Jul 16, 2012

Creativity in Childhood with Sandra of Raincoast Cottage

Today I am absolutely thrilled to have Sandra of Raincoast Cottage here with me participating in my Creativity in Childhood interview series. Sandra is that friend that everyone wants to chat with about creativity and at her Raincoast Cottage, inspiration for living a creative life abounds. As you can imagine, I'm smitten with her and Raincoast Cottage and I feel pretty lucky to have her offering my readers some insight into what makes creative people tick. Take it away, Sandra! 

1. What childhood experiences influenced your creativity? 

In hindsight I’d have to say coming from a family of what I call “closet creatives”.
We were very working class – an immigrant family focused on making a living
and getting ahead like any immigrant family. For example, my uncle was a farmer
AND he also painted landscapes, made adult and kid wooden furniture, and filmed
super8 movies. My dad could find a creative solution to any problem – fix anything,
solve anything. The women in my family were all over the fabric and textiles arts –
knitting, sewing, crocheting.

I was so very lucky to go to a hippy dippy project-based elementary school from
grades 1-3. We covered the curriculum but it was all about being creative. Rather
than learning about Eskimo culture through lectures, we made an Eskimo village
out of clay. We could recognize different paintings and styles by Matisse or Monet or
Cezanne or Rembrandt.

2. How did you generally express your creativity as a child and can you remember the specifics about something creative you did/something you made as a child?

Now that I think about it – too many to mention! I was always making things.
Halloween costumes, paintings, stories. That uncle who was the farmer gave me his
horse and one year in a horse show I entered a costume class where my horse and I
were dressed up from the Roman times – all home made. My best friend from junior
high school and I would create pretend television shows. I was always redecorating
my bedroom.

From all of that I got my love of making things with my hands and my love of many
different media.

TV was limited – something that I wasn’t too thrilled about at the time but in
hindsight left a lot of time and space for imaginary play. I don’t recall doing a lot of
crafts but I did draw and paint with acrylics. One of my favorite things to do with my
best friend in elementary school was get together and draw. And the neighborhood
kids were outside a LOT – those were the days where you went outside in the
summer after breakfast and came home for lunch and supper when you heard your
mom calling you. We made up all sorts of games.

I also played classical clarinet and piano and started college as a performance major
in the music program.

3. What inspires you creatively today? Are there objects in your home, places in your area, or are there any books that you find yourself referencing when you need inspiration?

I like to have a feast for all my senses throughout my day or my week. Jazz is always
playing on the stereo. And I look at blogs and photography books. I am a big foreign
film fan and watch lots of movies. Attending TIFF (Toronto International Film
Festival) is a huge highlight of my year. Reading – I love the rhythm of a well-written
novel. High brow, low brow – I love all of it as long as it’s well done for its genre.

To be honest, I am never really stuck for inspiration so much as limited by the time
that I have. Executing what I want to do with the little free time that I have is more
the issue.

4. If you could be a kid again for one day, what would you love to do? 

I’d spend a day playing with my friends in elementary school creating a play and
then performing it later.

5. What advice would you give to a parent who is hoping to encourage a creative child?

I believe that it’s not so much about this class or that technique but living
a creative life. So I’d say the first step is to fill your own life full of art and
theatre and film and music as much as possible. Take them to galleries. http:/
family-fred-herzog.html Take them to live theatre. Let them hear live music. http:/
stradivarius.html Expose them to everything.

Have the art materials out. We have a kitchen table that we have never actually sat
at because it’s covered with paper and pens and glue and glitter and markers. And a
white board easel too. If it’s out, your kids will use it. And you draw with them too.

Have them try everything. See a sculpture online or in a gallery? Try and copy it at
home with clay. Interested in cartooning? Find a class that they can take. They might
only do one term but that’s okay. Follow their interests.

Limit the screen time.Take markers and paper to the restaurant. Put away the
iPhone and iPad and have them draw. Let them get bored at home – they’ll figure
something out to do.

Be silly. Dress up in costumes, laugh a lot. Celebrate every holiday. Write a play and
act it out.

Thank you so much for sharing your creativity in childhood with us, Sandra!

See, everyone? Isn't she amazing! 
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Paloma said...

Yes! Loved the interview but the pictures are AWESOME!!! Very cool!!! :) Thanks for sharing Sandra! :)


Susan Anderson said...

Really enjoyed reading Sandra's thoughts.

In my neighborhood, the kids (with no adult influence at all), wrote and directed a play every year. It was so much fun for all of us.


Unknown said...

What a great interview! She seems like a really neat woman. :)

Sandra said...

Thanks everyone - as I hope you can tell, I am really passionate about living a creative life and creating that kind of atmosphere for my daughter too.

And thanks to Caroline for asking me to take part!

Jen @ Lifes Dewlaps said...

Yes, she is amazing!! What a great interview. Thanks Caroline!

Caroline said...

Thank YOU Sandra! I loved getting to know you better! You always inspire me!