Posted in art, authentic, everyday musings

Why artists need social media breaks

This is part of a five part series focusing on tips for creatives to keep their own, unique, authentic voice from being silenced.


Listening to your creative voice (1)I recently dropped Facebook for about a week, except for posting a few photos to my Facebook page. I stopped scrolling the timeline. I looked at Instagram maybe once a day or even skipped days. Then I started reading photography tutorials or going on YouTube for tutorials so I could focus on my own development, my own journey.  I had to break the hold comparing myself to others had on me so I could hear my own voice.

And I need to do this again because I am finding myself spiraling down into the trap of comparison and it’s drowning out my own artistic voice. When you, as an artist, spend most of your time looking at other artists, you start to lose yourself. You start to tell yourself you’re not as good as whoever’s work you are looking at. You may also start to recreate what other’s are doing, thinking that if you don’t you won’t find the success these other artists have found. When you, as a person, do this, the results are the same.

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DSC_4477-2When you are constantly looking at work or lives that aren’t your own, you lose sight of your own path; you can’t hear your own voice over the other voices swirling all around you. To ground yourself again in your own art and your own self you need to get quiet and hear what you want to say. You need to clear your mind and listen to your own creative view. When I say, ‘you’ know that I am preaching to ‘me’ because I am horrible at doing this.  I constantly compare myself to others – whether in photography, writing, or life.

I’m almost 41 and I still say to myself “I’m not as creative as this person, as talented as that, as pretty as her, as smart as him.” But when I do that I shut down my own voice. I tell it what it has to offer isn’t important or worthy or it’s own. We don’t all have to be the same. We don’t all have to create the same, look the same, or photograph the same. These statements are obvious and we know it but we don’t really hear it and take it to heart and adopt it as truth.  We see the meme or hear people say “There will never be another you. No one can do you, like you do you.” And secretly we think to ourselves “Ugh. Thank God because the me I know is awful and untalented.

DSC_2079This week my son was crying before bed, lamenting the fact he’s not as good as the other Lego creators he watches on Youtube. He talked to me about his lack of resources, his lack of money to get those resources and what he sees as his lack of creativity compared to those other creators. He sounded just like me and it broke my heart. He is talented and he does an amazing job with what he has access to.

DSC_2281-2DSC_1938.jpgIt’s true that we can’t afford to give him all the tools he needs right now but I reminded him he’s on a journey and reaching a goal in that journey will take time and hard work. Everyone has a different story and a different path that lead them to where they are. What he is seeing and what we are seeing are the highlights of these people’s journeys, not the failures or the tough times or the continuous doubts.

It does sound cliche to say there is only one you and only you can provide your view of the world, whether in photography, writing, or other forms of creativity but it is true. The way each person expresses and shares their creativity is unique and different and even if it is similar to what others have done it’s not exactly the same. Half of the fun of being a creative is the experience of learning and growing and seeing where the next lesson will take us.

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DSC_5101-2I challenged my son to take himself off of YouTube for a week and simply create for the joy of creating. Now I’m challenging you, and myself, to take a week off social media as well and rediscover the enjoyment of seeing the world through our own eyes and not the eyes of a hundred other creatives.

Rediscover what made you start to create in the first place. How did it make you feel, how did it make you see the world in a different way? Quiet the outside world and listen to the voice inside yourself and let’s see what we all create at the end of this week. I hope you’ll come back and let me know how you did.

 

 

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Posted in art, People, Tell me More about

Tell me more about . . . Maria Hoover, artist and teacher

Maria Hoover is a mom, an artist, and a teacher from Stevensville,  Pa. She is the owner of Art on A Mission as well as the art teacher at North Rome Christian School, North Rome, Pa. Her business is a paint party business, where she teaches even those who don’t consider themselves artists how to paint and get in touch with their artistic side.

She has also been one of my best friend’s since seventh grade when we connected over a certain popular boy band from the late 80s/early 90s. 

Thank you, Maria for being part of this week’s Tell Me More About . . . feature

Tell us a little about yourself

I grew up in small town, Northeast Pennsylvania in a family of 7 counting my parents. I married my best friend in May of 2006 and bought a house the next month. Nine months later we welcomed our only child to this world. Being a wife and mom are the best things that have ever happened to me, daily it brings challenges, but it’s my best sense of security I can feel from another human. Although my full security rests in my God. Growing my relationship with Him is my biggest interest. He has brought me from places I never realized I was in, until He opened my eyes to His Love. I owe Him my life of service, and serving Him is my daily goal. I also love to cook, garden, and paint.

How did you become interested in art?

I have always drawn from a very young age, but my interest came when I was in elementary school art class. My teachers had always encouraged me, and complimented me on my ability. In first or second grade I decided I wanted to be an art teacher. Art was my favorite subject all through high school, I took as many art classes I could. After graduation I began working, and left behind my love of art. Getting an apartment, working, cleaning, a boyfriend, pets, shopping. That all stepped into my life and my art took a backseat.

 

For years I didn’t touch an art medium. The most a drew was maybe a doodle here or there while I was on the phone. I let the business of life take over and I lost who I was as a person in all of the demands of life. After I had my son, I was able to be home with him, and I started day dreaming about the enjoyment I had when I would ART. The relaxing effects it would have on me. The satisfaction of creating something that was pleasing to the eye. It was the one thing in my life I was proud of my self for, yet even a couple more years went by before I began to create again.

 

When Isaiah was 2, I started him with crayons and watercolors. it was a favorite thing for us to do together. He would scribble, I would draw basic pictures, teaching him colors and shapes. As he grew we began to make crafts and our mediums went from crayons to fingerprint and markers. Still in the basics of it all, the God that I had just made room for in my life just four years earlier was slowly returning a love that I had left behind. Because He had a much bigger plan for it than I knew.

How did you become an art teacher?

As I said earlier, in elementary school I wanted to become an art teacher – a preschool art teacher. In my innocence I didn’t realize preschool kids didn’t need an art teacher, but they mainly had one teacher that did everything with them. As I approached 11th grade, I daydreamed about going to an art college, but with lack of funding, not knowing anything about grants and a fear to leave my family, I quickly dismissed college.. And with a family who lacked in the encouragement I never pursued it even as I grew older.

At one point my mother said, “I wish you would have went to college for your art.” Because of my personality, I took that as “I am a disappointment” so art took an extreme back burner. After the summer off following graduation, I stepped into the work force. I worked at restaurants, and our local meat packing plant. There is where I met my husband. For six years art was forgotten.

And then, with the passing of my mother, depression, working, dating, and so many things that made my life busy, I honestly forgot who I was. Then I had a meeting with a God who revealed to me that I had a purpose, and that I am loved. Then came marriage and a baby in a baby carriage, and still no art. But God had sparked a longing in my heart. I started daydreaming now and then, about having my own studio, about painting or drawing but still no ART.

We began attending a church just before we got married. Six years after I began attending, I was helping with vacation Bible school, and quickly became the artist of the production. It was great! I helped others draw and paint backdrops, I created trees out of paper. For 4 years I helped transform our church every summer into another world. As people began to see my ability, one family in particular, had three girls that attended a Christian school and the oldest girl told me one day that I should come teach at their school, that they needed an art teacher. At the time I laughed it off. In my insecurity I told myself I couldn’t teach art. I didn’t go to school for teaching. I only remembered how much I loved art. How could I possibly be an art teacher?

 The thought crossed my mind often in the next few months. “I couldn’t be an art teacher”, became “Could I be an art teacher?”. The school year began with Isaiah started kindergarten, and I was babysitting while he was at school at the same Christian school. As I continued to question if I could even be an art teacher, God was positioning me to do just that. I was offered a job driving the very school van that took Isaiah to and from school. I accepted it, opening up the entire day at the very school I was delivering kids to every day. Not long after I took on that job as a school van driver, I also accepted the position of art teacher at North Rome, and here I am 5 years later, doing the exact thing I said I could never do.

That’s what happens when God has a plan for you, and you don’t believe it.

What medium do I enjoy the most, and why?

 I enjoy every medium I have been able to experience.. Watercolor and pen and ink together are a favorite but I would have to say acrylic paint has to be my most favorite right now. I had never got to work with it too much until recently, and I have found it challenging, yet the finished product is beautiful. I have learned so many new techniques, and love teaching it to my students.

What other activities do you enjoy?

I think my favorite pass time is being with Quentin and Isaiah doing something fun. We have recently began kayaking together, and we enjoy it so much. I also like gardening. It’s so rewarding when the flowers are full and beautiful, and the vegetables are part of your dinner table, (if you have been able to ward off the weeds.) I also like entertaining, having friends and family over, campfires and fellowship.

 

How important is art to a child’s education?

 I believe art is essential to a child’s education. Especially those children who express themselves with the product of their hands. Art comes in so many forms and every one of them are essential. I think when a person does not have the ability to Art, rather it be drawing, painting, sculpting, constructing, photography, dancing, singing, playing an instrument, theater,..they loose who they really are and then are unable to live out their purpose God has created them for.

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All images by Lisa R. Howeler and some of them are available for sale at Lightstock or Cavan.

To submit ideas for a Tell Me More About … feature email lisa at lisahoweler@gmail.com or use the contact form under Info at the top of the page. People featured in Tell Me More About are from various walks of life, backgrounds and jobs because we all have a story to tell.