make art. transform life.

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

How journaling can help develop and sustain a creative habit

A bouquet from the YFCA spring gala watercolor & ink, 6.6.19

A bouquet from the YFCA spring gala watercolor & ink, 6.6.19

Hope is in the air! Now that spring is officially here. I sat myself down with a cup of tea and my daily journal.

For the past several days I have felt unable to put anything down in writing or drawing.

Has that ever happened to you? There is a world in us, and it is vital to open the windows. To take time to rest and wait.

Keeping a journal has had a massive effect on my life

…and surprisingly, It wasn’t until I stopped teaching art to paint full time, that I realized that my small daily efforts had produced tangible results.

My strategy was this: I would always keep a journal and a small zipped bag of my favorite portable drawing tools in my pocketbook. I carried this with me at all times. I wrote and drew what I saw and felt, whenever I had a moment.

I ended up counting over 130 journals documenting my life and my growing family. I recorded places, people and events.

Expressing my struggles and celebrations in words and images

helps me to reflect on life. My only expectation? To make a mark that articulates my vision and reactions to the world!

What a treasure this has turned out to be!

Now I need to adapt my journaling method to my life as it stands now. Read my next few posts as I explore alternative ways of approaching journaling now that the previous system isn’t working as effectively.

  • Do you keep a journal? If so how has it helped you?

  • Do you find that you forget to adapt your habits as your life changes?

Let me know in your comments below.

 How to accelerate creative growth - design self residency?

by the brook        by beth vendryes williams

by the brook        by beth vendryes williams

Are there times in your life or creative practice, when you find yourself at a loss for original ideas or problem-solving? Do you have trouble staying focused? Are you tired of your routine?

That happened to me just recently, and I knew I needed a change in environment to help me come up with both fresh ideas and renewed focus on my goals for creating. Before I had the flexibility of working for myself, painting full time, I had to finda  portable studio]that I could fit in my pocket book.I began by buying a large pocket book, portable water brush, watercolor sticks, and pencils a paper towel and my favorite, pen. As a working parent of young children, I was always in new environments, drawing everywhere I went in my portable studio.

 Now, though, It seems that I need to get out of my own studio and work n a different environment occasionally. So I began to look for residencies to apply for in the future. Hmmm, I knew I needed the opportunity to change my environment and thus my perception, but more quickly than I could get a residency. !

Just in time, an opportunity presented itself. A friend offered me the opportunity to stay in a beautiful studio, while he was gone on business, in which I could work uninterrupted, indoors and out for 5 days! Thus began the idea of creating my own residency! 

So if you check my Instagram you can see my daily work and all of it at the end! Very affirming! 

What did I learn from this?

1. Pay attention your instincts. Just like water keeps your body and spirit in great shape, so too does changing your environment satisfy your need to new ways of seeing things.
2. Use the time as a retreat, scheduling social connections on and offline when desired
3. Plan a general goal and give yourself room to follow your inspiration. I did a lot of journal work and fewer paintings inspired by the journals. Now I have new inspiration embedded my journals.
4. If you are a visual artist, choose mediums appropriate to the setting, especially in terms of ease of clean up and the available space.
5. Organize necessary supplies before you go, separated for quick availability and ease of use.
6.  Take your iPhone for camera and documentation on social media to share with your fans.
7.  Bring any inspirational reading and be present for contemplation and spiritual listening.
8.  Do not judge, just make your marks.
9. Reflect on it all when you get home.
10. Build and expand from what you created in your residency.

Well, I’d better get on to my studio and work on step 10! Email, text or contact me on this website to give your ideas, suggestions, and response to my work or my post! make sure you are subscribed so you know what I am up to! You will get a newsletter with links to my weekly posts, 1x a month!

Live life fully!


How to create, observe and transform art / life

eat your greens

 Why do I have an open studio each year? 

organize and work regularly

Ooh boy! I wondered if I would get the place cleaned up in time for you. Sometimes I do too much at once, or I don’t put things back where they belong! Recognizing this reminds me to save time and find tools and paints faster. A habit of maintaining a system of organizing and working allows me to share it with you!

observe and reflect

Seeing the work up and surrounding me, allows a chance for both of us to observe and reflect on what I have done. Many times, the simplest thing takes on much more status when I see it in the context of all of my recent work! I wonder if that happens to you also?

assess  & choose

The act of choosing what to leave in and what to withdraw is informative in itself. Making choices is part of creating. So pay attention to each piece; view it on its unique terms. Assess if you feel it adds to the overall strength of the whole exhibit.

ask for & accept help

Ask for and accept help from others. It takes a community to build a body of work.

invite & share

Invite people who care to see and talk about what you have done. Be inspired and informed by their insights. Share delicious bites of food, something refreshing to drink and great conversations.

feel & express gratefulness

Feel grateful for the privilege of having the ability to create work, show and sell it. Share your gratefulness with all who come or wish to come.

view from a new perspective

Take a step back to view the trajectory of where you are now and where you would like to go. 



begin work again, with new insights

Keep going in the direction of your freshly gained insights.

I’m on to something!  This list of how I transform my art by creating, then observing, could also be applied to the art of living! Thoughts?


Source: https://beth-vendryeswilliams-vexi.squares...

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!

2 compelling ways art can change you

hidden oasis  #927  w/c                              599. framed                 ©bethvendryeswilliams

hidden oasis  #927  w/c                              599. framed                 ©bethvendryeswilliams

Believe it or not, whether you are creating or just looking, art, it can change you.

 I discovered this most recently when I was looking in my backyard for inspiration. There is always something outrageously interesting to paint, because my husband is an artist with gardens. 

while creating

I was  frustrated with a rather unappealing view of a neighboring yard. I suddenly noticed that when I looked at that section with new eyes, I found a splendid sunlit refuge. When I peaked through the foliage all I could see was sunshine glittering.  I started to notice the opportunity I had to transform old trucks and equipment into beautiful forms, colors and relationships. Later on I also began to compliment the owner on his efforts to plant tomatoes and flowers. Making this painting has transformed my ability to see the sacredness in things that have fallen into disuse, when their physicality begins to disintegrate, and is worn away by time.

This is an experience I often have when drawing or painting. As I  begin to observe more closely, I start to notice more striking connections in what before seemed uselessly ugly or nondescript. One just has to take the time to look. It is sort of like meditating.


Making this painting has transformed my ability to see the sacredness in things that have fallen into disuse, when their physicality begins to disintegrate, and is worn away by time.
— beth vendryes williams
Pierre Bonnard  The Bathroom

Pierre Bonnard  The Bathroom

when observing

When observing a painting, it happens to me also.  I discover  inspiration when I see a painting that compels me from across the room. I see from the artist's perspective, and then I add my own..

 From Pierre Bonnard, I learned the beauty of bathrooms. Before that I thought the most exciting thing was a clean sink and commode. Since seeing his paintings, I consider my bathroom, my spa, and look forward to it as another beautiful room. to surround those who enter, with beauty.  Sparkling clean, of course!

I would love to know what art has transformed your ideas or perspective? Please share in the comments section, or click on the twitter, facebook, instagram icons below with your response, and if you have on a picture of the art! Oh yes and please subscribe to this site. You will get a newsletter once a month with links to the posts from  that month.          Looking forward,  beth

finding refuge

finding refuge   #0925   watercolor  © beth vendryes williams        1500.

finding refuge   #0925   watercolor  © beth vendryes williams        1500.

Listening to my inner voice during the process of art making

begins with wondering about how to deal with my heart, my art and what is happening around me. The daily patterns of life that I inevitably engage in a call to me for exploration.  I find they provide moments rich for reflection. The hours of the day progressively transform my bedroom, and the effect of light and shadow change me, too. Holding a cup of steaming café or tea stirs the senses with warmth, aroma and sharing thoughts. Taking a walk can allow me space to carefully observe in an open, non-dualistic way. Simple objects contain the history of the souls who touched, created and used them; the insistent patter of raindrops creates a cadence, inviting a meditative state. These are just some of the experiences I plumb to investigate the unopened treasures that we have strewn before us, every day!


I am strongly affected by the plight of the refugees in the world right now. My heart goes out to the souls who risk their lives as they leave a place that is unsafe for them. I wonder, can we even truly understand the depth of their fear, the sorrow of leaving a home, the pain of being hungry, the danger of running away? If they are lucky enough to make it out, many are turned away by a country or segmented in tents living in temporary camps for years!

Can I  ever understand? It certainly is easier to say they were “turned away by a country” rather than" I turned them away."  Maybe, I could help by holding them in my heart and thoughts as I learn more about what it means to be in need of refuge. 
I do need to make art. Is that where I seek refuge? 
Is that also where I can offer a place of refuge?

I do need to make art. Is that where I seek refuge?
Is that also where I can offer a place of refuge?
— beth vendryes williams

It appears so because I am compelled to return to my practice day after day. There is a source inside me where I go to create imagery that resonates with my soul. Now, I imagine the experience of finding “refuge” in my life. What would I do if I couldn’t create time and space to paint and draw? For me, creating is a “basic” need.

Without the opportunity to paint, I would feel bereft.  I need a place to shout with joy, to feel empathy with others and express it, admire beauty, recognize pain and sorrow, search for evidence of meaning in this life, far beyond manmade laws. I cannot hide this or pretend it is not there. It is my work, and I need to share it.

My art is saying “Look here, what you thought was nothing important, like sleeping, opens up worlds to you!". Deprived of sleep, you cannot concentrate. Taking time to assimilate your day and to allow your spiritual and physical body to rest, is essential for your sanity. The idea of restoring yourself, letting go, being quiet, recording dreams, creating patterns to invite sleep, deepens you to nurture a contemplative life. 
My practice involves observing such a simple habitual act, as if for the first time! I paint to discover, then honor, the dignity in an ordinary moment.    

My art is saying ‘Look here, what you thought was nothing important, like sleeping, opens up worlds to you!
— beth vendryes williams

 My dear readers, has something ordinary ever suddenly taken on a surprising beauty that you never noticed before? I look forward to your thoughts!


new series: growing gardens

Gardens are ardent metaphors for the act of growing. As the impossibly petite seeds sprout into the abundance of summer and survive to provide beauty and food, there are also casualties. Some dry out, or get mildew and fungus from the dampness. Alpine strawberries get nibbled by our dogs. The abundance of growing and dying is so evident there. When Hydrangeas are blossoming in indigo blue and deep purple jewel tones, we cut them to bring that moment of beauty into our home. When they die, we compost them so that new plants will grow next year. When one row of lettuce becomes bitter and dies, we plant anew. when the stringbeans complete a bountiful harvest for the season, the plants die, their reason for being in the earth is done.

And so the process of life in the garden moves in cycles. The gate? It is important to celebrate the entrance to our garden with a sign of passage.