My Creative Life interview with Malini Parker

On this creative path I’ve met and become friends with many wonderful, interesting people across the world. It’s high time I introduced you to some of them.

‘My Creative Life’ is an interview series where we get an insider view of artists and their lives from different disciplines and on different stages of their own journeys. My intention is to ask questions that are perhaps a bit different from the usual – the answers to which might spark ideas or simply reassure you as you follow your own artist path.



I first met Malini during an online course. It was one of those kindred moments, and we started emailing and getting to know each other, finding we had a lot in common {not least ‘job description’!}. It goes without saying that I love Malini’s art, and she is a profoundly gifted writer and storyteller. Her blog posts are so good! We share a love of connecting art and life and exploring how they are inextricably interwoven. I think you’re going to love her work, and her very relatable pearls of wisdom!

Meet Malini…

{Don’t forget you can highlight any section of the text to share it on Twitter or Facebook.}

Malini Parker

An hilarious moment during one of my workshops

Tell us a little bit about your creative work in the world {whether it’s your business or your pleasure, or both!}.

When I first started exploring my creativity (at the tender age of 40!) I cannot adequately describe the effect it had on every part of my being. It was as if I had been in a deep sleep for forty years, and like the fairy tale, one kiss awakened me. However, Prince Charming was actually “My Creative Self” 🙂

The experience was so profound, I have dedicated my life to introducing others to their ‘Creative Self’. So my business is essentially about that: I run a match-making service… Meet your Prince (or Princess) Charming. Learn how to paint. You won’t look back and nothing will ever be the same.

I am also, of course, a painter myself. So everything I teach comes from my own experience and process.

I love working with beginners because, well frankly, I’m a little addicted to the transformation I witness when newbies (particularly those who are a little terrified) come to my workshops!

And like some kind of alien creature from science fiction, I’m convinced that I absorb the creative energies that are unleashed in the room when a group of students gather to make art!

What is your favourite thing about being an actively creative person?

Being in “Creative Flow”. It’s like tapping into another realm of existence. It feels like I’m in the presence of magic when I am creating.

Joy by Malini Parker

Joy // Malini Parker

Is there anything you wish were different? Have you learned a way to accommodate that?

I wish I were more at peace with the ‘ebbs and flows’ of the way I work.

I’m not naturally a planner or a strategist. I don’t plan, I work in rough outlines. I don’t plan a talk or a post, I just write it. It’s the way I cook, the way I paint and the way I approach my day. I have to force myself to plan my year, which I have to do as I run over 22 live workshops annually. In fact the only thing I actually plan in great detail are my workshops!

The thing is I not only run a successful business, I really love what I do, so by all accounts, everything is working just fine. But there is this niggling feeling that I should be working to a much tighter, more structured plan. And I should learn to think more strategically! Should this. Should that.

Having said all that, I do believe the ‘not accepting’ is much more of a hindrance than the ‘not planning’… so I’m learning gradually be just be accepting of the way I work.


‘The Journey’ – my most recent and largest painting ever (2.4m long)

How else does your creativity express itself in your life? {Especially if you’re having a dry spell in your ‘main’ area.}


I’ve been writing (in journals) most of my life. But since I started writing for an audience, writing has become an increasingly important and meaningful part of my creative life.

When I paint, the world fades.

But when I write, the world becomes sharper and clearer. It’s like an organising process for my random (and often exhausting!) inner life, and a lens through which I can more clearly see my outer life. I don’t know what I know until I write.

Do you have any favourite resources, books or blogs around creativity you’d recommend for inspiration or support? 

FOR BOOKS … Julia Cameron’s classic The Artist’s Way is a really important book in my world. It tipped me into studying art.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book, Big Magic. I’ve underlined half the book… And while we’re on the subject – her TED Talks are pretty spot on too. ‘Your Elusive Creative Genius’ and ‘Success, Failure and the Drive to Keep Creating’. She’s an amazing speaker, funny and full of wisdom at the same time. My favourite combination 🙂

On writing and the creative process, I’ve recently discovered, and love, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and Dani Shapiro’s Still Writing – the Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life.

BLOGS … for general all round goodness, I always find Eric Barker’s Barking Up the Wrong Tree and Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings Weekly to be brilliant, educational, well-researched and just a darn good read.

Susannah Conway, Alexandra Franzen, and Mary Parker are all other places are regularly visit for inspiration… a combination of photographers, writers, and entrepreneurs.

Then there’s yours, Tara. I find your writing insightful, honest and often echoing my own thoughts but expressed so much better than I could!

And well… there’s mine – which you can find here 🙂

Malini Parker

Returning to Albany to speak on ‘Courage and Creativity’ and show my work

What one easy and simple creative activity would you suggest to someone who feels like there’s no time for creativity in their life?

Walk somewhere beautiful. Take your smart phone with you, but put it on silent. Walk mindfully and slow your breathing down. Notice what’s around you. To your left, your right, beneath your feet, above your head. And when something catches your breath, stop and take a photograph. Limit yourself to 3-4 pictures at the most. Learn to quickly edit them so you can bring out the best in the image.

I am constantly amazed at the beauty above my head that so often get’s missed. The sunlight playing in the canopy of leaves… capturing this any way I can is one of my favourite creative practices. It’s quick and easy and results in a bank of beautiful images plus time spent in mindfulness.

What’s your creative process like? Are you an all-in-one-intense-hit-then-collapse type or a more of a slow and steady sort? Or something else?

I think I’m an all-in-one-hit-then-walk-away-and-drink-tea-and snack-type 🙂 Because I work in layers (a LOT of layers) and tons of texture, which needs a lot of drying time, I tend to work on MANY paintings at the same time – up to a dozen. But I don’t paint daily. I paint in bursts. And that’s also how I write.

Wings of Change by Malini Parker

Wings of Change // Malini Parker

What does being actively creative bring to your life that you might not have expected? 

Nothing about the creative life is what I expected! I certainly didn’t expect to become an ‘artist, writer and teacher’. But I think I’m also morphing into a speaker. I really didn’t expect that. This year alone I’ve had 4 speaking engagements that came out of nowhere and totally took me by surprise.

The most recent one was rather poignant.

It happened like this. This year, 2016, actually is the 10th anniversary of my very first solo art exhibition. I’d been thinking that I really should hold an exhibition this year, to mark that important milestone, but time-wise, I just couldn’t see how it was going to happen.

Then out of the blue, I got invited to mark it in a very different and special way. I was invited to speak AND show my work, in the very place I studied art in for five years – the beautiful coastal town of Albany, in Western Australia …  on the subject of ‘Courage and Creativity’. I no longer live there, because tragic illnesses in my family had led us to move back to the big city 9 years ago. So going back as an invited guest was really special and unexpected.

I had barely recovered from the flu, so my voice was just a hoarse whisper, but the full house of lovely people were a kind audience and it was an indescribable honour to share my stories and art at this event!

Sometimes magic just kind of happens in spite of us …

Malini Parker

On my travels – Lake Como, Italy

What best supports your creativity to thrive?

  • Deadlines.
  • Being in state of Awe.
  • Teaching.
  • Starting.
  • Showing  and selling my work.
  • Knowing my writing helps/entertains/inspires others.
  • Chocolate 🙂

Have you ever lost touch with your creative self for a long period, and if so how did you bring it back?

After my husband died in May 2014, many people (including myself) assumed that painting would be an expressive release for me. A natural way to navigate bereavement. I was as surprised as anyone that it wasn’t. Instead, when I eventually did start creating again, I took photographs and I wrote.

The beauty and ‘healing-ness’ of nature has been an endless source of inspiration for my painting, but for some reason, when plunged into the chasm of grief, I could not interpret, I could only capture.

So I travelled and sought beauty. I pursued the feeling of awe. I travelled 50,000 km the year that Greg died. And I took photographs. I kept all those fleeting moments of awe and wonder in digital format. Pretty soon, those moments of stillness that happened when I stopped to witness and capture beauty became healing in themselves and I gradually found my way back to paint. So photography has a very special place in my heart as a creative practice. It’s been both a source of inspiration and a conduit, gently whispering guidance, back to my creative self 🙂


malini-parkerMalini describes her ‘scientist-turned-artist’ life as an incredible, wonderful, complicated adventure.  Her paintings are fluid and organic abstractions, often featuring the softness of lace and leaves against rugged textural marks. Her work is inspired by the journey from Adversity to Grace, and all the precious learning that is acquired along the way.

One of Malini’s greatest joys comes from teaching and sharing her ideas on painting and life in her popular live workshops in Australia. She finds it an incredible honour to be part of another’s creative journey, and the delight she witnesses in her students as they rediscover their art, reinforces her belief that creativity has magical powers 🙂

                                                                                  Website | Facebook | Instagram

If you have any questions or comments for Malini, or have had any ahas reading her words, please do share in the comments!