Entries Tagged as: inspiration

Winter Guest Post by Julie Jordan Scott

December 30th, 2011, Comments (10)

What would it be like if Winter never draped her leafless, cold, dreary days on your creative landscape?

Before you rejoice at the thought, hear me out. Let’s look at how Winter is a time of year that sets the tone for the rest of your artfulness simply by ebbing and flowing along with the shorter days and colder weather.

I know how it is to not have a snowy season AND I know how it is to live in a land of snow days, ice storms, gloves and layers of clothes.

Winter feels different in most of California then the way it feels in the colder states.  This difference oftentimes impacts our creative process.

Here in Bakersfield, we are frequently wrapped in cold dampness and thick, unfriendly fog. This morning it was 33 degrees. At some point overnight, frost left its trademark on my windshield.

Would you think it strange if I told you I envy the parts of the world that get sheltered by the cold?

Winter offers many gifts for Creative Souls.

Remember some of them with me: Winter offers the privilege of cocooning. Winter invites snuggles, it requests us to look inward. Winter says, “Gloom and less light are not only permitted, they are an important part of our creative process.”

One of my subjects of art last Winter and throughout the year has been a tulip magnolia tree standing in the corner of my neighbor’s yard. In January, I started nature journaling and she became one of my first practice sketches. By spending time sketching this tree, I got to know her quite well. In April, when I visited Western Massachusetts, I saw Tulip Magnolias just beginning to bloom. What a joy to see this highlight of early Spring twice!

It made me wonder what happens when a Bakersfield Tulip Magnolia experiences winter versus when a Massachusetts Magnolia loses her leaves.

Last week I visited the tree again, to get a closer look.

I was surprised and a bit saddened by what I saw.

The tree is almost bare of last year’s leaves yet while some leaves from last Winter/Spring valiantly hold on, a strange alternative phenomenon is happening as well: buds are beginning for the Winter/Spring bloom.

There is no time to pause between one season and the next.

This sweet Tulip Magnolia never gets adequate rest.

It doesn’t get to rest in the hollow hand of winter. She doesn’t get to rest her tree limbs on a frosty shoulder.

She doesn’t get to pause at all. She instantly drop one set of leaves and begins developing  the next set without a break at all.

There was a poignancy I felt, unexpectedly, as I visited the tree the other day. What started as excitement and fascination turned into an inexplicable sadness.

How often do we make the mistake of rushing from one art project to another without waiting for our spirit to reflect, to pause, to wrap ourselves in the wonder of what is, what was and what is coming next. Not now, but soon.

In Winter, we have a tendency to become contemplative. We allow darkness to help us sleep longer and more deeply under heavy quilts while wearing heavy pajamas.

If you have been resisting this profound pleasure of the Winter season, why not try it now?

Why not trade your practical shoes for wooly socks and sit by the fireplace under a blanket.

Stare into it and allow yourself the time to sketch without worrying what project your sketch will become.

Breathe slowly as you jot new ideas, allowing them to take root before you push them to blossom too early.

Enjoy this quiet time of reflection. Allow it to work its way into your work.

You may find Spring comes too soon this year as you come to enjoy the power of rest, the power of quiet, the power of allowing yourself the space to contemplate your art fully.


Julie Jordan Scott is a Creativity Coach, Poet Performer and
Mixed Media Artist who lives in Bakersfield, California.
She is the owner of Writing Camp with Julie Jordan Scott
where she inspires writers (and those who want
to write) to take their creative process to the next level.

Winter Guest Post by Mindy Tsonas

December 28th, 2011, Comments (7)

Planner Makeover

one of my favorite things about looking ahead to the beginning of a new year is cracking open a brand new planner! over the years i have tried every digital and paper planner on the planet (i've even tried creating my own planner from scratch) searching for just the right layout and tool. it seemed that whenever i love the pretty cover or the size, the interior pages weren't laid out quite right. either the design was too structured with not enough to play and dream, or the design is just too simple and did not allow for room to compartmentalize all the different areas of my life.

a couple of years ago, i found and fell in love with Planner Pad, and this baby changed my organizational life! it's funnel-down format is perfect for creative projects from idea to implementation, with lots of room to personalize it to fit the structure of your life. go check it out! seriously.

the one thing this planner does not have is a pretty cover. so i wanted to devise a fun and easy way to make it look like Me, and this simple makeover is what i came up with. really you can use this for any planner or journal you want to redesign. it works like magic! you will need: your planner 1 sheet of plain white sticker paper decorative scissors your favorite collaging supplies a glue stick regualar scissors your favorite matte or gloss medium (optional: a corner round punch) the steps are so simple! first, trim the sticker paper to fit 1/4 of an inch within the size of your planner cover. to decorate the left margin i trimmed off another 1/2 inch with decorative scissors (or trim to whatever size you need to cover the ugly writing or whatever is on the cover of your planner). next i used a corner rounder to round the two right side corners just for a better fit and cleaner look.

once your background paper is ready, you can collage away on top of it! use magazine clippings, postcards, vintage paper, or whatever else you have handy to make the cover really reflect you! you could even decorate your cover to reflect the word you chose for your word of the year! have fun with it, and be sure to use plenty of glue! i used little bits from lots of goodies sent to me by wishstudio friends :) finally add a coat or two of finishing medium and let it dry. you may need to add a new coat once or twice throughout the year if things start to peel.

when your cover is all done, all you have to do is peel the backing off the sticker paper and adhere it to the front of your planner like one giant personalized sticker! voilla! so fun and easy. i love having the perfect planner and a beautiful cover. stay tuned to the wishstudio where i will post my new 2012 planner!

my planner from 2011


mindy tsonas is the creative director and hostess of the Wishstudio Co-op, an online and local creativity studio in the Boston area. she is a lifestyle designer, a heart-centered artist and a mother of two boys. a dreamy visionary and contemporary bohemian, she loves to craft unique ideas that bring people together and inspire them to embrace the very best in themselves and in one another. with passion and creativity, she believes in your stories and the everyday magic of how life and love connect us all.

Winter Guest Post by Teresa Robinson

December 21st, 2011, Comments (9)

Circles of Grace and Dormancy

If one daffodil is worth a thousand pleasures, then one is too few. ~William Wordsworth

Daffodils are the perfect example of nature’s grace and of dormancy. Their growth cycle requires stages of darkness, of unattractiveness and inaction before every Spring bloom. Bloom which is followed by more of the same: dormancy.

A quiet state of inaction is an opportunity to embrace restorative time away from growth, and producing proverbial blooms. However, its reality can be as comforting as being covered with a handmade cotton quilt or as maddening as being bound by a tightly-strapped straightjacket — depending upon one’s perspective.

Personally, I vacillate between those two points of view more than I care to admit.

There are times when I like to believe I have been changed by my adventures with chronic illness, and its various unexpected detours and times of inactivity. That I embrace the seasons of dormancy more wholly; that I have benefited and “bloomed” more fully because of the parting gifts of cancer and chemotherapy, and the slow dances with Multiple Sclerosis that followed.

When in reality, I still don’t like talking {or writing} about it; I want to believe I will wake up one morning and healing will have permeated every cell of my body, eliminating the dis-ease.

You need to claim the events of your life to make yourself yours. ~Anne-Wilson Schaef

Truth is I resist talking about it because I don’t want to sound whiny. But I also don’t consider it relevant. I am basically the same person I was before challenges to my wellness. And … What I do is not that much different from what everyone else does every day.

We all deal with something. Each of us face daily challenges, looming realities that shadow us throughout our routines and entice us to surrender our hopes and dreams. Causing us to doubt our talents — our ability to bloom — when we are in the stages of darkness and unattractiveness. And to question our value as we wonder how much is too much to hope for.

You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you. ~James Allen

During dormant seasons, let the image included here be a visual for your thoughts. Resist the urge to “do more” or “try harder” … Abide with the grace of dormancy for regeneration and growth, and for bloom.

Envision divine assistance standing behind you as you face forward in the direction of your dreams, even in the midst of shades of gray.

Color happens. Vibrant color comes. You will bloom again.

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.
~Ranier Maria Rilke


Teresa Robinson {aka stargardener} creates in the magic studio of her country home; she is a right brain planner and collaborator-midwife to artists and writers. Even as she dances with {and sometimes curses} the realities of chronic pain and Multiple Sclerosis — she lives her life in ever-widening, sparkly circles of creativity. Learn more about her art-full adventures on Facebook or Twitter; or click over to her blog, Right Brain Planner.

p.s. from Leah: A special thank you to Teresa for her generous offer of help in gathering and coordinating guest posts this month. It was a huge help and so appreciated. Thanks a million, Teresa!!

Day 9 – Tree Moon

November 9th, 2011, Comments (22)

Last night was a long one. As I was up, I noticed the bedroom was well lit by the growing moon, which will be full tomorrow. I had the idea then to paint an image of a figure in a forest looking up at an overwhelmingly large moon. And today, I painted it!

Day 8 – Collecting Starfish

November 8th, 2011, Comments (20)

I started this piece early in the day, letting paint run together on a wet page. Then I let it sit out, looking at it occasionally while entertaining the baby during the day. After I put her to bed, I went into it with white pen, purple marker and a little more paint. The image that came surprised me, but I'm liking it. I think it was inspired by the miniature starfish in our fish tank that seem to multiply over night.

Day One: Night Mother, Work-In-Progress

November 1st, 2011, Comments (41)

For day one, I had my husband helping me out a bit during the day and was able to spend a little extra time painting. How nice! I had already completed the collage background for this piece, but I'm SO happy to have started painting the image I've had in my head since Annabelle was about a month old.

It has to do with the strange time that is the middle of the night when you're up constantly, nursing a newborn baby. It's like this whole other world. Kind of lonely, but kind of sacred.

I've still got more to do on this piece, but I really like the way it's going so far! I know that many days this month, all I'll be able to do is part of a piece, but as long as I'm creating every day, I'll be happy with that.

I hope everyone has had a beautiful start to Art Every Day Month! And even if you haven't, keep at it. It's a long month and every day is a new beginning.

Fall At My Feet

October 20th, 2011, Comments (9)

Beauty to behold everywhere. On my jog this morning, I was struck by the contrast of leaves and needles against pavement. Especially the pine needles. And the different types of pavement create such interesting backgrounds as well. So cool!

I'm also smiling at the play on words: fall, at my feet or fall at my feet. Simple pleasures that fall brings: fall foliage, nutmeg, cinnamon, pumpkin, the smell of fires burning in fireplaces, children in "back-to-school clothes" they bought in the summer, sweatshirts and warm socks, warm drinks, candles, soup, and scarves.

Autumn Flowers

October 14th, 2011, Comments (6)

Oh, autumn. You dazzle me with your colors!

It's like this last hurrah of fall fireworks before the bleakness of winter hits. A mix of death in bare branches and dying leaves and brilliant life in full color. What an inspiring sight to behold.

Normally, I'm immediately drawn to the fall foliage, but this year, I've been noticing the fall flowers. Aren't they lovely?

Using Items with History in Your Work

September 18th, 2011, Comments (7)

There's something really fabulous about using items that have a history to them in your work. I feel like it gives a certain depth to a piece of art, a layering of stories. Sometimes the stories are so juicy that I have trouble covering them up! In Roots (above), I made use of a fun "Today's Woman" magazine from the 50's. The ads from that magazine were pretty interesting!

I've found collage items at flea markets, bought them from people online, and found them amongst my own stash of papers. They may be blueprints, dress patterns, handwritten recipes, maps, or old photos. Collaged together, their stories combine to tell a new tale, one which I might not expect when I start putting them together. In What's Behind (above), it felt like the story created was one the woman in the painting is trying to leave behind her.

Family History in Your Art

September 8th, 2011, Comments (7)

This month's theme called to mind some of the pieces I've done relating to my own family history. While working intuitively and learning about encaustic art, I created a piece called "Memory Tree." It related to my family tree and my grandmother who at the time was suffering from Alzheimer's. She has since passed away.

I later created other memory trees in encaustic. I loved the medium, but didn't love the fumes (they gave me a headache), so I had to stop.

Family history, stories, memories, loss, and joys can be such a powerful place to draw from in your creations. What sort of family history could you pull from for your own creations?

p.s. My mother and sister are walking to raise funds for Alzheimer's research this fall in memory of my grandmother. If you feel called to, you can help support the cause here. Thank you!