“Um…do we need paddles?”

Where on earth did these three cuties come from?  I set out to practice painting a small grouping of women, meditative and emanating peace.  My painting took a turn which I was compelled to follow.

Was it because life had become too serious once again, dragging me along in the wake of  too many challenges at once?  On a bit of overwhelm, perhaps?  I needed something whimsical, fun and colorful.  There is definitely a story here. Fellow artists offered captions for this trio.

Writing Prompt:
What caption would you give this little painting?  What is your first response?  Or, what’s the story behind this scenario?  Write it.  For the fun of it.

Share your caption under comments if you like.

Note:  Don’t writers see the story in everything…the story behind what is on the surface?

All Aboard!

Your bags are packed with everything you need and you’re ready to go.  You are excited!  You have your ticket.  You have a destination in mind.  You arrive at the train station in plenty of time.  The train chugs into the station.  You don’t climb aboard!


With writing or painting or any creative pursuit, you really do have to get on board and, though your destination could change, you are in motion.

Too many of us believe we have something to say (including me) or express creatively.  We talk a good game, but we roost.  Sometimes, stubbornly.  Waiting for some magically “right time” to manifest and then, we’re going to say what we want to say…write the book to end all books.  Or paint that painting that speaks to everyone’s soul.  If only, or when, or we’ll just know that it’s time.

I find this excerpt from Annie Dillard’s Book “Holy the Firm” grounded and inspiring.

“…There is no one but us. There is no one to send, nor a clean hand, nor a pure heart on the face of the earth, nor in the earth, but only us, a generation comforting ourselves with the notion that we have come at an awkward time, that our innocent fathers are all dead–as if innocence had ever been–and our children busy and troubled, and we ourselves unfit, not yet ready, having each of us chosen wrongly, made a false start, failed, yielded to impulse and the tangled comfort of pleasures, and grown exhausted, unable to seek the thread, weak, and involved. But there is no one but us. There never has been. There have been generations which remembered and generations which forgot; there has never been a generation of whole men and women who lived well for even one day. Yet some have imagined well, with honesty and art, the detail of such a life, and have described it with such grace, that we mistake vision for history, dream for description, and fancy that life has devolved. So. You learn this studying any history at all, especially the lives of artists and visionaries; you learn it from Emerson, who noticed that the meanness of our days is itself worth our thought; and you learn it, fitful in your pew, in church.”

Writing Prompt:
Try a ten-minute free write in response to the question “What are you waiting for?”  Then, consider these questions:  Do you think there is someone else who is better equipped than you to write what you have been bursting to write (i.e., someone with higher education or credentials or older…or younger?)  Is there something that has been calling to you to write or paint–for years, perhaps?  Be honest with yourself.  And then answer this question, “If not now, when?”



…keep a door or window open

I believe we are all flooded with creative ideas, many of which we  ignore.  If you want the ideas to continue coming, “keep a door or window open.”  Show appreciation by writing them down and following through on at least a few of them.  Sometimes, it’s an idea whose time has come…if you don’t express it, someone else is going to.  Other times, it’s part of your own growth and the ideas flow in to support your personal process.

Don’t ignore them.

As you make the commitment to pursue your creative interests and gifts,  you are initiating a flow of energy in support of this pledge.

For example, if you practice drawing and painting birds, new ideas on how to draw and paint birds are going to come to mind.  The mind is relational…it is always looking to connect the dots of our thoughts.  And to instigate something unique to you.

Realizing this, why not then employ the mind?  Why not send it in the direction of your inspiration?  If painting birds isn’t your thing, then what is?

In case you haven’t noticed, for me it’s drawing and painting faces.  I often have an idea in mind that I can’t wait to try out.  Whether the idea succeeds or doesn’t is irrelevant.  There are no failures. I am acquiring knowledge based in practice and exploration.

The universe is going to regale you with more than enough creative ideas.  Showing your dedication to the process puts you in that inspirational flow.  There is going to be more and more.  This is the key to abundant creativity–to be open, curious, then write, paint or make it–this leads to endless discovery and renewed inspiration.

Creative Prompt:
Don’t take my word for it.  Try it yourself. What are you committed to conquering in your art, poetry or other creative pursuit?





What’s It Mean?

You write a poem, paint a painting or sculpt a piece.  You’ve followed your intuitive guidance, the flow.  You stand back from it.  What does it mean?

Is your poetry or art a clue to your own inner experience or process?  Like a dream, does it somehow help with self-understanding and integration?

What do you think?

Why do certain symbols, colors, words, images attract you more than others?

Is there a story or a message for you in the poem you write?  the art you create?

Sometimes, it’s obvious.  Other times, it reveals itself over time or as you sit with it in inquiry or contemplation.


Like with this recent painting.  I definitely feel it’s got something to say to me.  Getting quiet, I allow it to reveal itself to me.

Contemplative Prompt:
Have you written a poem or prose recently that has a self-revelation for you?  Or, a painting that you know is trying to tell you something?  Take the time to be with it and stay open to that which wants to be heard or seen by you.

Have a good day.

Practice Doesn’t Mean Perfection

I’ve been practicing how to draw and paint faces.IMG_9403

As a ripening artist, I fall in love with each painting…even when it is far from perfect.  Like this one.  Learning a new technique taught by Sara Burch in Paint Your Heart and Soul‘s year-long online painting and creativity course, I realize that one eye is larger and a bit lower than the other.  Yet, this painting captures something for me that I was having trouble expressing in words.  This painting helped me to bring some disparate feelings together.

Learning and practicing a new technique was the primary purpose of this new-to-me process.   Perhaps there is a time and place to strive for excellence (rarely perfection?) or even one’s personal best.  As I am learning, there has also got to be plenty of room for play, experimentation and error…sometimes happy accidents.


With writing, is it any different?  Writers strive for perfection as they craft their prose or poetry.  Do they ever reach it?  Levels of perfection are relative, it seems.  For with any final piece preparing to leap into the world, the writer decides, at some point, to let it go.  This is not based solely on whether a piece is “good enough”.  There is an inner sense of completion.  What wants to be said has been said in a way that is “kin” to the writer.  In using the word kin in this way, I intend that the writer has expressed him or herself in a way that is unique, particular or inherent.  When that goal is reached, then a painting or piece of writing can feel complete and ready to be launched.

When you write about someone, you look for the dissonant detail.  Perhaps this is also reflected in your greater body of work–that you allow the dissonant details into your writing thereby,  making a work your own.  Those details–which could be seen as imperfections–mark your work in some way.  Those details reveal to the reader “your style”.  Offering your work, with all of its perceived blemishes, does make one feel vulnerable.

Do you find fulfillment in practicing your art or craft?  Are you tolerant of “mistakes” as you learn? Are you patient with your development as a writer or artist?  Can you spot the dissonant details in your work that make it stand out as YOURS?


“Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take
if we want to experience connection.”
Brene Brown, Researcher, Story-Teller, Author, Lecturer

Being Alright With Looking Foolish!

IMG_9111This blog and the two following indirectly touch on the subject of  VULNERABILITY.  For when you share your work–painting, poetry, prose, thoughts, woodwork, sculpture, write a blog, etc., you are being vulnerable.


It was deep winter in the mountains. An elder friend was in hospice care, settled in a home further north of where I live. The roads were impassable.

While I longed to visit her, I didn’t want to put myself in jeopardy.  Instead, I painted, not knowing where I would go or what needed expression.  Before long, I found myself painting with my fingers…and, of all things, a pink cow!  To this day, I don’t know why I was compelled to paint a pink cow using my fingers.  The tactile experience of painting with my fingers seemed essential.  This creative process helped me to transform the feeling of helplessness in regards to being unable to visit my friend.

Why did this help?  I don’t have an answer.  Some things really do dwell in the mystery or the deep unconscious and cannot be fathomed.  Perhaps they are before words.


Poetry has also provided this sort of harmonizing effect for me.  When my father-in-law was dying, I turned to poetry.  Trying to understand my relationship with my parents or to make some sense of a long-term marriage that was ending, I turned to poetry.  Journal writing has been invaluable to me when facing life’s incongruities.  However, like painting, poetry has a way of containing wayward emotions while transforming them.

For your journal:  Has art and/or writing and poetry helped you to express, uplift or in some way transform your difficult feelings?  Can you tolerate looking foolish in order to express and then share something that is deeply felt?


Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.
Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”
Brene Brown, Researcher, Story-Teller, Author, Lecturer

Imagination and Fabrication



Excuse me, but is that a PURPLE ELEPHANT?

Why yes, it is.

Where in the world would you find a purple elephant?

In the realm of imagination, of course.

Artists love to paint elephants.  Some artists choose realism and create elephants that look like they have walked out of an African forest.  Other artists are inspired to paint whimsical elephants (like me).  There is room for both, of course.


Writers of fiction are great fabricators–they take an idea for a story and let their imagination run with it.  And, if  permitted, the imagination can take you on a ride into the great unknown!  In a sense, fiction writers might begin their story with “I wonder what would happen if…”  and then take off into a flight of fancy.

When you write from the place of imagination, you typically want to have your story grounded in some “facts”.  Your reader appreciates some plausibility or credibility in order to hinge his/her mind onto something recognizable.

Years ago, I remember watching the film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with the actor, Danny Kaye.  There was a remake in 2013 with Ben Stiller…I haven’t seen it yet…I think I’ll rent that one tonight.  This story is based on author James Thurber’s classic story of a daydreamer who drifts off into an imaginary world, escaping his mundane life.  He is, of course, the hero of his daydreams.

Writing Prompt:
In your writing, do you dare to enter the wild and unpredictable territory of imagination? Have you written from this place?  What story can you create out of thin air?  Even if you are a non-fiction writer, can you allow yourself the play that imagination steals one into?  Do you want to give it a try?  It might feel like you have veered off course, but why not?  Don’t new inventions rise from someone’s untethered imagination?  The questions being “How can I do this better or make this easier or what if I do this or try that, then what?”