In her new guest blog post, Melanie Rothschild explains the many benefits of creating and giving yourself a gift, in her case a mixed- media painting project that led to a new insight about her own, evolving creative style.
I know it’s not a traditional gift season right now, which is why this may be the perfect moment to consider a gift for you, from you.
I often get a lot of pleasure from making art to give away, whether it’s as basic as a greeting card or something much more elaborate. It’s a chance, almost an invitation to one’s self to break out a bit and meander into new territory. At some point, it occurred to me that I should lavish some time on a gift for me.
The criterion is pretty simple: something that I feel inclined to make and do not need to justify one whit. Maybe it’s impractical or weird or doesn’t seem like the type of thing I usually do, but that’s all right . . . that’s part of “the gift of the gift.”
For each of the last three years, I’ve given myself a gift that I’ve made. The first was a three-foot long tea caddy. I just had a yen. Forget about the fact that it wasn’t until after I’d finished it that I realized I had absolutely no idea where to keep it. That was all right because I simply loved it. Eventually I found a place for it to live discreetly under my coffee table, where it’s actually proven to be very handy for serving.
The next year, I made a box with compartments for all my food-related bits of information: recipes, cards from restaurants, fortunes from fortune cookies, notes from favorite dishes, etc. I spent a huge amount of time painting the box with layer after layer. While I was excited about it as a gift for myself I at first thought it would be an anomaly in terms of the general direction of my work. But after a short time, I found that my enthusiasm for it has driven my work into a different route.
I believe once a year is a nice frequency: it’s infrequent enough that the time and resources I devote to it feel special rather than overly indulged. Yet, it’s regular enough that it’s always fun to be thinking about what the next plan will be. And like all good gifts, these “offerings to the self,” can bring bona fide long-term delight as well as unexpected creative seedlings.
Read more by Melanie Rothschild
Melanie Rothschild is a self-taught artist whose elaborate interior accessories have been sold in stores throughout the United States including Neiman-Marcus, the shops at the Smithsonian Institution, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and hundreds of others for almost two decades. Her work is shown in fine art galleries and has been licensed to Target. She considers moxie, an irreverent nature, and a respect for mistake-making to be the tools of her trade. Melanie has a master’s degree in the Study of Creativity and an undergrad degree in Anthropology. She is from and lives in Los Angeles.
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