Gifting Art from the Heart with Jodi Ohl

Want to give a gift of your time or talent this holiday season? In her latest Creative Connections column (also included in the November/December 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine), mixed-media artist Jodi Ohl shares some wonderful ideas for gifting meaningful art from the heart. We hope these ideas inspire you in your own holiday gift giving this year!

art from the heart
“Wish” by Jodi Ohl

The Gift of Giving by Jodi Ohl

I am often asked to donate my art for various causes, and, as much as I’d like to say yes to everyone, I can’t. But, from time to time there is a request that speaks to me. I’ll usually oblige by going into my inventory and picking out something that fits.

Recently, I was asked to donate a piece of art for a military fundraiser, specifically for veterans re-entering the work force. I was a little perplexed as to what to donate. I decided to dig deep and create something new that would have meaning, something symbolic that would speak to the sacrifices our military makes.

I could have painted a flag—that’s patriotic for sure, but not the personal touch I was going for. Funky houses? I tested that idea and painted a few patriotic houses, but they were more whimsical than I wanted this piece to be. I searched the Internet for military symbols, something that would grab me, and my search kept bringing me to boots. It hit me. I decided to paint soldier’s boots that were weathered and worn.

I put out a request for friends to send me photos of military boots for this special project, and I was floored by the response. I took bits from three different photos: a friend’s husband’s boots by the door, signifying he was back home safe and sound; a son’s boots after a recent deployment; and finally and most heartbreaking, a picture from a Gold Star mom. All of the photos touched me.

A few days after the auction, I was contacted by the new owner of the painting. She was the mother of a soldier currently serving, who said she felt that the painting was meant just for her. Her family includes several service members, and when she sees those boots at home, it means all is well.

That was exactly the response I was hoping for. I was truly out of my comfort zone creating something for a new audience, but I discovered that when gifts are given from the heart, they always have real meaning.

art from the heart
“Soldier’s Boots” by Jodi Ohl

If you’d like to give a gift of your time or talent this holiday season, here are a few ideas that may inspire you:

• Create cards or other small handmade gifts to give to residents of a local senior center or assisted living home. So many of our elders are alone during the holidays and welcome gifts, cards, and visits.

• Share some of your creative skills with those less fortunate or who would enjoy learning from you. Consider teaching a small 1–2 hour complimentary class. Sharing your gifts often has rewards far beyond the actual act of giving.

• Is there a children’s ward in a hospital that could use some cheering up? Donate a painting or wall hanging. Could you brighten up someone’s day by donating handcrafted earrings or necklaces to a women’s shelter? Doing the unexpected can be extremely gratifying.

• Listen to your friends and family. Has anyone mentioned they would love something you’ve already created, or raved about your work but couldn’t purchase it? I typically don’t give handmade gifts to all of my friends and family, but I do listen when they are fond of something. That sense of gratitude is hard to replicate. I think you will find there are many options, both close to your home and your heart, to spread joy and love with your creative talents.


Jodi Ohl is a full-time mixed-media artist from Aberdeen, North Carolina. Her work is known for its distinctive texture and bold color combinations. She enjoys writing about her art and sharing the love of healing and motivation through creativity. Jodi teaches online and in person around the U.S. Look for Jodi’s book, Abstracts in Acrylic & Ink: A Playful Painting Workshop from North Light Books, and her videos: Jodi Ohl‘s Zen Painting Workshop, Art Journal Jam, Texture Techniques for Abstract Art, and Abstract Painting on Yupo®. Visit Jodi’s website at jodiohl.com.


Be sure to also check out Seth Apter’s dos and don’ts of handmade gifts.

Our November/December 2017 issue is filled with inspiring ideas for holiday gift-making!

November/December 2017

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