Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

homemade giftsFor awhile now, I've been on the fence about Christmas gifts. There are years when I love spending hours searching for the perfect gifts for friends and family, and other years when I feel like I'm falling into a black hole of consumption and waste. One year I convinced my family not to exchange gifts and we spent the time we would have spent shopping doing Christmas activities together instead. This was one of my favourite Christmases ever, but it was obvious that other members of my family missed the gifts so now we compromise by drawing names instead of buying for everyone. So far it seems to be working out, and I enjoy putting a lot of thought into one gift, rather than scrambling to get something perfect for everyone.

Still, sometimes it is nice to take a step back from the urge to spend spend spend and make a gift instead. Making things for other people feeds my soul in a way that buying gifts never can because I get to exercise my creativity and develop new skills, while also making those I love happy. It's a win win!

All these ideas are based on either something I received that lit me up, or something I gave that seemed to go over well. It was really nice to remember giving or receiving these gifts, and I hope they inspire you to spread love this Christmas, or at any time of year. (more…)

science artPeople often ask me if I studied medicine or biology when they see my work. And though I've never actually taken a biology class (I was more into physics in high school and university) I'm finding myself more and more interested in it. I was inspired to make these sculptures by the paper mache models I saw in the Mutter Museum of Medical History in Philadelphia, and spend a lot of time looking at anatomical diagrams and imagery.

I'm still interested in physics and other sciences and get a huge kick out of art that is inspired by science. Maybe I'm too nerdy for my own good, but work like this gets my neurons firing like crazy with ideas and connections.

Here are some more artists that draw on the sciences for their amazing work: (more…)

Andrea Yacyshyn - Anya belly danceOne 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 first met Andrea when she was a fellow vendor at the Royal Bison market, and later started taking belly dance classes with her. Her passion as a dancer has been a huge inspiration in my own dance journey, her soulful approach to living warms my heart, and I look up to her success as a creative entrepreneur - she's killing it here in Edmonton.

What sort of creative work do you do?

I am a Belly Dance teacher and performer. For many years I taught weekly classes and danced in Greek restaurants and Lebanese night clubs. Recently I have shifted my focus and only teach workshops or private classes and perform only for events like engagements/weddings/birthdays etc.

I also created a performance piece called "Fortune Writer" in which people ask a question or suggest a topic and I generate a unique fortune for them on my typewriter. (more…)

creative role modelsThis is a series where I write about the people that inspire me to be more creative every day: the people who live and breathe creativity and are using their passion to make the world a better place. I've also written about Ray Bradbury, Miranda JulyNick Bantock, Jim Hensen, Lisa CongdonAmanda Palmer, and Elizabeth Gilbert.

Who is Lynda Barry?

A writer, cartoonist, and champion of drawing and creativity. She had a ground-breaking weekly comic strip (see some examples here) for 30 years and once print media started to dry up she turned to books, publishing graphic novels featuring characters from the comic strips, as well as a novel that was turned into an off-Broadway play. She has also published two books on how to write and draw called What It Is and Picture This (which I love!). She now teaches writing workshops and interdisciplinary university classes for everyone from undergrads to PhD students. You can follow along with her classes and see their homework on her blog, or read about them in her book Syllabus.

What’s so great about her?
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dallas curow

Photo by Andria Lindquist

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 met Dallas at a Creative Mornings event shortly after she had moved to Edmonton. Right away it was clear that we had lots to talk about and I've really enjoyed getting to know her as she settles into our city. She's very generous with her wisdom about creativity, social media, and running a small business, and, of course, she takes beautiful photographs. I can't wait for our next tea date!

What sort of creative work do you do?

I am primarily a photographer and makeup artist, but I often do bits of art direction, styling and hair in my work as well. I run two photography studios: Dallas Curow Photography, which is my portrait, wedding and lifestyle brand, and I’m in the process of launching Dallas Alexandra, the name under which I shoot commercial and editorial work. My goal, for every project, is to take the raw materials (setting, lighting, subjects) and create a little bit of magic in each frame. I want to create a wonderful experience that yields the best photographs people have ever seen of themselves, and let the images be a memory of the joyful and empowering experience.

Have you always thought of yourself as a creative person? Why or why not?

Yes, as long as I remember, I’ve felt driven to create. I feel energized creating something, and parched and depleted when I’m not creating. I do better when I’m creating rather than consuming; happier when active than passive. I’ve been lucky to have many creative outlets. For a long time, it was classical singing and musical theatre, plus theatre direction, and I’d love to find my way back to those artforms soon. At other times it was painting and drawing. I’ve always loved writing and have often found work as a writer/editor. But photography has always been a part of my life. (more…)

These last few months have been tough for the world. At times like these, it's easy to believe that we're surrounded by hate and fear on every side. While my heart breaks every time I hear about another terrorist attack or hate crime, I also have a relentless hope in humanity and in our ability to overcome these struggles.

Albert Einstein said that "The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe."

I believe we live in a friendly universe that is also full of fear and pain. I believe that art and creativity can help ease the fear and pain and can help show us a way through.

Here are a few things I've found on the internet lately that remind me that humanity has the capacity to be strong and beautiful, even when it seems like the world is falling apart around us.

Art that carries a powerful message of peace.

A list of books to read when nothing seems to make sense anymore.

The most beautiful comment on protecting the Arctic.

"They destroy. We rebuild." This made me cry in the most hopeful way: (more…)

What I have been reading, learning and thinking about in the last four months. Fiction, non-fiction, art books, and a movie.I love doing these book lists because it gives me a clear idea of where I have spent my mental energy in the last four months. This time, I can see that I've spent a LOT of time reading self-improvement books around creativity, collaboration, and productivity. I wonder if I have anything to show for it...

I've also noticed that the lists are getting longer and longer. I'm not sure if that's because I'm reading more or if it's that I'm more careful about choosing good books (and finishing them!) because I know I'll be writing about them later. Either way, here is a good long list of what I have been enjoying over the last four months.

Fiction

All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

With a style touching on magical realism, a captivating story, and sweet, good-natured characters, this book hit me right in the feels. The character's speech was highly poetic, which pulled me out of the story occasionally but was so beautiful that I didn't mind. The novel follows two characters throughout the Second World War: a blind girl in Paris who has to evacuate with her father, and a radio-obsessed boy in Germany who goes to a military school to escape a life working in the mines. Woven between them is the story of a centuries-old diamond with a romantic back story. I often have a hard time with war stories, but—with a few exceptions—this one tended more toward the fanciful than the frightening, so it didn't stress me out too much. (more…)

Tara Leaver

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. On the first Friday of each month, 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've been following Tara's work for a few years now and am inspired by her in so many ways. Not only is she a talented painter but her mission is similar to mine: helping people access their creativity. I've been enjoying watching her painting evolve, and the dreamy ocean photographs she posts on Instagram always brighten my day.

Tara Leaver

Follow Your Sun
What sort of creative work do you do? 
 
I'm an artist, and I teach online courses focused on helping people uncover and develop their unique way of self expression through art. I also have a lot of other creative interests that feed into this work one way or another, like writing and taking photos. 

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favourite places online

It's crazy to think how much the role of the internet in our lives has changed in our lifetimes. From non-existent when I was a kid, to using chat rooms as a pre-teen, to my obsession with looking things up, and beyond. Since I am almost always plugged into something, I thought I would share where I spend most of my time online.

Favourite podcasts - I listen to podcasts when I'm doing mundane, routine tasks at the art table, or when I'm making dinner, doing dishes or laundry, or anything else that requires my hands and eyes but not my brain or ears. I'm a little bit addicted to these I think...

  • Dear Sugar - An advice column turned radio show. Hosts Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond are deeply wise and insightful and I love hearing their take on their listener's problems.
  • This American Life - Super popular, and for good reason. One of the first podcasts I listened to, the variety of stories always keeps me coming back.
  • Radiolab - Sometimes sciency, often not, this show finds incredibly compelling stories and facts and shares them using brilliantly edited sound and music.
  • Surprisingly Awesome - They take a supposedly boring topic, like broccoli or concrete, and tell you all the ways that it is actually amazing. There have been quite a few mind-blowing moments thus far.
  • Reply All - A show about the internet that also manages to delve into some strange and fascinating places. And the hosts are quite funny at times.
  • Planet Money - Super quick snippets about how the world of money works - I always learn something new and am usually entertained in the process.
  • Magic Lessons - Elizabeth Gilbert coaches people through creative struggles. They've only done one season so far but the second one is in the works!
  • On Being - Krista Tippett interviews spiritual and thought leaders and goes deep into what it means to be human. Prepare to breathe deep and open your consciousness.

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This past Sunday I enjoyed one of my two annual crafting traditions: decorating Easter eggs (the other is making Christmas ornaments). I invited everyone I knew and some people I didn't know and set up my living room for an explosion of crafting.

During the five years or so that I've been having these parties, I've tried a number of different techniques for decorating the eggs. Tired of dipping your eggs in food colouring? Give these methods a try!

Draw with a Sharpie or other markers

easter eggs

Photo by Kelly Tran

This is super simple. All you need is a Sharpie or other permanent marker. Draw a repeating pattern around the egg. It looks just as nice on a brown egg as on a white one. (more…)