Painter under an umbrella
Here I am in my native habitat, painting at Franklin Park Conservatory among the dahlias. Photo by Nancy Vance

By now we all know way too much about contagious viruses, but what about contagious creativity? How do you feel when you see someone else painting or building or sewing? Does it make you want to pick up your brush or hammer or needle? I’m convinced that creativity is contagious. When I watch other people work, my fingers get itchy. I can’t stand to just watch. I want to make something, too! Sometimes I dive in before I really know what I’m doing. Figuring it out is the fun part.

Even if I watch someone doing an art or craft that I probably won’t try, I still feel like it can cross pollinate to the work I do. Selection of fabric for a quilt can translate into color schemes for a painting. Texture in carving or print-making might influence stitchery. I right this blog to stay inspired and motivated to create. Here are some of the ways I “catch” creativity.

My cousin, Emilie Freeman, is the ultimate creative. She’s never met a craft she didn’t like. She can see a gourd growing in the garden and imagine the bowl she’ll carve from it .

Basket carved from a gourd

I can’t begin to count the ways her skills cross over from one area to another. She decorates cakes and has the patience to go through the meticulous process of waxing and dying to keep the tradition of Ukrainian Easter eggs alive. Every time I visit her I feel that energy. Some of us put up the same holiday decorations every year. Not Emilie! There’s always something new and amazing. She does it all to share her joy.

Ukranian Easter eggs
Emilie starts with traditional Ukranian designs but improvises as her creative process unfolds.

If you hang out with creative friends or belong to a group with similar interests, you inspire each other. You have a forum for sharing what you’ve created and give each other useful feedback. Over time you can see growth in skill and imagination all around you. The group encourages you to keep working and improving . Members of the group share info about gear and techniques. They send each other links to podcasts and videos. Inspiring!

Central Ohio Plein Air is a group like that. We paint together on Saturdays. There are no dues or officers. We just show up and paint at a predetermined location. Seeing these folks week after week for years has resulted in some good friendships and definitely broadened my horizons.

The group contains oil painters, pastelists, and watercolorists of all skill levels. We’re all working to improve our skills no matter how many decades we’ve been at it. The artistic growth of the painters who stick with it is astounding! The work of more accomplished painters helps beginners to see what is possible. You just have to remember that they worked to get to that level so you have to be patient and put the time into study and practice

Of course you can spend hours watching You Tube videos and never make a thing. Entertaining, but not productive! You’ve got to do it to really learn it. So instead, hang out with creative people and be contagious!

Dahlias at Franklin Park Conservatory