make art. transform life.

thoughts about creativity and  art:   live your life as your work of art.

Soar with the unexpected challenge of living creatively

 waterscape            journal sketch                         beth vendryes williams

waterscape            journal sketch                         beth vendryes williams

Being creative is defined as having the power to bring something into existence.

 Creative thinking is a skill that you learn as you grow and try to make sense of the world. It benefits both of us to understand different ways of exploring and visualizing. Specializing in one way of thinking can impede us from understanding the relationships that do exist within a diverse world.  Math, science, language, and history. For instance are all ways of understanding the same thing through different prisms or perspectives..

I remember first experiencing this when I was 14.

I loved taking art, enjoyed French, although with some difficulty and disliked the facts and figures of world history. Then one day, I learned about the same historical period in each of these three different classes. Suddenly it dawned on me that I was learning about the politics, the culture and the art of the same period! Then I began to understand the importance of each and how valuable it was to see from all three perspectives with a holistic view.

That one experience opened my mind to  see many commonalities in life. 

 I now regularly see how seemingly divergent ideas can flow together. This causes me to view of the world.in a  holistic  way.According to research done by Michele and Robert Root-Bernstein in [Sparks of Genius: there are many mathematicians, like Blaise Pascal and scientists like, Einstein, who used intuition and imaging to find solutions to theoretical problems. 

Since then, I have approached my life creatively as if I were making a piece of art.  All people, opportunities, books, places, new studies, and experiences constitute the materials that shape my daily life.
— beth vendryes williams

I consider making a meal as a work of art in how it is prepared, served and shared. That part was undoubtedly from my mom! Sewing or buying clothes, I look for beautiful, long-lasting organic alternatives. Cleaning supplies usually involve no preservatives or scents and baking soda and vinegar, so that they are sustainably able to tread lightly on our environment.

And in my professional vocation as an artist,

I  carry a journal and packet of watercolor crayons, pencils ink pens and water brushes in my pocketbook. At any time I can access my "portable studio" to work wherever I am. Waiting becomes an opportunity to see more. I now  look at my life as a work of art-in-process. 

Now, as in creating a piece of art, there are mistakes and hard times. But I learn from working on my art that errors can change my perception to discover opportunities and incentive to make something new. And when I experience tragedies and difficulties in both art and life, they can be transformative, so I end up doing things I never imagined.

I have a few tools that I utilize to keep me on track.

Keep watching for the next few posts as I begin to share them with you!

 

How to develop creative momentum, with focus and passion_

 "swimming underwater"   by beth vendryes williams      watercolor, mylar,            private collection

"swimming underwater"   by beth vendryes williams      watercolor, mylar,            private collection

When I was in my beloved high school, I was disappointed that I didn’t receive the senior art award. So, when I saw my esteemed art teacher getting into the faculty elevator, I asked to accompany her to the next floor, so I could ask her privately, why I did not get it. She calmly responded that she didn’t think I wanted it badly enough and she felt I wasn’t persistent enough to commit to my art. 
After tearfully absorbing this honest observation from Sr.Stephanie, I reflected on her words and realized that she was not trying to be mean, just honest and wise.

I reasoned that belief in myself was something I could change.! I made the decision to pursue my dream.

I use to envision being ambitious as pushing ahead relentlessly and selfishly, pushing everyone and everything out of my way. So I was at odds with myself when I tried to pursue my work since I didn't want making art to be a selfish practice._This has changed!


_Now I interpret "ambitious" as consistently developing and sharing my dreams and gifts as I live fully in relation to my interior values, relationships and world view._

_In my art career, I have been most inspired to grow when I integrate the different areas of my life, so that work in one area is supportive of another. For instance, my habits of yoga, dance and walking and healthy eating can positively affect my energy level, and the quality and possibilities of my work.

 Nurturing relationships is intrinsic to my work. I learn a lot  from listening to creative endeavors and also explain my own, to those who ask. The dialogue, inevitably brings new perspectives to both of us. Reading what I love and learning new things supports my ability to have new ideas.

 When I align my spiritual values with my creative process my work then radiates transparency and integrity._Art initiates philosophical discussions that embrace many areas of knowledge. _
 Last year, when I had to relocate my sketchbook /journals, I estimated there were about 30. No way! I found 130 journals! I am now using them as primary source material and referencing them in my work. That is quite an affirmation of consistent habits and working with integrity. This year, in my Open Studio, I had much more work than I could show. Then, in the early morning hours of the Open Studio event, I was accepted into a juried show in NYC. and an opportunity for my work to be part of an international auction! It seems like a combination of perseverance and patience is fertile ground for my art/ Now it is giving momentum to my career.

__When I was younger I didn't realize the importance of seeing  my life experiences as a connected in one wholistic perspective. Now I do._
 I understand that the process of creating and sharing as essential to being. I look at creative process as my gift to develop, fully incorporating my deepest longings and spirit 

Just this past week, I am thrilled to find my paintings and comments featured in an article on “Ambition” this month in the 2017 October/November edition of Professional Artist Magazine. Pick up a copy on a magazine rack or here and let me know your thoughts!

7 ways that journaling unlocks your heart to be creative

  rushing through, time travel    

rushing through, time travel    

 

As I journey through life, maintaining creative flexibility,

I have found that most of the time, things don’t go the way you think they will. So when I earned my masters in drawing/printmaking from the University of Iowa, I was ready to begin creating full time and selling my work! Of course life intervenes and, shortly after graduating, my husband and I were privileged to have three sons, each 2-3 years apart.

journaling can weave creativity into daily life.


I decided to use my creative impulse to transform my rather large pocket book and uneven segments of time into a portable studio. I just kept writing, drawing and collecting the morsels of everyday life.( Link to Journal post fro October 30, 2016.)

1. Reflecting on these journals has been an unexpected gift, revealing my life from a intimate perspective, giving me an opportunity for reflection. This gives a bird’s eye view of the current map of my life. 
2. Memories come welling up in my heart, as I page through, nudging the past back into consciousness.
3. Details that I had forgotten are right there in my drawings and writing.
4.  Drawings and poems about  events and thoughts, that were forgotten in the midst of everyday activities are reclaimed.
5. There is affirmation of the joy and recognition of the sorrows of my life. 
6. I have an Opportunity to make a future based on recovering where I have been. 
7. Material is at my fingertips, for both writing and painting with historical and creative primary source materials: my own journals.

Now when I am working, and I want some inspiration, I include my personal journals among the literary and artistic inspirations available to me.

How to find the time? 


This is how I did it. I made a minimal packet in a small zip lock bag with a refillable ink pen, a pencil, eraser and sharpener, a plastic water-brush and a Moleskine journal, with sturdy paper that could take take light watercolor washes. As my bag and time allowed I added watercolor crayons, regular crayons, oil pastels and a portable box of watercolors. For a long vacation when I knew there would be a lot of relaxed time, I added larger paper and brushes, along with a lightweight coated masonite board on which to fasten  precut/ torn paper.

What do I do with journals when they are filled?


As each journal neared the end, I placed on a shelf, High up in my studio area. Last year when we were renovating our home, I Had to clear off my journal shelf of what i surmised, was 10 journals. Surprise, I had 130 journals. I had never counted them and barely had the time to review them through the years.

Like a garden, I have reaped a harvest that is constantly providing nourishment that is based on my life and the memories and images I have collected.

But it’s not the only way….


My gift to you is the story of how it happened. I would love to hear you own way of reflection on your life that has helped you to grow creatively, in whatever medium you work! Is your art, raising children, making healthy desserts, finding balance, managing money, training animals, making music, doing massage, teaching yoga, being a lawyer, keeping a beautiful home?
I am very excited to hear your story!

reflect remake, revise, onward!

 667 thinking blue skies  journal, wc ©beth vendryes williams

667 thinking blue skies  journal, wc ©beth vendryes williams


So I noticed I had too many tasks to accomplish in one day, there were no time boundaries around daily tasks, and I was missing some of my physical exercises, like walking, dancing and organizing. Writing weekly posts are a habit that hasn’t easily kicked in yet. 

When I looked around for inspiration, I rediscovered the [SMART] acronym in Michael Hyatt’s post:
    •    Specific Have you been specific about what you want to achieve?
    •    Measurable How will you know if you’ve reached your goal?
    •    Achievable Is this a goal that you can make happen?
    •    Relevant Is this goal aligned with your mission, vision, and values?
    •    Time Specific When do you want to achieve this goal?
    
 After reflection I prioritized three items I then applied these with intent, using a timer to ascertain the reality, and time limits to set a maximum. I then planned physical breaks so I would feel the ned to move.
 
Specifically, I CHOSE this course of action!
1. 3- 5 hours in studio 10 -12 create work on sketches mind maps for refuge, time travel water, journals and how they interact.
2. Take breaks every 1.5 - 2 hours and do physical
3. Get post and social out in the morning by 10:30

Thus journaling helps before you go too far off course!
It just becomes a redirect; I don’t waste time/energy blaming anymore!

Tell me how you've resolved times like this, when your goals are far from what is actually happening!  How did you solve it? You could sign up for my journal workshop today!

How to make a roadmap that meets your dreams in 2017

editing in the afternoon  22" x 30" w/c . beeswax ©beth vendryes williams
  •   

Oh, how I love this time of year!
The warmth and blessings of holiday gatherings keep the raw cold and unpredictable weather at bay. This break in routine gives me time to think of each of you, who, so generously invite me into your inbox each month, asking questions and responding to my art and writings with encouraging words and appreciation. 

Thank you! 
You keep me going. 

 I reviewed my art, writing and records from the past year.

 This week, I had no plan, except to reflect on last year and plan the goals for the next!  The week before New Years' has become my most effective motivator.

 I found a lot to celebrate. I am creating selling my work and keeping better records. I have exhibited five shows and taught three workshops. We are just putting the finishing touches on a home addition that increases space for organization and storage of my art and supplies.

Three areas I have chosen  to focus on this year:

  1. I need to get better at sharing my work, and writing my weekly posts and monthly newsletters consistently. 
  2. My decision to choose themes that I am most passionate about will require more reading, dialogue with others and observation. I am excited about spending more time in the studio! Showing up each day around the same time enhances the opportunity for creative growth. Journaling, with words, images and photos and work is done outside of the studio will enrich the series. 
  3. A  flexible timeline and comprehensive editorial calendar connecting both art and the writing will coordinate my thoughts and deepen my work, help me to achieve my vision!

So how can you make a roadmap?

  • Go to a quiet place and reflect on your year.
  • What makes you happiest??
  • Get a journal or small notebook where you can write you observations.
  • Reflect on your past year.
  •  What makes you proud?
  • What would you like to change or further develop?
  • What makes you dissatisfied?
  • List what worked, and what could be improved.
  • Imagine now, what you would like next year to be.
  • Write down two or 3 goals to achieve your dreams.
  • Then work backward, deciding what tasks you need to do regularly to make those goals happen.
  • Make a timeline.
  • Connect it with your calendar.
Whether you create art with or without crayons, reflect on your creative life this past year. Your life is your own to create, with whatever materials you have available to you.                                                                                                                               beth vendryes williams

Does this work for you? Share your thoughts and tell me what you've  discovered!



 

 

How keeping a journal focuses your life vision

 
 
 Fred's kitchen 2015/8, Journal    watercolor & pencil, beth vendryes williams

Fred's kitchen 2015/8, Journal    watercolor & pencil, beth vendryes williams

I think journalling found me.

Actually, I really liked the idea of drawing pictures in between writing, as it seemed to capture the essence of the moment better. I don’t remember ever having a rule about writing in my journal every day. And I felt no compunction to limit my page use if I had a particularly impressive, or failing day.

There has been some research done on the surprising value of making notes about your life in a dedicated way. The process of journaling benefits creativity as well as achieving your goals and strengthening your emotional resilience, according to 10 surprising benefits you will get from keeping a journal. To improve your health follow the tips in   "Why journaling is good for your health"

 Have you ever wanted to remember those shiny moments in between the ordinary chores, when you had tiny bits of inspiration?                                   beth vendryes williams

 

Me too! And how many journals did I fill?

  And a few months ago I reached up to clear out my journal shelf so we could renovate part of our home. Well, I thought I had about 40 journals , but I actually had about 130!  I cannot believe I wrote and drew that persistently…. but I did.

 

What to do with a journal? 

Having a treasure of reflections and memories can give you a perspective on your life. In my series of drawings and paintings and writings i now recognize repeating themes in my life and concurrently, in my artwork.  Journaling can give you a broader perspective on the each day. You will have a greater understanding of the moods and seasons of your life. You can plumb the depths of your journals to bring greater richness to the art of your masterpiece, your life.

Very exciting!

In my case, they have become a point of reference for reflecting on and transforming my life!

What could happen if you kept a record of your thoughts about your life with drawings or writing, photographs or  letters?
If you have ever kept a journal, what did you like about it? Did you stop finding time for it?

 

Let me know your thoughts in comments below, twitter or facebook .

If you haven’t already, please subscribe to my monthly newsletter which includes links to my most recent blogpost.

 

Don't worry. Be happy. Free to create on vacation!!

 oyster bay beach          09       oil          beth vendryes williams

oyster bay beach          09       oil          beth vendryes williams

Pulling into the long driveway of the refurbished farmhouse  in Ithaca New York, my husband and I eagerly look forward to the week to come. Our sons and friends will meet us here to relax  together. We put aside our work to make time for Scrabble games with Grandma, volleyball, croquet, hiking, and sharing stories with each other.

I am so happy to be together with everyone and I am also focused on continuing my daily creative habits throughout vacation. Vacations relieve stress and reenergize. They rejuvenate physical, spiritual, and mental health. However, they can often be perceived as an interruption in the progress of creative development.

Using the approach below, I have found a way for the “vacation state of mind” to actually jumpstart creative thinking.

  • I write a little each day in-between family activities to reflect on my passion and why I create.
  • I sketch or write down my observations of my new environment, imagining how perception is transformed by actively seeing.
  •  I delight in the creative understanding nurtured by a change of scenery and new conversations.

Using these habits, your vacation can also be used as a platform to further enrich your creative development and relationships as you share your fresh insights.

Qh yes, I absolutely  want to hear of any other creative ideas you use to expand your own creative thinking while on vacation!

Can teaching be a "work of art"?

 
 
 8" x 8" oil    beth vendryes williams

8" x 8" oil    beth vendryes williams

What makes teaching a collaborative work of art?...I recently taught art for many years at a school with  outstanding professionals who are passionate about teaching and children!  

We worked side by side, dedicated to  giving the children the  tools of literacy in all fields  and a deep  desire to learn to the best of their ability.  I honor and thank these teachers for being artists using the tools and skills of education to create classrooms that are bursting with creative thinkers !

Each year my students worked within the outdoor courtyard. It was surrounded by the huge windows of the building. The courtyard experience gave us all the opportunity to use our  creative thinking skills.  Defined by Michelle and Robert Root-Bernstein, who are scientists, creative thinking involves  the skills used by scientists, artists and those who have new ideas and  explore them. They are defined below, so  read on to discovery how creative thinking occurs when closing to make art. In our school they  are  organically integrated into this  school's curriculum.

Art is a way of looking at or doing things,

no matter which medium or substance you choose to use.

When you observe the world (like the courtyard,) with fresh eyes, it triggers within you a sense of wonderment...

as when you see the trees reaching into the sky while lying on your back or watch  a bird fly by,effortlessly.

If you can choose your tools of art from the places, people and moments each day,

then you can exercise your imagination. You are able to find the essence of what you see and abstract or edit the essential parts of it.  You start to recognize patternsaround you which helps you to see that all things are connected. Patterns abound in the flowers, birds, tree branches , leaves and even blades of grass!

Which brings me to the skill of making analogies.

How freeing it is to think of the courtyard as a microcosm of the world, and how we all need to work together to keep bunnies alive, make sure the birds get enough food and share our own earth responsibly. When you sit to draw, your body can sense when someone is behind you.This ability to body think allows you to place yourself in the best position for drawing, moving, playing and understanding instinctively how other people and objects exist  in relation to you.

You feel empathy and offer help

when you see others who are struggling with problems  and you rejoice with them when they are happy. Thinking in dimensions, or choosing the perspective from which you personally see the courtyard, is an important way to honor and accept your own point of view. You can model by making things larger or smaller than they really are so you can understand them better.

By playing

with your pencil and paints, you will be more carefree,  taking chances and, no doubt,

transform mistakes into opportunities!

Finally by combining or synthesizing your different ways of seeing, sensing, remembering, moving, knowing  and making connections, you will understand more deeply how we all are connected. I learned to articulate this way of looking,  from teaching in a school culture with  teachers who consistently teach encouraging  these skills.

Thank you to all who shared your art of teaching with me and the students at Searingtown School!

Do you think creativity is important in education?  I'd love to hear what you have to say .. just add your comment below! 

 

Thoughts to ponder...uncertainty

IMG_8240 - 2013-06-26 at 05-01-42Uncertainty is where things happen.

072270-grunge-icon-alphanumeric-quote-open1It is where the

opportunities 

for success, for happiness, for really living

— are waiting.

by Oliver Burkeman

What do you find happens to your perception when you are uncertain? I begin to get nervous and stop believing in my ability to create.       BUT,  if I am able to let go of trying to control the results, I am suddenly free to imagine and discover new ways to accomplish something. So, what about YOU?  

why I draw...and how it can transform your life

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Putting a pencil to a pure white piece of paper has always been exciting and challenging at the same time.I can start and end anywhere. There is no one right way to make a mark.

Drawing makes who I am inside,  visible on a surface.

I take time to reflect, to observe my interior, to connect with my surroundings.

It is centering for me.

You can do this too!

How to start drawing..

  • Get a blank journal. A Moleskine is well crafted and a nice surface. If you prefer a wire binding, just get a substantial feeling paper surface and sturdy wire. Thai way, when you carry it in your back pack, briefcase or hand bag, it will stay together. Size is totally what feels practical and comfortable to you!
  • In fact,you can even use a tablet or iPad with a program such as Penultimate or Paper 54. For these you may use your finger or a stylus.
  • Have your favorite pen or pencil at hand.
  • Draw what you see or remember in your mind's eye.

Or draw lines tat interest you. Or shapes

Perhaps write words to describe them...

Or not.

As with any healthy good habit, the practice of drawing, every day

allows you to observe and reflect on the world around and within you,

bringing inspiring connections

and quiet energy and joy at just being.

 

It is in this 30 minutes of active reflection that you will find your life transforming into the best of who you are. Interested in trying this simple habit?

Then subscribe to my blog and draw along with meI I will be posting once a week.....and I can't wait to share my passion for mark making with YOU!  Oh and please post your questions and thoughts in comments!  I will be sharing my drawings.

 

 

How an unplanned storm can foster creativity

It’s Sunday eve on Long Island and we are anticipating the storm that has been traveling from the Caribbean up the coast. I checked with the older people and singles in my neighborhood to make sure that they had food and shelter. I made the run for groceries, nuts and fruits and water and we put away anything outside that could become a projectile in the fierce winds.

Now we am tucked in our home, hopefully safe and sound.

My mind begins to think of all of the things I could do with this unstructured time???

This is my list. I have done some, but not all. It is the process of exploring my options. Choosing is by its nature, creative, because it shapes who you are becoming and how you are getting there.

With electricity

Seed, cut and roast the fresh pie pumpkin that is waiting on my table Roast a whole chicken. Make pumpkin muffins Make chocolate chip cookies. Vacuum up the dog fur before we lose power. Take photos of the beautiful leaves that fell. Write this post on my computer. Make delicious leftovers with left chicken & the last Italian green beans from our garden. Check in with my strong and handsome sons in various east coast hurricane affected locations. Catch up with my two lovely sisters and feisty mom on the phone. Speak with my wonderful fiend, artist & mentor, Ben Frank Moss on the phone. Answer my cousin, Marie’s email from France, wondering if we are ok. Listening to Dave Matthews, Mumford & Sons and Jeff Buckley singing Halleluja

Without electricity

Meditate. OBSERVE the changes in atmosphere and the way things look Read Steve Jobs. Read Gerhardt Richter’s writings. Read an article in Image, journal of art, faith & mystery. Do yoga. Study my french verbs. Walk the dogs before the winds and rain get stronger. Sketch in my art journal. Draw interiors of the rooms in my house. Paint the interiors, as I meditate on rooms as physical symbols of how life is organized. Write a note to cousin Stephanie, also in France. Design my Christmas cards. Plan Thanksgiving dinner. IMAGINE myself participating in the great privilege of voting next week. Spend time just being with my dear one.

Can’t wait to hear how you decided to spend that valuable time!

Quotes to inspire

 

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything -- all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure -- these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Steve Jobs

Scott Belsky 99 percent

What inspires you to live the life you imagine? 

What do you feel you need to create tomorrow to make your inner vision visible?

I'd love to know ...!

Flap your arms...jump around a lot!

by bvw

"Look, I don't want to wax philosophic,

but I will say

that if you're alive you've got to flap your arms and leg,

you've got to jump around a lot,

for life is the very opposite of death,

and therefore you must at least think

noisy and colorfully,

or you're not alive."

Mel Brooks (1926-       ) American film writer, actor, director, produce

[tweetmeme source="bethvw"only_single=false]

No time to be creative?

If only I had enough time. Do you ever find yourself saying that to yourself? That is what I said when the three boys were little, and part of me didn’t want that time to end.

I painted pictures with them in between making Halloween costumes and cookies, parties and putting bandaids on knees.

We read books a together and we were  a happy audience when they put on plays for us!

When they were in elementary school and middle school, I took my sketchpad to games, although sometimes I didn’t get it open.

I always carried pencils, a  favorite pen and my crayons in my bottomless pocketbook. Many times I watched the game and improved my visual memory by drawing from what I remembered later.

I worked at my job, teaching art. We made pizzas and cakes from scratch, loaves of bread, read books and had family discussions about the state of rest f the world.

Yes, and I dragged them to art museums, plays and music lessons of all kinds.

I am still teaching art to 580 students every week, and loving it!.When I teach, it nurtures my art and when I do my art it makes me a better teacher. I am always looking for time to make more of my own work.

And now it is the summer.

All the time in the world to paint, right?

Wrong. Sometimes I get creative block. Everyone gets it once in a while.

So, I  attempt to make dealing with  this issue a creative project! I enlist my  sense of humor, compassion and an assortment of creative thinking skills. If i am not up for that, I sometimes take a nap. (Try it. It works.)

Every time I get stuck procrastinating with the fear of making a mark on the white paper, I use diversionary tactics!

  • Outsmart my left brain  and allow room for the intangible creative side. Let’s not take this too seriously, after all, “playing” is one of the 13 creative thinking tools.
  • Integrate and balance other life areas. Make sure to exercise, eat right, read, leave time for spiritual, relationships and taking care of money and job. Limit times and set the alarm.
  • Watch how others do it.  I watch my son compose, sing play and mix music when he has a day off or after work, if he’s not too tired. if he is he sleeps.
  • Read . Many artists are very generous about sharing their methods of getting time to create.
  • Allow myself to do the laundry or vacuum...with a time limit!
  • Drink a glass of water.
  • Take the dogs for a walk. Good thinking time.
  • Put myself in the studio or place that is inspiring, with all of my supplies around me, look at my journals and I can’t help but make something.
  • Don’t judge. Just keep exploring.
  • Oh yes, and work daily for a self determined consistent amount of time. Stop in the middle of the best part! This was one of Hemingway’s secrets. Your mind will keep working on creative ideas  until you return the next day.

I was intrigued by the post on Write to Done guest post “How to Write When You’re Scared Spitless” by the  Jean-Berg-Sarauer.

There is also a very interesting article about another way to increase creativity called The Cure for Creative Blocks? Leave Your Desk. RT(via @the99percent) that is totally awesome!

What do you do when you are stuck and need a new idea?

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Notice a little something every day!

“Set yourself to practice drawing,

drawing only a little each day.

so that you may not come to lose your taste for it,

or get tired of it...

Do not fail, as you go on,

to draw something everyday,

for no matter how little it is,

it will be well worthwhile,

and it will do you a world of good.”

Cennino Cennini,

Il Libro Della Art, c. 1435