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About Steph

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So far Steph has created 207 blog entries.

The Creative Process: What Works For Me

Want a peek into the creative process I use? Click through to read more--It may help you discover your own.

Does the creative process elude you?  I remember when I started taking my painting class, my teacher spoke about his creative process and how it was an integral part of producing actual work.  Because let’s face it, even when you have the time to sit and get to work, the inspiration isn’t always there.  This is where the creative process can jump start things!  Most days I have to refer to a few tricks to make the most of my time when I’m trying to get in the zone.

It wasn’t so obvious to me what my process was in the beginning, though. I had to almost step back and watch what I did as I did it, to figure out how I created my own inspiring environment.

So if you’re not sure of your own creative ways, don’t worry!  I have a few tips to help you figure it out.  The main idea is to focus on the 5 senses: it will help you be really present in the moment and ready to embrace whatever comes up.

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Here is a peek into my creative process and how I use each of the senses:

Sight: I like to be in an environment with visual stimulation to keep the juices flowing.  This can be sketchbooks I keep open to look at now and again for ideas, previous paintings on the wall or some other artist’s work in Instagram that gives me some ideas to adapt into my own. I usually paint in my studio (which is also a spare bedroom right now) so I like to have a lot of color around me to keep me loose and brave.

Hearing: Music playing helps me get out of my own way. I heard once that when you play music while you are creating, it turns off that left brain so that the ideas flow easier.  That makes so much sense, right? The inner critic is silenced a little easier.

Taste: A drink and a little snack nearby helps me keep going so I’m not interrupted!  I love my snacks 🙂  And no one likes to stop the flow in the middle of a good idea.

Touch: I love to keep my supplies within arm’s reach so I can experiment with different markings and materials.  If I don’t have to dig through clutter or an overwhelming amount of supplies. I create more easily.  (That’s probably true for most of us.)  I have standby favorite supplies. but I also like to keep unlikely tools around to mix things up. (spray bottle, bubble wrap, baby wipes etc)

Smell: I once saw a video of  Flora Bowley where she prepped her canvas with a smudging stick.  She said the smell of the smoke and the energetic clearing of the space helped her get focused.  I love this!  I tend to use a candle, but it has the same effect. Smells can bring up a lot of memories, so I make sure the scent is one I love and has a good association.

Another part of my process includes wearing clothes that are comfortable and messy–ones that I don’t worry about getting paint on.  I also allow a little time before I create something to think about the inspiration behind my session.  Whether it was a song or a poem or a color in nature that I saw that day, I try to hone in on what brought me to my table to create.  Knowing the ‘why’ makes it easier to break through when I hit a block.

I hope this inspires you if you need help figuring out the creative process; using the senses is a great way to start and you can expand on it from there.  Just keep in mind, it’s a fluid practice and it’s always changing!  Go with what moves you forward at the moment and enjoy whatever shows up.

Love, Steph

 

April 20, 2017|Art Stuff, Habits, How To|

Abstract Painting Art In Progress: Let Joy Be Your Guide

Art In Progress: See how I create Inspirational art for kids + the kid in you. To learn about art technique + my motivation for creating this piece, click through for a peek. See how paintings evolve from start to finish! Original artwork by Stephanie Martel.

Art In Progress: See how I create Inspirational art for kids + the kid in you. To learn about art technique + my motivation for creating this piece, click through for a peek. See how paintings evolve from start to finish! Original artwork by Stephanie Martel.

When I first started working on this one, I only had a few minutes to put some paint on paper, so I was pretty hasty in my technique.  I threw some colors down and moved it around and needless to say, my lack of focus (and time) showed up in what I created. I ended up kind of hating it and because of that, this page stayed quiet for at least a month, maybe more. *Ugh*  I just couldn’t figure out how to attack it again because it was so choppy looking to me and I didn’t love the color scheme.  But in the end, this piece was a good lesson in not giving up–especially when I’m just at the beginning of something.

Abstract Painting Art In Progress: See how I create Inspirational art for kids + the kid in you. To learn about art technique + my motivation for creating this piece, click through for a peek. See how paintings evolve from start to finish! Original artwork by Stephanie Martel.

So during the next session, I went allllll in and added a different color palette. I left some of the original colors in the background, but I wanted to move this piece in a different direction than what I started with, so I added some markings and a little piece of collage.  I’m not sure why I picked that piece in the bottom corner, but I saw it, liked it and then just slapped it on. I try not to think too hard when I’m creating and just go with the flow of inspiration. Eventually those little whispers make sense.

Abstract Painting Art In Progress: See how I create Inspirational art for kids + the kid in you. To learn about art technique + my motivation for creating this piece, click through for a peek. See how paintings evolve from start to finish! Original artwork by Stephanie Martel.

Next I wanted to create a spot for my girl.  At this point of creating, I usually don’t know what the sentiment will be or what she will look like, I just put the bare bones down to create space for the next layer of creativity.

Abstract Painting Art In Progress: See how I create Inspirational art for kids + the kid in you. To learn about art technique + my motivation for creating this piece, click through for a peek. See how paintings evolve from start to finish! Original artwork by Stephanie Martel.

So I added the features, collaged in her dress and added some accents to her hair.

Abstract Painting Art In Progress: See how I create Inspirational art for kids + the kid in you. To learn about art technique + my motivation for creating this piece, click through for a peek. See how paintings evolve from start to finish! Original artwork by Stephanie Martel.

Abstract Painting Art In Progress: See how I create Inspirational art for kids + the kid in you. To learn about art technique + my motivation for creating this piece, click through for a peek. See how paintings evolve from start to finish! Original artwork by Stephanie Martel.

Then all of a sudden the collage piece in the corner made sense when I saw a little bird in my collection of collage papers.  I love little birds.  I even have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to bird art!  So yes, the bird made sense to nest there in the corner.

Abstract Painting Art In Progress: See how I create Inspirational art for kids + the kid in you. To learn about art technique + my motivation for creating this piece, click through for a peek. See how paintings evolve from start to finish! Original artwork by Stephanie Martel.

And then the sentiment came to me.  It had a lot to do with the bird bringing me joy 🙂

Abstract Painting Art In Progress: See how I create Inspirational art for kids + the kid in you. To learn about art technique + my motivation for creating this piece, click through for a peek. See how paintings evolve from start to finish! Original artwork by Stephanie Martel.

And then here’s the finished piece.

Abstract Painting Art In Progress: See how I create Inspirational art for kids + the kid in you. To learn about art technique + my motivation for creating this piece, click through for a peek. See how paintings evolve from start to finish! Original artwork by Stephanie Martel.

This is in my sketchbook which I’m getting used to working in and slowly starting to LOVE. It’s a lot more portable and forgiving.  No worries about screwing up an entire canvas which is great because more experimenting = more learning.  And I’m totally into that!

I hope you enjoyed this view into my process + If you do nothing else today…just let joy be your guide 🙂

Some Supplies I used:

Love, Steph

 

April 12, 2017|Art in Progress, Art Stuff, New Art|

5 Common Mistakes You Are Making In Your Creative Business

Click here to learn 5 common mistakes creative business owners make and what to do about it.

When it comes to figuring out how to run your own creative business there are bound to be many mistakes along the way.  After all, that’s the best way to learn, right? But there are some common mistakes you can avoid, especially if you’re just starting out, that will save you time and frustration.  Here are some common mistakes that happen and what you can do about it:

1. You’re trying to be something you’re not.

Copying is the greatest form of flattery but you have to show others who YOU are in order for them to connect with you. If you’re copying someone else, your true personality won’t come through and you won’t make authentic connections. Don’t worry about being the funniest, smartest or coolest out there–just be yourself, that’s more than enough.

2. You’re not starting at the beginning.

A beginner’s mind is an open mind–there is a lot of fun to be had with a beginner’s mindset. Sure, it can be scary or frustrating or (insert feeling here) when you’re trying to learn something new but it can also be quite freeing to just say, “I don’t know and I want to learn”. It’s a lot easier to be receptive in a place of humility, than from a place of resistance.  And you’ll learn more information faster, from a beginner’s mind.

3. You take on too much too soon.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was your business or creative venture. There are a lot of moving parts when you are trying to set up and run a website, profile, blog or online shop. And hell, it can be freaking OVERWHELMING. But you know what? It doesn’t have to happen all at once. Because you have time, even when you think you don’t.  So take it step-by-step and enjoy the process.

4. You’re not connecting.

There’s no escaping the internet + social media and if you don’t jump on the bandwagon, you will be left behind. The good news? There is a place for everyone, so just a little digging on your part will help you decide where you feel most comfortable. Do you love back and forth conversation? Facebook Groups could be your friend. Are you more into looking at pretty pictures?Instagram or Pinterest may be your jam. Whatever your fancy, there is a place for you. Find your spot and dive in.

5. You hesitate to put yourself out there.

I know when I painted my first abstract painting, I was so embarrassed of my beginner skills that I didn’t want to let anybody see it. I literally said to myself, “I’m never showing this to anyone”. It was that bad!

But I put that painting aside and tried again. I stuck with it–I practiced and painted and painted. I kept trying because I really wanted to get better at it. I didn’t give up and I also didn’t let others influence my process too much. I stuck with what my heart was telling me to paint and I eventually figured out my style (and it’s always evolving!)

Then I slowly started showing others. When I started sharing my work, either on social media or in person, I learned so much from what people commented on–and that would have never happened if I didn’t put myself out there.

So there you have it, my friend. Don’t worry too much about getting everything right, especially at the beginning.  Just keep moving towards your goal and make adjustments along the way.  You can do it!

Love, Steph

PS Are you looking to connect with other like-minded creatives? Join my private Facebook Group here.

March 16, 2017|Art Stuff, Personal Development, The Business of Art|

How To Make Time To Make Art

Click through to get 7 simple ways you can make time to make art. Because sometimes life can get in the way of doing even our most favorite things! Come on over and check out the 7 simple ways to make art happen.

Click through to get 7 simple ways you can make time to make art. Because sometimes life can get in the way of doing even our most favorite things! Come on over :-)

When I first started taking my acrylics abstract painting class 6 years ago, I was soooo excited to have a structure set up to make consistent art.  I knew that every week, no matter what else was happening in my life, I would always have those 2 hours to create.  I didn’t have to make time to make art, it was already set up for me!

Fast forward to today, where I have a 15 month old, a husband and various other obligations.  My time is rarely my own and I’m usually juggling two things at once just to fit it all in. Can you relate? Even the most productive + talented creatives talk about the struggle of just getting to it.  And we forget that the creating part actually starts way before you’re physically sitting down with the tools–it starts with a state of mind and mentally getting in the flow of creating.

So when I found myself at a total standstill with making art, I knew I needed a new system.  I needed a better way to carve out the time.  I needed a new mindset.  And the new way was going to feel different from my carefree hours long sessions of painting so I had to be flexible + willing to experiment.

Click through to get the checklist on 7 simple ways you can make time to make art. Because sometimes life can get in the way of doing even our most favorite things!

Here are 7 ways I create more art, hopefully they will get you creating, too:

Leave work out where you can see it and it is accessible.

Leaving your supplies and a piece in progress out on a table where you can see it, makes it easier to pick up and continue creating.

Create a mood board.

Pinning pictures you love and any other visual cues that inspires you to a board will fill your creative well.  When you see something that sparks a ‘yes!’ in you, tack it up.  Refer to your board when it’s time to create and you will instantly get in the mood.  And if you don’t want to create a physical board, Pinterest is a great alternative.  You can make a virtual board that will inspire you just the same.

Keep a pen and notepad with you wherever you go.

I have found that inspiration always strikes when I’m relaxed and not thinking about creating anything!  So the best way to capture the muse is to write it down–write the words that spark excitement or make a sketch to capture the moment–writing down that feeling will help you come back to it later.

Expand the creativity in things you already do.

Everyday you are creating more than you realize.  Whether it’s cooking, baking, gardening or DIY projects in your home, you are putting your crafty ways to work.  Even dressing yourself in a creative way can be exciting!  When you’re more present during your day, you will recognize all of the un-traditional ways to get inspired.  Start appreciating those and let them be the fuel to stimulate you even more.

Create in micro-blocks. (Don’t wait for that big chunk of time.)

The longer you wait to create, the longer it takes to make the time.  It’s the perfect form of self sabotage!  Gah.  So why not try using the micro blocks that pop up during the day?  In the car before picking up the kids, sketch a little something in your notepad or on a random piece of paper.  Or when you’re waiting for dinner to be ready, plan out your next blog post or creative venture.  The big chunk of time may never come, just do it now.

Every time you reach for your phone, pick up a pen/crayon/marker/brush instead.

We waste sooooo much time surfing the web and on social media (I know I do!)  Use that time to capture a few free moments of art-making that you’re craving.  Play a game with yourself for a week and replace that time you usually pick up your phone to browse the web with other creative activities–see how much you can actually create!

Let yourself off the hook.

Don’t sit down with the intention to create your next masterpiece!  That kind of pressure can kill even the most motivated artist.  Just enjoy the creative process, inch by inch, and let it happen–you might be pleasantly surprised.

Click through to get the checklist on 7 simple ways you can make time to make art. Because sometimes life can get in the way of doing even our most favorite things!

Want to show me + other creatives that wonderful work you DO make?  Join my private Facebook Group for creatives here.

Love, Steph

March 6, 2017|Art Stuff, How To|

How To Transfer A Photo To Canvas

These are a series of helpful hints on how to do something art + growth related. Come over and take a peek!

This is a series of helpful hints I want to share with you that I’ve learned along the way in my art journey.  For more How To’s click here.

Come on over and check out how to transfer a photo to canvas. Click through for the quick and easy step-by-step instructions.

If there’s one thing I love, it’s to learn how to do something myself that I usually pay a bunch of money for. Recently I bought a canvas that a company will print a picture on for you.  And it got me thinking: what if could create a picture printed canvas on my own?  With a little research, I found it’s not only doable, but it’s easy and cheaper to do it myself.  Woohoo!  Today I’m sharing the process with you, so you can do it too.

Let’s get this party started!

First, let’s talk supplies.  Here are the things you’ll need for the project:

  • Canvas.

Whatever size you want, but keep in mind you’ll need a print that’s somewhat the same size.

  • Inkjet print of image you want to transfer, on photocopy paper.

(you can get this from Staples if you don’t have a printer) *It’s important to remember that if there is lettering on the image, you will need a mirror copy of it so the print is going the right way when it’s transferred. (I did it the wrong way originally myself!)

  • Some kind of  medium.

Liquitex has a great one that I use a lot but you can also use mod podge, especially if you’re on a strict budget.  When you’re buying it, keep an eye on the finish; “matte” or “gloss” are the terms they will use. Consider these when you think about how you want your finished canvas to look in the end.  Matte is cool but can dull the colors + gloss will give you a shine.

  • Old credit card/used gift card for smoothing.
  • Foam Brush
  • Acrylic Sealer (Optional)

You can put a final coat on the image to extend the life of the colors and overall look.

Come on over and check out how to transfer a photo to canvas. Click through for the quick and easy step-by-step instructions.

 

The first thing you’ll do is smear a bunch of medium on your paper print.  I used modpodge since it’s a product known for it’s ability to transfer images (and it’s cheaper which always helps).  I just squirted a bunch on the paper and used the foam brush to move it around. You want to make sure that you coat the liquid evenly on the paper and apply it a little thicker than you’re comfortable with.

Come on over and check out how to transfer a photo to canvas. Click through for the quick and easy step-by-step instructions.

Sign up for access to my free resource library made for creatives like you!

Come on over and check out how to transfer a photo to canvas. Click through for the quick and easy step-by-step instructions.

After I applied it, you can see that the image is barely visible through the layer of modpodge.  That’s what you want.  When everything is evenly coated, take the paper and lay it centered on your canvas.  Then, as best you can, smooth out any air bubbles with your credit/gift card.  A little warning here: be gentle.  The paper is wet and will rip easily if you’re not careful so just glide that card around and get the paper as flat as you can against the canvas.

Come on over and check out how to transfer a photo to canvas. Click through for the quick and easy step-by-step instructions.

If you want to turn the canvas over so that the frame is facing up, it will apply extra pressure to the paper to make sure everything sticks.  I even added some weights on top of the frame (I used candles) for good measure.

Next: you’re going to wait 24 hours.  YES!  You must wait or it won’t come out right.  The medium has to completely dry so that you can separate the paper from the canvas without creating a gooey mess.  Do it too soon and you’ll be covered in sticky paper.  Yuck.

After you wait 24 hours, get your sponge really wet and gently coat the canvas with water.  Pretty soon you’ll see the image appearing through the wet paper.

Come on over and check out how to transfer a photo to canvas. Click through for the quick and easy step-by-step instructions!

Start gently rubbing the paper off with the sponge.  It gets a little messy, but that’s how you reveal the picture underneath.  Keep wetting the paper and rubbing gently.

Come on over and check out how to transfer a photo to canvas. Click through for the quick and easy step-by-step instructions!

Eventually the paper will come off and you’ll have your image on the canvas.  Magic!

Come on over and check out how to transfer a photo to canvas. Click through for the quick and easy step-by-step instructions!

So as you can see, I tried out 2 different styles with this project: one was to use an image that was flush with the sides of the canvas and the other looks like it has a natural border because the picture was smaller than the canvas.  Which ever one you try is up to you and what kind of look you’re going for.  If you try to do the flush edged style and it doesn’t reach the edge, you can always add a little paint to make it a mixed media one-of-a-kind piece!  Just have fun with it and don’t get too crazy about making it perfect.

If the edges are a little ragged, you can either sand  it with fine sand paper or just slap a little medium on it and smooth out those edges.

I do want to show you a mistake I made though, so you don’t do the same thing:  I got a little zealous/impatient and used the scrubby part of the sponge to remove the paper.  You can see where it pulled off part of the image from the canvas. Oopsie.  But I can touch up those parts with a little paint too. And it gives it a little character, no?

Come on over and check out how to transfer a photo to canvas. Click through for the quick and easy step-by-step instructions!

If you look closely on the left side of her dress, there’s a cut out that looks a little like a butterfly.  That’s another part of my *ahem* enthusiastic paper removal, or maybe it was an air bubble.  But you know what?  I love how it looks.  Some how the ink made it’s way to the canvas, and created a multi-textured look.

Come on over and check out how to transfer a photo to canvas. Click through for the quick and easy step-by-step instructions.

So there you have it, friend!  How to transfer a photo to canvas for beginners.  It was actually really easy and didn’t take a lot of time at all!  And if you want to seal the image you can use a spray acrylic sealer OR add an isolation coat to it.

Hope you have fun trying, I’d love to see your results in my Facebook Group!

Love, Steph

 

February 16, 2017|Art Stuff, How To|

How I Incorporate Creativity Into Everyday Life

Click through to learn how I keep my creative energy flowing each day. Maybe these will help your creative mojo , too!

I feel like I’m starting to make a comeback. When I had my sweet boy Marty a little over a year ago, my creative projects came to a screeching halt–my blog went unwritten, canvases were dry and emails went unanswered. I went into hibernation because I was alllll baby alllll the time, for a long time (being a first time mom,and all).

Although I was frustrated at some points because I just wanted to get back to creating stuff, I knew that I  needed that time to focus on other things.  And in a way it was a gift: coming out of any kind of hibernation is wonderful because you see with new eyes. That hiatus from creating was rejuvenating because it built up a yearning for me to get back to it. I can feel that urgency to create again and I’m excited.

But as I get back into the flow, I realize that I need to be flexible with how I’m expressing my creativity due to time+ life constraints.  It’s just not realistic for me to say I’m going to paint for 2 hours everyday–I don’t have the time or attention span (or cooperative baby!)  I’m a different person than I was, and my art is changing with me.

So I’m practicing new ways to be creative, and some of it isn’t painting either.  It’s ways to incorporate creativity into everyday life to keep that energy flowing.  Maybe you can try a few of these practices in your day, too:

Try a new medium

I moved from canvas to paper.  It’s a lot more portable and more forgiving too!  I can experiment easier and not worry about messing things up.  Also, it’s easy to pull it out really quick with minimum set-up.   Right now I’m using the Canson Mixed Media Pad (11×14) and I love it.  I’m also having a lot of fun playing on Canva (so much that I created a course on it!)  I create all of my blog images and online profile + post pictures there.

Use different supplies

I’m still using acrylics, but I’m using a lot more paint pens and these watercolor crayons.  The flexibility of these supplies is inspiring!  And it’s challenging to incorporate my usual style with new tools (which is good for me).

Dress with intention

Whenever I go out, I try to put on clothes that I love and that make me feel good.  I’ve been purging a lot of old outfits to make room for more ease.  Lord knows I wear the a lot of the same pieces over and over, but at least I really love them.  And at least I’m not bogged down with the clutter.

Take more pictures

I have a Samsung Galaxy phone and love to take pictures with it because the camera is awesome!  Not only can I use the images for blog post background images, but it creates a photo memory of my days and it’s fun to look back and see what interesting views I’ve captured.

Write Down Thoughts As They Come Up

My memory is short these days so when I think of a clever idea I have to write it down immediately.  And even when it’s not so clever, but I feel like there’s something more to explore, I write that down, too.  It’s along the lines of, “entertaining the muse when she shows up” and not judging my ideas right away.   Otherwise if I don’t write things down,  it escapes into the air never to be remembered again 🙂  These days, I’m loving google keep for this.

Look at art videos

I love looking at Flora’s work, I could watch her all day!  And she always gives me new ideas when I watch her paint.  I also love the artist video posts on Stampington, especially the ones about new supplies.  Painting videos really spark my creativity when I’m feeling a lull.

Connect online

I have a private Facebook Group and the sole intention of it is to create a space to share our creative projects.  It’s fun and low pressure to be a part of and gives just the right amount of inspiration and support.  I love popping in to see what everyone has been up to!  The community is growing, want to join?

So those are just a few ways I keep my creativity flowing everyday. I try to change it up/add new things periodically to keep it fresh and fun. Do you have a daily practice that keeps your creativity flowing?  Come over to the group and tell us about it.

Love, Steph

January 9, 2017|Art Stuff, Personal Development|