Archive for the ‘Try This’ Category

window displayAs you may have seen on Instagram, last week I set up a window display at a popular hotel here in Edmonton. It's part of an amazing project called Green Window City, which invited artists to pair up with businesses in a busy shopping and restaurant district. The goal of the project is to reclaim otherwise wasted materials to make art, and to celebrate Pride Week here in Edmonton. Nineteen installations went up last week, and I feel so lucky to have made one of them. (more…)

make timeThe number one reason I hear for not doing creative things is not having enough time. This is a valid reason, and it's something that I've struggled with for years. It can be challenging to make time for creative work when you are being pulled in so many other directions. It often seems like there's always something more important to do.

But since making a commitment to everyday creativity, I've learned a few things about why I don't seem to have enough time. I've learned that often what looks like "not enough time" is really a mental block tricking me into thinking I'm too busy. Sometimes I really am too busy, but most of the time, it's all in my head. Below I outline some of the mental blocks that have gotten in my way, and that may be holding you back, plus some ways that I've learned to dismantle, or at least work around, these blocks.

Mental Block #1: Creativity is your last priority

I used to do this so much. I figured, I'm a creative person, I enjoy making stuff, so I should be able to just find the time right? Wrong. If you don't make it a priority, creative time will always end up on the bottom of the list, after work, laundry, visiting your parents, and scrubbing the floor behind the toilet. In order for it to happen, creative time needs to be at the top of your list - no matter what urgent things are calling for your attention. (more…)

creative movement

My first belly dance solo at our Christmas recital - Photo by Kazoo Productions

“The body knows things a long time before the mind catches up to them. I was wondering what my body knew that I didn't.” Sue Monk Kidd

In last week's post I talked about ways to keep the inspiration channels open to help prepare for epiphany-like ideas and one of my suggestions was to keep moving. Since I am constantly trying to bring more movement into my daily life, and since I discover daily how important movement is for the creative process, I thought a post entirely on that subject was in order.

In late December I attended a workshop called a 'movement book club.' It was facilitated by a friend of mine and provided a unique opportunity to explore a book (The Outsider by Albert Camus) with our bodies rather than just with our minds. The first half was devoted to verbal discussion but the second half brought me right back to my drama days. The words "just walk around the space" are some of my favourite words to hear. They mean that it's time to let go of all thoughts and preconceptions, and allow my infinitely wiser body to take over. (more…)


Photo by Matt Whitford

Today, my calendar tells me, is Epiphany.

From a young age I was mesmerized by the word when I saw it every January. What does it mean? What's so special about today? After a little research, I've decided that, to me, Epiphany is a time to start preparing for creative magic.

According to the dictionary, an epiphany is:

  • an appearance or manifestation, especially of a deity
  • a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience
  • a moment of sudden revelation or insight

In the church it's a feast day celebrating the incarnation of god as a human, and, depending on what church, commemorating either the baptism of Jesus or the Magi bringing gifts to Jesus. Either way, it's a pretty big deal. And though the religious meaning doesn't hold much weight for me, the idea of the divine becoming human is a powerful and useful image.

In her Ted Talk on genius, Elizabeth Gilbert describes how the Ancient Greeks and Romans saw creativity as something that came from outside ourselves, that it was a "divine, attendant spirit that came to human beings from some distant and unknowable source for some distant and unknowable reason."

Epiphany is a day to think about how something that we might normally see as being outside ourselves - inspiration, creativity, genius - becomes accessible to us mere mortals.



Christmas ornaments

I just decorated a Christmas tree for the first time in years and it was a amazing to pull out ornaments I forgot I had. Personally, I've never been interested in those colour-coordinated Christmas trees, with carefully chosen sparkling balls that match the perfectly hung garland or ribbon. They look nice, but they have no feeling. I like a tree with a jumble of colours, shapes, and sizes, where each ornament tells a story. As my brother and I were growing up, our mom bought us each an ornament every year, so by the time we moved out we had quite the collection.

Christmas ornaments

One year I made ornaments for my family as gifts and I was hooked. The joy of making something pretty to hang on the tree, plus the fact that I've spent most of my adult life on a tight budget and can't splurge on decorations, means you'll often find me pulling out the glue gun at this time of year to make a new decoration or two.

christmas ornaments

Do you prefer the handmade look on your tree? Are you trying to save money around the holidays? Here are my suggestions for making your own ornaments. Give it a try! I hope you have as much fun as I do. (more…)

creative rituals

"If I waited to be in the mood to write, I’d barely have a chapbook of material to my name. Who would ever be in the mood to write? Do marathon runners get in the mood to run? Do teachers wake up with the urge to lecture? I don’t know, but I doubt it. My guess is that it’s the very act that is generative. The doing of the thing that makes possible the desire for it. A runner suits up, stretches, begins to run. An inventor trudges down to his workroom, closing the door behind him. A writer sits in her writing space, setting aside the time to be alone with her work. Is she inspired doing it? Very possibly not. But this is her habit, her job, her discipline. Think of a ballet dancer at the barre. She is practising, because she knows there is no difference between practice and art. The practice is the art."

Dani Shapiro, Still Writing

Last year a friend gave me a Tarot deck for my birthday and I tried a reading for the first time. It was a time of upheaval and uncertainty so I asked the cards what was the next step I should take in my business. Many of the cards made a lot of sense but one that confused me a bit was the Hierophant card. Here's an interpretation: "The Hierophant Tarot card suggests that you may be wise to follow established social structures and traditions. You may be involved in some sort of ritual, ceremony, or the trappings of religion. There is also a need to honour some tradition in your life, or maybe start some traditions of your own if you have none."

After thinking about it for a bit it became clear what kind of  "rituals" and "traditions" the card was asking me to try. Creative rituals. (more…)


visual journalingLast week I wrote about my experiences with journaling and apparently I'm not ready to let the subject go since this week I want to talk about visual journaling - about how I got into it and how you can get started.

What is a visual journal?

Any form of record keeping that uses images can be described as a visual journal. In the book, Drawing from Life: The Journal as ArtJennifer New explains that the word journal can be used almost interchangeably with sketchbook, field notes, notebook, or logbook. Visual journals are most frequently associated with artists, but they can also be kept by scientists, musicians, travelers, parents, or anyone who wants to keep track of their ideas and observations. In fact, rather than dividing her book into sections based on disciplines, New called her chapters Observation, Reflection, Exploration, and Creation - though most journals contain a little bit of everything.

New explains the magical properties of visual journaling: (more…)

keeping a journalI have been keeping a journal of some kind since I was around 8 years old. I have always been afraid that if I didn't write things down my life would fade away from me and I would be left with nothing. My record-keeping has evolved over the years from a strict diary of daily events, to a dumping ground for negative emotions and self-hatred, to colourful experiments with poetry and drawing, to a record of my growth and progress and a celebration of life. I've gone from writing every day, to every week, to once a month, to everything in between.

I keep my diverse collection of books in a Rubbermaid bin that I drag from one home to another, and though I can't bear to read some of them, I wouldn't dream of letting them go. Without these books I honestly think I would be lost. They keep me in touch with myself and with all my past versions, and they constantly give me something to aspire to. Without these books holding me accountable to myself, I imagine that I would drift aimlessly through life with no intention or goals.

If it sounds pretty dramatic, that's because it is. These books are my lifeline. They hold my wisdom and my mistakes, my triumphs and my failures, my joys and my sorrows. They ARE me. Writing about what I've learned about journaling is sort of like writing about what I've learned about life. It's a big topic. With that said here are some things I've discovered in my journeys through journals: (more…)

making zinesA few years ago some friends of mine got into making zines and started a group where everyone would make a zine and bring copies to trade with the group. They called it Zine-Aged Angst, because they're clever like that. It was a brilliant idea because it gave us all a reason to do something creative, and a concrete deadline by which to have it finished.

A zine is an original DIY publication, usually a small booklet reproduced with a photocopier - though they can come in many forms. It can be on any topic imaginable and contain any kind of media, as long as it's reproducible. Over the years I've gathered quite a collection, on topics from building an ant farm, to the things you find when you pick up garbage for a living, to how to quit drinking coffee. (more…)