Friday, March 26, 2010

Creative Trigger #4: Magazines

This post is the fourth and last in a weekly series on personal creative triggers: places, people or things from which I draw creative or artistic inspiration. To see previous posts click here.

In the first post of this series I admitted to being a documentary junkie; today I admit that my addiction to magazines is a very close second. In the same family as documentaries, magazines stimulate the creative juices in similar ways:
  • craft-specific magazines help us keep up with trends and practices related to our craft of choice whether it's writing poetry, macro photography or making art out of recycled bits & pieces;
  • artist, writer or photographer profiles serve as inspiration and may even prompt us to study their creative processes and try some of their techniques;
  • small business magazines are helpful if we're trying to build our creative practice into a self-sufficient entity;
  • as with documentaries (see week 1), exposure to new subjects and ideas can trigger even more ideas by combining them with the ones we already have;
  • picking up a magazine on a foreign subject can pull us out of a slump by introducing us to a new industry, geographical area or maybe even to a new market for our artwork or writing; and
  • magazines are an easy and relatively cheap (some art or design-related magazines can get pricey!) way to dip our toes into a new creative world or medium, inviting us to learn and push our creative boundaries.
When it comes to magazines that inspire creativity there are some fairly common ones, especially in the world of mixed media:
Somerset Studio
Artful Blogging
Where Women Create
Art Journaling
and mostly anything put out by Stampington & Company
But I like to mix it up a little to get some cross-pollination of ideas going around, here are a few others I've picked up at least once that were fun and inspiring in one way or another:
Architectural Digest
Shambala Sun
Mother Earth News
HOW Design
Success for Women
Nature Photographer
Writer's Digest
Cowboys & Indians (OK I admit, Tom Selleck was on the cover)
and many many more...
Um, did I mention my addiction?

How about you? Do you have any favourite magazines that either spur you into creativity or help you support it?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

36 Things: A Status Update

I'm going to be 37 tomorrow. To mark the occasion I thought it would be fun to review the status of last year's list of 36 things I wanted to do before I turned 37 (can someone please tell me where the year went?!):

1. run 5K
2. host a Creative Salon

3. update my resume

4.create my freelancing Web site and business card - Moo cards printed, URL bought and site under construction
5. save $5000

6. take a solo trip - it doesn't have to be far - A day trip to Montreal to catch the Van Dongen exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

7. show my artwork at a local café, restaurant or gallery - I showed at not one but two places: my hair salon and, though it's not local, at the Vision of Squam art show. Hurray!
8. go hiking somewhere new - A new to me trail at Mer Bleue Bog; Algonquin Park; Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine.
9. lose 10 pounds

10. find a pair of tall black boots - They're black, they're tall and they're kickass sexy!

11. hike Gatineau Park's Wolf trail again

12. volunteer

13. write a personal essay - maybe even submit it for publication

14. self-publish a book on Blurb about my Urban Living Experiment

15. clean/upgrade my PC - Yup.
16. see a Cirque du Soleil performance

17. get married (squee!) - Squee!
18. bake a batch of Mom's chocolate chip cookies

19. research and profile ten female artists on my blog - past and present

20. publish a resource list on my blog (creativity, personal finance, writing, starting a business, etc.)
21. meet three people active in the local arts community
- One I kept in touch with and two others I have their card and chatted with them during a seminar on art and market readiness, so half a point for this one.
22. start a Creative Living Experiment blog - Voici!

23. re-read The Omnivore's Dilemma
24. go swimming - I waded in to my waist so I'll give myself a half point for this one.
25. go dancing - Yup, with the girls at Gracie's.
26. go on a solo date on a summer terrace with a book

27. write my morning pages at least four times a week - I can't say for sure that I averaged four times, but I think it was close.
28. visit NYC with D.

29. go dancing with D.

30. go canoeing - On Bennett Lake during our week at the cottage. It was bliss there.
31. make Mom's meat pie - Yup and yum.
32. take a drawing or painting class - Abstract Painting and I loved it; workshops at Squam
33. go to a Bluesfest concert - Blue Rodeo, KISS & a few more
34. have my photo taken for my Web site/creative business - Although the photo shoot was just for fun, I'd definitely use some of the photos on my Web site!
35. do something with my mandala series - I don't know what yet

36. paint/collage at least once a week

Despite only having done about half of what I set out to do I am happy with the results. In addition to what's on the list I did so much more and for the most part, all was in the spirit of creating the life I want. That for me is success.

I intend to put forward another list this year and it will probably be just as aggressive, 'cause that's just how I roll. I strongly believe that if I write it down there's much more of a chance I'll make it happen. Besides, I've not much to lose by doing so but oh so much to gain.

Stay tuned...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Creative Trigger #3: Nature

This post is the third in a weekly series on personal creative triggers: places, people or things from which I draw creative or artistic inspiration. Week 1. Week 2.

OK it's hardly original, but it's still worthy of its own post here because there's no denying it's one of my creative triggers.
But how can I possibly reduce Mother Nature's creative inspiration to a bulleted list?

I won't try to include it all. I'll tackle only a fraction and focus on a few ways Mother Nature triggers creativity in my small world of visual art with the hopes that you'll find something valuable to your specific medium or practice. Here goes:

1) Nature's textures, colours and composition provide fodder for painting and photography. Think lines, patterns and colour juxtapositions for abstracts; vistas with mountains, water and sky for landscapes; and don't forget the birds and the bees - literally.

stillness reflected

fortuitous photo fluke of autumn colours

ice patterns with negative effect

2) Following the lead of shadows and sunlight (see week 2), nature exercises the imagination. Have you ever caught yourself cloud gazing or building fairy houses in the woods? Or maybe you see hidden shapes and images in the
bark of a tree, the textures of a rock or the curves of a pepper?

3) Finally, nature instills the humility and stillness necessary for me to return to my Centre and connect with, among other things, my creative essence. Although not directly related to the canvas, the restorative qualities of nature do wonders for my spirit which in turn feeds my creative process. A hike in the woods or an afternoon by the sea can be the ultimate Artist Date.

Et voilà, three ways Mother Nature inspires my artistic play.

Sometimes obvious, sometimes subtle, Mother Nature's subjects are as endless as the artistic visions through which she is honoured. Surely she inspires in more ways than those captured here.

How does nature inspire you in your creative practice? Tell me. Show me.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Paints, Paper and Play

After a five-week hiatus I returned to the art table for play. It felt good. Here's one of the results:

Step 1...

Step 2...

Et voilà...

I don't know her name yet. Any suggestions?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Creative Trigger #2: Shadows and Sunlight

This post is the second in a weekly series called Creative Triggers. Click here for the first one.

I have an inexplicable fascination with shadows - shadows on the wall, shadows on the furniture, shadows on the floor... I love how they paint a pattern out of nothing, how they sometimes dance and how they can transform themselves from one moment to another.

Capturing the elusive state of a shadow at a specific point in time with my trusty point & shoot can bring me great satisfaction. Sometimes I lose myself in a Saturday morning household walkabout with my camera, seeking visual interest by following the sun's rays as they grace surfaces with patterns of all kinds.

This creative trigger is twofold:

1) shadows and patterns themselves are fodder for abstract painting

2) photographing shadows exercises my imagination, like cloud gazing

can you see the face?

I see a woman's profile and neck - sort of
what do you see?

Plus sometimes shadows are just plain fun.

Do you play with shadows? If so I'd love to hear about how or why they inspire you in the comments - or even better, leave a link to your own favourite shadow photos.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Seriously, how could you not be...

Ashlynn Heather Elizabeth

Meet our new niece: Ashlynn Heather Elizabeth, born March 1, 2010.

She weighed a whole 4lbs 11oz. when this picture was taken. A wee angel she is.

Monday, March 8, 2010

On Authenticity...

"Authenticity is a force of nature. When you channel it to intentionally design the look and feel of every aspect of your life, your outsides begin to match your insides. And something truly magical happens. You continue to become more genuinely yourself, and you have more of what you want."

- Carrie McCarthy and Danielle LaPorte, Style Statement, Live by your own Design

Friday, March 5, 2010

Experimenting with a New Series: Creative Triggers

This is the first of a series of posts on personal creative triggers: places, people or things from which I draw creative or artistic inspiration. These triggers may have spurred a burst of overall creative energy with no particular rhyme or reason, inspired a certain look & feel for a specific painting or sparked an interest to further unfurl my creative wings. I'm leaving it open.

My experiment will initially consist of four Creative Trigger posts during the month of March - one each week. You might not find anything new or maybe you will. You might find something familiar, but with a different twist, or maybe you'll find a timely reminder. As always I encourage you to take what you like and leave the rest.

Let's begin.

Creativity Trigger #1: Documentaries

I am a self-confessed documentary geek (nerd? junkie?). I rarely leave the library without picking one up. Whether they're about artists, chickens or muscle cars, documentaries have the potential to inspire in many ways:
  • how they're filmed - the cinematography, the chosen slant or the narrative style (for example, à la Ken Burns) may help shape our next painting, story or blog post;
  • biographies about leaders and other independent spirits can inspire us to be resourceful, fearless and persistent in our own creative endeavours;
  • biographies about artists, writers or photographers may prompt us to play with new tools, techniques or creative processes (don't forget to check out the special features for insights into the documentary maker's own creative process);
  • exposure to different subjects and ideas can trigger even more ideas by combining them with the ones we already have;
  • travel documentaries may plant a seed to explore region-specific art or architecture, or maybe even plan a trip to capture an area's beauty in person through words, a lens or on canvas; and
  • how-to documentaries teach us, well, how to do stuff.
Some of my favourite documentary discoveries include: All of these were picked up on a whim at my local library for free - and I could list many more.

Tell me, what documentaries inspire you?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Post-Olympic Ponderings

As I work through my withdrawal symptoms and slowly get my life back to a semblance of a routine after 17 days glued to the TV, I thought I'd share a few thoughts on the Olympics now that they're over...

I love how the Olympic spirit permeated conversations: "What did you think of the opening ceremonies?", "Wasn't that snowcross aMAzing?" or "OMG did you see the Tim Horton's commercial where the guy goes to the airport to pick up his family? It made me cry!" (it's true, it did).

I also liked how it permeated fashion and decor: the red mitts, the scarves and the hockey jerseys; the flags, the Olympic mural at work, the signs on the second floor above the local flower shop reading GOLD CANADA GOLD.

Although the song had its place, I'll be happy if I don't hear
I Believe for a very. very. long time. The same goes for the first seven notes of the CTV trumpet theme. No more please.

The Georgian luger's crash and violent looting by protesters during the first few days broke my heart. The latter made me angry, the former made me weep.

The Vancouver 2010 medals were stunning. So fluid and organic, I loved how they were undulated and marveled at them each time they were presented. Read more about them
here on the Royal Canadian Mint's Web site.

Michael Buble, giant beavers and flying moose. It really doesn't get much better than that does it? Except for maybe Neil Young and Michael J. Fox.

I swear a LOT when I watch hockey.

It felt good to win so many gold medals. It was nice. I felt happy and proud. And I like how everyone else did too.

The games were fun to watch, they excited and engaged. I was sad to see them end, though my mind and body are thanking me this week as I catch up on sleep and return to life as I knew it pre-Olympics. It was a fun ride folks, kudos to all who made it so!