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ARTstarters: Creativity at pLaY!

Blogger:  Nicole Steiman, The Creativity Coach, Founder of The ARTbar Hands-on Studio

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  • 08 Jul 2022 5:15 PM | Nicole The Creativity Coach (Administrator)

    Everywhere I turn, I see little messes (it’s summer and both my kids are home), but also the messiness and hard times of life: loved ones sick, friends losing jobs, family moving to new homes . . .

    In art, I love that a mess can become something more beautiful, just by adding a little something creative to it! (click here to view the last blog post about scribbling.) And I won’t lie: this gives me hope when life is also looking a little messy! 

    A messy scribble can become a structure. And that structure, although unfinished, can become the starting place for something new, and eventually, beautiful. In the Zentangle process, we call this structure a STRING: a lightly drawn guideline that creates an optional border and space to fill with a pattern (or tangle, as we like to call it.)

    Pictured below is an example of how messy and beautiful it can be to fill your heart with patterns and a little quiet time. And it all starts with a heart and a scribble! Don’t believe me? Check out the video links below . . . 

    So . . . I ask again, friend to friend, artist to artist: "What’s on your heart?" After two years of a pandemic, we want so badly for everything to look good again. We are sick of dealing with the mess. We may be telling others we are okay, but inside we may still be a little lonely or sad or missing someone or something. And I can’t tell you how to fix that. But I know what would help: drawing a little prayer, bringing your worries to God, taking a moment of silent meditation on a truth, verse or affirmation that your heart desperately needs to be filled with.

    Want to try it? All you need is paper and a pen!

    Here's some ready-to-go inspiration for you:

    1.  Filling My Heart YouTube video: your instant spiritual retreat! Just click and view.

    2.  Click here to register for the online recorded class if you would like a little more step-by-step detail and some extra resources.

    3.  Private Group or Individual Session: Do you have a group or organization that needs to de-stress? Are you needing some long overdue "me" time?  Or even just you and your teen or friend for bonding time together? 

    I have so many more ideas for turning scribble messes into art, so stay tuned for more blog posts coming soon. Especially if you are prone to messes like me :)

    Happy Creating!

    — Nicole

    P.S. The Finger Labyrinth online class also makes a wonderful meditation retreat, and is still available for a limited time. The labyrinth becomes another type of structure to draw for placing words, color and patterns.

  • 12 Jun 2022 5:48 PM | Nicole The Creativity Coach (Administrator)

    It took me many months to move out of The ARTbar.  A bigger project than even starting it!  And the most challenging organizational task I’ve ever undertaken.  And aside from encouragement (and occasional brawn) from my husband and kids, it was mostly a solitary project.  

    How much stuff did I actually have in that space???  Well as you know, artists hate to throw anything away!  I wish I actually had a picture of how it looked on a normal day in the back area (storage racks filled the back, where most people couldn't see it all).  

    Above is a picture of just the START of the mess as I began with pulling things out from the back and sorting them into piles:  keep, donate, sell, throw away.  I tried using that famous process of holding each item and seeing if I felt joy.  Lol!  I can’t really say that DIDN’T work because basically it did come down to discerning joy in a way:  a lot of praying, and simply following my heart to see if I felt God leading me in a certain direction. (Like most things in life when you just can’t seem to figure it out.). “Where do I see myself using this supply?  Do I like it for my business or maybe even just for myself?” 

    Of course, there was also a space issue to consider.  The studio space in my garage was considerably smaller!    I kept 3 of the bars (arranged in a U-shape) and many of the storage and display racks, and miraculously somehow fit a lot of them in.

    Once the bones were in, it didn’t take me long to fill it all in!  Then came ALL the supplies.   Fortunately for me, I have a knack of fitting things into spaces!  My family says it’s an acquired skill from playing a lot of Tetris in my younger days.  (However the gift came to me, I am undisputedly the only one allowed to pack the car for vacations.)

    When it was finally all organized (or mostly organized) and all tucked into my new space, I looked around and realized that it looked almost as jam packed as before, basically just like a mini ARTbar, picked up and moved to a garage! (Old habits die hard, I guess.) 

    Even though the process was somewhat bittersweet, I am happy about having my supplies nearby.  My new home studio allows me to be more present with my family, and to share it all with them too.  And I anticipate that it will still take me many more months to finish finding places for things.

    So you’d think I would run right into the space everyday, excited to create!  Yeah, well no.  It took awhile for me to go into my new studio at all.  Surprisingly, for a long time after moving all my beloved art supplies, I just simply ignored them all.   It was quite frankly a little overwhelming.  It reminded me of when I had brought my 1st baby into The ARTbar, thinking she would nap away while I helped customers.  Well, she cried so much there that I felt sure she hated the place!  I later realized that it was just too overstimulating for her with all the things to look at.  Yeah, I finally understood how she was feeling.  After combing through the overwhelming amounts of books, and ribbons, and paints (and oh so much more!), I had no desire to use them.  I pictured the art processes and projects in my mind, and even knew WHY I had laboriously packed them up and moved them, but the passion behind it all had disappeared!  This confused and scared me the most!  I even wondered if I had wasted years of my life for nothing!  Should I consider a career change? 

    I think I was emotionally overwhelmed even more than physically, seeing decades of my life-decisions being packed up.  There was so much to sort through in so little time.  Hardest of all was the constant decision-making of what to keep and what to give away, each item being not only a physical object but an emotional memory.  This would have been hard enough to do in a closet, but definitely harder in a place created from the dream center of my heart.  It helped that through the whole process, I could feel God leading items into just the right hands!  (Thank you to all of you that participated in the auction last year, as well as my friends at various nonprofits that gratefully accepted my donations!)

    So now you can see why drawing Scribble Prayers (from my previous blog post) has been my first step back to recovery from this whole transition.  If you have something you need to work out or heal from, try drawing one with in a quiet place or with some soothing music.  Time alone with God is never a waste of time!  And neither is following your heart and dreams!  See the previous blog post here.

    Want to draw a Scribble Prayer with me?  See the event list here to sign up.  We'll grab a coffee or juice and scribble away!  A caring listener and a drawing partner might be just what you need to get a new perspective.  

    And remember one of my favorite quotes:

    Meandering is just part of the creative process!  Just remember to stay in touch with your Creator through the journey, and He will always lead you home!

    Click here to read more blog posts.

  • 10 Jun 2022 5:14 PM | Nicole The Creativity Coach (Administrator)

    Now that I’ve had a chance to heal a bit from the moving out process, I thought perhaps I would end my long silence by sharing something that is helping me during this time of change and confusion.  Perhaps you or someone you know is also dealing with the unknown, or even feelings of hurt, loneliness, or depression.  Why not get together at a beautiful park, yard or beach and try this relaxing exercise together.  To me it’s like taking a big breath of fresh air, and a chance to press reset on a hard day (or month, or year).  It’s so easy and intuitive, and perfect for ANY AGE or artistic ability.  Simply grab your nearest art supplies, even just a pen and colored pencils!

    It’s a favorite process I've used with artists who were homeless, recovering, or dealing with transition.  But don’t we all feel a little messy inside sometimes?  I like to call it “From Mess to Masterpiece!”  because so often in art the process gets aaaaall sooooo messy before it eventually comes together into something beautiful and meaningful.  

    This drawing meditation can take as little as 15 minutes, or hours, or even something you add to a little at a time.  However long you have for your meditation or prayer!

    Embracing the mess has been one of the biggest themes for me in my artistic growth, and it is true in life as well!

    Time (and art) really does help to find a fresh perspective!

    Scribble Prayer/Meditation: from Mess to Masterpiece!

    1. Scribble
    2. Fill it in:  with color or words or patterns!

    Now isn't that simple??

    However if you want more detailed instructions:

    1.  Think of a prayer or intention

    What is causing you worry or confusion?  What do you need help with?  If you could pour your heart out to God, what would it sound or look like?  If words come to mind, you may even want to write out a prayer before you begin to draw.

    2.  Draw a loose and flowing scribble

    Using a pencil, let your hand move across the page in a random and unplanned way.  Notice the movement of the lines you drew, how it creates a continuous path through the space  of the paper. Feel free to experiment with different scribbles as you loosen up your wrist to get started.  Or just let it go!  Sometimes I skip the pencil and just start with the pen used in step 2.

    3.  Smooth and refine your scribble.

    Using a smear proof pen (like a fine point Sharpie pen or Micron), trace over the lines, taking time to thicken them in places, smoothing and refining them as you like.  This step takes patience so take your time and enjoy the motion of the curves.  Don’t give up on your messy scribble it is still in the process of becoming something wonderful!

    (The example below shows 2 different scribbles:  one in pencil, and the other with the lines thickened and refined, and then words written inside.  Sometimes I draw a few scribbles to get the emotion out, and choose the one I want to add more to.  Many times I like trying to scribble a heart somewhere in the mess!  Can you see it in the first scribble?)

    3.  Fill it in!

    Add patterns, words and/or color in the spaces of the scribble (or even around it). Think of words or colors that are meaningful to you or are part of your prayer.  Use markers, colored pencils, watercolor, glitter - or whatever you like!  Sometimes I choose a color and space for each person I’m praying about (and pray the words silently), and sometimes I write my prayer inside or around the scribble.  

    There are endless options to see where the prayer leads you.  But after spending some time in silence, I always leave feeling calmer than when I first scribbled!  

    I even jokingly call this exercise the “Silent Scream!”  It works with kids (and also adults) who have so much pent up emotion they don’t know where to channel it. One black marker and a box of crayons can be the cheapest therapy session you ever had!

    It’s definitely a great step forward when you don’t know which way to go.


    By now you know I’m a fan of embracing the journey.  With art it’s not just about a beautiful outcome, it’s what we learn in the process.  Wandering is definitely encouraged in the world of ARTstarters!

    Want to draw a Scribble Prayer with me?  See the event list here to sign up.  We'll grab a coffee or juice and scribble away!  A caring listener and a drawing partner might be just what you need to get a new perspective.


    To contact Nicole for group events or private sessions, please visit here for more information.  Or email Nicole@ARTstarters.net.

    We'd love to see your Scribble Prayers or Silent Screams!  Please share them at:


    Click here to read more blog posts.

  • 03 Jun 2022 4:05 PM | Nicole The Creativity Coach (Administrator)

    The ARTbar studio location is officially closed.  

    Yes it’s true.  We have had to say goodbye to the beautiful Santora Building where we have created for almost 20 years!  I’ve needed to write and tell you this for a long time.  But I’ve been silent for so long I didn’t quite know what to say or how to say it. 

    Mostly because I had hoped that when I shared the news, I would also be able to share what was coming next.  The ARTbar started as a drop-in studio, and then also as a retail store, and over time became a space for private parties.  It also served as a way to organize projects and supplies for when I brought them to teach at different nonprofit organizations.  All with the mission to help people find their creative voice.  But after Covid, it became too much to keep.

    So I waited.  And prayed.  And reflected.  Wondering what God has next for me.  And in the meantime, it took divine strength to move out of The Artbar space so at least that kept me busy!  (YES - pictures coming soon!  Artists do NOT like to throw anything out, and I’m sure the show Hoarders would have loved to use me as an episode!)

    Well even after all that and settling slowly into my new space in my garage, I still don’t have all the answers. But I’m continuing to share the art techniques I’ve been gathering over the years that help us connect to our hearts, our creativity, and our Creator.  And although the ARTbar space is no longer at the Santora Building in Santa Ana, I am still alive and well under the name of ARTstarters, ready to share creativity at organizations/groups and for individual coaching. Art is so beneficial to mental health!

    So feel free to pop in at www.Facebook.com/ARTstarters or subscribe at www.ARTstarters.net so we can keep in touch or hopefully even create in person together at one of the upcoming Draw Together events that I’ll be announcing soon!

    Click here to read more blog posts, including the one about setting up my new studio space!

  • 18 Nov 2021 12:57 PM | Nicole The Creativity Coach (Administrator)

    I’ve been doing so much wondering (and wandering) that it’s time to come back to doing something that I truly love and miss:  sharing some art inspiration with all of you!

    With all the changes that have been happening in my life, it’s been very meditative lately to create and color labyrinths.  I shared this awhile back, and I am just loving it all over again.  Every time I draw one, I discover a whole new metaphor for something going on in my life.

    This time, I re-created it on the ground with rocks, which was very peaceful to walk through.  It was also a great workout doing a million squats while I placed the rocks.  It seems quite amazing when it’s done!  But it really was very easy because I had a template to follow (and a husband who helped!)  I know, this is how labyrinths are USUALLY walked, on the ground.

    But in art . . . labyrinths can also be created on paper, using colored pencils, patterns, watercolors, words and more!  They can then be “walked” using your index finger as you slide around the drawn pathway.  I created some printable templates that you can download and color - great for all ages!  

    Creating a finger labyrinth is a great way to relax, focus on gratitude or even keep the kids busy over holiday break!

    It’s also a great way to pray when you feel lost, or don’t know which way to go.  The answer is: to the next step you feel God leading you.  It’s a meditative process that helps you slow down to listen.  Is your heart trying to tell you something?  Many times, the next step is clear, but we become frustrated because we can’t see the step AFTER THAT ONE.  The labyrinth is such a great metaphor for taking one step at a time!  What makes a labyrinth different than a maze is that there are no wrong steps.  As long as you just trust the process and keep walking forward, you will reach your destination.  

    Walking a labyrinth, with our feet or with our fingers, can be a wonderful exercise in trust, patience, breathing, and yes, thankfulness!

    So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, Advent and Gratitude!  And for any other prayers that are on your hearts this holiday season,  I invite you to draw and color your own Finger Labyrinth. 

    Register here for FREE to receive templates to color, as well as a video tutorial to learn how to draw a labyrinth using easy tips and tricks!

    Ideas for Using Your Labyrinth:

    1). Draw a repetitive pattern along the path.  And then add shading or coloring.  Add a little bit of pattern each day as you spend time giving thanks.

    2). Fill your labyrinth with words for all the things you are thankful for!  As you add color to the words, you can spend time reflecting on your gratitude for each item.

    3). Take relaxing, deep breaths as you trace your finger through the labyrinth.  You can focus on a phrase, verse or prayer of gratitude.  If you like, you can also write your prayer or verse inside the labyrinth or around.

    4). Add a little square of color each day along the labyrinth path to represent something you are grateful for.  On Thanksgiving, move your finger from color to color as you listen to a beautiful song!

    5).  Set some templates out at your next group event or family party, and share your designs with each other!

    There are so many ideas and ways to use finger labyrinths!  There is no wrong way!  You can use my templates, or even draw your own using my easy online tutorial. They look complicated but the step-by-step video makes it very easy to follow, and also includes a handout with more fun ideas.  Even in a large group, no two labyrinths turn out the same :)

    I hope you join us in drawing labyrinths and share your design.

    So excited to see your designs!

    Happy Creating!!


  • 03 Feb 2021 2:07 PM | Nicole The Creativity Coach (Administrator)

    Can I share something personal?  During this pandemic, I am finding it extremely hard to focus.  I'm bombarded by change everywhere I turn, in my home life and in my personal life.   We recently moved our home, my work with the nonprofits is on hold, my studio is a huge mess while I am reorganizing, and my family life is in transition.  That's just a few of the things going on right now . . . 

    Nothing seems the same from a year ago, yet everything seems the same from week to week and month to month.  And it's all blurring together into one long "blursday."  Can you relate??

    And while my life is filled with change, I know that many others are filled with tragedy and anxiety.  I am constantly reminding myself to count my blessings and stay grateful for each breath of air.  At times I feel tiny bursts of joy, and then some moments out of nowhere I feel like crying.   So I take a deep breath and say a prayer and know that I just need to keep moving forward.


    Usually in January,  I cut snowflakes and use one to create a compass for the year. It's one of my favorite activities in my journal, as well as with my nonprofit art groups!  And it also makes a wonderful family project.  

    Cutting snowflakes makes me so happy because I never know what they will look like until I open them up.  They are beautiful surprises!  Yet in life, I don't always like surprises, even beautiful ones.  I want God to tell me exactly where I am headed so I can, you know, take it from there and carry on, thank you very much.   But I'm not always ready for the whole big picture.  And I am very much still learning how to trust God.

    Once I cut a bunch of snowflakes, I will pick one as my favorite and trace it to be my compass for the year.  I draw around it, color it, decorate it and add my goals around it.   Then I use it to stay focused throughout the year.   But so far this year, I am simply trying to stay balanced and happy.  There's just too much change in my life for specific goals (at least right now.). Sanity IS the goal at this point in time.

    So I thought I would share with you my simplified Compass.  I'm calling it my 12-Step Compass, because I use it to try to take 12 steps a day (3 in each quadrant).

    Instead of an 8-point snowflake (as pictured above), I simply cut a 4-point snowflake from a square folded into fourths.  

    Start with a square the size of the paper you want to trace it on.  Fold your square in half, and then in half again the other way (so when you open it, you will have 4 quadrants.) While it is folded, cut designs into the folded sides (which will be the arms.).   Keep it simple, because you can always add more designs to it on your paper when you trace and draw around it.

    I like to add a heart to the middle of my compass to represent my prayer to God for His guidance.  Here is an example of how to add lines and patterns to decorate around the snowflake:

    Each of the sections of my compass represent a different area of my life I am trying to balance:  

    NOWledge (N) - things I need to do or mental activities; problems to solve

    Social (S) - things I can do to  reach out to others and not feel alone

    Emotional (E) - things I can do that bring me happiness or make me feel beautiful

    Wellness (W) - things I can do to stay healthy and take care of myself

    I used my decorated compass to brainstorm a list of things in each of these areas.  I am sure your list would look different, and there is no wrong way to do it.   Your arms may even stand for different things, different areas of focus or roles you play in life, or even your goals.

    It's become a fun game for me each day to give myself a point when I do something in each area!  I track it in my planner by drawing a SIMPLIFIED compass, starting with a circle, and then a heart in the middle of it.  Then I draw a line from it to each side of the paper.  During the day I write down my points in each area.  This is how it helps me stay balanced and sane:  It's not just another day of laundry - it's a point for each load!   And when I don't have points in an area (such as social or emotional), it reminds me of why I am feeling off balance. Usually it's when I need to reach out to others or do something kind for myself, or something kind for them!  

    Drawing this simple compass takes only a few minutes, and gives me time to say a prayer at the beginning of the day.  In a way, it's like a tiny daily HEartPRAYER! (Click here if you would like to learn some other HEartPRAYERS.)

    If you're curious about my planner pictured above, it's called the Passion Planner.  I love it!!  My daughter Josie talked me into getting it last year.  She loves it so much that she became an Ambassador with them.  It has so much space for drawing (check out the dotted grid on the right side!), plus the paper is nice and thick for my art pens!  It's a great way to combine both my left and right brain :).  They daily sections are also great tools for mental wellness.   If you'd like to try it, click here and use her code at checkout for a 10% discount:  JOSIES10.   (She'll also earn a small commission to help support her college goals. So thank YOU.)

    This compass exercise has been a big reminder for me that the little things I do each day aren't meaningless, they really are filled with purpose.  (Even though they may feel mundane.) They help me be who I need to be in this world, especially in these crazy times, and for those around me.

    If you would like some help setting up your compass, just send me an email at Nicole@ARTstarters.net. I'm happy to spend a few moments with you by phone or by Zoom to get you started!

    More Resources on Creating Snowflake Compasses are on my YouTube Channel:

    Cutting 8-point Snowflakes: https://youtu.be/VDxXoPtC86M

    Adding Zentangle to Your Snowflake Compass:


    Using Colored Pencil with your Snowflake Compass: https://youtu.be/PrqlGOX7TIU

  • 10 Apr 2020 9:50 AM | Nicole The Creativity Coach (Administrator)

     Scavenger Hunts are fun for the whole family - especially when you create and color your own eggs with messages on the back.

    Use the link below as a starting point, and then hide them around the house. Turn it into a Treasure Hunt with clues if you're up for the challenge: write a clue on the back of the first one leading to the next egg location . . . And at the last location, end with a fun little prize!

    My Mom was the BEST at treasure hunts! Maybe she just wanted to keep me busy when I was younger, but I still remember how much creativity she used in her clues. I think she enjoyed it almost as much as me (her clues got harder and weirder each time)! When I got older, I had fun creating these hunts for my little Sis. And of course, I continued the tradition with my daughter . . . who now makes them for my son. I don’t know which is more fun - GOING on the hunt, or CREATING it!

    The clues don't need to rhyme, but it's a fun challenge for the hunt-maker. Here’s an example:

    "The most fulFILLING place in the house for young and old
    But if you keep the door open, you’ll start to feel COLD!”
    (And then hide the next clue in the refrigerator)

    This generous website has links to egg templates to color, and even blank ones to draw your own designs:

    Over the next few days I'll be sharing on our Facebook Page the ones I make with my family . . . and of course, some relaxing tangle patterns to draw inside them! So keep your eyes out over the next few days and see how many design ideas you can find, or register here to get the FULL DOZEN links all in one place (donation is optional).

  • 28 Oct 2019 5:45 PM | Nicole The Creativity Coach (Administrator)

    If you’re looking for a fun, yet artsy way, to celebrate Halloween or Fall, here’s a quick way!  Give your artists a list of 12 items and have them draw 9 of them on a tic-tac-toe grid.   You can also use rubber stamps (set out 12 designs and let them stamp just 9 of them and color them in). Just make sure they all don’t pick the same items and put them in the same exact squares!

    We added a fun twist by having them draw with the Sakura Moonlight Gel Pens on black paper!  We think they turned out pretty amazing!  

    And we all had a blast playing:

    Bingo (3 in a row, horizontal, vertical or diagonally)

    X (both diagonals)


    Plus Sign (not the corners)

    Postage stamp (4 together in any corner)

    and Cover All ( be prepared for multiple winners on this one!  But it’s fun for everyone to win in the end!!)

    Click here to download Fall Bingo List.pdf, my list of items to draw with instruction (prints 2 per page).  Just make sure to print an extra set to cut up for the bingo caller.  Oh - and definitely don’t forget to have prizes!!  Candy works great :) ( And it's also great to use as bingo markers.  Starbursts are actually perfect.  Give everyone nine pieces and they can eat them in the end whether they won or not!)

    This artsy homemade bingo game is also a great way to keep the kids busy! LOL!

  • 25 Oct 2019 1:40 PM | Nicole The Creativity Coach (Administrator)

    AMAZING!  But TRUE!  These are real decoupaged pumpkins.  Decoupage is the art of decorating objects by gluing paper to them.  It's a favorite art. project at all the centers we teach at, because it's easy to do and can last all the way through to Thanksgiving!

    And here's a link to a fun video filmed at The ARTbar years ago:


    I know, I know, they sell fake pumpkins now.  And they last forever.  But using REAL pumpkins is so traditional, and it really can freak someone out!  "Wait - that's a REAL pumpkin???"

    We have also heard from people who pull their REAL, DECOUPAGED pumpkins out a year later and they look just fine.  (Although we are sure it's not looking so pretty on the inside, and we don't recommend saving it past the season.). However when sealed, it lasts far past Thanksgiving.  The key is to use pumpkins that don't have much pulp.  We love the tiny white ones and the small tiger striped ones.

    For papers, the thinner the better. We  recommend paper made specifically for decoupage because not only is it thin, but it has a coating on it that prevents tearing once it gets wet with all the glue.  They now make them in so many beautiful patterns!  You can also paint or draw on your own paper (use Sandwich Wrap from Smart 'N Final.). For glue, use any clear drying glue that you already have.  But if you are buying some, we love the glossy Decou-Page because it glues, seals and leaves a glossy finish (and its not smelly like Mod Podge, although that does work if you have it.).

    And of course, you can always combine paint, glitter (glass glitter too!) and metallics for amazing effects!  
    And for those who want to draw directly on the pumpkin using the Zentangle method, we recommend the black IdentiPen (by Sakura).  It's amazing!  And you can use it to draw on mugs, platters and other non-porous surfaces too.  (Just wipe off the pen tip on scratch paper every now and then if drawing on a waxy pumpkin.)


    Listed below you'll see our favorite pumpkin/decoupage products.  If you buy on Amazon using these links, you are also supporting our work with nonprofits, as we share therapeutic art with those in need.  We get a tiny percentage of your sales without anything being added to your fee.  Thank you so much for your support!



    Diamond Glaze Gloss Glue/Sealer:


    Decopatch Papers: hot pink/black/white collection:


    Decopatch Papers: blue/black/white collection:


    Tim Holtz Vintage Paper (3 rolls):


    Tim Holtz Vintage Travel Paper:


    Real German Glass Glitter (assorted colors):


  • 09 Apr 2019 1:53 PM | Nicole The Creativity Coach (Administrator)

    Do you have a funny April Fool’s Story?

    This was me last Monday!!

    Here’s how it happened . . .  One word:  ORIGAMI.

    I woke up on April 1st with a crazy idea!  I would teach Origami at all my art sessions!  The last time I tried that, I swore I would NEVER EVER EVER do that again.

    Why?  Well, origami is the exact OPPOSITE of the usual art that I teach!

    In origami (unlike expressive art):

    1. there IS a right and a WRONG way to fold the paper for each design
    2. there IS a specific OUTCOME  (it should look like the picture when finished)
    3. All steps need to be performed EXACTLY and PERFECTLY - all corners should line up, etc.
    4. All steps need to be performed IN ORDER  - you cannot move forward if the step before it is not done and not done PERFECTLY (see #3 again)

    And although origami masters can teach a room full of hundreds of apprentices.  Me, not so much.  I have to show my group of 8 students one fold, and then go around and check each one and make sure they all did it "right," and help those who “don’t get it.” Meanwhile others get bored waiting or start folding it the way they want (aka "wrong").   It is not my recommendation for a therapeutic art class of more than 3 people, especially if they are dealing with ADHD.

    The last time I taught origami, exactly one year ago, I had tried it a different way.  I did it as a team exercise.  I taught the person next to me one fold, then they taught the person next to them and so on.  While that teaching was spreading around the circle, I could then teach the next step to the person next to me and repeat the process  . . . in an attempt to keep the group from getting bored while waiting for the whole room to learn the fold.  It worked somewhat.  But with some of the groups i taught, it turned out to be a classic game of Telephone.  What came back around the circle looked nothing like what I started with.  Oh well.  Mental note to not do THAT again.

    Yet, on April Fool’s Day,  I decided that I would be the FOOL and teach origami one more time  (because many people love it and beg me to do it.  Why do I listen??). Yet this time I decided to be more CLEVER about it and play an April Fool’s Joke on my classes.  I told them that instead of me teaching that day — that they would be the teachers!  I imagined me relaxing on my chair and watching them all come to life as confident art teachers.

    I handed out origami books to each set of partners and told them to interpret the directions, fold the item, and then, if they like, to teach it to us during the last half of the class.

    Well, it sort of worked.  And yes, it was frustrating for some of them.  And most of them did not work well in partners.  And who can interpret those origami books anyway??  But we ended up doing a fabulous job on the 1st project in the book:  a paper airplane.  And they had a blast seeing whose plane flew the furthest.  I gave prizes to everyone and hopefully they forgave me for any frustration they experienced. (Yeah, the penguin wasn’t an easy project, with 26 folds, and kudos to the pair that tried to teach us THAT.)

    So at the end of this April Fool’s Day, I promised myself AGAIN, that was the last time I EVER EVER teach origami - lol!  But already the next day, I broke that promise again:

    The very next day in another art group,  everyone was still finishing up a project except one artist who finished early.  I asked her if she would like to make an origami crane - after all, I still had the remains in my art bag from yesterday’s horror.  She lit up with excitement!  

    Guess what?? Teaching origami ONE-ON-ONE actually was FUN!  I made a fold while she watched, and then helped her make the same fold.  We did this for the 1st few cranes until she felt confident to try on her own (with me there to help if she skipped a step or got stuck). Once the rhythm of the folds is learned, origami can actually be meditative.  And the process can be quite healing when you repeat the process over and over again.  It becomes routine.  And the success in the end gives a HUGE feeling of accomplishment to the artist!  Her smile was beautiful (and her cranes too!) And boy did I need that success after the day before (even more than my client, no doubt!)

    So . . . A HUGE THANK YOU to my solitary artist for bringing healing to me on the day AFTER April Fool’s Day.  And thank you mostly to all the artists that SUFFERED through the origami  APRIL FOOL‘s DAY this year.!

    Art, like life, is full of so many life lessons.  And what is hard for us in art, is usually hard for us in life.  Step-by-step following directions is not what comes naturally to stubborn people like me - LOL!  And that is my wisdom from my FOOLISH Day!

    Most likely, next April Fool’s Day I will try it again.  I am not THAT wise after all, and I actually am stubborn like that.  And still searching for a miracle way to share origami.  Perhaps I’ll just bring 7 more assistants with me next year so we can all teach it one-on-one.  :)

    Any volunteers???

    Please tell me your origami or April Fool’s stories!


    Amazon link to an all inclusive kit that's great for classes (small classes, that is):


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