Maker Genes?

Quilt that says "Let Your Light Shine!"

Is the tendency to be creative inherited? I come from a long line of makers, people who knew how to create things and preferred handmade over store-bought. Nature or nurture, I’m following in their footsteps. What do you know about your family’s creative legacy? Here’s mine.

On my mother’s side, my grandmother was a seamstress who did every kind of needlework imaginable. She crocheted doilies and embroidered pillowcases. She quilted.

She even did a type of cutwork called Hardinger embroidery. I remember looking at the Lee Ward’s catalogue at her house and being fascinated by all of the kits and supplies.

antique handmade buttons
Handmade buttons like those that my great-aunt made during World War II appear to be made with bone and yarn.

Her family in Poland rebuilt their house when the village was burned by the Bolsheviks in 1919. They raised their own food and honey bees. One of my great aunts even sold hand-made buttons and soap to feed her family during WWII. Now that’s resourceful!

My dad’s mother was also a maker. Every birthday card contained a hankie with a crocheted edging. For Christmas she made all 26 of her grandchildren a pair of flannel pajamas that were a pretty darn good fit. Out of those 26 grandchildren, there are several painters, card makers, an expert knitter, crocheters, a photographer, a hair stylist, meat cutters, bakers, cooks, crafters, a musician, and a painter of Ukranian Easter eggs. Sounds like a maker gene to me.

a painting of a house and yard
This is Grandma and Grandpap’s house remembered as a painting.

I’m not sure I can even list all the things my Mom has made over the years. My sisters and I had the best Barbie clothes in town: outfits for every occasion!

Every outfit was complete with accessories!

Mom made lots of our clothes, too. It wasn’t just sewing, she was great at many crafts. She crocheted and taught me to embroider when I was five. She did paint-by-number sets. She made the fanciest Christmas cookies you have ever seen. After her five of kids were a little older, she began to sell her wares at local craft shows to make extra money for Christmas.

Dad was handy, too. With help from my uncles he remodeled our house and added on three rooms, making all the cabinetry himself. He was always tinkering and learning. He made cutting boards and rolling pins to give as gifts.

rolling pin and cutting board

I’m obsessed with making. I love to watch people making things on Create TV or You Tube. I quilt and embroider and paint and dabble in other crafts, too. If a day goes by without working on a project it feels like a day wasted.

I could spend huge sums of money at hardware, craft, fabric or stationery stores, so I only go there for what I need (mostly). Raw material of any kind has so many possibilities!

When I’m out plein air painting the people who stop to chat often talk about their relatives who could draw or paint. I think they secretly wish they were carrying on that legacy, but they tell me they have no talent for it. I just tell them that I’m sure they have other gifts which painters don’t have. I hope their “maker gene” is getting expressed in some other way.

Keep on creating!

Art Will Make You Rich

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Sycamore Creek 2019

Do you want to get rich from your art? What is your definition of rich? Is it boatloads of money? Is it freedom from a boring job?

There are blogs and You Tube channels that will teach you how to sell you art.

  • Market Your Art in 12 Easy Steps
  • Promote Your Work on Pinterest!
  • Instagram Hashtags for Artists

One leads to another which leads to the next. Most of them contain some nugget that’s useful and some contain claims that have to make you wonder.

Putting your art out in the world for sale is a good thing. You’re using your gifts and other people get to enjoy your work. You will eventually sell some of it.

Here’s my angle on art and riches. Yes, I have sold my work. Back when country decor was hot, I painted country scenes, animals, fruits, flowers, and cute kids. Mostly I copied designs from instruction books. I sold a lot of it and did loads of commissions on milk cans and sawblades – pretty much any flat surface you can think of. A good bit of it was “trash to treasures”.

A berry bucket I painted for a hostess gift to take to Hiroshima. I filled it with locally grown popcorn and Amish jam.

Later I sold micro-miniature snow scenes on porcelain Christmas ornaments. Each one was unique and fun, because I painted intuitively using a wipeout technique to shape the landscape and the architecture. During the summers I cast the porcelain. Then all year I’d spend an hour each evening painting (after my students’ papers were graded). I sold at craft shows and on consignment. Most of my earnings went right back into more supplies.

porcelain Christmas bells
Porcelain Christmas bells

Lately I’ve sold some of my plein air work at exhibits or just on the street while I’m painting. I’m much too lazy these days for the hard work of art fairs.

What I do know is that I have gotten incredibly rich making art. I have met wonderful people and made great friends. I’ve painted in other states and other countries. I’ve spent time outdoors soaking up the sun and shade, serenaded by birds and frogs. Once, as I was painting a pavilion, a group gathered for beautiful religious chanting!

Leaf sketches in colored pencil, ink and watercolor
Art has given me a richer appreciation for nature.

My life is rich. I have a focus for my free time and I’m continually learning new skills in painting and in technology. I meet up with friends to paint and we share our work on social media. All of those things have made my life full and busy.

So keep on making art and you will be rich!

My Not-So-Green Thumb

Day of the Lilies painted at the Saksa Day Lilly Farm

Gardening is not my key strength. The only way my thumb will ever be green is from a tube of paint – sap green or viridian, most likely. My house is unfortunately where plants go to die.

My Dad was an avid gardener. Mom canned all the produce and planted big flower beds. None of this rubbed off on me. My sisters and I were expected to do the weeding. This was not a popular chore so maybe we developed a little of our creativity as we came up with excuses. If those didn’t work, we oiled up, so we’d get a tan. I still weed Mom’s flower beds, but it’s my least favorite chore.

Pots of flowers on my porch – potential painting!

Every spring I make my pilgrimage to the garden center. I swear this is the year I will have beautiful flowers, the envy of the neighborhood. I plant and fertilize for a month or so and then it gets hot and I lose interest. Those poor plants suffer just when they needed the most attention. I’m trying to reform and I’ve done a little better this year with a container garden. So far I’ve only lost one plant that didn’t get watered when I was away for a few days.

I am very grateful for real gardeners – the kind who shop for seeds in February. They plan and plant and pamper. Whether you are a volunteer at Franklin Park and Inniswood Gardens or a home gardener, I appreciate all your efforts. Your flowers inspire me! I need you!

My neighbors’ planting next
to their mailbox 9×12 oil

I seek out flowers wherever I can find them. Sometimes I scope out a scene for weeks, waiting for the blooms and the light to be right. When I’m painting the passersby are curious about the umbrella and the easel. Some stop to chat. So I provide a little diversion in these crazy times!

We all have different talents. That’s what makes us interesting and most importantly, interdependent. It’s almost like symbiotic relationships in nature.

If you’ve got a green thumb, I’ve got a paintbrush. I love to capture the beauty you’ve worked so hard to cultivate. If you like the painting we’ll work out a deal. Then you can have your garden blooming all winter long!

Beautyview Gardens