Archive for Techniques & Strategies


Free Trial!

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I’ve got an exciting new offer! You can now get a FREE trial of the Creative Breakthroughs Collage Tele-class just by signing up for my newsletter–right up there on the right of your screen.

Watch my short video where I explain all about it:

(if you’re receiving this in your email and you can’t see the video, click on this link:

Yay, FREE!

How Do Current Subscribers Get the Coupon?

If you already subscribe to my blog, thank you!

However, I’d love for you to re-subscribe because I’m using a different service that behaves better, lets me put the title of the post into the email subject line (so you can tell before you open it if it’s probably something that interests you), and sends prettier emails.

And if you do, you’ll get a coupon for a FREE trial of the Creative Breakthroughs Collage Tele-class.

This class is a great way to get unstuck, work around your self–censorship, and make time for your creativity every week.

And if you’ve already taken a Creative Breakthroughs Collage Tele-class, you still completely qualify for a FREE coupon–just  re-subscribe and it should arrive in your email shortly.

(You’re doing me a huge favor by switching subscription services, so I’m happy for you to have a free coupon.)

Please Share

I’d be honored if you’d share this offer with everyone you think might benefit so they can get back to their creative selves as well.

Tweet it, put the link in your FB profile, or email it to friends and family.

Here’s the link that has the video and explains all about it:

Thank you, I really appreciate your willingness to spread the creative love.

I hope to “see” you on a call soon, and I really look forward to making art together!

Big hugs, Sarah


(Not) Coming in Dead Last

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Because you are creative, creating is a critical part of taking care of yourself, as much as exercising, meditating or eating right.

And yet, it’s so easy to put your artmaking and creativity dead last–certainly after your obligations at work and meeting the needs of your family–two giant parts of life that are pretty compelling–but even after exercising, meditating, and eating right.

The thing is, “last” usually means “not at all” because we run out of time, energy or both.

And while it’s certainly it’s not a zero sum game–for instance, eating right and finding time for your creativity aren’t mutually exclusive–it’s worth considering why certain areas of your life get so much time and attention, and other areas so little.

Simple Changes/Big Symbolism

Let’s start with the “eating right’ thing.

I mean, sure, you and your family need to eat right, but is there a way to make it less time consuming? Can you pick a night that you order in and set aside that meal prep time for your artmaking instead?

Making this kind of simple change rarely affects just you, so it probably also includes having a conversation about it with your spouse/significant other.

Which is why you may unconsciously avoid it. But it’s also why you should really do it.

Because such a conversation can be a wonderful game changer for two reasons:

1. You’re saying out loud to the other important creator/maintainer of your current routine that you want to make a change in the current family system in order to carve out time for your creativity, which is a big step toward actually doing that–making the intention “public” if you will.

2. It’s a hugely symbolic, habit-shifting, mind-changing statement, because you’re also declaring out loud that your creativity is a priority to you.

So much so that you’re willing to have a conversation about re-arranging a family pattern to do it.

Even if this information surprises them. Even if you’re rusty, or it’s been a while. Even if it means that you’ll continue to have angst about your art during your desired, requested, routine-shaking newly carved out time.

Powerful stuff.

Don’t Wait Until Your “Serious”

It’s important to remember that you don’t have to wait until you’re “ready” to have this kind of conversation or make this kind of change.

You don’t have to “prove” anything to anyone once you do change your routine and make time for your creative endeavors by being super productive or making “great art.”

Even if other peoples’ routines have been affected.

This can be hard, uncomfortable, even scary–you might feel exposed or like your family is now expecting/waiting to see what fabulousness you going to start cranking out now that you’ve shaken things up.

You did not, however, make a promise, you declared an intention.

You’re simply making space for your creativity. To let it evolve and grow. It doesn’t mean all your mixed feelings go away. It doesn’t mean you’re suddenly freed up from all your angst and self doubt.

It just means you’re willing to be on your own side. To make a place for this essential part of you. That it matters as much as anything else.

I think that’s good. What do you think?

Creative Breakthroughs Collage Tele-Class

If such a thing tempts you, but you’re not sure how you’d actually use time set aside weekly for your creativity, why not sign up for a Creative Breakthroughs Collage Tele-Class?

It’s an affordable, EASY way to be creative every week, and you don’t have to self-motivate–just call in and we make art together–no matter how not-creative you’re feeling and no matter what’s hectic-ness has been happening.

You also get to you connect with other like minded artists from the comfort of your own home. What could be better?

Click here to sign up.


You Can’t Get There From Here?

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In a busy life, lots of things have a momentum all their own–getting to work, getting kids off to school, getting dinner prepared, cleaning up–so they happen like clockwork.

Whether you’re passionate about them or not.

Meanwhile, other things that you really want to happen seem to fall by the wayside every week. Like your art.

And so you question yourself–Maybe I’m not really serious about doing it. Maybe I’m lazy. Maybe I don’t really have what it takes.

None of those mean judgments are true.

What is true is that you do have to create a momentum for your art in order for it to have a place in your life and that requires a good strategy.

One strategy that people rarely mention is the need for effective transitions.


Transitions are invisible hooks and rituals built into the pattern of your day that allow you to move more easily from one activity to the next. We all use them regardless of how aware we are of their existence.

For instance, a common (often not-so-helpful) transition for coming home from work is to open the refrigerator and find something to eat. It rarely driven by hunger but is a repeated pattern that transitions you from “work mode” to “home mode.”

If you have to cook for other people every evening, your mind starts working on it an hour or two ahead of time and you transition to this activity by stopping in the grocery store on your way home to pick up a few things.

As you’re doing this, you’re mentally transitioning from work to meal prep, and the grocery stop helps you do it.

That’s why, if you have insomnia, it’s recommended that you create a “before bed” ritual that you don’t deviate from–you’re triggering your body to transition to sleep mode.

Costume Change

So. Your current routine has lots of momentum that’s aided and abetted by both small and big transitional rituals that help keep everything moving–regardless of how you might feel about them.

Your art needs these same transition helpers. And the good news is that you can create them!

They don’t have to be big or complicated–your brain loves symbols and will respond well to them.

For instance, costumes and uniforms are very effective symbols for us humans–so simply putting on an art apron might help you transition to making-art-mode.

I know when I don’t feel like going to the gym, changing into my gym clothes genuinely helps me get out the door because it helps my mind switch gears–even when I’m grumpy about it.

Of course, your costume transition symbol doesn’t have to be practical. Maybe you want to adorn yourself with the perfect art tiara to wear when you’re ready to signal the muse that it’s time to make some art.

(Most of us could use more fun in our lives, so infusing some fun and lightness into the process is a fantastic way to help yourself look forward to these transitions and therefore to your creating time.)

The Power of Place

Setting up your studio/work area is another great way to transition. (My smart friend Cairene at Third Hand Works calls this “preparing your container.”)

That might mean simply cleaning off your table top or pulling your supplies out of a (special) box or placing a framed picture of one of your art heroes out in the open to help inspire your actions as you get started.

And don’t forget the power of playing favorite music as part of your work space preparation–music alone can be a hugely effective transitional trigger to help you switch gears–so combining it with other transitional rituals is even better.

(You might find that playing the same song every time is especially effective–harking back to my workout routine, I always use the fastest song I own as the first one on my workout playlist because it really helps sets the tone for a successful run.)

Other options might include burning incense, meditating for a few minutes or saying a prayer or affirmation–the possibilities are endless.

Don’t be afraid to explore and experiment–the transitions you create just have to work for you.

Why Do We  Need This?

There are lots of mundane tasks we have to do and so we’ve already done the work to create transitions to help us do them.

The things (our art) that we want for ourselves are often bigger than the mundane tasks that make up much of our routines so they require extra attention to carve a space for them because they’re harder.

And they don’t have momentum–yet.

Figuring out effective rituals that help you more easily transition to your essential creative self is a necessary part of building that momentum.

Which is how you can make your art and creativity have as much of a role in your life as all those other things that fight to steal your attention and fill your time–especially those things you don’t even care about.

What Do You Think?

What transitions do you currently use in your life? Which ones do you like? What are ways that you could help yourself transition to “creating mode” from “work mode” or “helping-everyone-else mode?” Leave a comment, I’d love to hear!

(This is my 100th post! Yay, milestone! Thank you for being one of my readers. You make it worth it for me to write.

I’d love it if you’d help me celebrate and invite new readers by linking to me on Twitter or FaceBook or Linkedin or your favorite discussion forum–anywhere cool you hang out–and telling people why you like reading this blog. Thank you and big hugs!)


Finding Your Voice

If it’s been a while since you made anything, you might feel like you’ve lost your artistic voice.

Or you might feel like you’ve never had the chance to develop it.

It’s hard to develop your voice if you feel like you have to squeeze your creativity in between the busy-ness of the rest of your life. But if you pay attention to yourself and all your creative actions, however small or sporadic, it will slowly reveal itself to you.

And the more you create, the more you’ll see it–which can feel exciting. This, in turn, can spur you on to make more art.

Even Creative Professionals Don’t Have it Easy

Making a living being creative does not necessarily help you develop your own artistic voice either.

As someone who has designed a lot of product over the years, I got very good at expressing my boss’s voice, or the owner of the company’s voice, or just knocking off whatever was on trend that we knew would sell (as fast as humanly possible). Because that was my job.

In fact, most design jobs require you to express someone else’s voice.

Usually I felt like a design chameleon–just tell me what you want and I can make it. I automatically sized up everything I looked at, trying to figure out how it was made, if I could do it.

I never just looked at something. Hazard of the job.

Which means even if you are creative for a living, you might still need to (re)discover your own voice.

So what’s a girl to do?

Pay Attention to Yourself

Pay attention to yourself as an artist by observing your choices and dwelling on your motivations regarding those choices.

This act alone is taking a giant step closer to taking your art-making more seriously.

Which is fantastic. Not ‘more seriously’ as in feeling emotionally heavy about your art, but ‘more seriously’ as in treating it like something that matters. Because it does.


Because it’s your ever-evolving creative essence with huge possibilities, that’s why!

Oh. (That’s you saying “oh.” I’ll let you sit with that one for a minute.)

As you wrap your head around that thought, as you start treating your creative self more seriously, it’s also important to continue to keep an eye on all your artistic decisions.

To see where your creativity is taking you–to find out what’s in your heart and what you’re trying to express.

Because frankly, your brain usually doesn’t really know. So it has to pay attention if it wants to find out.

Which is handy, because it’s great when your brain and your heart are working together as a team, it helps things flow.

But what exactly do I mean when I say “pay attention to yourself as an artist?”

Concrete Ways to Pay Attention to Yourself as an Artist

Notice your color choices and why you’re choosing them. Were they always your color choices? Do they feel like an accident or a habit or do you use them because they feel ‘safe’?

Or do they feel like you’re inexorably drawn to them?

Notice what images resonate with you. Are you drawn to certain shapes, marks, particular motifs that speak to you?

Or do you suspect that your choices are more trend-driven–relying on the motifs you see in work published in magazines that have passed the “good art” test (because they’re published)?

It’s great to be inspired by other artwork, I am all the time, but you also don’t want to fall into the trap of trying to make sure you make something good by replicated a popular lookyour voice needs to be heard in its unique expression.

For instance, coffee cup rings and envelopes are two of the marks and shapes that are important recurring motifs for me.

So I honor them. Which is the important next step. Don’t decide they’re silly or strange or not arty enough.

And you don’t necessarily have to understand your motifs or be able to explain them.

You just have to honor them.

Because they’re all part of your particular visual language and are your tools for expressing your creative vision.

Not sure if you have particular personal motifs? Keep noticing, they’ll start to crop up.

The same goes for brushstroke and line and medium–do you tend to turn to charcoal or pastel? Hard crisp pencil lines or fat markers? What about paint–oil, watercolor or acrylic?

Maybe your medium is needle and thread or beads or clay–ask yourself why your medium of choice resonates with you. What are you trying to express that this particular medium provides?

Just notice and honor, because your choices aren’t an accident.

As you begin perceiving all your creative choices as evidence of your artistic voice that you want to nurture and develop, you’ll start to feel a powerful shift in the way you treat your creative endeavors.

The Creative Breakthroughs Collage Tele-Class

Which is why I created the Creative Breakthroughs Collage Tele-class.

To provide some structured support to hold you up as you explore your creative voice. To allow you to experiment, take risks, find your edge.

To play.

While it can seem weird to not see the teacher or the other students in class, it’s also a fantastic chance to be undistracted by other people’s choices and decisions. To not compare yourself to anyone. To let your creative voice have a chance to emerge and grow and endlessly become.

I’d love for you to use the tele-classes as a tool–whether that’s to help wake up your slumbering creator from a deep sleep or to develop different creative challenges for your actively creative self every week.

No matter where you are on the productivity spectrum, this tele-class can be a life-affirming date with your artistic self to have permission to play, observe, and take risks.

To increase your self-confidence and give you a chance to experience the joy of knowing your creative soul more deeply, to feel intimately connected to your own true self.

You can sign up here: http://makegreatstuff/classes.


And they’re so affordable. I’m really excited. Read all about it and then sign up!

If you have any questions write me….or call me if you’d rather. I just want you to feel comfortable enough to give it a try.


Because Because Because Because Becaaaauuuuusssseeee

of all the wonderful things it does! (Imagine Judy Garland singing and not me.)

But really, here’s why you should consider signing up:

  • Because it’s a great way to get back to your creative self.
  • Because having works-in-progress to respond to is a way of removing obstacles that stand between you and your creativity. This builds your creative momentum which means you make things more often and more easily.
  • Because, if you feel stuck or have heavy feelings about your creativity, no one can see you in a tele-class, so you get lots of privacy.
  • Because your self-confidence builds as you start making things again or trying something new.
  • Or, if you ARE a busy artist, the class gives you a concrete time to play and experiment without worrying if your customers will like what you’re making or want to buy it. This in turn, helps you create freshness in the “main” artwork.
  • Because you can’t compare yourself to others while you work (we’re on the phone) which gives you a chance to listen to your own artistic heart rather than just berating yourself for not measuring up to some outside standard.
  • Because you don’t have to leave the house to do it!
  • Because you can take one class and be done or you can take one every week–no pressure, it’s up to you.
  • Because it can be a fabulous weekly ritual (with bargains for buying more than one class) that supports and feeds your creativity–and as you do it repeatedly, you’ll see how you can create your own variations to support your particular interests.

The first one is on Wednesday July 14th at 7:30 EST.

I’d love to “see” you there.! Mwah!


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!

May was a tough month for me.

It was tough for what felt like A LOT of reasons–personal, financial, business–but I recently realized it was mostly because of one reason.

Too much trying.

I had had to do a lot of hard things for the past several months, and all that trying was wearing me down until I finally felt miserable.

Why couldn’t I just do instead?

What the Heck is the Difference?

I’m a do-er. I do things. I make things. I like taking action. I like to execute, and I like to finish.

Doing suits me.

Doing has no agenda really, other than the task at hand. Doing has no heaviness.

I’m also a try-er.

Sometimes this is healthy, like the way I’m very willing to try new things I don’t know how to do.  I’ll give it a try–what the heck.

Sometimes it’s less healthy, like when I try hard to do things right. When I try to succeed. When I try to make something happen. No “what the heck” attached.

This kind of trying has lots of emotional heaviness associated with it. Lots of striving. The effort, the doing, is all wrapped up in the outcome.

Trying = Doing + Drama

As I was trying to figure out how to make myself feel better, I assessed my to-do list. There wasn’t much I could leave out, except the way I felt about what I needed/wanted to get done.

I realized if I could just do them without all the emotional heaviness of trying to get them all right/perfect/successful, I’d be a lot happier.

I’m good at doing, but I was so busy trying that I poisoned the integrity of the tasks at hand. I was ruining my doing with all my trying.

So now I’m focused on the “doing” without the drama of the “trying”.

And since I also have other unhelpful beliefs attached to trying such as “trying=being virtuous” and “trying=being-serious-about-what-I’m-doing”, it’s good at quietly slipping in the back door unnoticed when I’m busy working on something.

But that’s okay. It’s a process.

Your Creativity

How about you? Are you also trying instead of doing?

Is it hard to weave creativity back into your life because what you want to make would be hard and you’d really have to try?

Is it hard to go deeper or get bolder with your art because you don’t have the energy for that kind of trying right now?

What if you didn’t have to try? What if you allowed yourself the endless opportunity of doing instead?

To “do instead of try” combines honoring the present with being committed to the long haul of your life. What a generous, loving, forgiving way to be allowed to move through time.

What the heck–why not give it a try? ;-)