Category Archives: Teaching

Great Life Redesign interview

Watch my interview with Gemma Stone about living a great life! There are only 4 spots left in the Great Life Redesign retreat in Banff (which is so awesome that I am doing it again). For $50 off the registration, use this code: creativesoul


Painting in … New Zealand!


Remember this tutorial I posted back in 2011? I had no intention of writing a serious tutorial, but I thought it would be a fun way to show how I paint. Turns out, it’s my most popular blog post, ever, with almost 10,000 views. I am still stunned by how seriously people have taken that post! And happy!

Most recently, a group of students at the Kokatahi-Kowhitirangi School in New Zealand used the tutorial to make their own paintings. The class was led by their teacher, Megan McLellan, in the process. Megan and I went to high school together (and used to take the same bus!) and we have been connected on Facebook for several years.

Here’s a photo of the students and their paintings:


I feel like a proud mama!! I hope they all had fun with it (I see smiles – good sign)! One of my greatest wishes for children is to enjoy the process and have fun with art!

How to make a painting in three (or more) easy steps.

1. Draw some circles. Place them kind of randomly, but kind of in a linear fashion. Whatever.

2. Squeeze three colours onto your plastic lid. Any colours will do. One should be white. And one should be yellow. The other two should mix well together. But other than that, you choose!

3. Paint your yellow stripe first, kind of randomly. Anywhere is good. It should also be strategically placed to catch the eye at about 1/4 of the way from edge.

4. Mix a bit of one of the colours into the yellow, and paint that stripe next to the yellow one. It’s OK to overlap a bit, since you are using acrylic paint. Oh, I didn’t tell you? You’re using acrylic paint. [Side note: Not any acrylic paint will do. Cheap student versions do not have good enough opacity/coverage. Pay the extra bucks for the quality paints!] This makes it faster when you are painting the stripes, so you don’t have to be super careful at both edges. Just one. And not THAT careful.

5. Without cleaning your brush, mix a bit more of that next colour into the yellow (the one you mixed in step 4), and paint your next stripe.

6. Keep going in this way, changing what you add, in sequence, so that you get a nice gradation of colour. Good!

7. Once your stripes are all done, and have dried for at least a day, take your favourite, waterproof black pen with the chisel tip and make some lines! They can be thick, then thin, just make ’em look good!

8. Oh yeah, don’t forget to paint the circles white.

9. Sit your painting upright, upside down, sideways, etc, and figure out which way looks most appealing. Add some doodles or writing into the circles and voila! You have finished your painting in three-ish easy steps!

If you don’t feel like making your own, then you can purchase this inspirational OOAK (one of a kind) original acrylic painting here!

Unrelated ideas: teach, sketch, act.

First page of the Sketchbook Project 2012

I just finished the third of five painting classes that I am teaching in my home. I want to remember the comments I received, to remind me why I enjoy doing this!

“You really know what you’re doing.”

“I’ve been meditating for ten years, and never really felt connected to the earth until you said to feel like a tree and spread my roots into the ground.” (I got this from Core Connexion)

“This was a really loving class.”


I have been thinking about teaching and wondering if I should continue, but this is really making me want to continue! Not to mention, when I am painting during class, I really lose track of time!

In other news, my Sketchbook Project 2012 is almost half completed (I am a bit behind on scanning). My son has been inspiring me to draw, because everyday when he comes home from school, he wants to work in his sketchbook. He has been copying some of my techniques, like drawing with color and then surrounding it with black. He is including a lot of rings and spirals, like in my work. I don’t want to discourage him from doing this, but I also want him to be drawing what is coming from inside him, rather than just what he thinks I want. He saw a drawing I did of the exterior of the school and he was surprised by this “new” idea of drawing what you see!

The theme for my sketchbook is “Nothing New,” but I am noticing that it is starting to morph into “Things that ARE New.” That’s OK, I am not chained to the theme. If you are working on your sketchbook, how is it going? Will you share some photos of your work? There is now a blog to follow where you can get ideas and inspiration for your sketchbook! I am really adoring this project. I’ve been telling so many people about it – I should be their official spokesperson! Ha!

And also (because I don’t know how to segue into this topic), I want to take an acting class.

Intuition and Impulses

I’m starting to dream. I was going to say, “I’m starting to dream again”, but I honestly don’t remember dreaming like this before. I don’t mean the dreams you have when you are sleeping, I mean Dreams, that sit in your heart and soul, and wait to be discovered. Part of why I am dreaming now is thanks to an impulse I had, to sign up for Mondo Beyondo. And what I am learning is that impulses (backed up by intuition) are leading me to where I am meant to go. Where I want to go.

Here’s a little list of the times I have used my intuition, and/or acted on impulse, and it has brought about a big change in my life.

1. When I first met JP, literally, like 5 minutes after meeting him, I KNEW he was the guy I would marry. My mother can attest to this, since I called her that night to tell her.

2.  When I was pregnant with my daughters, I somehow KNEW that I would no longer be an art conservator. I gave notice at the museum shortly after that. I’ve never looked back!

3. I got an email from a friend a year ago about the Sketchbook project, and I KNEW it was something I should do. I did it, and I am so glad I did. It HAS led to bigger things!

4. Talking to Nancy one day, she told me she needed someone else to become her client (for personal coaching) and I JUMPED in. This led to my next point.

5. Nancy dared me to hold a painting class. I JUMPED in again. So glad I did.

You should know that this jumping in thing is quite against the style of perfectionists! I am building the courage to do it more and more. The more I do it, the more I CAN do it.

P.S. I am featured on Stacie’s Jewelry blog!

A compliment to remember!

I just finished my second painting class, and Carmen paid me a compliment that made my day. She said, “Every word out of your mouth was something I needed to hear”. Um, how awesome is that?! For a fledgling teacher, and someone who is prone to doubt, let me tell you: It is SUPER awesome. Thank you, Carmen! You made my day!

I CAN trust myself.

Thoughts on Teaching

Why did I post this photo of a varnish-troubled magnet? Read on…

Tomorrow I will be teaching my second painting class ever. I have been mulling over how the first one went, what I would do differently, how it made me feel, and I want to get it out of my head, onto the blog (mostly so I can attempt to make sense of it, and also to stop thinking about it all the time).  I’m worried this may come out sort of discombobulated. I don’t consider myself much of a writer (as I’ve mentioned before), but I’ll do my best(-ish… I’m not going to try TOO hard. This isn’t English class, after all. I had a huge crush on my Grade 11 English teacher, by the way. But, I digress.).

I should probably mention what brought me to teaching in the first place. To start, the word “teaching” came up during an art/dance/writing exercise during a Core Connexion workshop. I swiftly wrote it off as unimportant, but it kept popping up in my thoughts. Then, a few weeks ago during my coaching session with Nancy, I realized that I want to have more fun. During the process of figuring out what that meant, “teaching” popped into my head again. I tend to allow these “pop-ups” and express them, because in my experience, even if I don’t know what it means, it will lead me somewhere that I need to go. So I said it. After discussing it a bit, Nancy dared me to advertise for a painting class the following week. Meanwhile, my gremlins were “having a feast” (Nancy’s words, and totally appropriate!), giving me all kinds of reasons why this couldn’t and wouldn’t work. I ignored them and took the dare!

Had Nancy not dared me, I probably would have taken about 2 years before even considering teaching. I would have had to read all the books, paint for at least a year to get the experience, take a few workshops – my perfectionist part/gremlin wanted to hold me back, to keep me from having fun!

One of the things that usually keeps me from starting anything is the unknown. Should I invite just kids or just adults, or mix it up? How much do I charge? What kind of supplies do I need? How will I set it up in my home? Should I paint with them? In the past, I would never have started without knowing. I took this on as an experiment, and I have to say, I am enjoying this! I like that I am making mistakes and figuring out how to make the classes better by learning from them. Here are some of the things I have learned so far (in point form, because I make more sense that way):

  • I initially offered the class to parents and children at our school, but I now know that I would like to keep them in separate classes.
  • Starting with dancing was a good idea, but not a fast song! I am not sure why I didn’t think of that, since we would never start that way even at a dance class.
  • Yes, I should be painting with everyone, because then I’ll have more fun!
  • Everyone’s imagery is different, and everyone works at a different pace. I can allow for that and learn to surrender to their process as much as I want them to surrender to it.
  • If I’m not sure what to do at any point (for me last week it was how to encourage people to keep painting, even when they say they are finished), just allow it to pass for the time being until I either think of something, or learn more about it after the class so that I know for next time!
  • Teachers are students! BIG TIME!!

So, back to the magnet. First of all, the message on it is an ongoing affirmation of mine. It underlies everything I do. I want to believe this to my core. Secondly, yes, I made a whole batch of these and the varnish cracked on almost all of them. I’ve had a similar problem in the past, but never that bad. I finally contacted my friend and painting conservator, Bonnie Rimer (we were in the same year at Queen’s University, both in art conservation) for some ideas. She had a crapload (oops, sorry, is that a no-no on blogs? Well, it’s how I talk) of ideas, and it made me realize that I am approaching this painting class the same way I am trying to figure out what caused the cracking of the magnet. I make mistakes, I get frustrated by my mistakes (more or less, usually less these days), I educate myself, and make things even better next time. And I have fun doing it.

Teaching, Charity, Clapotis and a BOOK.

I am so excited about Friday. I’ll be teaching painting for the first time ever! I realized recently that I want to have more fun (who doesn’t?) and the way for me to do that is to teach. Somehow I knew this instinctively, but was fighting it, because I have never considered myself a teacher. We will be doing intuitive painting, for lack of a better description. I need to come up with a better name (suggestions welcome). There are books out there that describe it, like “Point Zero” by Michele Cassou, and “Painting from the Source” by Aviva Gold. In a way, it is a lot like dancing, which is another thing I love to do. The emphasis for both (for me) is on the process, rather than the product, and responding to our inner urges when deciding what to paint next. The old, perfectionist me would have to take a few workshops and read all the books, and spend a year painting before even THINKING about teaching. But, I was dared to do it (thanks, Nancy!), so I am jumping in!!

Blogging with Lila is over, and the winner of my painting is James! Thank you for helping Lila with your generous bid of $150!!

I am finally, FINALLY, done Clapotis. I think it was festering in a bag in a corner for months. At one point, I wanted to wear it, and went looking around the house for it. It took me a good 10 minutes before I remembered that I didn’t actually finish the darn thing yet. But now it’s done. It’s blocked. It’s awesome! I knit it with Curious Creek yarn (but don’t ask me more than that, because I threw out the label…oops).

Lastly, my most exciting bit of news: I am going to be in a book! I was asked to participate in a book on art journals. I am thrilled about this, and have to keep reminding myself that it’s real!!  YAY!