Lafishman’s Blog

August 18, 2009

A Shot of Creative Courage

A Shot of Creative Courage

I suppose you could say my thirty years as a marketing copywriter were gratifying. My agency colleagues appreciated my words and, if I were lucky, so did my clients. It’s the kind of validation every artist or craftsperson needs in order to take that step into the void of possibility, where success and failure have equal shots. Still, I never had the pleasure of seeing a customer dart to the store compelled by my ad, pick up the advertised brand and hand over his or her hard-earned money to the cashier. And if I had, could it compare to the gratification I felt today?

It was only my second craft fair, and the first to feature my hand-felted silk scarves. “Isn’t this beautiful?” I had cooed to my husband after completing one chartreuse creation, exploding with lavender flowers. “Very nice,” he’d muttered. To heck with him, I thought, tossing off his limp reaction. The color in these scarves was gorgeous, electric, especially when still wet. If their beauty were any less intense seeing them hang from the display rack at the craft fair, the more astute shoppers weren’t letting on.

Those with a taste for the artistic fell in love. My first sale was to an elegantly dressed, middle-aged woman who chose the chartreuse, flowered scarf. Then Betty, my long-time, elderly neighbor, came up to the table and glommed onto the “Fuchsia Fantasy” scarf. She turned the confection of plum, violet and fuchsia over and back. Oh no, I thought. My stunning creation on someone so old, so…unhip! Betty wrapped the scarf around her neck. Something happened that I hadn’t anticipated. Her face lit up – not from the reflection of herself in the mirror; she hadn’t seen that yet. The color in that scarf was like a switch turning on a light bulb. It illuminated her skin and then, the entire room.

As Betty played at ways to tie the scarf, a younger, more attractive woman tried on the “Monet” scarf. It was dyed cornflower blue and painted with spots of wool in cerulean, azure and bits of cool green. The reaction was the same. My scarf physically transformed this woman before my eyes. Not a subtle transformation, but instant and dramatic and disarming.

That woman passed on buying the scarf, but after a bout of hemming and hawing, Betty submitted and bought “Fuchsia Fantasy”. Any disappointment I may have felt at the idea of my design on this non-model quickly dissipated. While I’ll never see my chartreuse scarf again, Betty will be wearing hers around the neighborhood week after week. Not only will that scarf bring pleasure to someone I know, but every time I see her wear it, I will feel validated in my new artistic pursuit—another shot of the courage it takes to venture into the creative unknown.

Thanks Betty.

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