Thursday 30 May 2013

Two Very Different Creative Sparks by Ginny Lennox

I had to think a lot about this month’s Creative Dream Journal’s theme of what sparks my creativity. When I think of a spark I think of energy that grows into a brightly colored flame. When I think of how I am creatively that is not the vision I get most of the time. At this point in time, I am most creative in a quiet environment. I love to have everything in order and then begin to write or paint. I might take time to look outside at the colors of nature or just sit and think or meditate in my own way. But I don’t usually feel a rush of adrenaline which carries me into a great frenzy or exuberance of creativity unless…. I am starting a new project that will benefit someone else. Then I feel the excitement. Then I love to think and discuss and collaborate and design and create with a sense of urgency. Even when I am writing about the different ways that I experience creativity, I can feel the difference in my body. One is a personal way to create which may benefit others but begins as a totally personal experience. The other begins and ends with the purpose of benefiting someone else. Both are different but both are equally important. I really had no idea that when I began writing on this topic that this is what I would discover about myself! And that does spark my creativity because I do believe that the more I know about myself the more creative I become. Does your creativity always spark in the same way? Do you feel differently depending upon what you are creating? I know we are all different and experience creativity in our own unique and special way, but I would love to know what inspires you.

Ginny, a certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach, believes that each and every day is filled with special moments to be enjoyed and treasured. On her blog, Special Moments in Time, she encourages everyone to recognize and celebrate their own special moments each day


Monday 27 May 2013

You have Permission to Trust Your Own Creative Ideas Rather than Rely on Pinterest by Jodi Crane

In the mid ‘90s, I was a graduate teaching assistant in a kindergarten classroom in a child development laboratory school at a large university.  Some of my most creative, effective, and happiest teaching was during my time in that kindergarten.  On Fridays the head teacher, other graduate assistant, an undergraduate student teacher, and I would meet and discuss the students’ needs and make plans for the next week.  This classroom was child-centered which meant that much of the curriculum was focused around the children’s own interests.  For instance, the head teacher noticed that many of the boys were building castles with blocks during the morning unstructured play time, thus we planned a unit around their passion for castles.  Once a week I would be in charge of leading the entire “large group” of 20 kindergarteners in an activity or learning exercise and on a different day I would lead half the children, the “small group,” in another activity.  The topic for these groups came from our Friday staff meetings.
If you’re like me some of your best creative ideas are sparked while doing routine, common, and often mundane tasks that don’t involve much brain power like taking a shower, making your bed, folding laundry, or repetitive exercising like walking.  These are the places where I’d acquire ideas for what to do with the kindergarten students during large and small group time.  All I needed was the topic, even one word, and the process took over from there.

After the routine task I’d either write down my ideas so I wouldn’t forget them or I’d immediately spend about an hour gathering materials to teach the students.  Much of the entire process was intuitive.  I didn’t look through books or magazines, wade through a Google search, or surf Pinterest for ideas.  How time-consuming that would have been if those were available options then!  (I am definitely one to go traveling down a rabbit hole and become unfocused while on the internet.) 

Here’s what I learned:
  1. All I really need is one simple thing to spark my creativity.  It can be anything if I am open to it.
  2. Once I have the initial idea or topic, it is better to rely on my own ideas and intuition to flesh out the idea rather than someone else’s I might find on the internet.  In other words, I trust myself. 
  3. This process is quicker and easier for me to infuse my own individuality into the “product” rather than copying or adapting something I might find online.
I’m not saying I never use the internet.  In fact, I find it useful for obtaining the initial idea if necessary or teaching myself how to do something technical regarding my activity, e.g., how to fold a piece of paper into a box.
And how did I flesh out my ideas for this blog post once I had the prompt “creative spark”?  The shower, of course.

Jodi Crane
play therapist, blogger, creative, mom

Thursday 23 May 2013

A little trip back to myself by Angel Young

OMG the winter has just been so long here this year! Just grey skies, rain, cold. So a little trip to Berlin was just the thing. Four days visiting my friend. Mind you it hadn't been better there, but I timed by visit with the start of spring - I brought the sunshine with me :). 

You know I hadn't quite realised how tired and worn down I was. It's so easy to get into that place unwittingly isn't it? To let day to day life overwhelm everything else, even those little breathing spaces where you can pause. 

What was great about this trip was its lovely balance between seeing my friend and having some "artist date" time on the days my friend was working. It was so great to wander the streets with my camera just exploring the city. I didn't really feel the need to go in the tourist attractions. It was enough to be outdoors and reconnecting with my creativity again.

After a little dither, I decided I would go and see the Bauhaus Gallery. If you're not familiar with this it's a school which ran through the 1920s & 30s. It was a melting pot of innovation in its day, and when war came its designs were scattered to the winds, and it's tenets run right through into modern design.

But, wow did it spark for me! The weaving was exquisitely coloured and patterned; the pottery had an edge to it; the copper sculpture twisted; the chairs were - well classic Bauhaus! But most importantly for me were those little colour test grids, those colour mixing experiments they converted into carpets and fabrics and painting - a new approach to design. They just spoke to me! Suddenly I could see how you could extrapolate that into my printmaking. These simple colours painted some 90 years ago still had the power to spark the imagination. I got home and I've started those old colour mixing experiments. It feels new and exciting. 

A little investment of time and then all that lovely creativity can rush in. Where will you take an artists date and breath some fresh air into your creativity?

Angel lives in the UK and a rediscovering her paintbox this month.

Monday 20 May 2013

A Kaleidoscope of Creativity by Lisa DeYoung


I've been creating pieces in photoshop – using my hand lettering along with some sort of background – for each of my Creative Dream Journal posts so far. Creative Spark sounded like such a fun prompt, but when I sat down to actually create a post I became stumped.

So I started searching for a quote I might like to use, that seemed to illustrate creative spark for me. I came up empty, but I did run across the word kaleidoscope and that somehow created a spark.

I'd like to think my creativity is a kind of kaleidoscope, with many beautiful and changing patterns and colors. My creative practice certainly involves dreaming, playing and creating (hence my little phrase came to life for this post:)

And this kalaidoscope – ever evolving "pattern or sequence of objects or elements" – can also feel a bit frustrating at times; frustration that I have historically felt when it comes to my creativity:
I start on one project, and a beautiful "shiny object" distracts my attention, and I move onto a new project before completing the previous one. And so it often goes...

More recently I have come to a sort of peace with all these shiny objects; I am able to see the beautiful patterns they have created in my life, and the lives of others.

I am also getting better at looking at each shiny object that appears in my lense, and deciding if I should let it distract me or if I should keep focused on the current creative endeavor in an attempt to spark it into a flame.

Some days I am better at this then others. Some days I am able to purposely put aside one project for another – knowing that I will be back, or that the project has been completely abandoned.

I am even beginning to see patterns in all the projects I have (and am) dipping into – whether completed or still sitting in a pile on the shelf some where.

I am finally trusting that my nurturing will surely fan my creative sparks into beautiful, warm flames. I love how it worked with this post, and I hope you've enjoyed it to.

How do you nurture your creative sparks into beautiful, warm flames, and manage them as they grow?

Lisa, aka the mountain mermaid, is a creative, independent spirit who loves to explore and play outdoors. She lives in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Embracing her creative life is an ongoing adventure, a journey that she loves and trusts more each year – and hopes to inspire others to do the same. She is also an entrepreneur providing innovative business support, including graphic design services, for passionate creative entrepreneurs.

Thursday 16 May 2013

How to Flirt with your Creative Lover by Julie Gibbons

Creative living is an everyday commitment. A commitment to surrender to creative force, yes.

But is there anything we can do to elevate the surrender? Picasso is said to have observed, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” Is it enough to simply turn up at my desk and expect the force to penetrate?

Sometimes, yes - it works. Sometimes I can open the page, and simply begin to create something upon which there was once only space. It might suck, but I'm working, right? And by getting started, I know the creative force will soon appear to take hold of me and enter me like a lover, warm breath on my neck.

Other times, I just can't begin the work. I stare at the screen, I flick through the pages of the journal, I check out my Instagram feed or that doozy of all time suck, Facebook. Quite often I get up from my chair and before I know it, I'm stuffing an illicit chocolate digestive down my throat (if no one sees me do it, it doesn't count, right?) I'm not alone, I know it happens to you, too.

Catching the lover's attention

What can we do to spark our creativity when our beings are strongly resisting getting on with the work?

We already know the answers, don't we? We have always known but we need reminded sometimes. We just do. And sometimes our lover, the creative source, needs something extra to draw his attention.

Here are some of the ways I catch his eye;

Play Extreme

Change physical location: My family is pretty much completely location independent but we can spend an inordinately large amount of time in one place, tied to our desks. Physically removing ourselves to a new location triggers an immediate flow of creative ideas. Always - it's like source needs to check up on me in this new place.

My favourite way to change location is by house swapping.

Engage play: It was through the rediscovery of the symbolic play of his childhood that psychologist CG Jung was able to connect with his creative spirit. The "active imagination" technique he developed from this connection forms the foundation of most of today's creative therapies. Playing opens doors. It allows for transformation and growth, just like when we were little.

Just now I'm finding play turn up in unexpected ways, creating joyful inspiration where I wasn't even looking for it.

Magic Pages

Make magic: Jamie Ridler introduced me to cut and paste word and image collage a few years ago by way of her full moon dreamboards. It's something I developed into a daily practice called Found Inspirations. I can't explain the detailed ins and outs of how it works - I'm content simply to think of it as magic.

I am a sorceress, my magic wand a pair of scissors and a glue stick and I'm all the while batting my eyes flirtatiously at source.

Develop soul destiny: Sometimes we need only to ask the right questions of ourselves and we find in our answers the spark we need to make magic that day. I learned three soul questions a couple of years ago during a 21 day meditation challenge run by the Chopra Center. These questions have been guiding my way on a daily basis ever since. They never fail to deliver. It's like the creative source is listening out for the answers.

The questions: Who am I? What do I want? How do I serve?

Beauty Therapy

Surround yourself with beauty: From John O'Donohue's book Divine Beauty: The Invisible Embrace, "Beauty does not linger, it only visits. Yet beauty's visitation affects us and invites us into its rhythm, it calls us to feel, think, and act beautifully in the world : to create and live a life that awakens the beautiful ... Even, and perhaps especially, in the bleakest times, we can still discover and awaken beauty; these are precisely the times when we need it most."

Beauty ignites our creativity - that's the truth. It's one of my top life values and has never failed me - even in the most dire of circumstances.Surround yourself with beauty and you can't fail to be inspired.

Nature's Feedback

Go outside: This one works for almost every person I know. It has worked since before the dawn of time. If like me, you believe that we share the same spirit as every plant, animal and landscape, then you can find easy cause for great wonderment. If you simply enjoy getting some fresh air and experiencing the great outdoors, see if you can slow down to notice what is going on all around you.

Before you know it, you will be filled with some energetic magic that sparks your creativity with hardly any effort at all.

What lights your creative fire?

Make a list (embellish it for optimum magical powers) of all of the nurturing behaviours that have worked for you in the past and when inspiration jumps ship and leaves you lonely for some creative lovin', pick one or more of them, or a quick version you can put into action right now.

You'll soon feel the spark and the heat within will begin to rise. Oh yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about!

Julie Gibbons enjoys art journaling, journal therapy and mixed media. Her passion is self discovery through intuitive, creative practice, to reveal personal patterns, symbolism & archetypes of the true self.
Blog & Website + Etsy

Monday 13 May 2013

The Creative Sparkle Starts with Dreaming by Valarie Budayr

“ If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less, but to dream more, to dream all the time.” Marcel Proust

I chose the above quote because it sums up what sparks my creative process more than any other. I can’t say for certain what sparks a creative idea inside my head. I do know what it feels like when it arrives.

A creative spark invites me to come out and play. This invitation can come from anywhere at any time. A good example of this is for a book I’m currently working on. One day as I was reading a homeschooling mom’s blog I found a post about 100 words that had been cut out of the most recent edition of the Oxford Children’s dictionary. These are really common words like duchess, daffodil, and lavender, which has been replaced by texting, and chatting. Immediately while reading this, an entire boo idea came to mind. Day by day the lost words have found their way into my heart, mind, and soon to a bookshelf near you.

A creative spark is easy. The idea doesn’t hold any resistance but simply flows. The ideas for this creative spark come flooding in. I just have to be able to write them down as quickly as they appear.

After much surrounding the idea has surfaced, it’s time to let extensive dreaming take place. This, requires a long walk. The bigger the idea the longer the walk. It’s a good indication to me if an idea can be fleshed out or not. Usually everything comes together within a walk or two.

The dream time of an idea is the most inspired time in the whole process. It is an effortless moment. It lures me in and then the real work comes into play. Once I’m committed to an idea or project, I’m there for the long haul. It is a gratifying moment to get through the tough times and see how a project comes to life. It starts with a little spark, a little dream, and a little flow moment. It’s this sparkle time which holds me through the entire creative process.

Valarie Budayr is the founder of Audrey Press and the award-winning and best-selling author of the book The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to our Garden and The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. She is passionate about making kid’s books come alive and you can find her doing that on her popular blog and website, Jump into a Book. When she isn’t being bookie, she is very happily the mother of three uber creative children, married to a wonderfully patient man who has come to love yarn, and caretaker of one adored cat. Other creative interests are music, travel, knitting (a bonafide yarn harlot), and gardening. She loves living a daily creative practice, where even a good cup of coffee is art.

Thursday 9 May 2013

Finding Your Spark: It’s Out There Waiting for You by Julie Rorrer

The Conversation went something like this:

Me: What is a creative spark? Why do people need them? I'm just not getting what I'm supposed to be writing about. Ugh!

Husband: It's the idea that’s the beginning of a project, or a piece of art, or whatever you are going to be creating. You know this!

Me: That's my problem. I have sparks every single day. How could I possibly explain that to people?

Husband: I think you sitting here talking about this over and over is making you lose the spark.

Me: Hmmm …

That's when my spark came to me. I immediately ran down the hallway and am now writing in our walk-in closet. This is where I get things done. There are no distractions, no zombie game noises, not a peep; nothing but me and the clicking of my computer keyboard.

Here’s the thing about creative sparks: A spark just comes, and your job it to allow it in and then act on it. It's not about figuring out how to create it. The more you push, the further away it goes. There comes a point where you just have to open up and let it in.

The following example may draw create a better picture of what I mean. I went to art school and had a blast at every subject except one. I was a frustrated drawer. As a photography major I didn't need to draw much, but a few drawing classes were required to graduate.

I held out as long as possible, but eventually it was there on my course load: the dreaded Drawing 101. I had to go to class and within hours I was going to have to draw … and it was completely terrifying. It seems so silly now, but the terror I felt back then to draw was intense. It started building up for weeks before the class even started. The more I thought about having to draw the more I freaked out in my mind. The first day came and I hated what came out of me. The teacher could clearly see I was having some internal conflict to say the least. She pulled me aside after class and tried her best to help me open up and start drawing. “Just look at it, and draw what you see,” she said. “You are a photographer, this won't be hard.”

She was wrong. It was hard. The harder I made it in my head, the harder it was to draw. Instead of actually drawing (which was the only way to get better and get over my resistance) I just kept not doing. I had a drawing coming up that would be graded. I'm not one to get a bad grade, so this put me into overdrive. I literally drew for a whole week straight. Every day, every night, all I did was draw. It was exhausting, and maddening, but I was determined to make the grade. After each piece was complete, it would be grabbed and tossed into the trash by what appeared to be a mad artist. One after the other they were tossed away.

Eventually, though, something weird started to happen. After a week of constant drawing I realized that some of them weren't looking so bad after all. I mean, I could still loathe them in my head, but if I looked at them objectively they were pretty alright drawings. Something had clicked, and in the act of doing I actually created this really amazing piece. I wish I still had it to show you, but I think all of my drawings were tossed pretty quickly after the class. Are you surprised?

What I came to realize is that a lot of the time the thing we resist the most isn't as scary as we thought. Instead of pushing and pulling and fighting against something that seems insurmountable, sometimes the way to the spark is right in front of our faces: the simple act of letting go so it can happen. I can't tell you what will work for you, but over the years I've come up with many techniques for letting go and breaking through my resistance to my spark moments. Maybe at least one of these will work for you. Maybe in trying one of these you will break through to the other side and you will find fireworks!

Spark producing activities:

  • Meditate.
  • Be consciously quiet. Shhh, don't speak. Seriously, don't speak. It clutters the mind.
  • Clean up all those dishes in the kitchen sink. Sweep your floors. For some reason knowing those things need to be done will keep the sparks from flying.
  • Turn off your phone. Put everything with a screen on it in your closet and close the door. Trust me. Do it!
  • Get in your car and drive.
  • Take a shower, because it creates massive sparks. It's a well-known fact.
  • Move your body. Yes, shake your booty until it can't shake no more.
  • Pour a glass of wine. Or even two.
  • Call a friend who is hilarious and laugh with them. Some say laughter is the best medicine, and I believe them.
  • Sit down and make something with your hands. Anything!
  • Let go of 10 things you don't use. Clearing away physical things can be incredibly exhilarating.
  • Get out of your house. Sometimes we need new scenery to stimulate our noggins.
  • Play with a kid or two – blow bubbles, swing, play tag, anything. It's amazing how getting your mind on something so opposite of what you want it on will trigger a spark.
This is just a start, but get out there … let it in! Your spark is waiting for you to claim it. Just as you are looking for it, so is it looking for you to give it life. If you find fun ways to create sparks that aren't on my list let me know below in the comments. I'm always looking for new ones.

Known in certain circles as Danger Girl, Julie is never afraid to throw caution to the wind and take a chance. She’s been creating things since she was a little girl and shows no signs of stopping. As a grown-up (more or less) she’s created a bath/body products brand, launched the largest indie fashion website (at the time), learned to ride a motorcycle, and done various other things large and small. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and son and a yard full of lizards and is currently writing the book she’s been dreaming about for years.

Monday 6 May 2013

Creative spark by Kate Wolfe-Jenson

I sing of the creative spark
that wakes us up 
and moves us out
into the big wide world.

In answer to its joyful call
we smear with paint
we play with words
we celebrate our souls.

But if we try to push it down
the seas turn rough
the skies turn dark
our lives turn dry indeed.

Well-nourished your creative spark
will lift you clear 
will give you strength
will bring you back to life.

Kate Wolfe-Jenson is learning to nourish her rebellious tendencies. She lives and writes about chronic illness, creativity and spirituality. Interested in monsters and angels, garbage and flowers, brokenness and wholeness, she suspects they call us toward joy if we let them. Someday she hopes to dissolve into a ball of light. Her blog is

Friday 3 May 2013

Can Wet Matches Dry?

Have you ever felt soggy?
Soggy is a hard place to work from

But how do you create a spark when you feel soggy?
Wet matches don't light

What dries me out?
Friends do.
And my puppy.
And my husband (sometimes....)
Just sitting and staring into space
A walk

It is interesting to think about creating the conditions for sparks to happen. 

Ideas and thoughts - when they collide - create sparks. When that happens, the conditions to fan those sparks into flames have to be right.  Warm, Dry, Lots of Oxygen....

Like the weather, my life has patterns and seasons. Lately has felt a bit like the rainy season and I'm definitely feeling a bit soggy.

I do hope my wet matches can dry soon. 

What conditions create sparks and flames for you? What dries out your wet matches?

Kim LeClair can be found in Chicagoland with a hair dryer and wet pack of matches...and her puppy...