Slip Sliding Away

I’ve mentioned acrylic pouring several times in the past. When I first saw colorful pourings on-line, I was excited and eager to try this art-form for myself. I could see at once — to be blunt here — that little, if any, artistic talent was involved. Anyone could do an acrylic pouring and have it turn out looking good.

Now, I’m willing to admit that the “anyone can do it” concept is open to argument, at least the “no talent required” part, and if you wish to discuss it in the comments, please share your thoughts.

In spite of my immediate interest in and excitement for acrylic pouring all those years ago, I didn’t do it. Why not? Maybe there was a part of me that expected that somehow I’d be the one person who couldn’t do acrylic pouring and have it turn out right, that maybe I’d discover that I wasn’t even artistic enough to do a “no talent required” form of art, so maybe it was easier just not to try it at all.

Now, there’s a reason for explaining all of this, but I won’t go there today. Maybe in another post I’ll share more of my thoughts and feelings and the reason behind my doubts, but for today, let’s move on.

Or, actually, let’s move back in time. In August, 2018, I wrote about my interest in acrylic pouring. By that point, it sounded fun, and I think I had worked up courage enough to try. But, again, I didn’t do it. Too many other things to do.

Fast-forward to August, 2019, not quite a year ago. I wrote a post announcing my intention to do an acrylic pouring. I talked to my daughters and grand-daughters about it. Everyone wanted to try it, but the logistics of setting a date when everyone could make it to theΒ pouring party proved impossible. The idea languished and finally fell dead by the wayside.

Now, — as I write this — it’s June, 2020, and I have finally done my first acrylic pouring. One of our art clubs hosted an acrylic pouring workshop for beginners, so I happily signed up. The workshop was held on a Thursday evening.

As workshops go, this was a good one. All supplies were furnished, including pizza boxes for us to carry our finished pourings home in. The instructor was knowledgeable, and her directions were clear and concise.

I think everyone enjoyed the workshop, and I think everyone was fairly happy with their creations. We each did a small tile and then a 10 x 10 square canvas.

 

Here’s the up-close look at the detail from my 10 x 10 pouring:

My Canvas (2)
With a little imagination, I can see a dragon lurking here.

At the end of the evening, we packed up our pieces, carried our pizza boxes out, and agreed we’d all enjoyed the experience. I’d driven my “bigger” sports car — which still isn’t too big — and unfortunately I didn’t have any place to set a pizza box flat on the floor.

Oh, dear. I had a 30-minute drive back to Harrisonville, and I knew that once I got home my acrylic pouring was probably going to look a lot different. It did.

Here’s what my husband saw:

The Dragon is Gone (2)

Yes, my imaginative dragon had gone slip-sliding away, leaving behind what might faintly resemble a few fish swimming in an ocean of acrylic.

In all, it was a fitting ending to a day that had not gone well, a day that left me questioning myself as an artist. But, again, let’s not go there right now. Instead, let’s look ahead to my future plans for acrylic pouring.

Yes, I want to do it again. No, it’s not going to ever be something I love doing — in so many ways, acrylics and I just don’t get along — but I went out this morning and did a little “art shopping”. Somehow I came home with more acrylic paints, a pouring medium — not sure what it’s called — and a few other necessary supplies for acrylic pouring. I have a little project in mind, plus I think it will be fun to do a bit of pouring with friends and family. One grand-daughter has already become quite accomplished at the art of pouring, if, indeed, it can be called an art.

Without doubt there are elements of art and design involved, and maybe we can talk about those another time. For now, I’m going set my pourings aside and wait for them to dry. In about three weeks, according to the instructor — they’ll be ready to seal.

So, who else has done acrylic pouring? Please share your experiences!

 

 

 

35 Comments

    1. Thanks. Acrylics and I don’t get along well. 😦 Yesterday I tried a little “pouring project” — not too happy with it though. I’ll be posting pictures later on, once it’s dried and varnished. It’s fun to see the paint spilling over a canvas or tile, but I’ll probably never be a big fan of acrylic pouring. (Hint: read tomorrow’s post for more on the story.) 😦

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  1. I never did the pour. It looks like fun. If an artist does it and says it’s art how could someone say it’s not art? And yet a urinal is a world famous ground breaking piece of art, (remember DuChamp’s urinal fountain) or a banana taped to a wall by a famous artist sells for big bucks and gets world wide press. I’d say yes, acrylic pour is art and anyone can do it. That’s just my opinion which doesn’t count in the real world, but thanks for letting me opine here.

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    1. I have so many mixed feelings about acrylic pouring, Chris. I appreciate your comments. The pouring workshop was fun — but please drop by tomorrow to read a little more on the story — and FWIW, I did another little project yesterday, although I’m not happy with it. Part of my feelings come from hearing a judge explain to an artist why her acrylic pourings hadn’t won any ribbons. “It’s just random, not like a fine art where the artist determines the outcome,” was the remark, and I totally agree that in terms of talent and/or technical skill it’s not right to compare an acrylic pouring with paintings such as portraits, landscapes, or even abstract expressionism. I don’t care for modern art that — IMHO — showcases stupidity, such as the artist who pooped in a box and sold it. I don’t care what anyone says. That’s stupid, plain and simple. Stupid for him as an artist; stupid for the art world to accept it. At the same time, having read a bit about art history, I can understand some of the thoughts and feelings of artists in the “pop art” field. I still don’t care for it, though. With acrylic pouring, there are elements of art, sure enough. Choosing the right colors, understanding the paints and how to create certain effects, knowing principles of design. Still, I can’t quite call it “art” — at least, not “fine art”. It’s a crafty sort of art, and it can be fun, so I’ll just think of it in those terms. Crafty art. Fun art. Playful art. Accidental art. I think all those terms could be applied.

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      1. A lot of art is annoying to me too, but I don’t know the difference between art and craft. They’re the same to me. I’m looking forward to reading your takes on the subject because I’m looking for a way to make sense of it all, but I often disregard the opinions of jurors because my paintings got rejected from juried shows too often, and random art won the prize money. It seems like some artists hate the art world and do things like the poop to mock art, then they get love from the art experts they hate! Why? Do the art experts also hate the art world? I like to read the discussions and opinions on the subject. Glad you brought it up!

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      2. It’s quite an interesting discussion topic, isn’t it! The art world can be so crazy and confusing, so frustrating and incomprehensible, and at the end of the day no one will ever agree on what art is or what it isn’t. I suppose that’s a good thing, for the most part. But then… well, I have so many feelings about art and “being an artist” because there’s no denying that some people have a natural ability, a natural inclination toward art, and with or without training, everything they create has some merit, some possibility, while there are others — like me — who can try, try, try, and yet who will never truly be “an artist”. I just don’t have that natural “something” that makes one person an artist and another not an artist. I learn, I practice, I see myself making progress, but then from time to time I still have to face the fact that art isn’t something I naturally do well. But… more on the topic tomorrow! πŸ™‚

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      3. No, it’s something more than that. It’s true in any field. Certain people — even without formal training — will always stand out and be noticed in various arts. I was always recognized as “a writer”. Certain friends were always recognized as “singers”. Other friends were always recognized as “artists”. We each had natural abilities in these different fields, abilities that showed even from an early age. Some people are truly born to be artists; others, like me, have to work very hard. So, today, I call myself “an artist” — but am I, really? I guess what I’m getting at is that there are some things that probably can’t be taught, therefore they can’t be learned. Those are those “intangible” qualities that make one artist a gifted, natural artist, one whose artistic abilities will always make them stand out — even without even trying.

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    1. I see a lot of possibilities in acrylic pouring. I love your “Koi Pond” and other “underwater-themed” paintings. In the past I’ve played with somewhat abstract acrylic “underpaintings” and while I can always “see” things lurking there, I don’t have the technical know-how to bring those visions out from my imagination to the canvas. I’m learning now to do somewhat similar things with watercolor, so maybe I’ll eventually be able to carry some of what I’m learning over to acrylics and to acrylic pouring.

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  2. Judith, I still see a dragon. πŸ™‚ The central darkest “blob” resembles an eye socket. To it’s left is another lighter, smaller blob — a reptilian ear. There are two streaks above these two marks — straight, long horns like one might find on a gazelle. And they taper down the skull/head into a narrowing snout that the edge abruptly ends. But your dragon is swimming in water now, so that’s why the background is streaking, rather than looking like scales. Do you see it?

    I have a friend who loves acrylic pouring, and she does them often. She often does them on wooden skateboards/lawn boards and donates them to a local charity project. They look quite amazing on that kind of surface. And me and our other friends tend to immediately have fun telling what we see in her art when she displays her most recent projects.

    As for the what qualifies as art thoughts, I think there’s different types for different reasons, kind of like genres in music and literature. And I think it’s a case of knowing the rules so you can break them sometimes. But, no, not “everything and anything” is art. There is some balance between subjectivity and objectivity when it comes to what makes art “Art.” You might like the book “Old in Art School” by Nell Painter that examines this topic in an interesting way. Nell Painter is a Harvard professor who worked with black history and other sociology type studies, but when she retired from that, she wanted to be an artist and went back to school to earn a fine arts degree. So, this book is about her experience overall. But she often addresses the controversial differences between art and Art — “Art” capitalized meaning the intellectual approach that not just anyone can do and that other Artistes tend to judge by certain standards that artists may or may not know about. Her reason for returning to this topic is the fact that she felt drawn to using words and images together, but someone told her that is not Art. She did it anyway. So, her work is a thought-provoking blend of the textual content she taught in her classes and research and such, combined with images she painted. I loved the book partly because of her insights on being “old in school” with younger classmates and trying to start over with a new profession after retirement, but also for the way that she combined her previous background knowledge with her new interest and skills. And she had some very insightful comments about Art in terms of culture, profession, skills, etc. I think it’s a topic for all arts, not just visual arts. Personally, I think you have to draw the line somewhere on what qualifies as Art, or even art, but it will always be just subjective and personal enough that this will always be controversial at the lower end of that “experimental” end of the scale.

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    1. Thank you for the book recommendation! I’m going to look around for the book. There are so many different ways to look at “art” and/or “Art”, and there’s never going to be any agreement on the topic — just opinions, and that’s what makes it interesting. I think there are definitely skills involved in acrylic pouring, albeit quite different ones from oil painting, watercolor, graphite drawing… whatever! Each medium has its own skill set, so it’s always hard to draw comparisons in art. Even in art shows, of course, different media have their own categories. I think “acrylic pouring” should have a category of its own in art shows so that it can be entered and judged fairly. But there are those — like the judge I overheard — who seem to think it’s pointless to judge something so “random” in nature. Is it? I’m not sure at all, and please drop by tomorrow to read my post that goes into much greater detail about my thoughts and feelings about acrylic pouring and whether or not any “talent” is required, or maybe I should rephrase that to say “whether or not any art” is involved. If acrylic pouring is art, we should be able to judge it, right? If it’s not art, there should be no judgement, no thought that one person’s work is “better” or “worse” than anyone else’s… or am I just rambling on and on too much here? I’m looking forward to discussing this more tomorrow after my post publishes. πŸ™‚

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      1. I agree. We have to be careful when it comes to comparisons. Art is personal because of how it expresses feelings and thoughts interpreted through our personal filters. Art is about the meaning behind the symbols, and meaning is relative and opinionated and often varies according to environment, culture, time, etc. To express that abstract art is pointless is also an expressed opinion. πŸ™‚ The emotion it evoked from that judge is randomness, pointlessness, no skill, no planning, therefore not worthy of comparison, etc. And in forming those opinions, the abstract did what it was designed to do.

        So, this is why, as you said, genres are necessary to set apart different styles and purposes when comparing.

        In literature, one of my favourite examples for comparison is Bunnicula and Dracula. Both are books about vampires. But one is an illustrated children’s book. The other a timeless classic written in epistle-style chapters. To say one is good because it is better “guality” than the other is missing the point. One is designed to be funny and light; the other is designed to be scary and dark. So, no comparison should ever be made between these two publications in terms of high quality or low quality, or high skill or low skill on the author’s behalf. They serve different purposes for different audiences in different ways, and they’re both excellent at what they do. Comics get a bad rap for being low-quality literature because it’s not literary genre. But that misses the point. Comics and graphic novels are designed to be more visual. And so on.

        Anyway, I look forward to tomorrow’s article. πŸ™‚

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      2. You are so right about comparisons! As they say, it’s apples and oranges, and as often as not that’s true. At the same time — and somewhat as a devil’s advocate here — how can we determine the value of art (or anything else) without comparison? I suppose with art it can come right down to personal preference. I like this better than I like that. But that hardly seems fair. Some works I don’t like were done with great skill, and who am I to discount that hard work with a dismissive shrug because I personally don’t find it appealing? I’ve been browsing around, looking at acrylic pourings. Some are gorgeous, yet I must also question whether or not there is anything “expressive” in them. Yes, surely there is. Artists express themselves with colors with design effects. What I’m thinking, though, is that there’s limited (if any) narrative in an acrylic pouring. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer first and foremost, but I don’t sense any “story” being told with the acrylic pourings I’ve seen. They’re beautiful, yes, but in a lot of ways, to me they’re somewhat meaningless. They don’t stir my emotions in quite the same way other paintings — such as landscapes — do, and that, I suppose, is what I paint landscapes. I’ve been giving this all a lot of thought. It’s an interesting discussion topic, for sure.

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      3. I think it does come down to personal preference, regardless of the art form. That’s why making rules about what qualifies as art is a slippery slope.

        Relating this to literature again, I remember once having a discussion with a friend about character descriptions in novels. And she was complaining about authors giving details about their “attractive” heroes, saying, “That’s not attractive to me at all! Less is more. If the author wants to convince me this character is attractive, she needs to let me decide what he looks like.” And in general, this is the advice these days — less is more on nearly everything in writing novels. Fewer descriptions, fewer adverbs, fewer details. Let the reader think it through. Don’t treat them like they’re dumb or have no imagination. But, when I design a character, because I’m also an artist, I know exactly what that character looks like in my head and can sketch portraits of them. If that’s how my character looks and I’m the author writing the book, why can’t I tell people what he/she looks like? Just because a reader may not find the character attractive doesn’t mean another character in the story can’t. The reader is NOT the protagonist in my story. Therefore, my protagonist may have completely different opinions from the reader. The reader is not to say the author is “wrong” in this description, or even to say that the author should limit the description. The author is the one telling the story. If the reader thinks the descriptions or style are all wrong, then the reader needs to write her own book. Because essentially, this business of asking the author to hold back so the reader can fill in the details with her own opinions and descriptions is like comparing a fully finished wall painting to a coloring book.

        A coloring book gives only part of the picture, and then the consumer is free to finish the picture with their own colors and style and imagination however they please. That’s what makes coloring books what they are — they are intentionally interactive, requiring participation from the person who purchased the product. But fine art paintings are complete upon purchase. And the only thing a consumer can do with them, really, is appreciate the details already within them. You don’t buy a wall painting and tell the artist to change the colors so you can pick your own. Or to paint the subject differently because you don’t find him very attractive. Either you accept the painting as the artists’s vision, or you don’t. But as a viewer, you don’t get to tell the artist what to paint.

        LoL … so, this is my personal beef about a lot of what I’m seeing in the literary industry right now with readers thinking they should have more agency in what authors publish. (Actually getting angry with authors for not producing books “on time” or ending them the way the readers think they should end them, etc.) I think it depends on whether the author is writing a novel of their own invention, or whether they are writing a “choose-your-own-adventure” type book. But it still comes down to personal preference. I’m a very visual person, so I like to describe what I see in my mind. If a reader prefers to read about what’s in her own head, maybe she should start writing her own books. But to complain about authors not creating more interactive content is absurd, imo. If a reader/viewer wants more agency or doesn’t like what is being offered, they are always free to make their own stories and art. πŸ™‚ But the opinions of the clients (unless they’re contracted, of course), should not dictate the creativity of the author or artist. The author/artist needs to dance to the beat of their own drum. There are a few rules that authors and artists are expected to know, but overall, creative freedom is what gives individual pieces their uniqueness. So, creatives have to go into this knowing that not everyone will be a fan. Some people may hate what you produce. That’s okay. That’s why we have a hundred genres and hundreds more creators, each doing their own thing. Some products will be more “popular” than others because of more general appeal, but personal preference will inherently match the buyer with the seller. And there’s something for everyone this way. πŸ™‚ (I just read today’s post and will respond to it in a minute because, you’re right, it is very relative to this topic of personal preferences determining whether something is “good” or not.)

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      4. As a fellow author, I definitely understand and appreciate your thoughts about “less is more” with writing. I can also see it both ways, and I suppose at the end all I can conclude is “to each his/her own”. When I read, I envision the characters the way I want, regardless of what the author writes. I remember reading Madame Bovary. I pictured her as a blonde, and when Flaubert now and then mentioned her black hair, it annoyed me because it momentarily took me out of that “fictive dream” place where I was seeing the story. But that doesn’t mean Flaubert was wrong. It was his story, his character, and if I wanted to see her differently that was my right, but no need for me to complain that I didn’t like his descriptions. There are writers who have a habit of “over-telling” and, yes, in a sense treating readers as though they don’t have any brains, and there’s something to be said for the “less is more” style. But, there again, it comes down to style. I prefer Faulkner’s long-winded sentences over Hemingway’s terse prose, but that’s just me. That said, I prefer Hemingway’s stories over Faulkner’s, so go figure! Literature is about what we have to say and how we choose to say it, and every author needs to write in an authentic manner. Not everyone will be a fan, as you say, and that’s how it should be. By knowing our readers and, within reason, meeting their expectations is important. Every genre has specific story requirements, and a wise writer doesn’t venture too far afield, otherwise he/she will lose readers. So, in a sense, readers do have some voice in what authors write — but even within the specific parameters of a particular genre there’s a lot of room for creativity and originality, and definitely room for personal style. As an author, I wrote in a style that was natural and comfortable for me. If an editor requested a change, I complied. Sometimes I rolled my eyes and wondered “Why that?” but for the most part I respected her opinion and made the revisions. Now and then, it something was of extreme importance to me, I explained my position and came to an understanding with my editor about why I was not willing to change. Even with editors, open and honest discussion can work wonders, and as writers, we have to be true to who we are and the reasons behind the narratives we tell.

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      5. Absolutely. And good points! I think it comes down to a balance between writing for yourself and writing for your readers. If you want to sell books, absolutely you need to keep the readers’ and genres’ expectations in mind. (I mean, the definition of genre practically is “expectations.”) But, for me anyway, the book will lack soul if the author’s voice and vision are drowned out by trends. Short stories, for example, are the very definition of less is more. So, I prefer short stories that hit me with an unexpected twist. If that punch line is given too soon, too detailed, or is missing completely, I’m disappointed. But, like you, I like prose too. I also like long works of fiction that develop into series because I prefer to take my time getting to know the characters and settings. I don’t dislike action. In fact, I love adventure stories! But pulling too many adverbs, adjectives, and other “flaws” out of longer works can sometimes leave them feeling … well, boring. And this can be true of shorter works, too, actually. My friend rewrote “The Raven” by Poe once following modern recommendations for better writing. So, for example, she changed it to, “The Raven said, ‘Nevermore.'” Because it is often recommended that we use only the dialect tags “said” and “asked”; readers easily gloss over those common words, making them invisible and quick. Whereas an archaic word like “quoth” slows down the eye and is cumbersome. Her point being that following recommendations without knowing why or how it applies to that particular work can destroy the “art” in it. (Poems are particularly dependent on art, so her “Revised Raven” was truly awful. LoL …)

        So, I think it’s a case of know the rules, so you know when and how to break them. And, certainly, keep readers in mind to give them something interesting they can relate to. Readers absolutely do matter. And most writers want their readers to like their stories or they wouldn’t share them. πŸ™‚ But the author’s voice and vision is what makes the story unique, so the author’s perspective should hold more weight than the opinions of others. I’m the same way when it comes to edits and revisions. I have no problem changing technical stuff. But if something is specific to my vision, I stand my ground. And for me, character descriptions, settings, and themes are non-negotiable. I can’t possibly please everyone, so at some point, it’s just necessary to remind myself that not everyone will like it. And that’s okay. πŸ™‚ So, what I’ve learned about this from writing, I try to also apply to my art.

        Also, the more we do what we do, those skills improve. So, of course what we do ten years from now will be better than what we’re doing now, which is better than what we did 5 years ago. Everything is constantly changing. So, even if one painting or book doesn’t meet our expectations, it doesn’t mean the next one (or maybe the 10th one) can’t be better. πŸ™‚

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      6. Yes, and I definitely need to remind myself that 5 years ago I’d never picked up a paintbrush in my adult life! So to see myself now with 6 ribbons hanging on the wall in recognition of my oil painting abilities (including 1 first-place prize) should have me jumping with joy (which it does in many ways) and bursting with confidence (which it doesn’t.) Sometimes I think the more recognition we receive, the more our confidence can waver. That’s where all those “imposter syndrome” feelings come in. “Sure, I wrote a good book, but maybe it was a freak accident. I’ll probably never be able to do it again,” or “I just got really lucky when I won that ribbon. I doubt that I’ll ever get another,” or “Now all these people think I know what I’m doing! How am I going to live up to their expectations?” In truth, though, the expectations really come from within ourselves. We’re truly our harshest critics. In the end, there must be some genuine pleasure in what we do, or our work is inauthentic, and that’s the most certain way to disappointment, disillusionment, and ultimate obscurity. I loved your “Raven” example, and I just shake my head at so many of the “modern rules” for good writing. For the most part, today’s ideas of good writing seem to favor speed, efficiency, and minimalism — which are the antithesis of what I personally consider good, effective writing. But I feel that there is still a place for every style. Let the minimalists breeze through their 6-word stories and call it “writing”. I call it a bit silly, but that’s just my opinion again. Give me a book to read that lets me settle in with the characters, immerse myself in their lives and affairs. Let me curl up with a good book and get lost in other worlds. That’s what I like, so it should come as no surprise that when I write, I take that same approach, hoping to give my readers something that they, too, can curl up, savor, and enjoy.

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      7. Yes, if you succeed once, how do you live up to that again? Elizabeth Gilbert discussed this in trying to follow up “Love, Eat, Pray,” and her message in “Big Magic” is to focus on creativity, rather than success. Both are fickle. But creativity is inspired and can be found again and again if you know how to grasp it when it strikes. Success, on the other hand, is codependent on other people’s opinions and a little luck as much as your hard work. And you can’t control other people or luck. So, chasing after success leaves you feeling out of control, thinking one or two successes was a freak accident that can’t happen again. And that breeds fear. So, you have to learn how to tell fear to take a hike to get back to creating, regardless of whether success enters the picture again or not. You can do something about creativity, at least. But desire for success and fear of failure can play mind games with our heads, so we have to be vigilant when that happens.

        And, yes, speed and efficiency seem to be the name of the game now for the publishing industry. And I agree with feeling there’s a place for every style. It just annoys me sometimes when long prose is considered “cumbersome” and somehow “bad” just because length is part of the objective, inviting the reader to take their time. Again, I’m glad there are different genres and types and lengths of literature so that there is something for everyone and every mood, but to me, and in defense of longer works, that is exactly why one type is no better than another. We choose what we read based on our needs at the time of choosing. And that personal, human element should always be more important than word count or efficiency or trends. πŸ™‚

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      8. Definitely agree about the “human element” — that’s got to be first and foremost or there’s nothing there, no soul, no life, no real meaning or purpose. I agree, too, that we should always focus on and celebrate our creativity. Forget “winning” or “succeeding” — those come along in their own time if we’re honoring our creative spirit, and while awards are nice to have (especially on those dark days when we need a little validation) they’re not what drives us forward. We’re creating because that’s what we do, because that’s who we are, and because, for us, that’s what life is.

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      9. LOL… I know. It’s even worse with my Kindle. It changes what I type when I’m not looking. I don’t realize it and end up sending some ridiculous messages at times!

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      10. LOL… oh, yes! I literally cringe when that happens! I immediately write an apology post to explain. πŸ™‚ Which is probably silly… and sometimes Kindle changes my apology, too… and on it goes!

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