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Curious, Curate, Create: Lisa Congdon on Finding a Passion

Colors! It's all I can think about when I watch our video with The Jealous Curator. It's about artist and Illustrator Lisa Congdon, who puts all of the things I am feeling right now—about spring, and new beginnings, and the specialness of little things—into colors, heaps and heaps of colors.

Lisa's life just looks so fun. Everything is light and bright: her studio, her blog, and especially her work. It takes me back to elementary school art class. Not because Lisa's work is immature—her careful, beautiful art and lettering is somehow both simple and intricate—but because it all fills me with so much joy (my old mate Marie Kondo would heartily approve.) Her art reminds me why I like art—which, really is no reason except that it makes me happy. It also reminds me that I love painting and drawing and making things. I might not be anywhere near as good as Lisa, but it really doesn't matter—it's about doing things that (and I can't believe I'm writing this,) bring you joy.

Her new book, in fact, is called The Joy of Swimming, and it combines Lisa's illustrations with writing, research and interviews. It's a beautiful object, and if I sound like I'm gushing, well, I am.

The best bit is that Lisa didn't really start until her early 30s, when she took a painting class with her brother for fun. "I was not very good," she says (sure, Lisa.) "I just sort of found this thing." She started the blog, which led to a following, offers of work, and then a full-time art life. "Of course I was scared," she says, "but I was also ready."

Back in those early classes, Lisa's teacher used to talk about "the painting curve." When you start a painting, it's lovely and clean, "because you haven't had an opportunity to mess it up yet," Lisa says. Then, obviously, you do mess it up. "It starts to look muddy and messy and bad." Looking at Lisa's work, I honestly can't see this being a problem for her, but apparently what you need to do is push through the messiness, "to the top of the painting curve." Suddenly, "You're back to the beauty."

This is such a beautiful metaphor for life. She says art didn't come easy, but that, "You do something every day and you work at it, you get really good at it." Even though her story seems really fortuitous, the combo of passion and hard work is something so accessible to any of us. Lisa has me feeling seriously inspired, and full of hope that my passion will find me in the same way.  "I feel like I would have found it somehow" she says, "Even it weren't for that one class."

Kind of randomly, we jump to Lisa's favorite dessert (fine by me, I love dessert,) which for the record is ice-cream. When it comes to coffee or tea, there are no favorites—she likes both. I guess you just can't hem these creative people in.