Category Archives: creativity




I have committed to 15 days of blogging with C4 – an organization in Atlanta that – according to their vision statement – helps Atlanta artists learn to make a living from art. This is a great way to connect with other like minded artists receiving a prompt a day.  

What is my purpose here on this earth and why do I exist?  To quote Emerson, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” Living a life well lived is finding your true voice and your gift – and the purpose is giving it back to the Universe.

Why do I create? I have to. I am a learner.  I am an observer. I am an experimenter – I’ll try anything once (within the law of course). Observations lead to dreams, which leads to explorations and to the path only I can see.  The path I will forge, not a path I can follow.  “The things that make me different are the things that make me me.” A.A. Milne

Yes, I believe it is a better life lived when you sometimes fail by being original than succeeding by copying others. 

“I am seeking. I am striving. I am in it with all my heart” Vincent Van Gogh,  Maybe a more simplified version of this for a t-shirt saying, maybe just SEEKING and EXPLORING, PASSIONATELY.




I vowed this year to keep up with what I’m reading and share it on a monthly basis. I hope to get some new ideas for books too – because I read every day!P2280049_1444This is a sample of what I have stacked up to read!  Here is what I finished in February:

Everybody Was So Young: Gerald and Sara Murphy: A Lost Generation Love Story  by Amanda Vaill.  This was such an interesting biography.  Gerald and Sara lived in Paris and then the south of France. There they entertained Picasso, Hemingway, the Fitzgeralds, Stavinsky and others.  Gerald was an artist – and despite being exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art – he packed up his brushes and abruptly quit. It is said the couple was the inspiration for the characters Nick and Nicole Driver in F. Scott Fitzgeralds Tender is the Night (I need to reread it now). Both Hemingway and Picasso may have been in love with Sara. The couple were friends with the Fitzgeralds until their sad demise. They also remained close to Hemingway. But if wasn’t all fun and games, there was alot of heartbreaks along the way. My synchronistic moment:  about 2/3 of the way through the book, Sara befriends Calvin Tompkins, who remains in the book until the end.  Last month I read Off the Wall: A Portrait of Robert Rauschenberg – written by – Calvin Tompkins. 

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey. This consists of little stories about daily habits of 160 artists – consisting of novelists, playwrights, painters, philosophers, scientists, composers and more. I could write an entire blog on this book and I plan on going back through it and keeping track of which rituals appear with frequency. Many of the people profiled took long daily walks and carried a notebook to jot down ideas. Thomas Wolfe wrote standing up in the kitchen. Trollop made sure he wrote 3000 words every morning before going to his job at the postal service. Stravinsky was unable to compose unless he was positive no one could hear him – and then stood on his head to clear his brain. Balanchine did his greatest work while ironing. The list goes on – enjoyable read.

The Blind Contessa’s New Machine  by Carey Wallace. I picked this book up on a bargain table in a book store (yes, in a real brick and mortar book store).  And yes, I did choose it based on the cover.  But it was a delightful find – a very small book.  It tells the story of an Italian contessa who goes blind and no one believes her, except for a local inventor and long time friend, Turri. Wanting to communicate with the Contessa, he builds what is thought to be the first working typewriter. I loved the magical realism in the dream sequences in the book, and I loved the fact it is a book of fiction that is based on a very obscure historical event.  Isn’t the cover inviting:


The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro. Claire is an artist who makes a living reproducing famous works of art for an online company. She is approached by THE GALLERY OWNER in Boston to forge a Degas from a copy.  This is one of the paintings that was stolen in the famous Gardner Heist.  If you don’t know the story, click here.  Briefly it is the largest art heist in history when in 1990 two men went into the museum in the middle of the night and stole 13 pieces of art – none have ever been recovered.  All is not what it seems and I couldn’t put it down.  Another SYNCHRONISTIC moment in reading – forgers find a painting by a lesser known artist from the period of what they are forging and use that canvas.  In this book, a painting by the artist Meissonier was used.  Last month I read the book The Judgement of Paris, The Revolutionairy Decade That Gave the World Impressionism by Ross King.  Lo and behold, this book followed the career of Edouard Manet and Ernest Meissonier, who was the most successful artist in Paris at that time!  (and generally overlooked now)

Gustav Klimt, Painter of Women by Susanna Partsch. I haven’t read the entire book, but I have enjoyed looking at the plates in it.  Klimt is one of my favorite artists.  Below is an image of The Kiss – one of the most beautiful paintings ever.  If you ever get a chance to see a Klimt in person, don’t miss the opportunity.


What am I reading now – actually I’m between books.  I did start a book about Henry VIII, but I realized most of the major characters are beheaded and I kind of lost my way – maybe I’ll pick it back up.

Last thing – what am I watching?  I discovered House of Cards and binged on it one weekend. I’m up to episode 8, I feel another binge weekend coming up!

What are you reading or watching?  Give me suggestions.

P2150046_1446Ziggy likes to get in on the action too – he’s been caught pulling art books off the bookshelf. Why?  it is a mystery to us!




A souvenir is from the French, for a remembrance of a memory. Are you like most people and just stick them in drawers or in albums?

However, there is a way to enjoy them and share them with your friends.  Below is an example of a collage I did for my niece. She kept all her ticket stubs through the years.


Mallory's ticket stubs ©Vickie Martin

Mallory’s ticket stubs ©Vickie Martin

This collage was placed in a memory box, which allowed me to layer the tickets and make them more visible.  If you look closely, you will see a ticket stub from The Rolling Stone, one from a concert in Europe, and even the wrist band from a live taping of Conan O’Brien!  Can’t you just imagine one of tickets from major sporting events adorning a man cave?

A collage can be made using souvenirs of a major event or a trip. Here is one made from my niece’s year spent in Europe.


mallory_collageIn it you will find souvenirs from Ireland, England, Paris, Germany, Spain and Italy (organized based on the map). 

How about a collage made from memories? My father rebuilt pianos. Here is a collage I made based on that, using some of his notes on piano tuning. When I see this, I have wonderful memories of my father in the basement happily working on pianos.

Dad's Music ©Vickie Martin

Dad’s Music
©Vickie Martin

Do you have “stuff” stuck in drawers. Most of the time, this “stuff” means something to you. Get it out! I would love to help you put it in a form that can easily be displayed and shared!  Contact me at






As part of the 15 Day BLOGATHON with C4 Atlanta, I thought I’d just repost a blog I wrote earlier in the year, as I’m a day late:

I have spent some time this year being quiet and listening for my muse. To help her communicate with me, I spent some time and made myself a sacred space in our guest room.  I thought I’d share some pictures of this, as well as my big sacred space, my studio!

P1200085_1372This little space makes me happy.  The little plate was a gift brought from Israel. I have several fortunes laid out on it. I love my little pen holder that is a can of the Campbell’s tomato soup that Target had for awhile to commemorate Andy Warhol. The table covering belonged to my mother-in-law.

Now – for some pictures of my studio.  P1200079_1366

One of the advantages of being married to an artist is he understands what I need.  He made me the 4×8 foot table, complete with a shelf underneath.  I keep all my paint there, easy to get to and close by.  The chairs on the left came from a drug store going out of business – they are the little chairs that are in virtually ever pharmacy it seems.  The large book case was made out of wooden shipping crates and contains primarily collage material.  The flat files on the end came from a gallery that was liquidating.  The door leads to this:


My own little patio that I use for drying. In the spring, I plan on “prettying” it up a little.

P1200083_1370I also want to invest in a “drying” bench!!!!

One nice feature that was added was railing, as well as a metal strip that works with magnets. This is great for hanging things up to decide what to do next.


I had a sink installed right outside my studio next to the heater – that has saved me so much time!

P1200084_1371Here is another view of the studio


I slipped in these pictures of my grandniece Lexi and grandnephew Breyden enjoying an afternoon down there.

Oh – the one thing I forgot to photograph – my collection of gunpowder – yes – I use gunpowder in paintings.

There are things I want to do at some point – but overall I think it is great to have such a great functioning space in my house!





Yes, my word of the year is SIMPLIFY.

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”  Hans Hoffman

What does this mean exactly?  One definition I found said “to reduce in complexity or extent”.  Another said “to reduce to fundamental parts”.

Last year my word was “RELAX”.  About halfway through the year, I realized how difficult it was to relax when so much was going on.  I was over committed, over stressed, and under organized.

So – what have I been doing to simplify?  It started out over the holidays.  I took in 4 boxes and 4 bags of clothes to SECOND LIFE THRIFT STORE – a thrift shop near by that helps to rescue animals.  I went through every room in the house and cleaned things up.  I even took 2 bags of canned food to a shelter!  Purging feels good!  It seems easier to take a deep breath now.

My new sacred space

My new sacred space

In cleaning out, I found a few things that I had put back and I was able to incorporate my new sacred space.  Everything on this table means something to me, from the deco fan lamp, to the bowl I purchased in Estonia, to the creativity cards to inspire me dailiy.

I have made a vow to no longer over commit.  I spent a fair amount of time unsubscribing to blogs I don’t read, leaving groups on Facebook that I joined as a favor to someone, basically, just cleaning up.

Tomorrow I’m going to simplify my diet for a week, simplify it right out of caffeine, sugar, gluten and alcohol for a week (or try to).  I’m going to eat simpler foods, as they are fresh and healthy and have less chemicals in them.  

I’m excited about the changes I am in the process of making.  I am not going to beat myself up if I slip up – I’ll just get back up, dust myself off and work at it again.

What is your word of the year?



I have felt a little blocked lately.  Maybe it is because my studio looked lik this!



So, I rolled up my sleeves and went to work on it.  When I was finished, it looked like this:



So, the inspiration came!  After a day in my studio, I had accomplished the following.

A day's Work

A day’s Work

I worked on 4 large paintings, two are almost complete, and six small pieces. All in all, a Good Day!  After this, I took a brisk walk and I found this on the side of the road – a nice weather beaten newspaper that will perfect for a collage someday.

collage material

collage material

What did you accomplish this weekend that you are proud of? By the way, when I finished working in my studio, I cleaned it up to start again.








Ziggy and Joel

Ziggy and Joel

It’s hard to believe that cute little dog could do this to my notes. Ziggy literally ate my notes on my blog.


Those are notes I made after hearing a story on NPR about the new exhibit at the High Museum of Art here in Atlanta!!  The exhibit is Frida & Diego, Passion, Politics and Painting, which I am looking forward to seeing.  This is the only stop in the United States and apparently close to 25% of Frida’s paintings are on view.

I had looked up and found some interesting tidbits about the two of them that I was going to share – but alas, you see what happened to them.

So – back to the drawing board.

Lesson learned?  Apparently Ziggy thinks anything on the bed belongs to him!


I have been posting my artwork on my facebook art page off an on for awhile.  In fact, I’ve been doing it a little haphazardly.  So, I have decided to keep a file of quotes I find inspiring, amusing, or just worth sharing. Here are some of my most recent posts.

picasso quote775725912_n



This was something a yoga instructor said in class about paying attention to yourself and your body. I liked the thought.


quote, jpg



I just decided to live by these words one day



163346_10152386749110524_1515152214_nWhat are some of your favorite quotes?


What is an artist date you ask?  It is one of the two non-negotiable parts of working through the book The Artist Way by Julia Cameron.  This is a twelve week  program that is designed to recover your creativity.  I am working through the book with over 60 women across the globe online, and we are working through a chapter a month instead of a chapter a week.  There are two ongoing activities throughout the book, the morning pages, and the artist date.  It is:

  • A commitment of time spent on yourself
  • A date with your inner artist

This week I took me and my little inner artist to an art workshop on The Art of Zentangle.  What is it?  It is an easy to learn, meditative way to draw what appears to be intricate repetitve patterns called Tangles.  Their tagline is “anything is possible, one stroke at a time.”

workshop Tangle

workshop Tangle

I find this very very meditative and deliberate.  After the workshop I took myself to lunch at my favorite Mexican restaurant and read the paper.

There was an article devoted to the new exhibit at the High Museum in Atlanta, Frida and Diego.  This will definitely be an upcoming artist date for me! In fact, this is the ONLY American stop of this particular exhibit.  I don’t think I have ever seen a painting by either of them in person!!!!

What would you do on an artist date?