They say the things we did for fun at 8 years of age are the things that will – then and now – make us happiest. I’m not sure where I heard this, but when I did, it struck me. And it did so again during a recent visit to my parents’ home.
I found this shell on display in a powder room, inscribed with its date of creation: 1988. I was 10 at the time, and pursuing a budding career in shell painting. These little studies took up much of my summer afternoons, and I spent hours churning out pieces for friends and family. (There were many duds, of course: one gem that my sister has since “lost” screamed “Erika’s Room!” in a horrid peach-and-mint-green palette. Not my best work).
But producing a masterpiece each time wasn’t the point. I got lost in the blissful act of creation, and loved it. There was no goal, no deadline; I was creating art for the sake of creating art.
I thought of this recently when my friend Marley visited me at the shore. She arrived with handfuls of colorful embroidery floss in tow, and we whiled away the day weaving bracelets, recalling the knots of our youth, muscle memory at its best.
With each new project, I spent an embarrassing amount of time choosing colors and designing my pattern. Like painting shells, each new design presented me with a limitless combination of colors and an empty slate, the possibilities endless.
And I realized: this isn’t too different from dreaming up a concept for a room. In fact, little creations like these can act as a springboard for new designs: like how a room would look with a with a buttery leather sofa, lavender and orange throw pillows, brass accents, and a patterned rug to bring it all together.
And I guess that’s the point of all of this: by letting myself get totally wrapped up in something so simple yet so consuming, I not only created something beautiful (to me), but came out of it with renewed inspiration.
On that note, I’m diving more freely into my little creative projects, starting now. Projects I’m pursuing purely for the joy they bring me. We all get caught up in the speed and hustle of everyday life – at least I do. Things may move fast around me, but it doesn’t mean I can’t slow down and find time for the things I love.
So I’m watercoloring more, painting more, sketching more. And in the spirit of sharing, I’ll be publishing a different sample of work each month, starting with some watercolor studies I’ve been working on.
Hey, what’s old is new again.