Musicals Fuel my Creativity

Last week I discovered a new-to-me musical.

I usually listen to music when I paint and draw. TV or movies can be too distracting and I find myself looking away from my work too often, causing me to loose concentration.

For me, music fills the background and sometimes inspires part of the creation. I like many genres but seem to gravitate towards easy listening, the great American standards and musicals.

I really like using Pandora because of it's ease of use and variety. I have discovered many new singers and songs that way.

Last Friday I was listening to our "Broadway Musicals" station and heard a very clever song. I wrote it down to share with my son later that day and looked up the play. It looked awesome and I proceeded to google all of the songs. It is filled with hidden and not so hidden references to a lot of other shows so, which I thought was really fun.

Unexpectedly, the show had just started its national tour and the first stop was about an hour away from us in Boston. It was running through the weekend...what timing! We got tickets and went that night.

All three of us LOVED everything about it....the music, the performers and the story. If you like campy, fun, upbeat musicals, I highly recommend you see it if it comes to your area. It was described as a cross between The Book of Mormon, Spamalot, The Producers and The Drowsy Chaperone and it totally lived up to that description.

The venue added to our overall experience. It was at The Boston Opera House. It's a grand, historic, showplace that has been renovated and restored to its spectacular, original glory.

I get so much inspiration and artistic motivation from visiting places like this. Sometimes the details are a little overwhelming for me to take in, so having pictures helps me process all of it. Everywhere I looked there was another amazing trim, finish or accessory.

Here is a link to the shows website and to the YouTube video of the song that started it all for us.

The show is called "Something Rotten".

See what you think!

Click here to visit their website
Click here to see the song "A Musical" performed

Until next week,

Bonus - Click here to read my past post on music to work by

Being an "Artist" is a Great Excuse!

Do what you like.
Wear what you like.
Decorate with what you like.

Just tell people you're an artist!

As I was packing up our holiday decorations, I decided that I wasn't ready to say goodbye to all of them.

I began thinking how a potential buyer would feel walking through our house and I wondered if they would think it was weird that I left some of my favorite decorations up all year.

But then I pictured the agent being able to say "well an artist lives here" and instantly my eclectic decorations, color choices and details would all be acceptable and make sense somehow.

As a child growing up with a parent in the entertainment industry, there was always a "certain way" to act and "appropriate" behavior for all situations. Maybe my art (as I call it) was my way to have control over my self expression.

Under the umbrella of being an "artist", I could do pretty much anything. There was a freedom in having that creative outlet.

Being an artist came with different rules and expectations. It gave me permission to express myself in personal ways and at the same time it put things in context for others to understand me.

It was almost as if with that title, you were put in a separate category. One that didn't have strict boundaries and one, that I found out much later, other's secretly wished they were in.

It never really felt like an option or choice for me. At the time, I didn't know any different. It was just who I was. But now, I see the reaction some of my choices receive and the reaction people have to other artists as well. I feel like we are seen through a filter.

Do you have something odd you want to wear? Do you have a vibrant color you want to use in your house? Do you like to collect items from past? DO IT! Don't wait for approval from anyone. If you like it, that's enough. 

Tell yourself you're an artist!

I believe we are all artists in our own way.

When you think of artists, do you have a more open, freethinking, expressive, personality in mind and do you feel like you would give an "artist" more leeway as far as what they choose to wear or surround themselves with?

Until next week,

What to Share in Newsletter vs a Blog Post

When I started my current weekly e-newsletter (click here to subscribe) I was so confused about what the difference would be between what I would share there vs what I share on my blog.

It was such a mystery to me, so I hunted and hunted in every corner of the Internet for the answer. What kind of content do you share in a creative newsletter as opposed to a blog.

Surprisingly, it was hard for me to find any specific guidance, which lead to procrastination and stress. I just couldn't wrap my head around what the difference was between the two.

Add to that the occasional "artist" self doubt, creating the thoughts "What does it matter anyway? …and why would anyone care about what I have to say or be interested in me and my process? Why would someone want to read both?"

It took looking a little outside of my creative niche but I did more research and started to cull together some ideas and suggestions that I will share below. These have helped me stay within certain parameters when planning and creating content for each platform. Maybe they will help you too!

Suggestions for both a creative newsletter and a blog:
  1. Keep it brief. Readers are busy and there is a lot of content competing for their attention.             
  2. Be professional but don't be afraid to write in your personality. After all, these tools are for people to get to know you.
  3. Read and reread your posts and writing. Edit and check for typos.

Blog post tips:
  1. Share content that is less time sensitive. Remember, this information might be found by someone a year or more from now when they search your topic.
  2. Share more universally interesting topics and content. Gearing your content to a wider audience.
  3. Create posts that are useful, like tutorials or tips. Share your expertise or process in a way that can help others searching for guidance.

Newsletter content tips:
  1. I guess my biggest (and most surprising) take-away is that the most popular and successful newsletters are not geared towards "selling" anything. It is more about connecting with your readers and developing a relationship.
  2. The writing in a newsletter can be more conversational, like a visit from a friend. People that subscribe are interested in what you do and who you are, so honor that with an authentic connection.
  3. Share time sensitive information, special events, new releases, exclusive deals and even a glimpse into your personal life. Reward your readers with something special for subscribing and reading.

My number one tip to organize my content:
I keep a running list of topics and ideas in one centrally located place. Right now, that place is the app "OneNote". OneNote works across all of my devices, making it available for a quick idea add at any time.

I have two file tabs in the app. One is titled "Posts in the works" and the other is "Used posts".

In the "Posts in the works" tab I create a new "note" for each idea and start the title of the note with "B" (for blog) or "NL"  (for newsletter). That way I know which direction the writing needs to go and can easily access ideas for both. As I use each topic I move it to the "Used posts" tab.

It's super simple and very functional.

As of this writing I have 15 blog ideas started, 4 newsletter ideas started and 2 that might be able to go either way. It makes sense that there are so many more ideas for my blog because those are not time sensitive. There are fewer for my newsletter because those are more current.

Do you have guidelines you use for blog or newsletter post content?
Do you have a useful way to organize and store your ideas?

I'd love to know what works for you!

Until next week,

Making Changes, One Minute at a Time

Do you think one minute can change your life?

Recently, my husband shared something that he had read about a Japanese practice called Kaizen. The principal of the practice is to choose something to do for one minute, at about the same time, every day. The task can be something for self improvement or even work related.

It made me think about all of the artists that I see participating in daily challenges and projects. I love seeing what other creatives do on a daily basis to build their skills and stoke their creative fire. I follow many that sketch or paint every day for a set amount of time or that focus on a specific medium. How wonderful to be able to look back and see your progress and growth. It also provides lots of new material for future jobs and projects.

I have always liked the idea of having daily rituals or joining a creative daily activity  but honestly, I usually start off great and then end up forgetting about it. I do "create" something every day (usually painting or drawing) but I don't count that because it's my love and usually my work.

It makes sense that doing something every day (no matter how small) will help to build a strong foundation for a new habit so, I started thinking about how I could use the tool of Kaizen in my personal and professional life and what habits I would like to establish.

The first thing that came to mind is that I really like the idea of meditating every day and always feel better when I'm done. The problem is that I often forget or don't chose to make the time for it. I might do it daily for a week or two and then forget about it for a month.

I find that meditation helps stimulate my creativity, so this habit would benefit me both personally and professionally.

One minute a day? I think I can handle one minute a day.

I am about a week in to my experiment and only missed one day…because I forgot. Agh! It seems that in the beginning, I might have to set an alarm.

I am interested to see where this goes, as right now it feels a little like a chore (defeating the whole purpose of meditation) but I am going to give it a chance and keep an open mind.

Is there anything you would like to incorporate into your daily life that the Kaizen, one minute a day practice could help with?

If you do a web search for "Kaizen, one minute practice" you will find a lot of reference material and can also read about the history of it.

Until next week,

It's Only January 3rd, Do You Already Feel Behind?

Have you noticed that along with the new year comes a flood of social media posts of resolutions and new work.

We are only a couple of days into the new year and already my feeds are full of new drawings, gym "check-ins" and projects started…all by other people.

Do you ever feel like you are behind and everyone else is way ahead of you?

Comparison paralyzes me.

It's sort of subtle at first and I might not even realize I am comparing myself but then I notice that I don't feel good about what I am doing…or I'm critical of myself or my work…or worse yet, I procrastinate, really badly! That is actually my first sign.

Because I have a creative profession, comparison can completely stop me in my tracks and make me wonder why I am even trying when everyone else seems to be better, further along, more successful, more creative or more talented than me.

When I feel like this, I have three things that help me.

First, inspirational quotes can get me back in my own lane and help to remind me that I am enough they way I am.

One of my favorites is…

“…there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.
And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”
― Martha Graham

Second, with work, looking at my past projects can help break the cycle of doubt that comparison can create. I find that I can easily forget how far I've come. A lot of times this can also spark new ideas making me forget about the doubt altogether.

Third, getting off of social media for a bit can help me to put the focus on my own creative voice and not what others are doing.

Do you ever feel like this? 
What do you do to stop the critical inner dialogue from killing your creative spirit?

Until next week,