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How Creative Acts Empower Your Life and Art
Carrie Schmitt is an artist, author and instructor who started painting as a therapeutic practice following a life-threatening diagnosis in 2009. Her love for art has turned into a passion for giving — and it all started with a rose.
Carrie shares how giving away a rose a day and other “artful” acts saved her creative spirit when she was in a dark place. Learn how to transform your art, and maybe even your life, along the same lines. Cheers, Carrie — thank you for sharing!
Giving a Rose Can Transform Your Art — and Maybe Your Life
I began giving a rose to a stranger every day about a year ago as a way to cope with personal heartache and melancholy. As a single mother and nurturer, I was tired of giving. While meditating, I whispered that I wanted to start receiving! An inner voice promptly replied, “You need to give more.” I was annoyed and dismayed — I wasn’t sure I had much more I could give.
My grandfather used to give my grandmother a rose every month so she could enjoy her favorite flower year round. As I listened to my intuition, I realized I was being called to give roses away too.
I gave a rose to a different person every day for a year. What has unfolded from this daily practice are moments with strangers that have transformed my relationship with creativity and my understanding of who I am as an artist and as a spiritual being.
The following are five ways daily creative acts, such as giving a rose away, transformed my art and life and made me think of my relationship with others and with my own creativity in a very different way. Maybe it will for you as well!
1. It Can Teach You to Embrace Stillness
First, I had to listen to my inner self to realize what my path really was–not what I was “shouting” at it to be. You have to ask yourself what is truly calling you. And you have to be ready to hear the answer.
Giving away roses began with me quieting my mind and listening to that inner wisdom that we all have. For me, listening came through meditation and prayer. When I received the idea of the rose during those times of quiet, I chose to listen. I didn’t know why I was supposed to give away roses, but I trusted that I was meant to do it.
Trusting your sacred path and that you can walk it is a crucial practice in being brave in art and life. Releasing control over a desired or known outcome can be liberating, terrifying and absolutely necessary for creative expansion.
2. You Can Find an Anchor
Is there certain recurring imagery or symbolism that connects you to your life story and to others? When you close your eyes and think of yourself as an object or color or place or action, what comes to mind? What embodies your spirit? What imagery empowers you?
For me, it was the rose. When a rose is exchanged between two people, we create a beautiful moment that otherwise would not exist. We are in union with the creative process, which heightens our senses and allows us to feel a flash of the divine, of something bigger than ourselves.
You have the same opportunity and potential to discover what your personal anchor is, and when you are ready, to do something with it.
3. You Will Be Brave Enough to Share Your Gifts
Art is not a neutral pursuit–that means there are going to be awesome moments and moments that are not so awesome. Be brave and be willing to risk failure knowing that getting hurt is part of the process–but that the pursuit is worthwhile.
When I started the Rose Project, I could get nervous when giving out a rose. But I did it anyway. As a teacher, I used to dance around the idea of fear with my students. But I don’t do that anymore. The fear and nerves definitely exist. They always will.
You have to be brave enough to take what comes and roll with it. This takes time and means putting support mechanisms in place for yourself : the willingness to call a friend, write in your journal or move or exercise.
It also means accepting that sometimes people will not want what I have to give — what we have to give. When someone does not want a rose, I accept that. I have learned to trust that the rose is just meant for someone else.
4. You Can Start a Movement
With the Rose Project, I witnessed how creativity is contagious. Like my creative acts had ripple effects in my life and community, your creative acts will inspire others. After giving a rose to a young carpenter one day, he sent me a picture of a single rose he painted on the wall of a house he was working on! A single rose had inspired him to make a spontaneous art piece!
Another time, a preschool teacher took her rose to school and had her students each paint a single rose in a vase. The results were stunning. A poet wrote me a poem about a rose, and artists began sending me images of their own rose paintings as they got word of what I’d been doing.
You never know where your creative acts will lead, but if your experience is anything like mine it will bring magic into your life. Your creativity has the power to delight and surprise you–even people you don’t know or have never met.
5. You Can Harness the Power of a Daily Practice
Giving a rose every day for a year was, for me, more exciting than anything else. I thought to myself: I can’t travel the world. I have financial and health issues, and responsibilities. So instead of travelling 10,000 miles, I will make my day-to-day life my pilgrimage, and people will have to be my continents.
There were definitely days when I questioned myself. Usually it was days when it was 10pm and raining and I was driving to the store to get a rose…but I knew those moments mattered most.
When something is easy, you take it for granted. When it is tough and you question it all, but you still make the time and show inner discipline? That is when you really grow.
And that carries over to your art. Art is a practicing discipline, so the more you practice, the better it feels and the easier it flows. And like the adage says, once you commit yourself, the universe comes to your aid.
The rose giving habit has transformed my relationship with my art. The more I connected with creativity in my everyday life, the more real this creative force became to me and the less I doubted its existence.
Now, when I approach my artwork I do so with ease. I fold into the creative process effortlessly, letting it embrace me. There is no reason to worry. The roses taught me that.
About Carrie Schmitt
Carrie Schmitt’s art is sold in galleries and in private collections internationally and licensed for clothing, home décor, accessories, toys and stationery with several companies, including Hallmark, teNeues Publishing, Dianoche Designs and Primitives by Kathy. Her work is sold in stores such as Pier 1 Imports, Target, Kirklands and more.
Schmitt’s book, Painted Blossoms: Creative Expressive Flowers with Mixed Media, shares tips and techniques to create floral art. And, she also teaches workshops and retreats throughout the country. Her art has been featured in several publications, including Professional Artist Magazine and Cloth Paper Scissors.
Schmitt gave a rose away every day to a stranger for a year and writes about her experience. You can follow the story and join the rose-giving movement at A Single Rose Project on Facebook and by following @carrieschmitt on Instagram. You can also visit Carrie’s website and join her on Facebook.
Another artist who understands the power and beauty of the rose is Linda Kemp. Her simple video on Complex Shape-Making Techniques: Painting Flowers makes sense of nature’s more challenging forms, like a rose, and breaks down painting and drawing those forms into easy, accessible steps. Enjoy!