The Creative Spark ecourse is now open for earlybird registration!

creative spark ecourse

Yay! Earlybird registration is now open for the Creative spark ecourse, which means if you sign up within the next week you will receive £30 off the full price.

I have been beavering away over the past month, tweaking, revamping and bringing new energy to the course. The format remains the same – six weeks of gentle step by step lessons to make it easy to build your artistic confidence and begin to discover your own unique artistic voice – as does my level of involvement throughout the course. {This is one of the most popular things about it!}


Student work

Here are some words from past Creative Spark students about what the course did for them:

“What I love about the ecourse is that everything we got from you kind of starts finding a place inside my thinking and feeling, and especially Monday’s exercise stuck with me and resonates with me, as well as the two very helpful questions of today. I keep perceiving more shapes and generally beauty in everyday things, and since going to the classroom this morning I keep asking myself (in a good way) why I notice this and that and why I love it and such.” Nicole Meisters 

“Great videos today by the way! So easy to watch and you have really got the balance right, so wonderful to see you work as well and explain what you are doing as you are going along in such a gentle and calm way.” Debbi Jackson

before and after<- “So here’s the difference 12 days with you makes Tara! You are magic. (Top image is the first thing I drew on this course in Day 1, and below is what I drew yesterday.)” Akiyo Kano 

You can find all the information about the course here, and if you have any questions or would like to talk it through, please don’t hesitate to get in touch {}.

free sample lesson from the creative spark ecourse


It occurred to me that if you’re interested in taking the Creative Spark ecourse {running again in September} ~ and actually even if you’re not and would just like a little peek at how I teach – you might like to see a sample lesson from the course itself.

This video is from Week Four of the course, and is a good example of the kind of thing you can expect. In this video you will learn:

  • how you can make a painting based on, and expressing, an emotion
  • a variety of approaches and techniques for expressing yourself with paint
  • why I advocate a connection practice as part of your creative life
  • why bold steps can sometimes be worth the risk
  • how a painting can teach you things about yourself
  • my philosophy and approach to making art
  • different things you can do with a painting like this

The passwords is: happiness


As you can see, this painting is not a masterpiece; it’s not something I’d frame or necessarily share with anyone. It’s the kind of painting you can make as an experiment, to satisfy your curiosity about paint and what it does, or how you might paint your feelings, or as an opportunity to allow yourself to make drastic changes half way through! Think of it as the equivalent of a tester pot, or a dress rehearsal.


Creative Spark Ecourse If you enjoyed this and are wishing you could get {back} into painting in a non overwhelming way, the Creative Spark ecourse might be just what you need. The approach of the course is simple, step by step and designed to encourage experimentation and exploration at a gentle pace. I’d love to have you along for the journey in September. You can find out more by clicking the image on the left.

Please do share this post with anyone you think might be interested! Much appreciated. :)

in my sketchbook lately

While things are quiet in the studio and most of my creative energy is going into revamping the Creative Spark ecourse this month, I do like to play in my sketchbook, especially with oil pastels and Neocolors.

Here’s a little selection of what’s been going on in ye olde sketchbooke the past couple of weeks. Some are just play in and of themselves, and some are done with a mind to working them up as paintings later.


fish in oil pastels {from a photo I took at a garden centre recently – you never know where inspiration is lurking!}


An abstract inspired by an image found on Pinterest. Learned a couple of new things about adding marks over layers and using unexpected colours. {Salmon pink I’m talking about you.}


The outdoor studio, with studio buddy sidling about, probably hoping the oil pastels were edible.


Another Pinterest image inspired oil pastel drawing. Really loving the big expanse of orange.


And yes, another image inspired by Pinterest! {The holy grail of inspiration for me lately.} This one, in Neocolors and pen, was for Susannah Conway’s August Break prompt, Reflection.


A work in progress, in oil pastel. Love this idea of a scene made abstract by rain.


36 ways to draw a tree :: a perspective on finding your own answers

36 ways to draw a tree

Lately I’m noticing two things happening. On the one hand, I see a lot of people offering formulas and blueprints as ways to do things, and on the other, I’m seeing a kind of gentle pushing back that recognises that no one else’s formula or blueprint is going to be our ultimate solution. This includes formulas for business, for self care, and for approaches to life, spirituality and creativity.

In my own life this gentle push back is looking like less and less self help/spiritual books {other than for pure interest or reminders}, less devouring of blog posts or biz websites or downloads that I secretly hope are going to solve my issue or reveal the magic way I haven’t thought of yet, and more interest and faith in finding my own answers.

It’s an interesting shift, especially since ‘my way’ often seems to be counterintuitive and not really what ‘everyone else’ is doing.

I am not suggesting that formulas and blueprints are without use or value to more than one person; of course not. I sometimes offer suggestions for ways to do things myself; we all need an in, and I for one love to research and discover new perspectives. But I do believe they will only take us so far, and to pin our hopes on them being ‘it’ is to set ourselves up for disappointment, and that can lead to giving up on ourselves and our dreams. Risky!

A while back I sat down and challenged myself to come up with as many ways to draw a tree as would fill my sketchbook page, just for fun. I drew a grid and the resulting spaces allowed for 36 trees. I worked fairly fast and didn’t look for inspiration beyond my own imagination. I actually thought it would be quite hard; 36 seemed like a lot! So I was surprised to come to the final box and feel I could have done more.

I love this exercise for several reasons:

1. On a practical level it’s simple, portable and needs very little materials {although you can of course go all out if you wish}

2. It’s a challenge that you can easily ‘win’ at, thus bolstering confidence and satisfaction

3. It’s flexible – any subject or medium will do

4. It’s meditative, encouraging focus and quieting of the mind

5. It could easily prompt further ideas

6. {The big cahuna!} It shows that not only do we have more inside us than we might assume, but that that ‘more’ is actually endless

So I’m not suggesting you sit down and do as I did, although you can of course if it sounds interesting! {And I’d love to see!} I seek only to demonstrate and remind that there is more inside each of us than any of us have even the tiniest inkling about, and yet so many of us – myself included – regularly discount, disbelieve or are afraid to turn inward and see for ourselves.

What if you take a sketchbook or piece of paper and draw something 36/78/100 times in different ways? What if instead of procrastinating with social media or food or whatever your distraction of choice, you ask yourself what YOU would do about a given situation, if all fear was brushed aside for a minute? I’m willing to bet that even a few minutes of focus will surprise you. You contain multitudes, as Walt Whitman might remind you.

What do you think? Will you take up the challenge and make it your own? How might you feel with proof that there is more inside you thank you think?


Creative Spark Ecourse The Creative Spark ecourse is back! Yay! Beginning mid September, this is the perfect opportunity to discover what creative depths lie inside you, alongside other kindred curious creative souls and accompanied by me as your guide and encourager. :)
Click the image to read about the course in detail and to sign up – or simply sign up below – to be kept in the know as soon as Earlybird registration opens. {You will also receive this weekly post in your inbox as a way to begin the ball rolling, just until the course begins.} I would love to have you along for the ride.


from spark to inferno :: the story of a creative spark

Jo blog image

This post is by Jo Collyer, a participant in both the Creative Spark ecourse and Artist Inspired, and a generous {and trusting!} volunteer practice client aiding me in my creativity coaching studies. I am overjoyed to share her story today, in her own words, not only because she helps to make it possible for me to do what I love, but more importantly because she demonstrates so beautifully how embracing your inner creative, or your inner artist self, can change and benefit your life in so many ways. 

I invite you to read and enjoy eloquently told story {she is also a writer} and her gorgeous art, and allow it to open up doors of possibility within you too.


Blind contour drawing of Ganesh by Jo Collyer

Blind contour drawing of Ganesh by Jo Collyer

Fresh from finishing a period of creative consultation with Tara Leaver I am left slightly grieving my loss. From  the moment of the first blind contour drawing I did in her Creative Spark course, I was hooked on the style and  teaching of Tara. She is giving and generous in her instruction and feedback. More than that, her sheer enthusiasm  and authenticity are apparent and contagious. When I look back at my first blind contour drawings, created in the Creative Spark course, they still raise a smile.

Creative Spark was my first online art course, and it was certainly a good fit. I had barely raised a paintbrush in the past thirty years (unless it was to paint a wall;-)), let alone allow myself the decadent pleasure of such a regular creative practice.

The Creative Spark course allows you to tap into your inherent creativity. That font that lies within us, pulsating and ready to be released if only given permission and a few little tricks to assist. That’s what Tara’s course offers. Lots of ideas, techniques and inspirations to get all the creative sparks going.

It was a bonus that the online group that accompanied the course was also delightful, friendly and supportive. Actually, probably not so much a bonus as an indication of the safe space Tara creates. After the course finishes you get to join an ongoing Facebook group, where the support and encouragement continues.

I will be dramatic now, and admit, the Creative Spark course kinda altered the direction of my life. I am not one to expose myself. Posting my various scribbles and paintings, daily, was therefore a somewhat liberating experience.  I even posted some stuff on my personal Facebook page, I was that intoxicated and bolstered.

Klimt-inspired mermaid by Jo Collyer

Klimt-inspired mermaid by Jo Collyer

It shifted things. My career, gone somewhat stale after motherhood, got a new perspective. Making art in a supported and creative inspiration feast opened my eyes to the things I wanted and didn’t want in life. Although changes are small for me, (and  I have come to accept I do change slow), they are no less significant.

My creative journey continued, when Tara offered her inaugural Creative Spark participants to trial her Artist Inspired course.  I was beyond thrilled. I knew it would be awesome. It was. Each lesson delves into the story and style of historically significant artists. Old habits die hard, and despite myself, I was sceptical, based on my lingering doubt of my own creative talents, that I could possibly produce anything ‘in the style of’ a renowned  artist. But you know, I did. What’s more I loved the results. That would have been enough for me (although I do love  the positive feedback from the online group), but I have received positive feedback from family and friends too, completely unsolicited, making it all the more delicious.  I still look at those videos for inspiration. They delight me, as does the play time that generally follows. Yes. I still play art. Regularly. It is an integral part of my week. Without it my mood is typically affected, in the negative. Much like my yoga and writing practice they are key elements to my equanimity.

I am a firm believer that in life, we need outlets that make our soul sing, or at the very least, offer us solace. I like more than one outlet, because, hey, a fall back position is a good thing to have. Also, I have attentional issues. :-)

I have been doing yoga for many years and it has supported me through some pretty funky times in my life (funky bad, not funky grooves). It is an added delight that Tara supports the idea of a connected practice. Connect to self, connect to others, connect to your surroundings. Connection to your creativity is yet another delight to be tasted and enhanced by first connecting to yourself and environment.  If it’s something you feel the itch but don’t know how … embrace the Creative Spark course. Live it, breathe it. Throw caution to the wind and allow Tara to take you on the most amazing discovery of your own latent talent, just like she did for me.


While I blush in the corner, you may like to take Jo’s words to heart and find out more about the Creative Spark ecourse, which I am running again in September, most likely for the last time in its current live format. To find out more, click here, and to sign up for updates simply fill in the form below.