Ink Spots

bravery in pen work
truth of staining spots
tell the story of a heart
stocked by fear
but still uncaught

every stoke
a slash at past
seeks to sever
cords
that grasp

the only sword that has a choice
to further peace
through language voiced

still leaving stains
on those who wield
the heavy tool in open field

not blood
but ink is what it weeps
into fingerprints
it seeps

brave
to name this sword a friend
knowing well it will offend
yet again

and mark the poet at its end

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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Grandpa’s Bee/Art Highlight

Today I would like to share with you all an early painting of mine.

Grandpa’s Bee was painted in memory of my grandfather, John Miller. He was a carpenter, farmer, and beekeeper.

I decided to upload this little guy at the request of some of my family members. I love how I am able to share him with all of them, though my art shop.

Flowers continue to be something I struggle with in my paintings, as as this is an earlier piece, it’s not my best. But that is okay. I am not about perfection, especially when there is meaning behind a work of art.

Grandpa’s Bee, the original, was painted on canvas paper, in acrylic paint.

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Six Word Stories (27)

I have always loved the simple things in life. A nice sharp crayon. A heavily weighted paper.

Yet the latter never belonged wrapped around the other, even in my child mind. I would unwrap each individual crayon so that the whole could be used for making my pictures.

As an adult, I am learning how to unwrap my own label and use all of me.

I would also look for the darkest part of the driveway, or church parking lot to scribble out my creations in calk. They just never looked as good on the light gray of normal cement slabs.

Contrast is still important. It helps us see details we would otherwise miss.

The way you look at things makes all the difference. It’s not about changing truths, but seeing what God really intents for each of us. If I believe he has had a plan for me since the dawn of time, then every mark, stain, and wrinkle has been accounted for. He WILL use all of them.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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Cherishing People While Creating

It’s thrilling, letting yourself get swept away in the moment of creation… Then someone interrupts you. A child tugs on your sleeve, or the phone rings. A spouse calls from down the hall, “Are you done yet?”

Do you shake off that tug on your arm, mute the phone, and ignore the calling? Can you? Should you?

Creativity is precious, we should cultivate and protect it. Having a space for this is ideal, having a time when distractions and interruptions are at a minimum is important. But there are people in our lives that can’t, and shouldn’t be ignored. It’s a balancing act.

The people in our lives are important. They support our creativity in ways we often take for granted. We shouldn’t ignore them. Not only shouldn’t we ignore them, but they are a pivotal part of our creation process.

In many cases they are directly, or indirectly, our inspiration. We get many of our ideas from watching them, talking with them, living with them, and all the ups and downs that go with that.

As a mother and wife, I sacrifice my creative life to care for and nurture my family. I have obligations, expectations and jobs I can NOT ignore. Families need attention, children need nurturing. But is it ever okay to say, “No, not right now, I need this time?”

Yes. Sometimes it’s healthy, and even important, to set boundaries around our creative endeavors. They are a part of us. When humans walk in their creative abilities, positivity flows out into the world. Finding the right place and time for that pulling away is the hard part, and the key to a thriving creative life amid people.

When I first became a mother, my kids became my entire world. But I let go of something that I never should have lost. My creativity. I stopped drawing, except doodles for the kids to color. I stopped learning and pushing myself artistically. I even stop writing, only picking it up once or twice a year when a fleeting spark touched my life. Because I let this part of me go, my soul suffered.

I didn’t know how to balance my creativity around the people important to me. But now that I have found my creative spark again, it’s a learning process. Like learning to juggle. But it’s one of the most important lessons of my life.

Do not lessen your light in this world by letting God given trats or abilities die. Instead, seek to learn how to incorporate new people, places, and responsibilities into your creativity.

Who are the people in your daily life that inspire you? Who are the ones that test you? Who adds flavor to your hours?

Cherish them, friends, family, and prickly people alike. I look forward to seeing them represented in your creative works.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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Six Word Stories (23)

It’s the little things that decide weakness or strength. It’s the unguarded places that erosion starts. Mountains are raised by pressure and flattened with quakes, while water and ice brake walls.

Humans crack under pressure, our pieces scattered.

I am learning not to fear the brake so much. Because I have seen the art in mending.

The laws of science are the laws of God. He is the Author of their workings. He wrote the plans and mixed the elements.

He poured His spirit in to my chemistry. Now watch me change.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

Photos sourced from Pixabay.com

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Six Word Stories (20)

The presence of light has such power. It can illuminate or bind us.

Darkness shreds in the presence of even a single flame.

It sets a mood and tells a story.

It’s an element that shouts volumes, with just a whispered presence.

Light is energy. Without it, growth is impossible.

Nature has a way of reclaiming what man uses and then forgets.

It doesn’t see our castoffs as no longer needed, it knows that it’s all still a part of the matter making up this world.

We can’t separate it out.

As nature reclaims its own pieces from the aftermath of us, it has its own stories to tell us.

Will we take the time to read them?

Stones remember, even when understanding is lost and history is forgotten.

Stones remember.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

Photos sourced from unsplash.com

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Mary’s Redbubble Shop

Keeping Creative in Isolation

We often overlook the power of quiet in our world. For many creatives, finding that quiet space can be difficult.

What do you do when the quiet finds you, and won’t leave?

We have been subjected to isolation few have known before. For some, this has created safe spaces to create, even given us a boost. We have taken stock and finish projects. It’s been thrilling!

But, It’s been over a year. How do you keep your creativity thriving when you can’t watch the hustle and bustle of everyday life from your favorite coffee shop window, when trips that feed your inspiration are discouraged? What do you do when it’s been weeks since your last conversation with another adult, and all you hear in your own brain is baby talk and cartoon theme songs? Or even just silence, and the silence is weighting on you, crushing your creativity.

Get basic.

It’s time to remember your ‘why’. What do I mean by that?

Every person engaging in their creativity has a why, an underlying reason they create. What’s yours?

For me, it’s not a choice. I must write or I get sick. It’s how my brain puts pieces together and manages stress. It’s how I entertain and am entertained. I dream, think, and live in a world of words. My why?

I write to understand myself and the word.

What is your why?

Whatever form your creativity takes, revisit your why. After you hold it in my mind and heart again, ask yourself, is it still enough? Has it changed this past year? Should it change?

I can’t answer those questions for you. I will trust you can find the answers. After you remember your why, it’s time to practice.

Practice? Yes, practice.

Sometimes creatives believe the lie that, “We always need to have a project going.” That is not true.

When you are tired, lonely, depressed, give your brain and heart a rest. Revisit things you know best like the beginning strokes of a painting, the simple forms of poetry you played with as a child.

Hop,
mop,
clop!

Let your brain wonder through small things.

What does your coffee smell like?

Is there a word to describe the wind chimes outside on the back porch?

If your art is more physical, return to the exercises your body knows. Muscle memory is powerful.

Pick up your guitar and play Mary Had A little lamb. Let your fingers roam over the strings, finding the notes your heart loves best, a favorite song. Just sing.

Then take a brake.

Put it down, walk away, play with the kids. Phone Mom! Send your girlfriend a hand-written letter.
Let creativity grow. Once you start something, it will call to you. Your heart and mind will tell you when to engage with creativity.

Do you hear her calling you?

When you do, it’s then that your heart is ready to learn from her again. This road of creativity in loneliness is difficult. But if you feed that flame inside, it won’t die. Be kind to yourself.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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Mary’s Redbubble Shop

Are You Scared of Creativity?

All humans have the spark of creativity. Some of us revel in it, and some of us hold it at arms’ length. Some of us even try to squelch it in our fists as if it was a bug we could squash, or a flame we could douse.

Have you ever done that?

I have.

Why do we do it?

Because creativity is not safe, and it scares us.

Why does creativity sometimes scare us? A few reasons may be fear of rejection, fear of inferiority, or fear of breaking rules.

When you share your creativity, there is always a risk that whoever you share it with, won’t get it or be able to appreciate it. It’s for each individual to decide if that risk is worth it.

We have a choice weather we hide our creativity from others. But that’s like placing a lit candle under a bucket. We should share creativity, at least with those who love us.

It is also a sacred thing. Creativity demands our energy. Inevitably, the creator will endow the project with a part of his or her self. It’s painful seeing our work rejected, as it’s painful being overlooked, or rejected as people. But I believe the risk is worth it.

Do you?

It’s also possible we are just not as gifted in our chosen art form as we wish to be. Other’s might outshine us. We may fail in front of the world.

I urge each of us not to let this fear stop us from practicing our creativity. Every great creative was once a beginner. Everyone will find someone more talented.

You know what? That’s okay.

Whether you gain great acclaim in your art, or not, your creativity has merit. Often, it’s the doing that blesses and not always the end product. We can bless others as they watch our progress, no matter how slow that progress may be. It can light the spark under their own creativity. Don’t stop doing what gives you wing just because you’re not the best at it.

Sometimes our creative takes us to places that push boundaries. We may have heard, “no you can’t do that, it’s not allowed.” Or been told that something makes us incapable of practicing this creativity. Be it cultural rules, religious rules, or something else, this can and is devastating. Dare we break those rules? Will we risk throwing the definition of norms out the window?

This is a personal choice. Are there moral reasons rules are there? Are these moral rules just? Honestly, human beings aren’t always fair with the rules we place on ourselves and others. It’s necessary to question rules and why they are in place, especially when they limit human creativity.

As we question these rules, and weigh the need to uphold, or brake them, I hope bravery, truth, and beauty prevail.

What will you do this week to practice creativity? Tell me about it!

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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Mary’s Redbubble Shop

He Keeps Me, Art Highlight

This week I released a new design at my Redbubble Shop.

He Keeps Me Brave Products

He Keeps Me is a blending of my art and poetry, and shares the same name as the painting. You can read the full original poem here.

This design is available on sixty-six different products. From t-shirts to mugs, stickers and greeting cards to full size posters, there is something for everyone. All profits from my artwork go to funding publications and website upkeep.

Thank you!

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Our Need for Your Story

Did you know you have a story to tell?

It doesn’t matter how average you think you might be, you have a unique story all your own. No one has lived the same life or felt the same emotions. No one sees the world in quite the same way as YOU.

It doesn’t matter how old or young you are, nor your level of education. There is a story inside of you, and it’s important.

What’s your story?

It could be as simple as that casserole recipe your grandmother taught you how to make, and the things you both talked about while she taught you.

It could be your story is more of a question, something you long to know the answer to, and your quest to find it. Did you find it? Will you find it? Maybe, maybe not. That is a story.

Sure, not everyone may want to know your story. But for every story, there is an audience. Be it ever so small, it’s there.

Telling your story takes courage. It means being vulnerable. Are we brave enough to tell our stories? Not all stories are dark and painful, dramatic, or awe-inspiring. Some are quite ordinary.

Have you ever watched the movie, It’s a Wonderful life? I know many people who make it a tradition to watch this classic in the bright glow of a Christmas tree. It truly is a powerful story. But what makes it so powerful? Simple truth.

An ordinary life has reach and meaning beyond itself. We all touch others in ways we do not realize. We leave holes when we are gone, that we will never know about. There are stories behind our ordinary selves. Beautiful stories, stories worth hearing, reading, and seeing. Stories we can and should learn from.

What’s your story?

Don’t discount it and it’s power.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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