Lessons I learnt from my Sabbatical September

Dear friends and fellow colour enthusiasts!

Wow, what a month September was! I’m so happy that I said yes to the adventure and challenge of painting NO Mandala Stones for the month of September! It was a jam packed month travel wise and creatively. You can read my day by day journal (with pictures!) here

But for now I wanted to take a moment to reflect on a few things I learnt from my “Sabbatical September”

First, I noticed that I am totally an over-achiever! I already knew this about myself but boy oh boy did this month show it! I WAS SO BUSY! Just because I didn’t paint Mandala Stones didn’t mean that I had any time off! In fact I think I was more productive than usual. I wanted to make the most of the time I had- as though I were to never have any time for non-mandala-stone activities ever again. Ultimately it comes down to balance- something I am continually challenged and working on. I do know that I need to schedule time in for other artistic activities AND time to relax too!

I love painting Mandala Stones!

It seems obvious, but this month truly reminded me how much I love creating Mandala Stones. I have been painting these treasures since 2013, and often full time. That’s a long time to do any one thing (especially for an artist) and I am so happy to report that the magic and thrill I felt creating the first Mandala Stone in 2013 is alive and thriving!

When October 1st rolled around I woke up and got to work straight away! I created a Mandala Stone in my current colour combination obsession (pictured below). IT FELT GREAT! I had some other errands to do that day that took me away from painting more and I was quite cranky about it! I was ready to loose myself in the joy of creating these treasures.


I really love painting pictures too!!!

One of my goals for September was to take part in an instagram challenge and so I partook in #squareathon, hosted by Melissa Doty for 16 days. The theme was “flower child” with each day a different prompt from music from the 60s/70s.

I learnt SO much from this challenge-

  • I love being part of a community challenge! I loved seeing how others interpreted the prompts and I discovered some wonderful new artists (such as Susan Bence)

  • I was challenged to think outside the box! I explored so many new ideas and had so much inspiration!

  • I love painting actual pictures too! This used to be what I did full time before Mandala Stones so it was really nice to return to this practice.

  • That it is OK not to complete a challenge! I was on a road trip for 1 week out of the 16 days and so I had to surrender that it was too hard to partake during this time. It was a painful decision to make but ultimately the best for my stress levels (after all these challenges are meant to be fun- not stressful!)

Here are all my completed pieces-


The JOY of collaboration

One of my highlights from the month was the collaborative piece of art my husband Adam and I created together. On one of the last warm days of summer we sat in the garden and painted driftwood which we turned into a garden mobile. It was such a loving and bonding experience.

I also had a journal date night with a friend which was also very meaningful for me.

Art making- especially working from a home studio, can be so isolating. Creating something with another person or even just in the company of another is deeply enriching and I hope to foster more of these connections and moments.

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Indulging in a colour combination obsession

When I create a collection of Mandala Stones I mindfully try and use all the colours! I like a balanced palette to appeal to the many different tastes people have. You know me- I love colour! but sometimes I do totally go through phases!

In September, I unconsciously indulged in my current favourite colour combination- blues, red, orange and yellow. Interestingly enough I had chosen this restricted colour palette for my #squareathon entries. I then began to notice these colours EVERYWHERE! including the clothes I wore.

Here is a colour-collected grid I created-

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As an artist I think it is important to go where inspiration flourishes. Colour is a huge part of “what I do” and by indulging in a restricted palette my world and creativity opened up in ways like never before. As these phases are just that- I think its vital to give proper time and energy towards the colours that make my heart sing

At the end of the month I had to laugh at my paint palette- no green, pink or purple to be seen!!!

(don’t you love the indigo fabric I dyed at Indigo Fest -more on that below)

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Being an eternal student

Lately I have felt the need to “branch” out and take classes in other forms of artistic impression. It’s not that I want to chance what I’m doing, I just want to learn and try new things. I want to be an “eternal student of creativity!”

I have LOVED every single workshop/class that I have taken over the years. My cup is filled in a whole new way.

I was thrilled to be able to attend “Indigo Festival” on the Oregon Coast hosted by my friend Britt (and new friends Iris and Kara). For 3 days we lived indigo- we even ate it! Seriously- the caterer at the farm we stayed on always included an indigo element to our meals (rice, pudding, whipped cream, tea)

I go into more detail about the workshop on dates September 20-22 here

The weekend was so inspiring and nourishing and I left the farm walking on cloud 9! A highlight was learning from and along side other people- another way to branch out of the solo home studio situation.I want to continue taking classes and exploring different artistic expressions. (I have already signed up to a copic journal making workshop woo!)

(Photo of our group by Fawn Deviney)

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Effortless VS Effort-full fun

I recently listening to an Ingrid Fetell Lee (author of “The Aesthetics of Joy” interview Laura Vanderkam (author of “What the Most Successful People do Before Breakfast) about how to make time for the things that truly bring you joy.

Laura is also an expert about “time” and how to use it mindfully and meaningfully. In the interview she talked about how our memories are made by doing fun new things. These things don’t have to be expensive or take up a whole lot of time- even a 10 minute “joy break” can promote well being and give our day a reset.

What struck me most is when she described the difference between “effortless fun” and “effort-full fun” and that it is the things that we do differently and intentionally that fully bring us into the moment, create lasting memories and deeper joy. Effortless fun (like painting mandala stones) are these things we do that are automatic to us and can consume the bulk of our time- because it is what we know best- it is easy. Effortful- fun (like the activities I embarked upon during September) require more discipline, thought, mindfullness but the payoffs are huge!

This theory made so much sense to me and basically wraps up why September was so important and enjoyable for me.

Of course it doesn’t mean one has to stop engaging in effortless fun- but to mix in effort-full fun into the day too!

On that note friends, I think I’ll wrap this up here- my sketchbook is calling!

I hope you have enjoyed these insights and I’d love to hear of any discoveries you’ve had with your own creativity lately.

With gratitude,