Posted on Leave a comment

Finding Emily

Beyond the doorway, brilliant colour caught my eye and I headed there like a bee to a flower. The brushstrokes, the colours, the energy drew me in. If this had been the only painting I saw at the Art Gallery of Ontario, I would have been satisfied.

I had discovered Emily Carr.

It isn’t like I didn’t know who she was and the place she holds in Canadian culture before that moment. But this? This was something different. She got “inside”.

Emily Carr, Trees in the Sky
Trees in the Sky, Emily Carr, 1939

After returning home to Nova Scotia, I kept thinking about that painting and the woman who created it but life kept me busy. Then…I became ill. (I wonder now if it wasn’t God saying, “This is important. You need to stop and look at what I’m showing you!”)

For two weeks, about all I could do was lie in bed, sleep and read so I went looking for a book about Emily Carr, only to discover she was also a gifted writer. I could get to know her through her own words. And as I read, she began to teach me.

When someone’s name becomes a household word, we often forget the struggle and work they put in before their recognition by the world. Emily didn’t attain success until she was in her late 50’s. She even gave up painting for 15 years while she earned a living. Her autobiography “Growing Pains” introduced me to the journey she took.

However, it’s in her journal, “Hundreds and Thousands” that I really got to know her. Because she never meant her journals for publication, she wrote to herself and there’s an informal honesty in the words. Reading them felt like sitting at the kitchen table, sharing a coffee with her and chatting about creativity and what it took for her to make art.

For instance, she offers this advice:

I took always in my sketch-sack a little notebook. When I had discovered my subject, I sat before it for some while before I touched a brush, feeling my way into it, asking myself these questions, What attracted you to this particular subject? Why do you want to paint it? What is its core, the thing you are trying to express?

Now I find myself writing in my own journal more, becoming mindful of the subjects I choose. I ask myself bigger questions about things that catch my eye and look beyond the surface. I’ve already come up with some answers that have surprised and delighted me.

This next quote also jumped out at me. After reading it, I closed the book to let it sink in.

Inspiration is intention obeyed.

I can’t say exactly why that quote strikes me so deeply. Perhaps it’s because moving to Nova Scotia now feels like an inspired decision but it began as an intention to live simply and creatively. I’m still peeling back the layers of those words and I suspect there will be at least one more blog post about it.

Her work inspires me but not because I want to copy her style. Rather it was her search to find her own way I connect with. I want to put more of me into my work. Emily agrees.

Another’s thoughts are not ours and to copy them gives no growth. Be careful you do not write or paint anything that is not your own, that you don’t know in your own soul.

Like a great teacher, her words challenge me to ask myself, “What do I need to learn here?”

Posted on Leave a comment

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

Posted on Leave a comment

Ideas have ancestors

geneology of ideas

“Look at Shakespeare, who borrowed all of his plots. In ‘A Song of Ice and Fire,’ I take stuff from the Wars of the Roses and other fantasy things, and all these things work around in my head and somehow they jell into what I hope is uniquely my own.” George R.R. Martin

It’s all been done before…and that’s fantastic!

Ideas are the seeds of creativity. And yet, as artists and writers we often get discouraged thinking “It’s all been done before.”

That’s the good news. No, really. It IS good news because I’m not sure anyone is wholly original. We build on each other’s ideas. That’s why I say that ‘ideas have ancestors.’ We can trace their lineage.

Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet (and it sounds like he got his plot elsewhere.) Along came the creators of West Side Story who basically told the same story but changed it. George R.R. Martin took a story from history, amped it up and made it his own.

You’re probably thinking “But, Aprille, what about Leonardo da Vinci?” (Insert any creative hero here.)

They got their ideas from somewhere else, often the natural world around them. They saw what everyone else saw but  through the lens of curiosity.

Make it your own

What could you create today starting with the inspiration of something else? How would you change it to make it truly your own? I’m not advocating copying. That’s just plain bad karma.  But inspiration? That’s a good thing.

Inspiration always starts somewhere. Steve Jobs got his design idea for the Ipad on a Zen retreat. The designer of Velcro was a hunter who had to pick cockle-burs off his pants and wondered how they stuck there.

The geneology of an idea

Austin Kleon, in his brilliant book “Steal Like an Artist” talks about the ‘geneology of ideas’. I love this concept. So much in fact, that I did as he advised and spent time reading about an artist I greatly admire. From there I tracked down her influencers and saw how they inspired her.

From that I got a whole slew of creative ideas, all of them uniquely mine and yet…not. I can trace their family tree.

See what I mean? It’s not about being an original. It’s about seeing things in a new way by building on our creative ‘ancestors’. I’m not sure anyone starts from nothing. Ideas have family trees.

Gives a whole new meaning to recycling, doesn’t it?

Who are your creative heroes? How have they influenced you? Share in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Longing for more creative expression?

Join me for the next session and sync up your life and creative soul.


What are you waiting for


Build a personalized creative practice

that fits the life you lead today.

Get ready for your future.

Get on the waiting list for the next session

By signing up here you are agreeing to receive occasional emails from me with information about Synchronize.

Posted on Leave a comment

Sketching to Experience the World

Power of Sketching

Drawing is first about taking something with all the senses, letting what is simply be as it is, without judging it. – Jeanne Carbonetti, The Yoga of Drawing

Call it what you will

Sketched from my deck

I love sketching. While it’s a good creative warm-up, it’s even better as an antidote to the distractions all around me. It reminds me to pay attention because the world is a pretty amazing place.

Sketching is available to anyone because there’s no need to call yourself ‘artist’. No need even to share what you produce. I have pages and pages of sketches for ‘my eyes only’. You can even throw away what you produce because it’s NOT about the product.

It’s about being present for that moment and really noticing the world again.

It’s all about curiosity

Sketching makes me pay attention and examine small details.

It shifts me out of auto-pilot and helps me to let go of preconceived ideas about how the world around me ‘should’ look.  When I really get into flow, I focus in without judgment about the object I’m studying or what my hand produces on the paper.

Perhaps ‘doodle’ is a better word because it strips away that serious artist overtone.  It’s about curiosity and taking a closer look.

Carpe Diem and Sketch

Sketch of a tide pool
Tide Pool

Keep it simple and your tools handy so you can do this anytime, anywhere. Seize every opportunity.

Choose a pencil or fine-line marker that you like. I prefer a marker because my lines feel more confident. The energy is just different when I know I must commit and can’t erase. I also keep a few watercolour pencils with me because I like colour but it’s not necessary.

The paper itself isn’t important. While it’s nice to have sketchbook, the back of a napkin also works. As I said, it’s not about the end product but the process.

Then just do it.

Try it

Sketch something in your environment right now. Start by taking a second look.

Is the top of a mug really round or something else when it’s in front of you. How do the shadows fall? Is there a glint of light on this somewhere? How do the pieces line up? Or not? Is the top bigger than the bottom?

sketch of boats
Fishing boats by the Margaretsville wharf

You get the idea.

Then just make some marks on the paper. Once you start, it gets easier. Don’t judge the marks you make. They’re not important.

You only need a few minutes. Do it on your lunch hour or while the kids nap. It’s a practice you can squeeze into any schedule and can help you feel more grounded because for those few minutes, you’re paying attention.

Invisible Rule holding you back?

Sketch of the Point
On the Point by the lighthouse

If you’re hesitating I’ll bet the conversation in your head sounds something like “I could never do that.”.

Who made up that rule?

Change the inner dialog to a curious question — “What if I tried this?”.

I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.

Hard to find creative time in a busy life?

I’m putting together an online course that can help with that.

 


What are you waiting for


Build a personalized creative practice

that fits the life you lead today.

Get ready for your future.

Get on the waiting list for the next session

By signing up here you are agreeing to receive occasional emails from me with information about Synchronize.

Posted on 1 Comment

Meet My Creative Friend: Victoria Lynn Hall

I believe in the power of art partly because of my creative friend, Victoria Lynn Hall.  She is a truly multi-talented, multi-passionate Renaissance Soul. As an artist, blogger and musician, I’m in awe of how creativity permeates everything she does.

I’m sure she’ll inspire you as much as she does me.

What does “being creative” mean to you?

Being creative means a lot of things to me. It means focusing on possibilities rather than limitations. It means problem solving and trying to make order out of chaos. And it means recognizing beauty and doing something to bring that beauty into the light for others to see. 

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

I think I’ve always led a creative life, I just didn’t always value it. I spent way too much of my early life wishing I was more normal and yet all the people I admired were extremely creative in one way or another. 

It was reading and practicing the tenets of “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron in my twenties that finally made me take myself more seriously as an artist and see myself as in the same league as the people I idolized. It started me on a path of healing the wounds that told me my creative and imaginative talents were something frivolous so that I could see them and utilize them as the incredible gifts that they really are.

It’s a path I’m still walking.

What inspires you?Creative art by Victoria Lynn Hall

Color, pattern, form. Music, art, nature. Questions, mysteries, possibilities.

Almost anything can spark my imagination and once a vision is formed there of something that could be created or transformed, it’s impossible for me not to pursue it.

What do you want your art to communicate?

I see making art as a communication between myself and my higher self (and perhaps even something beyond that).

I don’t seek to control that conversation but rather focus on expressing my thoughts, feelings, hopes and visions as honestly as possible through whatever medium I am using and trusting the response I get back from that. However, almost always what comes out of that collaboration conveys a story of hope, beauty and transformation.

Creative art by Victoria Lynn HallDescribe your creative process. What kind of patterns, routines or rituals do you have?

My most faithful creative routine is journaling.

It is how I check in with myself and it helps me prioritize my creative passions. Writing down what I am thinking, feeling and envisioning for my life shows me where my imagination is engaged and everything flows from there.

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

The most challenging part of the creative process, for me, is just getting started on something. Usually, I meet that challenge by getting started on or finishing something else.

Having many different types of creative projects going on at once makes me a “productive procrastinator”. I focus on the task that I have the least resistance to and accomplishing that gives me the energy and confidence to take on the next task (or inspires a completely new one).

What’s the best advice you were ever given about how to be more creative?Creative art by Victoria Lynn Hall

This is a tough one for me because I’m not sure I need advice on how to be more creative.

There are actually some days when I would prefer to be less creative, at least long enough to get my laundry put away. But I will tell you one of the mottos I live by, which is engraved in gold letters on a little journal I keep close to me at all times: Trust Your Crazy Ideas.

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

I would just like to say that I believe in the magic of kindness, especially when it comes to artists encouraging, inspiring and supporting each other.

Thank you Aprille, for being that magic for me and for inviting me to explore these questions.

Here’s how you can connect with Victoria:

You can find my blog at http://www.ibelieveinart.com/

For creative inspiration and encouragement like my I Believe In Art Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/IBelieveInArtBlog/

You can also connect with me through my I Believe In Art account on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/ibelieveinartblog/

And find fun and creative products to inspire your creative soul at http://www.ibelieveinartshop.com/

Posted on Leave a comment

Muse Flash: Get out of the studio

When was the last time you spent a quiet moment just doing nothing – just sitting and looking at the sea, or watching the wind blowing the tree limbs, or waves rippling on a pond, a flickering candle or children playing in the park?  — Ralph Marston

The picnic tables in the park down the street are calling to me. They overlook the bay and I plan to visit them soon with my paints and sketchbook for a little plein air work.

I love my studio but lately I’m hungry to be out where I can smell the ocean and feel the wind. After a dreary, rain-soaked season, I feel flat and empty.

It’s been an easy winter but still…it is winter. At first, I enjoy being cocooned indoors but by March I’ve been inside too long, despite daily walks with the dog.

It’s time to escape and energize my art heart.

One day this week, I’ll take my sketchbook, walk over the our park and set up on one of the tables. The neighbours may think I’m a bit touched but then again, who cares what anyone else thinks?

Even if I don’t paint, it’s never a waste of time to watch waves and listen to the wind.

We all need to get out of our studios and get back into life or we run the risk of growing stale.

Care to join me?

 

Posted on 13 Comments

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

▼ SOCIAL MEDIA ▼

 YouTube

✧ Twitter → @paintwithnat

✧ Instagram → @PaintwithNat

Facebook

Pinterest


Meet more creative friends in our Facebook Group

Posted on 1 Comment

We need more boredom

Boredom gets a bad rap these days.

The problem is this – we aren’t creative in special pockets of time or space. Creativity doesn’t occur in isolation from our lives. We are creative all the time, wherever and whenever we are. Everything in our life is raw material. (Just ask the family of a writer.)

Or at least that’s how it used to be

Frankly, I’m worried about the richness of our creative lives these days because so many of us are just so, well…distracted.  Those smart devices are training us to avoid boredom at any cost. We turn to them constantly and when we do, we miss the inspiration all around us. There are ideas floating through the air, waiting for our attention but fewer and fewer of us are paying attention.

Invite boredom

A little boredom might be a good thing

What’s got your attention these days?  Are you actively looking for the creative sparks and ideas that are all around you?

Or does your social media feed keep you distracted?

If your creative well is feeling a little dry, that may be a sign you need to take a vacation from technology and get back to real life. Everything feeds your creativity, if you are awake and aware. Everything.

Challenge yourself. Let yourself feel the boredom. It’s actually fertile ground, contrary to what you might think.

A lot of creative brilliance had its roots in boredom

Start with just an hour. Put down that smart device and pay attention to the world around you for that time.

You might be missing something important.

Posted on 10 Comments

Water: The Magic Element

“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.”  Loren Eisley

Before our move to Nova Scotia, our home backed onto a quiet lake in Ontario. Living by the water was something I’d dreamed of as a kid and we enjoyed that lake for almost 20 years. I especially loved watching the weather move across the water and the sunsets on the far shore.

Peace of the ocean

However, since moving here to the Bay of Fundy, I honestly feel I’ve traded up.

Anytime of the day I can step out my door and the ocean lies just around the corner, always different, always fascinating. Walking the dog is always an adventure. In the fall an eagle pair hunt along our shoreline. Yesterday, a pair of seals bobbed just offshore, watching us watching them. Fishing boats come and go, while the weather has its way with everything.

by the waterI’m so grateful to be living this close to powerful tides and the sound of waves and wind. The smell of salt and seaweed keeps me aware of the invisible.  Beach-combing for interesting rocks, fishing floats and driftwood has become my new form of meditation.

And honestly, how many people have a lighthouse almost in their backyard?

Water and Creativity

Studies show we are hard-wired to react positively to water. We become calmer and more creative (which is a definite plus for this artist). Being near water gives our brains a rest from all that stimulation around us. And who doesn’t need that these days?

Apparently this preference for water is even responsible for those Aha moments many of us experience in the shower.

For me, there is definitely magic in the water here. There’s just no other way to explain why my life is more peaceful and my art more heart-centered living here on the shore.

Where do you go to feed your creative heart?