yuko mikiOne 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 found Yuko on Instagram when she was in the middle of her 365 day "Happiness is" illustration challenge, which got me completely hooked on her feed. I loved her cheerful drawings of everyday pleasures and soon found my way to her blog where she shares super helpful insights into what she's learning on her journey as an illustrator. She recently quit her day job to draw full time and it's been inspiring watching her grow.

What sort of creative work do you do?

I'm mostly an illustrator and make simple and friendly drawings for stationery and wall art using pen and ink and watercolor.

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

Not really! I guess I've always been interested in creative activities but didn't think I was "creative" per se. When I was little, I liked to draw. But I didn't do much to nurture my interest in the visual art then and moved on to drama and theater in my teenage years. But after high school, I didn't pursue any creative passion for many years. I guess I was being too busy being a college student and navigating the new phase of my life being away from my home and family for the first time! (more…)

liking or not liking

Drawing Faces

Five months ago I embarked on an adventure to learn more about drawing, to practice and build skills and, most importantly, to tame my inner critic and learn to have fun with drawing. So far, it has been quite the ride. I haven't always been able to keep up with my two assignments per week, but I'm drawing more than I ever have before and I'm learning so much.

January's theme was 'people' and one of the assignments was to draw 100 faces quickly on sticky notes. This assignment started slowly for me. I drew ten imaginary faces at work, fighting resistance the whole time. Then I decided to draw my Facebook friends' profile pictures and it suddenly became a lot more fun. It was tricky to find the right pen - a Sharpie was a little too thick, and made the faces too simple, and a micron was a little too thin, which had me trying to add too much detail and being too fussy. I finally found that a Faber Castell brush pen was juuuuuuust right because it forced me to simplify the features but didn't obscure them completely. So far I've drawn 60 faces and this has by far been one of the most interesting assignments that I've done. (more…)

colouring mandalas

The first mandala that I ever drew

Way back in September, one of the assignments in the Drawing Project was to draw a mandala. I tried it and became hooked from my very first one. There's something about the repeating patterns and the organic way that the designs unfold that is mesmerizing, meditative and addictive.

colouring mandalas

Another mandala experiment, this time with colour

I drew a few for myself, and then I included some in a self-care kit that I made for a good friend for Christmas. I did them as line drawings so that she could colour them in as a way to relax and detach from the stress of her master's program. Her mom saw them and asked to buy some and I realized that other people might need help with their colouring cravings as well. So I made some more.

colouring mandalas

Each mandala starts with my handy dandy dollar store compass set. I draw a few concentric circles, then divide the pie into quarters, then eighths. Then I go wild, adding whatever shapes and patterns come to mind. I never know how they're going to turn out when I start, which makes them pretty darn fun to draw. I use a 0.3 micron pen and the occasional dab of whiteout when a line doesn't turn out quite how I want. Each one is totally unique and they all have different feels, from more geometric and solid, to more organic and fluid. Let me know which one is your favourite!

colouring mandalas

One of the five mandalas available for download in my shop

In my Etsy shop I now have 5 patterns that you can buy  individually, or you can get a pack of all 5. These are instant downloads, which means that as soon as you pay, you can download the files to your computer and print them out as many times as you like. Use them as a relaxing, meditative practice, or do them while you watch Netflix. Once they're coloured in you can use them to decorate your office or art space too.

If you buy any mandalas this week - individually or in the pack of five - use coupon code eamandala to get 10% off. Valid until February 5th, 2016. Purchase them here.

colouring mandalas

The five mandalas you can choose from

I hope you enjoy colouring these as much as I enjoyed drawing them! Have fun getting lost in the shapes and leaving your stress behind.

creative role models

This is a series where I write about the people who have inspired my creative journey and become part of my creative DNA: the people who live and breathe creativity and are using their passion to make the world a more interesting place. I've also written about Nick Bantock, Jim Hensen, Lisa CongdonAmanda Palmer, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Miranda July

Who is Ray Bradbury?

A writer of short stories and novels who lived from 1920 to 2012. Known for books like Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles. Called "the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream" by the New York Times.

What’s so great about him? (more…)

sense smellWhen it comes to creativity, it's important to have a constant stream of inspiration to draw from. If we choose to pay attention to them, our senses can offer bucket loads of material as we move through each day hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, and touching. Paying attention to our senses helps us live in the moment, excites our curiosity, and can make us more in tune with our natural impulses. However, so many of us—myself included—go through our days without really feeling much of anything. To deepen my own awareness, my plan is to write a post on each of our senses, explaining some ways that we can focus more intently on that sense and wake ourselves up to the variety of experiences around us. Hopefully they'll help you too. So far, I've also written about taste and sight.

Smell

Our sense of smell is probably one of the most overlooked and undervalued - until we don't have it any more. We all know how it feels to be congested and not able to smell anything (which is, oddly enough, exactly how I'm feeling as I write this). Everything seems flatter, and farther removed than usual. Our sense of smell adds texture to the world, giving us a more subtle sense of our surroundings. From unpleasant sewer odours, to the unique mix of flavours of our favourite restaurant, smells help us orient ourselves and even keep us safe. I had some sandwich meat in the fridge that hadn't met its expiry date yet, but one whiff told me that it was not okay to eat. Our sense of smell is also the only one that we can strengthen through exercise. Don't think you have a sharp sense of smell? With practice, you can become more sensitive to different scents and learn to identify them better. (more…)

 

simple truths

Years ago I read the book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. In it, she made two lists of statements, of truths, that she lived by. She called them the "Twelve Commandments" and the "Secrets of Adulthood." They contained things like, "Be Gretchen", "Enjoy the process", and "Bring a sweater." These lists felt really important to me, so ever since then, I've been compiling my own lists of learnings to remind myself of what works in life, and what doesn't. I posted a list of things learned in 2014 here. Today I went through my list from 2015 and pulled out the best ones. These are simple things that, when I remember to use them, can make either a small or a monumental difference. Hopefully you find something useful here as well. (more…)

creative goalsLast week I looked back on and celebrated my creative accomplishments for 2015 and this week I'm thinking about what I want the coming year to look like. I've been feeling conflicted lately about how best to spend my creative time: should I be playing and experimenting, or making products to sell? Should I diligently work through my list of ideas, or let inspiration guide me? I was hoping to come up with a concrete plan to share with you, something that would resolve these questions and tell me exactly what I should do every day. As is often the way with creativity, however, I'm finding it hard to analyse and organize it. My creativity doesn't seem to want to submit to lists and deadlines. This is really hard for my analytical side, which is surprisingly strong for an artist, to handle. But I'm trying to make peace with it.

So, instead of sharing my plan for what I hope to accomplish this year, I'm sharing my creative values with you. The things that are important to me and that will hopefully shape my decisions when I'm trying to divide up my time. These are things that I want more of and though it seems impossible that I could ever have all of them, I'm willing to try. Because when it comes to creativity, we can't always tell it what to do. We can make space for it, and guide it and hope that it comes along for the ride. (more…)

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One of my favourite parts of December is taking time to look back over the year and celebrate everything that happened. It's something I only started doing in the last couple of years and I find that it is so worth it. I usually make a list of all my favourite memories and moments, and the accomplishments that I'm especially proud of. Then I think about what I want more of for the coming year, and start working on a plan.

This year part of the recap involves looking at the creative projects that I undertook and appreciating everything that I made this year. Next week watch for a post about my creative goals for the New Year.

This year I made an effort to get outside of my creative comfort zone a little and try some new things. And I think I was successful. I got involved with some group projects, tried my first creative job, and learned new techniques. Here's my list of creative accomplishments for 2015: (more…)

christmas gift wrapMy art room looks like an angry Christmas elf tore through it. The floor is covered in scraps of paper and assorted pieces of gift wrap, and both my desk and my craft table are overflowing with glue, tape, paint, stamps, ribbons, bobbles, and other materials. Why so much chaos? Because I went a little crazy making Christmas gift wrap and wrapping gifts and, as I mentioned in a previous post, when I'm in the middle of something there is no way I'm going to stop to clean up. Sunday I gathered up all the gifts I'd wrapped to take them downstairs to photograph. I closed the door to the art room and haven't gone back in there since. I'm a little afraid.

The mess was definitely worth it though, since I was able to make so much fun stuff. I made four different types of wrapping paper, some bows, and some gift tags. They all turned out so well, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to bring myself to buy gift wrap again (unless it's this stuff, which is so darn cute). (more…)

fresh eyesWhen it comes to creativity, it's important to have a constant stream of inspiration to draw from. If we choose to pay attention to them, our senses can offer bucket loads of material as we move through each day hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, and touching. Paying attention to our senses helps us live in the moment, excites our curiosity, and can make us more in tune with our natural impulses. However, so many of us—myself included—go through our days without really feeling much of anything. To deepen my own awareness, my plan is to write a post on each of our senses, explaining some ways that we can focus more intently on that sense and wake ourselves up to the variety of experiences around us. Hopefully they'll help you too. So far, I've also written about taste.

Sight

In some ways, sight is the easiest sense to work on, since it's the one we use the most anyway. According to Psychology Today, more than half the body's sense receptors are in the eyes. But how much of your surroundings do you really see on a daily basis? If you follow the same routine every day, you probably have long since stopped noticing the buildings you pass, or the way the sky looks - unless something is drastically different. What if you could train yourself to look at the same old things with fresh eyes, seeing something new every day? (more…)