The Power of Creative Play

Last week I had the opportunity to take a collage stop-motion animation workshop at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. It was an impulsive decision. I have been feeling stuck creatively and personally with there being a lot of uncertainty in all areas of my life and was feeling stressed from all the global uncertainty as well.

After watching some inspiring collage animation, including the Academy Award winning Frank Film by Frank Mouris and  lyrics on paper by Jeremy Rourke among others, our teacher, Kathleen Quillian, showed us how to use the work station which consisted of a webcan that captured images that were automatically loaded in a animation software program that the Exploratorium had created.

We were then set free to create whatever we wanted and had a lot to play with including magazines to cut out images, geometric blocks, glitter and paint. At first, as is usual when I find myself in these kinds of situations, I got overwhelmed as to even know where and how to start and decided to keep it simple. I used some blocks to play around with so I can get comfortable with the setup. For each movement of the stop-motion animation, it was suggested that we take 2 images per movement to create a smoother transition. It takes 24 frames to create 1 second of animation so this does require a lot of patience.

For my second stop-motion animation, I chose a background from a magazine and gorilla cut out, complete with workout attire, and more blocks. I had fun with the process which allowed the animation to unfold on its own.

Lastly, I decided to play around with acrylic paint. I didn’t have an agenda in mind beyond wanting to use primary colors on acetate and using the mandala as a theme. It also helped that I was seated next to a 10-year old girl who really let loose creatively.

I learned a lot from this experience which I hope to carry over to other parts of my life where I need to make some big and small decisions and have been feeling stuck. I also hope it will help me as I try and develop an ongoing creative practice. Some of my lessons include:

  • One of my biggest challenges in cultivating an ongoing creative art practice is that it has been hard to set up the physical space for myself to creatively play. It helped that everything was already set up. It was nice to be shown the benefit of taking the time to set things up properly before diving in and exploring creatively.
  • Start somewhere! I got overwhelmed by the many choices I had and by keeping it simple and and creating some parameters around each project, it made it easier to trust the creative process and put one step in front of the other and let go of the outcome.
  • I was surprised I was able to be as productive as I was in a short period of time. While the animations aren’t “polished,” they were fun to do and I appreciate their quirkiness and I was able to work on 3 animations within 3 hours! Been a good lesson in learning how to get out of my own way and out of my head.
  • It was inspiring to learn from others, especially from kids who aren’t afraid to let go and experiment.
  • While there is a lot of uncertainty around me right now, it is up to me to create certainty in my life and show up to myself as I move forward one step at a time.

Shadow Play Series — The Dance Between Light and Dark


Shadow Play Series Digital Images
Shadow Play Series Digital Images

As the days are slowly getting longer, I have been taking time to reflect, review and refuel. I was reminded of the many shadow images I have taken over the past 4 years when I was fascinated by the shadows that would randomly show up and decided to assemble them as a series.

After bringing them into Photoshop without any manipulation, I experimented with printing them out on matte photo paper and realized they had ethereal qualities similar to Man Ray’s experimental Rayographs which were photograms (photographs created on photo-sensitive paper without a camera) he created during the 1920s.

In my case these were abstract images that showed up during different times of the day on my walls and ceiling that I decided to capture with my iPhone.

When I began doing this, I was taken by how beautiful some of these shadows were and how personally we often shy away from diving deep into our own shadows out of fear, and yet personally over the years the deeper I have gone addressing my own shadow-self, the more I am able to allow for the light to come in.

A Study in Violets — Part III

Violets, Oil Transfer with Watercolor 2016, 9 inches x 12 inches

The violets continue to thrive as I spent the last few weeks healing from getting hit by a pick-up truck. Though no broken bones, I was quite sore and now grateful to be feeling a lot better. Didn’t want to lose what little momentum I made this year in my art/blogging practice so decided to do another painting. This time using oil pastels and watercolor. It felt so good to do!

Goodbye 2016. You were certainly a challenging year and yet I have learned so much that I hope to carry forward.

Wishing everyone a happy, prosperous 2017!

Violet Friday


Imagine my surprise to see the violet plant I got a few months ago starting to bloom again! Spent an afternoon playing around in colored pencil. A little bit of springtime during a gray, dreary autumn day. Not sure about the result, but I enjoyed the process, trying to keep it loose.

Coming Back to Center — The Tree as a Symbol in Art


Tree Book, Oil Transfer with Watercolor 2016, 12 inches x 9 inches
Tree Book, Oil Transfer with Watercolor 2016, 12 inches x 9 inches

While this week has been challenging for me (and many I know), I realize I had to pull back to take care of myself and take stock, especially during these uncertain times.

I was reminded of a project I did a few months ago where I chose to explore the tree as a symbol. I chose it for what it represents for me in terms of learning to be more grounded in the creative process and it was a challenge for me to get there initially, though I would have some moments of grace in between personal fires I had to deal with in my life at that time. This project helped me deal with the challenges in my life proactively.

treebook1During my initial exploration, I was reminded of what I had learned from the Four Fold Way program I did a few years ago with Angeles Arrien and how she would use the tree as a symbol. The roots representing the ancestors and the past, the trunk present work and branches the future and would have us do a standing meditation, an effective tool, which I incorporated while I did my initial sketches of trees.

She used remind us to be like a tree, well rooted and grounded and able to go with the flow, which is a challenge for me as I do tend to be in my head a lot and get pulled in many directions and allow myself to get overwhelmed, especially this week.


During the project, I got caught up between the hurry, hurry energy of getting it done verses slowing down to appreciate the process, but once I committed to doing the meditation practice and slowing down it allowed me to be present and was much easier for me to find the patience within to draw and following through with the steps I needed to complete the book.

This has been a good life lesson for me that I need to come back to as I move forward.