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a letter from ivy

Dear creative friends,

Welcome to Issue #4 of StudioWorks! This month flows from a place deep in my heart. As we traveled through myth and magic in our last issue, now let us place one foot on the ground and reconnect with what can continue to propel us on our creative path.

What is the key factor in proceeding? Well, my friends, I believe it is courage. Courage to move forward, through fear, through limiting beliefs, through other people’s definitions of us. Yes, we must harness our courage and walk through the darkness to get to the light.

Let’s do it together.


How the Studioworks Journal unfolds…

So you may be wondering, where do I start? To that, I say, wherever feels right to you. Each month we will have a theme, a creative affirmation, a power word, a color palette, sketchbook exercises, art projects, articles, recommended reading and access to wonderful inspiration and resources. I want you to think of this as a delicious new magazine, you know the ones you occasionally splurge on, with soft, velvety pages, beautiful images and inspiring content!

Each issue will invite you to explore your creative practice in whichever way works for you. Experience each issue at your own pace. Take what resonates with you and put the rest aside for another time.

Grab a cup of something lovely and dive in.


Gathering Courage

As I mentioned, I believe courage is a key element in leading a creative life but how do we engage in it? It sounds good to be courageous but what does that really mean? Our main book for the month – “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown illuminates this for us beautifully.

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
– Brene Brown

We can all relate that it takes guts to make art! It takes incredible vulnerability to engage in our creativity. To not know the outcome. To risk failure. And as Brene so wonderfully explains  –

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection.”

Okay, great so we are on the right path! Yah! But, how do we keep going? When we are met with crippling fear, with devastating self doubt, with the wounds we carry?

I believe the only way to continue is to take a moment and acknowledge these things. We will never be free of our fear. We must learn to move with it, to see it, to feel it and then gather up our courage and take a step forward. It’s a gentle act. One tiny step ahead. One foot in front of the other. Getting angry at our fear, shaming ourselves for our mistakes, spinning, comparing, stopping. Please don’t stop. A pause yes, but don’t stop. Don’t close down, check out, give up. To do so is an assault of the heart. A betrayal of your essence.

We sometimes think, “Ugh I don’t want to feel anything!” We search for a way to numb. Scrolling through social media, eating, drinking, shopping. Anything. Just stop all these feelings! Stop the pain and the discomfort. Vulnerability is rather uncomfortable isn’t it? We can all relate to feeling this way at times.

When you feel this way, I encourage you to breathe. Take ten deep, deep breaths. Allow the emotions to flow through you. Ask for help. Pray. No matter your beliefs, the universe is there to support you. Invisible wings will embrace you.

Then gently, lean into the strength that lies within you. Gather your courage to you, like golden threads. Pick each one up until you can imagine yourself holding a great nest of shimmering strands. Then, imagine them effortlessly wrapping around your heart. Interweaving around you and into you until you yourself are an embodiment of this golden light.

Now, take a step forward. Open your sketchbook. Load your brush with paint. Put your pencil to the page. Breathe and let go. You are free. You are brave. You are enough, just as you are.

Cultivating courage is a practice, just like art is a practice. Learn to move with your fear, your vulnerability. Dance with it. Expect it. Accept it. Learn that your shadows are a part of you and play a role just as important as your light. Your shadows are there to teach you something. It takes courage to learn what that is.

As we move through this month, let us all be open to this concept. To gather up our courage alongside our fear. To walk the path as a being of shadow and light.

“Only when we’re brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
– Brene Brown
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Definition – To act in the midst of fear.

Many believe that courageous people, brave people, strong people possess an absence of fear. That somewhere along their successful and glorious path, they were able to shed their self consciousness, their doubts, their fears. That they walk a life of abundant joy and are confident in any situation. We assume that those people, that kind of person, will never be US. The irony is that the opposite is true. A person that has risen to the proverbial “top” has NOT shed their fears or invented some kind of magical cloak of invulnerability! What they have done is to be courageous – they move forward amidst their fears, despite their doubt and the risk of failure. They engage in life with courage and show up vulnerable. This is not a gift or a super power. Courage lies with us all and can be called up when we desire, if and only IF we are willing to work with our fear.

To love ourselves and support each other in the process of becoming real is perhaps the greatest single act of daring greatly.
– Brene Brown

Most of us are taught that being ourselves is not acceptable. We learn from early on to behave the way others expect us to. In the process, we lose ourselves and live life pleasing others instead. It takes great courage to be our authentic selves, but the joy, freedom, and rewards it brings are worth the fears you may feel. Embrace yourself just as you are. You don’t have to pretend to be someone you are not. Love and accept YOU – imperfections, flaws, and all. There is only one you.”

Jackie Barragan


Understanding Our Fear

Okay, so we need to work with our fear. What does that mean? How do we do that? When we first want to work with a new medium, what do we do? We examine it. We feel it. We yearn to understand it. We must do the same with our fear aka – our inner critic. Let’s try a writing exercise so we can deepen our understanding of our fear.

First, know this – the mind creates the inner critic to ultimately keep us safe. With that in mind let’s explore the language of our fear.

At the top of your page, write the following…

Dear Fear,

I know that you are here to protect me, to keep me from harm. I want to understand what you are trying to say to me but I want you to know that I am in charge of my path. You are not in control and I will not allow you to steal joy away from me.

Now, for the next two minutes speak to me. I will write down what comes and acknowledge your message.

Close your eyes for a moment and breath deeply. Then, write freely, don’t judge what you write down…it may not all makes sense…just let the words come. Don’t worry about punctuation. Think of a time when you feel vulnerable. How does your fear speak to you?
Here’s a quick snippet of what my inner critic sounds like…

“You are going to make a fool of yourself.”

“You don’t know what you are doing!”

“You aren’t good enough.”

“You are such a mess, you won’t amount to anything.”

“Your art is terrible…why do you bother?

“He said we weren’t good enough, guess he was right.”

“You are such an idiot.”

Lovely right? Sound familiar? Well guess what? This voice isn’t WHO you I am. That voice isn’t who YOU are! This is our defense system. These are the messages we have gathered over our lifetime. This is the language of fear. You’re inner critic might sound a bit different to mine but most likely, it will be judgemental and cruel. These voices also hold the echo of the people in our lives. Parents, family, friends, teachers, employers etc. A collective of pain and shame. An archive of our mistakes, our downfalls, our weaknesses. By writing down these thoughts we can acknowledge them, BUT we don’t have to accept them.

In fact, we can begin to disengage and distant ourselves from these statements. We can redefine them. With a different colored pen write down a more accurate and loving statement. For example…

“You are going to make a fool of yourself.”  TURNS INTO –I don’t know how this will turn out but I care enough to show up and give it my best shot!”

“You aren’t good enough.” – TURNS INTO – “I am enough. I am worthy and I will not measure myself to others.”

Continue doing this with each statement from your inner critic. Read the loving statement out aloud. (Hint – that loving voice is your inner guide!) Resonate with how she feels. How her voice permeates your heart with your truth. How she rings in your ears as the real, authentic voice of who you TRULY are!

Are there words or statements that repeated in your writing. Take special note of those. If you found this task difficult and felt resistance. That is ok. Try again another time, make sure you are relaxed and free from interruption. Be gentle with yourself.

Monthly Affirmation

Each month we will have a positive affirmation. I recommend you print out this affirmation and put it in your sketchbook or somewhere in your studio. Recite the affirmation out loud each time you show up to create. Saying words aloud is powerful and can begin to re-write some of our own limiting beliefs or calm our fears. Try it now…

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Color Palette of the Month

This month, I was pulled into the inky blues of the shadow side and the illuminated golden yellows of our infinite light. We must work in both realms. Payne’s gray, prussian blue, ultramarine, the indigo hues of a star filled sky. Golden ochre, cadmium yellows, the warmth of the sun and the divine light within us. These are the colors for our April theme.


Interview with Jeanne-Marie Webb

I’ve asked my dear friend and fellow artist, Jeanne-Marie Webb to share some thoughts about courage and her creative practice…

What does courage mean to you when relating to your creative practice?

Courage… is such a great word. I even love how it sounds to say this word. C.O.U.R.A.G.E. The root word for courage is cor which is Latin for heart. I love that so much. To me, when I create, it’s all heart and to operate out of a place of all heart is just such a beautiful way to live a creative life.

I know when I’m creating, I only want it to be from a place of putting my whole heart on the canvas no matter the outcome. I want to leave a little piece of me in and on everything I do.

How do you cultivate courage and move past obstacles (fears) when creating?

To me courage does not mean operating without fear but rather walking along side it and showing up in spite of it. I don’t know about you, but for me the fear is always there, the doubts and thoughts kind of are always just under the surface of everything I do. But I think the secret is not letting it hinder me from entering my creative space or practice. I know that sounds easier said than done but like with all disciplines, it takes practice to built stamina, strength and fitness to push past our own limitations and barriers.

When we have a greater understanding of what failure looks like and feels like then it holds less fear and power over us.

Some of the things I do to help me stay healthy in this area are:

  • Writing in the mornings – helps give me direction and clarity.
  • Always and quite simply… hours in the seat – this helps me understand my own depth of field – showing up daily gives me the courage to try new things and test new ideas and gives me the confidence to go deeper.
  • Testing concepts all the time and viewing it as research rather than failure.
  • Letting go of the control and surrendering to the process.
  • Allowing my work to lead me and intuitively tell me what’s next.
  • Playing, playing and more playing. 
Be more interested in growth than comfort
– Mary Morrissey

How does living a courageous, creative life affect other aspects of your life?

I didn’t think too much about it until now and it’s kind of wowed me the more I unpacked this question. I actually think it’s hugely affected other aspects of my life. If I think about how much more I’ve done with my life in the years since I’ve been creating, I can definitely see a growth in stepping out of my own comfort zones (maybe because it carries so much of my heart). When I think back about what I’ve done… like my first solo exhibition or traveling to Italy to take a class with strangers or even teaching – they weren’t void of fear at all. In fact, I often asked myself “what were you thinking?”, but moving through each of these experiences, I can see that it was on the other side that the gifts came.

That’s when I knew I was reaping the rewards of courage and those moments like muscle memory helped me know the next time would be okay (testing my own depth of field). It has also helped me in other ways too, to do things that I would have previously lacked courage to do – like start Budokon yoga at 45, traveling in my 40’s, taking other retreats by myself and even being more vulnerable with those around me.

These are all things that have called me to greater levels of fearlessness and I do believe have helped me do more with my life in general.

What tips can you give to a new artist on cultivating courage?

  • Practice the daily art of showing up. I often set projects for myself that help me show up and the reward has always been growth. Some I can recommend are #100 days of / #365 days of or monthly projects… like #Threaduary or #Inktober. The art of daily work is a beautiful discipline filled with so many rewards. Doing the work / training helps give us confidence in our practice. Confidence helps us take steps of courage in most situations.
  • Do regular exercises that help you stay detached from outcome… like drawing with your left hand, drawing or painting from 1m away from your canvas. Having less control teaches us to get used to discomfort.
  • Repetition. Understand and know your medium, material and practice.
  • Do a drawing/painting then tear it up and use the pieces in a collage.
  • Write down your greatest fears. It’s good to know exactly what they are, when you bring them out into the light, they seem less frightening.
  • Go on creative date with yourself.
  • Write regularly – get your fears, frustrations out of your head and on the paper.
  • Be still and think deeply at least 10 minutes each day.
  • Be vulnerable and share your victories together with your failures – growth happens when we share. I can’t fully explain how or why but it is a beautiful dynamic that I’ve discovered through the years.

You can check her wonderful classes on the Studioworks Academy here –

To learn more about Jeanne-Marie and follow her beautiful creative journey, you can visit her website.

  • Make a list of all the things you want to do but haven’t done due to fear. Start small. Go see a movie alone. Use red in my art. Etc. Hang this list up and see if you can do one thing a week that makes you nervous or fearful. Every time you cross something off this list you will grow stronger and your courageous heart will beat a little louder.


Frida Kahlo

When one thinks of a courageous artist, it’s hard to not think of Frida Kahlo. She was force. Defiant, strong, passionate and highly sensitive – Frida is the embodiment of the wild, free and courageous artistic soul.

Her life was fraught with life altering health issues, chronic pain, difficult relationships and political controversy, yet she never stopped creating. Even while in a full body cast, after a horrific accident she painted in her hospital bed!

Her repeated self portraits aim to express her internal emotions and unravel her psyche for the world to see. I believe she was seeking both to understand herself and be understood. Her works are full of symbolism and mystery.

She reminds us that our shadows, our pain and our struggles are all pathways to powerful creative expression. She reminds us to never give up. She reminds us that we must move forward with courage in our hearts.

Let’s take a look at her incredible work. Please note that although often classified as a surrealist she insisted she was not stating – “ “They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.”

I encourage you to read more about Frida here:

I am my own muse. I am the subject I know best. The subject I wish to know better.
– Frida Kahlo

  • Try your own master study of one of her works. Choose to study one that resonates with you. Do a few small paintings or drawings in your sketchbook. You could do these studies in any medium that calls to you OR draw/paint a portrait of her, I just love all the photographs of her!

pinterest board
Your Wild, Courageous Heart

When you think of a wild woman what comes to mind? Out of control. Crazy. Untamable. Unmanageable. Not socially acceptable? Sure. Of course that’s what we think. That’s what we’ve been told BUT what if I told you that wild actually means FREE!

Free as in an eagle soaring in the sky. Free as a lioness roaming the plains. Free as a bear exploring the green forest and following her own path.

Yes, being wild is being free. Free and true. Free of societies rules and definitions. Art is about being free. Free from restrictions, free of boundaries, free to feel, free to express! So as artists shouldn’t we feel free too? Easier said than done right?

When we begin to live a courageous life we must then, be willing to align ourselves with a sense of freedom. A free, wild heart that is boundless and limitless. To connect with our wild, courageous heart we do indeed need to free ourselves from what has been holding us back. As I mentioned before, we don’t rid ourselves of our fears or our doubts but we CAN free ourselves from being controlled by them. We have to seek out our true voice, and listen to the wild essence of our true nature.

Our second book of the month – “Women who run with the Wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Estes – has incredible insight and wisdom to share regarding this quest. I highly recommend listening to this book if you can. Listening to Clarissa’s soothing voice was akin to sitting in front of the fire and listening to my grandmother tell me stories.

Listen carefully to this quote…

“The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.”
– Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

As an artist and deeply feeling being, I found these words rang true and settled deep into my heart. To me, ART is a door. Art is THE door to our inner truths and most glorious nature.

And before we continue, let me just tell you a little about why I have chosen this book as one of our readings. Clarissa Pinkola Estés not only redefines what the “Wild Woman” is but she explores through archetypes, culture, stories and myth the many aspects of women – what we need to reclaim and what we have lost. How to refocus our creativity and harness self love and acceptance.

Be open minded when reading this book and understand that the stories she tells connect us all on different levels and varying aspects of the many layers of our womanhood.

As Clarissa mentions in the book, the wild woman must reclaim her wholeness, she must search for the bones that originally brought her into form. Stress, disfunction, abuse, neglect – these factors scatters these bones, OUR bones and we miss them dearly. They leave hollows and weakness, aching limbs and numb hearts.

Use your art as a way to unearth what has been forgotten or misplaced. Put your wild and beautiful self back together through your creative practice. This is why process is ALWAYS the most important part.

Process is the searching, the seeking, the exploring. It is the journey not the destination. In reality, arriving at the “destination”, the final resting point in your artistic journey will, most likely, never happen because the artist is an eternal seeker.

Did Michelangelo one day say, “Okay, enough is enough. I’m done doing this creating thing!” No. When Degas began to go blind, did he put down his brush and retire. No he did not. Artists are never completely satisfied. An Artist will always want more from their art.

So to focus on arriving or finishing or getting good enough to then, and only then, be worthy is a waste of time. You will be a seeker until you leave this earth. So make the journey an interesting one, a wild one. Full of new experiences, quiet moments of reflection, forgiveness, seasons of fertile creation, selective destruction, shifting changes, cycles, nurturing periods of learning and growing and more.

This is the path of the wild woman – abundant, rich, grounded, passionate and true.

Go out in the woodds, go out. If you don’t go out in the woodds nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.
– Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Spirit Animals

So as artists how do we connect with this wild, courageous, instinctual part of ourselves? Well, since we are visual, why don’t we try connecting with the animal world. When you close your eyes and think of a wild, courageous, free creature, what comes to mind?

It might be the eagle, the lion, the bear or it might be something else entirely. Perhaps your see a whale in the expansiveness of the ocean or an owl hunting the night sky. Whatever animal you connect with, I want you to focus on that. Align yourself with that wild creature and imagine it in the center of your being. This beautiful animal will be your totem guide and a representative of your wild, courageous heart.

Some may call it a spirit animal or an animal guide. Let it just be a symbol for you. So when you feel fear, when you step into vulnerability, imagine that animal alongside you, in you, a part of you. It’s attributes are your attributes, it’s instincts are your instincts, it’s beautiful, wild, brave essence is your essence. Hold to this image and allow it to guide you into the space of darkness and unknowing. Remember, your creature is free of the definitions of others, it knows nothing of comparison or judgement, it doesn’t understand shame, it moves with ease through its world. Your world.

As we move through our creative expressions for the month, keep your animal close to your heart.

Let’s take a look at some of the symbolism and concepts behind some of the spirit animals I mentioned. These are only a few but know that this is not a new age concept. Humans have connected with animal energy from the very beginning of time.

Across continents and cultures, leaders would often align with a mighty lion or a fierce dragon. Wise women connected with the owl, the wolf and the raven. During religious rituals, animals spirits were invoked and worshipped. It was in the connecting with these animal totems that the individual obtained, if only temporarily, the creature’s gifts of power, strength and wisdom.

If aligning yourself with the lion gives you courage amidst your fear, is there not power in that? And with each act of courage, do you not grow in your own strength and begin to see that like the lion, you are indeed brave and strong. You begin to embrace that the lion’s heart, is in fact your own.

You may connect with one or more animals. Personally, I connect with the lion and the crow. Not sure which animal you connect with? Consider your dreams or experiences with animals. Perhaps you often see an owl and feel a certain pull to it or maybe you dream of a bear frequently. Of course, there are quizzes and such online. They are fun and may help you find your spirit animal but you are better off meditating, journaling and going within to discover your animal guide.

Wolves and women are relational by nature, inquiring, possessed of great endurance and strength. They are deeply intuitive, intensely concerned with their young, their mate, and their pack. They are experienced in adapting to constantly changing circumstances; they are fiercely stalwart and very brave.


Clarissa Pinkola Estés
I will share a powerful dream I had of a lion that has never left me:

Right after giving birth to my first daughter, I was unfortunately afflicted with postpartum depression. I would cry everyday and had such a sense of loneliness even while holding this incredible gift of my daughter. My heart has never been cloaked in such darkness.

One night, I dreamt that I was being pulled up off the ground and flown through the air, straight upwards. It was a scary feeling, one that still gives me goosebumps as I write this. I would be carried up and up by unseen hands and then I would be let go. Falling and falling…but each time I was caught again and brought skyward once more. This happened three times. Finally, I was laid gently on the ground. I remember rolling over, my eyes still closed and I felt a great pressure on my chest as if something was standing on my heart. I opened my eyes and looked up and into the most kind, most loving eyes I’ve ever seen in my life. I wept in my dream, hot tears on my cheeks. I still cry as I write this now. It was the golden eyes of a massive lion, his great paw was on my heart. He stared into my very soul and I felt a love so deep and stirring. Like I’d never experienced before.

I woke up crying. My whole body was shaking. I grabbed for my journal and wrote down everything. After I calmed down, I continued on with my day. It was the first day I didn’t cry. I felt renewed.

From that day, my depression lifted and I came back to life.

So, as you can imagine, I will always hold the lion close to my heart. He is a guide for me and when I am scared I feel that heavy paw on my heart and know I am loved.


In the realm of spirit animals, the lion wins the prize for most relentless fighter in the face of life challenges. The lion spirit animal represents courage, strength in overcoming difficulties. The lion spirit animal is generally associated with a representation of personal strength. If the lion appears powerful to you, its presence as a spirit guide can be interpreted as a positive representation of your self-confidence or personal power. As such, lions point to qualities of strength, courage, assertiveness.


Wolf power or spirit animals point to an appetite for freedom and living life powerfully, guided by instincts. When a wolf manifests its presence as a guide in your life, it could be a call to live your life more freely, to bring the intensity of passion in your everyday endeavors. The presence of your wolf power animal could reflect your inner emotional landscape and bring to your awareness your own feelings about a matter that is highly emotionally charged.


When the owl is one of your power animals, you have a strong intuition and can access information and wisdom that’s usually hidden to most. The spirit of this animal encourages you to look beyond deceiving appearances into the true reality of a situation or a person’s motives.

The owl is a strong spirit guide for discernment and making decision based solid foundations. Call on the owl totem when you have to assess a situation or are going through confusing times. If you have an owl as a totem or spirit animal, you probably like to explore the unknown. Night time is particularly auspicious for your creativity, so take the time to focus your creative energy then. The mysteries of life are a fascinating field of interest. As the owl guides your steps, you are likely to develop an appreciation for life’s magic.


The spirit of the bear is a strong source of support in times of difficulty. It provides courage and a stable foundation to face challenges. When the bear shows up as a spirit guide in your life, it’s perhaps time to stand for your beliefs or your truth. This power animal will provide for support and strength.

The bear is also a guide to take leadership in your life or in other people’s lives. This animal is feared and admired for its strength. Its presence inspires respect. Its strength and powerful stature will inspire you to step into a leadership role in your life and take action without fear. When you invoke the power of the bear totem, reflect on the qualities of inner strength, fearlessness, and confidence in yourself and how you can project them in your world.


The hawk can soar high and reach the heavens effortlessly. As most bird totems, this power animal is often considered as a messenger who brings messages from the spirit world and the unseen. If you have the hawk as a spirit animal, you may be inclined to play with divination tools and use your intuition to guide your steps in life. Working with the hawk totem could reinforce your ability to rely on this type of guidance. When the hawk shows up in your life, be sensitive to the messages it may carry and be receptive to your own intuition.

Hawk spirit animals invite us to be focused in our daily undertakings. When you feel the presence of the hawk totem, avoid distractions and focus on the task at hand. At the same time, hawks can soar and fly high in the sky. This animal has the power to provide support in gaining a higher level perspective on any issue or project you undertake.


When the fox appears in your life as spirit animal, it encourages action and quick, swift moves. You may be called to take action in a way that shows your adaptability and ability to move quickly through obstacles and resistance.

Being inspired by a fox totem, you can work at developing the sharpness of your mental skills: Analytical intelligence, power of deduction, observation can come into play more powerfully in how you deal with daily matters or bigger projects. The spirit of the fox may also imply that you are sharpening your physical alertness and responsiveness.


The crow is a spirit animal associated with life mysteries and magic. The power of this bird as totem and spirit guide is to provide insight and means of supporting intentions. Sign of luck, it is also associated with the archetype of the trickster; be aware of deceiving appearances.  

If the crow has chosen you as your spirit or totem animal, it supports you in developing the power of sight, transformation, and connection with life’s magic.


When you have the deer as spirit animal, you are highly sensitive and have a strong intuition. By affinity with this animal, you have the power to deal with challenges with grace. You master the art of being both determined and gentle in your approach.

The deer totem wisdom imparts those with a special connection with this animal with the ability to be vigilant, move quickly, and trust their instincts to get out of the trickiest situations.

These are only a few Spirit Animals. Do some research online to find out more about the creature you align with.

Wild Women: “They know instinctively when things must die and when things must live; they know how to walk away, they know how to stay.


– Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

Try this guided meditation to meet your Spirit Animal…

Sketchbook Explorations

Before we begin our explorations, I wanted to provide a cohesive theme for us to focus on. This will help unify our explorations and provides us with a simple place to start when approaching a VERY white and VERY blank sketchbook.

Our sketchbook theme this month is – “Wild and Free”. This may mean different things to each of us. It may mean doing spontaneous expressive pages. It may mean drawing your spirit animal or unleashing some pent up emotion or finally drawing that powerful image that has been in your mind. It may mean list making, shedding, tearing, splashing paint, using wild colors. It may mean quiet stillness, in free, open-minded, healing energy. It may mean it changes each day and each time you start a new page. That’s ok. Explore all the beautiful wild and free facets of yourself. Be courageous and remember, this work is for YOU. Only you. You create because you are called to. No matter your experience, your expectations, your desire to impress or please others. Do this work for YOUR soul. Do it for the part of you that yearns to be wild and free.

The greatest fear in the world is of the opinions of others. And the moment you are unafraid of the crowd you are no longer a sheep, you become a lion. A great roar arises in your heart, the roar of freedom.

Courage: The Joy of Living Dangerously

Creative Heart Prompt:

Dance and SING! Yes, dance and sing in your creative space. If you need to draw the blinds or wait to have the house to yourself, that’s ok. Play a powerful song from our playlist or play a favorite empowering song you love and just dance and sing – like a little kid who has no need for being self conscious. If you are physically unable to dance, then sit alone and move whatever parts you can to the beat of beautiful music and raise your voice! For some this may feel easy, for others it will feel a bit scary. Be courageous and have fun! This can be especially helpful right before going to create OR when you get stuck! Move your energy!

Please remember, our explorations in our sketchbook are really just access points to get you into the flow. However, they can also be seeds for new ideas, concepts and themes in your art. Some of them will be more about writing and others more about drawing and painting. You will see below three prompts and exercises explained and photographed from my own sketchbook. You are welcome to expand upon, invent and experiment with your own concepts too. Use our color palette if you want to. You will see I stay in that theme for my explorations. These may feel silly at first but let your inner artist play.


Spirit Animal

Sketch your wild and free spirit animal or any creature you feel drawn to. This could be a collage if you prefer, or it could be an abstract that contains the energy of your chosen creature. Write down the aspects of that animal that you admire or enjoy. What aspects of yourself do you see in this animal. (Hint – This is a good practice for our final project.)


Frida Inspired

Use our master artist as inspiration and create a page dedicated to the wild and free Frida Kahlo. You could paint yourself with flowers in your hair and monkey’s around your neck or do a master study of her work! Anything that you feel aligns with your own courageous spirit with a dash of Frida flair!

Look at our Frida Pinterest board for inspiration –


Your Inner Guide

Yes, we all have an inner critic but we also have our inner guide too! She might be called our higher self, our muse, our authentic self, our wild woman – whatever her name is, try and connect with her. She is the one who whispers you love and guides you towards wholeness. She might be buried, her voice is quiet but she IS there. Spend some time being quiet and listening to her. Then create a page dedicated to her (YOU). This could be collage, sketching or any mixture of media. Create an image of your powerful, all loving, all knowing, courageous self. Be sure to write down any messages you receive from her.

Creative Heart Prompt:

Acknowledge the courageous spirit of another woman in your life. Create a card or small piece of artwork that celebrates this friend, sister or family member. Give it to them and make sure you tell them that you see and admire their courageous spirit.

Other Ideas To Try

LETTING GO & HOLDING ON : Make two lists. One is all about the things you want to hold dear to your courageous heart – this could be your health, your family, etc. The other list are things you wish to let go of – this could be your negative self talk, over indulging in social media or the quiet jealousies that are plaguing your heart. Be honest and open. Writing things down brings awareness.

BOLD STROKES : Using a large brush paint loosely and expressively in a color that calls to you. You can just experiment making marks or paint a subject of your choice. Resist the urge to overcontrol the outcome. Just play!

COURAGEOUS HEART : Draw/collage/paint your courageous heart! I especially enjoy images of the Sacred Heart! Dedicate this page to your powerful, incredible heart center! Express yourself with this page!


Spirit Animal : A Lion Within

I loved creating this lion spirit animal piece. It was so much fun to jump into the painting with both acrylics and then oils. I truly encourage you to give it a go! I have never painted a lion before so this was a wonderful new experience for me.

Remember, if you are wanting to focus on painting but you are not yet able to draw very accurately, try using the transfer method I demonstrate. Don’t let yourself that you are some how cheating. That’s that pesky inner critic talking! Just ENJOY creating your spirit animal piece!

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issue four

You can also listen to this month’s issue of the Studioworks journal. I find I love listening to books, podcasts and music while I draw, paint or go on a long walk. Enjoy.

inspiration: curated

One of my favorite things to do is to curate inspiration. From Pinterest boards to books, resources, playlists and more – I love to share anything that might facilitate learning, expansion, and sparks of curiosity! Being an artist, we naturally crave these things so here are some of this month’s picks from me to you.



This playlist is a bit different. It is meant to be listened to in order. It starts with an opening song – “I am Light.” by Indie Arie and pay special attention to the second song. This is a mantra song that is perfect for listening to and singing along with BEFORE beginning to paint! It is repetitive for a reason. It’s like a singing meditation. Try it!

Then the playlist speeds up a bit and is playful and empowering. In the closing songs, you will find quieter, more introspective, healing sounds.

I hope you enjoy this musical journey!