Archive for Art


Is Inspiration Like a Butterfly?

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I was at a networking event chatting with someone who studied creativity–the academic, scientificky stuff, the parts of the brain, the naming of the parts.

Does your Creative Breakthroughs Collage tele-class use the “blah blah blah” thing with the brain?

No idea.

But he also didn’t make things. And then when I said to him, “you know, you don’t need to be inspired to be creative,” he looked so disappointed.

I said, “I’ve made things for a living on a deadline for a long time which means that I had to regularly create things whether I was inspired or not. The difference between my inspired work and my un-inspired work is pretty much nil.”

Since this is a favorite topic of mine, (poor guy!) I continued:

“But that’s not a bad thing, it’s a great thing” I said, “because I know my creative abilities are available to me all the time.”

He still looked a little disappointed.

Ah, Romance

Our romantic ideas about inspiration are powerful and sexy and well, romantic.

We love inspiration because it feels good–it feels real and special and different from everyday life, and we ALL love that.

But inspiration is also like a butterfly or a hummingbird–who knows when she’s going visit, let alone land long enough to get a good look at her and breathe in her delicate beauty.

So if you wait to be inspired before you start creating, well, you could wait a long time.

But in the same way a gardener can plant a a butterfly bush to draw butterflies into her world, you can plant the seeds that will invite inspiration into your life more regularly.

Well really, it’s just one seed.

And that seed is? Yep, you guessed it.


Don’t wait to be inspired to create. Start creating and you’ll get inspired.

That’s how it works. I promise this is true.

It doesn’t matter how simple you keep it. 20 Minutes here, 20 Minutes there is fantastic.

Go be by yourself, or sit in front of the TV with the whole fam, it really doesn’t matter.

Oh, and another helpful thing! Either

  • do something really important to you
  • or try something where you feel less emotionally invested in the outcome

Just do whichever one lets you feel safe enough or motivated enough to get started–it’s usually one or the other.

Be Kind

It does help if you can be gentle and generous with yourself and your creative attempts because everyone, everyone, everyone makes bad stuff sometimes.

Which also means it’s okay to make bad stuff because everyone does it and, THEREFORE, it’s not damning evidence proving that you suck.

And you know, the mean voices keep inspiration away, not the other way around.

Inspiration can’t get rid of the mean voices.

In fact, when you start pulling the mean-voice-weeds out of your creative garden, inspiration will actually start to flutter in more often because it’s safe and you’ve been tending things and making a welcoming atmosphere.

Doesn’t that sound nice?

Now I also know the mean voices can be hard to get rid of, so next week I’ll talk about a meditation or two you might do to make room for other more positive voices.

In the meantime, remember–don’t wait to get inspired to create. Start creating and you’ll feel inspired.


What do you think? Have you been waiting to be inspired or do you already create regularly and find what I’m saying here to be true yourself? Wherever you are in the creative process, please share your thoughts, I’d love to hear from you!


Get Inspired by Mark Bradford

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The Creative Process

This summer, one of my best friends  saw the collage artist and recent MacArthur Award winner Mark Bradford speak at a conference for art teachers in Chicago and was blown away.

This weekend, she came down from Vermont to visit me and we hopped on the subway to the Studio Museum in Harlem (great museum with a warm, lovely vibe) to see his latest work.

While we were there, we sat down to watch a PBS Art 21 episode about him, and it was awesome.

I love the way he talks about his creative process!

And since you know I like to talk about the creative process a lot here on the blog, I wanted to share the link to this video with you. Please, WATCH IT–you’ll be inspired, I promise.

It’s so good. He’s so good. Art21 is so good.

It’s all good-good-good.

Mark Bradford Video

Here’s the link:


The Collaboration Conversation

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Every Friday I write the 20 Minute Club Minutes–because using a timer for what I call the 20 Minute Technique can keep your creative momentum going in your busy, time-crunched life–20 minutes at a pop.

Please join in and share your 20 Minute Experiences in the Comments–good/bad, it’s all fair game, because sharing your experiences about the process is a great way to figure things out and increase your creativity.


My 20 Minute Club experiences this week have been all about collaboration.

I’m collaborating on a series of pieces with a fantastically talented close friend, and it’s so fulfilling and exciting.

We began our collaboration with a broad….direction, I guess, and a love for the same kind of materials.

And now we’re slowly developing that direction as we make our initial work. One of us starts something and then we hand it off to the other.

She gave me her latest “start” almost 2 weeks ago.

I brought it home and then walked by it, stared at it, rearranged it, remembered it, and pondered for about 10 days until I suddenly got what I call my flash–this is when I’m thinking about a piece and an image suddenly pops into my head in a particular way that tells me–start here.

(All of the above was invisible work, by the way. To an outsider, it looked like a pile of fabric was awkwardly sitting on top of my printer while I ignored it.)

Once I got my flash, I had something to do. I spent the weekend immersed in a conversation with our project and can’t wait to pass it back to her.

The Conversation

What I love about collaborating is that it’s an even richer conversation than when you listen and respond to your own work by yourself.

As I’m creating, I’m not only responding to the work in front of me, but I’m conversing with my friend in my head as I work, with what I’m adding to what she gave me, as well as with our shared ideas about our project–our vision, if you will, even though that’s pretty broad at this point.

The cooperating feels fantastic. The direction that the work takes when it comes from 2 people instead of just yourself, and the feeling of connection while making art–so often a solitary pursuit–gives the aesthetic experience itself such depth.

But working with someone else also gives you another fantastic personal benefit–it helps you build and maintain that all-important creative momentum because it’s a powerful way to have support and accountability built into the creative experience.

Because it’s hard to always have to come up with that kind of energy on your own.

And in order to live your life as an artist these days, when you’re probably making your living doing something else, it’s really helpful to find different ways to have a supported creative experience.

(That’s what the Creative Breakthroughs Collage Tele-classes are all about–SUPPORT!!)

And when you find the right person to work with, it all falls into place.

Neither of us needs to have a lot of control (well, over this particular project :-) ), both of us care about intention and details, and we’re both approaching the process with curiosity rather than expectations.

And maybe my favorite part is that even though we think really differently and make things differently, we both trust and respect the other person’s aesthetic AND we want to build on what the other one does, rather than fight it.

I haven’t had this much art fun in a long time.

Is there someone you could collaborate with?


Appreciating yourself is an important part of the 20 Minute Club because it helps you keep your creative momentum going.

Carving out the time to create is important of course, but it’s not enough. Getting (and eventually staying) on your own side is a critical factor for helping you take bigger risks with your work, get yourself out of a creative rut, or just enjoy the process more.

Taking the time to remember to appreciate yourself and all your efforts (big or small, creative or not) is a powerful way to make this happen.


Here are my five self-appreciations for this week:

1. I appreciate everything I brought to my collaboration project as I added to it and grew it this last weekend.

2. I appreciate how I much more awareness I’m bringing to certain defeatist thinking patterns and trying to both accept them as they are, and not indulge them at the same time.

3. I appreciate how much I’m learning about the difference between acceptance and succumbing.

4. I appreciate how simply continuing to work on a big project is providing me answers when I feel like I don’t know what to do next.

5.  I appreciate my lifelong desire to grow and let go and be free and how that desire helps me face hard things and move forward.

Your Turn

How about you? How was your creative week? Do you ever collaborate with friends on art or craft work? Would you like to…or maybe not? Please share your thoughts in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!

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Does Your Art Need a Little Support?

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My goal is to help you give your creative soul what it needs to flourish.

One of the best ways I can think of to do that is to provide structured support.

Structured support is more than just cheering you on–which is great mind you, it’s just not enough in our busy, over-extended lives.

Structured support helps you to create and maintain your creative momentum because it’s a “built” something–a concrete structure–that you can rely on and lean into when you don’t have that extra energy to build something from scratch yourself.

That’s my logic around the 20 Minute Club. To help you have a way to check in and feel connected to other artistic, creative people hunting and pecking for some time here and there to do what they love best–creating.

But the 20 Minute Club is just one piece of a structured support system that I plan to provide for you. I’m creating lots more.

This summer, I’m introducing another crucial piece of my structured support system that I think you’re going to love. And I’m getting excited.

Creative Breakthroughs Tele-class

Once a week this summer, (starting in July) I’m going to offer my Creative Breakthroughs Tele-class at a special reduced introductory rate. With even better deals for buying a few classes at a time.

It’s a very simple collage process, but it really allows you to let go, stop the self-censorship, and just start making.

We’ll make 2-3 collages on each call and even if they don’t get quite finished, they’ll become excellent fodder for the 20 Minute Club because they give you something to respond to during your busy week–something to work on, think about, and experiment with–structured support that allows you to be the artist you are.

These tele-classes will help your creativity, build your self-confidence, and improve all your art making skills even if collage isn’t your “main thing.” Even if you’ve never made a collage in your life.

A Fabulous Example

Anne Huskey-Lockard took my collage tele-class because she thought it would be fun to make art using a method completely different from her usual approach.

She shares her collage and talks about her experience of my tele-class on her blog here.

Since then, she’s continued to use the technique to make more work (see how it works?) and now she’s doing a fabulous give-away of two pieces that she’s created using the Creative Breakthroughs Tele-class approach.

You can enter to win or just visit and see how she’s used the technique to expand her own creative process and provide herself with more options for her creativity.

(Here’s what I made during the same tele-class that Anne took–isn’t it interesting how the same technique can produce such different results? I LOOOVVVVEEE that. It’s all about developing/nurturing your own voice, not copying someone else. Yes!)

Who? What? When?

Okay, still working out the details of the when and the how much, but it’s definitely going to be ridiculously affordable and available almost every week this summer starting in July.

Oh, and no worries, it’s all very flexible. You’ll be able to take it once, once in a while, or every week, depending on what works for you.

I’m thinking the class is going to be Monday evenings because most people don’t do things on Monday evenings. I also might try to offer it at couple of different times to accommodate different time zones.

It’ll probably run a little over an hour–maybe an hour and a half with intros and checking in afterward. (I want to make it all feel do-able and not take over your entire evening.)

Thoughts? Questions? Leave a comment or shoot me an email.

In the meantime, watch this space!


20 Minute Club Minutes–Resolution

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Every Friday I write the 20 Minute Club Minutes–because using a timer for what I call the 20 Minute Technique can keep your creative momentum going in your busy, time-crunched life–20 minutes at a pop.

Please join in and share your 20 Minute Experiences in the Comments–good/bad, it’s all fair game.

This week involved lots of short spurts spent trying to resolve this 36″ x 48″ collage I’ve been working on slowly over the past 2 months.

Because it just didn’t feel right.

At the end of the day yesterday, I made some changes I’d been debating all week–and suddenly I felt like I’d finally resolved it and any further additions will be small.

(Click here and here to see earlier versions of this piece and click on the image itself to see it bigger.)

I LOVE that feeling of resolving a design problem.


Loving to solve design problems is loving the process–a much more positive, comfortable mindset than getting fixated on whether the final piece is going to be good or not.

I don’t always manage this, but it’s nice when I do.

So even though I wasn’t sure it would ever be a piece I looked at and I liked, I still wanted to hang in there with it to the end–to finish it–for all the powerful good that happens from the integrity of that action.

And I did.

Being committed to the process is so liberating.

And it feels good to solve problems–design or otherwise. And you know, I think I do like it after all.


Appreciating yourself is an important part of the 20 Minute Club because it helps you keep your creative momentum going.

Carving out the time to create is not enough. Getting (and eventually staying) on your own side is a critical factor for helping you take bigger risks with your work, get yourself out of a creative rut, or just enjoy the process more.

Taking the time to remember to appreciate yourself and your efforts (big or small) is a powerful way to make this happen.

Here’s my five self-appreciations for this week:

  1. I appreciate that I’ve been much more forgiving of myself lately–a bit unusual and frankly, a nice change of pace.
  2. I appreciate that I sorted out new stuff about my tele-class and felt some confusion lifting. Phew.
  3. I appreciate the cool-headed time-juggling I managed on Tuesday which involved running around, carrying heavy things in fancy shoes, and prepping for a network event.
  4. I appreciate that I took the biggest risk with my presentation at my networking event and it went really well.
  5. I appreciate how much I love to create products and how much I enjoy designing my new notecards of my digital collages.

Your Turn!

How did your creative week go? What did you work on? Are you rolling along or feeling stuck? Please share–good, bad or ugly–it’s all a part of the on-going process.

Categories : 20 Minute Club, Art, Collage
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Why Buy Art?

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I’m going to an unusual business networking event tonight where we each get 90 seconds to make ourselves memorable without giving the usual “elevator pitch” about our businesses.

So I thought I’d bring some pieces of my own artwork to the event and do a David Letterman type Top Ten Reasons You Should Buy Art from a Living, Breathing Artist when it’s my turn to stand up.

Because if I want more people to buy art, I think I should be able to help them think about why it might be worth it to them to have it in their homes as part of their everyday lives–especially people who don’t feel that connected to the arts in the first place.

Creating this list was not as easy as I thought it would be. That was kind of alarming.

But, after doing a little thinking (along with some searching online for what other people thought–amazingly, there really wasn’t that much out there) I came up with a first draft of my Top Ten.

I’d love to know your thoughts and add your suggestions to my list for tonight.

Sarah’s Top Ten Reasons to Buy Art From a Living Breathing Artist:

  1. Hang art in your home and surround yourself with images that reflect your taste, define who you are, and resonate deeply for a long time. As with a good book or a great piece of music, your relationship with a work of art can develop and change over the course of a lifetime.
  2. Support the Arts: Supporting an artist by buying their artwork is directly, positively affecting the stability of the arts in the United States. A lot more middle class, regular people buy contemporary art in Europe…when you buy a work of art or fine craft, you’re having a serious, positive impact on the health of the arts in your community and the country as a whole.
  3. Become a Collector–make your own mark  by collecting art you care about that speaks to you. Building a collection is a unique creative act in and of itself–one you can enjoy over time and hand down to the next generation.
  4. Set Yourself Apart from the Crowd:
 Most people don’t buy art or only buy posters of famous art instead. Buying artwork from a contemporary artist or craftsperson really sets you apart and shows you have the confidence to know what you like before it’s been sanctioned by museums or some other higher authority.
  5. A work of art is a unique and passionate creation, which not only reflects the soul of the artist, but your soul as well, because you chose it. (This one, and the next two, are paraphrased from Mary Baker’s site, who I thought did a great job of expressing why someone should buy a work of art.)
  6. Works of art can inspire your life and have the power to nurture and strengthen the spirit.
  7. Be a part of the mystery: almost every artist will tell you that they don’t have complete control of their art–it has a life of its own that must be respected and listened to.  Connecting to a work of art is connecting to the larger mystery of life.
  8. The thrill of the hunt: Enjoy the enriching experience of developing your artistic taste–develop your own eye for up-and-coming artists or crafters, or support one or two artists whose work really speaks to you.
  9. Get back in touch with your own creative self.
    Most people don’t make things anymore, but this wasn’t always true, and our primal selves are all creative, hands on mammals who first began to express themselves to connect with the magic of the universe, to decorate their world, and to make their mark. Buying art and living with it every day reconnects you to that self.
  10. Discover someone.

Did I miss anything? Why do you think people should buy art from a living, breathing artist or craftsperson?

Categories : Art
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Will You Give Me Your Opinion?

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Several people have asked me if I sell notecards with images of my digital collages on them, so I’ve decided it’s time to do just that.

I’m going to start off with 5 different cards, and I’d love it if you’d help me decide which 5 to pick!

3 Simple Steps

1. Visit

2. Peruse the images &  jot down your 5 faves

3. Click on the green survey link at the top of that page. This will take you to my one question survey where you can check off your five favorites.

Thanks in advance….and I can’t wait to see the results!

Find Your Timer

In the meantime, tomorrow’s blog post will be (of course) the 20 Minute Club Minutes, so there’s still time to grab your timer and carve out 20 minutes tonight to nurture your creative soul.

I look forward to reading your comments about how it went–and remember, sharing your experiences helps everyone!

Categories : Art, Collage
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