Friday, November 4, 2011

What's On My {Creative} Bookshelf

I learn about lots of wonderful books through reading blogs--knitting and sewing books, books to use with and for my children, creativity-inspiring books... so as part of my goal of 30 posts in 30 days, I decided to share what I'm reading each week. This week I'm focusing on three creative books, all borrowed from the library, one requested and two just found. (Don't you love found books?)

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I requested The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life by Twyla Tharp. I've seen it mentioned here and there, most recently on a Craft Social post, and I thought it was time to give it a read. For anyone who doesn't know, Twyla Tharp is an American dancer and choreographer. She quite rightly (in my opinion) feels creativity is a habit, not a lightning stroke of luck from who-knows-where-all. I'm about halfway through the book. Right at the start I marveled at her morning ritual/way to start the day (and thus get the creative juices flowing). She wakes up at 5:30, gets dressed to work out, hails a taxi, and gets herself to the gym for a two-hour workout. She prefers to start her day getting warm because she is a dancer--makes perfect sense. Her ritual is part of her preparation for work.

Then I thought about how I begin my day. I get out of bed at 6:30--although I'm often awake before that, and perhaps have already fetched my youngest when she awoke, helped her to the bathroom, and taken her back to my room. I get into the shower. I get dressed, I pack two lunches, I get two kids off to school. Somewhere between 8 and 8:10 I can sit down with a cup of coffee; if I'm lucky I can drink it instead of pouring it into a travel mug and heading out somewhere else with my youngest. The start of my day doesn't lend itself to feeling creative. It mostly makes me grumpy.

She does mention that her "dumbest" idea was thinking she could have it all. (She has one child.) "I set out to have a family, have a career, be a dancer, and support myself all at once, and it was overwhelming. I had to learn the hard way that you can't have it all, you have to make some sacrifices, and there's no way you're going to fulfill all the roles you imagine...[w]hat makes it stupid is that I set up a way of working that was in direct conflict with my personal ambition. Something had to give." She doesn't mention (in that passage, anyway) what gave. I'm curious, though.

Turning on a dime here, the next two books are ones I found in the art section of the kids' room while my youngest was at the library for story time. Both are by Joyce Raimondo, and I feel a bit abashed that I hadn't known of these books beforehand. I borrowed Express Yourself! Activities and Adventures in Expressionism, and Picture This! Activities and Adventures in Impressionism. I am a bit passionate about providing open-ended, process-oriented art activities for my kids (and sharing what we do here, in hopes of inspiring others to do the same). The activities in these books are sufficiently open-ended that I think they might need to end up as Christmas presents so I don't have to remember the activities I wanted to try with the kids.

My philosophy of art-with-children is very much biased towards freedom, exploration, and self-led creativity. I love finding an inspiring book or two. And if you happen to live near Long Island (if only we had a boat, I bet we could get there in no time from here!), she offers classes and workshops, some of which are at the Jackson Pollock House (I want to visit!!). We also have Action Jackson out of the library at the moment. When I finished reading it to my three-year-old, the first thing she said was, "When can I paint like that?" I'm working on that one--and I love that she asked!

So, are you reading any inspiring books at the moment?


Bells said...

i adore writing that's about the creative experience, the creative habit, and all that stuff. It's inspirational and so helpful.

I can feel a little overwhelmed by those stories though - the whole getting up at 5:30 for 2 hours at the gym thing is pretty intimidating. We each have to find our own way through that maze I guess. But you're right - it is a habit. I'm just glad I found out I enjoyed it so much early on!

lamina @ do a bit said...

I have had my eye on that book -the creative habit - for a while now! Sounds really interesting... I totally agree that you have to create an art habit, otherwise everything else "life" gets in the way and you never get anything done :)

Michelle said...

You know me and habits. I have none. :) Sounds like a fantastic read.