Thank goodness it’s over – NOW what??

I have been working on writing a major grant request for the San Antonio Art League for two weeks – and that means no art for TOO LONG! But it’s finished and submitted and fingers are crossed. Hopefully, this will all be worth it, but I’m feeling rusty and stale and need some inspiration, a kick in the creative backside.

Coincidentally, an email just came in from Stampington publications about their upcoming challenges. My friends Lesta Frank and Lisa Stamper Meyer are often published in those magazines, and I am so proud of them! But I don’t want to jump back in to work too fast by trying to come up with an article. This challenge, however, caught my eye:

  • Miscellany
    Sometimes, an image of something lovely is all we need to feel inspired. Have you taken a photo of something that makes you feel inspired? Perhaps it is a photo of your collection of vintage handkerchiefs. Or an old stack of books. Or your treasured stash of ribbons. Please submit your favorite digital images (5″ x 7″ @ 300 dpi) to be considered for Somerset Life’s special Miscellany department to the Editor-in-Chief at
    Deadline: Ongoing.

So this morning on my first day of freedom from grant writing, I took my phone and went around the house finding little shards of collections, tools, ideas – well, “miscellany.” Not sure whether I’ll submit any of these photos to Somerset, but it sure was fun reaffirming the things that make me feel creative. Here’s a photocollage of nine of the pictures I took while wandering around my spaces.

Little shards of stuff around my house and studio

I found this to be a really good exercise for several reasons:

  • It makes you really look at stuff you walk by every day and take for granted
  • It makes you think about what you like – and why
  • It helps you revisit old ideas that have new potential
  • You don’t actually have to make something – you’re curating what you have with a fresh eye.
  • You can think of it as homework, and you feel like you’re accomplishing something –  plus, it’s fun

I encourage you (especially if something has kept you away from your creative self for a while) to try this. Heck, go ahead and submit those photos to Somerset – what’s to lose?! A kick in the creative backside is a good thing.

Some other challenges from Somerset:

Somerset Life aims to demonstrate how easy it is to add a touch of beauty to our daily lives, whether it is through a simple craft project, or an inspiring essay that shares how to find the beauty that already exists. Our mission is simple: make the ordinary extraordinary. For those looking to be a part of this bestselling publication, we have a number of ways to do so. We are currently looking for artwork submissions in the following categories:

  • Life Creative Spaces
    Where do you create? Whether it’s a small table or breakfast nook, cleared-out closet, or an actual room dedicated as your creative studio, we want to peek inside. If you think your creative space is something that Somerset Life readers would like to learn more about, please submit digital images of your space with a brief written query to the Editor-in-Chief at If the submission is accepted, you will be asked to furnish professional hi-resolution images (300 dpi at 8″ x 10″).
    Deadline: Ongoing.
  • Artful Kits
    We all love to collect papers, ribbons, embellishments, and other bits and bobs. More fun than collecting specific elements is finding creative ways to juxtapose the pieces together to create unique kits. Whether you create them to give away or to sell or offer to students in a workshop setting, we’d like to see your favorite kits. Please send in kit samples directly to the Editor-in-Chief as outlined in the Submission Guidelines.
    Deadline: Ongoing.
  • Creative Living Ideas
    In each issue of Somerset Life we share 10 Creative Living Ideas, and we show quick and easy ways to add a touch of beauty or creativity to your life, or perhaps someone else’s. Maybe you have a clever way of packing a sack lunch, or you have a developed a creative way of saying “Thank You” to a friend. Please send in samples directly to the Editor-in-Chief as outlined in the Submission Guidelines.
    Deadline: Ongoing.

Click here to download our guide for submitting photographs. It will also show you how to convert images to the correct size and resolution for this publication.



Assignment: refocus through a creative challenge

After week of extremesextreme dismaythe fire near the Studio that caused so much damage to othersand extreme joy fantastic time with Clare O’Neill, more pics to come – I’m ready to get back to some new artwork. But it always takes me a while to re-focus. Does that ever happen to you?

So here’s what I did this morning – I collected some random stuff from my work table and arranged it like a collage. Easy. I photographed it, then gave myself a challenge – make something out of (or inspired by) this pile o’ stuff.


Here what I have to work with:

  • watch parts
  • copper wire
  • A very cool stained paint rag
  • a face shard (or course)
  • a bird wing
  • a paper scrap
  • glass beads
  • a wooden egg

My assignment – MAKE SOMETHING. First thought – print and mount the photo for an encaustic pieceeasy. Harder would be to make an assemblage sculpture, or a huge acrylic abstract painting based on the colors and textures — so what would YOU do?

Your assignment – Email me a pic of some of your small random studio stuff, no more than ten items, It shouldn’t be contrived or exotic – a tuna can, a twig, some lace, whatever – and then tell us what you’re thinking about doing with it. I’ll post the pics of the “ingredients” first. Then, in a week or so, I’ll ask for a pic of what you have done with them, sort of like an online Show and Tell There will be a prize involved!

PS Speaking of Show and Tell, don’t miss the next one at Lyn Belisle Studio on Saturday, January 30th from 2-4!


Extraordinary South African photographer shares his work freely

Being a visual kind of person, I’m always on the lookout for photos that inspire like those that my friend Ramesh takes. I’ve shared with you one of my favorite online sources – it used to be called Stock Exchange, but I think Getty bought it and now it’s called Free Images. And the photos are (blessedly) still free! And searchable! If you join (yep, free) you can access the high-res images from photographers from all over the world.

I was searching on Free Images this morning and just discovered a South African photographer whose pictures I had seen and used before, but had never really looked at his complete online gallery. Wow! His name is Sias van Schalkwyk and he goes by “doc.”

I encourage you to check out his work and his website  – particularly his shots of African people and birds. What a remarkable conservationist and photographer. Thanks, doc!