From Tools For The Journey

tools, resources and ideas to help you on the creative journey

Creative Living With Jamie – Her Chat With Me!

Recently, I had the pleasure of being featured on Jamie Ridler’s podcast.  In it we talk about everything from my relatively recent journey to discovering I was an artist, to the various types of journals I keep, to making time and space for your own artistic adventures!

I hope you’ll take a listen.

The interview is right here!

I hope you’ll find it useful and inspiring for your own creative life – do let me your thoughts!

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My Sacred Vows (To The Creative Life)

I’ve find that insight and inspiration comes in waves.  I’m there right now – atop a monster wave!

I’m recently back from an indescribably-wonderful-5-day-retreat with Angi Sullins – in New Mexico – my “soul’s home” – the place I find MOST inspiring.  Angi is truly a MUSE!  Do attend one of her retreats if you can – I highly recommend it!  Afterwards, my husband and I took a beautiful road trip through the desert southwest.

The day I got home,  Elizabeth Gilbert‘s latest book was released.  It’s called “Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear” and it is so so rich!  I ripped through it!  

MUST. RE-READ. VERY. SOON.   

AND this week, I returned to the warehouse studio I share with my super-talented-artist-Mom.  We had a loooong hot summer’s break.  Woof.  

A day of cleaning the studio + a bit of reorganizing + a day of painting = CREATIVE BLISS!

All of this has sparked an urge to re-commit to my creative life – officially – like with a written contract.  Which admittedly, felt like a strange thing to do.  Then, my husband reminded me that we enter contracts with employers, spouses, landlords, etc.  Why not make an agreement with the way of life I MOST CRAVE?  (Yeah – I’m talking to you M.R. Bird.)

In Ms. Gilbert’s book, she writes of committing to the writing life at a very young age – her vows were concise and reasonable, and they still apply to her work today.

My call is towards a broader creative life . . . I write, I paint, I art journal, I now host art retreats, I sometimes teach, I love interior design and gardening and fashion…..all of it!  It’d be impossible to narrow it – but I suppose my emphasis is on painting and writing.

I thought I’d share my own creative commitments with you here – ya know, to make it officially official.  Here goes:

  • I will follow my truest curiosity – allowing it to lead me to MY most creative life.
  • I will honor my ideas – gathering, harvesting and acting on them regularly.
  • I will always make the physical space for my creative pursuits – whether that’s in a studio or a corner shelf!
  • I vow to never put pressure on my creativity with expectations of money or accolades.  I will do it for love and support it however is necessary.  Anything else is gravy.
  • I will wholeheartedly pursue my creative passions through near-daily-practice.  I will build my creative muscle.  I will show up.  I will remain teach-able.
  • I will nurture my creative soul through inspiring experiences, books, classes, people and more “just doing it”.
  • I will care for my “instrument” with proper self care.
  • I will share my process and results often – being brave on my creativity’s behalf.
  • I will do my best work without caving to rampant perfectionism – of which I am totally inclined towards!
  • I vow to be light with my process.  Serious art making seems joyless and is NOT the life I desire.  If serious art comes of a light process, then so be it – but it’s not my goal.

Well that’s it – for now . . . hahaha I hope there’s not more!  What do you think?  Is there some commitments you’d like to make for your creative life?  Do share……

 

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#everydaywalk100

100 days ago I made a decision to walk every day – for 100 days.

I did it for many reasons – but mostly to get “back in my body”.

Ya see, when I discovered art making 6 years ago, that’s ALL I wanted to do!  Once I began painting, I kept my ritual of writing morning pages with my coffee, but out went the exercise that typically followed.

Until then I’d been a fairly devoted exerciser – running marathons, hitting the weights and enjoying yoga.  Now there was no time for exercise – I had to hit the studio!  I was having so much fun swirling paint on canvas and lounging with my sketchbook, I had become downright sedentary.  Bleh!

Now, I was feeling tight and constricted in my body – and oh yeah – chubby and weak and lethargic!  So in a fateful moment 100 days ago (while actually walking) I decided to change my ways.

I wanted challenging, yet I needed doable!  I needed to feel successful.  Believing walking to be the most “portable”/least-excuse-probable exercise, I committed.  I’d walk for 100 days straight – for a minimum of 30 minutes.  No other rules.  Period.  Just get off my butt!  So I came home from that walk, photo copied a monthly calendar and numbered off 100 days.  I had begun.

I decided to Instagram my daily walk, but within a few short days I had bored myself silly.  That tedium threatened to make me quit walking – so I quit Instagramming and kept the walking instead.  K.I.S.S.  Keep it simple stupid.  Right?  Right.

On the days I saw something exceptionally beautiful, on landmark days or on the days I just felt like it, I posted a blurb and a pic on Instagram.  Otherwise, I kept the time just for me.  It was good.

I worried about lots of things at first.  Things like:

  • I’ll never make it through 100 days without getting sick or injured – surely something will stop me.  It didn’t.
  • I’ll get bored as hell and just stop.  I’m a “scanner”.  I need diversity and a change of scenery at the very least.  So I linked my love of new experiences and discovery and adventure to the goal . . . I sought out new places to walk, changed up routes in my normal haunts and varied my length of walk time.  Mostly I walked alone, but sometimes I went with my hubby or a friend or drug my lazy ass dog along.
  • I’ll “fudge” my time and not always do my minimum of 30 minutes.  I’ll cheat.  Wrong.  I’ve averaged 49 minutes over my 100 days!  It became a kind of game!
  • I worried there would be days I just wouldn’t find the time.  Yeah – that didn’t happen either.  Blew that theory.  Huh.
  • I worried that my plantar fasciitis would get worse with all that dang walking.  Didn’t!  Seems that time spent on my custom orthotics daily has helped me immensely – it’s nearly gone!

Of course, the experts tout the many benefits of consistent exercise.  Sure, I know that to be true logically.  But until you do something every single day, you can’t really  k n o w   –                          u n t i l   y o u   d o ! 

SOME benefits of daily walking I now KNOW:

  • it makes you a happier human!
  • it gives you way more energy than it takes
  • it gives structure to your day – seemingly increasing the time one has (to paint)!  It’s magic.
  • you can lose a bit of weight easily – without making any other changes
  • but it will make you want to make other changes too
  • it’s pretty freakin’ easy – it’s pretty freakin’ fun
  • you’ll reconnect with neighbors and friends
  • you won’t forfeit time with your spouse – you’ll just drag him along with you
  • you’ll solve problems more easily and have lots more brilliant creative ideas while walking!  Take a notebook.  Really.  Do.
  • you’ll discover places you never knew existed!
  • your confidence will soar – cause you are keeping promises to yourself and creating a sense of completion and accomplishment

In my 100 days, I’ve walked at dawn and at dusk.  

I’ve walked on days where my to-do list was longer than my arm and on tired days I wanted to hide under the covers.  

I’ve walked in four states!  

I’ve walked with dogs, old friends and a woman I’d only just met.  

I’ve walked in the rain and in temperatures over 100.  

I’ve rescued a dog from traffic and stumbled onto a homeless encampment I never knew existed.  

On my walks, I’ve laughed till I’ve nearly cried and actually have cried having witnessed the aftermath of domestic violence.  

AND I’ve seen such beauty – dolphins – white pelicans!  

I’ve gathered enough inspiration for a 1000 paintings!

So what now?  True to my scanner personality AND my new found love of self-imposed-challenges, I’m onto a new 100 day program.  I’ll move in some way – any way that feels good – every day for the next 100.  I’ll keep the majority of it (4 days minimum) a cardio based movement – walking, biking, hiking, spin class, whatever.  But now I’m free to do many other things I love – yoga, weights, dance!  I’ll also up my minimum to 35 minutes – just because I can!

I’ve marked off the next 100 days on my calendar!

Let #everydaymove100 begin!

Anyone care to join me?  

You can do this – I KNOW you can.  

(Why do I have a feeling this will become a 365 day thang?)

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Scenes From The Road

Over the past week,

we’ve roamed the Southwest US . . .

from Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico

to Monument Valley, Utah

through Flagstaff, Arizona and the deserts of California.

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I’ve spent a few days circling with friends, old and new,

rediscovering my sense of “play”.

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I’ve over-indulged my photographic

obsession with doorways and windows.

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And seen more stars in the night sky

than I EVER knew existed!

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Even piles of rubble are made beautiful

in the hands of local southwestern artists.

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My “well of inspiration” is running over . . . 

I may burst!

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I’ve seen such diverse beauty.

Sacred and profound and quiet and simple.

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I’ve hardly had time to “process” or capture my thoughts,

but I may not stop painting or writing for months

– okay, maybe NEVER!

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The “big sky” country is incredibly gorgeous.

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The hues – so deep and rich.

The architecture and decor – so magical.

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Even the food is color-full and spicy-delish!

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Icons are everywhere – appearing in art and on buildings.

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Around every bend, more beauty, more embellishment.

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Overhead – underfoot.

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Textures, both velvety and rough.

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A single art journal spread

is all that I’ve worked on during my trip,

as I focused on gathering inspiration and beauty.

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Here’s the same page AFTER 20 fellow retreat 

goers added their mark to the page!

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I’m aching to get back in the studio!

So that’s happening NOW!

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Art-On-The-Go “Kits”

I do have some mad organization skills!  That, combined with a lifelong purse obsession, a tendency to hoard art supplies and a desire to tote them everywhere is the “perfect storm”!

It’s manifested in an crazy array of “art to go” kits.  Perfect for jaunts to desert or beach, art journal picnics or attending yet another art retreat.

I thought I’d share them with you today.  I’ll put some links to various supplies in case you’re interested – and BTW the links do NOT earn me affiliate fees.  They are things I really use and love.  Almost everything can be had on Amazon.

This first kit is for “traveling light”.  I use this set up most often – it’s great for road trips or for a sketch date at the beach.

In this hand painted clutch I can fit a travel set of watercolor, a sketchbook or journal, and a zip case full of pens, tape, scissors and glue.  I also love to include my portable photo printer.  It prints pics from my iPhone and even has sticky back paper – perfect for sticking straight into my journal!  

It’s not unusual for me to pack an inspirational book – this one’s about Dan Eldon – the guy who first inspired me to art journal!

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In my world, everything is an art project.  I love to take canvas or cotton totes and alter them with paint.  I use regular acrylic paints and find they do not fade or wash out.  The flowered tote below was originally a gift-with-purchase bag from Victoria Secret – it’s at least 5 years old and hasn’t faded a bit.

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What’s organization without a pen bag?  It holds more than I really can ever use – it’s awesome!  My husband’s bag (the green one) is filled with his cigar accessories and other man gear.  No, I do not smoke cigars lol!

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My second art kit has many more supplies to choose from.  It’s the perfect “portable studio” for longer travels or for an in-person art journaling class.

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The organizer is really cool!  It has a lift out tray for sketching or art journaling in my lap – and of course being plastic, it’s waterproof.  It holds quite a lot.  In it goes tapes, a sharpener, glue, water brushes, a spray bottle of water, standard watercolors, little jars of shimmery water colors and water-soluble markers and pencils.

There’s plenty of room for a sketchbook or two – I may even throw in a guided journal like one from Shiloh Sophia McCloud.  Again, I love to carry a camera for taping in photos.  This one prints self developing mini’s similar to the old polaroid cameras.

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This final kit is full blown!  This amazing box allows me to carry everything needed for a days long painting retreat, except the canvas itself.

In it, I can carry paints, brushes, paint pens, a painting shirt or apron, an art journal (or two), a full size camera and more.  Pretty much anything can find a place.  Well maybe not the humungous inspiration book . . . it’s an incredible collection of art journal images by Peter Beard – another favorite artist of mine.

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I bound the journal to the right of the white camera myself –  it’s soft and mushy which I love.  I ripped the cover to size from one of my own un-stretched paintings on canvas.  I filled it with luscious creamy 140 lb. hot press Fabriano watercolor paper – the best paper ever made in my opinion!!

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They even make the box in other colors and sizes.  I’m seriously lusting over the turquoise one. There’s even a cool fabric one (that I will not admit to owning – uh huh).  I believe this box may have changed my life – well, my creative life – a bit, anyways!  

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Tell me . . . do you HAVE to tote art supplies wherever you go too?  Am I alone in this?  Do you go on sketching dates and art journal picnics and painting retreats?