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Marion Boddy-Evans

My sister visits the Isle of Skye each summer to work on her Gaelic language skills. In 2017, she discovered the artist Marion Boddy-Evans. Marion Boddy-Evans sheep

She sent me the link to Marion’s blog and I’ve been following her ever since. Lots of good stuff on there for painters. I highly recommend it.

This summer, on her way back to the airport my sister somehow coerced her cabbie into stopping at the studio of Marion Boddy-Evans. She met Marion and bought me a lovely surprise – one of Marion’s sheep paintings!

I wrote to Marion to tell her how much I loved it and asked (with bated breath) if she would be a guest on my blog.

Happily, she said yes!

So,  without further ado, here’s Marion!

What does “being creative” mean to you?Marion Boddy-Evans Sketchbook

I would say that ‘being creative’ is impossible to separate from life itself.

Many people look for a meaning of life, but I feel it is there in front of them: to be creative. Creativity is the fight against entropy, not against chaos which is fundamental to so much art, but the passive, fogginess of life without art.

When did you first realise that you absolutely had to lead a creative life?

When did you first realise that you absolutely had to breath to live?

I mean, that dawning of realization of a need for creativity is part of gaining maturity as a person. The jump from the internalization of childhood to the external world view that comes with self recognition.

Marion Boddy-Evans Waterfall

What inspires you?

Impossible to truly quantify. But at various instances there is the environment around me, the sharing of philosophies between friends, the love of a partner (who is also known as the “in-house art critic”), and cats. Lots of cats.

What do you want your art to communicate?

I paint what appeals to me, and hope it creates some joy for others. I don’t intend for my paintings to have a specific narrative, but to allow the viewer to dive in and discover their own stories. In essence it’s whatever a viewer takes from it.

Describe your creative process. What kind of patterns, routines or rituals do you have?

Think “Groundhog Day”.

Each day is one of discovery, in a familiar setting that still generates surprises. I take delight in trying out new mediums and methods, and vary my time between making art and making jewellery and writing and sometimes just sitting quietly at the sea shore listening to waves.

Marion Boddy-Evans white sheepWhat is the most challenging part of the creative process for you and how do you meet that challenge?

Finding the time to do all I wish to achieve for that day amidst the demands of everyday life and the ‘admin’ side of being self-employed.

What’s the best advice you were every given about how to be more creative?

Creativity isn’t rationed. It isn’t a finite quantity, but it also doesn’t fall out of the ether. The Muse has to arrive and find you working. The Muse doesn’t so much whisper in your head as illuminate the possibilities around you, and that only comes because she is entranced by what you are trying to accomplish.

Connect with Marion Boddy-Evans

https://marion.scot/

https://twitter.com/painting

https://www.facebook.com/boddyevans

https://www.instagram.com/isleofskyeartstudio/

Marion Boddy-Evans Eagle
Air Flow by Marion Boddy-Evans
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The Wonder of Nova Scotia: Inspired by Place

Stuff your eyes with wonder

Stuff your eyes with wonder. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. — Ray Bradbury

Baby eyes

Babies intrigue me…and it’s not just because they are so blinkin’ cute.

I love the way they observe the world around them, soaking it all in without judgment. Their eyes are so bright and clear. I especially love how they stare back without self-consciousness. It’s their wide-open curiosity I find so appealing.

It’s no wonder kids are so creative. They haven’t built up filters and preconceived notions about how things should be. Everything is a miracle to them. They’re still asking questions.

Here in Nova Scotia I find myself having a similar experience. This new-to-me place re-awakened my curiosity and filled my creative well in a way I thought was long gone. Thank heavens I was wrong!

Curiosity and wonder hold the seeds of creativity

The Tide Pool Wonder

Being by the Bay of Fundy is key for me. Large bodies of water stoke my own sense of wonder.

Every morning I walk the dog down to the shoreline  where we wander among the rock formations and check out tide pools. Now that the warm days are here, I usually perch somewhere and spend a few quiet moments gazing over the water, listening to the waves washing in and out.

(There’s even a word for that whispery sound. Did you know that? Susurration. Isn’t that perfect?)

I love the far horizon and the smell of salt in the air. Seated there, I take deep breaths in and breathe out gratitude and feel real peace again.

waves and wonder

When I was a kid, I looked forward to summer visits with my aunt and cousins on Narragansett Bay. Those were the days before cars were air-conditioned so I would sit by the car window and try to pinpoint the first whiff of salt as we got closer.

Happiness still smells like salt air to me.

rock formations and wonder

The rocks on “my” beach are old volcanic formations, sculpted by the awesome Fundy tides and storms. They remind me of pieces of modern art. I love walking among them, making up names for some of the formations. They’re becoming familiar friends but I wonder if I’ll recognize them after next winter’s storms.

There is almost always a breeze against my skin, ruffling my hair but it’s the clarity of the air that especially delights me as an artist. I’ve had visitors comment on how different the colours are here. (And the stars!). Everything seems more vivid.

Except, of course, when the fog rolls in and sound is muted and everything takes on a dreamy quality. (Or eerie if you’re a Stephen King fan.)

All in all, it’s the perfect environment for this artist and writer. Definitely feels like home.

Definitely feeds my creative heart.

See with fresh eyes

While you may not want to move across the country to a completely new environment, you can still feed your own sense of wonder right where you are. You just need to see with fresh eyes.

Break out of familiar habits and routines. Strike out in a different direction. Choose a new route to work. Turn left instead of right. You don’t even need to leave your neighbourhood. Just getting out of the car and walking your own street lets you experience the familiar in a fresh way.

When was the last time you ‘stuffed your eyes with wonder?”

Join us in the Creative Fire Café

 

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Muse Flash: Simplify

Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify. – Henry David Thoreau

Simplify. Sounds so easy but here I am, once again, learning the lessons of simplicity. To ask myself if I really need to do ________(fill in the blank) or is it a distraction? Does this painting need this level of detail or am I fussing too much? Do I really need to do this chore or is it busy work?

Getting too ‘fussy’ results in chases down rabbit holes and procrastination.

I have to stop myself and ask “Who made up this rule anyhow? My standard? Or someone else’s?”

A good case in point is my MuseLetter. I can get so caught up in what the ‘gurus’ say I must do that I overcomplicate things. It’s far more important to listen to what my subscribers say they what.

When I simplify, everything else flows

simplifyTime and again, people tell me they like the MuseLetter I send out because its simple and short. They can take a couple of minutes out of a busy day to be inspired.

That’s also the reason I like it. It’s simple which means it doesn’t take hours to create but it keeps me in touch. When I try to get “fancy” I end up procrastinating.

The same thing works in my paintings. When I keep composition pared down to the essentials, I feel a different energy and I find people respond to it differently.

In my art work, it’s the same question. “What does the viewer want?”

The simple answer for me is they want to share my experience. Keeping it simple feels lighter and I like the idea of inviting my viewer to be part of the creative process as their imagination fills in the details.

Embracing simplicity

So my creative mantra is “Simplify…simplify” because who doesn’t love it when life flows along easily?

What about you? What keeps you in flow?

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Muse Flash: Be the Verb

Marriage is not a noun; it’s a verb. It isn’t something you get. It’s something you do. It’s the way you love your partner every day. Barbara De Angelis

I know. This is an art blog, not a relationship blog.

Or is it?

BE a verb and be creative every dayRecently we watched “Big Eyes” on Netflix, a movie based on a true story. The motivations of the two lead characters fascinated me. The wife, artist Margaret Keane, allowed her husband Walter Keane to claim her work as his.

I won’t go into a lot of detail about the story itself but at one point I turned to my husband and said, “He wants the title, not the work.”

Like a good marriage, you first fall in love with your creativity. But you can’t be passive about it if you want a long term relationship. You must commit and work at it. And some days? It ain’t easy.

But it’s always worth it.

So to paraphrase Barbara De Angelis – “Creativity isn’t a noun; it’s a verb. It isn’t something you get. It’s something you do. It’s the way you love your muse every day.”

If you agree, why not “be a verb” and share this. Thanks!

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Book Review – Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Big Magic

Today, I welcome Elizabeth Cottrell to the blog. She is a writer and creative friend who generously offered to share her review of “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear”.

Redefining creativity

From the book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert:

Q: What is creativity?
A: The relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration”

There are a few books in my life that I want to buy several copies and share with my dearest family and friends. Brené Brown’s books are among them, and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is another. I was surprised how much I enjoyed this, because I didn’t jump on the bandwagon for the author’s famous book Eat, Pray Love, which took the world by storm many years ago ( some loved it, some hated it). I have recently started following Elizabeth Gilbert again — she has grown up; she’s a marvelous and engaging writer with a wicked sense of humor; and she is motivating and inspiring. I follow her Facebook page and enjoy her posts.

Who is this book for?

As with most books, timing is everything, and while I could blithely say this book is for everyone, it is probably going to resonate with you more at certain times than others. However, Elizabeth Gilbert is not so timid in her introduction:

I happen to believe we are all walking repositories of buried treasure…The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.

The hunt to uncover those jewels—that’s creative living.

The courage to go on that hunt in the first place—that’s what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one.

The often surprising results of that hunt—that’s what I call Big Magic.

So right from the beginning, she throws down the gauntlet with that challenge…because who wants to live just a mundane existence, right? And who isn’t tantalized by a good treasure hunt? With those words, I was hooked and ready for the adventure.

Creativity Myths Busted

While this book flows well and is an easy read, it can also be put down and picked up without losing continuity. It’s like a necklace of jewels strung together, each beautiful or interesting itself, but even more lovely as a necklace.

Myth-busting is an entertaining and enlightening part of Big Magic. Gilbert takes on some of the myths about creativity that hold us back or paralyze us.

  • We have to kill off our fear of our creativity. No, she says. It’s too likely that when you kill off your fear, you kill off your creativity too. She advocates acknowledging and leaning into your fear. “The less I fight my fear, the less it fights back.”
  • Our worth is measured by our successes or failures. No, our worth is measured by our dedication to our path.
  • Your muse is yours alone. Gilbert believes inspiration is energy seeking a human partner to be made manifest. So if one human refuses to embrace and cultivate it, it will move on elsewhere. She shares a fascinating personal story to demonstrate this.
  • There are creative geniuses. She would say there are people who embrace genius.
  • True creatives must do something original. Gilbert says, “Most things have already been done—but they have not yet been done by you.”
  • True creatives must suffer and starve. “There is no dishonor in having a job.”

Question the common wisdom

One of Gilbert’s gifts is taking common/trite sayings and turning them on their ear. A good example of this is the question often asked by motivational types in an attempt to help their students identify their true calling: “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” Gilbert sees this differently and asks instead, “What would you do even if you knew that you might very well fail?” That’s a question to test your passion, for sure.

One of the reasons I particularly enjoyed this book is because of my own conflicted feelings about creativity and how narrowly I used to define it. I’ve written about it before (See “Are You An Artist?”), but for years, I was sure I wasn’t the least bit creative. I was a science major with no obvious aptitude for drawing, painting, or thinking up fiction plots. My only skills were all about logic, productivity, business, or common sense.

Or so I thought.

Several years ago, I had the startling revelation that creativity manifests itself in lots of different ways, including business, marketing, networking. When I have a blank piece of paper and colored markers in front of me, I may not want to make a picture, but what I DO want to put on the paper is WORDS. So now that I’ve embraced the notion I’m creative after all, I can’t get enough of reading about creativity. Gilbert’s words on the back of this book’s dust jacket are compelling:

Creativity is sacred, 
and it is not sacred.
What we make matters enormously,
and it doesn’t matter at all.
We toil alone, and we are
accompanied by spirits.
We are terrified, and we are brave.
Art is a crushing chore and
a wonderful privilege.
The work wants to be made, and
it wants to be made through you.

Elizabeth Gilbert, through Big Magic, made me want to say YES to the adventure of uncovering the hidden treasures within me. What books have you read that motivate and inspire you to live your most creative, wholehearted life?


Elizabeth Gilbert has been a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her latest novel, The Signature of All Things, was named a best book of 2013 by The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and O: The Oprah Magazine.


Elizabeth Cottrell, Big Magic reviewElizabeth Cottrell, author of this review, hales from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. She is a freelance writer and blogger at Heartspoken.com.

“I’ve been lots of things in my life—from farm girl to leprosy researcher; from wife and mother to bank board chairman—but at my core, I’m a connector and encourager whose artistic tools of choice are fountain pen and paper and whose deepest desire is to be a channel for God’s light and love as long as I’m able.”
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From the Studio: My Comfort Zone Challenge

My comfort zone felt safe but it also kept me from growing.

Recently I tried something that wasn’t really new. Just something I left behind years ago – painting with acrylics but it definitely moved me beyond my current comfort zone. 

Everything old is new again

I used to teach decorative painting using acrylics. You’ve seen stuff like it on Pinterest, I’m sure, decorating tables and other furniture using fluid brush strokes and simulating 3D. I loved it and still have a few of my pieces decorating my home.

The problem was I travelled (a lot) on business, which meant airplanes and luggage. I didn’t quite trust packing acrylic paints in with my business clothes so I switched to watercolours. They seemed less risky and cleaning my brushes in a hotel sink was easy.

This meant learning a whole new way of painting because, if you use both acrylics and watercolors, you know they require slightly different techniques. So I made the decision to focus on the watercolours and abandon the acrylics. I didn’t have time or budget to learn and practice both mediums.

I never worked with acrylics again – until recently. 

Stretching the comfort zone

Frankly, I was a little concerned about trying them again, afraid I might find it confusing to switch back and forth. Plus I spent a lot of time and money bringing my watercolour skills up to snuff. Did I really want to start back at the beginning again?

(I think perfectionism might have been running that train of thought.)

Road Block, Acrylics
Road Block

But my comfort zone felt stale. I wanted something with a different energy and vibe and acrylics kept calling to me. So when I dropped off my paintings at Roundhill Studio for their Wee Art show, I noticed her flyer for an acrylic class. I threw caution to the wind and registered on the spot. (That way I wouldn’t change my mind.)

When I showed up for class, I was pleasantly surprised how my watercolour skills crossed over. The brush didn’t change, only the medium. (Duh.)

I felt so excited and pleased with the painting of sheep I created that day, I went back to my own studio and started pumping out acrylic paintings. I’ve done a number of them since that workshop a few weeks back. More importantly, I’m outside my comfort zone, having a lot of fun!

What I learned

The Flirt, acrylics
The Flirt

I still paint with watercolour but in a completely different style. They tend to be much more detailed while the acrylic paint brings out my loose and playful side. I find it easy to move back and forth between both mediums and styles, which surprised and excites me.

All this time I’ve hesitated only to discover that each one informs and enriches the other. I might never have know this if I had continued to shy away.

Sometimes we just have to get out of our own way and leave the safety of the comfort zone. When stopped listening to that story holding me back, I learned a little more about what I was capable of.

What’s something new you’d like to try? Have you stretched your comfort zone lately? Share what you found there in the comments. I’d love to hear from you. 

 

 

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Muse Flash: Intuition

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. — Steve Jobs

I used to read that quote and only see the part about time and not wasting it. I have an inner clock that just keeps on ticking, reminding me that time is a-wastin’.

It was only recently I really took note of that last sentence in the quote. The one about trusting my heart and intuition.

When I make art from my head it’s almost always about technique and marketability. When I trust my heart, the art speaks. Maybe not to everyone but the ones who do hear it? They’re my peeps.

Besides, even if it only ever speaks to me, that’s enough because in committing to a creative life, art starts with exploring the inner self.

This week, before you sit down to create, take a moment to get out of your head and connect to your heart.

What changes?

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Why we need the word No

“Say no to everything, so you can say yes to the one thing.” —Richie Norton

I was talking one day to a young mother, overwhelmed by her responsibilities and commitments. I started to suggest that saying ‘no’ to some of those demands might help but before I could finish, she abruptly cut me off.

“‘No’ is negative and I don’t want any negativity in my life.”

Wait a minute. No is a negative? Really?

The positive side of No

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the word ‘No’ possesses some very positive aspects, including protecting personal boundaries and preserving precious creative time. Without the option to say ‘no’, everyone else’s needs, wants and agendas supersede our own.

Creative passion takes a back seat. Every time.

Consider this about No

We  seem to have overlooked that it’s the intention behind our words that are positive or negative. Not the word itself.

Do you answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ without taking a moment to think about results? Operating on autopilot can certainly create negative consequences.

Are you saying ‘no’ because a request oversteps a boundary?

Yes or NoHow about saying ‘no’ in order to say ‘yes’ to something else – like time in your studio? Creating balance and honouring your dreams is a huge positive, reducing stress.

Are you responding ‘yes’ to a request simply to please someone else? (Or perhaps to please your own ego?) Again, this so-called positive reply usually carries negative consequences, like filling your schedule with no time left for your creative activities.

There are plenty of other scenarios but the bottom line is this – when we make up the rule that we can’t say ‘no’ we remove the freedom of choice, one of the most valuable freedoms we possess. The extreme end of this spectrum looks like a Stepford Wife!

We need choices

Without choice, our lives become busier and busier. We build up time and energy debts and our creative life gets short-changed. Click To Tweet

What will you say ‘no’ to so you can say ‘YES’ to some creative time?

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Meet My Creative Friend Nathalie Villeneuve

This month I’m launching what I intend to be a regular feature – “Meet my Creative Friend”. So let me introduce you to Nathalie Villeneuve, an inspiring artist and very grounded woman living a rich creative life.

Although we have only met in the virtual world (so far), we spoke for over an hour on our first phone call. I definitely count her as a creative friend and we hope to meet in real life.

Originally from Canada, Nathalie Villeneuve now lives in New England. Since I’m originally from New England and now live in Canada it seems we kept the world in balance. (You’re welcome.)

Want to meet her? Read on!

What does “being creative” mean to you?art by Nathalie Villeneuve

Being creative to me means developing the ability to view life from a different perspectives.

If you are a painter and want to paint the ocean, you can paint it exactly how you see it or decide to change the colors and add more waves.

If you are an entrepreneur, you can look at your business and want to expand, you have a choice to see it’s pain points and address them creatively. You can grow or continue to avoid change and stay the same.

In other words, being creative is removing yourself from your comfort zone and venture towards problem-solving. You creatively shift your approach towards life.

When did you first realize that you absolutely had to lead a creative life?

I’ve always loved to draw and paint. After going to school in art, I tried to fit art into a career but I didn’t want to become a teacher. I’m proud of the fact I’ve had several exhibits and sold my art in many states.

However, when I turned 50, I decided it was time to stop ignoring my inner artist. I founded my own business in the “sip and paint” industry and now devote 100% of my time to leading a creative life AND sharing my love for painting with others.

art by Nathalie VilleneuveWhat inspires you?

I paint women. I am inspired by women. I find my inspiration from images, art, daily life situations. I also get inspired when I attend Church.

What do you want your art to communicate?

Mostly emotions. I like to communicate  inner emotions (mainly isolation).

People go through so many emotions and often keep the negative ones to themselves. I hope for my art to become a mirror where people can relate and hopefully reveal something. I want to help them heal through hope, love, togetherness and self-discovery.

I think when people relate to one another through art or other form of communication growth, healing and happiness becomes possible.

Fundraiser by Nathalie Villeneuve
Nathalie loves doing fundraisers!

Describe your creative process. What kind of patterns, routines or rituals do you have?

Honestly it’s never the same but lately, I seem to be more creative at night. When all my errands are complete and dinner is done I can relax more and abandon myself to my art.

I started my YouTube channel so now I setup my camera to film videos twice a week. That has become time consuming (especially the editing part). I love it though, because it enables me to share painting and pastel tutorials to a large audience.

Nathalie Villeneuve Studio
Nathalie’s Studio – The Blue Room

What is the most challenging part of the creative process for you and how do you meet that challenge?

I am very busy with my business and I create artwork for my Pause and Paint painters. This has made my art more commercial…but I plan to have an exhibit of my own work at the end of this year.

My challenge is to make time to create larger paintings and paint more freely for my exhibit.

What’s the best advice you ever had about how to be more creative?

“You have a God given talent so you owe it to God to use it” ~ Sarit (my girlfriend…lol)

Art by Nathalie Villeneuve

Is there anything you’d like to add that I didn’t ask?

I would like to add My WHY, My Vision and My Mission 😉

MY WHY: Is to uplift and support women through art, creative outlets & venues.

MY VISION: Every woman will wake up inspired to live a more joyful life through expressing themselves freely and creatively.

MY MISSION: Is to commit all my talent and all my energies to build that world of inspired women so I paint, make videos, teach and invite. I do anything I can to advance my VISION that was set in motion by my WHY.

Links to My Creative Friend, Nathalie VilleneuveNathalie Villeneuve

Website and Blog: NathalieVilleneuve.com

My Group: The Women of Facebook Create 

GIRLFRIENDS’ JOURNEY CARDS (SET OF 10) www.GirlfriendsJourney.com

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