The Friday Five – Discover Your Creative Gifts

The Friday Five boats 1

Join me every Friday when I run down inspiring links and t’ings.  Our current theme is “What have you done with your Gifts?”

Previous TFF’s can be seen here.

For the last four years I have been the facilitator of the art programme of Cancer Support Services Barbados.  It has been such a wonderful experience and, in sharing what I know, I have received so much more in return.

In today’s Friday Five I’d like to share with you what I have learned by being the facilitator and instructor of a visual arts programme.

group artwork

Insight 1:  Make it a place where people want to come.

Art is a vehicle for self expression so there are no mistakes.  Take care to create an encouraging and supportive environment where participants feel comfortable experimenting and discovering their innate creativity.

Insight 2:  Be sensitive to student needs

The concept of fairness in the classroom does not mean treating everyone the same.  It means giving them what they need to feel successful.  Some students will need additional assistance and encouragement to “let their hair down”.

Insight 3:  Enthusiasm is contagious–remember to bring yours!

‘Nuff said.

Insight 4:  Embrace guest teachers

One  facilitator cannot know everything, so invite other artists to share their talents.  In this way you are assured to incorporate the interests of the group into the curriculum.  One of our most successful units was paper making and card making facilitated by a wonderful guest teacher.

Insight 5:  Building and maintaining a successful programme takes time and commitment.

It takes time to build trust and to get to know people.  It also takes continuous effort on the part of a facilitator to maintain interest and encourage participants to make art between classes.  Take it from me, it is worth your best efforts.  You will be rewarded beyond expectation.




The Friday Five – Discover Your Creative Gifts

The Friday Five boats 1

Join me every Friday when I run down inspiring links and t’ings.  Our current theme is “What have you done with your Gifts?”

Previous TFF’s can be seen here.

July 2015 marks the 4th anniversary for The Art Programme at Cancer Support Services Barbados. Many of the participants have been with the group since its inception. As programme facilitator, I’d like to share some insights from the journey of those who were initially convinced that they didn’t have a creative bone in their body.  I hope the lessons we learned will urge you to begin your own creative journey.

Insight 1: Start Small
The class started simply, each student equipped with an artist’s pen and piece of paper. We doodled.

Over time, artwork blossomed from this,


to this,

group artwork

to this!


Insight 2: Keep moving forward
As time went on we developed skills and took on more artistic challenges. We learned how to make paper, prints on a geli plate and expressed ourselves using mixed media.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Insight 3: Before we knew it…..
We embraced our creative side and discovered that we are all creative. It’s amazing what happens when you nurture your talent.

Insight 4: Just when we thought we couldn’t push ourselves any further, we stretched yet again.
In May we held our first Art Exhibition and learned how to make prints from our artwork. The press came to our opening, we made the papers and we were on the local newscast!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And then, to put the icing on the cake prints of the students’ artwork were presented to speakers at Cancer Support Services’ annual conference.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Insight 5: Art class isn’t just about the art
We also realized that the classes aren’t only about creating –we made new friends with which to share, learn and feel part of a community. We celebrate birthdays and support each other during the tough times. It has been a very worthwhile journey.

So for those of you who think you aren’t creative, or wish you had a vehicle for self expression, art is waiting for you. Come and discover your gifts.

To find out more about Cancer Support Services Barbados and the Art Programme visit their website here and connect with them on Facebook here.


50 Shades of Wonderful–The Beauty of Tetrachromacy

2015-02-15 13.02.22Since I began painting, I have trained my eyes to see.  Not only shapes and pleasing compositions but color as well.  I didn’t set out with this specific intent–I think I simply learned by osmosis or, more simply, by observing–A LOT.

When I first started, the grass was green, a red flower was red and the sea was blue.  These days when I look at the sea, I know its color will be a result of the depth of the ocean, what’s in the ocean and what’s under the ocean.  The amount of cloud cover and sunlight will affect the color of the sea as well.

When I paint the Caribbean Sea, I use a myriad of blues–Ultramarine on the horizon, were the ocean is deep.  Ultramarine then merges with Pthalo Blue and Pthalo Green, and depending on the day, transitions to Peacock Blue.  On sunny days there are often ribbons of cool violets and greens.  Moving closer to the shore, in shallower waters, moss covered rocks lend an Army Green tinge to the water, while at the shoreline there is only a hint of the most transparent Aqua influenced by a yellowish tinge in the sand.  Cloud cover greatly reduces the number of colors seen and turns blues steely.

So I have learned to see as an artist, but I am still a mere mortal–a “trichromat”.  There are those who walk among us with enhanced color perception and they are known as tetrachromats.  Talk about visual stimulation!  Tetrachromats have additional color receptors in their retinas, allowing them to see 100 times more shades of color than we mere mortals, and we can see up to one million shades.

Tetrachromacy is a genetic trait present only in women.  Many may not realize that they possess this potential; however it can be developed through artistic training.  In fact, many tetrachromats may unknowingly be draw to the fields of art and design.  How cool is that?

The Friday Five – Great Pen & Ink Resources

The Friday Five Pen Ink Books Join me every Friday when I run down inspiring links and t’ings.  March’s theme is “All Things Ink”.

Previous TFF’s can be seen here.

Today I’m sharing 5 of my favorite Pen and Ink reference books.  I turn to them time and again for guidance and inspiration.

Rendering in Pen & Ink 60th Anniversary Edition by Arthur L. Guptill

My first purchase, just when I started inking.  Commonly referred to as “The Bible of Pen & Ink”, this book leaves no stone unturned.  More formal in its approach than the others but still a good read.  Gorgeous illustrations will engage professional and amateur alike.

Sketching Your Favorite Subjects in Pen & Ink by Claudia Nice

Excellent coverage of the medium, including tips on materials, techniques, design and composition, perspective.  Helps you develop your drawing skills.  Great gallery of work by some very talented Pen & Ink artists with brief bios.

The Technical Pen – Techniques for Artists by Gary Simmons

Simmons is a self taught artist whose skill grew out of a job requirement.  Lots of info on the medium, great instruction with practice exercises and a fabulous gallery of images.  Inspiring!

And if you want to add a bit of color:

Drawing and Painting Buildings by Richard Taylor

Taylor shares his vast knowledge of drawing, drawing tools, perspective and shading.  Great tips on using pen washes as well as watercolor paints and pencils.

Painting with Watercolor, Pen & Ink by Claudia Nice

One of my favorite authors, a lovely lady and and a wonderful teacher. I was able spend two weekends in her class.  As always, her books contain lots of info on basics and include lots of examples of her fabulous work.  A veritable encyclopedia on the subject written in a conversational tone.

Are there any favorites you think I should add to my list/library?

Developing Your Creative Practice–Part V What to Do When You Get “Stuck”

Welcome to Part Five of Developing your Creative Practice. You can view previous articles in the series here.

You’re probably wondering, after looking at the title to this post, if there’s any sense to the order of the articles in this series? First there’s the article “Why Should I Care About Developing a Creative Practice?, and then Part II gives pointers on “How to Choose”. We are told to be gentle with ourselves and “Learn to Love the Word ‘Beginner’” and then encouraged in Part IV, “The Magic of ‘Me Time’”. Now, in this latest installment, we’re stuck? What’s up with that?

Getting stuck happens to the best of us. It may happen at any point in our creative practice, whether we’re just starting out or in the midst of creating great things. We need to find a way to move around and over these obstacles to creativity. Here’s what I do to get “unstuck”. Continue reading

Developing Your Creative Practice — Part III Learn to Love the Word “Beginner”

“Enjoy developing your talents. How silent the wood if no bird sang save those who sang best.”


I read a wonderful article some time ago that I wish I had kept. It spoke of how we wanted, needed, to be instant masters of our newest pursuit; that we believed perfection was the only goal and should be achieved almost instantaneously—if not, we considered ourselves failures. We dismissed any thought of being a beginner. How sad, the article went on to say, we were missing out. Continue reading

Developing Your Creative Practice — Part II How to Choose

Water Lily

Water Lily

In the first installment of Developing Your Creative Practice I took a bird’s eye view of selecting and starting a creative practice. In Part II of this series, I’d like to provide some ideas that may help in choosing a creative pursuit.
In addition to being excited by or curious about a creative activity, taking stock of your skills and recognizing how you learn can give you some great insight into narrowing down the field of choice.
While the goal is not to choose a creative pursuit that is easy for you—the point isn’t excellence, perfection or mastery right out of the gate, and maybe not ever—it’s nice to do a bit of pre-work that will increase the odds that you will select an activity that you enjoy and increase your odds for personal success. Continue reading

Developing Your Creative Practice – Part One

Whenever I’m about to learn something new, I always ask myself “SO WHAT?” I need to know how this “something new” fits into my life, where the application lies, and how it makes things better.You may, after glancing at the title to this article, have asked yourself:

“Why should I care about developing a creative practice?”  Continue reading