Thursday, November 19, 2009

Do you think of yourself as creative?

“To be human is to be creative. You don’t have to go outside yourself to find creativity – you already have it. It lives in your heart and mind every moment of every day.” – Sandra Magsamen

Of all the holidays, Thanksgiving is my favorite. It’s a day we come together with those we love and express our gratitude, reflecting on the abundance we are blessed with. I believe that when we are in a place of thankfulness we are closest to our creative source.

How can thinking of ourselves as creative, enhance this holiday season for ourselves and everyone around us? I love asking, What are your favorite holiday traditions? I enjoy hearing how people create new traditions while still celebrating old ones. Here is one of my favorites at Thanksgiving. As soon as the dinner table is cleared and clean, we spread a light-colored “thankful dessert table cloth” and offer any and all takers colorful Sharpie markers. This light colored cloth is the canvas for all our guests to write or illustrate their grateful thoughts along with their names and the date. Each year the same thankful table cloth comes out of storage with these memories of gratitude from the heart, funny family jokes and cranberry pooping turkeys creatively written and drawn by family members and old friends. Naturally as time goes by in life, some contributors have grown up and moved away and others that have passed on. Joy fills my heart as I travel around the table each year reading what was, what is and what will forever be my table of abundance.

My current inspirational book that I draw from in my morning meditation time is called“Living Artfully” by Sandra Magsamen. Ms. Magsamen asks us to think of ourselves as creative.
“I heard a great story of Edward Adamson, an English art therapist who asked a group of high school–aged children to look at a brick and write down as many things they could imagine the brick being used for. Some children had no problem, jotting, with ease, a hundred ideas. Other children struggled, so he asked those children to close their eyes and imagine they were eccentric artists known for their creative flair. Once they had an image of themselves as innovative, artsy people, he asked them to open their eyes and again look at the brick and write down all the things that the brick could become. This time, the children overflowed with ideas. The difference was they now saw themselves as "artists." If you think of yourself as a creative person, you will begin to act in creative ways. Use this new perspective of yourself and act as if your work, chores, commute and duties are outlets for your creativity—and they will be!”

Care to join the fun? Email me at and tell me your past creative holiday traditions. Colleen, teaching artist, owns Colleen Sgroi Gallery & Art Classes at 12 Andover Road in Billerica Center. Web site:

Giving is the Gift

At the tender age of three I moved from the city of Medford to, what my grandma Nora use to call the sticks, Billerica. Sixteen years later I married and was off to explore new lands, returning only to visit my parents. Another sixteen years pass and as fate would have it I found myself back in Billerica. Already an established artist working from my home studio, sending my art out to galleries, collecting royalties through my New York art publisher and enjoying doing what I love, creating art.

Shortly after moving back home I saw a notice in the local paper offering grants from the Billerica Arts Council. Having never written a grant before, I decided to jump in and explore. My efforts paid off and I received my first funding to create what was to be the first of many Billerica paintings and limited edition lithographs. Billerica being more of a sports town rather than a cultural town, I had many naysayers who thought signed and numbered prints would not be a big seller. I, however, believed our town pride would say differently. I set up a booth at Yankee Doodle Homecoming. The day before the weekend a photo of my new lithograph depicting our town center graced the cover of our local paper. The next morning, when the parade was over, the town pride I believed in, descended on my booth and there I sold half the edition for a total day sale of one hundred prints. The remainder of the edition sold out in less than a year. Repeatedly people approached me, “Colleen what are you going to paint next?” I began to see how my art could make a difference in our town. Each year following I created a new painting along with limited editions that would benefit a different organization in town.

The truth that “in giving we receive” became so clear as I began to share my vision of a gallery and art center with my community friends. Sandy Wilson from the Enterprise Bank said, “Colleen, I want to make this happen for you”, and I got a loan to open Colleen Sgroi Gallery & Art Classes at Faulkner Mills. Then again, two years later, when I was going through some personal hard times, Fred Ciampa, CPA offered me space in his building for a third of what I was paying at the Mills, which enabled me to stay open and continue to offer art and classes to the families in our community.

I receive such joy knowing that adults and children are discovering their own creative expressions through the teaching artists at my art center. I am honored to have my art displayed in so many businesses and homes in our town. Most of all I am thankful for a hometown that has embraced my art, and me, the artist, helping me to see that “giving is the gift”. To quote Vincent Van Gogh, “The more I think, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”

Colleen is the owner of Colleen Sgroi Gallery & Art Classes at 12 Andover Road in Billerica Center. You can see more about Colleen’s gallery and classes at