Wednesday, June 29, 2011

We Are ALL Creative (yes...even YOU!)

Free Spirit Spotlight Graphic
Today, I bring you a Free Spirit Spotlight interview with the lovely, amazing, and truly talented Stephanie Levy.  She is an American artist and mom who lives in Germany with her family.  Her creative energy is infectious and her lifestyle is an inspiration.  Stephanie reminds us that we are ALL creative and that it is important to face our fears and make space for self-expression, exploration and new discoveries! 

*Photos provided by Stephanie Levy.

Tell us a little about yourself and your creative life.
Hi, I'm Stephanie, an artist/illustrator originally from Tennessee, and for the last 15 years I've been living in Germany.  I have two little girls and a German artist husband, and we live and work in a 1920's style apartment in central Munich.  I love to travel, to cook and share recipes, and to make artwork - mostly collages.  I am developing a couple of new projects this year that will incorporate a bit of everything I love...which is exciting, but challenging, too.  I also enjoy meeting and communicating with fellow artists, designers, and crafters, and I love how the Internet has made this so much easier on a global scale.


How did you come to a place where you embrace yourself as a creative being?
I have been interested in drawing, painting, writing down stories, baking cookies, and making things for as long as I can remember.  I suppose I started as a child and just never stopped.  I sometimes think I have never really grown up.  I've worked as a freelance artist and I've taught art classes, but I've never had a "real/corporate" job.

I have always been involved in a variety of creative projects, and fortunately my interest and energy has continued through the years.  I truly believe - I know - that we are ALL creative.  There is no doubt in my mind about that.  It is just a matter of staying creative and not letting the challenges of life crush the energy behind the loves and passion we had as children.  Picasso said, "Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once he (or she) grows up."  And he was right.


What's your favorite art medium for self-expression?
I love collage because I can use such a variety of different materials - paint, ink, papers, glue, found objects - and combine them in unique ways.  It's a little like putting together my own puzzle whenever I create a new collage.

What is a free spirit to you?
A free spirit is someone who realizes that we are all free, or at least have the potential to be free in our minds.  Most of our personal boundaries are limits we create for ourselves. Too often fear holds us back from going after what we really want.  A free spirit tries to live out her/his passions, her/his true path, as honestly and deeply as possible.  There is no such thing as security in this life, so you might as well go after what you love most.


Where do you get your inspiration?
I am inspired by the countless number of creative people I see on the Internet every day - people going after their dreams, starting businesses, sharing their creative and personal ups and downs, the beauty they find in daily life.  It is incredibly exciting - you just have to be careful that you don't spend all of your time surfing and becoming hypnotized by what other people are doing.  You do have to turn off your computer and get up and go do your own thing - and then share it generously with the world!

My children also inspire me to no end - my daughters love to paint and draw and are without question the most prolific artists I know.  They sit down and just make, make, make without feeling that they have to complete a masterpiece or something that will "sell" or "go viral" or whatever.  They just make for the love of making - and that is the ultimate inspiration.


How do you manage to find time and make space for your creative projects and do you have any tips to share?
This is the big question for most of us, isn't it?  With two small children, it is not easy to find loads of time each day.  So I just try to use the time I have as well as possible. Sometimes there are dishes or wash or laundry to fold - and I just leave it and go to my art table anyway.  If I cleaned all day long and had a home that was spotless 100% of the time, I would never have time to make artwork.  My girls have an art table in the middle of our "studio/workspace/living room" - so they can draw and be creative while I am working. It is a fairly unconventional idea and probably not for everyone, but it works for us.

We live in the city and have limited space now, but I do hope that we will be moving to a larger living space within the next year.  My dream would be to have my own separate workroom and studio where I can really spread out and make even bigger messes!

What would you say to those who want to live a creative life and find their artist within, but don't know where to being?
Trust yourself.  Get quiet and ask yourself what it is that you really want.  *What do you really want?*  If you can get quiet enough to listen to yourself, then you will hear the answer.  You already know the answer, but you do have to listen.  And then you have to act.  Believe in yourself and take chances.  Go for it.

I recently read Martha Beck's Finding Your Own North Star and I loved it.  Martha is so witty and she has lots of exercises to help you clarify what exactly it is that you want to do - what makes your heart sing.  It helped me gain focus on some new directions I'd like to go with my work.  Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way is another deserved classic.  But it is not enough just to read these books - you must do the exercises  - at least some of them - and go forward in the direction of your dreams.  Step by step without fear. We have nothing to lose by expressing our creative souls; we only miss out when we don't.


What other creative fun are you up to these days?
I am working on two new projects that I am really, really excited about.  One of the projects combines two of my great loves - European travel and art. The other project involves an ecourse that will be packed with creative artist interviews - another way to collaborate and communicate with the wonderful creative community we have here via the Internet.  I see so many exciting possibilities for uniting people interested in arts and crafts throughout the world, and my latest projects are geared in that direction.  The best place to find out about what's happening with these projects during the upcoming months is on my blog.  I'll be announcing specific dates in my monthly arts newsletter as well.

I'd like to invite all of you to visit where I share my latest travel adventures, recipes, studio sneak peeks and artist interviews on my blog, Stephanie Levy: A Studio With a View.

You can sign up for my monthly newsletter HERE.

Thank you so much, Stephanie, for sharing your beautiful, creative spirit with us! it's time to get off this computer and go make some art of my own.  How about you?

Your Personal Reflection:  What inspires you and your creativity?  How about if you turn off the computer, the TV, and let go of the household chores today so you can paint, cut out images from magazines, knit or any other creative play that's calling you?  Keep it simple and have fun!

p.s.  NacherLuver is the winner of the last give-away.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Winner Is... (and another give-away!)

you are the winner (of the random drawing) 
for the first spot in my new 
Mothering with heART e-course!

And if you leave a comment by 8 p.m. (US Central Time) Sunday, you will have a chance at winning a spot in Amelia's upcoming Experimental Art E-course!  It is a wonderful, awesome, inspiring experience (I've taken it twice!) and you won't want to miss this opportunity.  (The course starts this Monday.)

Your Personal Reflection:  When is the last time you tried something new?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mothering with heART - (New E-course Give-away!)

painted heart page

There is no "right" path when it comes to mothering.  
The only path that is "right" for you is YOUR path.

I've mentioned before that I'm in the process of creating two new e-courses.  I'd like to give you a sneak peak today about one of them because I'm just so dang excited!  It's as though every cell in my body radiates when I think about it.  Seriously, it feels so right and I'm on such a flow that this course is pretty much creating itself. Which is exactly how my Inside Out e-course came to life.  (By the way, registration for the next Inside Out: A Creative Adventure of Self-Discovery begins August 1st.)

So, rather than keep it to myself, I have to share with you a few highlights that will be included in this life-altering, creative, mindful, joy-filled, pleasure-ride of an e-course, which I've scheduled to launch in October.

paint brushes

What is Mothering with heART?
The intention for this e-course is to inspire all of you mothers, mothers-to-be, or even those of you who think you may want to become a mother someday.  This course is about mindful mothering.  It will invite you to connect more deeply to your intuition while nurturing your children and yourself.  It's about listening more intently to your heart center and celebrating YOU as a mother.  It's about building your inner strength so you can continue to mother from within - the place that is all-knowing and comes from love - while you release and let go of self-doubt, and the need to seek external approval or validation. And you'll do all of this while enriching your creativity and making art with your children.

kestan painting

So often we as mothers put our needs last and we all know where that gets us over time, right?  Downright exhausted, frustrated, resentful, sad, overwhelmed, confused, lost... NOW is the time to take better care of our mind, body, and spirits as mothers.  If we don't put ourselves first, then who will?  If we don't listen to our hearts and let our hidden dreams take flight, then will they ever come to be?

If we, as mothers, continue to put our needs, desires and dreams last, then what kind of message is that sending our children?  Since children learn best by example, wouldn't it be a great lesson in self-worth if we took the time to build our own courage and inner-strength?  Wouldn't it be an amazing gift to our children if we teach them how to be confident, courageous, creative beings - ones that follow their own hearts and discover their life purpose and truly live a happy, fulfilled, vibrant life?

Of course that's what we all want for our children.  Yet if we continue letting our own dreams collect dust, then what messages, even on a sub conscious level, are we passing on to our little ones?

When I say put ourselves first, I am NOT saying you shouldn't take care of your children's needs!  Of course creating attachment, loving unconditionally and keeping our children safe is our job and our priority.  Being a mother of two small children I know how hard this job is. (Rewarding?  Yes!  But a very hard, tiring job for sure.)  And if I don't carve out time for my personal wellness and creative needs, then it's obvious I'm not living in balance - because everything just starts to fall apart.

painted hand

So as I fumble and practice and try, try again, I'm learning how to honor my own needs for creative self-expression while I raise my two little boys.  I'm learning how to listen to the whispers of my soul, how to manifest my personal dreams and how to let them fly NOW, rather than wait until the kids are grown.  And I've built confidence in my ability to listen to my heart while mothering.  I'm learning how to really listen to my intuition and to do what feels right for my kids, rather than just doing something because that's how "they," the doctors, the sleep books, the experts, other mothers say I should be doing it.  And I'm excited to learn, share and grow with all of you moms or moms-to-be who are passionate about mothering with heart, too.

Mark your calendars for a 7-week creative e-course experience where you will get to make art with and alongside your children, while at the same time be inspired to dig deeper into your heart and pull out what's ready to manifest.  You will build strength in your innate abilities to mother, enrich your creativity, and embrace your inner wisdom, beauty and joy...

Mothering With heART e-course
(Dates to be announced) - It will change your life.

roller in paint

This 7-week e-course includes:
  • weekly reflections on creativity & intuitive mothering, and inspiration on how to live your dreams and love your life.
  • weekly art projects (simple and green) to do with and alongside your children (of any age)
  • 3 "mom's-night-out" happy-hour LIVE chats with on-line community
  • 3 "mom's-night-out" art-night - art journaling projects for moms only (or moms-to-be) 
  • weekly healthy, organic, family-friendly vegetarian snack ideas and recipes
  • tips and techniques to help you and your children channel your true feelings in a number of positive ways
  • ideas to strengthen your mother/child bond through art and quality time
  • ways to practice stillness through journaling, breath work and guided meditation
  • ideas on how to clear and make space for what matters most in your life
  • access to on-line community of like-minded explorers from class
  • an opportunity to share, learn and connect with other like-minded women from all over the world
craypas close up

Why am I making this class?

Because as a second time mother I've been reminded of just how confused I was when I became a mom.  I read every baby book imaginable.  I talked to every doctor, child development expert, seasoned mothers... Not only did I doubt myself as a mother, but also I fell into a bad habit of putting my needs last.  After many months of tears and exhaustion finally something clicked and I saw profound shifts taking place in my life.  I started listening to my own heart when things just didn't feel quite right.  And the more I did that, the more I began to mother from within, and stopped looking for validation and approval from everyone else "out there."  

I see so many moms (of children of all ages) who are struggling.  Struggling to find balance. Struggling to find joy.  Struggling to find sleep.  Struggling to keep things clean. Struggling to find themselves among the craziness of family life.  Struggling to find meaning.  Struggling to find time or the energy to be creative. Struggling to hear the desires in their hearts.  Struggling to fit into their old pants.  Struggling to accept the gray hairs and the age lines.  Struggling to let go.  Struggling to slow-down.  Struggling to let themselves be something other than "mom." (I know these struggles from first-hand experience!)

Somewhere we adopt beliefs that allow us to put our dreams last, to run ourselves ragged, to live a stress-filled, activity-filled life, to stop listening to our heart, and to keep on going, day-after-day with a smile and make-up on our face.  And I'm here saying enough is enough.  Let's raise our children the way we feel is best for them and best for us.  And let's make sure we are taking care of our own personal health, creativity and wellness along the way.

I feel creativity is the gateway to our intuition and intuition is the key when it comes to mindful mothering.  And so I introduce to you my newest baby, my e-course experience

 - Mothering With heART.

Be Messy.  Let go of perfect.  Live Your Dreams.
Love Your Life.  And always...listen to your heart.

To win a spot in this new course, take a moment to leave a comment on this post to one of the questions below, by Friday, June 24th.  Join my Facebook page, or sign up for my newsletter, or send out a tweet about this post to be entered a second, third or fourth time.

Thank you for sharing this with all the mothers in your life!  I look forward to sharing this e-course experience with you! (More details to come.)

Your Personal Reflection:  What does Mothering With Heart mean to you?  What do you find hard to balance in your life?  What creative dream or inner yearning, in you, is waiting to be born?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bombin' Some Yarn

Yarn Bomb Felted Flower close up

I just discovered what yarn bombing is from my coolest-ever-mother-in-law.  As described in the new book, Yarn Bombing: The Book, "knit graffiti is an international guerilla movement that started underground and is now embraced by crochet and knitting artists of all ages, nationalities, and genders."  Beginners and seasoned knitters secretly "donate" a knitted creation in public spaces.  

Yarn Bomb Felted Flower knitting

I am so inspired and excited by this idea!  Do you think that pink flower in this photo is real?

Yarn Bomb Felted Flower  in flower pot

I hit the farmer's market this morning with the boys, my mom and sister and they helped me secretly drop off my first "donation."

Yarn Bomb Felted Flower in bush
International Yarn Bombing Day is this Saturday, June 11th.  So now it's your chance to join in on the fun!  Simply knit or crochet anything you'd like and tag a public space with your knitted piece.  Take a photo of your "donation" and share it online.  There are many flickr and Ravelry groups to share your yarn bomb creations, and also feel free to share with me on my new Free Spirit Knits flickr page.  I would LOVE to see them.

Happy knitting and sharing!

Your Personal Reflection:  What inspires YOUR creativity?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Helping Joplin, Missouri

Two weeks ago on May 22nd, a massive tornado ripped through the town of Joplin, Missouri, killing 138 people.  Joplin is about 150 miles from my home.  Kelly, a fellow blogger in my area contacted me for help in sharing the word about her art auction that will benefit the people who are now trying to rebuild their lives.

Rocky Mountains

To learn more and to make a bid on this beautiful photograph (framed and ready to hang), please visit K Sime Photo today.

I have also decided to bring back my Love print and will be donating 100% of the money raised to United Way to help rebuild Joplin.  

To see just a small glimpse of what the people of Joplin have been through, watch this video that shows a group of people taking shelter in a dark gas station, then watch this video as they revisit that same gas station after the storm.  This video shows you an aerial view of the damage.  

To learn more visit Joplin, MO Tornado Recovery Facebook page, and to help out in other ways visit Rebuild Joplin.

Any amount you can give, big or small, will help.  
Thank you.

Your Personal Reflection:  What are you grateful for today?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Smile! (and your chance to win)

ash on carsousel

This is what I call JOY.

Your Personal Reflection:  What makes you smile from the inside out?

If you are interested in winning a spot in my fall session of Inside Out: A Creative Adventure of Self-Discovery e-course, (or many other prizes) head on over to the Rhythm of the Home blog by Sunday to enter!

And check out my new summer project post Natural Playdough: Using the Garden for Inspiration