Creative Tides and Art Picnics

January 30th, 2009

...We also change like the weather, we ebb and flow like the tides, we wax and wane like the moon. We do that, and there's no reason to resist it. If we resist it, the reality and vitality of life become a misery, a hell. -Pema Chodron

Today, my interview with Jamie Ridler is up at The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women book group blog! I loved chatting with Jamie about creativity and surrendering to your creative cycles.

It took me some time to recognize and accept the creative cycles in my life. I'd get so frustrated when I was feeling uninspired. While waiting for my muse to return I'd end up feeling anxious, wondering if I'd ever feel inspired again, complaining about feeling stuck, sulking, and worrying. (All very unpleasant, by the way.)

But when I began to recognize that my creativity cycles in the same way my body, the moon, the tides, and the seasons cycle, I began to see the beauty in the down period, these winters of my creativity. Things get quieter and I tend to turn inward. There is usually some stuff going on internally, things that I'm processing that aren't quite ready to come out in the open yet. Instead of railing against this time and forcing myself to create when I'm not feeling called to, this an excellent time to collect, gather, play and moodle on things. It's a great time to wander the shelves of the library, watch great movies, doodle in my sketchbook, and take long walks. I've come to love these winter periods of my creativity as much as the up time!

What can you do to play with your creative down times?

art picnic basket

One of my favorite ways to get playful with my creativity is to have an art picnic. All you need for an art picnic is whatever materials you have at hand, a comfy spot (I like to spread out on the floor with a blanket and pillows), and some dedicated time to play. I like to begin by giving myself permission to make "bad" art and then I jump in by selecting whatever material I'm drawn to in that moment.

I'd love to lead some virtual art picnics this year by phone! I'm thinking I'll do it in a similar style that Jennifer Hoffman does with her office spa days. Ideally we'd meet for about a half hour to check in, do some grounding, maybe do an intuitive art exercise, and then go off and have our own creative fun for an hour. Then we'd come back and check in again for a half hour at the end. I think it'd be a great way to plan for some pure creative fun with a great support system in place.

I'd love to play with you guys in a virtual art picnic!! I'll keep you all updated on my plans for them!

36 Responses

an art picnic sounds lovely. Even when I’m feeling very creative, I need to just play to help me take my art less seriously and not worry so much about making a keeper.

Awesome! First I love your analogy comparing our creative cycles to those in nature as in the moon. It really helps to give this process a positive and natural perspective. Second the creative picnic idea is brilliant. I love, love, love picnics. I love my picnic basket and have seen others that I have wanted to buy but thought why do I need more than one? Now you’ve given me the perfect reason – I’ll make one into my art picnic basket. Now why didn’t I think of that? Very, very cool my dear. I’ll definitely play along if the timing works out. I look forward to hearing your interview.

Awesome interview Leah! I love how you invite your creativity out to a picnic lunch! I want to make pink lemonade and small cucumber sandwiches, and join the festivities! Most inspiring! Thank you! :)

I love that, the winter creative time. I am so there in so many ways. It is natural, you’re right, it’s all about cycles. Wonderful interview Leah!

Leah I love the idea of art picnics ! I have a blanket, a basket of goodies and I will make the time to play !

Oh Leah, I can always count on your creative spirit to come up with the most inspiring ideas! Art picnic -omg, as soon as the snow melts!!
Your interview ROCKS!!!!
Thanks so much for sharing your gifts!

Sometimes I think I love the creative winter time a bit TOO much ;-) Happy picnicking!

An art picnic – sounds fabulous!! How funny that would be to know that you are making art together – far apart. It sounds like magic to me!

I’m totally with you on the creative cycles. When you release that fight, things come out that are so much more amazing than tightness could have created!!

(P.S. my calendar was waiting for me when I got home – I got GOOSEBUMPS looking at it! THANK YOU for printing more!!!!!!!)



I love the idea of an Art Picnic. In hindsight I think I may have done a real one. I took a day trip to Teton National park and took my journal and Art supplies. I sat on a picnic table and made art in that wonderful surrounding. It was really fantastic. I also have done it closer to home so maybe its all about new surroundings.


Beautiful Interview and I adore your Art Picnics! I will have to try this out sometime!~

great idea. Can’t wait to hear more about the picnic.

Love the idea of your art picnic. I have to figure out a way to do that with the kids around. It gets more complicated with them.

Leah, it was such a joy to talk to you! What an awesome idea to have a virtual art picnic! I can’t wait to hear more details :)

An art picnic sounds lovely. With a lot less calories to worry about as well. I think I shall share this with my daughter who is 11. What a wonderful way we could spend an afternoon & unleash our creativity,together. Thank you.

Please organize this virtual Art Picnic… and soon. :)

hi leah. the art picnic is simply divine. it has me excited. thanks for stirring the creative juices in me.

Hi Leah!

I’m tickled pink that my Spa Day inspired your art picnics. Keep us posted – I’d love to attend one (or some!)

Thanks so much for the mention!


Great interview! And I love how your seasons analogy to creative ups and downs…it’s so true. Art picnic – awesome!


I thought the interview was wonderful. I love picnics! I’m going to go find my picnic basket tonight!

I loved your interview, too, Leah. I especially appreciate your authenticity and realness. Very much! Love, O

I love the idea of an art picnic.

YAH!!!!!!!!!!!!! Art picnics! Love this photo…beautiful… love getting to hear your musings with Jamie, too… thank you for just being witness with all of us!
miracles to you, Leah!

It was great to hear you in the interview.

I’ve always loved your idea of art picnic but now I think Teasel would make that a little more chaotic than even I could manage… and talking of our pup… yesterday she embodied your word for the year and showed us that she could LEAP her puppy fence… and it wasn’t just a fluke… we put her inside again and she leapt it with a single joyous bound!

I was also looking at the letters in LEAP and realising that its so very close to LEAH already…

Just what I needed! An art picnic, what pleasant way to take the the stress out of a not so creative time.

I’ve so enjoyed your thougths.



I was reminded during your interview (which is wonderful, by the way!) that I used to sit in the floor to paint all the time. It was when I was mostly likely to just get lost in what I was doing. Since I’ve moved I haven’t done much of that. I’m going to work it out. Thanks for the reminder!

I think the virtual art picnic is a fabulous idea!

Cool idea Leah! I liked your interview too. I’ve been trying to play this month and it’s kind of hard for me…I have to work on it some more. I’m excited for next months theme!

Oh, I like how you link “down time” to the natural cycles of moon, seasons, etc. I see the world in that way, but didn’t connect ebb and flow of creativity with it, but it totally makes sense!

The art picnic idea sounds like such fun! It would be a great way to connect with others and bask in the energy of knowing I’m sharing creative time with a whole bunch of other creative goddess at the same time.

Hi Leah,

I feel so far behind .. .family emergency stuff kept away from my creativity (well I did play with the grandkids- i will post picks on my blog soon) and my computer. Talk about withdrawal symptoms. *smile* I love the idea of a “picnic” – please do have one. I will do my best to come and play!!


Well done, great explanation for explaining the cycles of creativity in regards to the 12 secrets project. Am really enjoying what everyone is sharing as part of the exercise.

Can’t wait now till my copy of the book arrives to play catch up. My job keeps me away from the studio for 12 hours 5 days a week but I still manage to carve little niches of time to do a little something every day even if it is only reading everyone’s blog posts.

“winters of my creativity”


I tried to listen to your interview but couldn’t on my new computer for some reason. I will try again later. I love that you too are influenced by the seasons and I think most of us are whether we want to be or not. :) And an art picnic seems super fun! My daughter had a picnic on the floor yesterday with goldfish crackers and juice and her sunglasses because there was a slight beam of sunshine coming in through the window!

This reminds me that years ago I used to keep an art “toy box” with all sorts of strange bits and bobs. Whenever I needed a kick in the pants I’d pull it out and play with the materials. It made me unreasonably happy. I don’t know why I ever stopped, and I’ll have to try a picnic soon! Thanks for the reminder!

Moodling, doodling and art picnics ~ there’s always something wonderful going on here at your blog.

leah, thank you for writing this piece…I have these down times that are waaaay down and I have never been OK with them…they had always seemed like a waste of time until I realized I needed to practice acceptance as part of who I am as a woman and an artist…it’s good to read this from another artist such as yourself….

now I’m off to listen to your interview ;)

Leah, I love your pic-nic concept! How truly fun and what a sweet release to just spread out that blanket and let go!
I’m preparing my basket for this Thursday . . .

I enjoyed reading your post, thank you …

I see that your are the one who started the Create Every Day group. I’ve seen your banner on lots of blogs and web sites I visit. I haven’t taken part yet but just might soon!

Have a great hair day no matter what creative cycle you’re in! Becci

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