One of my favourite ways to stay inspired is to read about how other people put their creativity into practice and learn to live creative lives. Every so often, I’ll be interviewing someone who is letting their creative light shine. Hopefully, these folks will inspire you as much as they inspire me.
I got to know Amy and her stunning paintings on Instagram before reaching out and asking her to meet in real life. We both felt like we'd already known each other for awhile, which is a cool feeling! I love chatting with her about art and creativity, and am excited to share her insights with you.
What sort of creative work do you do?
Mostly landscape and abstract painting – but I tend to get obsessed with lots of side projects too, like knitting, macramé, needlepoint, photography, sewing... I have a lot of random half finished projects around my art studio. If you need art supplies for pretty much any project you can think of, come see me. I likely have a dusty box with everything you need. (more…)
Photo by Kristine MacDonald
I'm stepping away from the heavy stuff this week to bring you a list of books! Fun, inspiring, beautiful, and possibly magical books. Since this post is a month overdue, and since I spent most of the Christmas holidays reading, I had a huge list of books and though I narrowed them down to my absolute favourites the list is still super long. Buckle up! And maybe take a couple of weeks off work ;) Enjoy!
One year, my mom brought home a stack of children's books for us to read over Christmas, and ever since then I've started doing the same. I often check Brain Pickings' lists of books for recommendations, and my favourites are below.
The Day I Became A Bird by Ingrid Chabbert
Super cute story about a boy trying to become something he's not to impress a girl.
Daytime Visions: An Alphabet by Isol
Not your average alphabet book. Matt says it's dark - I say it's full of depth. (more…)
“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”
― George Bernard Shaw
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
― Albert Einstein
“Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.”
― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
We've all heard variations on the above quotes about mistakes, about how inevitable and even important they are. They mean that we're growing and moving forward. But as I was looking for inspiration to write this post, I found that these quotes were the opposite of helpful. I can know intellectually that making mistakes is all part of the process and that it doesn't reflect on who I am, but in the moment it sure feels like it does. All the glib quotes in the world won't make rear-ending someone or hurting a friend feel okay.
When I realize I've made a mistake I can feel my stomach drop, like the floor just fell out from under me. Depending on the severity, a slow burning panic might start to spread across my body and I feel like I'm flailing - attempting to grab at the edges of reality like it's a page I can turn back to when I was doing things right, or a sheet I can pull over my head. And then the stories start spinning, telling me that I'm stupid or selfish or a terrible driver who doesn't deserve to be on the road.
When it comes to mistakes, I'm interested in figuring out two things:
1. What do we do with the pain it causes?
2. How can we avoid letting the negative stories take control and shape our vision of who we are?
There are many reasons we make mistakes: we're not paying attention, we're tired or overwhelmed, we're overconfident, we're pushing our limits, we're trying something new and don't know enough yet, or we're suffering from straight up bad luck. Each of these has something different to teach us, as long as we don't let the pain carry us away.
Here are some ways that I'm learning to be mindful about my mistakes: (more…)
This has become another annual tradition of mine: going through my journals and lists from last year to find simple nuggets of wisdom. These are the aha's that shaped my year and that I hope to bring forward into a new year. So many of these seem like common sense, but they're good reminders of the basics. Hopefully they spark some learning for you as well. (You can see lists from past years here and here.)
- Do household chores after creative work. I don't know how many times I caught myself doing laundry or dishes on my art days, and then wondering why I didn't get anything done! Now I've made a firm rule that I won't do any chores until I've finished my art for the day.
- Sometimes you have to start writing before you know what you're writing about. (True for most creative pursuits!)
- Setting aside a minimum amount of time to spend on art in a day helps me stay focused. Last year it was four hours, since that's the max that I can focus on any one project in a day.
- Judgement is what separates us from our creativity. Learning to observe that judgement can help to move past it. I learned this while I was teaching my Creative Adventuring class: I asked the students to observe their surroundings without judgement and we got into a great discussion about mindfulness and creativity!
- If you stop creating, the ideas get jammed up and have nowhere to go so they stop flowing. Keep the taps open. My mom shared this with me and it's totally true.
- Don't expect satisfaction from creative work. Sometimes it will feel good and sometimes it won't - the point is to just keep doing it no matter what. (Martha Graham said, "No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”)
- The creative process is not linear. No matter how hard you work at it there will always be bad work now and then.
- Making stuff eases my anxiety. Getting lost in a project can be a huge help.
- Every mark is a learning experience.
- Distractions and mind wandering are part of my process - I don't need to be so hard on myself.
- I need to schedule time to clean up after projects to keep my space functional.
- Don't over-practice. I had more fun at my last dance recital than I have in years because I was more focused on enjoying the dance than making it perfect. I practised just enough to learn the steps and then let it be.
- I refuse to be grumpy because of art. Stress is inevitable but grumpiness has no place in my art practice.
2016 has been a strange year, hasn't it? The world went a little nuts and the news brought me to tears more than a few times. Professionally I also hit some bumps with cancelled workshops and low art sales. It would be easy enough to write the year off completely.
But it wasn't all bad, and I think it's important to spend some time looking back at the good things that happened. In my personal life I know there are plenty of happy memories to revisit but I was feeling down about my professional progress, until I made this list. Looking at all the projects I've worked on over the year remind me that even thought there's a lot that I want to do differently next year, I still have plenty to be proud of.
Here are my top creative projects, moments, and adventures from 2016. (more…)