“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention” 
—Aesop

Painting and my participation in product design have allowed me to meet so many other gifted artists and gave me the self confidence to share my adventures through blogs, magazine articles and educational outlets. The best part of my journey, however, is being a part of the lives of my readers and students.  When I wrote an article about the “Healing Power of Art” and I received stories about how much your art has meant to you as you tackled/overcame health problems with the help of your art and fellow artists. Wow! You got me thinking of how my art has changed my life, and in turn, touched others and I thought about the power we all have to connect.

The memories that may stand out in your mind today may include big gatherings, trips, fun decorations and special after dinner chats, but the memories we are most thankful for may not only occur in November and December, or involve your family and friends. Even though we are not “chefs”, we don’t have second thoughts as we plan, gather, decorate, cook and put on great “feasts” for Thanksgiving…but for some reason, when it comes to our art, we shy away from sharing our talent, even in the smallest way.

Let’s express thankfulness in an artful way and make a commitment to ourselves to participate in one small act of kindness or encouragement.

To make it simple, I am including a template of leaves for you to paint, color, copy, write on, or decorate in any manner you choose. (Or….gather a few leaves from your yard) You can hand them out as a “calling card”, store them in a jar, or just leave them around town with inspirational sayings.

Here are a few ideas-(If you plan to make several, color copy to cardstock after decorating)

Copy templates to watercolor paper and use watercolor pencils to decorate with soft washes.

Involve the kids and use markers, pencils, watercolors, glitter, pastels, stamps, fabric or paper scraps.

Cut out the leaves

Acts-Be random!

  • Smile at a stranger
  • Open a door
  • Help load groceries
  • Help someone fill their gas tank
  • Rake leaves for a neighbor
  • Pick up trash around your neighborhood
  • Write a postcard to a soldier
  • Clean out a closet and donate locally
  • Gather old/new paint supplies and donate
  • Offer to teach an art class
  • Help download pictures and make files
  • Read a story to a patient waiting for treatment
  • Drop by and visit an old friend (or call!)
  • Clean out your “stash” of magazines and drop them at a community center, emergency room or local library
  • Volunteer to serve dinner at a shelter
  • Say “thank you” or “I’m sorry”

Acts-if you are a “planner”

  • drop off decorated leaves at a local senior facility or homeless shelter to use as door decorations, name tags or table markers
  • Place them in a jar and have your family write what they are thankful for each day and read at your Thanksgiving gathering
  • Decorate a box of homemade goodies and drop off at the closest fire station, emergency room, or post office.
  • Fill a Ball jar with soaps, toiletries and a pair of socks and drop at a community center.
  • Donate “under used” painted decorations or projects for a silent auction or fundraiser

As an industry, we are seeing a new found interest in decorative painting, home décor and techniques.

Manufacturers, designers and product developers are at the TOP cycle of creativity. Crafters, artists and designers are exploring new possibilities and are putting aside their fears and trying new things. As a product designer, artist and crafter myself, I am experiencing a new vitality in my own designing and approach to teaching and product design. I am thrilled to see manufacturers embracing technology and updating their websites, pairing with social networking and bloggers to discuss their products, creating projects and listening to the end users. This makes for a very exciting time for all of us!

The internet has not only increased product awareness for the manufacturers, it has got them thinking in new ways. It used to be if a new craft/technique was on the rise, we would have to wait for a couple of years for the manufacturers to get on the wheel of discovery, invention, development and product availability. Long hours and dollars were spent studying trends, mailing prototypes back and forth and trying to come up the proper distribution avenues. Today, companies are working more streamline with face-to-face contact with factories, (via Skype, videos, etc.) and are more efficiently working out potential problems, developing packaging, tweaking products and creating easier marketing channels.

Not only are the manufacturers reaping the benefits of all this technology and interaction, students are learning in new, innovative ways…from online classes to posts on blogs, videos, and searches. I love that I can go online and type in a technique or product and get information about how to use it and what pitfalls to avoid, but better than that, to see what everyone else is using it for and get inspired by their creativity.

Visiting a company’s Facebook or web page can give the basics of what products are available, link you to projects and bloggers, but that is only a part of the story. A visit to YouTube or a click to a blogger/teacher/artist website or crafter channel will give you an opportunity to see the bigger picture. I remember working with a manufacturer in the past that said he loved to gather with the artists using his product because they never used it for what it was originally intended. Isn’t that what we are all about? Technology has increased our desire to learn about everything and to gather information and it is a huge benefit for us in our path to discovery.

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Pinterest is a great place to find so many great ideas gathered in one spot, but be warned that you need a good pillow, snacks and an intervention once you get started. If you search for “jars” on Pinterest, you will get ideas about using them to decorate your kitchen, canning recipes, home décor ideas, recipes for ANYTHING in a jar, how to color them for holidays, spray paint them, decoupage them, add chalkboard labels, use the lids for crafts, frames, ornaments-well…..you get the picture.

From these inspirations, new ideas arise and then a new cycle of development and creativity occurs.