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Unread 04-29-2006, 08:24 AM   #1
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Default On being "Dirty Worthy"

Recently, I read a comment in the one of the forums about being "dirty worthy", i.e. someone whose work is worthy of the Dirty Dozen gallery. This led me to start thinking about art and what it really takes to be a good or even great stamper (I put myself in the former category.) And I thought this would make a great discussion for this board, so here are my thoughts on it:

I think most women and quite a few men, are born with an innate appreciation for beauty. What separates "artistic" people from those who have this appreciation is the drive and desire to express this is some form. Quite a few people have the desire and not the drive. Other people have both. However, you can have all the desire and drive in the world and still not produce something that you yourself would consider "art".

For those who are driven to express their love of beauty, when you start you often find yourself frustrated. You try to make something beautiful, but most of what you produce you hate. EVERYONE goes through this, I hasten to add, even people who seem to have what is called a good "eye". The problem is that while you know what you like, you don't know WHY something that you like is good, compared to what you don't like. Why one design works so beautifully, but one fails dismally.

So, what does it take to become "dirty worthy"? What separates people who are good at this from people who aren't? My thought is that while some people may have been born with a better "eye", these people are few and far between. The is what I think makes a good or a great stamper, which I think shows that ANYONE can become "dirty worthy" if they are willing to try:

a) Time, practice, and hard work. Ask anybody who has become a Dirty Girl how much time they spend stamping and I think you'll find they spend a lot of time stamping and/or scrapping. I've been stamping since 1996, but I wouldn't consider my work to be all that good until I started spending almost every evening and part of every day stamping. I've been scrapbooking since 1998, but I didn't really start feeling my work was good until I spent a solid two years, from 2000-2001 scrapbooking 5 nights a week, every week. I completed about 20 scrapbooks in that time period. I spent a lot of time on it. In the process, I produced a lot of garbage as well as what I'd consider good work.

b) Knowledge. While I've been to college and got my degree in art, I'd think you'd find that most of the Dirty Girls have not. And while I did get my degree in art, I didn't start applying what I learned in college until much later in life. When I was younger, I had some pretty romantic ideas about art, i.e. that the artist just went into their studio and art just "flowed" out of them. You didn't have to think about design principles or what worked, you just "did it". So while I learned all the principles, I didn't bother to consciously put them in my art work until I realized something. Which is that art itself is a mixture of inspiration (which almost everyone has) and craftsmanship. I thought that if you were a good artist, good design was just an innate part of your talent. It's not. I would produce a good painting every now and then, but without know what made it good, I was working blind. Learning and applying design principles can catapult you from someone who is "pretty good" to someone who is fabulous. It doesn't make something any less "art" to have applied some design tricks...the inspiration is still what drives the artist. So a lot of people up here who are great stampers have studied good design principles and applied them to what they do. Doing this will reduce the amount of bad work you produce and increase the amount of good work. You will know why something works (or doesn't) and sometimes you will be able to fix it based on your knowledge. You can find a lot of books on design principles and color theory and many stamping mags and scrapbooking mags have articles on it.

c) Courage. It takes courage to be willing to waste a lot of supplies to get a good design. Even knowing all the design principles in the world, people who are good or great stampers still produce lousy work. Sometimes an idea I have just doesn't look the way I thought it should...it doesn't work out right. I have got trays of rejects, rejects that I have a hard time throwing away. If you aren't willing to reject some of your own work, if you don't have the courage to spoil a perfectly good piece of beautiful paper, you are going to have a hard time getting better at this.

d) Study. You can develop an great eye for design just by looking at what you feel is good and then looking for the design principles contained inside. I would hazard a guess that any of the other ladies who are Dirty Girls are like me: they have stacks and stacks of stamping and scrapbooking magazines. They look at advertising art as well and figure out what makes it tick.

e) The last thing is attention to detail. Making sure that your work is clean, that things are evenly stamped and matted can make an enormous difference.

That's it. To me, learning this stuff is like learning to read. You wouldn't expect someone who was learning to read to pick up a book like "Moby Dick" or any other large book with great big words and tear through it, but you know that if they keep reading, sooner or later they will be able to. This is the same. Don't feel discouraged...keep trying!
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Unread 04-29-2006, 08:40 AM   #2
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Very insightful . . . gives one a lot to think about. It is encouraging too, if you want something hard work will help.
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Unread 04-29-2006, 08:52 AM   #3
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Very insightful, Janine. Felt like you were right inside my brain, thinking what I think, formulating it into words that I have been unable to.

Cool!

Edited to add and elaborate further on Janine's OP:

I consider my skills a continual work in progress, keeping what Janine speaks of above, in my mind. I have zero formal art training. I study what I like, study artists whose work draws me in and try to learn what it is I like about this piece, or this artst's way of applying X, etc. I read A LOT. Study A LOT. Apply that I've learned A LOT.

I also persist when I do not produce exactly what I'm aiming for the first time. My trash can is filled with projects where I missed the mark. Chuckle!

. . . I can recall my cousin Janice, who first introduced me to stamping. She came to visit me one weekend. As we were stamping together, I was making something where I combined images and colors that together produced hideous results . . . a notebook cover, I believe. Wretched thing, it was.

She was stunned, and commented, "I don't think I've *ever* seen you make anything ugly!!!"

I had to remind her that she's not with me every day as I work in my studio. I tossed it into the trash and got out another piece of paper to try again.

The point is, I'm willing to take the journey, and deal with the roadblocks and detours that come with it. I will never "arrive", but arriving isn't the point, for me personally. It's "the ride". UKWIM?
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Unread 04-29-2006, 09:01 AM   #4
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Well said!!

I completely agree with you about studying and applying the knowledge that you have learned. This will always help you improve whatever you are trying to do.

In college, I did not know how to write a lesson plan for my first elementary education class. I did horrible in that class and barely passed. Fortunately, we worked in groups and had to give copies of our plans to each other. One lady in my group did outstanding work. I was very discouraged and questioned my abitlity to become a teacher. I decided to study what this lady did and how she did it so I could do better in my next class. It paid off I got A's from that point forward.

I was so glad that instead of getting discouraged I continued to work towards improving my abilties by studying others that did it well.


Before I came to SCS, I rarely used background stamps or embellishments. Now I can't make a card without them. I have learned the importance of the little details by studying the fantastic cards in the gallery. It is so awesome to learn from those that do it so well.
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Unread 04-29-2006, 09:11 AM   #5
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You've hit the nail on the head! I've learned that I need more Courage! Courage to "waste" a 90 cent sheet of paper. Whew, that means going against everything that's been ingrained in me since I was born. I come from a long line of hoarders and savers, women who wouldn't dream of throwing anything remotely salvable away. (My mother likes to take my reject cards and send them to people. Horrors!) Waste not, want not, you know! But these women weren't artists, either, nor were they aspiring to be dirty worthy. My new challenge is to "waste" a lot of embellishments and cardstock from now on! Thanks, Jan. I have three bottles of Primas and spools of ribbon just waiting to be wasted, er, used. Yahoo!
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Unread 04-29-2006, 10:20 AM   #6
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Thanks Jan and Julie for sharing. I appreciated reading everything you both said. I stamp every day, throw tons of stuff away, and make myself persevere when things aren't going just right. The one thing I prove to myself every day is that if I don't try something new or hard....it will never happen. I have nothing to lose by trying. I have a degree in Music, grew up in a my mother's flower shop and have always been crafty with sewing and floral design. I have, however, never been able to draw a stick man in my life. The biggest shock I have had over the last several months is being able to scribble out a little tree trunk and cover it with a little stamp and make a tree, or scribble out a few straight lines to create a little fence. These are tasks that I would have never believed possible a year ago. Practicing, working at our craft and doing it regularly helps us grow and learn. What more can we ask for????
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Unread 04-29-2006, 11:05 AM   #7
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Thanks so much for posting this Janine! My goal is to become a "dirty girl" one of these days. I need to make more time to stamp. A lot of my stuff ends up in the trash can already! LOL! All you dirty girls rock & constantly inspire me. Maybe one of these days when I grow up I can be like you guys! LOL!
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Unread 04-29-2006, 11:34 AM   #8
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Thanks for sharing your words of wisdom! I have made myself stamp everyday this week and a lot went in the trash but there are also finished cards ready to be used. Sometimes, I think I have to get past my negative thoughts about my artwork and just take risks.
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Unread 04-29-2006, 01:00 PM   #9
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Very interesting, Jan!! Also, I think one thing that can make us ALL better is to hang around SCS and STUDY the samples that we love - we do we love what we do? And if we do those Challenges, we're bound to grow, even if what we end up with isn't anything that great!! I love how I can learn from all of you - even if I do it by CASE'ing a lot (but not all) of the time!

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Unread 04-29-2006, 01:22 PM   #10
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Can I add that I think the challenges are a FABULOUS way to make yourself try new things?

I think it is very easy to get stuck in a stamping rut and stick to one or two designs. A great sketch or color combo or technique to try can really make us better arteests!

Thanks for the great post Jan!
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Unread 04-29-2006, 01:32 PM   #11
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Thanx Jan and Julie for some really great words of advice!!

And I second mamaK that the challenges are an AWESOME way to stretch your stamping wings and also to get out of a rut! (won't tell you how many times they've helped me! )
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Unread 04-29-2006, 01:33 PM   #12
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thank you for sharing...that's very helpful information from all of you!
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Unread 04-29-2006, 01:36 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amylou
Thanks so much for posting this Janine! My goal is to become a "dirty girl" one of these days. I need to make more time to stamp. A lot of my stuff ends up in the trash can already! LOL! All you dirty girls rock & constantly inspire me. Maybe one of these days when I grow up I can be like you guys! LOL!
Ditto to this....I do not have nearly enough time playing in my stamps and stuff to even get ink on my hands, let alone "dirty".
I think someday, when m kids are grown and gone, (maybe ), just maybe I could stamp something!
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Unread 04-29-2006, 02:07 PM   #14
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Jan and Julie certainly are right about not really knowing how much time you can spend stamping once you've become a dirty girl! I seem to spend hours in my Happy Room some days and still, sometimes nothing comes out of there that I'd want to post! I think it's wonderful that people want to be a dirty girl, but I've seen so many truly beautiful cards on this site, that I really believe anybody with a little time can be your own "dirty girl"! When I'm not working outside my home (I do temp work), I can spend 7 or 8 hours stampin' away, and believe me, my trash can is always the fullest in the house! I really don't want my DH to see how much I trash, so I always offer to the bedrooms trash!!
Please everyone, keep up the good work that you create!!

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Unread 04-29-2006, 08:55 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kittie747
I stamp every day, throw tons of stuff away
Thanks for sharing your insight, Jan......and you too, Julie, and everyone else. Kittie.......can I buy your throwaways???? PLEASE????
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Unread 04-29-2006, 10:05 PM   #16
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What Jan & Julie said struck a chord with me. I did not realize I had an ounce of creativity in me up until seven years ago when I decided to make my own wedding invitation. Ever since then I've dabbled in different forms of craft -- from dried flower arrangements to wreath-making and then stamping (and then lately digital scrapbook -- thanks to one of Julie's post about her daughter, I think I got addicted ).

I have no formal art training myself. What have I learned so far is not to be afraid to take risks, which is somewhat hard for me to do. It takes me a couple of days to come up with an idea for a card. When I do, it doesn't usually turn out the way I had pictured it, so I start over and over and over. When I can't really come up with anything, I turn to this site for inspiration. The most important thing for me is not to let a week go by without stamping. I wish I could stamp every night, but that comes in time when I learn how to manage my time better.

Again, thanks for the wonderful insight.
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Unread 04-29-2006, 10:11 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mamakimberly
Can I add that I think the challenges are a FABULOUS way to make yourself try new things?

I think it is very easy to get stuck in a stamping rut and stick to one or two designs. A great sketch or color combo or technique to try can really make us better arteests!

Thanks for the great post Jan!

I totally agree with you! I have only done one challenge so far (a color challenge), but it was so awesome! I can definitely see me becoming a regular in the challenges....very fun!

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Unread 04-30-2006, 12:09 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kittie747
I have, however, never been able to draw a stick man in my life. The biggest shock I have had over the last several months is being able to scribble out a little tree trunk and cover it with a little stamp and make a tree, or scribble out a few straight lines to create a little fence. These are tasks that I would have never believed possible a year ago.
I can NOT believe this!!!

When I look at your cards, I see the work of a true artist.

What's funny to me is that you said what you did about the stick figure--that's the line I always use when someone compliments me on my stamping. I tell them I can't draw a stick figure to save my life, but I can ink up some rubber and put it on paper!!!

Seriously, though, I've been truly amazed at the creativity scrapbooking and stamping has brought out in me. I NEVER saw any artistic ability in myself whatsoever growing up. But I got hooked on SBing in high school and have spent the past 7 years studying every issue of Creating Keepsakes. It must be thru osmosis or something that design elements are sinking in to my brain, because I've never taken an art class in my life (the 7th grade intro to art doesn't count IMO!). Somehow thru all those years of studying pages and cards, I've picked up the ability to know when a card is balanced or just "looks right."

EVERYONE has creativity inside them---we just all express it in various ways and mediums.
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Unread 04-30-2006, 03:08 AM   #19
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Jan, very thoughtful insights, of course, you are a great writer, too. Easy to read and entertaining, so that is very helpful. Julie and Kimberly, great insights. Great thread! Hope I don't kill it.

I think back to my very first swap card in 2002. I had been stampin' for several years, but I had moved out of state, and found a group through Stampin' Discuss that invited me to their downline meeting as an orphan. I needed to take a swap. I had a 2 year old, a 6 month old and a DH who travelled 47 weeks that year M-F with no family in the area to help. There was no Splitcoast gallery back then - atleast to my knowledge. When I got to the meeting, I was SO embarrassed. The card was truly AWFUL. It was 2 layers, embossed heart, period. Can you say UGLY?! The ladies were so gracious to me and encouraging.

Fast forward to February, 2006 (2 months ago) ~ I attended a crop in Georgia with 3 of my closest girlfriends. We are sitting in a room of 75 women cropping away, and my bestest little girlfriend, really a sister solemate, whips out yet another AWFUL card that I had sent her in May, 2001. We had our first babies the same year and celebrated our first real "Mother's Day" together. I said, "put that thing AWAY! It SUCKS!" (Yep, the U-SUCK card ) She replies, "are you kidding me? This is so special to me, not for how it looks but the sentiment inside and the special day that we shared. It's a treasure!" Learned a real lesson that day!

I have PM'd several Dirty Girls over the last year and asked them about the time they spend in their studios. It is a job for many of them. Hours spent creating, working, learning and playing. I am so grateful for the DD gallery and other publications that allow so many of them a place to get feedback and receive the kudos they deserve. My children are in school now, and I have more time to "work", and my work has improved. Here are some of my suggestions:

1) Be willing to purchase supplies that you think are too expensive to be worthy of your ability. You have to "practice" with them before you can produce something really wonderful.

2) Be willing to put the time into that "practice" - already discussed.

3) Realize that you don't have to send out DIRTY girl work to be truly appreciated by your friends and family. In all honesty, what I think is my best work, tends to get sent out as RAKs to other stampers who will appreciate the time that might have gone into the project. Editted to say: I guess I do this because I like to thank them for the inspiration!
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Unread 04-30-2006, 03:23 AM   #20
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Randie said Kittie.......can I buy your throwaways???? PLEASE???? [/quote]


How cute are you!!!!! You wouldn't want them,,,but you sure made my day.
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Unread 04-30-2006, 03:24 AM   #21
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Ooopps!
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Unread 04-30-2006, 03:30 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kittie747
Ooopps!
LOL.. Kittie..

I'll take your throwaways, too! I love your work!

You'll be a dirty girl in no time!

Peace,
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Unread 04-30-2006, 03:31 AM   #23
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EVERYONE has creativity inside them---we just all express it in various ways and mediums.[/quote] Quoted by Melissa- Rockymountainstamper



This is the truest statement on this thread. We all have creativity in us....we just all need to "have the courage to try" so we can express it in various ways and mediums.

Can you all tell that I am quote challenged ....I can't seem to get the quote box to stay on and show who I'm referring to. But...I'm not afraid to try. Just a little humor on my stupidity...!
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Unread 04-30-2006, 04:48 AM   #24
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Trying is the key thing for me. Stamping has allowed me to be an artist, but I can't color to save my life. My eyes just don't see things "shaded" and so on. But I'm still trying. One day...
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Unread 04-30-2006, 06:08 AM   #25
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I appreciate all the input here. Another wee bit of advice from a gal who's far from dirty: study "My Favorites", there's bound to be reasons why you liked those projects enough to save them. Even if you don't understand design, your eye is still drawn to good stuff!!

Also, positive thinking/self talk may help. As a teacher, I hear students say, "Oh, I'm a terrible writer!" I think when we say things like that often enough, it becomes true. That's why pro athletes sound so arrogant. Part of their success comes from their heads, not just their athletic ability.

Note to self: "I am so going to be a Dirty Girl!"
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Unread 05-01-2006, 11:05 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stargirl
I appreciate all the input here. Another wee bit of advice from a gal who's far from dirty: study "My Favorites", there's bound to be reasons why you liked those projects enough to save them. Even if you don't understand design, your eye is still drawn to good stuff!!

Also, positive thinking/self talk may help. As a teacher, I hear students say, "Oh, I'm a terrible writer!" I think when we say things like that often enough, it becomes true. That's why pro athletes sound so arrogant. Part of their success comes from their heads, not just their athletic ability.

Note to self: "I am so going to be a Dirty Girl!"

Great advice!

I wonder what hubby will say when he hears me walk around the house mumbling that to myself.
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Unread 05-01-2006, 12:45 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stargirl
Note to self: "I am so going to be a Dirty Girl!"
SCS should sell tshirts that say this!
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Unread 05-01-2006, 01:09 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BsmtScrapper
Great advice!

I wonder what hubby will say when he hears me walk around the house mumbling that to myself.
This really made me chuckle cause I think being a dirty girl might mean something else to the men in our lives!!!! Sorry, it just struck me really funny!
deb

p.s. I love the t-shirt idea for SCS that mrslaird suggested!!! Count me in!
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Unread 05-01-2006, 01:25 PM   #29
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Jan and Julie,

Thanks for your insight. And now I have more justification for spending time in magazines and the new uploads eveyday here on SCS... I can tell hubby I'm studying
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Unread 05-01-2006, 03:56 PM   #30
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As far as studying goes, I have actually started to take notes! If I see something I really like, I'll jot the idea down on a Post-It. When they get full I stick 'em on my computer tower. Sometimes, the whole side of my tower is completely yellow with Post-its!
Then, when I get stuck on a card, I'll take them down and reread them. They really help sometimes, I used a lot of the ideas on Daven's birthday card in my gallery. I just love how much inspiration you can get here!
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Unread 05-01-2006, 09:05 PM   #31
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This is my kind of thread!

I am such an analytical thinker, I wonder about such things as what makes some more successful creatively than others. Never mind others, trying to figure out myself is a full-time job!

Janine, thanks for the post. I appreciate when people put time into something and throw it out into the world to see what happens.

Here are a few thoughts:

On hard work - I can attest to the importance of hard work and practice. I look back at my first cards and cringe, yet they were important. My dad always said that 90% of everything is just showing up, 10% is talent. I have found that to be mostly true. I study or work at stamping at minimum 4-5 hours per day. Without that kind of drive, there is no way I could produce some of the pieces I do now.

On throw aways - I did a quick count of the projects in my, "don't like it, but haven't chucked it yet bin" and there were over 200. I have 2 other boxes like this and bags of garbage long in the dump. I am a perfectionist, so I probably throw too much out and am trying so hard to work with the "whimsy" of a design.

On using the bling - There was a time that I based my layouts and embellishments on economy. It was very freeing once I *realized* that I was doing it and decided that all those beautiful and delicious treats didn't enrich anyone's life in storage! Now I use, use, use, and USE! It makes all the difference.

Finally, I always knew that I had an tangible artistic streak in me, just could never find the outlet to LET IT OUT! My work allows for lots of creativity but it is all in the digital world. Stamping and paper crafting has consumed me because its limits are endless and I have an insatiable appetite for learning and all things new. I am infinitely thankful for the opportunity to be part of an online community that takes me on a path I never expected.

One of my biggest character challenges, is that I study something until I have done about as well as I can and then get bored.

With this art form, there is always so much to learn and it is exciting to know that I won't hit a wall, that the possibilities are endless.
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Unread 05-02-2006, 05:43 AM   #32
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Jan - thanks for your wonderful words. I don't aspire to be a dirty girl, I just want to get better at what I do. And SCS is the best place to be.
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Unread 05-02-2006, 05:55 AM   #33
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Being new to SCS and stamping, I find this type of thread to be the most interesting and helpful along with all the other information I gather from here. I consider myself *enrolled in art school* every time I am on this site.
The wonderful people, instructions, tips and techniques you all share, have *taught me* how to stamp.

Certainly, SCS is The best learning institution of dedicated , talented and inspirational people I have ever seen or met.

I don't ever aspire to be a *DD* girl, but I do aspire to be the best I can learn from you all!

TFS everything you do!

Karen
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Unread 05-02-2006, 06:01 AM   #34
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bump to subscribe
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Unread 05-02-2006, 06:41 AM   #35
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Wow, Jan, I wholeheartedly agree with your whole statement -- very insightful!

I've never had any formal art training but always loved any kind of art projects/classes in school. When I found stamping 3 years ago, I was in heaven! I also spend numerous hours just studying and trying to figure out exactly what it is I like about a particular piece of art and using those elements I like. And as Julie said, it's a continual process since the industry is constantly changing and new products are being introduced.

And I can also attest to the fact that practicing/stamping every day is a great way to start improving your work, as are the weekly/daily challenges -- they force you out of your comfort zone and to try things you may not have otherwise. You never know what you might stumble onto that will be your forte!
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Unread 05-02-2006, 07:25 AM   #36
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Thank you all for this thread! Lots of great insights!!! I realize my biggest downfall for being a dirty girl is that I just don't stamp as often as I need to. I am going to make it my goal for the month of may to try the challenges daily and see what wonderful little creations I can come up with!!! Off to stamp.
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Unread 05-02-2006, 05:58 PM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stargirl

Note to self: "I am so going to be a Dirty Girl!"
*giggles uncontrollably*!!!
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Unread 05-02-2006, 06:58 PM   #38
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This has been a most interesting read -- though I must honestly say I read some and skimmed some! I have only been introduced to SCS for about 2 weeks and have been uploading cards for maybe a little over a week. It is so much fun, all of it -- looking in the galleries, talking on these "threads" -- a new thing to me -- and learning my way around this site -- and, of course, uploading my own cards and reading all the wonderful comments so many of you make. I just love it all. I have been confused about many things, and I am slowing putting it all together, with help from many of you, but I am still very confused about the Dirty Dozen. I get the idea they are a group of highly talented stamp artists -- but do they have a "job" here -- I have read many of their bios -- it seems they come and go??? -- they are apparently "selected" -- but I can't quite figure out their "purpose" or "job". Is their purpose to put really interesting cards on so we all stay interested, or do they monitor anything or judge anything -- I just can't quite put it all together. If anyone has a minute to explain it to me, I'd sure appreciate it -- curious -- that's all. It's been nice talking to you -- thanks so much.

Sharon
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Unread 05-02-2006, 08:07 PM   #39
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Here is a great page that should explain it all!

Dirty Dozen Fan Club

It's the best 24.95 you'll ever spend!

Lisa
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Unread 05-02-2006, 10:40 PM   #40
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I love a good read - I'd like to thank Janine for this inspirational thread. The focus on the positive is so much appreciated and enjoyed.

My background does have a design education in it and so I do utilize it in many ways, but frankly in the long run I think that it was only a little "stitch" in the whole learning process. I read, read, read and then read some more. The community we have here is truly filled with so much amazing information and extraordinary artists. Life is a continual learning process and I want to be learning until the last day of my life.

Let's all aspire to just do our personal best, because our best will just get better and better - it will change, it will morph and it's all good. Aspiring to be "dirty" is a good goal to set for yourself if you want to improve your skills. It will help you focus on studying, practicing and refining what it is that you do. BUT don't forget the true reason you started stamping. For me it was a wonderful calming, creative outlet - I don't want to loose that in the process of bettering myself.
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