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Readers Respond to the Question: Are You an Artist?

How do Next Avenue readers love the arts? Let us count the ways.

By Heidi Raschke

In a recent survey, we asked Next Avenue readers some serious questions about arts participation. We were so impressed by the response  that we decided to have a little fun and ask you to share more about your creative endeavors and why you make art. As usual, you did not disappoint.

Here are some of our favorite answers chosen from the dozens and dozens submitted (you can also see highlights from them in the video at the end of this article):

Because It Soothes Us

Don Wendorf, 69, music and songwriting: “Why do birds sing? My music and writing helped me survive and cope while I was taking care of my late wife and now I use them when I speak to other caregivers, primarily of persons with dementia, to help them with their emotional struggles.”

Janice Williams, 66, abstract and mixed media: “Keeps me sane.”

Judith, 63, mixed media paintings: “It helps to keep me connected with my mom, who I Iost in 2013. She was a gifted artist and I love using her paints, papers and brushes in my own work.”

Yvonne Evand, 57, pastels: “I started creating art to push my recovery from a stroke in a new direction.”

Linda Domeier, 66, fiber work: “Enjoy colors, textures, has always been a part of my life. Also extremely comforting these days of chaos!”

Cheryl Keith, 59, drawings, paintings and embroidery: "It's been trapped in my soul since I stopped painting in high school. I became disabled three years ago. I started to dabble again, 40 years after my last painting.”

Because It Gives Us Purpose

Laura, 58, knitting, art journaling: “I have always been a creative person. Now I am being advised to stop working due to health complications. My art gives purpose to my days.”

Nancy Lewis Shell, 61, quilting, painting, designing clothes, photography, writing: "In 1999, I became disabled. I was sad and bereft. I lost my livelihood and raison d'etre. I had an experience where the higher power spoke to me and told me why I had been taken out of my  teaching profession. That my reason new and old for being was to make art.”

Cornelia DeLee, 68, acrylic paintings: “To create is to participate in the nature of God, so I express my faith in the one who makes all things new. Art is also an activity which allows me to meditate on beauty, life, nature, hope, and joy.”

Because It Connects Us

Vickie Davies, 61, watercolors: “I create art for the joy, the endorphin release, the accomplishment. I teach watercolor painting so I can share the magic of working in this medium."

Ian Cross, 49, printmaking, drawing, works on paper: “Art making provides a different way of seeing that can provide a dialogue for the maker and the viewer. This combination is like listening and speaking and so it is also a way to pause and reflect on life.”

Nancy Ray, 61, singing: “I sing backup vocals in my son's band.”

Daniel C. Potts, 51, poetry, photography, music: “I create art because it helps me to connect with myself, with God, and with the world around me. … I create art because to do so is to remain fully alive.  Finally, I am inspired to create art by my late father, Lester, who became an acclaimed watercolor artist after the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, having never painted previously.”

Cydette Marshall, 51, Hawaiian featherwork, Ukrainian pysanky eggs, Japanese ball embroidery: “A huge part of happiness for me is being able to make art and sharing it with the world.”

Howie F., 58, drawing, writing: “To express myself and hopefully provide insight to others.”

Because It's Good For Us

Barbara, 71, oil paintings: “I have to. It's in my soul.”

Nikki Shaw, 50, photography: “Allows me to have a creative side vs. a stressful job environment.”

Cathy, 65, linocut prints, multimedia textiles: “It lowers my blood pressure, deters bored eating, challenges my problem-solving skills and results in a tangible, beautiful product (something my career rarely offered).”

Sabine Jones, 57, mixed media: “It rests my mind and stills my soul.”

Kathy, 58, drawing: “Learning to draw is fun, meditative, social, brain exercising, eye opening, confidence building and so much more. It's a vacation from the issues of the day.”

Marsha Horner, 61, watercolors: “The connection between my eyes, my desires, my brain and my hands. That connection goes beyond what any one of those things can achieve."


Because It Makes Us Feel Alive

Hilary Young, 69, encaustic paintings: “To communicate, create beauty and feel truly alive.”

Matilda Virgilio, 69, collage, mixed media, fabric art, dancing: "To be the best me. For when I am in the ‘zone’ of creating, age disappears, physical limitations melt away and I am my best self.”

Jill S., 64, greeting cards: “It makes me feel alive as few things do. I experiment with unexpected materials to create something new: one-time-only little statements of truth and whimsy.”

Susan Friedman, 73, painting, collages: “I create because I must.”

Dori Anderson, 69, painting, beading, sculpture, fabric, etc.: “It's necessary for my sanity and I like to give it away.”

Because It Brings Us Joy

Linda, 52, drawing, painting: “It makes me happy.”

Marcia Brinkley, 65, mixed media: “I love working with paint and paper — it makes me feel happy and peaceful.”

Ruth S., 68, pottery, silver jewelry: “It makes me feel wonderful to create with my hands; makes me smile to create something.”

Brenda, 60-plus, jazz singer: “Feels good to me and others.”

Denise Schneiter, 59, mixed media: “Creating art brings me joy. It centers and completes me. It gives me peace.”

Mary Ann Stafford, 84: “Can't help it — I paint and draw, write, play piano — all I ever wanted to do!”


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Heidi Raschke is a longtime journalist and editor who previously was the Executive Editor of Mpls-St. Paul Magazine and Living and Learning Editor at Next Avenue. Currently, she runs her own content strategy and development consultancy. Read More
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