Free Hands

"Saving 2012"

“Saving 2012” Inspired by Neil Gaiman’s January Tale

It looks like Tuesdays will be the best day for blogging in an otherwise busy week. I marked out our new schedule over the weekend,  and I say this with all the confidence of a woman who believes what she writes down on paper. (Delusional as that is, at times.)

I am a firm believer in staying busy. I’m a night owl by birth, and a morning person by happenstance. Having something creative lined up on the day’s docket makes it easier to respond in a more positive fashion to my two year old’s request for a piggy back ride at 5:10 a.m. (20 minutes before the alarm).

It’s okay, I tell my tired bones, there will be art today and every moment with this adorable ball of condensed energy will be amazing–mostly. I promise. And there will be coffee, too. All is well.


Under-drawing of Charlie


My hands are free, and I like to keep them moving on some project or another.

After chatting with the really awesome woman at the gallery where my kids have attended all kinds of classes for going on 7 years now, I learned that there are many “calls for artists” going on at any given moment in time. I knew there were calls for chalk artists (from keeping up with the Streetpainting Society and the like). I did not realize, however, that there is a wide world of “calls for artists” just waiting to be answered.

The most recent call I answered was Neil Gaiman’s call for artists to create videos and illustrations to match up with his Calendar of Tales.

I almost missed the call entirely. My inbox, as I’ve mentioned before, is a digital flood destruction zone. But, a few days from the end of the call, the Deviant Art update caught my eye. I submitted a few pictures, in the end, and had an absolute blast in the process.

Last Friday, I was lucky enough to find out that one of my submissions made it to the short list. This means two things 1) One of my favorite living authors on the planet saw my work 2) he liked it well enough to hang on to it for a minute.

And in that moment, I ascended to nerd girl heaven.

Please go over and check out the link. The artwork is simply amazing and, of course, I always like to hear Mr. Gaiman’s narration. If I had to pick a favorite tale, I would have to pick at least two: January Tale and February Tale. (Of course, this would be a lie, because I loved all of them, but if you only have a moment for two, I recommend them.)

For anyone looking to do something artsy, there is someone, somewhere, shouting out a challenge. All you have to do is step up and try.

The worst anyone can say is no, or not right now.

So what?

Keep answering calls and eventually you will find something. If nothing else, at least you will have an adventure along the way. Adventures in those little moments between cradle and grave are the stuff lives are made of and the stories your grandchildren tell when you’re gone. You must go out and find them.

When your brain protests, “Am I good enough?” Tell your brain to do its job and help you figure out how to get good enough. In the process, you will learn new skills and new things about yourself–not to mention learning about your community. This is your chance to earn lots of lovely wrinkles for your cerebral cortex.

Volunteering is an excellent way to gain knowledge. If you can’t find anyone to pay you to do a job because you lack experience, there are many people out there who simply need free hands to work for their community. You gain experience. Your community gains the help it needs. Everyone wins.

Streetpainting would still be an unknown art to me if I hadn’t been a fan of volunteering in the first place.

Way back in 2008 (as my 9-year-old might say) I happened to get an e-mail calling for volunteers to make pavement art for a charity event. I received the e-mail because I volunteer as often as time permits. Without streetpainting, I wouldn’t be working as an art teacher.

(Volunteer. If you do it often enough, you will have an adventure. Honest.)

My sons are helping me with the next chalk experience and I have left the task of gridding our 10′ x 10′ square to my 13-year-old. (He and his little 5-year-old sister will be using my snap line to make the grid. This should be interesting.)

Alexander's work so far.

Alexander’s work so far.


What are you going to do with your free hands today?


2 thoughts on “Free Hands

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