Hobbies Free your Mind and Open the Door to Creativity



I was scrolling around on Instagram today and saw someone sketch a little pencil drawing with a fine mechanical pencil, a white colored pencil, and a q-tip, not the musician, the cotton swab.


Within seconds it appeared as if the image was made of water droplets and in 3D! It was beautiful and inspiring.


It made me want to run a grab all my pencils, and try it. It also got me thinking about how our creative minds act and react to stimuli.


When we are young, we go to school to learn things, at least, we are supposed to. In sixth grade, I took a creative art class to do everything from making sandstone carvings to pottery. My favorite was creating pencil or charcoal drawings.


I did carve a sweet sandstone statue that weighed about ten pounds we had around the house for years. I don't know what happened to that thing. It just disappeared.


Sometimes you don't know what you will enjoy creating until someone forces you to try it. I never dreamed I would enjoy pottery, and although everyone made ashtrays their first time, it was still fun. I began trying to make a coffee mug, but after the sides collapsed, it became an ashtray.



There were a few things I was completely horrible at doing. I was no Bob Ross, and oil and acrylics were my enemies.


No matter how I tried, my paintings always turned into a goopy mess. I couldn't blend the colors, and if we dared paint watercolor, my paper always looked like a used tissue by the time I finished.


Over the years, I have tried various forms of creativity. In high school, I created digital art on my Commodore 64, using number generating software I wrote, others by actually drawing it. Pixel art was getting a start with Commodore's fantastic 16 color system.


In my 20's I became serious about model building. I loved models as a kid and built many over the years growing up. I designed my creations using various models and mixing parts. I entered a contest at the local Red Dragon Hobby Shop and won first prize. Winning this contest with something I created opened the door to my creative side and made me realize, you can create without following standards and rules, which was great for me because I had a problem following directions.


In my 20's I decided to take the songs I wrote in my teens and put them to music. I started a punk rock band called Lug. We played, recorded, jammed live a few times for about a year before breaking up. I then wrote more sings and jumped on the alternative music scene, making my music in a one-man band called Strumm. Hey, that sounds familiar?


Yep. My novel I am currently writing features my band name in the book's title, Losing Dani Strumm.


I believe that in the recesses of my mind, as I worked on the storyline, the thought of being alone and having to do everything yourself as Dani did remind me of my old band Strumm. So it became her last name.


I have found that when you try different things, artistically speaking, you may not be good at it, but it may still lead to something else.


Although I like my music, and I feel it was good, it still led to more. We need to encourage art and artistic expression. I'm not talking about the random stuff like urinating on crosses or vulgar depictions of children and calling it art. I'm speaking about real artistic creations such as making something with your hands, drawing, painting, building, models, music, things that express and foster more creativity.


I encouraged my youngest daughter to express herself in paintings and drawings, and she is a great artist. She had a natural talent at a young age, and it has grown since.


I remember once when she was about 6 or 7, and she handed me a drawing saying, "Here, dad, I drew this for you," to which I replied, "thank you dear, but you mean traced, right?"


"No."


Confused, I said, "you traced this. You had to. There are no eraser marks, no overdrawn lines, no mistakes. This picture is too perfect."


"No, dad, I drew it. Watch," and she drew another picture right in front of me, and I couldn't believe it.


I am convinced she will be a famous artist someday.


My point to all of this is, do not be afraid to try things, even if you think you will be no good at it. Everything that you create uses the same part of your brain, and it is like any exercise. The more you do it, the better you become.


I always tell people who are frustrated with things they are trying to accomplish for the first time, "People who win gold medals in the Olympics do so from years of training. They don't come down from the stands, never having practice or experience, and win the gold. That does not happen!"



The first story I wrote was in third grade. It was a tale of horror and suspense—kids who decided to spend the night in a haunted house. At this time in my life, I was a huge Alfred Hitchcock fan. I had the album Alfred Hitchcock Presents Ghost Stories for Young People.


I was inspired!


Of course, being eight years old and never have written a creative story before, my story sounded an awful lot like one from the album. Of course, I changed people's names to protect my inability to be creative on my own.


It was a great hit! Of course, Hitchcock deserves all the credit for that one.


But the joy I got that day from the listeners as I read my story aloud to the class made me want more. Not the attention. Not the praise or salutations for my work, but the joy it brought to the listeners.


That became my carrot. To this day, I honestly get more joy from someone telling me how much they loved one of my books than anything else, especially strangers, who are the most brutally honest.


I may have never experienced that if I wouldn't have plagiarized Alfred's work in third grade.


Another significant influence on my storytelling was my grandfather. He was continuously telling us stories. Some I know he made up, others, I know he plagiarized.


But it made me want to do that.


When my siblings and I were young, we would tell each other stories—trying to recreate what my grandfather did.


My grandfather was an avid reader as well. As far back as I can remember, he was always in the middle of a novel or paperback. He read Mcbain, King, L'Amour, and many others. Of course, this made me want to read as well.


In my teens, I became a huge reader and collected Stephen King's first edition hardback novels. I read everyone more than once, some multiple times.


Once I read The Shining twice in a row. I mean that literally. The moment I finished it, I began again.


Another favorite author of mine is Piers Anthony.


I believe he is one of the most significant influences in my Pandemic Dawn Series. The whole parallel universe existing beside each other that only an elect few can jump between is fascinating to me.



In Pandemic Dawn, the Frame is an alternate reality within the computer world, and only machines, Makayla or humans with VR devices, can enter it.


Eventually, The Frame becomes home to Dorothy's consciousness, and Makayla often visits her there. I love it!


I encourage others all the time to "try" something.


I have been playing with the idea of creating a podcast or talk show stream catering to the creative, both locally and open to others. The format would be to encourage and help local artists, musicians, authors, etc.


Right now, with lockdowns and groups unable to meet in public, all of the arts have suffered. I believe that this would give artists an avenue to express themselves and people a place to experience.


So this may happen!


I will probably have to start a GoFundMe or something to get the money to start it up, but once it's going, I think it could take care of itself.


So don't be afraid to paint, pick up that ukulele, write a poem, sing, sketch, tell a story. Every exercise you do will make your creative brain stronger!


Remember, we need to encourage the young too!


The world needs creativity!


The expression of art is where beauty resides, and to see, hear and experience it, the mundane becomes humus and flowers joy.









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