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Keeping the Creativity Alive

Every artist gets stuck creatively at some point during their lives, and it has definitely happened to me! But these days, I feel like I have ideas pouring out of my fingers. So much so, that it’s like I’m tumbling over myself and there’s never enough time to get them done! This creates an exciting energy, a pulse, if you will, that propels me through my days and looking excitedly towards the future. That said, I must consistently keep finding ways to inspire myself and get my creative juices flowing – and there are lots of wonderful ways I make that happen!

One of my favorite things to do is take an art class. I’ll go just about anywhere to learn a new technique or craft that interests me. For example, just before the pandemic, I was taking a course on collage in nearby Pasadena. It was really stimulating to work with a completely contrasting set of materials (paper!) in 2-D form, which made my brain think in another dimension and on another level so opposite than building jewelry. Classes like this get my wheels turning, and it makes me take another look at jewelry materials and rethink how I can make those work differently in my jewelry.

If you’ve been following me on Instagram and watching my “stories”, you’ve most likely been alerted to my most recent art-escapade: an intensive class at the Penland School of Craft in North Carolina. This is my ultimate heaven. A place where a talented artist comes to instruct a small-sized class on a specific topic, meals are prepared and at a set time so you just show up, plus the attendees are all excited to be present and learn from 9am to 9pm. This session was more intense than others I’ve taken in the past, fitting into a short five-day course, but I soaked up so much new knowledge! Edna Madera, an authority in gold fusing, shared her expertise on using super-duper thin 24kt gold sheet (very labor intensive!), Keum-boo (an ancient Korean gilding technique using gold foil), and 23kt gold leaf to adhere to fine and sterling silver. The class went full steam ahead experimenting with the various techniques, and it was wonderful to see how different each person’s work turned out – despite using the same materials. I love being able to see the designs of the others at the same time I’m creating, as it often sparks concepts and leads me down another exploratory path.

In addition, just being around a group of creatives is enlightening – having conversations and interactions that spur new ideas. Best of all, the whole group really gelled and everyone was happy to share their findings as they found what tricks and methods worked for them. Oh boy, was I inspired and so excited to come back to my studio to keep working!

When I can’t commit to classes, there are other more immediate ways of instant brain invigoration. Walks in nature are number one on this list. Even a mere 30-45 minutes of walking on gorgeous trails or on the nearby beach here in Palos Verdes, California, gives my mind a chance to zone out and rejuvenate. Smelling the salty air, the pepper trees or sage plants; seeing cloud formations or colors in the landscape or a sunset....

And don’t forget about the visual impacts of walks. There are hawks dancing in the air, rabbits and the occasional coyote on the trails, and at low tide appear fantastic tide pools full of marine life wandering around (crabs, seas slugs, starfish, anemones…). The conglomerate of sights, scents, and sounds is refreshing. It’s even proven to be beneficial and stress-relieving, and it is known by its own term in Japan: forest bathing, Shinrin-Yoku. Being out in the landscape puts me in a new frame of mind, and when I get back to my office, I’m ready to tackle what lies ahead.

There is also travel. Whether I’m revisiting an annual haunt or going to a new or exotic place, being in an environment that is not my home is massively thought-provoking. I love seeing familiar faces, as well as chatting with new folks, often sharing my jewelry with each person while marking their reactions and draw to certain pieces. I enjoy going to different cities and trying their restaurants, like being in Kansas city and having to test the famous BBQ at Gates. Or visiting a city’s museum for instance the St. Louis Art Museum or The Legion of Honor in San Francisco to take in someone else’s creative endeavors. And, inspiration can be found in things as simple as going to the horse races in Lexington, Kentucky or tasting fresh oysters in Maine. Each new experience – the visuals, the shapes, the noise – gets banked in my memory for later use. Who knows how my brain will remix all this input and funnel it into a future creative project!

Last, but certainly not least, is being inspired by looking at gemstones and keeping my finger on the pulse of the geology and gemology world. To say I love natural science is an understatement. I am thrilled to constantly learn about the discovery of new rocks just unearthed or uncovered facts about a gem that’s been around for centuries.

I relish seeing the natural state of stones and learning why their crystal growth structure is just so or what causes that particular hue in a gem. It is amazing to me that earth continuously unveils her many secrets and treasures, and in turn, these treasures are endlessly inspiring me to mix, highlight and elevate them into the distinguished objects they are meant to be and share them with you.