Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Are you a good creative?




Do you consider yourself a creative person?

Creativity is such a fascinating topic. I just read this article that clarifies the creative process by breaking it down into four steps. According to this article, we are all creative beings, but a ‘good creative’ is a person who navigates successfully through four stages and actually completes their project.

I recognized some of my own experiences in his article so today I thought I’d share a few highlights in case you can relate.

Let me use a personal outing of mine to make things clearer.


This past weekend I was craving some inspiration and one of my favorite places to go when I’m in this mood is a fabric store. There’s something about seeing wildly, colorful bolts of fabric every where I look that makes my little heart patter, and the weird thing is, I don’t even sew.

(I know. don’t try to figure me out).

So I headed to La Brea Avenue in the heart of LA to visit an old favorite shop of mine and to check out some of the quirky, Boho-chic shops along the way.

At this point, I just wanted to hop in the car and keep it totally unscripted, stopping whenever I saw something interesting. Although little did I know that-- according to this author--I was in the first stage of creativity.


the Mix

The hubby parked outside of a store called the Mix and these giant, colorful giraffes were calling my name so we went inside. It reminded me of a Cost-Plus on steroids. Think earthy colored textures, rustic woods and gorgeous, pricey textiles that I want to buy after I win the lottery.

Right down the street was the good old Diamond Foam & Fabric.



Twenty five years ago this was a bustling place with a fantastic fabric selection where you would often run into celebrities. I remember waiting to pay for my fabric behind Gloria Allred, the feminist attorney on one of my visits. But after we moved to Northern California I lost touch with this place.

These days I’m not sure about the clientele, but apparently Eva Mendes likes to shop here (although no, I didn’t see her or hunky Ryan, sniff-sniff).



But back to the topic of creativity.

This weekend I didn’t have a specific project in mind. More like a hodge podge of ideas, images and colors that are brewing in my head right now, like a mental Pinterest board.

As some of you know, we’re getting ready to move into a house that needs a lot of work and it’s got my creative juices flowing.

I feel like I’m on the verge of quite a few creative projects. Do you know that stage… before you’ve made any concrete decisions?  When you’re still walking around with ideas swirling in your head, touching fabric swatches and collecting paint colors to swipe on the walls?

Well that’s where I am.



1. Preparation Stage

According to the article this is first stage of creativity.

It’s called the Preparation Stage and it’s an open, curious process when you’re focused on gathering your data. If you’re an artist this is the stage you might visit an art gallery,  or if you’re a business investor you might be researching properties, or if you’re a computer programmer you might play with code.

You get my point.

Apparently it’s a stage that some find tedious, even stressful because at this point there’s lots of unknowns. And choices. If you’re getting ready to remodel your home this would be the time to be collecting all the pictures that you love. No lukewarm reactions allowed, only love. Go with your gut and don’t judge your collections, the goal is to keep an open mind and see what unfolds before you.

This process seems to run over into the next stage.

2. Incubation Stage

The second stage is what most of us would consider the mysterious part of the creative process. The incubation stage is when your conscious and unconscious mind is simmering on an idea. The author calls it percolating, because your idea is not even fully formed yet. Your brain is still making connections, sifting through possible outcomes and trying out new ideas.

For me, this is the decorating stage that shouldn’t be rushed, otherwise you end up with that dreaded feeling of regret afterwards. In my own humble opinion, this is the creative place that should be relished because it helps us define who we are, what we truly want, and what distinguishes our personal taste from the crowd.

The incubation stage is the one where you embrace your individuality and end up with your Eureka moment.



3. Illumination Stage


Every creative person—this means you--- knows the feeling that’s associated with this stage.

It’s that glorious ah-ha moment when those thick, confusing clouds part in the sky and you suddenly have a clear vision in front of you. Welcome to the illumination stage, the moment when you say,

“Yes! That’s it.”

That’s the right shade of paint or the perfect fabric for your couch or the pendant you want for your entry.

Or maybe you figure out your next book plot. Or your next business move.

Only as relieving as this clarity might feel, the ‘good creative’ knows that the work has only just begun.

4. Implementation Stage

Because if your creative vision is to become a reality, good planning and execution is a must. If you’re attempting a remodel this is also the point where you would delegate certain jobs to a professional, depending on your DIY skills and budget.

I found it interesting that according to the author the two areas that people typically struggle with in the creative process involve the first two steps.

Don’t skip these 2 things

Not taking the time to truly know yourself--what interests you and what drives you is one problem.

And the other oversight is not realizing how much our creative process benefits from socializing. From reaching out to other creative people and discussing your thoughts. Hearing feedback. Percolating is good, but being open to ideas also means tapping into people sources too.

This implementation stage is an important one and the author does a much better job explaining it HERE. You really should read it.

In the meantime I’ll share a few pictures from La Brea Avenue that I filed away in my simmering little brain.

How cool are these Mason Jar luminaries?


We stopped at La Boulange 


and had a sandwich and a cold Blue Moon while we were on La Brea.



Of course. Guess what the beer is served in? 

Yep a chilled Mason Jar.




Veryyy rustic lighting


…and here’s all the trendy materials in one shot.

Marble on top for the bakery counters.

Reclaimed wood on the bottom counter.

And concrete on the floor painted with white stencils.


Here’s a close up of the floor.

The café manager says that although it looks great, it’s starting to wear off in some places when scrubbed. Bummer.

And as we left the café I saw this beautiful pair of drapes hanging in the window of Deco Home and snapped a picture.


I’m seeing shades of orange popping up everywhere (note the café seat color) but unfortunately the glare in the window made it impossible to see the entire drapes.

The only photo that came out was this close up.


But it reminded me of another pair of very chic drapes from Jennifer Schoenberger’s home.

I love her warm, sophisticated style and if you’re interested you can see more of her portfolio at J. Schoebnberger Design and visit her blog HERE.

She’s recently moved into a new home and has already stained her wood floors and picked out the gray for her kitchen cabinets, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of her selections.




In the meantime, I hope I’ve got you thinking about your own creative process.

I think putting words to our intuitive experiences help us understand the stages we go through on our way to a final project. And I hope this information encourages you to see yourself as a creative resource. A person with ideas that matter.

Remember, you are the expert on yourself, so don’t be afraid of your hunches and your gut reactions. Value them enough to follow through with concrete actions.

I know as a DIYer, it’s easy to admire someone else you see as an ‘expert’ and to second guess your own decisions, but the next time you feel yourself sinking a bit after one of those mental comparisons, stop yourself.

Life is too short and you’re too old to keep underestimating yourself.


So…. tell me.

What project are you working on right now?






Sunflowers With Smiles said...

Interesting post! I am actually not working on any projects right now. I am in limbo with selling my home and looking for another one! I am just pinning away for new ideas for my new home hopefully soon! However, I am itching for a new project soon too!

Vickie @ Ranger 911 said...

I'm afraid I've got way too many projects I'd like to tackle, so in the end I'm doing none! That's okay right now because I have a very long winter ahead of me to work on things. I like the illumination stage the best - that aha moment when it all comes together. I bought many fabric samples for our dining room curtains before I found The One. I want to visit YOUR fabric store, Leslie!! I love all the striped grain sack like fabrics in the photo!

I love orange and I love to wear orange, so the curtains you've featured speak to me. :)

Tamera Beardsley said...

Such a wonderful post my dear! I think you, and the author, explained the magic … that is creativity beautifully! Especially by reiterating … we All are creative … some of us just practice it more!

Thank you for sharing such an uplifting topic, so beautifully!


Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. said...

Life is too short and you're too old to keep underestimating yourself - oh my, I must remember that!!! ... I'm actually feeling a bit inundated with projects at the moment. Besides the business related projects that never end, I feel like it's time to give my home a bit of a refresh - new paint, new window treatments, some new slipcovers and some statement lighting. It's kind of the old domino effect - one thing just naturally leads to another! ... And gosh Leslie, I really want to go shopping with you!

Mary Ann Pickett said...

That's an awesome husband who parks and waits. Love Diamond Foam. Michael Levine is good for slipcover materials.

My brain is always working...but I just don't want to spend any money. Good to have clients right now :)

Blondie's Journal said...

As always, you've written an interesting and insightful post. I have to read the article.

I hear you on the second guessing...I do that all the time. I don't trust my hunches and tend to dismiss them before I let them play out in my head or on paper, whatever. I've learned a lot by working and just observing my daughter, the Interior Designer. She jumps in not only having an idea, but with ways to expand on it to make it very unique.

I'm going to be changing my very small den from a formal sort of room filled with uncomfortable, stiff furniture and tons of messy bookshelves, to a casual cozy sitting room. I have to rip down outdated wallpaper and come up with something different for the walls. I am going to try to sell the furniture. I have to pick out new stuff, accessories, curtains and a new downsized place for my books. Honestly, I haven't given it more than a few general thoughts as I plan to get started after the summer season and my outdoor time slows down.

BTW, have you shared anything about your new house? I have bee MIA with all of my summer stuff.

Hope you are all well and good!

Jane xx

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

I love this post, Leslie...just reading about the creative process excites me. I am always doing several projects...but tonight I am right in the middle of the creative process on a wicker tray re-do. That stenciled floor is gorgeous...even if it does get worn. I think I feel another project coming up lol...

cindy hattersley design said...

I knew we were soulmates! I really don't like beer but I love Blue Moon!! Now if I can just follow those steps...

Karen said...

I'm in a creativity drought right now. My hope is that once the promise of autumn shows itself I'll be better. Maybe this article will help! :-) I do know that with age I've grown accustomed to what I really love and find myself less of a follower of ideas for a completely different style and direction. It's sort of a relief to be comfortable with what you love (design wise) no matter what.
Great post. I need to take a field trip to L.A.

Elizabeth@pineconesandacorns said...

Leslie, what an interesting article and post! I have never considered myself creative/artistic but after reading this perhaps I am.

I cannot wait to see what you purchased for your new projects. I am sure that all of the ideas spinning in your head are wonderful and how lucky we are that we get to see them as you work on them!

Enjoy your weekend!

Calypso In The Country said...

I love this post Leslie! And I love the quote because life really is too short... Right now I am stuck in the incubation period in my kitchen. But with the kids home for the summer, I don't think I will have time to break out of that stage for awhile. You got me thinking though and I have a feeling I will be revisiting your post for inspiration a few more times. Hope all is well with you dear!

Carla from The River said...

Fun post. I love the photos today.
I am working with my flowers. I am selling fresh cut flower arrangements from my garden. I love creating bouquets. All the fun colors and styles of flowers makes it a lot of fun.
Thank you for this fun post.

Jeanette@Creating a Life Studio said...

Very interesting info about the creative process and what a fun little tour today! I feel the same way about seeing lots of beautiful fabrics. I've always thought pretty fabric (even folded up on a shelf) was a work of art. Must be all that 'potential'?
I'm so happy you are planning things for your NEW HOME (!) Such an exciting time, Leslie. I'm always following along :)


Unknown said...

Leslie dear-I caught this post earlier and couldn't wait to get back to my laptop to comment. You are insightful and wise in sharing the inner workings of this process of creativity. I don't think I've ever seen the steps laid out in this way.
I loved seeing these pics of your exploration in LA (my old stomping ground as you know). I know it took much courage to get to your new life in your new city and it's inspiring to see your steps along this journey. You are in a phase of exploration and the sky is the limit on possibilities. Here's to the evolving blank slate into a perfect nest (trusting your gut all the way). And to connecting over wine sometime when I'm in SoCal! xx

Holly @ Down to Earth Style said...

Hello Leslie! I've got nothing as far as projects going on. It kind of feels a way. I just want to say hello quick. I was thinking about you and wondering about your move.

karen@somewhatquirky said...

I'm percolating as usual. I want to make a slipcover for my couch. I've got a settee for the dining room that needs to be covered. The living room needs redoing starting with the paint (something I've been wanting to do for 2 years). I've been getting ideas for my bedroom... would you like to hear more?

Gypsy Heart said...

Very interesting! I've been doing a few little things which mean a bit of progress for me. I have 3 pieces of furniture I'd love to paint but haven't determined colors yet.

My daughter has great vision and creativity so it's fun to bounce ideas off her. A good friend of mine calls me for help. Funny, huh? :)

Can't wait to see what you come up with. Loved the photos! My pulse increased when I saw the black & white and animal prints in the fabric shop.


Lori said...

I think that some people want to make the current trends their own even if they are not truly their styles ~ am I making any sense?? I know I am late to the party here and have not read the other comments left. I love the prep stage but maybe that is the organizer ~ type A in me. The only thing I have been working on this summer is my tan ~ fall will be here before we know it so anything that has to do with inside will be done then. We have been living on the deck and loving every minute of it. xo

Pitter and Glink said...

This post was fascinating! And all the photos in the post were definitely inspiring. As far as what I'm working on right now, the first would be having a successful school year with my new students. (School starts for them this week.) The other non-job related projects would be finishing my living room makeover and finishing my mom's kitchen/dining room makeover. AND I'm starting to think about house plans because we hope to build a new house within a year or so. I'm so glad I hopped over to your blog today to catch up with you. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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