Back in November I started working through Marion Deuchar's book Draw Paint Print Like the Great Artists, committing to doing every single exercise.
I called this project a creative experiment because I wasn't really sure what would happen. I hypothesized that working through every exercise in this book would yield creative returns, but I didn't know what those would look like. I hoped that it would help me to develop some creative discipline and that I would get better at creative play. You can read more about my expectations about the project here.
I'm halfway through the book now - I've (almost) completed 9 of the 18 artists - and I'm happy to report that it's going even better than I had hoped. This book has become a cornerstone of my creative practice, and it sets the tone for the work that I do later in the day. I've definitely become hooked on creative play, though the idea of discipline is kind of out the window since I look forward to each exercise so much and hate walking away when my time is up. I don't think I've ever been so happy to stick to an artistic commitment - I can't get enough!
Besides pure pleasure, here are some other things I've gotten from/learned from this experiment: (more…)
The 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…)
You guys I am so excited about these cards. I'm not even really sure why I'm that excited. Maybe because it's the first time I've tried something like this, maybe because it's the first goal I get to check off my list for 2015 or maybe because I just really, really like the way they look. Either way, I am super excited to unveil my first ever line of body-part themed, punny Valentine's Day cards. I say Valentine's because it's coming up but really these cards are great for any occasion when you want to tell someone that you care (or you have a pesky admirer that you want to scare away...). (more…)
“The hero’s journey always begins with the call. One way or another, a guide must come to say, 'Look, you’re in Sleepy Land. Wake. Come on a trip. There is a whole aspect of your consciousness, your being, that’s not been touched. So you’re at home here? Well, there’s not enough of you there.' And so it starts.” Joseph Campbell
I swear there was something in the air that morning. I woke late, tired, stressed, made the mistake of checking my email and added one more thing to my long to do list for the day. When I left my apartment, 10 minutes later than I should have, the sun had risen but was still low in the sky. Shadows were beginning to lift and the western sky was dusted with pink, while the eastern sky was ablaze with gold. I walked fast and couldn’t take time to observe, but still felt oddly captivated by the world around me. Yes, I had been practising mindfulness, and yes this time of day was particularly magical, but there was something even more compelling than usual, as though someone was whispering in my ear “pay attention….”
The closed, painted, carpeted environment of the office felt oppressive at first but I soon settled into a comfortable rhythm for the morning, learning, researching, gazing at the clouds gathering outside, breathing and stretching when my mindfulness bell struck. I was expecting the frazzle from the past few days but instead, I felt peaceful. I felt focused and yet there was a tiny tingle. A slight buzzing. I thought maybe it was the caffeine in my tea. A glimmer of anticipation passed over me, though that may be hindsight describing it. The air felt crisp and clean, like before a summer rain shower. It felt good. I felt like I was doing exactly what I should be.
My attention started to jump around but I didn’t fight it, I followed what felt like a natural flow, from the Q & A document I was reading, to an artist’s website that I admire, to another website, back to my homework. I wrote the tagline “Finding your creative self. Finding your way home”. I felt a sudden opening, an expanse inside me breathing its way into existence. I thought about the Pinterest board where I had pinned images of tiny boats on big seas, of mountains, birds flying, flags waving, the colour blue over and over and over again. The feeling in my chest matched the images so perfectly I wanted to cry. This! This is it! I thought. I started writing words: open, expansive, flow, freedom, space, explore, adventure, dive, float, river, ocean, mountain, birds. This is what creativity feels like. This sense of peace and completeness is why I do what I do. And THIS is what I want to help others experience.
I first wrote these words back in March on the day that I figured out what I really wanted to do with my life - what I felt like I was meant to do. I realized then that my mission was to help people feel more creative, to do more creative things, and to experience creativity on a daily basis.
“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.
A couple of weeks ago I sold my artwork at a very hip, very popular craft show. Normally this is a very lucrative show for me and I was expecting to get close to selling out. Instead, I sold 4 items over the course of 2 and a half days. It was a little bit crushing.
Even when I am selling lots I always have a hard time at these shows since I tend to think that everyone else has better work than me, is further along than me, more professional than me, more outgoing than me, better at selling than me, more well-liked than me. This is something that I'm working very hard to change but it still gets me down, especially when I don't do very well and I can see that everyone around me is raking in the cash and getting rave reviews.
For a lot of people I think this fear of not measuring up is what stops them from pursuing their creative interests. It's easy to look at what other people are doing and think "what could I possibly add to that?" The problem is that when we let those thoughts get in our way, we not only deprive ourselves of the joys of creating and sharing our work (more…)
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.
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.
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…)
I believe that we form our own lives, that we create our own reality, and that everything works out for the best. I know I drive some people crazy with what seems to be ridiculous optimism, but it has always worked out for me.
Christmas is coming and for me, 'tis the season to watch Muppet Christmas movies. There are so many to choose from! When we were growing up, the Muppet Family Christmas was on TV every year. Moments from that show stick with me as if they were my own Christmas memories: (more…)
People who see my heart sculptures are often amazed that I make them entirely out of paper. When we think of paper mache, we usually think of children mucking around with newspaper and balloons, though the truth is that people have been making sturdy, beautiful objects out of paper mache for centuries - probably for as long as there has been paper.
Here are some of the ways that paper mache has been used that I find most interesting:
Back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, religious dictates made it hard for medical schools to find bodies to use for dissection so models had to be made to teach students about anatomy. Many of these were painstakingly made with paper mache. If you haven't seen these models, I highly recommend taking a look (if you're not too squeamish!). They are truly beautiful. You can find a good selection here.