns out that there’s a lake just south of town called Stagecoach Lake. There used to be a ski area near the lake that operated for a few years in the 70’s before going bankrupt. The area was just starting to be developed when the ski area went under, and hasn’t been developed much further since. Because the area hasn’t been fully developed (many lots don’t have utilities at all), the lots are still semi-affordable (yay!).


My husband, being the water junkie that he is, decided that this was the perfect location for our future mountain cabin. Disappointed that no waterfront lots were for sale at all in 2005, he took matters into his own hands and sent letters to all of the waterfront property owners, asking if they would be interested in selling. Two of the property owners are willing to sell, and we’re seriously considering buying one of the lots.

Since we were in Steamboat skiing this weekend, we drove down to the lake (it’s a 20 minute drive from downtown Steamboat), and took a look at both lots. Both lots are technically waterfront lots – the only land between them and the water is owned by the state. One lot sits lower and closer to the water, and one lot sits higher but has a better view. We’re trying to figure out if the lot closer to the water would be a better investment before we decide which one to buy.


(Yes, I really am a big nerd. But the diagram is meant to be illustrative of the lot locations, so I just had to include it.)

Either way, I’m excited. It would be a great location to build – isolated enough to be a nice getaway, close to good skiing and a cool town, next to a wilderness area with a bunch of trails, and on the water so Nate can waterski in the summer.


Let’s just hope we can agree on what lot to buy and get things moving!

Hitting the Slopes

I just got back from a weekend of skiing in Steamboat Springs and I’m really wishing I could have just stayed there.

If only I was a good enough skier to consider being a ski bum… Maybe I should work on my skills.

A bunch of friends from Chicago flew out for the weekend, and we decided to rent a condo in Steamboat so we could avoid driving home in ski traffic every night. It turned out to be a fantastic idea – Steamboat has had a record amount of snow this season, so the conditions were perfect!

Me and Nate getting ready to go:

Scott conquering the mountain of snow in the parking lot:

The view from mid-mountain:

A failed attempt at skiing in 3 feet of powder: