Saturday, April 30, 2016


One desk for analog, one desk for digital.
Back in 2012, when I read Austin Kleon's Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative, I was struck by his idea of creating one space for "analog" production and one space for "digital" production.  He designated one desk for "nothing but markers, pens, pencils, paper, index cards, and newspaper," allowing nothing electronic there.  He reserved a second deskfor everything digital - his laptop, monitor, scanner, and drawing tablet.

I loved this idea of separating the two modes of production, but couldn't wrap my mind around how to do it.  I had everything mashed up on one desk, and always felt cramped by my computer when I was doing something that did not involve it.

Fast forward four years to about a month ago.  I was doing a major decluttering of our apartment, and finally decided to tackle the home office. After getting rid of a lot of books, papers, and supplies, I took a look at my side of the room. (I share it with my husband.)  I ditched a bunch of clunky, random pieces of furniture and replaced them with an inexpensive 4-foot utility table which I ordered online.

I then moved my computer and printer to the utility table, leaving the desk with the larger surface free to do creative work by hand.  I filled the perimiters of the desk with visuals that inspire me - e.g. artist postcards from the Twitter Art Exhibit, pens and pencils, fresh flowers, and my go-to book for inspiration, Start from Where You Are.

I'm not sure why it took four years to figure out to do this, but I am so happy that I did.  I'm looking forward to using the two spaces, especially the "analog" one!

Here are some resources to gather inspiration for creating your space to create. When I look at these books/magazines, I know I'm often looking at spaces of people with a lot of financial resources who do their creative work full time.  I keep that in mind, and focus on using the resources that I have.

* Where Women Create: Inspiring Work Spaces for Extraordinary Women, published by Stampington and Company's Somerset Studio, Created by Jo Packham. This is a magazine that you can pick up at Barnes and Nobles. In the May/June/July 2016 issue, you will find a profile of Stacia Lang, who used to design costumes for Prince.

* Maker Spaces: Creative Interiors from the Homes and Stideos of Inspiring Makers and Designers, by Emily Quinton; photography by Kelen Cathcart.

* A Room of Her Own: Women's Personal Spaces. By Chris Casson Madden; photography by Jennifer Levy.

* Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon.  Check out pages 58-61, where he describes and shows how he created his analog and digital desks.

* A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf.

Saturday, April 02, 2016


One of the daily "Art to Self" pics I get in my inbox each morning.
I know that experts would not recommdend looking at your electronic device first thing after waking up, but I spend a good 45 minutes with my iPhone and earplugs to get my morning started on a note of inspiration.

Here's what's in my inbox that I read or listen to:

A short meditation set to music read by Tama Kieves from her book A Year Without Fear: 365 Days of Magnificence.

A short daily motivation video and message delivered by the featuring the great writer and speaker Les Brown.

Art To Self, "daily cartoons to remind you of your awesomeness."

A meditation introduced by Oprah Winfrey and led by Deepak Chopra.

How do you like to start your day on a positive note?


I'm a big fan of tiny books.  But they often get knocked over by or lost amongst the large books on my bookshelf.  Recently, while I was organizing my home office, I decided to put all my tiny books together in a clear plastic shoebox-sized container. When I need some quick inspiration or bedtime reading, I just grab one from the box.  Instant happiness!

Monday, March 21, 2016


What fun would life be without whimsical, unexpected surprises?  My husband came home the other night, asked me to close my eyes and hold out my hands.  I did, and when I opened my eyes, I observed with delight a package of various sizes of post-its covered with the designs of the late, great pop artist Keith Haring.  As someone who loves both paper stationary items as well as Haring's work, this was the perfect small surprise.  Plus, as someone who writes my daily schedule down on post-its, it was something I could put to use right away.

A bunch of years ago, I saw a terrific performance choreographed by a young teacher from a dance studio.  Unless choreographers are famous, they are given very little, if any public recognition for their work.  I called the studio and asked if I could send a bouquet of flowers to her there.  They gave their okay, so I sent the flowers as well as an email expressing my appreciation of her choreography. 

If you know that you are going to see the recipient in person, you can pick up a bouquet of flowers or a plant and give it to him or her directly.  I just brought two little brightly-colored potted flowers to the guard at the front desk of a local public school.  I knew that something colorful and living would go a long way with her, since her desk is covered with clipboards and computer monitors.

Another thing I like to do is stock up on an inexpensive item and give it away as a gift, even if it is not that person's birthday.  I recently gave a mini wall calendar to a branch librarian who has always gone out of her way to be friendly and welcoming to me when I come in.

One of the most cherished surprises, especially in the age of the internet, is the greeting card with a hand-written note.  I often add fun touches to the cards I send, e.g. stickers and a fun stamp design that I've picked out at the post office.  To make card-sending an easy task, I recommend setting up a drawer just for that activity.  Fill it with stamps, stickers, return address labels, stationery and cards.  In the spirit of being budget-minded, look for the .99 cent cards (there are lots of cute ones!) at Trader Joe's and local drug stores.  Also: go for boxed cards so that you don't have to always buy them one at a time.

Tiny inspirational books can make a nice surprise gift.  I love La Vie en Rose: The Little Book of Joy and Happiness Is: 500 things to be happy about.

A phone call out of the blue saying "Hello, how are you?" can be a lovely surprise.  A phone call can be filled with far more nuance than an email, and it can be comforting to hear a real human voice.

Finally, for a bigger surprise for a bigger occasion, a basket or box filled with the recipient's favorite things can bring delight to both of you.  One holiday season, I filled a basket with my great aunt's favorite food treats and brought it over to her apartment.

What are some lovely surprises that you have both given and received?  Please do share; I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, September 09, 2015


Make Mail!  A Letter-Writing Workshop for Children and Their Parents/Caregivers

Wednesday, September 16

3:30 p.m. - 4:45
Ages 5+

Location:  Carroll Park Parkhouse

Letter-writing, a long-lost art form, is a wonderful way to express yourself, and to keep in touch with friends and family members.

Come join literacy tutor Eleanor Traubman for an afternoon of intergenerational fun.  Stamps are provided!

RSVPs appreciated to