Entries Tagged as: nature

The Joy Diet – Do Nothing

September 27th, 2009, Comments (16)


I'm currently reading Martha Beck's The Joy Diet along with Jamie Ridler's online book group. I love Martha Beck's writing, particularly her books Steering by Starlight and Expecting Adam (if you enjoy audio books, I highly recommend listening to Steering by Starlight, which Beck reads), so I was super excited to hear about this choice for Jamie's book group.

The book talks about different daily practices for living a joy-filled life, each one building upon the next. The first one is to do fifteen minutes of nothing every day, which could be done through traditional sitting meditation or moving meditation, anything where you focus on stillness of the mind. Surprisingly hard to do for someone whose mind works a million miles a minute like mine does. I did a mix of sitting meditation and walking meditation throughout the week and was so glad I did. No matter what method you choose, anything that stills the mind is a good practice.

I've found that in many cases, art making is a great way to still the mind, especially when I focus on creating intuitively. So, it made total sense to collage the cover of my newest sketchbook with images of joy. I pulled images intuitively with the intention of selecting colors, textures, and pictures that spoke of joy to me. I added a little bit of glitter and paint  and voila, a joyful sketchbook to write in throughout the process of reading this book!

Sometimes just being still is fabulous, but I tend to prefer something that gets me moving physically too, like walking in nature or painting intuitively, but I'm going to keep playing with different methods and see what comes up.

What Inspires Me: A Guest Post by Goddess Leonie

September 4th, 2009, Comments (16)

I am slowly learning
not to look to others
for inspiration
but to find it instead
in the way the wind blows against my face


and how the earth feels beneath me when I walk it


and how my guides reveal themselves to me, wrapping me in their horse-scented


Inspiration is how life looks and feels when Iʼm not worrying about
how I should change, or it should change...
and instead just trusting that who and where I am is just perfect.


Inspiration is my path,
with its luscious valleys and heart-opening mountains,
with the gentle weave of a river
bringing new blessings and lessons in my life.


And the truest inspiration of mine:
is discovering the Goddess inside me:
her story, her wisdom, her joy, her creativity,
that needs and wants to be shared.


Goddess Leonie is a Goddess Guide who helps women discover the wise, creative, joyful
Goddess inside them through art, e-courses & coaching. She lives in the alpine mountains
of Canberra, Australia in a rose-hewn cottage with her love Chris & their two hilarious puppies.
Visit her blog + website is www.goddessguidebook.com for more goddess joys + inspiration.

Check out her Goddess School to discover the spirited and creative e-courses she runs for women.

What’s Inspiring You Lately?

September 3rd, 2009, Comments (15)

Yes, I'm curious. What's inspiring you at the moment? Are there any books or tunes or artists that are lighting your inner fire?

I'm constantly adding to the list of what juices me up and I plan on sharing some of those things throughout the month. I'm super excited about and inspired by the wonderful guest posters who will be sharing stories of inspiration here throughout the month. Jen's post yesterday was fabulous!

I've had a fairly quiet day today for the first time in a solid week and so I thought it'd be a great moment to share a few things that are inspiring me and ask you about your current inspiration!

Nature: I'm feeling inspired by and grateful for the gorgeous weather. I took a walk down to a nearby river where I ate my lunch and wrote for an hour. It was lovely. I'm always inspired by sitting in nature and near moving water.

Books: I'm currently reading: The Wishing Year: A House, A Man, My Soul A Memoir of Fulfilled Desire by Noelle Oxenhandler and absolutely loving it.

Music: Somehow I missed out on the music of Arcade Fire, but the song "Wake Up" in the trailer of Where the Wild Things Are (also very inspiring, check it out below) was haunting me, so I got the album the song came from and I'm thoroughly enjoying it.

Inspiration Journal: I keep a nifty inspiration journal by my bed. It's one of those thick, red, canvas-covered, blank journals you can get in book stores. I keep it to do very light, low-pressure, playful collages and doodles in whenever I feel like it. It's fun sometimes to tear through catalogs and magazines, ripping out images of whatever catches my eye. I glue them in in a pleasing fashion and sometimes write words alongside them. Looking back through it today, it felt like I had been writing a visual love letter to our first home. Sadie helped me flip to this page today. I like all the muted colors and textures here.

inspiration journal sadie

Interview: I loved this video interview of Dirty Footprints Studio's Connie on Darrah's blog, artcetera. Connie is too cute! I loved when she said, searching for your artistic voice is like searching for your own nose, it's already there, you don't need to find it!! Ok, she said it better than that, so go over and listen for yourself. And if you'd like to hear more of Connie (and me!), tune into Connie's blogtalk radio show this Sunday, September 6th at 6pm EST when she'll be interviewing Jennifer Lee and I about our Creative Play workshop in Boston this month and lots of ways to add creative play to your everyday life. You can even call in and say hello!

Writing: I love Eileen's writing. This post about the times between our creative pushing and the meanings behind our obsession with Buffy (or whatever it is you're obsessed with) is saying about you, is a great example!

Podcasts: I love to listen to podcasts, so I'm super excited that the fabulous Jamie Ridler has started her own all about creative living! Check out her very first podcast here.

And the list could go on and on and on...But for now, I bid you adieu.

p.s. Please send some good kitty vibes to my kitty Sadie who is having an itty bitty lump removed tomorrow. Thank you!!

Wonder-full Things to Wonder About

June 2nd, 2009, Comments (7)

Hello, you creative geniuses, you! Bunch of stuff to share with you today. Totally random assortment.

First off, some images I've done for an intuitive painting class. I've been focusing on the shape of a eucalyptus branch, which I turned into stencil and stamp using an old yoga mat. I've been doing things a bit more abstract for this class, but I also noticed that the eucalyptus branch looks a lot like a spine, so the last piece plays with that. For that piece, I cut a euculyptus shape out of rice paper, wrote in ink on it and then pasted it in and painted around it in acrylic.

intuitiveart bw
intuitiveart purpleyellow
intuitiveart purpleyellowfi

I was thinking about how to incorporate sound into the post today and had an idea. I keep a little bowl in my studio. It is the one surviving piece of pottery I created in a wheel throwing class in college (I was horrible at it, but it was a lot of fun!) Anyways, in this bowl, I keep some shiny, blue glass marbles and on top of the marbles, I have scraps of paper with different words on them.


I like to reach into the bowl on days when I'm needing a little focus, close my eyes, and pull out a word. For the scraps of paper, I used collage scraps and bits of prints that didn't come out properly. You could make your own set quite easily. What words would you choose? Some of the words in my bowl are: trust, create, open, connect, stillness, possibility, and leap!

I thought it'd be fun to pick a word for you today and record it. Feel free to muse on the word, use it to inspire art, or just tuck it in your back pocket. The recording is 1 minute long.

Click here to listen.

Mmm, I love the word I picked for us today. And I wish you all a wonder-full day.

But before I go, I've also got some links to share with you:

- My pal, Jamie Ridler is starting her next book group this Friday, June 5th and the book is Keri Smith's Wreck this Journal. This is not your typical book and I think it's going to be a total blast. You can still sign up right here.

- The latest Pikaland Good to Know zine is out and I've got some words in it. The theme is about personal style in your art. Very interesting stuff!

- The lovely and talented, Rowena Murillo has challenged herself to do 100 pieces of art in 100 days! You can find out more about her challenge and join her here.

If you're interested in a challenge like that, but the timing isn't right, you can tag November in your calendar to join me in this year's Art Every Day Month challenge!

Whale Tales

May 30th, 2009, Comments (16)


After writing the other day about the "Dive Deep" painting and the synchronicity with the whale tail in it, I was lying in bed pondering what whales mean to me and thought back to other times I've painted whales. I had an "Oh!" moment when I thought about the piece, "Fishing." This piece consists of a woman in a boat on the ocean in front of a full moon. Beneath her a whale is swimming and its tail has come up out of the water. I describe it in my shop like this:

In this image, a woman is casting out, reaching out for support and the whale's tail shows up to let her know that even though she can't always see it, she is supported always.

This is a spiritual image for me. The whale represents the unseen, the divine, the Universe, whatever you want to call it. I didn't write this in the description, but I thought of the whale's tail as symbolizing those moments I call "winks from the Universe." Winks often take the form of synchronicity or moments that are just too juicy to be coincidental.

If I see the whale's tail as a personal symbol of a divine wink or synchronicity, then the tail in "Dive Deep" makes even more sense. When I start experiencing a lot of synchronicities, I get this sense that I'm headed in the right direction. So in the "Dive Deep" painting I can see the tail as a sign to the woman diving that she need not worry, she's right on course.

Speaking of synchronicity, when I was working on the "Dive Deep" painting, I mentioned that I'd was painting a whale on Twitter and Jennifer Louden kindly recommended I read, People of the Whale by Linda Hogan. I haven't been reading a lot of fiction lately, but I couldn't resist a title like that, so I requested it at my local library. Well, it arrived on the day I finished painting "Dive Deep," but I wasn't able to pick it up right away. I hadn't painted the octopus into the painting when Jennifer recommended the book. It appeared after the whale.

I was finally able to pick up the book this afternoon, opened it up, and the first chapter is titled, "Octopus." I grinned reading it. The first paragraph tells the story of an octopus that "left the water and walked on all eight legs across land and into Seal Cave." Oh yes, and on the cover of the book there's a painting that includes a whale's tail jutting out of the ocean.

As an interesting aside, my great-great-great (not sure how many greats) grandfather was a whaling captain in Maine. Makes the whole whale connection even more interesting and significant to me. Oh and there's more sound synchronicity: Hogan's book is also mentioning songs: Songs to the ocean, songs to the whales. In the Native American tribe the author writes of, women used to sing the whales toward them.

Tonight, I'm feeling frustrated with myself for taking a bootcamp exercise class this week. I was sampling it, hoping to use it to kickstart a workout routine this summer, but oh my, bootcamp classes are SO not me. Fortunately, I'm listening to my inner voice that's telling me not to continue with that class. Yes, I'm feeling a bit sad about the damage I did to my feet in the process (old plantar fascitis cropping up. ugh.) But even though I'm feeling a bit bummed out about how my body is aching, I'm happy for the way I'm learning to listen to my intuition more and more quickly. (In the past, I might have continued on with the class despite knowing it wasn't a good fit.) And tonight, I'll be kicking up my sore feet and and diving deep into this new book.

Wishing you many winks from the Universe!

Dive Deep – Talking to the Animals in Your Art

May 29th, 2009, Comments (14)


I wanted to be sure to talk about animals in art during the month of Nature for the Creative Every Day Challenge and this painting I've just finished provided a perfect opportunity.

I've had certain animals pop up in my life during different times. Sometimes, I'll actually see them everywhere (as I did with crows for a time) and other times I'll dream about them, draw them in my sketchbook, or see their images all over the place. If they start showing up in my art, that usually grabs my attention. I may just enjoy their presence in my art or I may do a little research on what they've meant as symbols in other cultures. Reading about the symbolism of animals can be a fascinating way to dive deeper into explorations about what these creatures may mean in your life.

I just finished up this underwater painting called, Dive Deep, which I'm really loving. The image came to me intuitively, but as I painted it grew and changed. A whale appeared, as did an octopus. Even though only the whale's tail is showing, I imagine this woman is swimming with the whale.

Today, as I snapped a couple pictures of the painting, I felt a strong urge to look up whales in the book Animal Speak. I got all teary with the synchronicity of the first line summary of what whales represent: "Creation, Power of Song, Awakening Inner Depths." This touched me in ways I can't quite explain, but I can say that the piece about the power of song is resonating so strongly with me as we move into the month of Sound for the Creative Every Day Challenge. There's something here for me around the power of your voice, communication, giving voice to your soul. 

In Animal Speak, Ted Andrews writes about whales, " By drawing upon your own creative instincts, you can sing forth your own song."

This reminds me that even though you can get all sorts of fun, juicy information from books and other sources, when it comes to looking at animals that show up in your creations, it can be just as, if not more juicy to look at what these symbols mean for you. You could do some dialoguing in a journal and ask your animal symbols something like, "Whale, what are you here to teach me? What is it you want me to know? What do you represent in my life?" Write freely without judging and see what comes up. Alternatively, you could simply explore their meaning by allowing these animals to enter into your art and express themselves in that way.

The octopus in this piece came as a surprise to me. I later read that the octopus is related to the image of a spiral (I'm so drawn to spirals) and is also connected with the moon and astrological sign of Cancer (which I am.)

I love the way synchronicities pop up when I allow images to come from my intuition. It's a beautiful thing. Essentially, this image is about diving deep into the dark places. It's nice to have some animal guides to help me along.

Are there any animals showing up in your life or artwork right now? Do they have meaning for you? If you asked them what they're here to teach you, what would they answer?

p.s. I was recently interviewed for Chris Guillebeau and Zoe Westhof's ebook, The Unconventional Guide to Art and Money which explores how artists are making a living online. Check it out for yourself right here!

p.p.s Listening and Underwater Tea Party are now available in the shop!


May 23rd, 2009, Comments (21)


I thought I'd have two pieces to share with you today, but after staring at one of them for a long time today, something is bugging me, so I'm going to tweak it a bit more. But this one is done. I've tweaked it enough and I'm happy with the result. It's called "Listening" and it's about 16"x20" with collage, acrylic and ink on canvas. It also fits in so nicely with the Nature theme this month for the Creative Every Day Challenge, so I'm glad I was able to complete it in May.

The piece also reminds me a bit of a grounding exercise that I do during the Art Picnic workshop where you imagine roots growing from the base of your spine into the earth. Roots are a powerful image for me. The make me think of the veins in the body, the passageways of the lungs, and upside down trees.

In this piece, there is listening to the earth happening. Quiet, thoughtful listening. But it also relates to listening to yourself, to your own still, small, inner voice. Our inner worlds can be so rich, so complex, that it's important to take time to slow down, be still and listen in to what they have to say.

What happens when you get quiet? What comes up for you?

A wonderful way to get quiet, is to be out in nature. Taking a walk in the woods or sitting by a nearby river are two of my favorite ways to reconnect with my environment and with myself. Something in me automatically slows when I get in amongst the trees or sit by moving water. Do you have a place like that? Or could you create one for yourself?

Interview with Bridgette Guerzon Mills

May 22nd, 2009, Comments (14)

bgm innate

I'm so thrilled to be sharing an interview with artist, Bridgette Guerzon Mills. I absolutely love her creations! Her work fits so well with the Creative Every Day Challenge theme of nature this month. I know you'll be inspired by Bridgette's gorgeous art, the ways she connects with nature, and how that comes through in her work. Enjoy!

LPK: Please tell us a bit about yourself.

BGM: I am a self-taught mixed-media artist living in Chicago, Illinois with my husband, our 2-year-old son, and our dog.  I incorporate a variety of materials into my artwork, including photographs, oil paint, acrylic paint, and encaustics (wax-based pigments). I have always been drawn to the beauty and spirit of the natural world.  Through both imagery and medium, I create organic pieces that speak to the cycles of life, memory, and the passage of time. I layer paint and photo transfers, papers or fibers to create depth in both form and meaning.

LPK: How does nature inspire your artwork?

bgm where memory resides
where memory resides

BGM: I think nature has a strong hold on my psyche. I grew up roaming around outside, climbing trees and playing in mud. The imagery in my paintings always include something of the natural world - a tree, a plant, a bird.  The patterns and backgrounds that  I create are attempts to mimic nature's effect on surfaces through the passage of time and the elements. 

On a conscious level, I am always looking for and searching out the details of what is around me.  I think of myself as a sponge, absorbing the colors, surfaces, and emotions of what is around me - even when I am not aware of it. For example, when I lived in the Pacific Northwest my palette was very moody with different tones of grays and blues, reflecting the clouds and the water around me.  I have recently moved to Chicago and my palette has shifted to more earthy tones that include the rust and patina of the urban cityscape of my new environment.

LPK: I've noticed that like me, you seem to be drawn to trees and birds.  Can you tell me what these elements mean to you?

bgm origins

BGM: Ever since I was young, trees were my playmates, my sanctuary.  If my mom couldn't find me in the house, she would send my sisters to look for me in the branches of an ancient Magnolia tree!  As such, it is only natural that trees appear in my artwork.  Trees symbolize growth, life, roots and strength. 

It is interesting, though, that most of my trees are bare winter trees.  I think that I am attracted to bare trees because a bare tree is the essence of a tree pared down. To me, a bare tree represents the idea of strength being found in the bare bones. Trees have the ability to withstand anything that life and nature throw at them.  A tree often works metaphorically as a self-portrait in my work.

Birds are creatures of both earth and sky. Because of this, they often represent to me the go-between of the two realms.  Crows in particular appear in my work when I am speaking of dreams and/or visions.

LPK: Do you have any special places you go to gather inspiration?

bgm beneath the prairie
beneath the prairie

BGM: Anywhere!  Inspiration is about keeping your heart and eyes open to the beauty and the messages that surround us.  As a mother of a very active 2-year-old I am no longer in the studio full time as I used to be.  It is challenging because I do believe that inspiration is not something that appears out of nowhere, but rather in coming to work at your table or easel everyday.

However, I have found that in the moments between, I am constantly gathering information, experiences, inspiration from my everyday life.  I always try to have my camera with me at all times. When I do get concentrated studio time, it is like an eruption!

LPK: Are there any natural symbols that are especially powerful to you  right now?

BGM: Right now I am working on a series about prairie life and plants.  Working on this series has been instrumental in helping me adjust to my new home in the Midwest.  My work with this series has helped with both accepting where I am and embracing what is around me.

LPK: You create gorgeous journals for sale at amanobooks. What role does journaling play in your creative process?

bgm heartland

BGM: Journaling plays a huge role in my creative process.  When I first began to paint, I dedicated myself to journaling about each painting that I created, as well as studio notes for myself so I wouldn't forget the painting lessons I was giving myself! 

Little did I know when I started that process that I was essentially creating a dialogue with myself - putting words to what I was doing on canvas.  This dialogue helped me figure out my symbols and what I was trying to say with my paintings.  I believe that the process of journaling empowers my work and helps me hone in on my objectives.

LPK: Do you have a favorite quote you'd like to share?

BGM: I love quotes!  Here are some favorites:
"Art is not living. It is a use of living. The artist has the ability to take that living and use it in a certain way, and produce art."
~Audre Lorde

"The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place; from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web." ~Pablo Picasso

"We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the Beautiful Stuff out." ~Ray Bradbury

Thank you, Bridgette, for all the inspiration! If you'd like to see more of Bridgette's work visit her at her blog, art website, or her art journal shop, amanobooks.

Wild and Wacky Nature Printing

May 19th, 2009, Comments (5)


There are so many ways to play with nature elements in your art. If you're looking for some inspiration, here are some fabulous tutorials to get you started:

- Hammered flower and leaf prints: Super clever way to get the color of flowers and leaves into your art while simultaneously pounding out your frustrations. (I should have done this after the Celtics game on Sunday. Blarg!)

- Gyotaku: We all know about leaf rubbings, but what about fish rubbings? This tutorial will walk you through the finer points of Gyotaku. My cats would go out of their minds if I ever did this at home, so I won't be doing this anytime soon!

- Leaf Rubbings: For a different look with botanical rubbings, try doing them on rice paper. I love the way they look in this Martha Stewart calendar and I bet they'd look gorgeous incorportated into a collage.


- Gelatin Printing: I've done some gelatin printing before and it's a blast! It's also a great tool to use with natural elements to make gorgeous monoprints. Here's a tutorial on setting up your own gelatin printing station: This one is from Art Esprit and here are written instructions along with a video from Linda Germain (check out all her gelatin printing videos on youtube!)

I did all the images in this post with gelatin printing. They're fun to make and they're also great to use as collage materials.


Hopefully this will fill your head with ideas and send you off to buy gelatin. Or maybe it will just inspire you to hammer the heck out of some plants. Or perhaps you'll paint a fish. Hehe. This post could get you into trouble! No matter what, keep having fun with it!

Recycled Yoga Mat Stamps and Stencils

May 9th, 2009, Comments (22)

While doing my office/studio space de-cluttering last week, I found that I was keeping two yoga mats behind the door. One I use regularly and love and the other, I never use and dislike. I was keeping the extra "just in case." Just in case of what? I don't know. Some kind of yoga emergency perhaps? At any rate, I realized that I really didn't need this extra yoga mat that I never liked or used. And I was about to toss it when I realized that I could put at least part of it to another use.

stamp yoga mat

Using my eucalyptus branch, which I've been using as inspiration in my intuitive painting classes, I traced out the shape onto the yoga mat. I then cut it out with a pair of scissors which created a fabulous stencil and stamp with funky textures on both sides! Fun! I used another piece to make a smaller leaf shaped stencil and stamp, gathered some art supplies (acrylic paint, ink, and watercolor paper), and began to play.

eucalyptus art rbg

The first one (above) was created with the stamp on an 18"x24" piece of watercolor paper. It was fun to play with these bright colors as I first laid down the stamps and then painted around them.

stamp dots

I then used the smaller stamp and stencil to create these smaller pieces (above and below.)

stamp rain

There are loads of materials you could use to make your own stamps or stencils, perhaps you have something gathering dust in the corner, like that yoga mat of mine, that would work or you could purchase a piece of art foam and cut one from that. Either way, stamps and stencils are a great way to play with shapes from Nature.

Tonight, I'm having dinner with my mom, step-dad, mother-in-law, father-in-law, and little brother to celebrate Mother's Day. I hope all you fabulous creative moms out there have a wonderful day!!