Giving Back Creatively

Businesses have a responsibility to give back to the community. Often times, we see it as a fundraising event on a slow night, where a portion of the fee goes to a nonprofit or community group. This activity doubles as a marketing tool, because while it’s a good thing for the community group, it also attracts customers and ultimately benefits the business, too.

At Canvas and Cabernet, we like to take things a step further. We have an ongoing charitable contributions program: we participate in TAGG, we offer special staff pricing for nonprofit staff, and we provide monthly fundraising events.

Recently, we had an opportunity to do a creative activity and support Casting for Recovery. All of our artists except CaSandra, who was out of town, gave their time and painted 28 wooden fish for the participants of the Nebraska events. Needless to say, the evening was fun and meaningful…the artists were excited to be involved, and we enjoyed the opportunity to give back creatively!

The Holiday Season

Owning a small business that caters to groups during the holidays is really special. We are able to witness corporate teams, family groups, friends and relatives sharing time together; creating new memories. While it is a super busy time for us, especially between Thanksgiving and the end of the year, we try to embrace the moment and make sure our guests receive the attention they need and want, every single time they step in the door.

It also makes me recognize how very important it is to take time to “fill my cup” with the love and support my own family and friends have to offer. I hope you are enjoying your time during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season!

Never Say Never

Recently, we started offering wooden cut out shapes to paint for door hangers….after I have been saying for three years that I would “never”. Many people asked why we didn’t –and my answer–they tipped a little too much into the “craft” arena. I wanted to stay as consistent as possible with canvas paintings.

However, the requests didn’t stop–as a matter of fact–they only increased, and I buckled under the pressure. After chatting with an artist friend who used to have a studio at the Hot Shops Art Center, he agreed to cut some prototypes to see how well they were received.

Guess what? The sessions have been enormously popular! I’m happy to say I was wr..wr..wrong. Moral of the story–never say never!

Image Creations–How Does it Happen?

If you looked at the gallery of painting images from the many paint and sip shops across the US, you will see some familiar images. Starry Night by Van Gogh is just one example. Many shops paint a rendition of classics–O’Keeffe, Picasso, Monet, Woods, and more. I personally love the classics, and its great to recreate them with our own unique amateur touches.

You will find many regional topics as well. A few examples: the fleur de lis is popular around Louisana; the mountains in Colorado; the aquatic themes like lighthouses from the coastal areas. We have several barn paintings for a little Midwest flair; and one of our Omaha favorites is the “Bob” bridge (the pedestrian bridge connecting Omaha and Council Bluffs).

However, MANY of our paintings come from suggestions from our guests. Here are just a few: a corporate group wanted to paint an image of “something that represents sustainability, ending childhood hunger, and the environment”. Our artist came up with Apple of My Eye, and we’ve painted it many times over the past years. Another great example-the Greater Omaha Scuba Club sent several underwater photos, and our artist painted Under the Sea. The Color Run is a great painting, and its based on an actual photograph that won an Omaha World Herald award. We have developed specific paintings for sorority groups, book clubs and more.

Other times, our artists get ideas or we want to add a holiday theme, which can be very popular. One of my recent favorites is our little outhouse painting (I know! I love the idea for a small bathroom!) that we call A Trip to the Moon–a nod to my younger camper years.

We try to be as innovative and original as possible, and not just copy what everyone else is doing. Two of our corporate values are Originality and Creativity. We think you will find authenticity in our gallery!

Creativity versus Artistic Ability

Quite often our guests share their concern that they are “not creative” or they “don’t have a creative bone in their body”. Some people think since they are an accountant, computer scientist, business analyst, engineer or banker(or fill in the blank), they aren’t creative. Many people believe that creativity is reserved for marketing professionals, artists, hair dressers, or a select group of individuals who have careers utilizing their talents visibly.

However, I believe we are ALL creative; although we may not be artistic. There is a difference in these terms, and they are not interchangeable. While creativity manifests itself in different ways, whether through the visual arts, music, dance, or other hobbies like quilting, woodworking, writing, etc.., we all have it.

One of the books I reference when talking about creativity is by David Burkus called The Myths of Creativity. The reality is that there is NO research that identifies a gene contributing to one person being more creative than another. In fact, we are all equally destined to be creative.

Burkus (and others) infer that creativity can expand if exercised–in other words, the more opportunity you have to be creative, the more creative you become. Becoming more creative will help us at the workplace–make greater connections between disparate ideas and concepts; identify patterns and relationships when they aren’t visible. Creativity is taking ideas and turning them into reality, and not being afraid to fail. How fun it would be if we worked in a place where creativity was embraced and encouraged???

The challenge is to find ways every day to do something creative and innovative. Have you heard about the new adult coloring books available? Coloring can be relaxing and stir up those creative juices, but we don’t take the time to do it. I  started painting every couple days. Not that I’m an artist, but because I believe in the process.  Of course, I think painting is a great stress reliever, and I would love everyone to join a class to experience the activity and the resulting feelings. The bonus is having fun and ending up with a painting you are proud of.

Challenge yourself to doing something every day or two–and share what you feel. Do you think it helps? How have you grown creatively?


Painting is Good for the Soul

Whether our guests come alone or with a group; on a Friday night or Tuesday afternoon–we can tell the people that “get into” the painting and tap into a place we can’t see. They will remark how “relaxing” and cathartic the process is, and we agree. Painting is good for the soul!

We go about our busy, sometimes frantic lives…jumping from task to task, list to list, event to event. How often do we become immersed in our activity enough to transcend us to that wonderful place inside? I know the answer for me–its a rare occasion.

Take time; no–MAKE time for yourself. You will be so glad you did, and hopefully it will spur you on to do it again and again.