Reflections on the Journey.

When thinking about getting somewhere, it has always been about setting goals and getting there. But how do I define there? Where is there?  My journey has not been a smooth one, and I am still far from where I want to be.  I hit a patch of serious depression, where even getting up in the morning was hard. During that time I lost control of the web domains I had been building a brand upon. RennataTropeano and GrowingUnique. Today as I look at this, I could buy growingunique back for only $3695, which is not happening. RennataTropeano seems to have been take over by some alt Rennata, it looks like a personal blog, but with posts by the user gotham. But not me.

So, I loop back and gather myself again and start anew. Creative. No question there, being creative is the thing that keeps the depression at bay. Unique. I have always embraced that term.  Different is not okay in our modern society. Conformity is the norm.  Unique, however has enough style to be okay, so I have always sought to be unique. What is the direction that my creativity and artwork is taking?   A bit of magic and mystical, wandering to faery.  This led me to updating my mission statement. “Growing Unique is about my quest for a life that is unique, creative and magical. I enjoy helping people move from dreaming their life, to living their dream.”

I have become very interested in the links between creativity and mental health. I have not quite yet figured out how to fit that into my mission statement, but when I do, it will be there.


Furry Friends, a work in progress

When searching through my collection of images for the theme of Furry Friend this little black squirrel. I am enjoying this challenge of doing 30 watercolors in July for #WorldWatercolorMonth hosted by Doodlewash.comWIP Furry Friends, I have found that daily creativity is one of the best habits I can have. I start by blocking out 25 minutes for painting in the morning as a starting point. Many times it goes longer than that because it is going well and I am enjoying it. But, I seem to be more productive in other areas when after I have started with creating.  I am also taking a course on creativity from Coursera. One of the things that jumped out at me is a quote.

“To live is to have problems and to solve problems is to grow creatively” J.P. Guilford

I think process of working creatively also does the converse, it frees that part of your mind that solves problems, so you get more done as you spend less time looking for answers to the small things.



This quote from one of my favorite fairy tales, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S.Lewis sums up my thoughts on believing and faith.  We are at a time when choice of who and what to believe in abound and I see a lot of believe what I believe or I will unfriend you.

The character who made the above statement was being presented with all kinds of arguments as to why he should not believe and that it would be desirable to just agree with what was being said.  He believed in what was right and held fast to those beliefs.  It is a simple message, about faith. There are a lot of area in our lives that need faith. A belief that is unshakeable and resists change, a path to follow.  This can go for your religious views, or just simply a goal you wish to achieve.

Me, I want to be an artist. I want to bring magic and beauty into everyday life. I want to celebrate that which is good about living.  I am on the side of beauty and everyday magic, even if they do not exist. I am going to live a life of beauty and magic, knowing that Narnia exists and not listen to those who tell me otherwise.

I am on Aslan's side, and will live like a Narnian.



Progress on the Journey

Originally posted DSC

What did you do today that helped you move closer to your goals?

Today I wandered around Barnes and Noble, picking up various books on topics that interest me. How to books on reworking clothes, Watercolor painting books,photography books, etc.  Each one I picked up reminded me of a similar book that I had picked up on a previous visit.  Each book was in its own way about living a creative life.  If you throw in all the other creative choices, such as cooking, woodworking, gardening, writing, etc., these books have a significant amount of the floor space allotted for adult reading.  I realized that there is a difference between reading and learning.  Many of these books that I have purchased over the years have been books that I read, but did not learn.

Where I am making progress in my creative journey is in photography, and this is because of the mentorship program in which I am participating.  The key word is participating. I am using the camera and talking about it with the other participants.

Week 2 Plus Post-I am participating in the Camera Basics, Beyond Automatic Mentorship by +G+ Mentorship Program for Photographers organized and run by the program directors, +Robin Griggs Wood +Ron Clifford and +Tamara Pruessner Each week I will be posting a Plus …read more

Source: My Google+

Inspired by a Mouse

This weekend I was looking through children’s books to purchase some for a very special young man named Evan. My daughters were with me and we were picking out books from our childhood.  It was a little odd that I was finding more of them than my daughters were. I realized that many of the books I was finding had little stickers celebrating their 50th anniversary, so maybe it wasn’t so odd.  One of the books that I found was one that I looked for without luck when my daughters were small was Fredrick.  Fredrick was a small field mouse who saved the summer sun, the colors and the stories for when winter was grey.    Looking back I realize that this book was not only a favorite, but it put an idea into my head that sunshine, and colors and stories were important.

Paper Flowers

I have always been drawn to collage, even though it is not one of my primary media.  I think it must date back to my love of  books done in this style.


Pink Pelicans


My daughter has an assignment to find a picture that inspires you to think of a story. It is for a short story project they are doing in school.  I take lots of pictures that are exactly that, things that I see that spark something creative in me.  A lot of times I am not sure what the final outcome of the picture will be. Some are starting points, such as why are these pelican pink?  Some will end up as part of a digital collage, Some I will turn into a painting, removing all the clutter that ends up in so many pictures.  So much of “being a creative person” is  taking the time to gather these inspirations, and then let them develop into something new.  As we started looking at pictures I was directing her attention to the stories that I saw in so many of the images. She however saw different things, and different stories.  She ended up choosing 6 pictures, which I promptly sent to the printer.

As it always seems to happen, go to print homework, and the ink is running out.  It struck me as funny that what happened is that they all ended up with odd overtones of pink.  (No, my pink pelican picture was not one of them, those silly birds were actually pink.)  This was not a good effect on four of the pictures, but a pink Big Ben against a baby blue sky, and a surreal pink picture of a Dali sculpture were the final picks.

It is always a pleasure to see people making these creative leaps to their own final product. It just reminds me of how important it is to being open to seeing the possibilities. We could have been rushing out on a cold night to try and find a new print cartridge. Thankfully she was able to see past the idea of it being “right” to the fun of a surreal sculpture in surreal colors.

So back to those pink pelicans, the reason they are pink is they are eating the same thing that the flamingos eat. It makes them pink, just not as pink as the Flamingos.

I was a little sad to find this out, I had a much more interesting story going in my mind.  Hmm, Maybe I should write it.


Another piece of concept art for my book.  I may end up with one piece for every chapter at this rate.  Today is a day with lots to get done. I have some serious writing to do, as I am behind in my word count.


We have had stuff around the house and kids activities. All and all a lot to get done.  I have not had as much time as I’d wish to go visit and see the other artists who are participating in AEDM. There is such a wide variety of styles and techniques.

This morning I am thinking about what exactly developing a creative rhythm means to me and what it looks like.

I have come to accept that creativity has a rhythm,  what I tend to think of as an ebb and flow much like the tides.   High and low tides are not thought of as good and bad, but rather as parts of a whole.  Sometimes there is a a lot of water, and sometimes a lot of sand. I swim in the water and I walk on the sand.  I have found that by recognizing and embracing this natural rhythm in my creativity I am better able to move through the periods of low creativity by setting up exercises and activities that encourage the smooth cycle from one to the other.

When the tide is in, I create.  When I am feeling creative all kinds of ideas come into my head. They range from ideas for epic novels, to copy for the website.  The painting that has been stuck, I suddenly know what to do with it.  I have the most brilliant ideas for rearranging the studio to facilitate better creation, or how to rearrange my work space.

All of these are good, but learning to prioritize what I am going to do in this super creative moment is key. Some of these activities will feed the creativity, and others will bog it down. So I assess where I am, and what are my time constraints are.  If I am in the studio, I make a note of the novel idea, the website copy and the studio redesign. I am in the wrong place for the novel, and the others are things that the process with bog me down and waste creative high point. It is the idea of them that is important.

During times of low creativity, I take care of the things that need doing. This is the time to implement that brilliant studio redesign, and while I am doing that work, it is also time for taking in or filling the well.  The taking in of art as part of the process is something that I have come to enjoy. It is important to replenish what you are doing with not only visual input, but also theory on the process. One way of doing this is by listening to different people speaking on artistic and creative theory such as the podcast, The Accidental Creative.

It was actually by listening to the podcast, that I realized how much of my time was spent out of rhythm with my creative process.  The podcast is designed for creative professionals, helping them develop the tools to be healthy and productive in a create on demand industry.  One of the biggest problems I had was time. I might not be facing the problem of having to be “on” every day, but my limited time caused all my creating to be essentially create on demand.  My goal, to be making my living through the creative process, rather than expending all my creative energy making a living was my demand.  Back in 2007, I started listening, and was exposed to the ideas of Seth Godin and David Allen, and the idea of creating unnecessarily.  I start to learning how to live with a creative ethic, learning to practice and to take the time to create for the shear joy of creating.  I listed to podcasts such as

AC#90  in which Todd Henry talked about the importance of prioritizing time for creating. I realized that I had stopped growing creatively, I had stagnated. I decided to make it a priority.

Speaking of making it a priority, I have some words waiting to get out of my head and it is time to be writing.

I thought you were writing?


Today I was going to get all caught up on my writing. Except today was the first day of a new fiber show, The New England Fiber Festival at the Big E. So much yarn, fiber and wool. I have been wanting to do some needle felting, so I bought some rovings in different textures and colors.

How could I just package it all up and not play with it ? I decided to keep it short, so I set a timer and created the start of this little doll.  I just had to post a picture, but instead of just taking a quick snapshot with my cell phone and calling it good, I had to build her a setting and get out the fancy camera.

I love creative play. I think that many times adults forget why it is kids play. It is relaxing, fun and makes you smile.

I can not explain how energizing it was to go look all all the beautiful yarns, sheep, Llamas and all the cool things that were made or to make things out of them.

More creating and more playing, but for now it is time to go write.

By Will, by Design, by Desperation or by Chance.

Yesterday I was surprised by the number of ways by which people said they were motivated to create. Maybe motivate is not the right word, it was more about the methods they employed to keep themselves creating.  Author Bob Vardeman wrote about writing bDSC02778y will. Others were very excited by a program that is called something like Write or Die. If you do not produce so many words on the page, the software provides negative feedback up to knowing it will start erasing your words.  In thinking about why the others methods worked for them and why they would not work for me, I realized that I would do much better with a software program that provides positive feedback. For example, I love the little meters in Nanowrimo that chart your progress.

I also read an article that lists the five most common driving forces as Guilt, Resentment and Anger, Fear, Materialism and Need for Approval. (In the November 2010, Art Calendar, Living with  an Abundance of Purpose.  While the article was all about how to change those into something positive, it saddened me to see those as a given.  I work for an attorney who practices family law, so I will not dispute them being common, but the most common is what disturbed me.

I create because I enjoy it.  I teach and blog because I want to share it, and engage in a discussion about it.  I started examining what motivates or drives people when  creating.  Bob is a full time author so making a paycheck influences his choice to write. That does not translate it into materialism in my mind.  Those who were excited about the new software were motivated by avoiding the negative for a whole variety of reasons. It is my design to create on a regular basis.  Taking advantage of the ebb and tide of creativity that I believe exists. Some of my best writing occurred near the end of Nanowrimo two years ago   I was desperate to get caught up and achieve the goal of winning.   Sometimes I catch shots like the one I used as an image today.  Although it is blurry, I love the sense of motion it conveys.  It was taken as part of a series of snapshots of my daughter’s dance recital, by chance.

I like to think of it all as being part of creating by design, to take advantage of the the desperation and chance.  Where I think of design being different than by will as outlined by Bob is that I would look at his watching of the movie and analyzing the contents as part of the process of writing, rather than a break from it.  This might be why he is a full time author and I am still working a day job.

What it all comes down to in the end, is finding something that works for you.