Tag Archives: art

Creativity – It’s Serious Business Folks!

Yup, serious business!

I was watching a little Oprah not that long ago (don’t judge me!) and stumbled upon her interview with Brené Brown, a research professor who studies vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. She’s most well-known for her Ted Talks ‘The Power of Vunerability’ and ‘Listening to Shame’. If you haven’t watched them, do it RIGHT NOW…In fact here you go…I’ll make a cup of tea. See you in a wee bit…

Brilliant, isn’t she?!

Anyhoo, during her interview with Oprah Brené got on the topic of Creativity and singled it out as one of the universal traits of people who live ‘wholeheartedly’. And then took it a step further.

In one sweet second of syrupy TV all my deep-knowings and years of art-making were validated with this statement…

“Unused creativity is not benign.
It matastizices.
It turns into grief, rage, shame, judgement, sorrow but we are divine beings and we are, by nature, creative.”

I KNEW IT! I KNEEEWWWWWW IT! I’ve known it since the beginning of time, since I first made something (sweet music probably) and procrastinated doing it again and then felt bad and then finally got around to it and then felt incredible and then the cycle started again…the circle of life…I mean Art…well, dysfunctional Art.

Creativity might seem like finger-painting, time-wasting and sappy self-indulgence but this is serious.

Expressing yourself in some way or another is serious.

Processing and metabolizing life through the action of creation is serious.

For our physical health we need to eat well, move regularly and get hugs. For our mental and emotional health we need to CREATE THINGS!

>> How do you fulfill this emotional-nutritional need? What do you create in life?

If you don’t have an answer to this question or are feeling flat, uninspired or blocked then I’d love to go on a creative adventure with during my course CREATIVE SCAFFOLDING which is kicking off on June 8th.

It’s revamped and repackaged especially for release as an online course and I want to share this inaugural experience with you.

You can find all the details here (what to expect, why bother, etc.) and keep your eyes peeled in the next few days for an invite to some interwebinal hijinks and creative block-busting fun that I’m putting together.

There was so much goodness spilled on Oprah’s sound stage that day that they had to make TWO episodes for Brené’s interview. You can catch the highlights here over on Oprah-interweb-HQ.

And if anyone feels like buying me a copy of Brené’s latest book ‘Daring Greatly’ or ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ for my birthday/wedding/being alive that would be aaaawesome. Marvelous stuff!


Are You Drawsome?! – A chat with Mara Belzer

Holy Creativity, Batman! I am so excited to share my very first interview podcast with you. I’m all about the talking…and the sharing…and the integrating. So it was about time I got this party started.

I got chatting to Mara Belzer, creator of ‘Be Drawsome’ – a 30 day practice of self-discovery through drawing for Artists and non-Artists – about the benefits of doodling, self-transformation without the legwork and creative self-care (hint: it might involve new stationary!)

:: How do you plan to bring the element of ‘doodling’ into your creative endeavors?
:: How do you show yourself impeccable self-care while being creative?

We’d LOVE to hear! Let us know in the comments below…

‘Be Drawsome’ kicks off TOMORROW so nip over here for more info and sign up on the double!

And check out some of Mara’s seriously impressive doodling-handiwork on Instagram, @poodlecat, #bedrawsome. You’ll even find a few of my own early efforts there too, @parisaroohipour.

marabelzer.comMara Belzer is a brand-decoder and ideas-wrangler who helps people
that consider themselves WEIRD build personality-perfect businesses.

You can find out more about her work and follow her blog at www.marabelzer.com

25 Ways to Ignite Creativity

*This article is part of a series called ‘Stoke the Fire’, which explores the creative process and attempts to understand how and why we are driven to create. I would love to hear your opinions on creativity and ideas for future posts.*

25 Ways to Ignite Creativity

Extravaganza – Prediction = True by Pilottage, via Flickr Creative Commons

So the inspiration is there (and if it’s not take a gander at my ‘101 Ways to Spark Inspiration’…hopefully there will be something there to get you started), the soul is willing but the brain is stalling. We’ve all been there!

The blank page is too unforgiving, the canvas too taute. The silence is deafening. The pause yawns with expectation and pressure. Oh, the Pressure!

In response to the Pressure (and also as a way to put off my own creative endeavors today…I promise to get started after this!) I’ve come up with 25 ways I use to by-pass the over-thinking and get down to the creating, as well as a list of resources I fall back on when stuck. I would freakin’ love to hear how you do it too…

1. Trick yourself. ‘I’m not making Art. I’m just doodling/humming/messing around/having a laugh…’

2. Bribe yourself. Creating + 30 minutes = that chocolate bar that’s calling to me from the kitchen!

3. I highly recommend SARK‘s notion of MicroMOVEments. Super small steps towards doing what it is that you are putting off, that gently steer you towards action. She has very kindly created a worksheet for it that you can download for free on her site.

4. Close your eyes. Drop your shoulders. Steady your breath. See what you want to create in your minds eye – the perfect performance, the stroke of the brush, the turn of the phrase, the thrust of the form. See it in its entirety, in its complete glory. Now see that it already exists! It exists in your mind’s eye, your job is just to actualize it, follow the blue-print you’ve just conjured. The hard part is over. Now you’re just following directions.

5. Laugh as you make it. Don’t take it all so seriously…

6. Sneak up on it! Literally, even, if you have to.

7. Do it backwards. Write the lyrics before the melody or paint the foreground before the background or do whatever you want. See what happens.

8. Share it with someone. For some reason the thought of sharing original ideas in the creative world is seen as a bad thing sometimes. Pick someone you trust and allow yourself to take some advice or collaborate or even just talk it out with this person. This is not a sign of weakness. This is you understanding that creating is a community process, rarely done in true isolation.

9. Take the Sandwich approach. Identify a cheerleader. Call them up. Tell them that you are procrastinating and that you are kinda afraid to start but after you hang up your are going to work for 30 minutes flat-out, no matter the result, and then you are going to call them right back! Get a pep talk to energize your being and know that you will have someone waiting for you on the other side, eager to hear what you did and how you are.

10. Write down your creative intent. Put it under your pillow. Let the fairies do it while you’re asleep.

Butterfly by Jinterwas, via Flickr Creative Commons

11. Channel Meryl Streep in ‘The Devil Wear’s Prada’. Nothing stands in your way. Everything you do is inspired because YOU are the gatekeeper of taste! (Just don’t be mean to your employees…not cool!)

12. Know that your artwork loves you unconditionally, like a child. You brought it into this world, you gave it life. It really doesn’t care if it’s a masterpiece or not.

13. EX-pression is the opposite of DE-pression. It is for the good of your own health that you make this piece of art…as important as exercise and your 5-a-day.

14. You are not the star of ‘The Truman Show’. No one will ever see what you create if you don’t show it to them. So who cares if it turns out to be shit?! Make it anyway and see what happens. You can always recycle it…

15. Make Art like children do – with no plan, broad strokes, speed, inaccuracies but simplicity of vision, colourful abandon and crystal clear honesty. Glue & sprinkle. Smear & rip. Jump & wiggle. Yodel & whisper.

16. Do like Georgia O’Keeffe. Zoom in, but make it really BIG! If you can’t bring yourself to make the entire thing, pick one minute detail of it but do it on a massive, grandiose scale. How do you feel about your project now?

Oriental Poppies by Georgia O’Keeffe

17. Have you tried the Morning Pages yet?! They are like an extra large, double shot latte for your Creative Being (but without the jitters and the come-down!). I first learned about them from Julia Cameron and basically you just write three, long-hand, stream-of-consciousness pages when you first wake up. You can’t do them wrong. You don’t think about them or ‘craft’ them. You don’t read back over them and you definitely don’t ever let anyone else read them. They are a place for you to whine, bitch, moan, grieve, yearn, gossip, giggle, observe, plot, extrapolate, whatever…just keep writing! I can’t tell you how amazingly focussing, cleansing and reviving they are. I can’t even say WHY they are so effective but that they get the gunk out, bypass the Ego and let you get down to business afterwards I suppose. You can read more about them here on Julia Cameron’s site…

18. Retreat to your safe place to create. Mine is my bed. I can happily write under the covers. I have been known to take my guitar to bed. I haven’t tried paints yet but I have woken up with crayons in my hair…and it was marvellous!

19. Do it outside! Pack a picnic, pick a spot and feel expansive. Also great because, so long as you’re not littering, it’s perfectly fine to make a mess.

20. Do something different. Are you a painter? Then try to sing it. Writers should attempt to sew it. Musicians might draw it. Dancers should feel free to sit still. Take your idea and express it in a way you are not familiar with just to see what happens. Does it turn your idea on it’s head or reaffirm what you already knew? Does the challenge of expressing yourself in an unfamiliar medium make you eager to get back to your native ‘language’?

21. Pimp your workspace. Taken to the extreme this can become a diversionary tactic so please be careful but sometimes a wee Spring clean of the ol’ workspace is very energizing. You find some materials you didn’t realise you had or that scrap of paper with the incredible idea on it that you had forgotten about. Nothing like physically clearing out to give you a good mental clear out as well! And if it’s all boring and work-like may I suggest some fairy lights, fresh flowers, candles, photos. Prettify the place you want to make beautiful art in. Make it a work of art itself.

22. Do you have a Creative Routine? Create a habit of lighting a candle to signify the start of your creative time. Or unplug the phone. Or make it a habit that as soon as you get in from work/shopping/walking that you will go straight to work. Make this the trigger that lets your mind know that you are now in Creative Mode, Do Not Disturb! This also doubles as a handy signal to people you live with and love to stay the freakin’ hell away from you while the candle is lit/CD is playing/sock is on the door knob! Routine can create boundaries and boundaries help protect what you hold precious.

The Golden Dream by AlicePopkorn, via Flickr Creative Commons

23. KNOW THIS! You are just a hollow reed through which inspiration has moved. You are not the original creator, merely the interpretor for the inspiration that is released into the ether by the Muse/Ultimate Inspiration/Great Creator/Universe/God/whatever you can believe in that removes the ego from creating…that unknowable, unending energy that fuels our hearts and minds and souls. I don’t care if you believe in religion or not, God or not. I don’t care if this all sounds a touch too hippy-ish for you. Believe this! This one idea will lift the burden of achieving and striving from your creative life. Your job suddenly becomes simple – to give solidity to an idea presented to you.

24. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway! Feel it in the pit of your stomach. Feel it try to f*&k you up! Now just move. Use it as a huge energy springboard. This isn’t here to fuel my not doing work, it’s going to FUEL MY WORK. Have a little out of body moment even and just look at yourself working in the face of fear…Fabulous!

25. If you really can’t do it, walk away. Maybe it’s not worth tearing it out of you. Maybe it’s not ready to be born yet. Let it bake a while longer. Go and have a nap. As Danielle LaPorte says…

Move the energy before you make a move for the results.
Want to write a killer chapter? Take a bath.
Want the check to arrive? Give some money away.
Want the love to come? Dance it out in your living room.

Want to slam down your to do list? Take the day off.

It’s not always a doing.
It’s a new seeing.

(read the whole article here…)

~ Why do you think getting start can be so hard sometimes?

~ What do you do to get the ball rolling when faced with the ‘blank page’?

**For even more ways to get the ole Creative ball rolling check out this list of resources, books, links, films, interviews and blogs that me & my band of Creative Cohorts find useful…’More on Igniting Creativity’.  Hope you find it helpful!**

p.s. this is my 100th post on Lighting Little Fires…Yeay! Thank YOU for all the support, encouragement, for reading and inspiring what I write. I owe you a jammy doughnut…

What Inspires You?

Handmade Spark recently canvassed on Twitter for answers to their February question ‘What inspires you?’

This was my offering –

Thanks to Handmade Spark for including my input in their article! You can read all the answers that were included here…they range from zany to heart-wrenching but all show a passion that drives their creative endeavors.

I would love to hear What Inspires You! And if you agree, disagree or feel totally non-plussed by my answer I’d love to hear that too…

Also want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who commented on Creating = Energy! The discussion started in the comments section is so interesting and bolstering, I can’t thank you all enough. If *you* have anything to add to what has been said so far please don’t hesitate to join in. We’d love to hear what you have to say!

Day 13 – Getting a Grilling: Interview with Jillian van Ness

Well it’s nearly the very last day here at AMDD headquarters and I am sad. I like blogging about all this stuff, and I know I don’t need to make excuses to do, I can do it any time, but it feels nice to make a little event out of it. In fact I am thinking seriously about putting together an e-zine to release twice (maybe more, maybe less) a year, but that idea is still very much in the ‘floating round my head’ stage.

And so on to today’s goodies. I feel the need to make something tasty to go with my yummy old brew coffee that is working its magic in my fridge right now. So I’m including my adapted recipe for ridiculously tasty, ridiculously easy muesli bars…healthy and yummy!

Also here is a few thoughts and lots of inspiring photos from artist/musician/superwoman Jillian van Ness. I hope you enjoy…

Getting a Grilling – Jillian van Ness

Jillian van Ness is an artist who is very hard to put in a box! More than just ‘make art’, she seems to be ‘living art’ or at least making it constantly, spontaneously and without regard for different mediums, genres, materials and styles. She is a musician, songwriter, book-maker, crafter, writer, traveller, painter, photographer and Permaculture enthusiast. She currently lives in California. You can contact her and hear her music at myspace.com/jillianvanness

I was fortunate enough to meet her while attending music school and have found her creative abandon inspiring. She shared these few thoughts and photos with me recently…

1* Describe a typical day in your life.

Oh goodness. A “typical” day in my life. I’m really looking forward to that! My partner, Adam and I recently returned from a stint abroad, living and working in Ethiopia and have been essentially living out of our truck, searching for a home in the States from coast to coast. (If any of you know of a place for a teacher, an artist, and some gardening, outdoor adventure lovers, please get in touch!) A typical day for me right now starts with a fruit bowl, herbal tea, and a walk with my dog, and ends with a hot bath in sea salt and lavender. I also carry a stack of sticky Post-it notes around with me in my purse or pocket to write down any creative idea I have during the day. When I’m on the run and don’t have time to get out my art supplies, this helps me feel like I still have an outlet for all my creative energy and am honoring my artistic side, no matter how fleeting or realistic it may be. A typical day for me right now is very uncensored and very much about being in the flow.


2* How would you describe your ‘Artistic Style’?

I would call my artistic style “intentionally spontaneous” and always incorporating partial if not total elements of sustainability, recycling, up-cycling, etc. I’m a collector, so when I find objects, I sit with them awhile and wait for them to tell me the best way to use them or incorporate them into a piece. Sometimes I don’t even use that object in a tangible sense. Later on, it may become the inspiration for or subject of a children’s song or a greeting card.

I’m also a student of the Permaculture movement, working to holistically integrate my life as much as possible. Over time, I’ve noticed how one Permaculture principle in particular has wriggled its way into my creative practice, and that’s this idea that,”The problems are the solutions.”

When I hit a wall or spill, break, lose, crack, falter, or the original vision just falls completely to pieces… I find that everything’s better when I just allow that new reality unfold: my reactions, my attitude, and ultimately, the piece or project I’m working on are always better for it. Think of it as an exercise in Trust. Trust that everything will be okay in the end.

3* Tell us about your favourite piece of artwork/writing/music at the moment.

I”ve recently completed my first installation piece called, “The Last Apothecary” which exhibited last week in San Francisco, CA… and even though I’m tired, I’m still pretty excited about the concept and other spin-off projects that may come from it. I created the piece in response to a call for Eco-Art around the theme of “Water” (and the political & social implications of the element).

-Quick fire-

~Pretty interesting or interestingly pretty? Interestingly Pretty

~Rolling Stones or Beatles? Beatles

~Boxers or Y-fronts? Boxers

~Abstract or Realism? Realism

~Blondes or Brunnettes? (or redheads?!) Anything as long as it’s curly!

~Clooney or Depp? Depp. c’mon.

~Classic or Modern? Modern

~Custard or ice-cream? Ice-cream! Gelato!

~World Cup or World Series? World Cup

~What’s your favourite colour? I love blues… Caribbean to cerulean.

~When are you happiest? When I’m outdoors or submerged in water.

Muesli Bars

adapted from recipe by Nigella Lawson’s ‘Nigella Express’


  • 1 x 397g can condensed milk
  • 250g jumbo oats
  • 100g raisins
  • 200g mixed seeds…I love pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, poppy, anything you like…
  • 125g almonds…I like mine with a mixture of whole (big and crunchy) and sliced (blend in with the jumbo oats really nicely)
  • anything else you like really…add chocolate chips for naughty ones or cranberries for sweet n’ sour. Why not try peanuts, hazelnuts or walnuts instead of almonds? The original recipe calls for shredded coconut as well, which I don’t like, but hey! In fact, if you have leftover, never-going-to-get-eaten muesli lying at the back of the cupboard, why not throw that in too…the more the merrier :)


Preheat over at 130 C and throughly grease a 23 x 33 x 4 cm tin…better yet grease baking paper so you can lift it out or use a disposable tin.

Warm the condensed milk in a pan ’til runny.

Mix together all your dry ingredients in a bowl. Then add the warmed condensed milk and blend throughly until everything is coated and sticky.

Press your mixture into your tin…it’s super sticky at this point so hand may have to be used.

Bake for 1 hour. Remove from over and let cool for 15 mins before cutting into 16 or so chunky bars.

And enjoy…