Making Time For Creativity: The Featured Artists of the JHC Art Gallery Are Not Who You'd Expect
by Justin Hilden
Odd creatures, animals, and creations can be found in nearly every corner of The Jim Henson Company’s studio lot. These sculptures and animatronics recall the imaginative legacy of Jim Henson, and celebrate the perpetual creativity of the company.
In one particular hallway, a different kind of creative tribute can be found: The Jim Henson Company Art Gallery.
Here space is given to the employees, offering them the chance to display their personal artwork and to share their (perhaps hidden) talents. While there are many professional artists on the lot each day, the gallery is open to anyone — from accountants to receptionists. In a company known for imagination, it’s no wonder that talented artists are found in every area and department!
While the Henson Art Gallery is a great showcase of company culture, it is also a reminder to employees that their personal creative expression is important, and time should be taken to honor it. And it is a visual cue for us all that despite busy schedules, making art matters. It connects us to our imaginations, helps us to express our feelings and dreams, and can provide a much needed break from our day to day worries and stresses. Whether or not you are not a professional in the art you enjoy, you are an artist! And making the time to share your creativity with your family and friends is worth it. Here are some ideas to get you started on your own artistic adventure.
Balancing hectic lives filled with work and family obligations, artists can often find it difficult to find creative time.
Inspiration can come at any moment. While dropping the kids off at practice, a new painting appears in your head. While selecting toothpaste, you hear a thrilling melody. While mowing the lawn, you suddenly see the perfect pattern for a new quilt. Yet when the end of an exhausting day comes and you have not done anything with that inspiration, it is easy to feel discouraged. The relentless schedule of kids, jobs, and chores means that the time to create must itself be created.
When making time for the creative process, it has to start small.
Seeing creative time as something tangible to be built is the first step in increasing your artistic output. Like any creative work, it has to start small. A simple sketch, or the first few notes of a melody. If the only time you can create is five minutes after packing your kid’s lunch, embrace it, and jot down your creative ideas on the back of a lunch bag. Sketches in a sketchbook are for you alone, and these small bursts of creative output are the same. Cherish them and use them as starting points, free from judgement.
Collecting these spare moments will not only develop your art project, they will encourage you to find bigger chunks of time as you feel momentum growing. Artists know that the thrill of a successful brushstroke can encourage you to finish the painting. Successful small bursts of creativity will unlock larger portions of your day because you will want to find them. Soon you will have the desire to schedule blocks of time just for your art.
Cynthia is a busy mom who works in the legal department of the Jim Henson Company - but she is also a painter and musician. As one of the artists who has showcased multiple pieces in the Henson Art Gallery, she has learned to create time for her art. She says,
“Honestly, I calendar it. Once a month or every four weeks I paint, I make music, or I work on other art projects. If I have a song or a painting I’m working on, I put 30 minutes aside at the end of the day to work on it even if I’m tired. It’s almost like getting in a workout. You’re tired, but once you do it, you feel great and accomplished because you are taking care of yourself. I believe being creative is just as important for your health and well-being as exercise and nutrition is, so I put time aside for it.”
Creating time can be a group project.
Often a great way to encourage your creative time is to invite your loved ones into the fun. Having your kids work on art or craft projects at the same time as your art-making can be very rewarding. Gallery artist Cynthia says,
“My son is usually always involved, and he loves to paint and make music as well. It is a huge bonding experience when we are working on a painting, or a craft, or making music together. I believe exposing him to art at an early age has made him a critical thinker whilst helping him focus.”
Holly is an executive assistant at The Jim Henson Company and also a prolific illustrator. Her current show in the Henson Art Gallery uses clipboards with hand-drawn coloring pages, incorporating participation in the art itself.
“I was delighted to see people dive in and get super serious about which crayons to use. It made me happy to see everyone enjoy the activity!”
Artists know that the creative process can be messy.
Art projects can be started, scrapped, or remade. Similarly, if you find the time you’ve allotted for working on your art isn’t working, mix it up. If getting up before the whole house is awake is not as magical as you expected (sometimes there is not enough coffee in the world), scrap that idea and start a new one. Sometimes the best course is to give yourself the freedom to wait.
Illustrator Holly says, “I like to draw something new every day, but sometimes I’m not in the mood, so I allow myself time to wait for organic ideas, instead of trying to force myself to think of something brilliant. Then, when I AM excited, I can dive in and give the work my best energy, which ultimately produces a better project.”
Celebrating your art is part of the process.
The Henson Art Gallery hosts an opening reception for every new show, giving the community a chance to honor and celebrate each artist. While the excitement in the gallery is usually about how the artist drew this, or photographed that - there is a hidden celebration of the time the artist created.
Put your artwork up in a coffee shop or a gallery space. Better yet, have your kids help you create a temporary art gallery in your home and throw an opening reception. Invite your kids to make artwork to hang alongside yours. Give the people in your life time to celebrate you and your work. This will encourage you to start your next project - and encourage you to create more time. Holly said that receiving encouragement from her colleagues at The Jim Henson Company was “like a power boost,” motivating her “to keep hiking through the jungle.”
Cynthia said it best when she reflected on her work being celebrated in the Henson Art Gallery. “It was awesome! It helped me to keep on my schedule and continue creating. Art is good for the soul!”