Creative living: interview with Tara Leaver

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. 

Tara Leaver
Morendo Al Niente
 
Have you always thought of yourself as a creative person? Why or why not? 
 
In retrospect yes, although I did forget for a while. Like most kids, I loved to paint and draw and make things with my hands. I used to write stories and poems, and really just loved anything that involved making. Art was my favourite subject at school. I became very ill on and off with depression for almost twenty years, and that gradually eroded that part of me so it went dormant for a while. Looking back, I did still exercise my creativity at times; I was a Montessori teacher and made a lot of wall and window displays and creative projects with the kids, and I trained as an interior decorator, but most of it was for others, not from the heart. I think I just forgot who I really was, until I moved to Brighton about eight years ago and it all started flooding back as I began to get well.
 
How did you get started? 
 
When I moved I was recovering from a particularly devastating episode, and had time and solitude in which to try to heal. It was a fresh start; I didn’t really know anyone and was very low still, but I started reading blogs and discovering you could take art courses and connect with people without having to leave the house, which suited me very well at that time. I just dived right in, took all sorts of creative courses, started my own blog, started connecting with people, and began remembering how much I loved to paint and draw and make things. It was a huge part of getting well for me.
Tara Leaver
Mackerel
 
What’s your process like? 
 
This question makes me laugh, because I’ve done a great deal of battle with my process! It evolves and morphs constantly and is hard to pin down! I think the best way to describe it is by saying there are micro and macro processes going on all the time; in macro terms I’m always in process with my art in some way, even during the times when I’m not physically making any. The micro processes are things like how I actually create a painting, and that follows a very loose pattern of starting with a reference image or idea, but otherwise not planning at all and letting it unfold on the canvas. I’m more interested in the expressive possibilities of art than in accuracy or realism, and that shows up in every step of the process. 
 
What or who inspires you?
 
I recently returned from a road trip and it reminded me how much travel inspires my work. While I am definitely inspired by the work of other artists and by my observations of the world around me, in particular landscapes of all kinds, it’s the underlying feeling of life, of trying to somehow capture and express what it feels like to be alive and free, that inspires me most. It’s an endless place to explore, and part of that is losing it and the challenge to find it again.
Tara Leaver
Dune Walking
What’s your biggest creative struggle and how are you coping with it? 
 
Currently it’s a frustrating inconsistency in how I’m approaching each painting and how it’s feeling. Of course there are always ups and downs and cycles. I enjoyed a period of intense creativity on returning from my trip, and was feeding off that for a couple of weeks, but inevitably that cycle has turned and now I’m finding myself confronted by some of the less joyful aspects of making art, like feeling I’ve forgotten how to paint! I’m coping with it by whining about it on Instagram. Kidding. Sort of. 😉 But sharing the ups and downs with others who understand what it’s like does help. Making art is {for many of us} a solitary activity, and having some kindred spirits to celebrate with as well as share the harder times with is essential.
 
What’s your # 1 tip about everyday creativity? 
 
Find a community! I’m currently doing the 100 Day Project, which was started by Elle Luna on Instagram as a way to focus on process over a period of time. I’ve just hit my first road bump and having creative friends alongside me, and getting to share and encourage and support and learn from each other, is so important I think. Doing a daily project of any kind, and in particular doing it alongside others, whether on or offline, is such a fantastic way to motivate and develop your creative work on a daily basis, whatever it is.
Tara Leaver
Flow
What are you working on next? 
 
I’m currently working on a new course about rediscovering and expressing your uniqueness through your creativity, as well as a couple of collaborations with other artists, and a small ‘heart project’ – a book of some of my poems and photos of the beach, is in the pipeline. I recently had a bit of an ‘artpiphany’ and am also making adjustments to my website in line with that. It’s a busy time in the best possible way. 
 
Where can we find you online? (website, twitter, IG, FG, etc.)
 
My website is taraleaver.com {http://www.taraleaver.com}. On social media I’m mostly to be found on Instagram {http://www.instagram.com/taraleaver} and Facebook {http://www.facebook.com/taraleaver}, and I love Pinterest {http://www.pinterest.com/taraleaver} too.
Sign up to find out about Tara’s new course here: www.taraleaver.com/touchstone
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