Tuesday, October 7, 2008

This Little Dream of Mine

Evidence of fall has finally arrived here in Tennessee and over the next couple weeks it will only grow stronger as more color pops out and blankets the mountains. In October we look forward to pumpkin and wooly worm festivals, craft shows, cold mornings and nights and usually warmish days.

And so too my little dream arrived via Shabby Cottage Studio. A lot of you know that we just celebrated our first year online. It has always been my intent and one of my dreams to continue to grow stronger and better, offering up quality products along with ideas and inspiration. But I have another little dream I believe in.

You might want to take a bathroom break and grab a drink at this point because I'm not going to be short winded here. :-)

As I've travelled around the Internet these past couple years, popping into a group here and a group there, talking to new found friends and reading blogs, one thing I seemed to notice is that a lot of us have many things in common. A lot of us artists are shy, or introverted, or live rurally (like moi) or maybe not rurally but in small town America where there are not a lot of activities or a supportive community for those of us who love art. Sometimes we feel alone and that people don't "get us". Family members and friends may love us, but even they sometimes don't get why we do, what we have a need to do. Which we all know is that push and pull to create.

I know I've felt it. I live very rurally...take a look at the top picture and you're getting pretty close to how rural I live and I work at home, alone all day. I'm lucky, my family is all within almost touching distance and we're close emotionally but it gets artistically lonely sometimes. These kind of reasons are why blogs have become so popular. We're connecting with people who "get us". Our blogs are our online art communities. We're meeting others who share the same feelings as us. Hurrah!

I have read blog posts about art friends who have gotten together to create and people who have attended workshops and learned a new technique. And I knew that I couldn't be the only one who would love to attend a workshop but for whatever reason, it's almost impossible to travel to attend one. Just the cost of the travel and hotel fares are enough to keep me home, let alone the registration and workshop fees.

And that's when I knew I wanted to be able to offer online workshops, but I wanted them to be affordable and accessible by everyone and not so high tech people couldn't figure them out. I began to research but I wasn't real happy with the options available at the time. And my website needed careful tending this important first year so time was limited. But this summer this little dream started to grow persistent.

At first I thought about setting up something through the website and offering images & pdf files like some places do...but while I know how easy that is, I find a lot of people shy away at the mention of pdf. It sounds difficult. Or they feel so techno challenged just the thought of learning something else, no matter how easy, feels overwhelming.

Then there was the question of how do people ask questions and get answers, how can they share with others in the same workshop? Because the one thing I LOVE about workshops is the creative synergy that happens when a collective group of creative types come together. In person or virtually...in the same room or halfway around the world.

I thought about a forum. Okay, this could work. I could set up a blog where images and text files can be downloaded and then offer a forum where people can meet and greet. But that was too cumbersome for what I envisioned. And I know a lot of people set up Yahoo groups, but, and no offense meant, I really dislike Yahoo in any shape or form and it would take to long to list my reasons.

Then I found the perfect solution. Plans suddenly started to fall into place and move full steam ahead! A concept was put in place, a collaborative effort popped up like magic. There are still some details to be worked out but the foundation has been poured and the building can begin.

Our workshops are going to be held on the Ning Network and they are called Creative Workshops. If you're not familiar with Ning it is easy to learn your way around and it allows us to set up individual private workshop areas along with a private forum within that workshop, just for the students. The forum will allow students, if they choose, to meet one another, share pictures, and ask the teacher questions. And for those of you who like to lurk that's fine too. :-)

We will be offering varied workshops so you just never know what will pop up. Some workshops will offer kits attached to the workshop price and the kits could be actual shippable product or digitally emailed to students. Kits are nice because we don't have to go hunt down all the supplies. But depending on the teacher and the medium, there just might be a supply list instead.

We're all busy with our "real lives" and creating on a schedule difficult at best. Our workshops will be set up so students can work at their own pace at whatever time is most convenient. Dates will be announced when new information is posted in the workshop but once you are a member of the workshop you'll be able to access it at any time until it closes, and save that information to your computer. We will leave a workshop up for a certain length of time (to be decided by each teacher individually) after the workshop is officially over. This is especially great if there is a kit that needs shipped and a student joins up later into the workshop. You never miss out on anything because you can save everything to your computer until you receive your kit!

I'm certain I've missed information but I've gone on long enough!!! So I'll post more when I see a need.

We're starting this new community off with a wonderful workshop by artist Sherry Smyth called (just in time) Home for the Holidays. Members of the workshop will be creating an heirloom keepsake book of memories. There is a beautiful kit as part of the workshop price and members will be receiving not only shipped product but also a lot of digital beauty I created just in time for the holidays!

Please come by and check out my little dream. You can find us at Creative Workshops. It is our desire to give you a community, a place to learn, create, be inspired, learn new skills and have some fun. We invite you no matter what your medium or skill level. To us, everyone is a beginner at some time.

Here is our new badge for Creative Workshops. I'll get it into the sidebar as soon as I can.


Sherry said...

I just love it when a dream takes flight and I'm so thrilled and privileged to have been in on the ground floor of Creative Workshops. It has given my wings the chance to soar as well!! ♥

Rachel@oneprettything.com said...

This sounds like SO much fun! I'm so glad you've found a way to make it work! YAY for creativity!

Tammy said...

Yay! It sounds like your dream is becoming a reality. How fun! Man, I deleted all of my Ning groups a few weeks ago and my home page. Darnit. Now I will have to create a new one, so I can possibly partake in your workshops. I am so happy for you. It is so exciting when the ball gets rolling. Sweet southern smooches backatcha'. lol

Faith's Vintage Vanity said...

Hey Gail!

You are one busy woman! I envy you for being able to do all these creative things that make you happy. Maybe one day I will get to have more time to do all the creative things I want to do. It sounds wonderful and I wish you all the best.


Mary Beth said...

How wonderful....I started my blog a whole week ago---eek, and on my about page I discuss the need to create and my link today is for your Mind Wide Open site and the link a few days ago was for a retreat, the first I have ever tried, online. I just love the idea. I work from home and my hours vary but I usually work 7 days a week so going to a retreat or having to be somewhere at a specific time is difficult....oh, geez, I am rambling, but this is so exciting. I will keep checking back for details. Thank you so very much, from the bottom of my creative and "longing for more" heart. mb

PCarriker said...

I am so excited about this new venture Gail! I am sure it will be as well recieved as MWO.
big hugs,
PS Left you a little award on my blog:-)

Shabby Olde Potting Shed said...

I want to know more about this workshop....there are so many things I want to learn! Your site is my ultra favorite on thee entire web. I'd love to learn how yall do what you do!

Shabby Cottage Studio said...

Hey Lea, Come join usover at Creative Workshops. Right now we have a Fabulous kick off workshop that starts at the end of the month! Sherry is teaching a beautiful memory keepsake book. After the 1st of the year we hope to really gear up and get more rolling.

vintagewindow said...

Hi Gail, What a clever concept you have created here. Like you, I don't live in an area where there are workshops. I'm going to go check out your workshops now. :)