Impostor Syndrome & What Makes An Artist

I'm over starting every post with "The One In Which..."

It was fun for a while but it started feeling a bit limiting. It was a trick I used to get myself blogging again after feeling like blogging was too much work, and it helped A LOT but I don't need it anymore. Besides, "The One In Which I Talk About Artsy Restlessness" isn't exactly rolling off the tongue today.

I posted a vlog two weeks ago in which I talked about impostor syndrome. I had all these feelings about not being good enough to do what I do. So many teachers put up images of absolutely perfectly beautiful work. It's like everything springs out of them fully formed and absolutely gorgeous.

It's intimidating.

Most of my peers in the on line journaling/mixed media art world were artists before they started teaching. That is not the case with me. I was a writer before I started art journaling, and art journaling was something I took on so I could unblock myself as a writer. I didn't ever dream (or even imagine) that I would teach art journaling. I didn't ever even want to be a visual artist.

I came to art as a rank beginner in 2009 and dove into teaching because, essentially, someone dared me to. It was accidental - or maybe serendipitous  - and it was entirely unexpected.

This means that I STILL spend a lot of time feeling like what I want to create and what I'm capable of creating are just not jiving right now. I *do* feel good about how I have progressed over the years. I do see great progress in my skills. I do feel proud of how much I have learned and how I've integrated all I've learned into my own personal art practice. I feel really good about the content I create in terms of how well it facilitates ART as PRACTICE. I am very proud of the writing I do in the classes I teach - especially Book Of Days. I like my classes and if I weren't teaching them, I'd want to take them.

But I am also painfully aware of how much better I think everyone else is at the ART part of what I do.


Yes, expressive, and yes, done, but HOT MESS!

I have a few personal mantras that get me through those periods of time when I feel like I'm utterly deluded and should just pack it all in. One of them is "Enthusiasm counts" by which I mean that my enthusiasm for my chosen art form (art journaling) counts as a valuable contribution to the arena. Another is "Done is better than perfect". I pull this one out especially in reference to the weekly spreads I create for Book Of Days because sometimes I create a hot mess, and I have to cut myself some slack. Weekly spreads are easy if you're not ALSO editing, filming, creating screen shots, writing accompanying 'step-by-step' instructions, and formulating musings to go with the post. The fact is, sometimes I create something I'm not fond of, but I have to get it up there, so I have learned to live with these problem children that spring from my creative loins.

I think it's good for me. It's an antidote to perfectionism to throw up work I'm not crazy about and say WHATEVER ELSE HAPPENED THIS WEEK, I MADE SOMETHING! TA DA!

But the whole "It's about practice, not product" line is starting to getting old. I'm getting restless. I want to feel as good about the art part as I do about the self-inquiry part, the practice part, the encouraging part.

I want to love my art.

This week, I've been asking myself a lot of questions about symbols and meaning. I'm building a library of things I find beautiful and meaningful on Pinterest. I think of it as seeding the mud. The mud is my subconscious, from whence all art comes. The seeds are images, symbols, palettes - inspiration.

Right now I'm collecting things and I'm working up the nerve to start doing sketches of things - working out how to get these symbols into my own paintings in a way that pleases me.

This seems a bit counterintuitive to me at the moment because there's a voice in my head saying JUST PAINT - but I *also* know that a part of my restlessness comes from feeling like I'm in an art rut. I use the same images over and over again - mostly faces. Occasionally a tree. Bird stamps. I need to have a better stocked library of personal imagery to work with before I can "JUST PAINT' because otherwise, I'm just painting the same old thing over and over and THAT is BORING ME TO DEATH! *lol*

So, Pinterest!

Two days ago, I was all about birds and especially women with birds. Today it was 'fish' which led to 'Koi'. It feels like I'm learning my own internal language, and that's helping the restlessness a lot. It's also helping me to feel like I'm *doing* something to close the gap between what I want to create and what I'm capable of creating.

When you want a thing, it is extremely important to begin moving in the direction of that thing. Otherwise, I find myself getting bogged down in impostor syndrome and stinkin' thinkin' and other poisons. I can't really call myself an impostor when I'm actively moving towards having a greater personal library of symbols to work with, can I? I mean, I'm doing the work.

That makes me a real artist.

If you're doing the work, you're a real artist, too.

I'm an apprentice artist, for sure. I'm a beginner artist. I'm a baby artist. But that doesn't mean I'm *not* an artist. It means I *am* an artist.

An artist in progress.

I can live with that. :)






The One In Which I Recap January & Set An Intention For February {Photos + Video}

Bundled up because FEBRUARY

Bundled up because FEBRUARY

Yesterday, February 1st, was Imbolc. Imbolc is one of my favourite festivals on the pagan wheel of the year because it is a) dedicated to one of my favourite Goddesses, Brighid, and b) celebrates mid-winter.

Mid-winter means winter is HALF OVER and there's something very hopeful and uplifting about that despite the knee high drifts of snow to trudge through, and the air that hurts my face, and the constant hum of my space heater because it's COLD IN HERE.

I spend most of my time these days bundled up in flannel pajamas, a ridiculously over-sized plush robe, hooded sweaters and wrist warmers, wool socks, slippers, and a warm puppy attached to my person by her tenacious desire to always be snuggling.

It sounds kind of miserable when I put it like that, but it's actually kind of cozy. Boring sometimes, but cozy. And I have been absolutely excellent about ensuring that I leave the house at least once or twice a week for Open Mic nights, coffee with friends, solo dinners...

So, I know I left you guys high and dry there for a while...

I'm not sorry, though, because I've been living in the real world for a while where there is coffee and pixie dust snow flakes and trees that look like the bones of the earth and the sound of many people chatting at once, and music, and excellent food, and paint flung at canvases, and snuggles with the puppy, and binge watching The Fall on Netflix, and dishes to be done, and laundry to be folded - two things which give me an enormous sense of accomplishment. I know. I'm weird.

The latter half of January has been all about attempting to live in the world. Making friends as per my intentions for 2015. Nurturing friendships that I let fall off my radar because I had this story I was clinging to about sucking at real life.

I'm learning that I don't actually suck at real life. I'm good at real life. It's a balance thing, though, and that's what I suck at. I'm either 100% invested in my virtual world which leads to a lot of bleary-eyed staring into the cold light of a screen or I'm 100% invested in my meat space world, which leads to a dusty blog and a neglected newsletter.

Neglected newsletter and dusty blog aside, this was January.

Finding the balance. That's the trick. That's my intention for February.

What's yours?

In Other News

Book Of Days is making me ridiculously happy right now. Building a new lesson each and every week for 12 weeks creates a rhythm, a container, a cauldron of creativity that never fails me. I am in the throes of inspiration at all times, and that keeps my chin up even when I'm struggling with seasonal affective disorder and other nasty side-effects of it being THE DEAD OF WINTER.

All this colour is medicinal. Colour is to winter what music is to silence. I am in love with my art journaling practice.

I've also been rocking Life Book.

I'm still working on Week Five.

And I opened Moon Journaling.

I'm really loving this free offering in which I come to you every New Moon and invite you to join me in setting an intention, and arting from a place of new beginnings. You can find it free in my network. Here's the video for January New Moon. The new offering will go live on February 18th, so be sure and join in before then. xo

And that's my life right now.

Tell me about yours? I love to hear what's happening in your world. <3

The One In Which I Catch You Up

I have a lot to cover in this post, so bear with me. It's picture heavy and TL;DR. :)

I did a mini-retreat in December shortly before the holidays. This was the second year I checked into the Frederick Street Inn here in Kitchener for a few days of no work and lots of whirlpool baths. When I arrived, the lovely owner, Amanda, give me a big hug and helped me get settled in. The next four days were pretty much glorious.

This sums it up.


I took nine baths in four days. I am totally serious. :)

I also ate a lot and wandered a fair bit, and dug into one of those yearly planner things. Then I realized that I really don't want to do someone else's planner every year. I'd rather create my own! So that got put on my list of things to do in 2015.

I meditated a fair bit as well, and came to some conclusions. I work too hard. I take on too much. It isn't good for me to be so busy with content creation that I feel overwhelmed all the time. It's a good way to self-medicate, but I don't *want* to self-medicate.  I let go of Moonshine for 2015 and decided to focus on Book Of Days & Life Book pretty much exclusively, at least in the early part of this year. As spring arrives, we'll see what happens, but for now, I am working in a pared down way that allows for lots of personal work and healing.

2014-12-30 11.05.55Book Of Days began with Opening Ceremonies on Jan 1. The cover I created for my hand bound journal really reflects my desires for the year - simplicity, ordinary beauty, coffee rings. *lol*

Creating the cover really brought me into a state of readiness for the year ahead. I realized, as I was creating it, that I wanted to coast into 2015 without a whole lot of unnecessary fanfare or hooplah. I recognize the value in marking transitions from one year to the next, but my spirit was wanting to experience the transition in a gentler, less linear way than I might have done in the past few years. I wanted to acknowledge that while, yes, New Year's is a big deal, a new calendar year is a big deal, it is also just another day in a long, long cycle of days...

Something about the cyclical nature of each year felt really soothing and gentle to me.

I also wanted to put 2014 behind me without a whole lot of focus on what had transpired. I'm still so firmly IN what's been going on all year that it seemed disingenuous of me to call it 'over'. It is what is. I want to embrace what is. That seems a gentler path to me than treating it as though it was a closing door.

Doors do close, it's true, but what had been going on in 2014 would only spill through any cracks in doors I'd closed. It felt better to leave a portal open so that whatever needed to follow me into 2015 would have a way to do so. All the finality of releasing and closing ceremonies felt just plain *wrong* for me at this time.

I did, however, choose a word of the year. Joy. I was going to choose audacious, but that felt like way too much pressure. Joy felt somehow more in line with what my soul was craving. And, we're not talking about 'I WON THE LOTTERY' joy, either. We're talking about the perfect cup of coffee joy. The sound of the creek joy. The warm puppy and a good book joy.

Gentle would have made a good word, too, but it was lacking something so I embraced joy.

This is my first spread for Book Of Days this year:


It's a hot mess, but it's MY hot mess and I am in love with all that joyful colour.

Life Book got off to a gorgeous start. I am already behind, but the bonus weeks between 'main' weeks gives one plenty of time to play catch up. I got my warm up done, which was super fun and allowed me to focus yet more attention on my word of the year.


And the girls in my seekrit Life Book club are doing beautiful work as well. (In case you missed this: if you sign up for Life Book using my link (which is how I get paid for teaching), and then you EMAIL me to tell me you signed up, I will let you into our seekrit club house where I teach my Ultimate Notebook class + do Life Book alongside you all year. It's awesome!).

notebookHere's my ultimate notebook.

The thing with keeping a notebook for classes one takes is that not only do you end up getting more out of the class because you are better prepared to integrate what you've learned, but you also end up with a work of art in and of itself. The notebooks end up all fat and juicy with your notes, clippings from the PDFs, screen shots, and ultimately, images of your own work.

It really works for me, though I will admit there are times it feels like a bit of a slog to watch the videos first, take notes, cut and paste (literally as opposed to the kind we do on the web) images and snippets from PDFs, print images of works in progress to glue in, etc. etc....

But when I've done the lesson and I glue in the final image of my work, a sense of accomplishment unlike any other I've ever experienced (except maybe the one experienced after childbirth) takes over and I can't wait to do it all again with the next lesson!

I introduced this concept in Radiant (you can still register!) and it has really changed the way some folks take classes. I heard nothing but positive feedback about how the notebook helps a body really dig into course content. It's also kind of like 'keeping score'  in a visual and tangible way. When you're done, you can flip through the notebook and KNOW that you DID IT. Maybe not all of it, but enough that your notebook is a scrumptiously full bank of inspiration, ideas, and examples of your own progression as an artist.

New Year's was really special this year.

My Umfriend (formerly known as Manfingy formerly known as my ex) and I drove to Montreal on December 31st for smoked meat at Dunn's (a restaurant I remember from my childhood), and then to Ottawa to hang out with my daughter, sister-in-law, brother-in-law and niece.


We are family. Whatever else we might be, we're that, and that's okay with me.

I spent Jan 1 teaching my loves how to layer in the kitchen nook in Vivi's house. It was splendid...

We spent about five hours painting that day. I can't think of a better way to spend the first day of the year! Can you?


This is a not very good photograph of the painting I did while demonstrating layering techniques. It is my very first art of 2015 and I really love it. Vivi wants a print, so I'm going to send her one as soon as I get this one sealed and properly photographed.

I Said Farewell To Moonshine

As a bonus and a thank you to my loves in Moonshine, I created a painting for the first full moon in 2015 on camera:


This is an ode to joy and change and all things feminine. I loved creating it.

So how am I really?

I swing between perfectly okay and miserable, but I think that's okay considering there were a few months there where it was all miserable all the time. I am moving forward, one foot in front of the other, towards gentle joy. I am investing in my own art, spending time playing for the sake of playing, continuing in therapy, and letting myself be desire led wherever possible.

Yesterday, for example, after three days of zero human contact, I bundled up and braved the weather just so I could breathe the same air as other human beings.

bravingitI live in Canada, and often, in Canada, the air hurts ones face in the months between December and May, so yeah. Going out isn't often on my list of things to do during those months.

Last night, though? It was imperative. I needed to be out among humans, so I braved it and went. I got a new nude lipstick from Mac (with matching lip liner) a hair cut (just a trim), my eyebrows waxed, and a delicious dinner. A friend (not that kind of friend) met me at the restaurant and we talked for a few hours before I headed back home.

My mood lifted, but then sank again when I got a call from a family member in crisis. I had a lot of triggery feelings around what was going on there, and decided that I really could not be alone with all the feels for the rest of the evening.

Umfriend came over. We talked about what's going and I got to a place of calm and inner peace, and then curled up to watch an episode of Luther on Netflix (it's awesome, by the way). When he arrived, he came bearing gifts (all my packages go to his house since I don't have proof of address for my new place yet) - a box of Dina Wakley mixed media paint that I purchased from Artistcellar.

And that brings us to now.

I'm wearing flannel pajamas and sipping a mocha with whipped cream. I have done all my admin work for the day, so I'm going to paint. Umfriend is picking me up later and we're going to go for Pho.

And that's today.

And you? What's up with you? Tell me everything. xo



The One In Which I Say THANK YOU With Some Free Stuff & A Giveaway & A Coupon Code

Hiya. :)

Wow. That last post was a doozy, eh? And your responses were amazeballs. So beautifully witnessing and supportive. THANK YOU.

x a bazillion.

For the last couple of days, I've been all over the Internets answering questions, emails and PMs about my depression and where I'm at now. I also did something I've been wanting to do for a while:

bodbcI released Book Of Days Boot Camp into the world as a free offering.

Prior to this release, Boot Camp was only available to students in Book Of Days. However, it is such a wonderful program (one of the best things I've ever taught, really) and what I share in that class has been such a huge part of my recovery that I want to share it. For free. For all.

This class was created in my second year of teaching Book Of Days as an intensive in the art of mixed media art journaling and bookbinding. It was created so that instead of having to spend a lot of time in each video explaining basic concepts, each new session of Book Of Days could have a ready-made “art journaling immersion” that folks could dig into either before their session starts, or during the session. The session is organized into four chapters, which you will find linked below. The materials are designed to take you through the entire process of creating an art journal (called around here, the BOD or Book Of Days) & an art grimoire. The BOD is for art journal spreads and the grimoire is for experimentation with different mediums/techniques. Many of us use both in our creative practice, but you are welcome to use one book as you see fit.

As a student in Book Of Days Boot Camp, you are invited to use this material to create a regular creative practice. While many Boot Camp students move on into Book Of Days this is totally optional. Coupon codes will be provided in the classroom as new sessions of Book Of Days are released. Click here to snag-a-lag the free class with my thanks.

In Other News

Now that I've decided NOT to exit the planet, my teaching schedule will resume. I am so grateful that I have these offerings to keep me arting and anchored here. It is also a really good thing to have a way to pay my rent and buy my groceries. :D I have opened up Book Of Days for registration, and we will begin on January 1st with opening ceremonies with twelve weeks of arting to follow.

bod2015Book Of Days is an art journaling and memory keep class that  includes start-to-finish video instruction every week for the duration of the class (12 weeks), full colour printable PDF walkthroughs, journal prompts, support, feedback, and face time videos in which I bring you my whole heart.

In this first volume of Book Of Days this year, we will be exploring ordinary beauty. What beauty exists around us and within us that we might not notice unless we pay attention? This is a practice that I hope will foster gratitude and a kind of artist's seeing that will keep us inspired all year. This BOD session will include a lot of optional sketching which you can do or not do according to your own urges.

Every week starting January 5th, 2015 you will have access to an instructional and inspirational start-to-finish art journal spread with video content lasting anywhere between 30 mins to 2 hours. Each post will include journal prompts (to be used in written and/or art journaling) and some musings about that week's spread, snapshots of the spread, downloadable videos (yours to keep!), a full colour PDF walkthrough, and supplies information.

I do not own an art supply store, this class is not designed to market products. I will be encouraging you to use what you have, substitute where necessary, and discovery alternatives.

Boot Camp in and of itself is life changing. Book Of Days is that x a million. The practice, the community, the body of work you end up with is priceless.

Use coupon code bootcamp to get $30 off.


I have really left this very late.

Launching registration for a class like this should be done months in advance. Because I've only given myself a few weeks, I'm going to need your help. In return, I will enter you in a draw for a giveaway: A free seat in ALL the sessions of Book Of Days I teach next year. I've got three of these to giveaway, so here's how to enter:

Share the permalink for this post on Facebook. Come back here and comment that you did it.

Share the permalink for this post on Twitter. Come back here and comment that you did it.

Share the permalink for this post in a blog post. Come back here and comment that you did it.

Here's the permalink. Copy, paste, share:

If you do all three, that's three entries in the drawing.


Thank you so much for your help. xo


I will be opening Moonshine 2015 for registration next week. Watch this space or sign up for my newsletter for details.






Blank Canvas Blog Hop



It's September 14, 2014 and that's my date to share how I face the blank canvas. I've been reading my fellow cohorts posts on the subject and I'm so amazed by all the ways we have as individuals to face that blank canvas and make something where there was nothing.
Long before I was ever anything even resembling a visual artist, I was a writer and writer's block is not very much different from 'canvas block'. We talk, as writers, about the muse and inspiration as though it is a lover we must woo so that our work can continue. I hear artists using very similar language.
Here's the thing, though: inspiration is not, as we might come to believe, a fickle, fleeting power. I know that's akin to blasphemy, but after twenty plus years of creative practice, I know this to be true. Inspiration can be fostered. It can be kept simmering on the back burner, ready at any moment to be doled out in doses that are appropriate to our projects. 
Creative practice, intentional, structured, even *COUGH* disciplined is the way to ensure that whenever you meet the canvas, inspiration joins you in your creative endeavours.

Here's what my practice looks like:

bod2014v3.5.2I make art regularly and before I do, I have a little ritual that includes lighting a candle, using some sage smudge to clear my space and mind, sitting my butt down in my chair, and picking a colour - either paint or paper - to begin working with. I keep going until I'm happy, even if that means I have to come back to it later. I do this several times a week (sometimes for work related projects, sometimes for pleasure related projects) and it *never, ever fails me*.
The hardest part for a lot of us is beginning. I remember this from my writing days, and it was definitely true of my early painting days. Staring down that blank page or canvas is intimidating! Especially when you have absolutely no idea what it is you're about to create.
So, I stopped worrying about that. The what will take care of itself. All that's required of me is that I show up on a regular basis, and pick a colour. Boom. Things start to happen. Paintings come into being. Blank canvas turns to inner landscape revealed for the world to see. 
Another practice that keeps me creating without worrying overly much about the outcome (which is, let's face it, the most intimidating part of painting) is trusting my every instinct. If I find myself feeling like a particular symbol or word belongs in the painting, I don't worry about how it will look in the end. I put it in there. I trust it. I create it. If I lose it in the process of creation, I consider it an ingredient in what made the painting what it is. It may only be partially visible. It may not be visible at all. But dropping it in there is as important to the painting as the finishing details that make a painting a work of art.

It sounds easy, and at the core of it, it is:


Show up with intention.
Pick a colour.
Obey every instinct.
Actually mastering this process takes work. It takes making time to put your behind in the chair. It takes your willingness to make crap and keep pushing through until it isn't crap anymore.
Nike has it right. Just do it. Do it with intention. Do it with courage (which is not fearlessness, but rather, going for it despite the fear). Do it with abandon.

2014-08-12 14.37.39The blank canvas doesn't stand a chance!

I am so grateful that you stopped by to read! As a reward, I'd like to offer one lucky winner a spot in my Book Of Days Boot Camp class, which is designed to help you create an intentional practice that will eliminate all the blocks you think you might have around creating. To be entered in the drawing, please do one or more of the following and leave a comment for EACH task you completed.

1) Sign up for my newsletter here:
2) Get a free membership in my NING community here:
3) Share the shortlink to this blog on Facebook. The shortlink is:
4) Share the shortlink to this blog on Twitter.Voila! The winner will be announced on September 23rd!

And now, go play with my cohorts who have lots of insights, wisdom AND fabulous giveaways for you to enjoy!

Sept 8 ….. Karen Friedland
Sept 9 ….. Lezette Markham
Sept 10 ... Cynthia Patton
Sept 11Jennyann Carthern
Sept 12 … Friday Frenzy: Tori Deaux    Karen Friedland  Kiala Givehand  
Sept 13Jan Blount
Sept 14 Effy Wild <------YOU ARE HERE
Sept 15 Virginia Simpson-McGruder
Sept 16 … Dariana Cruz
Sept 17 … Susan Miller
Sept 18 … Grace Howes
Sept 19 … Tori Deaux
Sept 20 … Kiala Givehand
Sept 21 … Martin Arkenstone
Sept 22 … Nicole Piar


More Paintings + Bloom True {3/30}

I'm going to blog for 30 days straight starting May 1st. No biggie. If you want to join me, please visit every day and pop your link in the comments. 

I painted yesterday and today, so I have lots to show you!

First, there's this, which I've already posted all over social media, so you've probably already seen it:


"Freedom" - Mixed media on canvas - 6 x 8 inches

This was super fun to make. I started with a random, messy background with lots of splatters and drippage and then isolated the dragonfly shapes with matte paint. Added some metallic green swirls, and voila! Too fun!

Today, I did this:


"Bountiful" - Mixed media on canvas - 6 x 8 inches

This one started the same way the dragonfly painting didi with a really random mixed media background. Instead of isolating the shapes, I painted them on top of the background and then pushed back the areas of the background that took the focus away from the fleurs. This took about two hours of intense painting time with Adele singing heartbrokenly in the background. Very fruitful art session! While I was painting this baby, I used the extra paint to start a background for tomorrows painting, so I am already ahead of the game. Woot!

In Other News

static_140x140One of the only reasons I'm actually succeeding at getting the paintings done every day is because I'm a Bloom True alumni. That five week painting class totally changed my creative life and allowed me to take huge risks in my art, play with layer after layer fearlessly, and create things that I might not ever have other wise created. Bloom True is open for registration and, as an alumni, I'm also an affiliate, so if you've been thinking of taking it, I'd be pickled tink if you used my affiliate link.

While most of my finished paintings look *nothing* like a "Flora" painting, I know how deeply her methods influenced me, and how much more easily I surrender to the risk taking process, thanks to her class. I didn't go into it intending to paint like Flora, though my first few attempts were similar, as usually happens when you are under someone's tutelage. Once I got the basic fundamentals down, though, this painting process veered way, way off into my own style. I think that's the point of any class we take - start off by copying and end up with something that is distinctly our own.

Anyway, you can check out more about Bloom True here. 

AND! Check out this juicy video!

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