Blending Interests with Hobbies

Blending Interests with Hobbies

Last time, I wrote about the art bug biting, and I’d like to continue with that theme this week. Why? Because when he does bite, it’s relevant to uncover what form of the virus you were infected with, and any particular interest you can bring into that hobby or artistic area.

Everyone isn’t involved with every artistic pursuit just because he or she was bitten by said art bug. Whereas one person might be a wonderful painter, another might excel at photography. One person who is awesome at sketching might be terrible at music, while a musician might not be able to draw a believable landscape. For this post, I’ll refer to this as the Artistic Division of Labor, or ADOL. Sound good? Okay!

ADOL can be driven by skill, in that someone might simply have a talent for a specific division. Maybe someone has been good at sculpting since his or her Play-Doh years, and that skill has grown in the years that followed. If such is the case, it wouldn’t be too surprising to find that said person was well-known among family and friends for that ability.

In other situations, eventual interest might lead to artistic pursuits, and that interest might be something a person has to explore to define. If that doesn’t make sense, hang on! I’m about to give you a real-world example—from my own life!

The inspirational snowball bush. So many flowers!

The inspirational snowball bush. So many flowers!

I remember picking flowers when I was younger, though they were admittedly mostly (if not completely) wildflowers. As far as actual gardening goes, one or two of the adults close to me at the time had some kind of flowers planted in a more deliberate fashion than renegade weeds springing up. Even now, my mom has this snowball bush in her front yard, which is flower-ish enough to make this post, and pretty enough when it’s in-bloom to catch my interest. Either way—whether wild or chosen—flowers were a part of my childhood, and I decided I was going to try my hand at flower gardening not too long ago. I got flowers from a store, planted them, watered them, and let them grow. And they were doing okay!

But I eventually realized I wasn’t interested enough in the gardening prospect to tend to it as much as a garden should ideally be cared for. Honestly, I don’t know that I watered the flowers at all after that initial amount, and there was little to no chance I was going to trim weeds away from them. At some point, I was told the weeds around them were moving—something that could be bad when you live in territory that has copperheads and rattlesnakes—so goodbye, flowers.

So far, what this situation amounts to is that I had a childhood interest that became an artsy pursuit I actually had the ability to see through, but didn’t have the focus to continue. The result of this predicament might seem simple: I could just give up on my flower-interest and try other ideas for artistic endeavors. The trouble though is that I still like flowers, even if I don’t have the desire to keep a garden healthy and catered to.

A possible solution then would be more along the lines of what I said earlier in this post. I could explore the topic to see if there was any flower-related ADOL that could hold my interest.

As I said in last week’s post, I tried my hand at floral arranging, and that was a fairly decent win for me. Overall, it was an ADOL I was kind of okay at, and one that could hold my interest enough to keep me involved with it. The idea has led into constructing floral arrangements for display outside of the house, as well as around-the-house projects that catch my eye. For instance, a broken down lamp could potentially use a little prettying up!

Is that a busted lamp? Or a new vase...

Is that a busted lamp? Or a new vase…

But that’s a pretty specific category, and if flowers are a particular interest of mine, that idea could surface in an ADOL that isn’t specifically built around floral arrangements and gardening. And they have! In fact, flowers have become a part of two of my primary ADOL pursuits: writing, and sewing/quilting. With writing, more than one set of lyrics I’ve written has incorporated flower and/or garden themes, including a song that a character of mine sings to his girl in Emblazed.

More than one set of lyrics I’ve written has incorporated flower and/or garden themes.

More than one set of lyrics I’ve written has incorporated flower and/or garden themes.

More importantly for this blog, floral options are available in sewing/quilting patterns, and of course there’s a number of fabrics that a person can buy with floral designs—which is okay with me! In fact, my current quilting project has had a floral arrangement design to it, in that every piece that’s been sewn on it so far has been a pattern that has some form of floral quality to it. The overall design, when all is said and done, will be floral-related from top to bottom (minus a potential border and back-overlap).

My current quilting project has had a floral arrangement design to it.

My current quilting project has had a floral arrangement design to it.

All in all, I may not have had the focus or interest to keep a flower garden going, but the world of art is so vast that there are plenty of ADOLs out there to try, and enough room to explore within each to come up with ways to utilize interests that maybe weren’t committed enough to make into their own hobbies.

Bottom line: If you’ve been bitten by the art bug, explore to find your ADOLs, and you can find ways to bring your interests into those ADOLs — even if they seem more fitting for another. For the flower-admirer who doesn’t garden, paint pictures! Make floral quilts! Do floral arrangements! Sculpt a flower! There are options to blend your interests into your art, if you look for them!

When the Art Bug Bites!

When the Art Bug Bites!

Once upon a time, I was an academic—almost exclusively. I didn’t do well in the athletic department, and I was a bit too flower-on-the-wall to try my hand at much else. But I rocked that academic thing! I ended up being co-valedictorian of my high school class, and going to college. I did some transferring and made some stupid decisions, but eventually graduated from a university, double-majoring in Speech Communication and History.

That’s right! Two papers!

That’s right! Two papers!

The History part of the degree had me embracing academia maybe more than I ever had. In fact, at one point, I had the stacks of books you can see in this post setting on my bed for what I remember to be a grand total of two papers. That’s right! Two papers!

The thing is though, despite the non-fiction aspect of my life, I had a bit of an art-bug-bite going on. I don’t know the exact moment the bug bit me, but there was a part of me that wanted creativity through the years I was learning about the Ancient World in undergraduate classes. Even when pursuing my BA in History and planning on an advanced education in the field, I considered working at an art museum—academia with an artsy twist. Whatever path my life took, not having art be some part of it might’ve been odd!

A mildly early art-love I remember having was writing, and I’m not entirely convinced that embracing writing wasn’t connected to academia. They tell you to write in school, after all. I mean, sure, I had art classes, but drawing in a non-grid way wasn’t necessarily my forte.

Writing fiction was a creative outlet, and even when I was writing non-fiction, I still felt like it was something I had a knack for.

Writing fiction was a creative outlet, and even when I was writing non-fiction, I still felt like it was something I had a knack for.

Writing though? That one stuck. Writing fiction was a creative outlet, and even when I was writing non-fiction, I still felt like it was something I had a knack for. So if my professional life was going to take an artsy road, having writing as the first step in that journey shouldn’t have been crazy-surprising. Actually, writing has been a driving force for a number of the more artistic career/hobby moves I’ve made in more recent times. Instead of finishing up my MA in Ancient and Classical History, I got my MA in English and Creative Writing, and I have seven published fictional works for sale on Amazon.

Books, Creative Writing education… Basically, I gave the art bug a bit of leverage, and—whether or not it’s a cause-and-effect thing—he’s showing up in more areas of my life than he did in my high school/undergraduate days! Floral arranging has been a non-career activity, and baking (which I think could be creative enough to count!) has become a very real interest of mine as well.

Floral arranging has been a non-career activity.

Floral arranging has been a non-career activity.

And the idea of quilting has gained my attention, maybe more than any artistic endeavor has besides writing. I see beautiful quilts, and I might get a little disappointed in myself that I’m incapable of making them. But it’s a goal to work toward. I’ve published books. I’ve baked pretty good Reese’s cookies. I’ve used floral arrangements I’ve made for décor. Now, I want to see how far I take this quilting thing.

Right now, I know I’m a quilter/sewer at the lower end of the spectrum, but I didn’t start off writing something that was published. And it isn’t like everything I’ve ever baked or cooked turned out fantastic either. Learning is a process, and I’m glad I have the opportunity to push myself in regards to learning a craft that is of such interest to me. Being able to explore this? It’s kind of a modern dream come true for me!

But does embracing this artistic side so much mean that I suddenly don’t care about academia? Not exactly! There’s still a part of me that misses being in an actual classroom, taking notes, and learning facts about a person or people from the past. I still think art museums can be interesting, and I still wouldn’t be too surprised if I decided to watch some kind of documentary in the future.

SewingMachinesPlus.com has instructions for projects available…

Would I be happy working in a completely academic world? I think even if I tried, I’d probably end up writing verses and baking strawberry milkshake cookies in my spare time! Why? Because when the art-bug bites, you might as well embrace its toxin!

One beauty that comes with taking on quilting and sewing to satisfy that art-bug-bite is that there’s so much information available online—for free!—that can help a person with the trade. For instance, SewingMachinesPlus.com has instructions for projects available through the site, and I’m interested in both the elephant wall hang and the tea party quilt! Other sites offer free patterns for sewing, or free classes about sewing/quilting. And, of course, there’s Youtube to browse and find some helpful videos!

All in all, although it’s a pretty daunting idea to create a complex quilt, there are bits of information available to potentially help me get there, and I can take it one sewing project at a time from here on out. I don’t need to wake up and make a museum-worthy quilt tomorrow. I can just focus on getting better one step at a time, and time will tell how far I get.

Either way, the art-bug’s effect isn’t getting out of my system any time soon, and quilting is another direction to let the toxin flow!