Making a Positive Out of a Negative Project: Stamping Project by Christen Hammons

January 8th, 2015

Making a Positive Out of a Negative Project: 3 Cards

You may think the card-giving season is over, but we disagree. There’s always a special occasion to send out a thoughtful, greeting card to a friend or family member, and if there isn’t — then make one up! And don’t forget that now’s the perfect time to send out Thank You cards for all those wonderful gifts and warm wishes that you got over the holidays.

This unique card project by our Editor-in-Chief and Director of Publishing, Christen Hammons, showcases an interesting use of negative space. Even the name of the project is full of inspiration! So grab your cardstock, your stamps, and your favorite inks — and learn how to make a positive out of a negative.

Making a Positive Out of a Negative Project Materials:

Dina Wakley Reversed Grunge Growth Stamp
Christine Adolph’s Collage Cube
Card Stock
Stamping Ink
-Self-Inking 7gypsies Circle Stamp

Making a Positive Out of a Negative Project by Christen Hammons

Any avid rubber stamper knows that there are just some stamps you have to have. Sure, you have no idea how you’re going to use them, but they still wind up in your shopping cart. Then they sit on your art table gathering dust.

That’s how it was when I bought this “reverse” stamp by Dina Wakley. All of the other designs from the collection were stamped right away, but there were a couple I didn’t know quite what to do with. After talking with several employees here at Stampington, I realized that both stamps had large areas of negative space. Our President, Kellene Giloff, urged me to find an interesting way to spotlight the negative space.

Making a Positive Out of a Negative Project: Honeycomb design

Step 1 – I typically use stamps for texture, so the larger sections of solid color were throwing me off until I began playing around with the stamps. I started by inking the Reversed Grunge Growth stamp; then I pressed the honeycomb stamp from Christine Adolph’s Collage Cube onto the solid section. To get the desired effect, make sure you keep the honeycomb stamp dry, so that it can pull/dilute the ink that’s already on the solid section of the Reserves Grunge Growth stamp.

Step 2 – To finish, I stamped Reversed Grunge Growth onto cardstock. The honeycomb texture added a nice effect, making it appear as if I added my own collaged layer.

Making a Positive Out of a Negative Project: Different Color Ink

Step 3 – Next, I inked the Reversed Grunge Growth stamp again, but this time I stamped a self-inking 7gypsies circle stamp randomly onto the solid space. This added a different color and an extra touch of depth to my layers. When I stamped Reversed Grunge Growth, the circles appeared in the negative space, creating a nice, textured look.

Making a Positive Out of a Negative Project: Journaling

Step 4 – Finally, I simply used some of the negative space to journal on.


Please join me in thanking Christen Hammons for providing us with such a fun project. There really are so many unique ways to use stamps and more so when the stamp itself has such interesting elements. However, the most important lesson I took away from these little cards is that no matter how intimidating a new product or project might be, you should always meet challenges with curiosity and positivity! After all, who knows what wonderful new techniques you can learn or even develop on your own?


We Want to Hear From You

In art, it’s always fun and challenging to work with negative space. We want to know how you do it. Do you have your own method for adding a bit of interest to stamps that have large negative spaces or do you try to avoid them altogether?


Even More Free Projects

PROJ-0908-200x200Join us in The Studio and find countless ideas for making cards, gifts, jewelry, artful décor, and mixed-media projects, along with clear step-by-step instructions and detailed photographs for each sample shown.

Click here to visit The Studio.


Jordan How-To Project Tutorials ,,,,,

You may think the card-giving season is over, but we disagree. There’s always a special occasion to send out a thoughtful, greeting card to a friend or family member, and if there isn’t — then make one up! And don’t forget that now’s the perfect time to send out Thank You cards for all those […]

Celebrate the New Year with New January Issues + A Chance to Win

January 5th, 2015

Start the New Year right with inspiring new titles! What better time to challenge your creativity than now, especially with a brand-new publications that offer stunning photographs, step-by-step instructions, and insights from top artists. If you’ve always dreamed of starting your own business, then you won’t want to miss out on Where Women Create BUSINESS, which offers creative advice from artistic entrepreneurs. If fashion is your passion, then you’ll love the fresh styles in Belle Armoire. And if you need something with a bit more old-world charm, then you’re sure to love this issue of Prims, which will transport you to a wonderful bygone era with handcrafted folk art.


January Issues

This year, we want to inspire you to new creative heights with magazines that will feed your creative soul and rouse your muse. That’s why we’re offering our beloved blog subscribers an exclusive promotion! Use the coupon code BLOG0115 at checkout to get $5 off any of our new January issues.

Somerset Studio

Somerset Studio - January Issues

Start the year off right with stunning new mixed-media inspiration. This issue of the Somerset Studio features an Artist Profile on Louise O’Hara of Drawn to Stitch, plus the gorgeous results of our lilac Color Challenge. Learn how to make new art from discarded book covers, and discover new ways to work with an old favorite — washi tape. Get detailed step-by-step instructions on how to make your very own mixed-media stickers, and elevate your art to a whole new level. You won’t want to miss out on Shelly Broughton’s stunning lilac-inspired landscapes, or a charming handmade book that’s full of tongue-in-cheek humor. Find all this and more in the new winter issue.


Belle Armoire

Belle Armoire - January Issues

Get up to speed on the latest winter fashions with the newest edition of Belle Armoire. Our Designer Collection features the popular couture clothing and accessories of Susan Lafica, the talented designer and stylist behind Sicilian Gypsy and Fiori Couture. Colleen Davis shows how to make beautiful sweaters and shawls, and we’re taking a closer look at the quirky lagenlook clothing from Maura Davenport of RitaNoTiara. Don’t miss out on artisan projects like bold and beautiful arrowhead necklaces and rustic macramé sweaters and dresses, plus get an inside look at Vancouver Eco Fashion Week from Katherine Soucie, and so much more.


Somerset Life

Somerset Life - January Issues

Make a resolution to infuse creativity into every facet of your life in 2015, and get started on this creative pledge with inspiration from the winter issue of Somerset Life. Learn how to make beautiful statement bracelets in 10 minutes using craft brads, how to dye ribbons, and turn washi tape into decorative stickers. You won’t want to miss L. Katherine Roberts feature about a creative and heartfelt way to preserve a wedding bouquet, or the insightful musings of Emma Tree in our Authentic Living column. We share even more Creative Living Ideas, including clever, easy-to-make boot cuffs and how to brighten someone’s day with a secret message in a bottle.



Prims - January Issues

Travel back in time to a bygone era with the wonderful world of primitive dolls and Americana artwork in Prims. In this issue, you’ll meet Judy Smith’s collection of army-themed bears: four compassionate sisters who care for the wounded and four heroic soldiers who fall in love with the sisters. Also making an appearance is The Backyard Bunch by Cheryl Foster, an adventurous group inspired by her kids and their friends. Ami Jone’s primitive rabbit is working smart, lounging on a rake and sorting his carrots while his friend Sheep watches from the sidelines. You’ll definitely want to see Karen Brady’s Woodland Creatures and Toadstools, The Angels Isabella Portini Garland by Renee Tousignant, and Robin Seeber’s seasonal Hip Hopper Collection of rabbits.


Art Journaling

Art Journaling - January Issues

It’s a brand-new year and the perfect time to pick up art journaling — especially when you can get tips and techniques directly from the masters! Discover how Susie LaFond uses her distinct mixed-media style to bring a touch of serenity to her work in this issue’s Artist Profile. Also, learn how Micheline Montgomery incorporates fine art into her journal, and tag along with Gina Lee Kim as she explores the possibilities of watercolor. You won’t want to miss the way Sue Kalicki captures her travels in collage and paint, or how Nancy Baumiller combines digital and traditional journaling to create multi-dimensional pages.



Mingle - January Issues

Start your year with a gathering that celebrates life, from a vintage-inspired luncheon to a breathtaking farm-to-table dinner party that will have your guests asking for seconds. The winter issue of Mingle is full of creative ideas for getting together. Visit an airplane-themed boy’s birthday celebration that harkens back to the golden-age of air travel and a wonderful tea party, complete with a variety of natural teas and honey. Get an insider’s look into the fabulous art retreats of Idyllworks of Maine, plus join us for a workshop to learn the ins-and-outs of making the perfect cocktail. Plan a fun fashion swap party for close friends, or soak up inspiration for an artsy auction house wedding, full of darling DIY touches.


The Stampers’ Sampler

The Stampers' Sampler - January Issues

What expresses love better than a homemade, handwritten card? Celebrate Valentine’s Day with the newest issue of The Stampers’ Sampler! Find the results of our Hearts of a Different Color Challenge, featuring cards that veer away from the typical Valentine’s Day color scheme. Learn how to incorporate mixed-media with your stamped creations, see how artists use the same stamp to create completely different looks, and so much more. Get out your paints, inkpads, and patterned paper scraps, because you will not want to miss this colorful and inspiring issue!


Jewelry Affaire

Jewelry Affaire - January Issues

This winter promises pages of artful baubles and inspiring jewelry. Director of education at Vintaj, Jess Italia Lincoln, showcases a beautiful collection of embossed necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. Vintage jewelry lovers will enjoy Inez Dunn’s pastel, beaded necklace reminiscent of 1950s charm. Ever wonder what to do with that mismatched collection of buttons? Cindy Wimmer suggests repurposing them into a one-of-a-kind necklace. Flip through pages that are filled with intriguing creations, including crocheted wire necklaces, bottle cap earrings, statement gemstones, brooches inspired by famous explorers, and more.


Where Women Create Business

Where Women Create BUSINESS - January Issues

Whether your business is small, large, or merely a dream that’s waiting to unfold, this issue of Where Women Create BUSINESS has useful guidelines that will help make it a success. Learn how Marsha Giambalvo and Melissa Mohr of Backdoor Harvest, a group of St. Louis urban farmers, grow, maintain, and harvest small crops in local backyards. Gather advice from Stacey Dugliss-Wesselman, of Cold Spring Apothecary, whose business creates medicinally focused and remedy based products fueled by the healing power of botanicals and herbs. We’re also very excited to reveal insights from Lia Griffith of Handcraft Your Life, Becky Nunn of Nunn Design, producer of high-quality jewelry findings, with generational artisans based in the United States, and designer and clothing store owner Andrea Gear of Andrea Gear Designs.


Your Chance to Win One of Our January Issues!

[This giveaway has ended.]

We’re giving away brand-new January issues to THREE lucky winners! Simply follow these steps to enter for your chance to win:

1) Click on your favorite spread above.

2) Pin or “Like” that particular issue.

3) If you pinned to Pinterest, share the link in the comments section below. If you “liked” on Facebook, tag us so we can see.

4) If you don’t have Facebook or Pinterest, please comment below and tell us which issue you find most appealing and why.

*Winners are selected at random and will be contacted via email. *$5 off discount applies to purchases of any of the following 2015 January issues only: Somerset Studio, Art Journaling, Belle Armoire, Jewelry Affaire, Mingle, Prims, Somerset Life, The Stampers’ Sampler, and Where Women Create BUSINESS. Discount code can be used only one time per customer, and expires 1/31/15. Contest is open to U.S. residents and ends 01/31/15 at 11:59pm.


Congratulations to Our Glimpse Inside Winners for the Month of December:

Donna Kalinowsky, Christi Conley, Rae Jean Wycoff


Congratulations to our Artful Resolution Winner:

Dena Jardin


Jordan Art Dolls and SoftiesArt JournalingArtful LivingContests and GiveawaysJewelry MakingMixed-Media ArtStampingTextile Arts ,,,,,,

Start the New Year right with inspiring new titles! What better time to challenge your creativity than now, especially with a brand-new publications that offer stunning photographs, step-by-step instructions, and insights from top artists. If you’ve always dreamed of starting your own business, then you won’t want to miss out on Where Women Create BUSINESS, […]

Insta-Grammys: The 10 Most Popular Instagram Images of 2014

December 30th, 2014

blog_8-2014 copy

As we look ahead to the approaching New Year, we can’t help but glance back to all the wonderful and inspiring artwork that we featured on Instagram this past year. So gather around and follow along as we unveil the 10 most popular Instagram images of 2014. Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for even more visual inspiration, tips and techniques from top artists, and exclusive chances to participate in creative contests.


icon_instagram< —Click here to follow us on Instagram!



The 10 Most Popular Instagram Images of 2014

Connie Govea Stuart Paper HeartsMixed-media artist Connie Govea Stuart helped us rediscover the romance of handwritten correspondence with these paper hearts and matching envelopes.

From the pages of the summer 2014 issue of Somerset Life.

PumpkinsMarie Morgan’s Goofy Jack’s were quite popular in October.

From the pages of the autumn 2014 issue of Prims.

Hot ChocolateWho wouldn’t want to curl up with one of these beautiful mugs, filled with delicious Mexican hot chocolate? Project and photograph by j29events and Mint and Mirth.

From the pages of the autumn issue of Mingle.

FlowersCatrin Welz-Stein’s gorgeous artwork was a fan-favorite this year!

From the pages of the winter 2014 issue of Artful Blogging.

Drift Wood ShipsEveryone wanted to sail away on one of Sofia Tryon’s charming driftwood ships.

From the pages of the autumn 2014 issue of GreenCraft.

She is lovedWe all agreed that Kathryn Paigen’s uplifting card was amazing, beautiful, and definitely loved on Instagram!

From the pages of the summer 2014 issue of The Stampers’ Sampler.





Colorful Sail ShipsSail boats were a reoccurring theme this year. Especially those made with recycled materials, like the rusted nails, metal wire, and vintage maps like Shirley Vauvelle used to create these charming sculptures.

From the pages of November/December 2014 issue of Somerset Studio.




BookCatrin Welz-Stein’s stunning digital artwork made it into our top 10 list, twice! And it’s not hard to see why!

From the pages of the winter 2015 issue of Artful Blogging.





PROJ-0870-600x600Guest artist, Juliette Crane, stopped by The Studio and gave us the step-by-step instructions for recreating this dreamy work of art.

Click here to see the full project.





Mini Christmas Tree Place Card HoldersEven Somerset Place made it onto the most popular Instagram images with a special project that was featured exclusively [On the Blog].

Click here to see the full project.

We Want to Hear From You!

We saw some recurring themes this year on Instagram — like the sail boats and Catrin’s beautiful digital artwork. We also had some one-of-a-kind fan favorites, like Marie’s Goofy Jacks and Kathryn’s charming, mixed-media card. Now we want to know, out of these 10 images, which is your favorite? Leave us a comment with your top choice!


Jordan Art Dolls and SoftiesArtful LivingHolidaysHow-To Project TutorialsMixed-Media ArtStamping ,,,,,,,,,,,

As we look ahead to the approaching New Year, we can’t help but glance back to all the wonderful and inspiring artwork that we featured on Instagram this past year. So gather around and follow along as we unveil the 10 most popular Instagram images of 2014. Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram […]

Wishing You Love, Beauty, and Creativity this Holiday Season

December 25th, 2014

Christmas Card 2012

{Hover over the image to read the inside of the card!}


We Want to Know Your Artful Resolutions for 2015

Have you had a chance to read all of the creative resolutions that some of our favorite artists, writers, and photographers shared with us? Now we want to hear from you! Tell us what you think about these resolutions, and share your own artful resolutions for a chance to win a Papaya Art Weekly Planner.

Click here to learn more!


Sneak Peek: The Insta-Grammys of 2014

What did you get for Christmas? If you were gifted with brand-new crafting supplies, or you need a bit of inspiration to reinvigorate you after the holiday season, then join us for a very special blog post. In our last post of the year, we will pay tribute to our 9 most popular Instagram images of 2014. You won’t want to miss out on all the inspiring projects, photographs, and imagery! Join us here at Somerset Place on  Monday, December 29th.

Click here to follow us on Instagram.

Jordan Holidays ,,,

{Hover over the image to read the inside of the card!}   We Want to Know Your Artful Resolutions for 2015 Have you had a chance to read all of the creative resolutions that some of our favorite artists, writers, and photographers shared with us? Now we want to hear from you! Tell us what […]

Artful Resolutions from Creative Souls

December 23rd, 2014
Artwork by Olga Siedlecka~Artwork by Olga Siedlecka

It’s in our nature to always strive for new goals. Some might think this is due to a competitive nature, but I think it’s because art helps us grow. I am always reminded of this just as New Years begins to creep up on me. We all have similar thoughts — eat better, hit the gym, get organized, finish projects, etc. Sometimes, it even seems like we’re pressured into making resolutions that we don’t really care about. It’s a slippery slope for an artist to make a promise that he or she may not be able or even willing to keep. But then again, resolutions can also be exceedingly positive when we make them for all the right reasons. In an attempt to elevate the tradition of the New Year’s Resolution to its full artistic potential, we decided to ask some of our creative friends what types of artistic resolutions they planned to make, how they would pursue inspiration in the new year, and most importantly, how they broke up their goals into manageable projects that could actually be attained. The responses were heartfelt and incredibly insightful, and we hope that while reading these, you’ll gain inspiration for your own artful resolutions.  

We are so grateful to have had 24 creative souls participate in this special project. However, with over 65 thoughtful and thorough responses to our questions, there’s simply no way we can showcase all the answers in this blog post.

Click here to read all the responses provided by our guest artists.

Also, don’t forget to scroll all the way to the end of this post to learn how you can win a beautiful Papaya Art Weekly Planner.


What is your creative/artful resolution for 2015?


Tuttle_question1~Photograph by Susan tuttle


“I’ve definitely found my creative niche in photography and love every moment of the process, from taking the photos to digitally enhancing them, but there is also a love in me for painting, in particular abstract painting. In terms of my career, I’ve been quite busy with photography and teaching online, so have found it difficult to make time to paint. My artistic goal for 2015 is to carve out some time, however small, to paint. I made a conscious choice to start with the un-lofty goal to create at least three paintings in 2015. This simple expectation of myself takes the pressure off, makes it doable, and gets me excited!” ~Susan Tuttle


I’m not one for making resolutions at the beginning of the year. My philosophy is that I’d much rather reflect on the past year and recognize all I have done. I find that to be empowering and motivating. Each January I have a ritual of making a Ta-Da list. I start with the end of December and work my way back to the first of the year, making notes of everything that I can remember doing during the year. It is easier to start with the most recent self-imposed assignments. Eventually I recall a full list of achievements, missions, chores, and projects that leaves me feeling really good. Sure, there are always things left on my To-Do list…there is always more to do, and ideas that are still in-process. However, when you move items from your To-Do list to your Ta-Da list you celebrate what you’ve completed — that’s much more affirming than worrying about the tasks ahead, and the pledge to make changes with the turn of the calendar page.  Maybe you could start 2015 by patting yourself on the back for all the work you completed in 2014, from art projects to self-improvement, and then carry forward the positive energy into the brand new year. Make a Ta-Da list, because it’s way more fun than a To-Do list!” ~Michelle Ward Download your own To-Do and Ta-Da lists, compliments of Michelle Ward.


“Seriously, my resolution this year is to try and keep my workload manageable so that I leave some time for myself to grow as an artist. To be truly creative takes time … I am a slow worker and I need time to allow ideas to grow and develop, but I don’t always give myself enough time. I would love to work on a bigger scale — it’s something that I generally shy away from but I think it may be time to push myself to work bigger. I think that working on a larger scale will bring a sense of freedom. I would also love to learn some new skills; traditional bookbinding and printmaking are both on my to-do list so maybe this is the year!” ~ Kate Crane


“My creative resolution is to not compare myself, my art, and my personality, to other creatives out there. It’s so hard not to do this because with so many of us, the goal is to distinguish ourselves, but in order to do this we must be true to who we are and why we create. We must follow and trust our intuitions and design aesthetic and not worry about what other artists doing.” ~Cat Kerr


Caitlin Dundon  Charming Bird Hope small~Artwork by Caitlin Dundon

“Several years ago, I stopped making official resolutions that start in January of each year. I found that after the busy holiday season, I needed a little bit of a break at the beginning of January and didn’t need the pressure of heavy resolutions. Instead, I make monthly resolutions year round. Using the Japanese “Kanban” approach — I have workflow post-its that represent projects I am in process of working on, projects I want to do (but are not ready to go yet), or projects I’m waiting for approval on, and projects I’ve completed recently. It’s nice to be able to move items to the done list! Certainly I have dream projects that I want to create, and sometimes I have to put them on a back burner if I have other things that require my attention first. I find that writing down your dreams/projects/desires, creates the kind of magic you need to get things to come into being. I have pride in completing and finishing a lot of projects during the course of a year, I know that there will always be projects that don’t come to fruition. I think it’s important to finish things, but it’s also important to accept that sometimes it is the process that is the most important thing. I find that if I ever have a moment of “artist’s block,” where I pause when I have a blank piece of paper or wood panel in front of me — I just force myself to dive in. Just cover the surface with anything, any color, and any collaged bits of paper. By just doing it, you are freeing yourself. You are allowing yourself to let go and just create. Sometimes I discover something new in doing this, something wonderful. Sometimes I make something I don’t like, but the beauty of the process is that you can keep layering, sanding, painting, adding gesso, stamping, inscribing, etc., and magically it becomes something that I love.” ~Caitlin Dundon


“I prefer to use the words “creative invitation” as opposed to “resolution”. It feels like a gentler approach and works much better for me at this stage of my life and creative career. I am aiming for greater trust in my days…trust that my creativity will continue to lead me where I need to go, whether that is through my fine art, further developing my product line, or becoming more involved with teaching.  I can make all the lists I want about this or that path, but I am finding that simply showing up in my studio day after day and allowing space for the journey to unfold, without designating precisely what that journey is, brings the most rewards. so I suppose my creative invitation to myself for 2015 is to stay out of my own way, create freely without the overlay of how to make money, or be practical with my endeavors, and to stay in the game and allow room for serendipity to seep in.” ~Anna Corba


“I do not believe in resolutions and I do not make to-do lists. What I love to do is to stop when I feel the overwhelming need to make changes and take the time to listen to what my heart is telling me. I think of a resolution as an ongoing process, and instead of making it the end-of-the year habit I react to every situation through my impulses. When I am free of overwhelming expectations and due dates, I am successful in not rushing the moments, but really letting myself dive into them. My creativity springs when I give it time, space, and peace. Working as an independent creator is a continuous learning curve that above anything else includes self-improvement. …” ~Sylvia Stefanova


“To be a better servant to my muse, to resist nothing, and to suppress the ego dragon, which uselessly guards the gold. I know all of you creatives out there will fully understand what I mean by that.” ~Sandra Evertson  


What do you do to stay inspired — will you be looking to new sources of inspiration in 2015?


Kelly Letky each dawn is a new beginning~Photograph by Kelly Letky


“This one is easy: I go outside. Nature never fails to inspire me, from a pink cotton candy sunrise to a black crow eating seed in the driveway. I listen. To the birds, the wind, and the quiet whisper of flowers growing. To the sound of snowflakes gently hitting the ground, the cacophony of migrating geese that always makes me laugh, and the rustle of leaves passing through the tall poplars. I’m lucky enough to live in a place where I can walk outside and hear these things. I listen, to life.” ~Kelly Letky


“I am a very community-oriented artist and often gain inspiration from connecting to other artists. As such, I will be increasing the number of workshops I teach with other artists, participating in a multi-artist collaborative art project, overseeing a group art exhibition, and setting up several, open-call online collaborations on my blog. Living in NYC provides a ton of inspiration and my goal for 2015 is to be more consistent in actually visiting the galleries, museums and other art venues that always provide me with creative fuel.” ~Seth Apter


“I attend art retreats and workshops that are out of my comfort zone. For example, I really do not love to paint, so I place myself in a painting class to be stimulated and stretched. I may never paint again, but I always go away with new inspirations and challenges that apply to my daily life whether it be cooking a delicious meal in my kitchen or trying a new technique in my art studio. I will continue to participate in online workshops because they always feed my creative appetite. ” ~Deb Taylor


Monica Sabolla Gruppo ArtRes2~Photograph and Artwork by Monica Sabolla Gruppo

“I won’t be looking for them, as I believe inspiration comes from within and not from the outside. As to stay inspired, I will keep soaking up Nature and silence, going for solo drives and hikes in the glorious English countryside, or visiting Manor Houses and gardens — almost always unplanned and without a map (but always with my camera, sketchbook and a journal). These activities quiet my mind, fill my joy tank, and are always source of endless inspiration, and amazing clarity for me (in my work, for my life).” ~Monica Sabolla Gruppo


“I practice rituals from the book, “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. I have tweaked the rules-to suit me. I type my Morning Pages — you’re supposed to handwrite three pages. But I couldn’t read my writing, so I type. If my weekly Art Walk Date is canceled by life or the weather — I don’t let that stop me — I take my Art Walks-online. I go visit other countries, and/or watch a foreign or historical film, or visit Pinterest.  I do prefer to physically visit a place with fresh eyes. I always take my camera and chase light. Photos for me are visual poems.  My favorite painters are the sun, the moon, and the weather. Yes, I love all the Gelli art I am seeing and want to play with this medium. Art is fluid and always moving like the Northern Lights. I need to continue to grow, change, evolve, and playing with new sources helps expand our horizons. ” ~Ella Wilson


“The journey to a personal body of work is different in that I am compelled to wear blinders to sources of outside inspiration, I realize this sounds a tad ridiculous, especially in our 24/7 internet world. But I long to be in my cave (aka studio), holed up in mad-scientist/artist mode, playing with paint to see what comes up and where my muse guides me. It is important for me to rely on internal sources of inspiration as I have done in the past. For me, this typically means lots of time in nature, writing in my journals, meditation, and practicing yoga. These things will clear my mind and allow ideas to emerge in due course.” ~Mary Beth Shaw


“Cleaning your workspace is always a good idea as it often results in a surprising discovery that will eventually become a part of a future whole. I usually visit a flea market to find some rusty additions or just to look around. I also like to spoil myself with some little purchase, like new brushes or paints. After the shopping I always look forward to working with my new buy. My advice is to look through art and photo albums, and even some children books, too. Don’t forget nature with its colours and details. A piece of bark can be more inspiring than professionally printed papers.” ~Olga Siedlecka


“To stay inspired I like to do things that slow me down. Activities such as yoga and meditation are good places to go whenever I need to unwind and relax…which puts me in a peaceful frame of mind to receive creative thoughts and ideas. If you prefer more physical movement to quiet the mind, walking alone outside, especially in nature, can also be a good way to go.” ~Becky Shander  


How do you, as an artist/photographer/writer, set challenging but attainable goals?


Mary Wangerin IMG_3039 2~Photograph by Mary Wangerin


“When I begin to notice myself slip into that easy, comfortable zone while creating, I know it’s time to unleash my brave and bold and introduce a new creative goal. Pushing past that comfort level is where we grow, discover, and uncover amazing new techniques and processes; and ultimately when we have the most fun!

Sometimes that means I say yes to opportunities that thrill, but scare me. Sometimes I give myself a time limit for finishing a painting. Sometimes I challenge myself to use colors I don’t normally ever use while painting. Sometimes I collaborate with a fellow artist on a painting.

It’s all in allowing myself to try new things creatively, while embracing the discomfort of uncertainty/vulnerability that can come with a challenge!” ~Mary Wangerin


“During a screen writing class, the teacher asked: ‘What is the biggest difference between famous screenplay writers and yourselves?’ After a moment, he answered his own question, “They took their work to completion.” That became my motto. Take your work to the finish line. Not doing so may be the only thing standing between you and success. Remove that barrier and a path opens before you. I have an ongoing list of long and short term projects. I keep revisiting each project until it is complete. My children’s book took sixteen years to percolate and has just been self-published. A sketch I did in 30 seconds during my son’s violin lesson, sold as a print. Methodical, long-term works sprinkled with short-term projects keeps me moving forward.” ~Cathryn Mezzo


“First and foremost, I must write down my monthly, weekly, and daily goals in a daily planner, otherwise they’re just thoughts rumbling around in my head. Each month I think about what I want to accomplish overall, usually a big project or something that gets me closer to a bigger goal. Then I break that goal down into weekly and daily goals. I’m a big fan of micro-movements and achieving large goals in small chunks. Even if it’s something as challenging as writing a novel, if I break it down into itty bitty goals (10 minutes of research, 500 words a day, etc.) it makes the writing so much easier for me to accomplish.” ~Cassandra Key “By setting smaller, attainable daily goals, my more challenging goals end up being reached without even knowing it! A little mind trickery.” ~Michelle Shefveland


 “My goals need to be specific in nature. If they are too vague my performance can’t be evaluated. For instance, it isn’t enough to just commit to journaling or painting. I have to make that goal specific by committing to work in my journal at least twice a week or creating one new canvas a month. It is also important for me that my goals be realistic or I might get too overwhelmed from falling behind. I also adjust my goals as I go along when my circumstances change or I am inspired to move in a different direction. I have to remain flexible.” ~Roben-Marie Smith


“I’m not too aggressive when setting goals for myself. As a stay-at-home mom, time with family always comes first. Creative time may need to occur during school hours and evenings, but I do push myself a bit more when my Etsy store is looking empty or I have a vendor show coming up. Nothing like a hard deadline to get my gears going! I’m a firm believer in making lists, especially of creative ideas that pop into my head. Not all the ideas come to fruition, but many do make it to a finished project – and that feels wonderful. I never chastise myself for not getting to projects on the list, because there’s always some day.” ~Susan Frick


“I don’t think I am the right person to ask this! I have big, giant goals! I am working on setting smaller goals for myself, and most of all working at celebrating the small accomplishments along the way. Often times, as soon as I accomplish a goal I feel like ‘done! Now on to the next thing,’ and I forget to celebrate the small steps, which then leads to burn out. A couple of internet friends who have great podcasts about these types of topics are Tara Swiger, Abbey Glassenberg, and Jamie Ridler, and Kari Chapin who just started a new podcast too. I love listening to these podcasts while I work. Hearing about other artists struggling with the same issues inspires me to be a bit gentler with myself and my work.” ~Claudine Hellmuth


D Smith Kaich Jones now_what~Photograph by D. Smith Kaich Jones

“I just begin. One sentence, I tell myself. One line, one paragraph. I always begin by describing the day outside and inside. The mundane things. Where the cat is and what she’s doing. What the weather’s like. That keeps my fingers nimble, loosens me up.  It’s a warm up for the race ahead, but I don’t run marathons.

I keep bowls full of words and phrases, and if I’m having trouble grabbing an idea, I grab a word and hold it and pay attention to the feelings it invokes, the images it throws my way.  One of my favorite books is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig, and one of my very favorite parts of that book is this:

‘He’d been having trouble with students who had nothing to say. At first he thought it was laziness but later it became apparent that it wasn’t. They just couldn’t think of anything to say.

One of them, a girl with strong-lensed glasses, wanted to write a five-hundred word essay about the United States. He was used to the sinking feeling that comes from statements like this, and suggested without disparagement that she narrow it down to just Bozeman.

When the paper came due she didn’t have it and was quite upset. She had tried and tried but she just couldn’t think of anything to say. 

It just stumped him. Now he couldn’t think of anything to say. A silence occurred, and then a peculiar answer: ‘Narrow it down to the main street of Bozeman.’ It was a stroke of insight.

She nodded dutifully and went out. But just before her next class she came back in real distress, tears this time, distress that had obviously been there for a long time. She still couldn’t think of anything to say, and couldn’t understand why, if she couldn’t think of anything about all of Bozeman, she should be able to think of something about just one street.

He was furious. ‘You’re not looking!’ he said. A memory came back of his own dismissal from the University for having too much to say. For every fact there is an infinity of hypotheses. The more you look the more you see. She really wasn’t looking and yet somehow didn’t understand this.   

He told her angrily, ‘Narrow it down to the front of one building on the main street of Bozeman. The Opera House. Start with the upper left-hand brick.’

Her eyes, behind the thick-lensed glasses, opened wide.  

She came in the next class with a puzzled look and handed him a five-thousand-word essay on the front of the Opera House on the main street of Bozeman, Montana. ‘I sat in the hamburger stand across the street,’ she said, ‘and started writing about the first brick, and the second brick, and then by the third brick it all started to come and I couldn’t stop. They thought I was crazy, and they kept kidding me, but here it all is. I don’t understand it.’

Those words in those bowls are my bricks. I start with just one, and I list (even if just mentally) all the obvious things, and then keep going.” ~D. Smith Kaich Jones


A Warm Thank You to all the Creative Souls

We’re so grateful to all the artists, photographers, and writers, who participated in this blog post. Thank you for sharing your plans for the future, sources of inspiration, and your techniques for success.

Don’t forget, you can read all of our artists’ responses by clicking here.


Tell us your Artful Resolution for a Chance to Win:

5PA-CAL15PLN004-Papaya-Art-Sun-Speak-2015-Weekly-Planner-300x300Now we want to hear from you, our beloved readers! Tell us what you think about these resolutions and share your own artful resolutions for a chance to win a Papaya Art Weekly Planner. This gorgeous planner has a sturdy, hard cover and special features like foil accents, pockets, and an elastic closure, making it both functional and beautiful.

For your chance to win, simply leave us a comment below. We’ll select a winner at random and contact them via email as well as announcing their name in our upcoming Glimpse Inside Blog Post on January 1st, 2015.

Contest ends on December 31st at 11:59pm. Good Luck!


Jordan Holidays ,,,,,,

~Artwork by Olga Siedlecka It’s in our nature to always strive for new goals. Some might think this is due to a competitive nature, but I think it’s because art helps us grow. I am always reminded of this just as New Years begins to creep up on me. We all have similar thoughts — […]