13 ways to start a project

13 ways to start a project

You’ve had an idea for a project, a really awesome one. You’re totally excited about it and the potential it has. You have perhaps made some notes, or gathered some preliminary images or supplies.

And then, crickets.

The notes and materials sit there, waiting. The idea pokes at you, but you find yourself prioritising other things, like washing up, tidying the table ‘so you can work’, or ‘just checking’ email or social media.

I know you’ve been there. ;)

So often we procrastinate and fiddle about, when we know that we want to be making something, and it feels like a kind of mystery why the thing we love to do – the thing we really want to do – is the last thing we’re actually doing.

It’s not really a mystery how that happens – the clue is in the ‘really want’, which is often followed by a ‘but’. As human beings we are master story tellers, and not always at stories that serve us. However, rather than going into the why today, I want to be solution minded, and see what might be done – with ease.

I am of course no stranger to this experience, so I sat down to think of as many ways as I could that might or do allow me to jump that invisible but incredibly high self-placed hurdle that stops me just going to the studio and STARTING. {Or finishing projects I started with gusto and then somehow let tumbleweeds roll all over them.}

I’ve expanded the idea beyond just painting as clearly it applies to pretty much anything. I’ve included steps that will set the scene as well as some which are more specifically action oriented in terms of starting to work on your project. Clearly it’s not exhaustive, but it’s a start, and that’s all we need.

My plan is to pick ONE {let’s not turn this into more procrastination fuel!} and flipping well get started. I invite you to do the same. :)

write it on the calendar ~ we are more likely to do things if they are written down; write it in as though it were a date with a loved one {because it is!}

announce itaccountability can be scary but my goodness it’s effective :)

have an inside chatis this a priority for you?  Are you actually longing to do it or do you feel you should for some reason? Be clear within yourself of its importance and align your actions with that.

make a {simple!} signa phrase or quote or word that will help to bring you back when doubts start creeping in {because let’s not pretend that they won’t}.

cancel something ~ is there something you’ve got in the diary that is either not essential or can be swapped or rearranged? Don’t relegate your project to the bottom of the list, because it’ll always fall off.

turn off the tv for one hour ~ so simple, and you can do so much in an hour. crikey, even half an hour works.

get up earlier ~ not for everyone! But if time is at a premium for you and you know this project is important to you, you can do it! There’s something rather indulgent and delicious about that quiet time before everyone else gets up and the bustle of the day begins.

go to a cafe with notebook and penif you need some buzz but no internet to distract you

go to the library ~ if you need quiet, no washing up and no internet to distract you

mind map ~ a great way to start bringing an idea out of its hidey hole

brainstorm ~ with someone else for extra motivation, momentum and inspiration

hunter gathering ~ many projects need a certain amount of gathering before diving in. Still I recommend keeping it to a bare minimum as it can quickly descend into a procrastinatory activity without end.

take one step ~ also known as JFDI by a friend of mine. :) As Amelia Earhart said, ‘the most effective way to do it, is to do it’.

Aaaaaaaaaand….. ACTION!


Creative Spark Ecourse ButtonIt’s one thing for me to cheerlead from the sidelines and throw out ideas that you might like but, let’s face it, might well also forget instantly or put on the list for ‘later’. It’s another thing to do them and keep doing them.

If you’ve been yearning to get into {or back into} making art and unleashing the dormant creative being inside you, but need the accountability, support and momentum a class can give you, I’m running the Creative Spark ecourse again in September and would love you to join!

Click the link or the image on the left to find out all the details, and sign up below to learn when Earlybird registration opens. This is likely the last time I’ll run the course in its current form, so this is your chance! Any questions, let me know. :)

the 5 Es of creative ease

creative ease

I can’t help it – I just love a play on words. :)

What do the words ‘creative ease’ mean to you? If it’s not something you’ve considered I recommend a few moments of pondering, because cultivating more of it in your life has infinite potential benefits.

For me it means living in a more expanded energetic frequency, where flow is commonplace, and not just in my art but everywhere in my life. What that translates into is more joy, more inspiration, more peace, more excitement, more colour, more ideas and a greater capacity to inspire others to find their own. I truly believe it contributes to my physical and emotional health and wellbeing, and allows me to operate from my best self more consistently.

You don’t want more of that? Oh ok, you can stop reading then. :)

In a pleasing display of assonance, I discovered after some pondering of my own that my creative ease can be distilled down to five words or principles that begin with E. I may not sit down and consciously run through them or think about them each day but they are principles by which I live and which enable me to thrive creatively {and by extension, everywhere else}.


This includes things like support, a sounding board, a champion, permission, a cheerleader, accountability, positive and useful feedback on your work, essentially someone who believes in you. Naturally providing these things for yourself  is the ideal, but for times when you just can’t stretch to it, finding it amongst a like minded group or with a teacher or mentor is invaluable. In fact I’d go for All The Options.


This means openness of mind and heart, an explorative mindset, a willingness to play, a ‘try it and see’ approach that does not attach to outcomes. Sometimes I think of my studio as a lab where I conduct experiments; I effectively ignore the end result and experiment with what ifs and how abouts. It’s fun, freeing and in amongst the inevitable messes and disasters, leads to all kinds of new discoveries and satisfactions.


No amount of theory and looking at and for inspiration can substitute taking action, or provide the fulfilment action will give you. Engagement means having a practice as individual as you are, self care and kindness tailored to you, a conscious choice to step forward, over and over again, in spite of stumbles and long periods of ‘sitting down’. It’s not about being fearless, it’s about choosing your creative dreams over what your fears tell you.


From the Greek ‘entheos’, meaning ‘the God within’, which I rather love as a reminder that it all comes from inside us, not outside. This is about curiosity, a game mindset, light heartedness, a willingness to hold it all lightly {which does not mean diminishing the depth of its value to you}. Creating can be deeply meaningful and important without being heavy and difficult; nurturing and maintaining enthusiasm makes that possible.


Lastly, why we do any of it. To express what’s in your soul, your deepest self, the true you. Creativity is a way to give shape, weight and texture to your feelings and thoughts about the world and about life. It’s a way to tell stories, show love, work through emotions of all kinds, heal, relax, and to truly find yourself as you lose yourself in the flow.


It may feel like some areas are stickier for you than others, but truly, they’re all inside you already. We are full of rich seams of creativity, and the glorious thing is, even if you’re already exploring them, there are always more. And if they feel as yet undiscovered and untapped in you, it’s much easier than we tend to think to open them up and get everything flowing!

Do you have your own Creative ‘E’s? Perhaps they begin with a different letter!


If all of this sounds like marvellous theory to you, but not something you feel able to put into practice on your own, the Creative Spark ecourse might be just the thing to help you get started. I am delighted to be running it again in September 2014. This will most likely be the last time I offer it in its current format, so do consider taking advantage of it if you would like to reawaken your inner artist, no matter how long she’s been dormant. You can sign up below for updates and be first in line for Earlybird registration, or find out more first by clicking the link above or in the sidebar to the right.

seefeelpaint :: painting expressive landscapes {weeks 3 & 4}

I’ve been going a bit off piste in See.Feel.Paint the last few days. I always seem to be walking a fine line between being a ‘good student’ and following each lesson to the letter, and remembering I am in fact allowed to pick and choose to dive into the lessons that appeal the most. Also it’s been really sunny, which does not bode well for any indoor activities.

So not a lot of painting over the last five days or so, but the outdoor studio {aka beach} has been seeing quite a bit of action.

Here is an oil pastel piece I did, using this painting by Charlotte Evans, a painter whose work I love, as a reference. It is essentially a copy, because sometimes I find that very helpful to learn about how another artist has put a painting together in terms of composition, balance and colour combinations.


It was SO fun, and I learned a few things about tempering my favourite colour palette with unexpected colours such as black and pale pink.

The next two are blind contour drawings in black pen of seagulls on the beach from photos I’d taken. The fact that they were in my phone, which kept going black and was hard to see in the sunlight made the blind contour part even more effective. :)


After drawing with the pens in two thicknesses, I went in with the trusty Neocolors and just played, adding water from those brushes that hold water in the handle.


Even got some drips in. Win.

This weird landscape is a development from a drawing I did ages ago. It was fun and meditative to do but let’s just say it’s not going any further than this! I’m very interested in using neutrals to temper the brights I always seem to go for; you can’t really see them here but I did try!


SeeFeelPaint finishes today!  I’m a little behind on the lessons but there’s plenty of time. I’m so happy with the landscape paintings I have produced and the experience of being taught by Pauline again, it’s worth it just for that. She’ll be holding her Open Studio again at the end of July – it’s a free gathering on Facebook and she always includes a free lesson and lots of art and giveaways. Maybe I’ll see you there. :)


artists at play : a look at some of the masters in action

artists at play

Technology is truly miraculous. I have discovered that out there on the internet is real video footage of artists I never imagined I’d see actually in the process of creating their art. I didn’t know you could watch Monet painting at Giverny, or Rodin sculpting in his studio, but you can!

I’ve gathered a selection of very brief videos of the likes of Matisse, Picasso and Kandinsky doing what they did best, and while I’m blown away by the miracle of technology that allows us to watch these art giants in action, I find that they also make me want to get in the studio and Make Some Art. {Always a bonus.}

If nothing else, they are a fascinating peek at a different world, another life. Who isn’t intrigued by the mystery of how an artist works, even if you’re an artist yourself?

Enjoy and be inspired!

Monet painting in the garden at Giverny after a brief chat with a mystery man smoking a cigarette:

Matisse describing his thoughts about drawing {translation below video} while drawing a portrait.

And here he is making some of his famous cut outs:

Rodin walking about and chipping away at a sculpture. {My favourite part is when he smiles.}

Picasso drawing on glass.

Auguste Renoir painting in his studio. He suffered terribly from rheumatoid arthritis as you can see from his clenched up hands in this video, where his son is helping him hold a brush and a cigarette.

Giacometti painting a face.

Kandinsky drawing one of his famous abstracts, 1926.

Frida Kahlo in a series of images and brief footage of her painting, and with her beloved Diego Rivera.

Georgia O’Keeffe talking about her painting, aged nearly 90.

three new expressive landscapes :: a process post

So happy! I hadn’t really realised that I was creating a kind of landscape triptych, but that seems to be what’s happened here. I have just been beavering away in the studio as one idea after another is generated from the See.Feel.Paint course.

They are currently lined up in my living room and each time I see them it’s giving me a little rush of painty joy.

I shared the process of Sands last week, so this is the process of the other two, and then you can see them all together at the end. {Because they look awesome together. :) }

This first one, Down To The Sea, is taken from a photo of the path down to the beach near my parents’ house.


In the photo there is a huge puddle taking up most of the pathway, which reflects the sky.


I didn’t really have a colour scheme in mind for this one, although I knew I wanted it to be ‘non local’ colours of course. :)


Initially I wasn’t loving my choices; it’s funny how the instinct is to make it true to life, even when I don’t want to do that.


I particularly love how the fence posts on either side turned out; that really works for me. I think I’ve managed a good balance of horizontals and verticals too, something we’ve been looking at in class.

Down To The Sea by Tara Leaver

Down To The Sea :: acrylic on canvas :: 30 x 30cm

Next up, Blue Mountains.

in the studio/tara leaver

This one was inspired by a painting of Pauline’s called Easter Sky. The challenge was in balancing the shapes and large blocks of colour. I found myself getting very fiddly in the bottom half, but am really happy with the final outcome. Not least because of the pink edges!

Blue Mountains in process/Tara Leaver

I must’ve been really in the zone with this one as I don’t seem to have many process shots from early on!


What’s really confusing with a painting like this is that there are many places where you could feasibly stop and call it done, depending on whether you want to ‘get it right’ compositionally or in some other technical way, or based on how much you Really Love It, among other things! I got some advice from Pauline and am very happy with the final piece.

Blue Mountains / Tara Leaver

Blue Mountains :: acrylic on canvas :: 30 x 30cm

And here they all are together, my little landscape family. Aw.

Landscape Triptych/Tara Leaver