Sep 092009

In this third and final post about revving your creativity engine (see original post here) by reading inspirational blogs, you’ll note that all three of the BBEST blogs that are highlighted today serve the function of an Artist Date. These blogs are certainly about the artistic journey, but also about how art and the blogger’s personal life are intertwined. Featured today are Judi of Vintage Legacy Studio, Rose of Big Island Rose Designs, and Marion of artmixter. Let’s get started!

Judi, whose blog, Vintage Legacy Studio, is the counterpart to her Etsy shop of the same name, is one of the newer members of the BBEST team. As a life and leadership coach, Judi says part of her mission is to design space to grow, and to empower herself and others to be creative. She does so not only with her Victorian era-inspired creations, but also through writing and performance. You can visit eHow, for example, and read some of Judi’s articles by entering her user name, CoachJudiB, in the search bar.

In one of her other blogs, The Heirloom Gazette, Judi reveals that for seven years she wrote as Abigail Bradshaw, a Victorian character whose historic detail is “gleaned from antique magazines and books, and is authentic in its content.” She performed vignettes of this character, incorporating vintage songs into her performances. One of them was “The Bird on Nellie’s Hat,” a song about a bird who knew more about Nellie than Nellie would have guessed. Among Judi’s family photos is one of her Great Aunt Millie, who wore a hat with a bird like Nellie perched on it; this is Judi’s current Etsy avatar.

Recently Judi has been decluttering her sewing space to make room for new projects, and in the process she discovered some vintage handkerchiefs that were originally intended to be part of a quilt top. Instead, Judi is re-purposing the handkerchiefs into unique necklaces incorporating vintage lace, loops of beads, glass beads, and vintage buttons.

Another recent project is what Judi describes as a bib necklace, fashioned from vintage lace and trims. In her blog, she describes how challenging it was to photograph this item.

In The Rose Journal, Rose of Big Island Rose Designs writes delightfully meandering posts that will surprise you with their ultimate destinations. In Blessings in Disguise, for example, Rose tells us a story about how her husband pruned her precious kukui tree beyond recognition, but then—a few days later—she looked at the tree and realized her husband had cut the tree in the shape of a heart. “It won’t last forever,” Rose writes, “but I’m enjoying it for the moment and it got me thinking. I stressed and fussed each time he cut that tree not knowing that someday I would be blessed by a heart. (God sometimes gets out His pruning shears and gives us a good topping too! He’s trying to bring out His heart in us.)”

Kukui tree in Blessings in Disguise, described by birose

Rose’s tendency to reflect about blessings instead of missteps is evident in her collage and mixed media work, which has been evolving since, as a little girl, she collected stamps and broken egg shells. “Collage has always been my constant companion,” she says, “whether I’m working with paper, fabric, found items, or fibers. Even when I think about working with people it’s always with the idea of showing them how to take simple things and make them into something beautiful. Isn’t that what our Creator does with us? He takes the broken pieces of our lives, mixes in those of others, adds some color, spices, or laughter and makes beautiful stories, beautiful lives.” In her secondary Etsy shop, SaRoMaSa, Rose is beginning to sell her collage work.

Although many of us are most familiar with the colorful fabric yoyo flowers in Rose’s main shop, Big Island Rose Designs, Rose reveals she can also do wonders with the absence of color. Applying herself to the challenge of the Creative Every Day blog, she produced a work of collage, mostly in white.

Almost White” collage work, by birose

Scottish artist Marion of artmixter, whose blog tag line explains that “artmixter” is a mixture of art and thought—with a bit of everyday life on the side—has a busy life. Activities such as writing, teaching workshops, creating art, attending the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham (United Kingdom), and—oh, yeah—working at a paid job produce a schedule in which every day is an exercise in avoiding procrastination. “Procrastination is fine,” Marion writes, “if you’ve got the time for it. I don’t. So I have focused on the essentials, my commitments in the short term, and I’ve decided how to tackle them.” She writes, in fact, about the topic of procrastination in her new book, Finding Your Creative Focus, available on her blog and in her Etsy shop.

When she’s not writing, Marion is often teaching textile workshops or demonstrating the use of lutradur and Evolon, two unique synthetic fibers. In a recent workshop, participants produced transparent bowls with words trapped inside them. Marion’s philosphy about teaching is to provide examples of what is possible, rather than a specific set of instructions. “I make suggestions,” she explains, “show what is possible, or at least, what I think is possible at this point; you might find there’s yet more you can do with what I’m showing you. And that’s the joy of teaching workshops in this way; if you provide six people with the same materials and the same instruction, they can produce six completely different pieces of art. Of course, if you want to copy what I’ve made, you can . . . but I’m pretty sure that yours will turn out with a different ‘feel’ to mine. Why not try it?” She has written a book about lutradur, and is working toward completion of a book on Evolon.

With all that she does, it is amazing that Marion finds time for her own art. As the saying goes (or something close to it), people make time for the things that are important to them. Recently, Marion has been producing a great deal of collage work, especially with transfer dyes and lutradur.

Sample collage for workshop taught at The Gallery
Dereham (United Kingdom), by artmixter

Her artistic efforts have caught the eye of The Storque, the official blog of Etsy. If you haven’t already read it, you’ll want to read about Marion in The Storque’s post, High End Etsy: Fiber Arts.

Hopefully these BBEST bloggers have aroused your curiosity, and possibly have inspired you to explore some new areas you have not previously considered. That’s the purpose of an Artist Date. As author Julia Cameron of The Artist’s Way reminds us, “Doing your artist date, you are receiving—opening yourself to insight, inspiration, guidance.” If you missed the earlier posts in this series, you may wish to read the following:

Carving time for your Muse
Artist dates & blog inspiration, part 1
Artist dates & blog inspiration, part 2

    © 2009 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved. Please note that the images in this post are owned by the artists and may not be used without permission. Simultaneously published at

    Aug 142009

    In my previous post, I discussed the need for a creative timeout, or—as author Julia Cameron calls it, an “Artist Date”—to explore our sensory world, thus stocking our idea storehouse. Because we don’t always have the resources or the time to visit different places, one way of carving inspirational time for ourselves is to read other artists’ blogs. According to Tara Frey in Blogging for Bliss, “Creative blogs are wonderful and welcoming places, introducing countless avenues to express one’s passions.”

    While this post is certainly not long enough to recognize all of the BBEST blogs whose visitors would consider them to be Artist Dates, here are three that are worth your attention. Over the next few BBEST blog posts, I will highlight a few others. Prepare yourself to be entertained, inspired and educated as you visit the blogs of kimbuktu, CoffeePotPeople and lizplummer.

    Kym of kimbuktu devotes an entire section of her Web site to “Twelve Months,” a description of her creative journey during the last 12 months. Her beautiful Joanne Watercolor Bag and African Quilt, for example, challenges fabricholics to dig through their fabric stockpile or local quilt shop for colors and patterns that fit a specific theme. Kym’s projects include bags and quilts, journals and jumpers, place mats, paper crafts and much more. In another part of her Web site, Kym provides tutorials that will encourage you to make your very own Origami page corners, alter a tin container to become a coin purse, or learn how to do free motion quilting on a standard sewing machine. Artist profiles are in another section of the Web site; Kym has featured a number of BBEST artists.

    In her shop announcement, Ani of CoffeePotPeople tells us, “They say, ‘Earth laughs in flowers.’ I want to give it something to laugh at!” Her blog certainly matches this statement with photos of her imaginative coffee pot and tea kettle people. She also tickles our taste buds with a recipe for Chicken Alfredo, and provides an account of a visit to the 12th Annual North Plains Elephant Garlic Festival in “Fun Stinks.” You never quite know what to expect from Ani on her blog, which is fun, inspiring and educational. Yes, Ani includes some tutorials, too, among them Ice Cream, No Machine! and Shank Button Earrings.

    The queen of textile techniques is Liz Plummer, whose blog, Dreaming Spirals, provides both written and photographic evidence about what inspires her, and about her creative explorations. Spinning, Gocco printing, printing with a pasta maker, dyeing, embossing, and painting with acrylics on fabric represent just a few of Liz’s experiments. If you click on “Archives” at the top of her blog, you will be able to locate posts on specific topics. Even if you never explore these areas yourself, you will be inspired by Liz’s energy and her dedication to learning.

    Stay tuned for future posts about inspirational BBEST bloggers!

    © 2009 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved. Please note that the images in this post are owned by the artists and may not be used without permission. Simultaneously published at

    Aug 102009

    Why are most artists fascinated with the topic of creativity? Perhaps the answer is that we fear its loss. We examine how we come by our own ideas and how others do so, panic when we have dry spells, and attempt to furnish our physical space in ways that are conducive to the creation process. We seek inspiration anywhere we can by taking workshops, reading books and blog posts, collecting pictures and quotes, journaling, listening to music, or taking a walk in the hope that we can jump start the creative engine. Above all, we’re in a hurry to “get it right” because time is a-wasting, and we don’t want a great idea like Diane Clancy‘s Poetic Mountain to get away from us.

    If we listen to the advice of American painter Georgia O’Keefe, however, we need to give ourselves the gift of time to develop our ideas. “Nobody sees a flower—really—” says O’Keefe, “it is so small it takes time—and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.” Great advice! While creative thinking tools that I have written about in previous posts (such as SCAMPER or Attribute Listing) can be very helpful in generating ideas when nothing else seems to work, these methods depend more on an organized approach than on the clock-free zone of our subconscious. In a perfect world, we can take all the time we need to let our senses absorb impressions. We see and hear and feel and smell, wrapping ourselves in a cocoon from which ideas emerge—organically—when the time is right.

    According to Julia Cameron, one of my favorite authors who has written numerous books about creativity, we need to set “artist dates” for ourselves to give our Muse the time it needs to percolate. An artist date is a period of time you set aside at least once a week for just a few hours, in which you use your senses to explore the world. This is not a time to take along a friend, a spouse or your grandchild. You may choose to attend a concert, visit a museum, bird watch, stroll through a butterfly garden or a field of flowers, curl up with a book in a secluded library corner, bake a rich dessert for yourself, or even meditate.

    This is your time. Open your eyes, listen, taste, smell, touch—and dream, as the BBEST artists below obviously have done. In my next post, we’ll explore Boomer blogs whose posts are an artist date in themselves.

    © 2009 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved. Please note that the images in this post are owned by the artists and may not be used without permission. Simultaneously published at