Sunday, 21 December 2008

Happy Holidays :)

Today is Winter Solstice and it always makes me feel better knowing that the nights will slowly start to get shorter now.
Christmas is only a few days away, and this warms my heart as I know we'll be with people we love and eat and be merry :))
Whether you're religious or not, it doesn't matter as there is enough love and peace in the world to go round for everyone :)))
To top it all we have a New Year on its way which can only inspire and bring new opportunities.

Peace and Love to you all - Warm Wishes for a Very Happy Christmas and a Great New Year.

Debs x x
candle Pictures, Images and Photos

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Blog Vacation

Hi everyone.
I'm just popping up a note here to say that I will be taking a vacation from this blog for several weeks. I am having major surgery and I will need some recuperation time. I will be back though :)

I am currently preparing for an exhibition of new artworks, and I'm keeping a creative blog at wordpress - The Creative Life of Debs. I invite you to follow my progress there as I go through the ups and downs of the creative process.

I highly recommend any of the listed books in the right hand column if you need some inspiration for problem solving whilst I'm away.

Also visit Megan Chapman's Studio Blog for artist life and business insights.

Meanwhile, as cheesy as it sounds, Keep Creative!! :)

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Clear Your Mind with a Journal

Last time I suggested giving yourself a break from your nagging worry voice by sending it to your Big Toe. I hope this technique was able to keep it at bay while you got on with your creativity.

This week I’m going to tell you about Journal Writing to help you tackle that voice face to face. If you’ve done this before, or even still do it, then this will be a revisit to how valuable keeping a journal can be.

That voice obviously needs attention, and whilst sending it to your big toe is helpful when you need a break from it, it ultimately needs to be addressed. You can talk it over with friends and professionals if you need to. Meeting that voice face on is daunting! But a really great way is to write it down. In that process some of the heightened emotions are dispelled straight away. Then comes the telling of the story, the expression of the issue, and an exploration. You don’t have to write in your journal everyday, but I can tell you that once you start, you’ll want to share your thoughts and feelings with this journal more often than you think.

Keeping a journal is an ancient practice and has lots of benefits. There are 100 benefits listed on this page I found online here at appleseeds

You will soon feel the benefit. Once you clear your mind by writing it all down, there is room for problem-solving and in due course, a peace of mind :)
You don’t have to just write in your journal by the way – you can draw, paint, add collage and photos to help. Whatever helps is the right way. And when, one day, you look back through it, you will be amazed at how things have changed – for the better!

So journal yourself to peace and a clear mind. It really works. Its a good way of Keeping Creative...

There’s even an online tutorial on how to make your own personalised covers for your journal / notebook - find it here

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Send it to your Big Toe

"It sits on my shoulder, whispering sceptical things into my ear that make me stop and question my path as an artist. Its comments are condescending, spiteful, and convince me that I'm wasting my time. "Who's going to like, let alone buy that?!" - it chants each time I get close to getting anywhere with anything creative."

How many of you have had this little demon voice in your ear? I know I have. But I have learnt to banish this voice on command in recent years. It no longer gets to me quite as often. How? By sending it to my Big Toe!! Sounds crazy but it works!!

This is a wonderful technique for dealing with that nagging and doubting voice that threatens to hamper your creative spirit. I’ve talked about trusting your intuition many times, but I’m well aware that training yourself to do this takes time. Today I introduce to you a way of cutting off that voice who tells you that you’re wasting your time following your dream.

When that annoying chatter is removed from your head area to your toe it is weakened and physically as far away from your creative brain a possible. It’s so much better to have a clear mind, and while it’s away in your toe you can concentrate on your creative pursuits. You will have to be determined to keep the pesky voice at bay, so each time its starts again, send it packing - back to your big toe.

This little trick is so powerful. Trust me when I say that it releases you from your fears, and helps you overcome the difficulty of focussing on your artistic journey.

I hope you and your big toe find success!

Monday, 6 October 2008

Sketching and Doodling

Keeping free and easy in your creativeness is probably the most important issue to overcome and maintain. This is what I have learned myself, yet again, just recently. Yes, I say again, because we are constantly on a learning curve all through our lives. The difference is that we are usually at a different place when we come up against the same issue. You could visualise this as a spiral. We often go full circle with things, but we’re probably the next level up, even if we’re at the same issue.

It is well recognised that we can get bogged down by pressures and restrictions, (external and internal). We can be working on a particular theme or project and lose ourselves in it so far that we’ve forgotten how easy it used to be to create the way we used to outside of that particular project.

Enter the doodling and sketching exercise. At first it may seem trifling and irritating. It may be hard to loosen up. In fact it is hard to loosen up – I found this really hard, and in the first sitting I was a disaster. Why? Because I was trying too hard! The only way I could overcome it was to remove myself from the studio and sit in front on the tv.

So, here is the method:

  1. Step outside of your studio or usual creative space.
  2. Find somewhere else to set up with paper and pens (or whatever) as a temporary space
  3. Put on the tv, the hifi, your ipod, or the radio…
  4. Take 3 deep, slow breaths. Relax your shoulders.
  5. Clear your mind of its clutter.
  6. Get ready to doodle, or sketch.
  7. If you need a subject, find some household, fridge, larder, objects, or some photos of something you like such as leaves, flowers, trees, landscapes.
  8. Don’t think too much as you sketch. Let your eye guide the hand, with light concentration. Try to keep the style simple and free. It doesn’t have to be strictly representational – you can just fill in areas of colour, or just simple shapes.
  9. Enjoy the process. Don’t produce anything for anyone else to see – this is your personal exercise.
  10. Remember that if it doesn’t work, put it to one side and come back to it, or start again.

When you have finished your session, however long it takes, put it all to one side and leave it for at least half and hour. When you return to it, look at it objectively, if you can. Can you still see restrictions or barriers to the freedom you’re trying to achieve? If so, can you solve it?

I’d love to hear about your experiences – feel free to share. You may have a different way of loosening up, if so, let me know. I also welcome suggestions for issues to tackle in this blog - keeping creative is a universal subject and there’s so much to explore!



above sketches:

top - "coastal cornfield" ©2008 Deborah Eileen Burrow

bottom -" across the reeds" ©2008 Deborah Eileen Burrow

both of these sketches are for sale at

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Taking a Break

I have come to observe, both in my own behaviour, and other creative people around me, that one of the creative person’s greatest pitfalls is not taking a break. Most people will book holiday/vacation at regular intervals during the year. But, somehow, the self-employed, and in particular those working in the arts, don’t give themselves time off. Many reasons behind it are financial, but mostly it’s the perception of loss of momentum and control in productivity.

My blogs are always written when something resonates with me, and this week is no exception – I write from personal experience.

Working towards a goal, like my exhibition, has suddenly kick-started an old habit of mine – extreme drive. This drive is my enemy and my saviour rolled into one. I cannot achieve without it, but it is one of the most difficult things to turn off. Even when I am tired, frustrated and burnt-out, my drive will keep me up late at night, and fill every waking moment with obsession over the project in hand.

I wrote, produced and released 5 CDs as a singer-songwriter between 2001 and 2007. That was a highly driven time for me. Not only was I in the studio recording a lot, but I was performing live at least once every week. The only thing that stopped me in the end was serious illness. Our bodies are wise and will always let you know when you’ve been overdoing it. In the first year of my self-employment I gave myself 1 week off. In the following 2 years I gave myself 2 weeks off per year. After I became ill at the beginning of the 4th year I was forced to take 16 weeks off. I survived better than I thought I would, both financially and in productivity. No surprise to me looking back on it, but I wouldn’t have believed it before then. So since then I’ve given myself a week off after every 8 weeks of work! It has been truly beneficial – I feel better, and I’m more productive! Only occasionally now, do I find myself in overdrive – but I recognise it straight away, and I pull myself away from the project – even though I’m mentally kicking and screaming! I also have great friends who remind me that its time to take a break. My resources are strong these days, and they come in many forms – friends, family, pets, internet, books, relaxation, exercise, spiritual nurturing, students, the outdoors, music, films, and more.

I know I’m not alone, and each one of you reading this will identify with some, or all of the above. There will be those who deny this is the case, even though it is – please reflect on your own behaviours – we are often our own worst enemy.

My message to all of you is to write in regular breaks into your schedule, and into your working year. It may seem odd to suggest that to keep yourselves more creative it’s essential to take more time out, but it really does work.

Above photo, "back up to the dunes" © 2008 Deborah Eileen Burrow

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Setting the Inner Creative Child Free

Inside all of us is a creative child. Its that child we remember who dabbled in the sand and rock pools on the beach, drew crayons marks on the walls, pressed flowers and leaves, built hideouts in the woods and generally explored and experimented.

Over time that child gets a bit quashed and re-shaped into adulthood. If we are lucky we may go to college or university and re-learn, re-discover and encourage the creative child to create new things within a structured and well researched course. Hopefully the child remains part of our move into the professional world of creating and making a living from it, or just keeping the creativity as a hobby and finding a lot of pleasure in it.

Some of us will identify with the above. Others will identify with a different scenario – that of being someone who has lived a life without creativity since they were young. They may feel either that they have had no opportunity to express their creativity, or they feel that they are not creative at all.

Here is the truth – we are ALL creative in one way or another. Whether we express this through cooking, baking, home making, decorating, gardening, building, landscaping, sewing, writing letters, organising an office, the list goes on. The fact is that everyday living is creative – we have to use that part of our brain to function on a daily basis.

Here comes the fun part! I would like to invite you to do something different today, tomorrow and for the rest of your life. What is it that burns a hole in you? Is it writing, painting, dress making, interior design, pottery, drawing, photography…? Something will be desperate to be expressed. To start your personal creativity desire journey, indulge yourself in fifteen minutes a day of something you love. Don’t set yourself restrictions, just let that inner creative child free and express your heart out. Even dancing is creative!!

Even we seasoned artists can benefit from this freeing up of ourselves. When I started the journey I allowed myself to play with clay – it was liberating and really inspiring. I set aside all my long-held beliefs in not being able to do something, and the fear of being laughed or sneered at. It changed my life, and even though I didn’t carry on with ceramics, it had an impact on my painting. Through lots of self-indulging I found my true self and now I am proud to be who I am. Now I constantly remind people that creativity is a part of everyone’s life, not just mine.

Celebrate one of your deepest instinctual drives and please help others to do the same. You may be the one key to enriching another’s life by reminding them who they are.

Above painting, "Furrows" © 2008 Deborah Eileen Burrow

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Encouragement from Professional Artists

I read the following words just when I needed the encouragement to continue with my efforts. Today I’ve decided to share them with you - I hope they bring you the same comfort and sustenance. Enjoy!
  • “Create a supportive group for yourself.” – Christina Acosta
  • “Maintain a daily connection with your ideas and your personal mark-making. You can achieve this with just one thirty-second drawing a day.” – Jen Bradley
  • “Trust your instincts and find your own way. Learn from artists you admire personally and professionally. Don’t be too hard on yourself as you discover who you are and how to best express it.” – Cynthia Britain
  • “. It’s never too late to be what you should have always been.” – Robert Burridge
  • “If you’re painting your emotions, it’s your visual self.” – Bonnie Casey
  • Collect samples of everything you like, things that move you. Take them home and analyse what it is that moves you…look for the ‘Aha!’ Then do it your own way.” – Cheri Christensen
  • “You need a dedicated space where you paint, even it it’s a corner of the living room. When you put things away, you put your art life away. Make a space for your art.” – Connie Connally
  • “Take classes from people who are technically gifted. Get a profound grasp of the technical side.” – Brian Davis
  • “Talent is helpful, but it is the constant working that moves and artist to a new level. Also, don’t fight your true self.” – Rhonda Egan
  • “The most important thing is not to worry about selling your art. Just play. Play with all the materials. So much of what makes a painting beautiful are the accidents.” – Anne Embree
  • “I am interested in painting the sublime, that aesthetic experience of being overwhelmed and filled with awe at something so majestic that it evokes a sense of the eternal.” – Nicora Gangi
  • “Just stick with whatever looks and feels right to you. Try lots of things and see what might fit you best.” – Vince Gasparich
  • “I stress the value of simplicity. That one clear response, the message behind the painting, should sing out loud and strong. Select the essence of what you are painting and leave out all extraneous detail.” – Jean Grastorf
  • “I believe that every artist has his or her own vision of the world; our job as artists is to find and express that vision. The most important thing is to keep exploring, yourself and your materials.” – Carole Katchen
  • “Time to paint isn’t something you find, it is something you need to make.” – Linda Kemp
  • “Accepting yourself is where you find your fufillment.” – Liz Kenyon
  • “The best tool for good composition is one’s instinct. Painters must be loose and nurture confidence in themselves.” – Madeline Lemire
  • “Remember that you are not painting a picture, you are creating a painting.” – Peggy McGivern
  • “You paint your heartbeat. You have to follow what you respond to, not what you think someone else expects from you.” – Joan McKasson
  • “Paint often and joyfully.” – Helaine Mclain
  • “Don’t worry about being influenced by others, because it is natural. But you need to make it your own so you can go on.” – Carla O’Connor
  • “Keep a book of clippings of paintings you really like, such as unusual compositions and good designs.” – Camille Przewodek
  • “Try to stay out of your own way. The biggest Challenge is this.” – Barbara Rainforth
  • “Your nature should dictate how you paint. You may love a painting and a painter, but it might not be you. Everyone has a certain greatness; your greatness is your uniqueness developed. So you have to discover you uniqueness.” – Susan Sarbeck
  • “Work hard and get the basics.” – Marilyn Simandle
  • “At times, put yourself in uncomfortable situations with your artwork. Enrich your life with experiences.” – Shawn Snow
  • “You have to make yourself uneasy at times to make a painting successful.” – Leslie Toms
  • “Learn to love nature and love life. If you appreciate life and nature, your paintings with show this.” – Lian Zhen
Words of encouragement indeed!
Keep Creative and Happy,

Above painting, "Wheatfield View" © 2008 Deborah Eileen Burrow

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Lateral Thinking to Earn Cash

How many times have you sighed with despair at your bank statement because not enough money is coming in from your main creative job? How many times have you also had little wacky ideas that you have brushed aside as, “silly” or, “too distracting”?

I’m going to suggest you recall these little ideas and put them into perspective - then a little time spent on thinking of things you haven’t thought about before.

The most effective way to do this is with a kind of mind map – this can be fun and most revealing!

Start with a small circle in the centre of a piece of A4 paper. In the centre of this circle write, “Ways to Earn Cash around {my Creative Job}”. Then proceed with adding arms that hold ideas, which then split again into related ideas and so on.

It’s a brain drain first, then the details can be added on further stems.

To find an online resource to further help you with this, try Tony Buzan's site.

Brighten up your page with colours and symbols too :)
To help convince you, I already know of people who do reviews, make key rings, small prints, CD covers, teach, coach, and take photos, to supplement their professional artist’s income. I can also vouch for the unexpected joy and satisfaction that is possible by spending a bit of time away from the easel / computer/ sewing machine / craft table etc. Sometimes we get too close to our work, and this is ideal to make you take a break, but still earn some money.

Let your brain run away with you and get creative with new ideas. When you have written it down, get researching on the net for what you might need. For example, you may be surprised to know that you can make 100 fridge magnets for £39 (sterling). Selling them at £2 for example would be a profit of £160. At your exhibition, local craft shop, online shop etc. selling these could quickly earn you extra income. Another much more lucrative example would be giving demonstrations or running workshops – you can earn several hundred pounds a day! We all have skills we should make the most of besides our creative job.

Good luck and I wish you all the best with your ideas.

Above photograph and contents © 2008 Deborah Eileen Burrow

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Being Resourceful

Last time we looked at the definition and personal perception of success. This time I’m going to talk about resources and how important it is to our journey.

The successful creative person is reliant on a pool of resources. These will be wide and varied, including inner resources of talent, determination and discipline, and external resources of tutors, family and internet. Wherever you are in your life, you will always have resources to draw upon. Sometimes these will be obvious and sometimes they’ll be ones you hadn’t considered before. In order to get in touch with all of the resources available, try out this exercise to bring them together. This will be eye-opening and also useful for future reference.

Using a spider diagram, or in a list, write down the resources available in your life. Consider the following life areas where those resources might be:

  • Health & Fitness
  • Home & Family
  • Career / Work / Business
  • Wealth
  • Relationships / Romance
  • Friends
  • Leisure
  • Spiritual

Once you have completed this exercise, which may incidentally take one or more sittings, go through your groups of resources to highlight the most important. There will be one or two major resources that are critical to your success and enjoyment of your creative pursuit. To give these major ones priority, write them out on a card and pin them to your dreamboard, or notice board. They will help you continue your journey with peace of mind, and will be there when you’re faced with a challenge and need to know where to go for advice. A visual reminder of your resources will always help you feel supported and connected. Perhaps you could extend this to adding photographs – people, places, books, computer etc etc. Be as creative as you want!

All the best with getting creatively resourceful. :)

Above painting: Permanent Bright Connections © 2008 Deborah Eileen Burrow

Next time I'll be looking at practical issues of earning cash while working on your bigger projects...

Sunday, 13 July 2008

A Different Perspective

The article this week is inspired by a chat I had with a fellow creative, self-employed person. It’s all about work and how we view it. As a creative person we can find it hard to adjust to our creative jobs on many different levels. The two main symptoms are where the person feels that being paid for something they love doing is fraudulent, and where the person becomes a workaholic because they just can’t get let up on the drive to be perfect. Sometimes there’s a convoluted mix of both of these issues. These issues are often deep seated and can sometimes be detrimental to our overall success. Basically though, most of this comes down to our personal definition of success and what it means to us.

Today I invite you to see it from a different perspective, and work on defining your meaning of success in your career and life. I am confident that this will help a lot on your way to achieving your ultimate goal. Our perceptions can be changed to work better for us.

The Encarta Dictionary definition of success is:

  • The achievement of something planned or attempted
  • Impressive achievement, especially the attainment of fame, wealth or power

Does this ring true with you? Of course it does - it does with me too. But, what distorts the path of success is how the prospect of being successful sits with us emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually and environmentally.

Here lies and exercise for us – to do some serious thinking and balancing of our ideas of success. Write down on a big piece of paper these 5 life element headings - Physical, Mental, Emotional, Environmental and Spiritual. Under each heading, write down a list of words or sentences that describe the effect that success would have or does have on that area of your life. When you have done this, have a good look at what you have written. The aim is to have a good balance of things – and mostly positive. You may however discover some imbalances and negative effects. These will need to be dealt with.

I strongly believe we can find answers to any arising issues ourselves, but we may need to enlist the help of family, friends and even a coach to overcome any problems.

I know I have only touched on this subject, but a different perspective is all I wanted to prompt in you. From here I know you can go forward and make progress and realise that fighting with yourself is disadvantageous to your success. Hold on to the fact that even at rest your contribution is undiminished – your creative works still exist, and if you’re a professional, your work is still out there working for you all the time.

Next time, in 2 weeks, I'll be talking about Being Resourceful. In the meantime, feel free to comment, and or share your experiences.

Above painting: Creation Continues 1 © 2008 Deborah Eileen Burrow

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Overcoming Avoidance

Creative Avoidance is a normal part of the creative person’s life. It presents itself in many ways, and until we get to know ourselves well in the creative process, we may not recognise it very well as it can be quite subtle! Mostly though, we can identify our avoidance tactics by realising that we haven’t got on with our project as we planned and we can’t see a good reason why.

But it’s ok because once we are aware of our tactics, we can choose to say no to them, and get on with our plan. By the way, these tactics can range from re-sharpening your entire colour pencil set to taking up a job you said you’d never do!

This main thing to remember is that avoidance in creativity exists, and we should allow it to exist because from time to time you will be able to analyse it to find out what exactly you are avoiding. That reason could be anything from boredom to a particularly difficult problem. Once the self awareness is switched on, you can take steps to resolve the avoidance issue. Things that help are:

  • Patience with yourself
  • Allowing, not forcing the project to grow
  • Nurturing your creative side
  • Keeping attentive to your environment
  • Keeping in touch with other creative people
  • Understanding your personal concept of success
  • Allowing yourself free time
  • Walking through the experience
  • Feeling the fear and doing it anyway

Whatever happens, be resourceful so that you can find solutions to problems at every stage. Often the life of a creative person can be isolating and it’s important to remain connected to the community of your speciality. Remember, most of all, we all have the answers to our difficulties at our fingertips and it’s up to us to choose the path of solution. Working SMART (previous blog) will help you to self-coach your way to the answers and method to achieve your goal.

Good luck, and I'll see you in 2 weeks, where we'll tackle a tricky subject - the perception of success.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Express Yourself!

This week I draw upon artist Ian Roberts’s wisdom and vision. I can’t put it better than this so I'll use direct quotes. Enjoy his words of truth and encouragement.

In a great book entitled Creative Authenticity, artist Ian Roberts (Ian Roberts website) talks about just jumping in, fears and all, to express ourselves.
"Ultimately, it doesn't matter to the world whether you paint or dance or write," says Roberts. "The world will probably get by without the product of your efforts. But that is not the point. The point is what the inner process of following your creative impulses will do to you. It is clearly about process. Love the work, love the process. Our fascination will pull our attention forward. That, also, will fascinate the viewer."
Roberts explores a number of principles essential for creative authenticity.
  • Searching for beauty. Beauty is something that seizes your attention, stops you in your tracks, and silences you. It can be the way light filters through the trees in your backyard or the magnificence of a fifteenth century Italian painting. The subject is irrelevant; it is only a vehicle for your attention, to engage the intensity of your feelings. That intensity is what viewers ultimately respond to.
  • Communication. Creativity fundamentally involves expressive power; it is the catching of the "gleams of light" that flash across our mind and forming that vision into something.
  • Your home turf. It could be a garden. Or a studio. But you need a creative home base that always stays open for your arrival and bestows on you a readiness to begin your work.
  • The Van Gogh syndrome. Don't buy into the myth that creativity is the province of tortured geniuses.
  • Your craft, your voice. Practice, practice, practice your craft. It gives you fluency in the creative process and in technique. It's technique that gives life to your creative ideas. Learning your craft opens the channel for your voice to flow.
  • Showing up. "Nothing determines your creative life more than doing it," says Roberts.
  • The dance of avoidance. Starting is always a psychologically messy process, because there are no rules surrounding what you want to do. Setting up a dedicated space for the practice of your craft helps you shift gears directly into your creative process.
  • Full-time or part-time. You can't expect to fly consistently at a high level of inspiration.
  • Follow something along. If you are going to say something authentic, you need to stick with an idea for a while, an idea that has personal resonance.
  • Wagon train and scout. Creativity involves the interplay between where you are and where you see yourself going to keep your expression growing. Always be on the lookout for new paths, and observe how others solve the problems you face.
  • Working method. Creativity is in the process, not in the finished results.
  • Limits yield intensity. Unrestrained freedom is a myth, and it's not productive.
  • Being ready to show. Don't spend your time marketing your creations. If you spend it creating, you are investing your work with the authenticity that will draw others to your efforts...
  • You are more than creative enough. The question is not whether you are creative enough but whether you will free yourself to express it.
  • Finding poetry in the everyday. Develop the power to see the ordinary as poetic.
  • Holding the big picture. Always keep a sense of the whole. That commits you to making the moves that will ultimately represent what you see.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Expansion Not Distraction

Ok, so now you’ve taken a fancy to something extra to your usual creative projects and a sense of guilt or confusion sets in…Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Be reassured that you are expanding your creativity, not being distracted from your main focus.

Today’s blog comes in response to something Richard, my hubby, said this morning that rang a bell in me, and I know it will strike a chord with many people reading this. He is a very talented man - he is a great bass player, sound engineer and IT project manager/coach. He recently left the IT world to concentrate on being a live recording sound engineer, but also got into 2 cracking live bands and is also interested in teaching bass. Now he’s concerned that not focussing on one of these activities will be a detriment to the others. NOT TRUE! Some people are best at living a highly varied life, and some are better concentrating on just one thing. Unfortunately, we are ALL socialised to concentrate on one thing!!! We are encouraged in school to streamline and become the best in that field. That is just fine of course, but we have to be open to being just as able to do more than one thing and do them all really well too.

While you are doing something else you are expanding on your current expertise and natural talents. Other types of creativity and studies will almost certainly rub off and even help you solve problems better in your main centre of attention. It can really help encourage a sense of wholesome satisfaction in your life when you expand your horizons.

The key is the understanding and being honest with own self. Creating a sensible life balance, time management system, and realistic goal setting is also essential of course.

Next time you take a fancy to trying out something new remember to say to yourself, “This is expansion, not distraction.” You are then giving yourself permission to explore this area freely and without guilt.

Go for it!

Have a good week :) this is taking a risk!!!


Sunday, 1 June 2008

Scratching the Itch

When something we desire keeps reminding, demanding attention, of us on a frequent basis, we often say, “I’m itching to do so and so,” Often we will put barriers up to scratching this itch by making excuses – many of them perfectly legitimate. But if we really analysed the reasons not to do something, we will find that a large percentage are to do with fear, insecurity and lack of confidence. The power of the mind is great and works in many positive and negative ways. Sometimes we can easily rationalise reasons for not pursuing something, even if it’s dear to our hearts. When it comes to creativity, we often deny ourselves of something really special without realising it.

So my message today is to really think about scratching the itch to do something. Put aside the reasons not to do it, and just do it. No-one has to know that you’ve just taken up knitting, patchwork, painting with oils, clay modelling, paper mache or anything else creative. It may be that you’ve been a watercolour artist for years and years and fancy taking up sculpture – there’s never a good time as the present! We are never too old, too silly, too uneducated, too busy or too scared to try something new or even re-take up something old. If you need practical inspiration, read some of my older posts for some ideas about how to get in the right frame of mind. Research some of your deeper questions on the internet or from valuable books (I have listed a few in the right hand column).

You deserve to scratch that itch and make yourself feel better. Adventure on out of your bubble to experience new enthusiasm, creativity, happiness, satisfaction and peace of mind.

So go on – Scratch that Itch!

Creative Blessings

Above pebble painting: Autumn Sumac © 2007 Deborah Eileen Burrow

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Getting Reconnected

It will come as no surprise to most of you that a good walk in the countryside is relaxing.

How about we took that one step further and actually treated a five minute meditation outside in a park or even your back garden as a way of reconnecting with our creative roots? Getting reconnected can bring us back to our inner creator and remind us of our inspirations. It is the natural world that first teaches us about colour, texture and pleasing views. We will use words like, “stunning”, “beautiful”, “calming”, and “serene,” when we sum up a fantastic view in the natural world. How easy we forget that there lies the fundamental answer to all our creative blocks and weariness. A five minute retreat into the right outside environment can really revive and re-inspire us. Once we find the right place for us we can use it to “top up” our inner creator’s reserves on a regular basis.

I am lucky to have my studio situated in a remote back garden that has trees and shrubs and most of the time all I can hear is birdsong and see greenery. (Apart from when the neighbours are strimming!) While this little haven is wonderful on a daily basis, I still crave for the open countryside or coastline and big skies. I tend to get re-connected in these places and then keep topped up in my garden. I can assure you it really works and it makes a difference to my painting.

So, find your spot today and use it wisely. Once you have frequented the place enough it will be possible to take it even further and just find a quiet spot at home and close your eyes to visualise it. This can be just as effective!

I hope you have a place near you that you can find your creative self in the open air, and I wish you all the best with this technique of getting reconnected. :)
above painting: Suffolk Summer Dusk © 2008 Deborah Eileen Burrow

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Today We Make The Clock Redundant

Wouldn’t that just be bliss?

But I hear your resistance already and I understand completely!

How can you possibly have a day without a clock when everything you do revolves around schedules and deadlines?

Well here’s a step by step way of achieving it – I promise you won’t regret it. The aim is to reset yourself back to your basic creative state – and it really works!

  1. Look through your diary and identify a day where you have no commitments. Mark it in NOW as a “clockless day”.
  2. The night before your clockless day, go around removing clocks from sight from your space.
  3. Allow yourself to wake up naturally and gently.
  4. Throughout the day, give yourself as long as you need to complete tasks.
  5. Eat when you’re hungry and rest when you’re tired.
  6. At the end of the day, reflect on how liberating it has been to take all the time you wanted and how you listened to your body’s natural rhythms.
  7. Make a date to have a clockless day again!

Remember the only limits are the ones we set ourselves...

On a personal note this week, I have had a rollercoaster of one! I confess that even though I'm a Life Coach, I am just human and I find it difficult to coach myself. So I have to read my own blogs and personal journals to remind myself how to cope! There you are, you are not alone and I am not invincible.
I feel like this One YellowLeaf painting sometimes - isolated and just floating with a loss of purpose. But trust me when I say that with some of the coaching tips I have given you on this site, the very least you can glean is that off-days are transitory and the universe always rewards a forward vision. So make that clock redundant today and feel the benefit of "you" time - you, and I, deserve it.

Have a good week,

painting above right, "One Yellow Leaf" © 2008 Deborah Eileen Burrow

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Keeping Curious

When we are children we are constantly asking questions. When we are grown-ups we listen to children asking questions and are amazed at their curiosity about everything around them. Somewhere along the line as we grow up, answers about everyday life are answered and we tend to ponder over bigger questions. Sometimes, however, we get so bogged down in our daily routine that we forget, or don’t have time for, the bigger questions. In fact, the chances are we forget how to be curious all together, especially about our creativeness and how deep it goes.

Even as working creative people we can get stuck in a rut. Are you still curious about your creative works, or are you caught in a routine with it?

Keeping yourself curious means you allow yourself to step out of your creative comfort zone and get that child-like wonder back. For each of us this will be different, but getting in touch with the reasons behind our creative choices is a good start. If I was to say that I’m curious about your art – how do you do it and why? …could you ask yourself the same question and answer it?

I’m hoping you can, and you will remember how curious you were about your chosen art when you first started out. You’ll remember how inspired you were and how easily you asked questions.

Truth is, to remain fully and deeply creative we must continue to be curious ~ it keeps our creative brain alive and functioning with an eagerness to try out new things to keep us fresh.

My last curious search led to a profound change in my attitude to my painting. I discovered something about how it worked and I discovered even more about myself. Without that intrepid step I would still be stuck. Now I am enjoying myself more and I’m still curious because new questions were stimulated and I need to find the answers to those too.

There before me lies an interesting path. Is yours greeting you in the same way?

Keep positive and assertive,

Best wishes :)

Painting above right: The Cracks Are Showing (c) 2008 Deborah Eileen Burrow

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Following the Visual Voice

What speaks to you when you see another piece of art / sculpture / craft?

For me it’s colour and texture. Obviously it’s a huge influence on my own painting. However, it doesn’t come naturally that just because I see something that takes my breath away that I can reproduce something of the same ilk!

What tends to happen is that artists, through experimenting and understanding of themselves and their work, develop a recognisable style – the visual voice. The conveyance of the artist’s meaning through inspiration, subject matter, art elements, composition and the process.

“[The visual voice] is the piece of magic inside ourselves - the amazing actuality within us.” – Cristina Acosta

Luckily for me as an intermediate discoverer, there were artists who are willing to share their experiences and advice, and since taking note of them, I am making a more focussed route to my desired approach to creating. (A quick mention is deserved here of Megan Chapman – she has been amazingly helpful through her blogspot and review.)

The resulting understanding of what was within and how to express it was the catalyst to beginning to find my visual voice. Then came the sifting out of what was working and what wasn’t. Before that I had spent most of my life looking at art and experimenting with different media and had already built up an inner connection with certain styles. I admit I'm not there yet, but I'm well on my way :)

It’s never too late get in touch with yourself again, and I suggest that a reminding of your original source of inspiration is very important to your creative path.

How to do this?

Well, keep visiting galleries / workshops / museums / art shops and the like. Make a date to visit events when they pop up. It’s too easy to get bogged down in your studio. Even a walk along the coast or nearest nature reserve can do it. I own a dog and it’s a great way to get outside and see things as they change with the seasons and light. Even if I’m not painting what I see, what I do get is a refreshing of my connection with my creative self. Stepping out for a few hours blows away cobwebs and allows new inspirations in.

So you see it’s vitally important to keep the passion alive for your art. Without it our works won’t be inspiring to others or have any authenticity to them. The spirit in your work will be evident through the response of the viewer.

Good luck with your journey – there’s always something to chase away the blues and get in touch with your visual voice.

painting above: Summer Evening at Shingle Street (c) 2008 Deborah Eileen Burrow

Sunday, 27 April 2008

SMART working

Working as an artist is tricky – the right brain is creative and emotional while the left brain is logical and practical. Keeping a balance is essential, because without a bit of business/organising savvy, the career of the artist is elusive.

So, if like me, you’re faced with a body of work to complete (without it, I can’t earn any cash…), then a very simple, memorable acronym can help you a lot with your goals….SMART

The acronym SMART has a number of slightly different variations, which can be used to provide a more comprehensive definition for goal setting, so you can tailor it to suit you:

S - specific, significant

M - measurable, meaningful, motivational

A - agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented

R - realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented

T - time-based, timely, tangible, trackable

When you are next faced with a project, take a moment to consider whether your goals are SMART goals. Then set it out on paper and pin it to your Dream Board.

Be open to change. Goal posts shift all the time, along with motivation. Face the changes head on, and set new goals to deal with them. Perhaps set a regular appointment with yourself to check your goal setting. Taking 10 minutes once a week would be acceptable for short term goals, and once a month for longer term goals.

If you find it hard to do this by yourself, enroll a friend you can trust to help you keep on track.

Good luck, and watch your success grow with pride.

painting above right : Bridging the Gap (c) 2008 Deborah Eileen Burrow

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Keeping a Dream Board

You may be new to the concept of keeping a Dream Board, but I can tell you its one of the most useful tools to keeping your career and life in focus and in balance.

Basically, it is a visual support for your goals, hopes and dreams. It is a notice board filled with representations - you can use magazine cuttings, drawings, postcards, writings, badges, stickers and anything else that helps you keep your dream in focus. You may have smaller dreams to complete which act as stepping stones to the final vision.

How do you start? Well, the most important thing is to know what your dream is. Spend a few minutes with your eyes closed and picture in your minds eye your perfect working day. Starting with getting out of bed in the morning through to getting back into bed again at night. In just a few minutes you will have a pretty good idea of what to put on your dream board. You will include your ideal home, workspace, job/occupation and the people around you. It should also include positive affirmations, and in the centre should be a photo of you when you are smiling!

I put together a Dream Board 10 years ago where I clearly visualised my desired house, studio, hours of work and the people sharing my life. I had achieved 90 percent of it within 6 years. So yes, it’s a long term dream to bring into focus, but without my dream board I would have lost heart, lost my way and probably sabotaged most of my dream. Each day was a step in the right direction and I was determined to get my heart’s desire! Now of course my dream board has been updated and I’m heading toward more happiness as a visual artist.

You can add things to the board over time. For example, a postcard of a fantastic holiday destination, adverts for successful events, and big ticks and smilies where you have achieved something significant. Everything is personal to you – these boards are not to impress others, or to feel ashamed of. Just keep your dream alive!

The only limitations are those which we set ourselves... :)

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Coping with Bad Creating Days

Thanks to Nicky ( for inspiring my subject this week.

I know you will appreciate what I’m talking about when I tell you of days when the paint won’t work for me and the subject gets lost and the brain is in a state of frustration.

What is the best way to cope with these days where clear flowing creativity eludes us?

Well, here goes:

  1. Step away from the area!! Take 3 deep breaths and go and make a cup of your favourite drink. Relax!
  2. When you are in a state of calm, decide whether you want to go back to the project or take some time out.
  3. If you decide to take time out, remember NOT to beat yourself up because you’ve had a bad session – creating is creating, and there are no mistakes, only experiments. You are still talented and deserve to be an artist. Your contribution is undiminished, even at rest.
  4. If you decide to go back to the project, ask yourself 2 questions. Will you feel better if you carry on with that project, or is it time to move onto something else for now?
  5. Whichever you decide, do the 6 phrase breathing exercise (from my previous blog, “Stopping Before We Work??”).
  6. Next, remind yourself of your basic elements to your art. Are you following these? For example, colour theory, subject matter, personal statements…
  7. If you are trying something new, do you have too many changes happening at once? Do you need to do some research?
  8. Is the light good in your work space, and is the music right? Or do you need to turn it off? Is the room the right temperature?
  9. Now I’m getting you to think about this process, is there anything else to consider?
  10. Finally – keep your mind open to allow flow at all times. Allow yourself an extra break or two today where you get some fresh air.

    Oh yeah, and Nicky reminds me that sharing with a friend always helps to dispell the negative frame of mind :)

To finish I have a small challenge for you!

With your favourite music on, doodle with your 3 primary colour pencils. Remember, this is fun, not a test of your ability! After 5 minutes, swap hands and doodle with your other hand. Carry on for another 5 minutes.

What can you see?

How you feel?

Write it down beside your doodle and pin this up on your notice board.

Thanks for joining me this week, and I wish you fun and happiness in your creating.

It’s what you were born to do :)