For the past 10 weeks I have been honored to work along side Catherine Just and 10 amazing women photographers to create a body of work in a master photography class called Into the Deep. I have known Catherine for many years but this was only the second time I have taken a course from her. By spending some time every day making and photographing the world around me, I have been able to strengthen my creative practice, something that it so important for artists of any medium.
Throughout the process Catherine challenged us to view as much photography and art as we could. This is something I do anyway on a weekly basis but Catherine opened my eyes to additional photographers that I did not previously know about. Cig Harvey was one such artist. I was drawn to her work because we both shoot mainly in a square format and her subject matter of home, nature and family were intriguing to me. Her handmade photo books are beautiful pieces of art in their own right and something I aspire to create more of with my work.
For Into the Deep, my subject matter included Reno/Tahoe, San Francisco and Los Angeles. I live in the Reno/Tahoe area but am constantly drawn to San Francisco and LA for work, family and play and have a deep love and longing to live back in the city.
All the photographs for this project are black and white and I chose to exclude myself from the images. It was important to me to be able to evoke a feeling and sense of longing through what I was seeing in the camera. Many days, I would stop the car and capture an image of the clouds as I glanced and saw something that caught my eye. In addition, when I travel I like to sit in the window seat so I can glance at the world below the airplane. Again, if something captured my attention, I would shoot several images through the window of the plane and adjust them slightly to create the feeling I was looking for.
In the course of the last 10 weeks, I took hundreds of photos and narrowed them down to just 20 for the exhibit. This was probably the hardest part of creating a collection. Being able to decide what stays in and what gets discarded, I am sure is a life long endeavor as you keep creating.
At the beginning of the course, Catherine asked us who inspires our work or who is inspiring us now? As part of my business I work with many creatives, who constantly inspire me to work harder and smarter but for this particular project, my friend and fellow photographer – Nick Holmes influenced much of the work I created. His use of light and shadow to enhance his subject matter encouraged me to view my work in a completely different way and allowed me to set aside my expectations of perfection and just shoot. For that I am grateful.
To view the entire show please visit Into the Deep on Catherine’s website. This group of women are remarkably talented and I am honored to be exhibiting along side them.
Have a great Wednesday, everyone!
(me – 4th grade – Fall, 1977 – Australia)
I have lived in the United States for 40 years. I am a green card holder and in process of becoming a US citizen. Most people do not know this about me. On the surface I look and speak like any other American. I am married and have 2 children that were born and raised in this country. I am by birth, Australian. My family is all Australian and I only have one family member currently residing in the US – my step father; which is how I came to move to the US at the age of 10. He was and still is a scientist and at the point in his career when we moved to this country, he had exhausted all his opportunities for research and a Ph.D.. In order for him to continue and grow and make a difference in the science community he needed to make a shift and my mum, my sister and I followed him.
In some ways this is a story about love and following your heart as much as it is a story about the people that come into your life that are meant to teach you a lesson about that love and help you grow as a person.
We moved from Canberra, Australia (Canberra is the capital city much like Washington D.C.) to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois the home of University of Illinois in the fall of 1977. I remember sitting in the airport in Canberra saying goodbye to my family not realizing of course at the age of 10 that I would never live in my home country again. Our travel to the US took us to Sydney, Tahiti, and then Los Angeles where I experienced my first Sambos restaurant and a grilled cheese sandwich – the one with Kraft Singles – american cheese melted to perfection. I had never seen cheese like this before and was enamored with its color and texture. We visited Disneyland and stayed at a hotel where all the bushes were shaped like animals. As a 10 year old this was thrilling! After Disney we flew up the coast of California to San Francisco to visit my mum’s cousin. I instantly fell in love with the hills, the ocean, the cable cars and the fresh northern California air. I would not know until much later how significant this city would be in my life today. On a walk around Fisherman’s Wharf we stopped at a cart vendor selling sea shells and I purchased two cowrie shells. Those shells have followed my travels around the US and sit on the side of my sink in the bathroom as a reminder of moving to this country as a little girl.
(our first home in the United States – Orchard Downs, Urbana, Illinois)
Once we left San Francisco we arrived in Chicago at O’Hare International Airport. It was cold and dreary and grey much like Chicago is from November to May. It was bustling and loud and much different from anything I had ever seen before. After a short stop we boarded a small plane for a quick trip to Champaign. Exiting the plane was like entering a new world. Central Illinois was home to farmland – cows, corn and soy beans. To this day I cannot eat soy beans as the smell of them in that flat country air is too strong a reminder of the place I would spend the next 8 years of my life. My step father picked us up at the airport and drove us to our new home in faculty and student housing just south and east of the main university campus. The housing was a series of apartment buildings from the 1960’s. Our apartment was at the end of one of the buildings on the first floor. It was two bedrooms and I would be sharing a bedroom with my sister. There was no carpet in the apartment just linoleum floor that in the summer would flood because the neighborhood was constructed on swamp land. In addition, there were no laundry facilities in the apartment so my mom would walk two blocks to the laundry building each week to wash our clothes.
(my Australian home)
This was so different from where we lived in Australia. We had a house in suburban Canberra with 3 bedrooms and beautiful property that my mother had purchased as a single, working mother in the early 70’s. I think at how difficult it must have been for her – coming to a new country, a new culture so drastically different from what she was used to and unable to work because of her visa. But somehow she managed and made friends.
(1978 – Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School – Urbana, Illinois)
My friends and a family that still have such significance in my life today would be met through school. My first day, just a few days after arriving in Urbana, I would enter 5th grade. There were elementary schools close by to us but we were bused to an outlying black neighborhood north of the university. I along with friends from Japan, Israel, Zimbabwe, Australia and the US intermingled with students from the neighborhood and it did not seem to make a difference who we were or where we came from. I remember entering Mrs. Malone’s 5th grade classroom and being welcomed by students from all over the world. Somehow I was still very nervous because I was different. I had a very thick Australian accent and that made me feel uncomfortable. There was a sweet girl with beautiful brown hair that her mother would hand curl into the most incredible curls I had ever seen – she smiled at me and offered for me to sit next to her – we became fast friends and later that first day I would ride the bus back to our neighborhood with her. She lived with her mother and step father as well in another set of apartments just a few bus stops down the street from me. Together, my new friend Sonya and I would experience sushi, Halloween and learning about the Jewish culture from our Israeli friends. One of my favorite memories was ice skating together on the weekends and stopping for ice cream at Baskin Robbins before getting on the bus to go home. We would stand at the bus stop in 15 degree weather eating our favorite flavors Rainbow Sherbet and Mint Chocolate Chip on a sugar cone. Our parents became friends as well and shared a similar background of science and university life in Urbana.
As our family began to grow and we added another sibling – my brother, we moved into faculty housing and a 3 bedroom house. Sonya’s family moved as well and lived just down the street from us. I would spend many Saturday nights with them and was introduced to Saturday Night Live on their black and white television. We watched Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase and John Belushi make light of American culture in the 70’s. We would have weekend sleepovers that consisted of listening to music, watching TV and singing songs while getting ready for bed. Sonya’s mom Linda would make us waffles, bacon and strawberries and fresh squeezed orange juice for breakfast. Why I remember the breakfast is because she would heat the syrup so it was warm when we put it on our waffles. I had never known anyone to do this and I thought it was wonderful. We listened to Saturday Night Fever and Grease on her stereo and Linda, a librarian at the university, introduced me to American writers that added to my love of reading. Andre, her step father shared his love of art and watercolor paintings that I still receive today in a handwritten note each Christmas. My family now has dubbed it “Andre art” and it fills my house in every corner.
I loved going to Sonya’s house. It always felt like home should feel – warm, loving and kind. Their house smelled good, like fresh baked cookies and lavender all mixed together. Throughout middle school Sonya’s family would include me on trips and I traveled with them often to visit family in Southern Illinois. Her grandfather was an officer in the air force and I remember going to his retirement party at Scott Air Force base and being enamored with what an important man he was. They always made me feel welcome and part of the family.
(Summer 1984 – Stamford, CT)
By the time we were in high school, Sonya’s family moved to the east coast. We remained in close contact and visited them one summer on a trip to New York City. After high school, Sonya returned to University of Illinois for college and she and her family would become a significant part of my life again. As a junior in high school, my mother returned to Australia with my newly born sister. At the age of 17, I decided to stay to finish out my senior year of high school. I lived with my step father and after graduation left for Carbondale, Illinois to attend Southern Illinois University. At this time in my life my parents decided to divorce. Sonya’s family again, made me part of theirs. I would spend the next several years joining them for holiday’s and being included in all their family festivities. I would visit Sonya at school and stay in her dorm with her on many occasions. Her friends became mine and we share a group of women that are some of the most important people in my life still today. Many of my own family traditions, I have extracted from things they did for me and their loved ones during the holiday season. What I remember most from my time with Sonya’s family is the generosity and kindness that they shared with everyone. It did not matter who you were or where you came from but if you were in their house you mattered; you were family and they never made you forget that.
After college, when I married my husband, they were there again. Sonya was a part of my wedding party. The extension of our friendship from such an early age, does not happen often and I am grateful for the love and kindness of Hardin and D’Avignon families. Sonya met her husband through Teach for America and they both fight for education rights of students around the country and in their hometown of Baltimore, MD. We don’t see each other as much now but we pick up where we left off and our friendship remains strong. As I write this I realize that I have been friends with this family and Sonya specifically for 40 years this November. Three quarters of my life has been influenced by their kindness, love and generosity. This American family who took in a foreigner and befriended many others from varying cultures who to this day fight for education, inclusion and rights of all people. This is what a true American family represents and I am proud to say that I know them and love them deeply.
“Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is the result of good work habits” – Twyla Tharp
Back in June, I asked you to follow along with a new book I was reading called The Wander Society. I have read about 3/4 of the book. In it, Keri Smith discusses Walt Whitman and the fact that he may be one of the founders of this “secret society”. I’m not sure what I think about the possibility of a secret society of artists and creatives but I do believe it’s a great place to begin to explore and find new ways of refining your path.
[Mary Jo Hoffman – STILL – relative losses]
This month, I’m taking that explorer notion and opening it up to “personal projects”. These are projects you create that are purely for the desire of making and building your skill set as an artist. I have completed several of these over the past few years and find my art and photography has really grown because of the discipline to do something continuously.
[Mary Jo Hoffman – STILL – one pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small]
I’m also inspired by other artists and their thought processes behind what they create. Have you seen STILL blog? It is a blog created by artist – Mary Jo Hoffman. She has been sharing a daily photo for (4) years, of gathered natural objects, on a white background. The images are strikingly beautiful but its also the discipline to keep creating after such a long period of time that interests me.
[Lisa Congdon – Collection a Day – 2010]
Of course, I couldn’t write a post about personal projects without including, my dear friend Lisa Congdon. One of her first personal projects is called: A Collection a Day where she photographed a collection each day for 365 days. This project had it’s own blog and eventually turned into a book published by Uppercase Magazine.
[Lisa Congdon – Experiments in Blue – Week 34]
Lisa’s most recent project is entitled Experiments in Blue. For 52 weeks, Lisa is painting, drawing and creating artwork using primarily blue as a starting point for her creations. As you can see these are two very different projects that show a great range in her development as an artist.
[Lisa Congdon – Experiments in Blue – Week 23]
By continually stretching yourself and gathering subjects that interest you, your art, photography and creative discipline will grow into a body of work that over time can become a jumping off point for further exploration.
In the coming months I will be exploring personal projects in greater depth and sharing some of my personal journeys with you.
Have a great Thursday!
Note: Special Thanks to Mary Jo Hoffman for the use of her images and to Lisa Congdon for the constant friendship and YES! when asked to use her images!
Poetry has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. As a child my aunt-Sally Morrison would read A. A. Milne out loud to me and my cousin; later in high school I remember reading Beowulf and really falling in love with way the words flowed across the page. This summer, I picked up a copy of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman and have “I Sing The Body Electric” marked dutifully with a pencil. I had almost forgotten my love of language and then I read Time Spent Falling by my friend Nick Holmes.
Nick is a portrait photographer, actor and an incredibly talented poet. His portrait work spans across Hollywood and beyond and I feel blessed that my own son Ben is included in his portfolio. You may know Nick as a “Gilmore Guy” who is reprising his role as Robert on the upcoming Gilmore Girls – A Year in the Life. But to me, it’s his words and photography that really show his true artistry.
Poetry is not something that you read quickly; instead it is something to be savored to allow the words to truly enter your soul. It is a beautiful form of writing that expresses deep emotions and feeling without being pretentious. Nick captures this perfectly with his prose and keeps you wanting more.
Time Spent Falling renewed something in me that has been laying under the surface for many years. Sometimes in life we can forget parts of our deepest selves only to be reminded by beautiful words on a page. Nicks poetry does just that…gives you a reminder, a nudge if you will, to something deep inside and encourages you in bringing it back to the surface.
In his words:
“My hopeful wish is that any one of these, with luck perhaps a few, will serve you as they served me. A memory recalled, a flavor not forgotten, a lover called to attention, or the simple escape inside yourself.”
I quite often write about the cross over of disciplines in this space and have lately been broadening my reach of creatives to share with you here. As artists, we are often called to many different sources of creativity, whether it be acting, photography, painting, or writing. Nick transforms these many disciplines and shares his mastery of seeing and feeling in both his writing and photography.
Virginia Madsen wrote about the book:
“In many ways, poetry is the music of literature. It often reflects the changing moods and trends in society. But somewhere along the way, we have lost the gift of language. TIME SPENT FALLING is reminiscent of a time when that gift was treasured…”
Thank you Nick for sharing this treasure with the world and thank you for providing all the excerpts, photos and cover art for this piece. You are a pleasure and someone I am happy to call a friend.
You can find Nick at the following:
Website: Nick Holmes
Have a great weekend everyone!
NOTE: Please do not use images from this post unless you have permission from the artist. Thank You.
” Creativity is the quality that you bring to the activity that you are doing. It is an attitude, an inner approach – how you look at things . . . Whatsoever you do, if you do it joyfully, if you do it lovingly, if your act of doing is not purely economical, then it is creative.” – Osho
Its summer! and time to go outside. It’s also time to wander, discover and explore the world around us. For me it’s all about travel and visits to Lake Tahoe and mini adventures that I can create at the last minute to see where I will end up. These are the best ways I find to develop my creative muscles. I’ll be traveling to San Francisco and Chicago and will have my camera ready to capture all that I see.
I just came across a new book by Keri Smith called the Wander Society. I have been a huge fan of Keri’s for quite some time and even started my own creative journey on this blog with her 100 Ideas. I’m intrigued by the subject matter of the book and want to go exploring and wandering to see what I can find out about this secret society.
This month, I want you to explore. If you are so inclined, purchase the book and follow along with me. Or pull out your phone, camera or sketchbook and go outside. Take a walk, stop along the way and record what you see, hear, feel and smell. These records can turn into inspiration for your writing, your art or just be something special for your sketchbook. If you get stuck, pull an idea off Keri’s 100 ideas worksheet and see where that takes you.
Most importantly, these exercise are meant to be fun, easy and not perfect. Get outside and enjoy!
The other day, my dear friend and PR guru, Rachel and I were chatting via email about social media and she shared a really great post via ohjoy explaining where you can find her on social media and what she is doing in those places. We thought it would be a great idea to share something similar here so that you know where I am and what I am finding inspiring out there on the internet.
Website: This is the main home for my business. From here you can see a gallery of my work; link to the blog and my shop and find out what kind of services I offer. I keep it as up to date as possible but if you are looking for a “day in the life” type view of me and my business, definitely check one of the sources below.
Newsletter: As a newsletter subscriber you will be the first to hear about upcoming workshops, talks, new products and business and creative tips. I email about once a month, sometimes more if I am promoting classes and retreats.
Blog: here I take an in depth look into creativity. I have a deep love of how creative disciplines intersect and how we can look toward other creatives for inspiration. In addition, I post about workshops, my wholesale and retail products and my creative process. I blog about 2-3 times per week or more if I find something really worth sharing.
Instagram: You can find me here almost everyday. It has been my main platform to share my photography for 3 years. I do not have a curated feed as it is more about what is inspiring me, testing out my photography skills and sharing my story as a creative. It’s the back end look into my life and business.
Twitter: You can find me here throughout the day, re-tweeting about art, design, architecture, music, and other creative disciplines. I follow a really diverse group of people and businesses. Right now I am really into the show Roadies so you will see A LOT about it. I also connect with other inspiring creatives that I hope to interview, meet or have come to one of my events. It’s really where I have fun and show my other side.
Pinterest: Here you can find out about what is inspiring me in design, architecture, quotes, fonts, small business. My boards are curated by the branded look and feel of Red Line Design. I have been on pinterest since it’s beginning days and strongly support Ben Silberman’s efforts towards the blogging and design industries.
Facebook: My facebook page is where I post about product, shows, events and my business. You will see my instagram feed pop up every now and again. You can purchase my products straight from my facebook page and you find my studio information here. It is updated throughout the week.
Periscope: Although quite new to video streaming, I do have an account set up and will be scoping in the coming months as I get my new studio location up and running. Be sure to follow me so that I can keep you updated on when I will be live. You can find me @redlinereno.
As you can see, I have a large social media presence and would love to have you join me wherever you hang out most often. If you do not like any of the platforms I mentioned, that is totally awesome. Sign-up for our newsletter and we can keep it really simple. Please note: I do all my own social media posting so you will always be talking to me and I do my best to answer back as quickly as I can.
There are a few peeps in the photo above that I need to give a quick shout out:
Have a great Tuesday everyone!
For me, my creative journey has taken many twists and turns. I absolutely love exploring new aspects of creativity that may in some way affect what I am making and definitely relates to how I see the world around me. Since I posted about the death of Prince back in April my deep love of music has seen a resurgence and I find I am constantly seeking out how music and musicians play a role in my own journey as an artist.
I have followed U2 since the days of their New’s Years Day video on MTV back in the 1980’s and I have to say that they are really my all time favorite band. The video above is really interesting to watch because it goes through the process of the Edge picking and designing his new Fender guitar. Designing and making a musical instrument is one of the quintessential creative processes and what the musician is able to do with the instrument constantly amazes me.
Another place that we can look for inspiration is the acting profession. I know I may be biased with a son that is a theater major but as I have looked deeper I have grown ever more appreciative for what it takes to work as a professional actor on stage and screen. While on my injury hiatus, I came across Tanc Sade, an Australian actor who played Finn on the Gilmore Girls and is Christopher House in the upcoming Showtime series: Roadies. Somehow I started following Tanc first on instagram and then on twitter and became interested in his story because of the intense hours he was putting in to develop new skills.
Many creatives I know talk about how they love so many different things and cannot decide what they should pursue. After following Tanc, I can say keep exploring and do everything. This is what a creative journey is about; the learning, the growing, the hard work and the satisfaction of making something at the end that you can be proud of!
It has been refreshing for me to see a working actor share his story through social media that is NOT tabloid media. In the course of me following him (which has only been since March) he has learned to Tango, to play the piano, and to golf all in the name of having a passion for his craft – acting. Tanc is also a two time Australian National Freediving record holder, sings and plays guitar and is an incredible photographer. My photo above – which was taken over the Pacific Ocean in March was inspired by this one that he also took over the Pacific after spearfishing and freediving. Incidently, my photo has been the most liked photo ever in my instagram feed.
We can also take a personal branding/social media lesson from musicians and actors such as Tanc; he shares his story with humor, honesty and an enthusiastic look into his world. Sometimes, we get so intense about having a perfectly curated feed that we lose sight of the real story behind our brands – OURSELVES. Take a moment to look at your own brand and your social media – make sure you are sharing what truly makes you happy.
Creativity comes in many shapes and forms but there are many crossovers within each of our disciplines. When you get to that moment of creative block (and we all do) take a look at music, musicians, photographers, actors and design. You might just find some nugget of inspiration that will keep you moving forward in your own endeavours.
Have a great weekend! and enjoy the videos.
Not a great photographer?
Location: Please meet at Hub Coffee Roasters on Riverside Drive.
I’ve been thinking a lot about music lately and also about sharing deep personal stories and how they can really impact the way we see the world around us. Today, I want to share some pieces with you that I have found from people I admire for their honesty, friendship and the bigger impact they have on the world around us.
Up first is this awesome video above Ordinary Love created by Oliver Jeffers and Mac Premo with U2. As I have been talking about the last several weeks, when creative disciplines make a cross over something magical happens…
Design Sponge I have followed Grace Bonney’s work for many years and have written several posts for her blog: Design Sponge. Her essay today reminds us that in the face of difficult life experiences that it takes time to heal and to develop a path to move forward. I appreciate her honesty and candor and understand personally how difficult medical issues can be for anyone trying to run a creative business and juggle everything life hands you.
Joy is Always Possible In the past year I have reconnected with several of my high school friends. My high school experience was unique in that most of us also went to middle school together. This essay written by my middle school friend Melinda is a beautiful reminder of music and its healing virtues. It is an honor to share her thoughts with you today.
In case you missed our most recent posts:
Matt and Mike Czuchry: Brothers on Life Incidently its Matt’s birthday today – Happy Birthday Matt
Have a great Friday everyone!
As you may know, I am an avid reader. I love finding books that may not be on the mainstream bestseller list but are well written and share something of deep value. These types of books don’t come around often but when they do, they can provide a space of deep reflection for your own life and creative journey. In addition, they are the one’s you can read over and over again and find different nuggets of wisdom each time you look through their pages. They are also the ones that you mark up and write notes in the margins to come back to whenever you need that spark or push to move you forward.
Brothers on Life by Matt and Mike Czuchry is one of those books. For those of you who don’t know Matt, he has played the role of Cary Agos in The Good Wife on CBS for the past 7 seasons and will be reprising his role as Logan Huntzberger on Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life later this year on Netflix. At the printing of this book, his brother Mike was an assistant professor in Psychology at a small liberal arts college in Texas and has his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology.
Written in three acts, the brothers share their stories through what Mike calls GEMS (thoughts about life written on notebook paper)…. These GEMS give a glimpse into certain points of the brothers personal journeys. At the opening of the book each writes their own letter to the reader sharing that we are all universally connected in one way or another but to always remember that our imagination and dreams are what allow us to live in the moment.
“…I had forgotten an essential cornerstone of my childhood; the beauty of life embraced through imagination, dreams and living in the moment.” xii – Matt
“…we both embrace the core perception that life is beautiful, challenging, precious, and an experience that interconnects us all.” xiii – Mike
Throughout the book, the brothers share these moments through prose, photographs and handwritten messages to each other. Each piece shows real individuals sharing their thoughts, troubles, loves, losses and the deep bond that only siblings can know. It’s these moments in our own lives that we need to stop and take stock of because sometimes they can be fleeting or just out of our grasp if we don’t savor them completely.
Having now read and reread this book several times, I have marked the pieces that I could relate back to my own personal experience and counted 24 as I sat down to write this…Pieces on love, family, dreams, faith, fear and death all brought my memories to the surface.
One such piece called Paint on Windows recalls Mikes experience with his daughter in the hospital and how as parents we hold and protect but that we must also allow something greater than ourselves to take over in times of need. My own daughter had life threatening surgery when she was just 6 months old. What got me through that experience was being surrounded by family, loving friends and a deep sense of faith that everything would be OK. At one point during the surgery I walked outside in a garden with my family and a hummingbird flew over head as if to say, don’t worry I am here with you and I like what I see…. I’m not leaving yet. After the surgery the anesthesiologist told me we had a fighter on our hands and that she made it through. Today, that little fighter is 14, strong willed and confident and makes my life so happy each and every day. We still have to visit the doctors once a year and they are continually astonished at what an incredible person she has become.
(photo credit: Jorg Meyer via mattczuchryofficial.com)
In addition to the stories shared in Brothers on Life, I marvel at the crossover of disciplines that many creatives make within their professions. Seeing Matt first as an actor and then as a writer sparked a curiosity that I have had for many years with how, as creatives, we are not bound by just one thing and it seems that we have many loves and passions that drive us. Although we may not share the same creative path, you can take some basic elements from each discipline and be able to find a common thread that connects us all – dreaming, imagination and storytelling. This for me is the basis of creativity. First, DREAM and IMAGINE and then TELL YOUR STORY in whatever way serves you, then perhaps we will grow and develop into something greater than ourselves.
Special thanks to Matt and Mike for writing and sharing their story. You can find Brothers on Life through Matt’s website.
Have a great Wednesday everyone!
Last fall I read The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna. After I read the book, I put it down for a few months. For some reason I kept coming back to the beautiful illustrations and the message that it was sharing for me. I’d tried to write a post but the right words wouldn’t come so I tucked the book away and moved on with my fall doing normal life things that Elle calls SHOULD.
“Should is how other people want us to live our lives…. It’s all the expectations that others layer upon us….” p. 29
I also signed up for ALT Summit (a design blogging conference in Salt Lake City) and lo and behold Elle was slated as the closing keynote speaker. I’ve attended ALT four times and this year really was a turning point for me and my business. At the keynote, I sat in the front row and throughout the speech I kept nodding in agreement to everything that Elle was saying.
As a speaker, I know that when you find someone in the audience that connects with your topic you have a tendency to continually look at and focus on that person. Elle was looking at me in the front row and I was nodding!
Here is a link to her speech in its entirety. Its really worth a listen and something to come back to over and over again.
After ALT I came home and again pulled out The Crossroads of Should and Must This time I absorbed the meaning behind it in terms of my own life and career. I’ve been incredibly lucky in choosing MUST…and having such a great network of support all around me has definitely helped along the way.
According to Elle:
“Must is different. Must is who we are, what we believe, and what we do when we are alone with our truest, most authentic self.” p.31
I knew I wanted to be an interior designer as a senior in high school and I followed that path. Once I got into the business of interior design I followed my PASSION for 13 years working in Chicago for Fortune 500 clients. Along the way I learned how to project manage, design and made some of the best friends in my life. But ultimately I was missing some piece of my own creativity. I could never quite put my finger on it until I had my first child and then my second. After both their births I had come another crossroads and had chosen a different MUST – raising a family. This has been the most important MUST of my life and one that I have treasured every step of the way. I have shared art, design, photography, creativity and a love for the world with my children and have helped them grow into who they are today! (Thanks to my dear friends Aryn and Lisa for reminding me of this recently)
Now that my kids are older, I am once again coming to those crossroads. Elle’s book reminds us that we come to this over and over again in our lives and this really isn’t a bad thing at all. I’m excited what MUST has in store for me now and have been exploring what it means for me…Photography, painting, writing, books, music, theater, film and travel. With these passions I always thought that they must be my career but I have come to realize that they are now just an extension of who I have become. I am lucky enough to get to share my passions with the world through my business and in this space. But I also get to savor some of the MUSTS just for myself and that’s the best part of all.
For those of you out there who are unsure of where your path is leading, look at where you are and you will find that you are actually right where you need to be on this journey. Enjoy the moment!
Elle says it best at the end of her book:
“We each have a unique potential that was given to us at birth, but whether or not we cultivate it is entirely up to us. In its purest sense, Must is why we are here to begin with, and choosing it is the journey of our lives.”
Special Thanks to Rebecca and Jenny of Workman Publishing for providing photos from the book, ALT Summit for the Keynote Address, Brooke Dennis and Justin Hackworth photography from ALT and Elle Luna for creating such a beautiful book and story about choosing MUST.
You can follow Elle on Instagram: @elleluna
Have a great Wednesday everyone!
Last week, when the news was announced, it took awhile for it to sink in. You see, Prince was a significant piece of my teenage years and most importantly my senior year of high school. Memories came flooding back that I had pushed away for many years. Riding on a bus for a school trip and the main topic of conversation: his music and his movie Purple Rain. Of all the memories why would that one be buried in my subconscious and why now would it be the first to come to light after hearing the news? The only reason I could possibly imagine is that there are parts of us that live in the past and parts of us that recall images of times that have a significance to us.
That bus trip was a turning point for me. I was so determined to be done with high school and move on with my life. It couldn’t happen quickly enough.
Capturing that moment, where I was with friends and slowing down time to just be a teenager was necessary for me to be able to move forward into the next phase of my life: college. That year we voted on our favorite band, song and movies for the yearbook and Prince inevitably came out on top. He had impacted me in a way that I would not really understand until last week.
My husband and I talk about this all the time; a song will come on the radio, a scene in a movie will remind us of something. Its our remember when moment…Music connects us to something larger than ourselves; it provides us with a release and sometimes connects us with a place and time in our lives that sparks memories. The 80’s for me were Prince – they were leaving childhood and becoming an adult; knowing innocence and seeing it drift away; for a moment his music was about bringing me back and helping me see fun, laughter and friendship in a new way where so much was possible.
As I began to watch on social media throughout the day, I noticed a similar recounting of memories. Everyone seemed to have their own thoughts on how Prince had impacted their lives. People were sharing and reminiscing. For just a moment, the news had turned something sad into happy and it made me smile.
Music can do that…it can help heal, it can help to give us hope and it can bring us peace.
At one point I popped on Twitter and noticed the three top trending items were: #Prince, #JasonBourne and #ChicagoCubs. I love music, good storytelling and of course Chicago Cubs Baseball! My three favorite passions were at the top. Prince was rockin, Jason Bourne was back and the Chicago Cubs were winning…
All was right with the world.
For the past 6 weeks I have been recouping from a torn plantar fascia. When I first found out I would have to wear a boot on my right foot for 4 months and stay off it as much as possible I sent myself into quite a tail spin. You see last year I had a 2nd major shoulder surgery which took my away from my business for almost 10 months. I wasn’t quite sure what all this meant and I certainly was not happy with the outcome.
I was on track in January to hit the ground running and go all out with new projects and new products. It starting to happen and was gaining momentum when my injury hit. So I did what the doctor ordered, stayed off my foot and binge watched movies and TV for a month. During the course of this time I began to wonder about my dreams and where they were going and exactly what I wanted to accomplish with my business and my life.
Part of this wondering lead me down a path that was surprising. You see I haven’t actually watched much TV since my obsession with Seinfeld back in the 90’s. Last summer, my daughter Emily introduced me to Gilmore Girls on Netflix. I watched a few episodes with her to make sure it was “appropriate TV” and then tucked it away into my Netflix profile. She would keep coming to me to share funny moments and story lines that she enjoyed and kept telling me that I needed to watch it. So I did. I began halfway through Season 5 and binge watched until the end of the series on Season 7. This fall, she began watching it again so naturally I took another look. It wasn’t until the middle of February that I started from Season 1 and watched all the way through. I had no idea the buzz around the show until I started looking up some of the actors. This lead me down a rabbit hole and to a book: Brothers on Life by Matt and Mike Czuchry. (Matt was on the series for Seasons 5-7 and stars in The Good Wife on CBS)
If you have followed me in this space for a long time you know I used to interview fellow creatives and I shared a lot about books that have had some impact on my creative journey. Reading this book reminded me of my original mission of sharing about creativity and what drives us to follow our passions. So in a weird round about way, the book brought me back and has opened the flood gates to a project I have had on the back burner for the last two years.
Yesterday, I shared a series of books on facebook and instagram that I will be talking about in this space over the next month or so. Brothers on Life is one of them. My plan is to write a synopsis each book and talk about the way each has impacted me, reach out to the authors for a possible interview and fully develop the special project I started so long ago. I hope you will come along on this journey with me and please feel free to share any of your favorite creative books in the comments, I might add them for future posts…
Happy Tuesday everyone!
Welcome to the first in a year long series on small business tips. Each month of 2016, I will be sharing a new topic in regards to running a small creative business. Here are the topics we will be discussing for 2016:
January: Make a Plan
February: Say Thank You
March: Know Your Numbers
April: Inspiration Files
May: Social Media Tips
June: Board of Directors (AKA Business Mentors)
July: Finding Your Tribe (AKA Circle of Influence)
August: Back to School/Back to Business
September: Ramping Up for the Holidays
October: Branding Basics
November: Business Resources
December: Looking Back/Planning for the Future
As a small business owner and creative entrepreneur that’s been in business for (6) years I have many tools and tips that can help you grow your own business and a wealth of project management skills from years as an interior designer that are equally as useful as a business owner.
As it’s the beginning of the year, what better way to start than with a PLAN. I first began mapping out my projects way back in the days of being a project manager for Fortune 500 clients in Chicago. Back then I used Microsoft Project – a project management tool that integrated dates, tasks, and resources into one very big calendar. I have now simplified and use Basecamp to map out everything for my business from blogging calendars, marketing efforts and collaborations.
Here is a step by step of what I do to prepare for the year ahead.
Next month we will be discussing how important it is to say THANK YOU to your clients, customers and the people that help your business THRIVE. Until then…Happy Planning!
January is a time for new beginnings, renewing your creative alignment and starting new projects. For me, that means cleaning my studio, starting a new sketchbook, setting creative goals and adding a few new tools to my creative practice. It also means assessing how I grew as an artist last year and where I want to see myself at the end of 2016.
Last year was a different year for me creatively. I had shoulder surgery in March so that took out many months of creative exploration. I did however participate in my first show – The Strike Away Show and I have plans to submit my work to several shows this year. I completed my 100 Wednesdays Black and White Photography Project and this year have decided to tackle a 365 Pattern Play Personal Project to grow my surface pattern making skills. I like sketching and playing with pattern in my sketchbook so for January most of the pieces will be simple patterns that I draw or paint in an 8×8 sketchbook. You can follow along at #100wednesdaypp on instagram and of course in this space on Wednesdays throughout the year. I painted a lot over November and December and am still continuing on my #52paintingclass journey. I have now painted 13 pieces of the 52 I had set out to complete.
My children gave me a full set of Crayola crayons, markers, and paints for Christmas and also a beautiful coloring book so these are fun tools for me to play and explore with during the month.
If you are just beginning your own creative journey this year – I encourage you to pick something simple and fun and try it for 30 days. It can be as easy as picking up a coloring book and coloring the pages before you or as challenging as a personal project for the year.
I’d love to hear what you have in store. Please feel free to share in the comments and don’t forget to link to where we can find you. We’d love to follow your creative journey.
Happy Tuesday everyone!
As the last month of the year approaches and the busyness of the season sets in, my friend Susannah Conway steps back and takes a moment to reflect. This month she has a special project that I am participating in for the 2nd year and I hope you will follow along as well.
December Reflections is a photo or journal project to help you look back at your year and to find some quiet special moments during what can be a very overwhelming time for some. The prompts are listed above and if you take a look at Susannah’s site you can add your blog, sign up for a flickr group to share your images or simply take a moment to read her post and spend a few moments reflecting.
Have a great Tuesday everyone!
So excited to share a sneak peek of our 2016 calendar with you. This year, flowers were everywhere in my world and I am thrilled to announce that our calendar will be filled with my favorites for each month. Most of the flowers were actually taken in my garden in Northern Nevada, so they have an extra personal touch from me.
The calendar is now available for pre-order and will be available to ship on November 1st. We will only be printing 25 calendars in this first run!
Happy Friday everyone!
Although I have been relatively quiet here in the last several months I have been creating like a mad woman. Sketching, photography, painting, and reading a lot!
Part of all this creating has been experimenting with different art supplies including gouache, pen and ink and marker. this piece is one of my experiments and I am showing it to you today to remind you doing the work is the only way to grow a creative practice. I have now filled several pads of mixed media paper with different pieces including this one. Some days it is really hard, others the inspiration comes quickly.
One of my favorite areas of experimenting has been with pattern design. I learned how to create an 8×8 pattern from Molly Hatch on Creative Live last month and I think I have finally found a way to create patterns that works with my hand drawing background and my computer skills. I have a companion piece in the works for this one. I’ll share it here and on instagram once its complete.
Have a great Monday everyone!
Back in March of this year I joined Mati McDonough and Faith Evan-Sills on a year long journey of painting in their online course 52 Paintings: Exploration, Self Discovery and Community through Painting. Unfortunately for me, the beginning of class coincided with my shoulder surgery and I was unable to participate until early this summer.
My goal with this course is to create 52 pieces of art and build my portfolio while making and learning new techniques. So far I have completed 3 paintings; only 49 to go!
The course itself is very easy to manage with a busy schedule and I often listen to the content at night and then paint when I have free time in my schedule. I have always enjoyed classes with Mati and looking around my studio, many of the pieces hanging I have created when working with her. Faith has amazing videos and shares so much of her process from her studio in Charleston, SC. The content is robust and the techniques and tools shared have grown my art practice.
The online connection with other artists is also invaluable. Being able to post your work in the facebook group or in the online classroom has been helpful for feedback, a pat on the back and meeting other like minded artists.
This course is only halfway completed and you can sign-up at any time. I definitely recommend it for growing your art practice and your portfolio.
Have a great Wednesday, everyone!
I’ve been blogging since 2010 and have owned my own business since 2009. This past March I was faced with a major shoulder surgery and a child graduating from high school and heading off to college. I decided to take a break; a break from blogging and a break from my business. It was a hard decision but one that proved to be just what I needed at this point in time.
I spent 4 months recouping from surgery and enjoying my time with my family. Several times I sat down to write a post but the words would not come. So I rested… I traveled…I played…I painted and I photographed…It was the best time for renewing myself and for strengthening my relationship with my family.
Today, September 1st marks a new beginning a renewed sense of where I am. I have been painting, photographing and sharing my story over on instagram and I do hope you will join me there. It is truly my favorite social media tool and also a great outlet to show my work.
Also, I am back to blogging and will be sharing more about my process, my work, owning a small business and creating space for ease. In addition, I will be back to sharing more interviews, book reviews and creative inspiration as I used to do several years ago.
I hope you will come along with me again and thank you from the bottom of heart for all your support these past 6 years.
Happy Tuesday everyone!
Today, I am really excited to share that I am participating in my first show in San Francisco. My friend Courtney Cerruti along with Alicia of @adorndesign have created The Strike Away Show which is a show of matchbooks. you can alter them, paint them, chop them up or do whatever to make them your own.
The show is open to anyone that would like to participate and you can find more information on Courtney’s site.
I’ll be creating my pieces this weekend and hope to share some of my process with you over the coming weeks.
Have a great Thursday everyone!
Watch this video to check out some highlights from week 1 of the amazing 5th annual Right-Brainers in Business Video Summit , a virtual interactive learning event unlike any other.
I’ve been having incredible a-ha moments about creating sustainable success in my business including:
This fun recap video features excerpts from inspiring and informative interviews with host award-winning author Jennifer Lee, and her guests Lisa Congdon, Amethyst Wyldfyre, Monica Garcia, Corbett Barr, Sam Bennett, Jo Klima, Andreea Ayers and Alison Finlay.
Like what you see?
Make sure to join me and the thousands of other creative entrepreneurs from around the world to catch the final days of the summit now through March 20th. It may be the last time this 5-year running event happens, so don’t miss out. Grab your no-cost ticket here
If you want to watch all 10 interviews and video summit sessions, you can get unlimited access to replays for only $67 at the Booster level. The price goes up to $97 next week, March 24th, so upgrade now to get this super affordable rate.
If you’re ready to really take your creative business seriously, you can upgrade to the Premium Pass that includes 3 group coaching calls (the first call is this Wednesday March 18th at 5pm PDT, a private facilitated Facebook group, transcripts of all the video summit sessions, left-brain checklists and more! The Premium Pass is $137 (and you get nearly $600 in bonuses), but the early-bird rate ends on March 24th.
Get access to this incredible multimedia resource here
I can’t wait to “see” you there!
Have a great Monday everyone!
Have a great Wednesday, everyone!