different nameI think children's books are a source of inspiration that often goes untapped. The combination of an intriguing storyline with beautiful images can get those creative neurons firing like crazy. I remember one Christmas my mom brought a huge stack of children's books home from the library, and we spent hours reading them by the fireplace. It was both relaxing and energizing at the same time, and became one of my favourite Christmas memories. Over the years I've found a small collection of books that are meant for children but still appeal to me as an adult - probably because, like many things that inspire me, they're a little dark and very strange.

Two of the writer/illustrator teams that grabbed my attention for both their stories and their illustrations are: (more…)

creative lifeI was bitten by the travel bug at a young age. My mom has told me numerous times about how strange it felt to put her 5-year old daughter on a bus to go to a weekend Brownie Camp. I was small and shy but there was no way I wasn't going on that trip. Since then I've spent summers living in Quebec, New York, and Edinburgh, driven from one end of the United States to the other and back again, and spent 10 months backpacking and learning to weave in Peru, Argentina, and Bolivia. These trips and others have provided more creative fuel than probably anything else I've done.

I got the idea for my Edmonton postcards at breakfast place in New Orleans and I was inspired to start making paper mache organs after visiting a medical museum in Philadelphia. I started thinking about weaving at an art museum in Edinburgh, then went to South America with 'learn to weave' as my primary purpose and came home with the added benefit of understanding just how important creativity and making things was to me.

Why does travelling have such an impact on my creativity? (more…)

StephanieMedford0914Like many people, I collect objects and images and use them to decorate my home. Some have flown with me across oceans, some were made by friends and my boyfriend, and plenty are gifts from people I love. I have always loved having these objects out where I can see them - minimalism is definitely not for me. When I met my boyfriend and saw that his apartment was crowded with his own collection of objects of wonder, I knew that we would get along fine.

Sometimes I feel guilty for feeling so connected to objects, and I sometimes wonder - why these things? What is it about them that makes me never tire of looking at them? (more…)

what I learned about creativitySome people love the Christmas season. Some can't wait for the Stanley Cup playoffs or the Olympics. For me, one of the best times of the year is the Fringe Festival, an annual smorgasbord of theatre that descends on our city every August. My parents used to take me when I was a kid and as soon as I got a car I spent the greater part of the 10 day festival volunteering, watching plays, and taking in the atmosphere. This year over 200 hundred plays opened their doors in over 50 venues across town. I saw 10 of them.

Here are a few things these plays made me think about when it comes to creativity in general, and the process of creating work for an audience: (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…)

creative challengeIn July I ran my first creative challenge and it was a lot of fun. Incredibly challenging, but a lot of fun. This is what one of the participants had to say about her experience:

All in all, I've had a blast. Not all of them had been winners, but I've felt a definite sense of pride at what I've accomplished. It was something to look forward to everyday in July. 

I'm really glad a few people were inspired to look at their days a little differently during the challenge. I know it certainly stretched me and I learned a lot. Here are some things I thought about throughout the month: (more…)

My latest photography adventure happened on Canada Day. I don't think I can remember a July 1st that wasn't sunny and warm and this year didn't disappoint. We spent the day in a park surrounded by good friends and later went home to barbecue. We set up a slackline, hung a swing in a tree, played frisbee and bocce ball, coloured, played music (my friends did while I took pictures), and drank boozy blueberry lemonade. We couldn't have asked for a better July day.

This was my first time turning my DSLR on people instead of objects and it was pretty challenging. I ended up with a lot of grumpy-looking faces - not because my friends were in bad moods but because I often managed to catch them between smiles. And whereas I had been used to shooting in aperture priority, this time I switched to playing with shutter speeds to capture motion. I wanted to see what I could do with both blurred motion and with crisp action shots.

Bright sunny days like this one are hard to capture since they tend to overexpose the shots and since the shade we were in tended to make everything too dark. I spent a lot more time playing with editing after the fact as well - and as usual I learned a lot!

learning photographylearning dslr photography

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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…)

creativity and mindfulnessI used to hate doing the dishes. I saw it as an endlessly mind-numbing chore that I would never be able to escape. Surprisingly, it still bothered me even when I had a dishwasher. Dealing with those few pots and pans that wouldn't fit would just ruin my night.

Now, washing the dishes has become part of my bedtime routine and not only do I not hate it, I actually often enjoy it. Here are three ways washing the dishes has changed how I feel and helped me increase creativity on a daily basis:

Mindfulness

A while back I read this thought from Thich Nhat Han in his book The Miracle of Mindfulness about doing the dishes:

“To my mind, the idea that doing dishes is unpleasant can occur only when you aren’t doing them. Once you are standing in front of the sink with your sleeves rolled up and your hands in the warm water, it is really quite pleasant. I enjoy taking my time with each dish, being fully aware of the dish, the water, and each movement of my hands. I know that if I hurry in order to eat dessert sooner, the time of washing dishes will be unpleasant and not worth living. That would be a pity, for each minute, each second of life is a miracle. The dishes themselves and that fact that I am here washing them are miracles!” 

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