dailyscapes :: the legend continues

I had thought my Dailyscapes project would have fizzled out by now. It hasn’t. I am currently on Day 38 and going strong! Others are even feeling inspired to join in over on Instagram! You are more than welcome to do that too. :)

If you don’t know what I’m talking about you can see the first week of scapes here, learn more about the project here, and see a little video demo for one of the most popular early scapes here.

Today I’m rounding up of some of my favourites. As you will see, they are not all ‘scapes’ per se; I’m using that term very loosely at this point. Sometimes it means still life, sometimes abstracts. That is the beauty of creating your own project, you get to decide the rules, or indeed whether there are any.

DailyScapes {TaraLeaver}

oil pastel


DailyScapes {TaraLeaver}

charcoal and blending stick

DailyScapes {TaraLeaver}

neocolors and iridescent pearl acrylic paint

DailyScapes {TaraLeaver}

acrylic and gesso

DailyScapes {TaraLeaver}

oil pastel and pencil


DailyScapes {TaraLeaver}

acrylic and pencil {and iridescent pearl again}


DailyScapes {TaraLeaver}

four days of flowers in containers
charcoal, soft pastels, and oil pastels in the last one

DailyScapes {TaraLeaver}

development of the way i did the previous flowers; coloured pencils

DailyScapes {TaraLeaver}

further development becomes ‘wiggly trees’
{this one has fairy lights and stands by a lake}

DailyScapes {TaraLeaver}

leftover acrylic and palette knife

how to decide whether an online course is for you


We are living in the Age of the Internet Course. I just made that up obviously but doesn’t it feel true?

The levelling quality of the internet means that anyone and everyone can create an online class and send it out into the world and enrich people’s lives with it. I think that’s awesome. I also get totally overwhelmed by what’s available and how much of it I want to do!

Obviously I create my own courses, and that takes a big chunk out of my time right there, but I am and always will be a student as well, so there’s ALWAYS a course or three I’ve got my eye on or am in the middle of doing.

I know I’m not the only one who experiences overwhelm with not just choice, but with signing up to things and then finding yourself double and triple booked and ending up with classes unused and nagging at you.

So I thought I’d share with you how I determine whether or not I’m going to spend my time and money on an online course, and share them with you here in case you could do with a similar checklist!

I know in a way it seems kind of silly and a great example of a “#firstworldproblem”, but with so much choice and only 24 hours in a day, if you’re of an endlessly curious mindset like me it could be helpful to have a frame of reference for your decisions.

I’ve looked at what needs to be true for me to say yes to a course, and although sometimes my heart is so completely certain that I sign up before I’ve even finished reading the information page, sometimes I need a bit more time to ascertain various other factors.

So these are my criteria for whether or not I go ahead and sign up for a course.


Obviously the desire is there, either because I admire the teacher, want to learn what they’re offering or both. But I’ve noticed there are degrees of desire; from “oooh that looks interesting, but…” through to “Quick! Where’s the Buy Now button?!”.

There is also the desire that is my magpie eye seeing something that looks cool, but that on closer inspection is more of a fantasy that can stay a fantasy, rather than something that I really need or deeply want to do.


This being also the Age of Busyness, I fall prey to ‘running out of time’ as much as the next person. Although in truth what it really tends to mean is I haven’t prioritised what’s most important to me. You must have noticed how things that are top of your inner list of importance always get done; I always manage to fit eating into my day, for example!

Now obviously an online course isn’t quite on a par with staying alive, but I think you know what I’m saying here. If you really want to do something, you WILL create space in your day or week to do it.

Another thing to consider is whether there is a live component to the class. Joining a class that’s still open but no longer involves the input of the teacher is no good for me. I find that if the group’s still active everyone ‘knows’ each other already, I feel behind before I’ve even begun, and being faced with the entire course content in one go is overwhelming in itself. I’m not so great at allotting time to things, so it works best for me to have the daily focus of classroom time and live assignments. If you work best at your own pace, want to sign up while it’s available and do it later, are more disciplined than I am, or don’t require feedback, this won’t be a problem for you of course.


This is usually either a big factor or not an issue. It’s not an issue when your whole being is calling for you to do this course, because you somehow know it’s going to enrich your life beyond even what the course description tells you.

It is a factor when you’re less ‘all in’ but still keen. So how do you decide?

I have two bank accounts; one personal account, and one for money that comes in from my online work. All the online courses I take are either art related or business related, both of which contribute to the growth of my work, so unless I decide that it’s a gift to myself {which sometimes happens if my biz account can’t take that kind of hit ;) }, it comes from my online earnings. This helps me decide because this account is still fairly fledgling, and therefore provides some limits!

Maybe you don’t have separate bank accounts, but you can still create a container, for example a monthly budget for investment in your personal and/or business growth, or use birthday money, or save up for a course you know is happening later in the year. And many courses offer payment plans too.

the bigger picture

One thing I like to ask myself when deciding whether to sign up for a course or not, is ‘does this serve my bigger picture?‘. What is it going to teach me that pertains to expanding my offerings or my skills, either artistically or in business terms? Is it something concrete or really just a bit of fun fluff? Not to knock fun fluff, but for me any course I take needs to serve a dual purpose in that although I of course want it to be fun and interesting, I also want it to serve my bigger picture.

I consider the big picture of my work {by which I mean both my art and my offerings}, where I want it to go, what I want to focus on right now, what I still need to learn, and also what’s most interesting to me, and then see if the course I’m looking at fits into that in a way that makes sense.


I make all my decisions ultimately using my intuition, since as we all know, it will always steer you right. I sit with the course concept and everything involved, and see how it feels inside. If certain questions come up I investigate them until I’m satisfied, or not, as the case may be.

My intuition is like the glaze over the whole painting; after all else has been taken into account, even if it all points to yes, if my inner voice says no, it’s no.

other considerations

Sometimes I’ve done all of the above and I’m STILL wavering. This generally means either that it’s not the right time, or it’s not the right course.

When this happens I will sleep on it, sometimes for a couple of weeks if there’s time before the course begins, or before the earlybird deadline if there is one. I will see if the course is likely to run again {be careful though why you’re asking this; are you really going to be less busy/have more money/feel less scared next time?}, and if it is and I feel relieved that I can wait, it tends to mean I’m not that invested and probably don’t need to do it at all. Of course sometimes later is better for me. I can check in with my intuition for that one too.

Another thing I sometimes do is see what other similar courses might be out there, and compare the feel of them, as well as all the practical elements like timing, pricing, length etc. This can help give a clearer perspective of the course I’m considering.

Sometimes I make a mistake. I have signed up for classes that turned out not to be for me at all. While it’s disappointing, I try not to dwell on the loss of money or time invested; I approach the material with as open a mind as I can, I take what sings to me and leave the rest, and then I let go and move on. There’s always a jewel or two to be found if you look carefully.


I hope this is in some way useful if you’re struggling to decide whether to take a course, either mine or someone else’s! I know it can be hard to decide and there are many factors to consider. Ultimately though, I think we do know, the same way we know about other things about which we need to make choices.

Cultivating our ability to hear our ‘inside wisdom’ will always be our best guide, but if that’s not always easy to hear, it can help to consider the possibilities in a more ‘outside logic’ kind of way too.

Do you find it hard to choose what course to take sometimes? What works for you in the decision making process? Let me know in the comments, and if you know anyone who might benefit from reading this post, please do share it using the buttons below.


learning how to paint abstracts

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I recently took an abstract painting course, and I want to share more about it here in case it’s something you’d be interested in, because it was quite pivotal for me in some ways, and because I know how much you love a bit of behind the scenes action. ;)

charcoal mark making

we started with small charcoal studies, making different kinds of marks

The course is called ‘Introduction to Abstract Painting’ and is taught by US artist Karine Swenson, who is absolutely lovely and a great teacher. The course is offered by Carla Sonheim, and is beautifully put together as a collaboration between Karine, Carla, and Carla’s husband Steve, who filmed it.

The course itself is two weeks long, or I should say was. It’s still open for registering although the live part of the course is now over, and I believe it stays open for a year. It’s a shorter length than many of the courses I’ve taken, but I actually loved the shorter format.

gouache abstract studies

progressing to colour with gouache colour studies

I’d been wanting to better understand abstract painting for a long time, having tried it many times and always feeling that I’d missed something important in my comprehension of how it works.

So often you hear people say ‘My three year old could’ve done that’, with regards to an abstract painting, but in my experience with making abstract art that is very rarely the case!

more colour studies

more colour studies

It always seemed like the paintings I was making on my own either weren’t ‘saying’ anything, and thus felt hollow and uncomfortable to me, or I didn’t know how to express what I wanted to say without some kind of recognisable image.

And ultimately, I do love figurative art the most and probably always will, but recently my work has been developing an ‘abstractified’ edge, if you like, and I wanted to explore that further.

colour studies that didn't work out

these didn’t work out quite so well!

It turned out that taking this course would do that for me in ways I could never have imagined. The lessons themselves were simple but fun and intriguing, and built on each other so both left and right brain were catered for!

I followed each one to the letter, and found myself feeling a bit stuck in a rut of repetitive, and what felt very unexciting to me, marks. {To be clear, this was my issue, nothing to do with the lessons, which were excellent.}

And then all of a sudden this happened:


And then I couldn’t stop making these paintings, which is unprecedented for me, as someone who gets bored doing anything more than once. I must have about fifty of them at this point, and there is plenty more exploring to do.

making a larger painting from a study

making a larger painting from a study.

I realised {if that’s the right word} that I was painting energy flows, and that was incredibly exciting to me, as someone who ‘works with’ the unseen every day but doesn’t see it in the way some people can.

I don’t see auras or patterns of light in people’s bodies; my ‘sight’ is more clairsentience {feeling}, so it was really fascinating to see myself painting what I previously only knew as feelings.

going outside our comfort zones

going outside our comfort zones with canvas sizes and colours we don’t usually use. i hated this at first and am going to develop it further, but it’s growing on me a little.

It’s very hard to explain actually, as I wasn’t LITERALLY transcribing something from the invisible into paint. It was kind of like stepping into a place where the flow came through and I made it visual.

Anyway. This felt, and feels, like a turning point for my art {and for me}, of which I am only scratching the surface with these little studies. You can see here where I’m starting to play with it on a larger scale on canvas and with more depth.

exploring the energy flow idea

exploring the energy flow idea. this is unfinished but so far i totally love it. i think it’s 50 x 50cm.

There is so much here it will easily take me a lifetime to discover it all, and that also feels exciting. All this from a two week course I took with an idea that I might learn to understand abstract painting a little better!

I highly recommend this course; I’m not sure if or when it’ll run again live, but even working through the lessons on your own would be fun and interesting, and you can always share your results with me! Besides, the Facebook group for the course is still going strong, and is a very friendly and supportive place.


Abstract art is in some ways far harder than representational art; it is quite literally creating something where before there was nothing.

But being able to express your feelings {or energy flows!} in paint without using recognisable imagery, and with a sense of balance and variation, is a wonderful gift, and Karine definitely took me much closer to feeling confident about doing that.


the simple way to bring your dreams to life

Today’s post is part of a blog hop with Andrea Schroeder of the Creative Dream Incubator. I’ve followed and admired Andrea for several years now and am delighted to be part of this project.

wingsbutton The Give Your Dream Wings Blog Hop is a peek inside the process of how inspiring people make the magic happen. We’ve got some of the internet’s most inspiring bloggers sharing how they give their dreams wings – what they do that supports, nurtures and encourages their tender dreams to come to life.

This is happening in celebration of the new e-course of the same name by Andrea Schroeder of the Creative Dream Incubator. The Give Your Dream Wings e-course shows you how to nurture and grow YOUR dream, for free, in only 10 minutes a day. You do not have to wait until you have more time or money!

Click here to find out about the free e-course, and to read the other (crazy inspiring!) posts in this Blog Hop.


the simple way to bring your dreams to life

Let’s get one thing clear straight up; when I suggest that there’s a simple way to give your dream wings and send it into the world, I absolutely believe it. I am NOT saying it’s always easy. :)

Know what my dream is? My dream is to spend my time doing what comes from the truth of who I am, which is as fulfilling and joyful for me to create as it is for those who receive it, and that earns me enough to live in the way I choose. {I’m not using the word ‘work’ on purpose.}

Ground breaking, right? It probably looks quite a lot like your dream, or one of them.

There is something about bringing dreams to life that seems to often get bypassed in all the shiny shiny woo-look-I-made-six-figures-in-a-week-and-so-can-you, and that’s where my patience sometimes runs a little low, because it can make it seem like we’re failing when we’re not.

I’m talking about action. The kind that no one sees, that most people have no idea that you’re doing, and that is really not all that glamorous and shiny.

Six figures is fantastic if that’s what you want. {Although I suspect that it’s the intangibles that the six figures can bring that is what you’re really yearning for.} And actually, I don’t think it matters what your dreams are, how many you have, or what size they are.

In A Course in Miracles it states that there is no order of difficulty in miracles, and I think the same can be applied to dreams. The universe makes no distinction between your dream of owning a bottle of turquoise nail polish and your dream of earning enough to comfortably support your family.

If what you put your attention on grows {and it does}, then there is one very simple way to bring your dreams to life.

Just do one thing. And that’s one thing every day, not just one thing once, or a few times when you remember!

See? Not glamorous. But if you wanted to know my ‘secret’ ~ how exactly it is that I bring any of my dreams into form ~  then I would tell you that every single day I take action in service to my dreams.

It’s not always the exact same action, or the same ‘size’ of action, although some actions I do take every day.  The point is that I take them, and that they are all in the same area and with the same bigger picture in mind.

One action. One focus. Full commitment.

I can fiddle about on the internet with the best of them, reading inspiring posts about other people’s dreams and finding quotes with pretty graphics on Pinterest for my dream boards.

But every day I do the following in service to my dream. It’s not shiny or glamorous, and some days it’s an effing slog, quite honestly, but I’ve noticed that since I committed to this kind of focus, I have begun to both make progress and gain momentum.

I practice Tai Chi

Tai Chi keeps me not just well but thriving and full of energy, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, meaning it gives me the qualities I need to give my dreams wings. I’ve said it a thousand times and will say it again many more I expect; a daily energy practice will change your life. It doesn’t matter what it is, it matters that you DO IT. EVERY DAY.

I make art in some form or another

It might be a DailyScape, collecting sea glass for a project I have in mind, working on a painting, producing work for a course I’m taking {and I’m usually taking some sort of art course}, or any number of other art related activities. But I’m doing it, and I’m doing it regularly. Ideas explored give birth to more ideas. 

I focus time and energy on my little biz

In the interests of transparency, I do not earn my entire living {yet!} doing work that comes from my heart. I will get there though, and you know why? Because I consistently work towards it.

I feel fear and lose patience like everyone does, but then I remind myself that oak trees grow for twenty years before producing an acorn, and that I have been heading in this direction intentionally and with true consistency only for a year or so.

I don’t subscribe to the commonly held ‘wisdom’ that something should be hard in order to be worthwhile, but I do believe that to bring our dreams to life we must be consistent.

The journey of a thousand miles DOES start with a single step, of course. The journey of a thousand miles is COVERED by repeated steps.

Every day just one step. And so often one step leads to several, and often they will then grow new shoots, new ideas, and new dreams.

But even if you take just one step today, you know that you’ve taken that one step for yourself, for your dream, and for those you will support by taking the time to give it wings.



escape :: a process post

I’m producing art faster than I can share it here! There’s a scenario I’ve not experienced before. ;)

This is a reworking of an old unfinished painting, in light of the recent abstract course I took, which I must tell you about and will do soon. It opened some doors and moved some stuff around which was most interesting.

Anyway, this painting is called Escape, and is a kind of abstract landscape. I seriously love it. It changes according to what angle you’re looking at it; quite magical. Not sure how I did that.

This is more or less how it looked when I pulled it out of the ‘crap pile’. Meaning the pile of old canvases waiting for new life to be breathed into them. Although this is actually a wood panel.


escape - painting in progress - tara leaver

You can see it already had some very cool crackle paste on it, and some kind of half baked idea roughly sketched out. Such is my attention span at times.

escape - painting in progress - tara leaver

You will not be surprised to learn I am loving this colour palette lately. It’s showing up a lot. I dived in with brushes, a cloth and a palette knife.

escape - painting in progress - tara leaver

Several layers later, it felt done. That’s rare for me so I’m soaking up what that feels like for future reference. The photo doesn’t really do justice to the texture, but still, plenty to see I think.

Escape by Tara Leaver

acrylic on wood panel
30 x 30 cm