Category Archives: Personal Development

My WOTY -or Word of the Year

I’ve finally settled on my guiding word for 2017. 


Pay particular attention to and concentrate. 

I will be focusing in particular on a few things in my art business. 

  1. Developing my online workshops
  2. Making better art
  3. Teaching lots of people both in my studio, as a guest instructor and online
  4. Getting more gallery representation
  5. Increasing my marketing efforts – more videos and blog posts in particular

That is the art business plan. 

Now for my harp business.

  1. Continue teaching my 5 students
  2. Work on developing new repertoire
  3. Plan a harp concert
  4. Start a harp ensemble
  5. Play for more weddings

In my Interior Design Business

  1. Upgrading my computer drafting skills
  2. Niche market to seniors overwhelmed with renos and downsizing

In my personal life I have some things to focus on too. 

  1. Plan more days off and mini getaways
  2. Finish some nagging projects
  3. Planning home improvement renos
  4. Spend more time in the garden?
  5. Spend more time in the sauna

My next step is to make a visual reminder of it. 

Have you picked your word for ?

Would you like to make it into a visual reminder?

I have a workshop coming up just for that. 

You can find out about it here. 

Looking Back

I always find this time of year to be one of reflection. To look back over the past year and review what worked, what didn’t, what I want to do less of, what I want to do more of, how I stacked up to my goals and the list of questions goes on! 

Take some time to answer these questions:

  • What are 3 things you will stop doing?  Do you have commitments you are resentful of? Do you have habits that are not serving you?  Are there time wasters that are keeping you from doing what you love. 
  • What are 3 things you will start doing?  How will you stretch out of your comfort zone? What new practices will you implement? 
  • What are 3 things you will continue doing?   What is working well and you want to keep doing? 

In order to move forward it is necessary to look back. 

In order to move forward we need to analyze, question and tweak. 

If we are in business as an artist (or otherwise) we need to take a step back and look from the outside in.

We need to work on our business not in our business. The last week of the year is my planning time.  Where I look at the big picture! Where I map out the year. 

This isn’t written in stone but is a guideline. The plan gets tweaked many times along the way. 

The most important thing is to have a plan. Without a plan closer to our dreams or goals. 

Taking action on our plan is the next step. 





Play Big

This is a painting I did with cold wax and oil paint. For some reason the words “If life is a game Play Big” came up. It got me thinking about what play big means.

Scrivener - Play Big

Play Big is going to mean something different for everyone. The next step of your journey, something you are facing that is fearful, a big dream you want to take.

For me playing big means getting my art work and my music out there more.

It also means inspiring and helping other people to aspire to their dreams. That could come through teaching harp or art, decorating houses or coaching people to find their big.

When you do decide on what your big is it is amazing how stuff starts to show up and opportunities align with your “big”

So, where are you playing big right now?

If you are not playing big what is holding you back?

If you feel stuck with your creativity and want to break through the barriers book a free thirty minute Empowerment Call. You will be able to ask questions about the process about coaching and about what to expect if we work together. The goal of this call is to see if we are a good coach/client match, and whether or not you might want to work with me to break through the barriers and “Play Big”

If we decide that we are not a good fit, no harm done – we will both have learned something in the process.

Click here to request your free call.






Life is a Balancing Act


park benchI thought I would do a follow up post on my 2016 guiding work “BALANCE”

I have been thinking a lot about what it means to me and how I am going to achieve it.

I have used two tools to help me


 writing down all of my thoughts at the end of the day to discover what I enjoyed and what I didn’t enjoy/

Life Balance Wheel:

A tool I use with my coaching clients to help people visually scale areas in their life.


What I have discovered so far

I feel out of balance when

  • I work too much – and yes this means paint too!
  •  I haven’t had meaningful conversations with anyone other than my husband
  •  When I have not spent enough time making music
  • When I have enjoyed live performance in a while
  • When my house is out of order
  • When I feel rushed and pressured
  • When I don’t take time to meditate
  • When I spend too much time on the computer
  • When I don’t spend time in nature
  • When I don’g create

I have never embraced a 9.00 to 5.00 working philosophy so that is not going to happen now. I have never known the difference between a weekday and a weekend. I have been self employed for over 30 years.  I work ANYTIME.  Sometimes I work ALL THE TIME!

I for the most part have always loved my work. It does not seem like work. It is hard to stop.

For me it requires great discipline not to work!  It really is just a lifestyle for me but I know it is not healthy.

So what to do!

Five Things I am Implementing

  1. Get out into nature once a week or more. ( A walk in the neighbourhood does not count!)
  2. Balance my Chakras daily
  3. Connect with a friend for a conversation every week
  4. Schedule time to play music – by myself or with others
  5. Enjoy an evening sauna to relax and catch up on reading or journaling

What do you do to stay in balance? Is it something you struggle with or could use some help with. I am offering a complimentary thirty minute coaching call to help you find your BALANCE.

Skype, google hangout,  phone or in person. Just contact me  to set up a time.


Cheers – here is to a balanced week ahead!












My Guiding Word for 2016

Every year I select one word as a focus word to guide me through the year. I have decided on “BALANCE”  as my word for 2016. Balance


Balance is having the right amount — not too much or too little — of any quality, which leads to harmony or evenness.

In 2015 I found I was out of balance and spent too much time in my art business.  It is hard not to when you love what you do! My studio is like a magnet. But at the same time I felt that I did not stay fresh and I felt burnt out at times.

What does that mean for 2016?

It means I am going to reduce the hours I spend on art and art related work.

I am going to spend more time in nature. Walking, canoeing, and camping. This is where I connect with my inner self and become refreshed and renewed. Balance

In turn this leads to better work.

I am going to spend more time on music – both making it myself and listening to it live. This is another activity that feeds my soul.

I am going to spend time doing projects that have been put on hold.  Unfinished projects take lots of energy!

I am going to explore some new activities – like belly fit, zumba and Qi Gong.

I am going to meditate more.

I am going to connect with friends more regularly. Being an artist is an insular life and it is easy to spend too much time in your own thoughts!

How am I going to do this? 

I am going to rely on a schedule. I know that sounds linear for a creative person but it is the only way I will be able to replace some of my studio time an achieve my goal of balance.

What is your guiding word for 2016?

Clarifying Our Intentions

Clarify your Intentions

 Clarifying our Intentions

It is that time of year again.  The time for reflection and the time to clarify our intentions for the coming year. Clarifying our intentions  simply means this: Know what it is that you want! Not always the easiest question to answer!

Setting intentions on a daily basis is very powerful but setting them for a year can work magic.

As a life coach I help people get clear on their intentions.

Let’s get started by answering some questions that will clarify our artistic intentions for 2015.

1. What do I want to create?

2. What gets in my way and stops me from creating?

3. Who am I trying to please with my creative work?

4. What is my level of commitment for 2015 going to be?

5. What am I going to have to sacrifice to get it?

6.How will I benefit by not doing the work?

7. What does a typical day with my new level of commitment look like?

8. What does a creative session look and feel like to me?

9. Am I more interested in the process or the product?

10. How will I measure my success?

If you are interested in deepening your artistic practice I have a year long course that will do just that.  It is called Make your Mark – you can find out more about it here.

If you are interested in one on one coaching, critique or laser learning please get in touch by calling me at 250-248-2775 or contact me through the contact form on the website.


It’s all about the process!

I had an amazing weekend attending the Suzanne Northcott “Big and Loose”  workshop hosted by  Susan of Island Arts Magazine.

Suzanne really reaffirmed my belief in the process. If you allow yourself to enjoy the process the outcome will take care of itself.

Many people worked from subject matter however I painted intuitively. Not having a clue what would turn up as I madly mixed, poured and scraped.

I worked on 5 canvases of various sizes the smallest being 24×24″ and the largest being 30×48″.

Although I didn’t finish any one of them (5 more to add to my collection of unfinished paintings), I did get a good start on them and built up several layers.  Even though I was experimenting and trying different ways of working with the mediums my work developed a theme.  My mark making and scraping had a consistent feel.

I am calling it the “Pond Series”.

My goal this week aside from teaching a two day workshop and teaching a few harp lessons is to try and work some of these paintings to the finish line!

Here are the paintings in progress.








Ten Reasons You Should Do a Thirty Day Painting Challenge

You end up with 30 pieces of art (now that was obvious!)

Okay here are the ten real reasons!

  1. It creates a habit
  2. It helps with procrastination
  3. It allows you to experiment
  4. It increases your speed
  5. It increases your confidence
  6. It can aid in learning a new technique
  7. You learn to make quicker decisions
  8. You learn what you like and what you don’t like
  9. You discover new colour combinations
  10. You define your style

How to Get Started

I like to follow the calendar month but you don’t have to. I just find it is an easy way to keep track of the challenge.
Some decisions need to be made before you start; size, substrate and medium. I like to use paper and have been enjoying painting on Terraskin. It does not buckle, has a nice smooth surface and is reasonable to purchase. By using paper I find I am less concerned with the results. You can always mount the ones you are happy with. What format do you like? Square or rectangle? A small painting is achievable. I like working in the square format and am enjoying the 6×6″ size.

Setting Some Parameters

If you don’t you will have more trouble making decisions about what to paint. Decide on a theme, a colour palette, a subject matter or a technique. Put yourself in a box. By focusing on less you will learn more!  Did you hear me – BY FOCUSING ON LESS YOU WILL LEARN MORE!  Sorry for shouting! I just think that narrowing your focus is key to learning.

Keeping the Momentum

Come on you can do anything for 30 days!  Here are some things that have helped me.

  • Hire a coach! Why do you think athletes succeed?
  • Have an accountability partner. This could be a friend or your spouse.
  • Team up with a friend who is willing to take the challenge.
  • Join an online challenge group
  • Use social media to stay accountable.
  • Schedule a time to paint

Painting challenges are fun and a great way to learn. I would love to have you join me.


Here are all the paintings from my latest challenge

Thirty Days of Teal

Start Your Collection – Here’s How

These paintings are available unless marked SOLD.  They are $50.00 plus applicable taxes and  shipping. They come  matted in a black matt that measures 12×12″ with my bio on the back, packaged in a cello sleeve. Contact me directly by replying to this email with your selection. I take credit cards, cheques or cash.

I’m Doing the Happy Dance

….on Sunday evening I received a call from the Executive Director of the Federation of Canadian artists to tell me my application for Signature status had been successful!

So What is the Federation of Canadian Artists (FCA) Anyway?

 Founded in 1941 by a group of Canadian artists including one of the nation’s iconic painters, Group of Seven member Lawren Harris the FCA operates as a non-profit society and its mission is to advance the knowledge and appreciation of art and culture to all Canadians. It is recognized for the high standard of quality it has established and maintains for participating member artists.

Levels of Membership

  • Supporting  membership is open to anyone who appreciates art
  • Active membership – this is a juried process and if accepted allows you to enter exhibitions at the Federation Gallery in Vancouver and with your regional chapter.
  • Associate Membership -AFCA
  • Senior Membership -SFCA

Application Process for  Signature Membership

  • Successful admission into eight qualifying juried exhibitions over four years
  • A portfolio of 10 works
  • Three paintings from the portfolio to be viewed in person


  •  Entries are juried by the Federation’s Board of Governors which is comprised of SFCA members.
  • Successful applicants must receive a majority of “yes” votes to be accepted.
  •  They convene annually to review the year’s batch of applications

I am more than pleased to be among the 15 selected for the Associate level from the 40 artists who put their names and work forward this year. I’m now qualified to place the initials AFCA after my name (hence the reason it’s known as signature status) to indicate this achievement


Here is the portfolio I submitted.

If you are interested I purchasing any of the available paintings or to commission me to do a painting for you please contact me at

Would You Fire Yourself?




That is the question that art coach Alyson Stanfield raised in a recent blog post.

Supposing you where the boss doing an employee review she posed these questions – they got my attention!

Do you show up late for appointments with yourself or others? Do you show up at all?

Are you fully present for the task at hand? Are you able to focus on an important job, or are you too easily distracted?

Do you miss deadlines? Do you only work when you feel like it?

Do you work on what’s important to the boss, or do you procrastinate and waste time? Do you catch yourself spending too much time on little things while avoiding what’s hard?

Do you return calls and emails promptly? Is all of your communication business-like, or has it grown sloppy?

Do you take initiative or wait to be asked? Do you only perform when there is a gun to your head?

Do you avoid tasks because you don’t know how to do them, or do you find a way to make them happen?

Do you make excuses or accept responsibility for your actions?

I have been self employed most of my working life. I have learned a lot about self discipline and accountability. I have always loved what I do making it a whole lot easier to show up. My art business has been the most difficult, my previous businesses have been customer driven – having an order to fill or a project to work on or a store to open. Being an artist is so different (unless of course you have tons of commissions).

I find myself easily distracted by all the other “stuff” that seems important. For me one of the most valuable tools is time blocking. In my recent Goal Setting for Creative Minds workshop we really looked at our time wasters and how we spend our time. Several of the participants where surprised to discover that they had ample time to do the things they wanted to if they prioritized and time blocked. Another technique I use is the Pomodoro Technique for focusing on tasks. Sometimes I am surprised to find out the task I have been putting off really only takes 15 minutes. It also gives you an idea of how long things do take as I tend to be unrealistic when I make my to do list! Aside from that I love variety and have trouble sticking with any one thing for a long period of time.

*Alyson Stanfield is an artist advocate and business mentor at This article was originally published on her Art Biz Blog, which is consistently listed as a top 20 art blog. Read more articles like this at