Happy Holidays!

A vacation is having nothing to do 
and all day to do it in.
  - Robert Orben

Have a wonderful Holiday!

Until next week,

101 Places I Find Creative Inspiration

Are you stuck staring at blank paper? Need inspiration?
Here are a 101 of my favorite inspiration generators.
See if one will spark something for you!

Until next week,

  1. Create new Pinterest boards, search your topic or browse their "popular" category
  2. Flip through trade, home décor and craft magazines like Somerset Studio, Digital Studio, Anthropologie and Better Homes and Gardens.
  3. Flip through fashion and lifestyle magazines like Architectural Digest, Vogue and Travel and Leisure
  4. Flip through shopping catalogs like Crate and Barrel, Sundance and Garnet Hill
  5. Google random topics and scroll the "images" tab
  6. Watch your favorite TV show
  7. Watch a new TV show
  8. Watch a foreign TV show
  9. Watch a vintage classic TV show
  10. Listen to your favorite music
  11. Listen to International music
  12. Listen to Holiday music
  13. Watch an MGM movie musical
  14. Go to theater to see a play
  15. See a movie
  16. See a concert
  17. Read a new book
  18. Reread an old book
  19. Browse independent boutiques 
  20. Wander a mall
  21. Shop a department store
  22. Go to an art gallery
  23. Visit a college gallery
  24. Go to a Children's Film Festival
  25. Go to an International Film Festival
  26. Take a nature stroll
  27. Go on a hike
  28. Wander a toy store or toy department
  29. Search other artist's websites
  30. Search online art galleries 
  31. Visit a museum
  32. Look through your clothing accessories
  33. Look through your jewelry
  34. Wander a craft store
  35. Wander a furniture store
  36. Wander a fabric store
  37. Search topics on Instagram
  38. Look up artists on Behance
  39. Visit a plant nursery
  40. Arrange loose flowers in a vase
  41. Visit a historical site
  42. Take a long drive 
  43. Go somewhere new
  44. Wander the makeup isle in a drug store and look at the ads
  45. Look up the flags of the world online
  46. Visit a library
  47. Wander a book store
  48. Flip through random magazines
  49. Look through greeting cards
  50. Join a coloring group
  51. Google "the meaning of colors"
  52. Google "exotic destinations" and click on the images tab
  53.  Visit your local Audubon Society
  54. Look at scrapbooking papers at your local art store
  55. Look at the yarn isles at your local craft store
  56. Go to a sporting event
  57. Look at your favorite Facebook pages
  58. Write in a journal
  59. Interview someone
  60. Go to the gym
  61. Meditate
  62. Do yoga
  63. Take an online class
  64. Take an in-person class
  65. Gift wrap something
  66. Take pictures
  67. Take a sketch pad and sketch at the beach, the park, the mall
  68. Find inspiring blogs online
  69. Learn something new
  70. Make a list of things you would like to do or try
  71. Make a mood board with pictures and drawings
  72. Look at past work
  73. Make a list of your favorites…color, song, trip, food, etc…
  74. Do something "just for fun"
  75. Do something nice for someone else
  76. Do something nice for a stranger
  77. Browse "print on demand" sites like Redbubble, Zazzle and Café Press
  78. Browse artists product sites like Teefury and Threadless
  79. Call a friend
  80. Find inspirational quotes online
  81. Keep a dream journal
  82. Try a new recipe
  83. Bake
  84. Sleep
  85. Watch YouTube videos
  86. Set a timer and write…5 minutes? 3 minutes? 10 minutes?
  87. Play with a child
  88. Have a cup of tea or coffee
  89. Learn about another culture
  90. Go to the water…ocean, lake, pool
  91. Start an artists group
  92. Try a new medium
  93. Keep an idea journal or scrapbook
  94. Join a group sketchbook project
  95. Search for artists studios online
  96. Doodle
  97. Get new art supplies
  98. Clean and reorganize your creating space
  99. Look through old photo albums 
  100. Learn  about different customs
  101. Create something (anything) for a set time (30 minutes? 60 minutes?) EVERYDAY.

Be Inspired, Art for a A Day Well Lived

Artwork by Pam Vale

Several years ago, I was introduced to a man with a vision, that also happened to share a Birthday with me. 

His mission was to help as many people as he could, appreciate their daily lives and celebrate "a day well lived" in whatever way that mattered to them.

We worked together and based on his thoughts, I created the art above to represent his new venture.

Recently, I was super excited to be scrolling on social media and spot my art translated into a beautiful piece of jewelry! (Which is now available on his site)

Below is a description of his mission and some links to see what's it's all about.

What would make a "Day Well Lived" for you?

Get involved. Get Grateful. Connect in this wonderful community.
I love creating art for positive, inspiring companies!

Until next week,

Gratefully Inspired! A celebration of a day done authentically & with gratitude. 
Please sign up for our weekly newsletter


A Day Well Lived was created in February 2012 to celebrate the events, people and experiences that, upon reflection, allow us to feel like we "did the day right." 

It's a reminder to appreciate things we might take for granted - like a walk with the dog, or simply sitting quietly in sunshine. A Day Well Lived is about being true to ourselves, and remembering that even on those days when everything doesn't go as planned, we can still feel good that we reacted authentically. Even the toughest days can be A Day Well Lived.

A Day Well Lived is personal, as we all have different ways to find our center. But, by sharing our own thoughts and experiences, we can learn and inspire. And doing that...is A Day Well Lived. 

If you're interested...you may read the blog post about why "A Day Well Lived" was created: http://toddlieman.com/2012/02/29/a-day-well-lived/

Follow us on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/adaywelllived

OneNote, One Perfect Little Organizational Tool

Over the years, I have managed to develop organizational strategies that keep me on task and on time. These work really well in all areas, except one.

I am a note jotter but I am not great with little scraps of paper. I'm a bit of a "pile-person", meaning that I am great at making piles of paper that I am sure I will look at… but never do.

Sometimes, trying to override that failed system, I will group small scraps of papers with notes into some kind of container…an envelope, a plastic pouch, a small bowl, a file folder, a binder pocket, etc.

This also never works.

I have tried to organize myself electronically but that had pitfalls too. I would email myself notes and then they would get buried in my inbox. I began to get organized with an app called Evernote and then they changed their service terms. I had a bad experience with their changes and lost faith in them.

Then…I got a new computer. I actually blogged about the new computer last week. I am in love.

I ended up with a Microsoft Surface Pro (amazing) and it had the full spectrum of Microsoft apps including a little gem called OneNote.

Being an optimistic person and a little desperate I decided to give it a try. I'm only about 6 weeks into my relationship with OneNote but I have to say that it has been kind of great so far.

Here are some of my personal likes:

  1. It works seamlessly on all of my devices and computers
  2. It was very easy to install on all devices
  3. It's free!
  4. There is virtually no learning curve and it is intuitive
  5. It's simple, user friendly and looks the same on all devices
  6. It updates almost in real time across all devices
  7. It's super fast and allows me to jot notes, create files and add content quickly and without a lot of effort. For me, this is key as ideas come to me rapidly and at inconvenient times

All that in only the first 6 weeks!

OneNote does a ton of other cool stuff that I haven't even explored yet but so far, I am really pleased with it.

Below I have also included their "official" description of what the app does. Check it out.

Do you have a favorite productivity app or program you use?

Until next week,

Official Description

OneNote is your digital notebook for capturing and organizing everything across your devices. Jot down your ideas, keep track of classroom and meeting notes, clip from the web, or make a to-do list, as well as draw and sketch your ideas.

TYPE, WRITE, AND DRAW • Write anywhere on the page and unleash your imagination • Use your device's pen or your finger to write and draw with multiple types of pens and highlighters • Take notes on a white background, or add a grid or ruled lines for easier drawing and writing

CAPTURE ANYTHING • Quickly take a note by clicking the Note button in the Action Center and on supported pens* • Send websites, recipes, documents, and more to OneNote using the Share Charm, Microsoft Edge, Clipper, Office Lens, and dozens of other apps and services

GET ORGANIZED • Search and find anything in your notes, including handwritten ink and the text in pictures • Quickly access your most recent notes, complete with visual previews of each page • One-click access to to-do lists with check boxes

MADE FOR TEAMWORK • Easily share your notebooks and notes with colleagues, family, and friends • Plan vacations, share meeting minutes or lecture notes with people around you • Edit notes together and see changes in real time

ALWAYS WITH YOU • Your notes travel with you whether you're at home, in the office, or on the go • Notes are automatically saved and synced in the cloud, so you always have the latest on all your devices • Your notebooks look familiar on all your devices, so you can pick up where you left off on your desktop, tablet, or mobile device

Check out the website, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and visit the blog for the latest news: onenote.com facebook.com/onenote twitter.com/msonenote blogs.office.com/onenote *Some accessories sold separately; hardware dependent.

Embracing New Technology. Reviewing my Microsoft Surface Book

I would like to preface this by saying that I am not a super "techy person". I know how to do what I need to do and then I learn as I go. 

We recently had a big electronic shake up in our house. We had some technology that was outdated or not functioning correctly, we had some needs that changed, we had some storage issues and we had some glitchy programs.

My husband and I both use our computers for work. Him for research and teaching. Me for art, design and marketing.

We decided to take a trip to Best Buy "just to look" (famous last words). We had some loose ideas and a few directions we could go, as far as what would be replaced, what could be upgraded and who would get what, between my husband and myself.

It was a successful trip and this is what we decided. My husband took my old MacBook Pro, our oldest son got my husbands older MacBook Pro and I ended up with a shiny, huge new laptop (the HP Envy) with a special graphics card and other features we thought would help with my art and design business.

I began setting it up and transferring everything over, a task I do not enjoy. It wasn't long before I started having issues. Overall the battery life was terrible and it seemed like it wouldn't hold a charge for more than a couple of hours. For me, the interface was clunky and not intuitive, my programs didn't run smoothly and it was very glitchy. Physically it was huge which I thought would be a plus for creating artwork but it was so heavy it actually hurt my legs when I would work with it on my lap and it was too big to tote around. 

I hated it.

Back it went and we widened our scope.

We didn't know anything about the Microsoft line of laptops but got a super knowledgeable salesperson. After lots and lots of questions and a little "test drive", I went home with a new Surface Book which was almost double the cost of the one I returned. Agh!

This was part of my super quick, in-store test drive.

Well, someone was watching over me on this purchase. I was officially in love.

If you are in the market for a new laptop for your creative business, I highly recommend you look into this device.

It is a combination of many things….a traditional laptop, the back removes and becomes a tablet and drawing pad, it has a touch screen and a digital "pencil".

It's light and east to transport.

It is more responsive than my Wacom Bamboo digital drawing tablet and I have more control over the pencil accessory.

The graphics card thingy (technical term) makes running Photoshop a breeze. It opens so fast!

I am able to sketch directly on the screen with almost as much precision as with an actual pencil on paper. I am sure that will just improve even more with use.

The learning time period was super quick and it felt natural right away.

The keyboard is so comfortable to use. It is very similar to the Macbook Pro but actually feels smoother and quieter.

Overall, the design of the laptop is super sexy with this cool snake like hinge.

It took me a little while to figure out that the digital pen attaches to the side with a strong magnet but it's perfect for storage.

And best of all…the battery lasts forever! Well, not literally forever but I haven't run out of battery while working unplugged, using Photoshop for hours and hours and hours. I think they claim that the battery will last from 8-12 hours. I believe it. 

So far, it's a dream.

Below are some images I created with my new technical love.

Have you used this machine?

Until next week,


all rights reserved Pam Vale 2016, www.pamvale.com

Does Knowing The Process of Art Make a Difference in How You Feel About the Price?

Last week, I stumbled upon the video above, illustrating the process of creating handmade paper parasols. I was kind of blown away by the number of steps and the amount of hands that it took to complete each one. I guess I never really thought about how they were made.

Also, with all of the advancements in technology, it's easy to forget the time and talent that can go into making some items by hand.

It made me wonder if clients might understand how an artist prices their work, if they knew what actually went into it. All of the stuff you don't see. It's true that a skilled artist can make creating look easy.

Throughout my life, people have often told me that I make what I do (creatively) look easy. Often, at this stage of my career, what I do might even feel easy for me.

You don't always see all of the years of experience, education, trial and error, mistakes, money, headache, successes, etc… that came before that "easy" moment.

While some might not appreciate the skill and cost of preserving "crafts", this video is a perfect example of how much can go into hand crafting a simple, functional item.

For me, it definitely sheds light on how and why some things are priced the way they are.

Would thinking about how something was made or how many hands touched a product you were going to buy make a difference in how you felt about the price?

I'd love to know what you think about the video.

Until next week,


Artists Helping Artists, Coloring for Daniel Savage

I'm in several coloring groups on Facebook where I can interact with fellow coloring book artists and the colorists that purchase and color our products. It's a great way for me to connect with the "end users" of my art and get a feel for what they enjoy coloring.

About a month ago in one of the groups, I saw a call to help a fellow artist (Daniel Savage) that was facing some serious, life altering health concerns. A private group was started and a plan to help was hatched.

The result was twofold.

The first was 32 artists coming together by donating art in the hopes of creating and publishing a collaborative adult coloring book that could benefit his family. Less than a month later, that plan has been realized!

The second was helping to complete his own adult coloring book that he had in the works when he got sick. That too is done and available to purchase.

Please see all of the details and links below and feel free to share this. 100% of  royalties will go to his family to help at this difficult time.

I love using my art for things like this!

Here is a peek at two colored versions of the page that I donated.

Artist: Pam Vale
Colorist: Melissa Bradley 
Artist: Pam Vale
Colorist: Jenn Petracca 

On a personal note, here is a post from Daniel's wife, Mary, from November 10, 2016:

"We have been bursting with incredible news and it is finally time to share it with everyone! Today is Daniel's 44th birthday and as a huge gift to him, 32 amazing artist's, including our ten-year-old daughter, Katie, have gotten together and helped us finish Daniel's adult coloring book that he has been working on but became too ill to finish. Today, on his birthday, Daniel's book has been published and is available for sale on Amazon! Gnomes: An Adult Coloring Book of Gnomes Throughout Time is available here... http://amzn.to/2fGzeJe

These astounding people have also put together an amazing collaborative adult coloring book that is also available on Amazon and all proceeds from this second book will go to our family to help offset some of the costs of Daniel's health crisis. Coloring for Daniel: An Adult Coloring Book for Hope, Strength and Healing is available here... http://amzn.to/2fVSJm5

We are so proud of Daniel and Katie and humbled by the incredible generosity this group of artists has shown our family. Please take a minute and check out these two coloring books and if you have a chance, please try to share this post or create one of your own so we can get the word out far and wide and hopefully sell some books!"

Thank you so much to everyone involved in this project to help support Daniel and his dream of publishing an adult coloring book!"

 An Adult Coloring Book for Hope, Strength and Healing
35 coloring pages by 32 artists who have come together to honor a fellow artist and to make a difference in the life of his family
  • Each coloring page is printed on a separate sheet to avoid bleed through
  • 60 lb bright white paper
  • Hours of coloring pleasure
  • Each coloring page is designed for Fun, Relaxation, and Stress Relief
  • 100% of proceeds donated to the Daniel Savage family

Artist Index
  • Agy Wilson
  • Annyce Turlea
  • Antonina Kalinina
  • Cece Raven
  • Color Me Forum
  • Collette Fergus
  • Creative Life Studios
  • Cristin Frey
  • Genevieve Crabe
  • Hannah D'Agostino
  • Heather Johnsgaard
  • Heidi Berthiaume
  • Julie Thompson
  • Kim A. Flodin
  • Lianne Lynch
  • Ligia Ortega
  • Linda Franklin
  • Margaret Gates Root
  • Maria Wedel
  • Mary-Margaret Marx
  • Olivia Julius Dunggat
  • Pam Vale Branch
  • Paola Minekov
  • Samantha J. Decker
  • Sarah Clark
  • Shelah Dow
  • Steve Turner
  • Sue Chastain
  • Suzy Joyner
  • Teri Sherman
  • TigerLynx
  • Katie Savage

How to Find and Organize Ideas for Your Creative Newsletter or Blog.

When I started my weekly newsletter, I needed ideas and nothing was really flowing. It was so frustrating.

Thankfully I found a tremendous amount of inspiration and direction online.

I am happy to share some things that have worked for me. I hope you find them useful.

How to Find Ideas:

  1. Search for list ideas on the internet. There are an unlimited amount of blogs and websites that have long lists of newsletter and blog post writing prompts. Not all of them will apply but they are sure to spark some ideas and help you think outside of the box. CLICK HERE for an example.

  1. Start with a catchy title or phrase. Sometimes it's better to work backwards, finding a current event, headline, phrase or saying and then crafting your piece around that.

  1. Go back and look through old work. I have found a lot of inspiration looking through my past work. There might be a project I forgot about or some process or outcome that was unexpected. Sharing your progress and growth can be fun too.

  1. Share your favorite things. This can be really anything, as I believe that all of our experiences and preferences apply  to our art. How have your favorite things inspired your creative process?

  1. Look at Holidays and Special Events. Keeping a calendar of upcoming holidays can help generate post ideas. On the flip side, you can share about different aspects of personal special events.

Newsletter tips:

Based on research, below are some suggestions to keep in mind when crafting your newsletter and blog posts.

  1. Keep it brief. I think this might be the most important tip of all. Your readers are busy. Super busy. Give the information in a brief format or they will move on. 

  1. Keep it simple. Narrow your focus instead of trying to cover too much material in one issue. Maybe spread out your ideas over several issues or posts.

  1. Don't overthink it. It's so easy to get caught in the trap of complicating things or to think that we are not enough. Someone will benefit from what you have to say. Stay focused on the act of sharing instead of the possible outcome.

  1. Edit yourself. More is not always better. After you write your piece, step away and then come back to it later. That can really help you see the parts that are not absolutely necessary.  Delete those and even re-work what's left to condense and abbreviate.

  1. Proof everything multiple times! This cannot be stressed enough. Read it, reread it and then read it again. If you can, have another set of eyes read it as well.

How to organize and store your ideas:

Chances are that awesome ideas will hit you at odd times and in unexpected locations. You might think you will remember them  when it comes time to sit down and write but most likely you won't. Below are some suggested tools and ideas for capturing your brilliant thoughts while on the go.

One Note - I recently started using this app/program but really like it so far. You can create folders and.access it on many devices which makes it easy to quickly store ideas and keep them organized. Right now, this is my go-to option.

Evernote - I know this app is very popular and has a lot of features, however they made some big changes not too long ago and now I don't care for it. It was what I used before discovering One Note but since their changes I have had a few bad experiences, including loosing a bunch of work I had just completed. They also started charging for some of their services that had previously been free. With that being said, I do think it's worth checking out and deciding for yourself.

Portable notepad - Go old school and keep a small notebook in your bag, next to your bed, in your car, etc… this is great for jotting quick notes and ideas but for me, I tend to forget where I wrote things. Also, loose pages don't work for me as I misplace them easily!

Binders - Creating an actual binder can be a good way to stay organized with your ideas. When I have little scraps of paper with random notes, I can throw them in there so I don't loose them and have a batter chance of actually accessing them. This binder is also a great place to store any other details relating to your newsletter or blog, like colors or fonts that you use, passwords, upcoming holidays or special events, etc…

Emailing yourself - This is my last resort and actually now that I have One Note I am not sure why I would need to do this but it is an option and has served me in the past. I include the words blog post or NL (newsletter) in the subject line of the email so I can easily search for them in my extremely full inbox. Sometimes I just save the email as a draft.

So, there you have some of my favorite newsletter and blog post tips.

CLICK HERE to subscribe to my weekly newsletter!

Do you have tips or tricks for creating or storing content?

Until next week,


How To Create Your Own Travel Art Box

I recently saw this clever video on how to make a child's travel activity kit using a thin baby wipes box as the container. It was super simple, easy to customize and perfect to throw in a bag on the go.

It reminded me of an adult version that I created not too long ago. See what you think. Would you enjoy something like this? How could you tweak it to suit your favorite art medium or craft?

Step 1 - Decide what medium or craft you want to create your travel kit for.
I wanted something that I could use for drawing with pencil and ink but this could easily be adapted for coloring with colored pencils or markers.

Step 2 - Collect your art/craft materials.
In order to know what size your travel container needs to be you need to know what you want to put inside of it. Focus more on the static items and not the ones that can be re-sized, like paper.

Step 3 - Find a container.
I had a sturdy box with a lid from some pretty note cards. It even had one of the blank cards attached to the front. You could also use empty baby wipes containers, folio pad holders, mini hinged lunch boxes, even a tin mint holder could make a tiny travel art kit. 

Step 4 - Add your supplies to your container.
I had a little clipboard that was attached to a greeting card but you can also find them at stationery stores. I cut a small stack of my favorite paper to fit on the clipboard. I also cut a small folder out of card stock to hold and protect my completed drawings until I got home. 

I didn't secure my supplies inside the box but I have seen where others added strips of elastic or made little pockets to hold pens and pencils. The lid of my box closed tight but your could tie ribbon or wrap elastic around it to keep it closed in your bag.

That's it! I can throw it in my purse and draw anywhere.

You can search Internet sites like Pinterest for a massive amount of ideas or you can just keep it simple.

I'd love to know your ideas!

Until next time,

Grow Your Art Business. 8 Tips for Self-Publishing with Createspace

Createspace is a division of Amazon and offers artists and authors the opportunity to self publish and sell their work. A revelation!

It is an amazing leap in technology and has helped many creatives start and grow independent businesses.

One large perk is that your books can be sold through Amazon and are eligible for Prime and international shipping.

There are countless ebooks and articles online on how to use Createspace but I just sort of learned as I went. It's pretty user friendly and walks you through the steps needed.

It was an exciting day when I received my first proofs in the mail! 

8 Tips

Here are some random tips I can share from my experiences related to publishing my collection of coloring books and journals.

1. Have all of your content ready and photos formatted before you start working on the site.

      2.  Take advantage of their free formatted interior templates when you are building your book.

      3.  Get a sample of each cover finish. I read a lot of reviews where people didn't care for the matte covers and I ended up loving them. My customers have commented positively on them as well.

      4.  Utilize the footers in the formatted templates to easily feature your website or other contact information. In my first few books I didn't know what to do with them and deleted them all. Agh!

      5.  Have at least one other person (preferably more than one) proof everything for you. Proof  it yourself multiple times...and then one more time!

      6.  Plan your cover with the thought that your books might be displayed in a holder. For example, don't place important copy at the bottom. 

      7.  I use cover templates provided by a site called Bookow. You enter your book size and number of pages and they email you a template that is the correct size. I open it in Photoshop and build my cover design in layers right on top. All of the margins and measurements are provided for you. As of this writing, the templates are free, with a request for a small donation via Paypal toward the running of their site.

      8.  You can create your book in many different sizes but there are only certain standard sizes that can be sold through all of their sales channels. They have them listed on their site.

For me, this has been a wonderful outlet for my art. I have loved creating every book and have learned so much about all stages of publishing. You can see my collection of coloring books and journals on my Amazon Author page by CLICKING HERE and see detail of the interiors on my website by CLICKING HERE.

Have you self published a book? Did you use Createspace? Do you have additional tips that could help other artists and authors?

Until next week,