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ARTstarters: Creativity at pLaY!

Blogger:  Nicole Steiman, The Creativity Coach, Founder of The ARTbar Hands-on Studio

  • 31 May 2015 7:48 AM | Nicole The Creativity Coach (Administrator)

    Do you remember painting when you were a child?  Most likely you picked up your brush, dipped it (totally and completely) into your favorite color and spread it nice and thick on your paper. You probably painted the most outrageous fun shape that would make you smile. And it was beautiful!

    We are often asked why we don't offer classes for kids.  The simplest way to explain it is that they really don't need us.

    Once we exit Elementary School, something happens to us.  Some realize they are good at art, and may even continue it for further study.  And the rest of us, resolved that we are NOT good at art and STOPPED doing it.  Maybe we were intimidated by the talent of a sibling or friend.  Or maybe we simply decided that it had nothing to do with our future field of study.  After all, why do art if you don't want to be an artist?  

    But do you know what?  That pure blissful feeling of dipping that brush into our favorite color and spreading it across the paper -- it still feels good no matter what age you are . . . and what talent you have and what job you have.  Art and creativity releases something in the soul that helps us to relax, to focus and to have fun.  It helps the brain with problem solving and possibility thinking.  For some of the people I work with on a weekly basis, it is the only time they forget their chronic pain or life situation and actually smile for 2 hours straight.  And it helps us see our lives in different ways.

    Are you among the casualties separated from art? Do you feel like you've lost your creativity? Maybe even your teenage son, daughter or niece? Have they lost their sense of PLAY with art - maybe turning to something with a more pre-determined outcome, such as video games or movies?  

    If you or someone you know has forgotten what it's like to PLAY with PAINT, to let go of expectation and outcome, to tap into your creative instinct, then The ARTbar is looking for YOU!  We sincerely believe that ART wants you to be found, and that you were created to be CREATIVE. 

    (Pictured above: Painting in Layers with Workshop UA1)

    The Urban Acrylics series is meant just for that -- it's pLaY time, with easy and unique techniques woven in, that will help you be successful at finding your inner artist. No supplies required - we'll be painting with lots of unusual tools and bringing out the paint pens, ink sprays, air blowers and more.  And when you let the paint FLY, you will be amazed at the beautiful things you create!

    (Pictured above: Mixed-Media Mania in workshop UA4)

    This summer we have added classes during the day on Wednesdays and Fridays ESPECIALLY for those ages 12 and up, because we believe in YOU and what you can CREATE!

    (Pictured above: Paint by Pouring in workshop UA5)

    And somewhere in the midst of the Urban Acrylic Series, you will start to remember how you once created paintings like the one pictured way, way above . . . at the very top of this blog post :)

  • 13 May 2015 8:35 PM | Nicole The Creativity Coach (Administrator)

    Life can seem a bit messy at times. This is an everyday truth - and an understatement -- for many of the artists I create with. Some are homeless, shuffling between various group homes, overcoming addictions and mental illness, mending broken relationships or dealing with past hurts. They are some of the bravest people I know because in the midst of the mess around them, they still keep creating, still keep moving on, and continue to find beauty in the chaos.

    This week they made a beautiful visualization of "finding beauty in the chaos" -- a weaving of all the leftover scraps of papers that they had painted the previous week.  These were all the pieces trimmed off from other projects, or deemed not worthy of being used in the first place.

    As they all gathered around to weave their small pieces together, I could sense the beauty and spirit around us.  They saw their life in that weaving - I know I saw mine too!  THIS is why I am a creativity coach!  

    So just in case you were wondering why we're not open during the week, and what we are out in the community doing . . . I will try to update you with some of these amazing stories that happen almost every week.

    I am so blessed with the artists I get to work with.  And I hope their artwork inspires you as well!

    Note:  For more thoughts on "beauty in the midst of chaos", see Chapter Three of Nicole's book "Think Like an Artist" -- now available on Amazon.

  • 19 Jan 2015 9:07 PM | Nicole The Creativity Coach (Administrator)

    It’s hard to believe that it’s the start of another new year!  We look back and life seems to happen so fast. Yet when we’re in the moment, time can sometimes seem so slow. We can honor the time we’ve spent, by remembering and celebrating it.

    One way to commemorate our special moments is to turn an ordinary sparkling beverage (or even a not-so-ordinary special beverage) into a Celebration Bling Bottle.  

    (Pictured left: Bling Bottle created by Tramisha P.)

    Start by journaling about the things from last year that you would like to celebrate -- accomplishments, things you've done or goals you've met.  I encourage you to go even beyond those "big moments and accomplishments" -- and think of even small special moments with special people that stand out to you . . . include memories, people and things you are grateful for. Try for at least 16 things to celebrate -- list and draw them in your journal.  (More is great!  Many gratitude experts and psychologists suggest making a list of 100!)

    Note:  if things come up that disappoint you or bring up feelings of regret or loss, try to push those things aside and search for the moments that you want to keep in your memory. Don't be discouraged if you can't come up with 16, perhaps you are thinking of too broad of items.  Remember: every small moment is important.  You don't need to have a "rich" life to have a life rich with memories.

    These are your "gems" from the year that you should CELEBRATE, whether or not you met those BIG GOALS from the year or not.  Choose sparkling gems to represent these "gems" from your year and add them to a sparkling beverage bottle that you can open up later for your own celebration!  Afterward it can be used as a special vase.

    (Pictured above: Bling Bottle artwork created by members of Project STAY in Santa Ana and the OASIS senior center in Anaheim - 2 of the nonprofits that The ARTbar works with on a weekly basis.)


    Join us this month for our "jOuRnAl pLaY: Celebration" session and we'll share with you more tips for celebrating 2014 and adding more BLING to 2015!

    Our Express Members can find a step-by-step guide with tips for this project on their member page. To join, click here - it's just $5 a month!  And your money goes to support our work with nonprofits, rehab programs and mental health organizations.

  • 31 Oct 2014 1:49 AM | Nicole The Creativity Coach (Administrator)

    With all the ghouls and monsters running around town tonight, it's easy to get pulled into the dark and scary aspects of this weekend.  What I love most about Dia de Los Muertos is what a great CONTRAST it is to the tradition of Halloween. Rather than collecting treats, we CREATE and SHARE treats. It's a tradition of celebrating the art of LIFE! 

    Don't let the skulls fool you - sugar skulls are made of sugar and decorated with frosting and foils and gems in bright colors to remind us that although death will come to us all, the living of life is sweet indeed! It truly is a gift.

    It's the perfect time to honor someone you love who has passed through your life. It's also the perfect opportunity to remind YOURself to CELEBRATE LIFE and those you love NOW while we have the chance.

    (pictured above: blended pastels using pieces of a skull banner as templates)

    What are your favorite ways to celebrate life? This is a great question to discuss with family, friends and art groups of your own. Here are some of the answers I have collected this week: . . . dance, sing, love, share my purpose, shine my light, live my faith.

    My guess is that we all love celebrating life through ART!

  • 30 Sep 2014 10:31 PM | Nicole The Creativity Coach (Administrator)

    New Year's Day is always filled with so much promise of hope.  The new year ahead seems like a blank slate with none of the old garbage of what's behind me.  I love that fresh feeling that anything is possible!

    But here we are now on October 1st.  And January 1st seems like it was so long, long ago . . . Where did my chance for a fresh start go?  What happened to all the excitement about what I wanted to create?

    It's still here in me somewhere.

    In reality, every day, and every moment, can be a new start . . . even October 1st can be the 1st day of a new year, a new month . . . a new moment in time. Time to take back the HOPE, THE POSSIBILITY AND THE INSPIRATION that used to belong only to New Year's Day!  It's time to DAYDREAM again . . . 

    Studies show that focused daydreaming can actually lead us to INSPIRATION!  The most creative people see life as a constant opportunity to set new goals, ask questions, try new things, be curious and use imagination.

    Join me in the Creative Ritual of Daydreaming. The challenge is to daydream every day about new possibilities and do as many of the journal prompts this month as you can! The prompts will give you some suggestions about what to daydream and journal about. Do them on any day that you wish and color in the squares for each one you do. (It makes it colorful and you'll visually see your journaling progress!)

    Possibility Calendar.pdf

    (If you don't yet have a password, simply join as a free member to access the journaling calendar above.)

    Everything around us that we see as "real" started once as an idea in somebody's imagination. We can do the same in our life too . . . It's a great place to start!

  • 20 Jun 2014 3:06 PM | Nicole The Creativity Coach (Administrator)

    It’s been better than reality TV!  We have a hawks' nest right outside our backyard with 2 baby hawks.  My kids and I have been looking through binoculars, logging comments on bird-watching websites (who would have thought?), and sketching them in our journals. We witnessed crows dive-bombing them and trying to run them out of town – and also all sorts of interesting meals they brought to their babies (including, yes, baby crows . . . ).

    But now Spring is coming to an end, and the babies are getting much bigger.  I don’t know how scary it is for a bird to learn how to soar – after all, they were created to do that.  But by the tentative hops and frantic fluttering of wings, I have to think that just like most things that we learn as humans, it is a learning process for them.

    We too were made to soar.  And I am thinking that this summer may by my time to fly the coop - metaphorically speaking!  Go a little outside the boundaries of my nest -- try hopping around on a bigger branch.  This morning I shared some Art & Life Metaphors with a group of 40 counselors.  Community speaking is becoming a bigger and bigger part of my business.  As I grow, my world grows too.

    Watching birds - and drawing them - can be a great way to take a deep, creative breath.  Here's a great video to remind us how simple sketching can really be when we are capturing what we see . . . 

    Put some bird seed out in your yard and you'll have tons of birds to sketch!

    What is your “coop”?  What boundaries have you set around yourself that stop you from where you want to be?  What “wings” do you have that need to flutter just a little bit and catch a drift of air . . .  

    And once you start soaring, where do you want to go?

    I believe that creativity are “wings” that we all have been given.  The ARTbar is here to remind you that you CAN soar!

    • Take a ZENTANGLE class.  Have you seen the beautiful drawings and thought “I can’t draw that!”?  Once you take a class and create your own 1st Zentangle tile, you’ll be asking yourself what else you told yourself you couldn’t do?
    • Read the book ARTstarters and think like an artist with the 5 Creative Mindsets of Possibility, Listening, Beauty, Vulnerability, and Passion.
    • Make a handmade journal with Kelly Kilmer  - and then fill it with your dreams!
    • Play during our Studio Time – no outcome or goal required.  Just see where your creativity leads you, or follow one of our journal prompts, or try a suggested sample project.
    • Gather a small group of friends to create together!  Book a private party at The ARTbar and create a time to remember .
    •  . .

    The ARTbar wishes you a very creative summer!  Fly HIGH!

  • 23 May 2014 11:47 AM | Nicole The Creativity Coach (Administrator)

    What I love most about creativity is that it keeps life fun!  It's seems like more of our days are becoming filled with things we have to do, people we need to take care of, and pressures that can feel too great to bear.

    Do you have a “To Do” list that is like a monkey on your back?  

    Why not try “monkeying around” with it?  

    Find the fun in it and turn a boring task into a creative one . . .  

    “I need to exercise more”  can become  “I’m going to chase my kids around the park for a 5-minute sprint!  And then go buy a Hula Hoop and rollerskates too!”

    “This house is a mess” can become “I’m going to put a bouquet of flowers right here in the middle of it!  And then I’m going to clean off the table so I can sit down and sketch them.”

    “Ugh – the garage is out of control” can become “I’m going to make it my own private ‘Fun Zone’ and get rid of all the stuff that is bogging me down!”

    “I have to start eating healthier!” can be your reason to find a fun new recipe and try it out.  Maybe even think of how you can share that recipe with someone else. 

    “I really need to journal more” can make you even ask why that’s a to-do list at all.  Do it when you feel like it!  In fact, why not open up your empty journal right now and just spill out onto the pages why you even feel guilty about that at all.

    Awhile back in my corporate life, I taught a seminar about bringing energy to the workplace.  When we feel exhausted, everything suffers – our productivity, our performance, our excellence, our creativity.  One way to get back our energy is to connect what we are doing to what is important to us.  And another way is to turn a dreaded task into something that is more fun!

    Our inner artist already knows this:

    It’s no fun to do task lists that are boring and routine.

    ** What is on your “To Do” life this week or this weekend?

    ** Why is this task meaningful to you?

    ** How can you make it more creative and fun?

    I would love to hear your stories!

    -- Creative Wishes,

    Nicole, The Creativity Coach

  • 01 Feb 2014 9:46 AM | Nicole The Creativity Coach (Administrator)
    If you've been here recently you may have noticed that the Santora Building is CHANGING too. The buildings new owners are making rapid changes: walls are bring painted, spaces are being redesigned, murals are being replaced, and two amazing galleries have been given 30 days notice to vacate: Green Door Gallery and Studio del Sotano). Although we are excited about what new things may be in their future, it is still very hard to say goodbye to our creative community of free expression, specifically here in the basement where we have been for more than 11 years. (Links above will lead to new articles about the changing Santora Building.)

    We don't know what change will come next for ARTbar but we are staying curious . . . and, as always, open to creating new possibilities.

    You can use our journal prompts to also stay curious. February's ARTstarter calendar is all about CURIOSITY through CHANGE.  Join a free membership to access it!
  • 14 Oct 2013 9:10 AM | Nicole The Creativity Coach (Administrator)

    Walking in Other Shoes

    They are usually found in a heap by my door, dirty, scraped up, smelly and left for me to trip over on my way into the house.  They are the shoes of the people I most love in this world.   Although I think of my family often, I rarely think of what they put on their feet, unless they complain they are starting to hurt, or one of them tries to wear something I feel is totally inappropriate.

    But when you think about it, shoes are what cover our feet as we go through life.  They style us, they protect us, and they enable us to fearlessly move forward into otherwise dangerous terrain, filled with sharp stones and microscopic creatures of the dirt.

    When we look at someone’s shoe, we see a glimpse of where they went and where they could possibly go --  IF we look closely enough to get another view.  In fact, when we quiet our own voices from our own perspective, we can almost start to put ourselves in their shoes.

    Journal Exercise from this month's ARTstarter calendar on Perspective:  Draw a shoe that belongs to someone you care about.  

    Insight: I need to remember just how much energy a 5 year old boy has and how hard it must be to contain it in this big exciting world!  I need to remember it so I can understand him -- but also so that I can tap into my own excitement, energy and curiosity about MY world.

  • 17 Sep 2013 2:04 PM | Nicole The Creativity Coach (Administrator)

    Art gives us the perfect opportunity to see into our imagination.  As we get out the colored pencils, paints, and pencils, we can express our feelings and make something from them that we can see visually.

    Journals are great for this expression.  I like to think of them more as a little peekhole than a big window - they capture how we feel in that moment.  We can capture a brief snapshot of our life in even just a few minutes.  A journal can be a private and safe place to explore without the pressure to create something that needs to be shared or admired.  

    At the other end of the spectrum is to create a bigger picture vision.  Many have done this by creating a Vision Board, a collection of inspiring images and words that are glued onto a board.  Instead of just showing a peek into “How do I feel right now,”  a Vision Board gives a big picture view of “HOw do I feel about LIFE AND MY BIG ROLE IN IT”.  But making a Vision Board can be both a good and a bad experience.

    I am referencing Vision Boards in the book I am currently writing and would LOVE to hear what YOU think of them - the good, the bad, and the ugly -- especially the latter!!  Please share here or on Facebook (link here).

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