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a letter from ivy

Welcome to Issue #1 of StudioWorks! I’m so delighted you are here and I can’t wait to share with you. This month we have SO much to discuss, learn and delight over. When we first came up with the idea to do a subscription for our community, I imagined sharing a video lesson once a month and doing more Live Q & A’s with you on Facebook. This idea excited me very much but when I sat down to plan out each month, this concept expanded quickly. 

I knew I had MUCH more to share and I wanted to go deeper with you. My ultimate hope is that each issue of the StudioWorks Journal feels like a treasure trove of inspiration and exploration. My desire to travel with you through these processes is paramount. I don’t want to just tell you about creativity – I want to eat, breath and live it out with you. Alongside you. Together, as an artistic community. 

Thank you for being here.


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.


Becoming an Artisan

In this issue, we will be doing some important explorations! To begin, we will align ourselves with this month’s theme – the concept of becoming an Artisan.

Artist + Craftsman = Artisan.  

How will we do this? We will discover how to implement or continue to expand our creative practice through loving discipline (yes I said the “d” word but we are going to redefine it! More on that later!)

We will embrace the important ritual of working in our sketchbooks and MOST vital we will embody and cherish PROCESS over PRODUCT.

Sound heavy? Actually, not really – PROCESS is another word for Play and PLAY we will. So while we will discuss serious creative endeavors, your inner artist will get plenty of time to doodle, dream, and delight!

What does it mean to be an Artisan?

It means becoming dedicated to your art. It means practice. It means exploration. It means hard work. It means being open to learning. It means being ready to make a lot of “bad art!” (YES! Mistakes are good – it means you are working!) It means surrendering to the process. It means loving yourself deeply and fully through your art. It means going deeper. It means embracing solitude (at times). It means letting yourself play. It means hard work – yes, I know I already said that.

“ Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
– Vincent Van Gogh

Let’s look at this quote from one of our recommended readings for the month – The Artisan’s Soul pg 142 – 143:

To be called an artist feels like you are telling me I have talent; to be called a craftsman sounds like you are describing me as a hard worker. We believe one is about essence and the other is about effort. Can you imagine what our lives would be if we valued both?

“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.”
– Michelangelo

So do you value both? How can we value both?

First, let’s be honest, talent is a subjective word. An individual might be revered by some as “talented” while another may look upon his/her work and not recognize “talent” in it.

Therefore, if talent is biased, perhaps we should examine our relationship to hard work or practice. It’s a little more concrete and usually is quite apparent. You can tell when someone has worked hard at something. When a pianist, plays beautifully and moves an entire audience to tears – she’s not doing that with just talent. She has spent thousands of hours practicing. She has become an Artisan.

So, for now, let’s not worry about whether or not we are talented or if others consider us talented. This is all external.

Hard work comes from within us. It comes from our own personal drive to improve and to learn. It comes from the root of all creation – PASSION.

When we are passionate about something we are driven to explore, practice, learn, play, experience, absorb and most importantly, take risks! Let’s hold onto that idea! Let’s give hard work a big fat kiss and welcome it into our Art practice. You can’t avoid it so you may as well love on it right?

Simple fact – if you want to get better at your art, you have to work very, very hard, consistently. Lucky for us, our PASSION for art will fuel our hearts and set our paths ablaze.

“Passion is energy. Feel the power of focusing on what excites you.”
– Oprah Winfrey



Yikes! That’s our power word for the month!? I know, I know. It’s not a warm fuzzy word. It doesn’t have the sparkle of JOY and isn’t as trendy as WANDER BUT before you turn away, let’s just take a look at this tough, old word for a second. Let’s consider it’s origins…and no, it has nothing to do with workout routines, diets that exclude sugar or restricting your phone usage.

Actually, the word discipline comes from the Latin word discipulus, which means “student, learner, or follower. Oh!? Huh…so discipline is about learning? Okay, that’s a little more tolerable, right? I mean learning is cool. We like learning.

A QUICK QUOTE FROM ONE OF OUR BOOKS OF THE MONTH: “Creativity – Unleashing the Forces Within” – pg. 118
“Discipline is a beautiful word, but it has been misused in the past. The word discipline comes from the same root as the word, disciple – the root meaning of the word is “a process of learning”. One who is ready to learn is a disciple, and the process of being ready to learn is discipline.”

This beautiful revelation opened my heart to the idea of discipline. It’s like the sky broke open and a golden light shined down on this rather unpopular word. It also made me realize that if I was going to embrace becoming an Artisan and the hard work that accompanies that, then I would surely have to encounter discipline along the way. BUT, with this new meaning, I can shift my relationship to the concept of discipline. I can make discipline work for ME. 

So gang, we are REDEFINING (actually just using it the way it was originally intended) Discipline. Are you with me? Let’s throw out the old, nasty meanings and associations and embrace a new way of seeing discipline. 

To get this new idea of Discipline to settle into your soul, let’s explore in our sketchbooks what this word brings up for us…

  • When I think about discipline what comes up?
  • Do I feel in alignment with this? Where did these associations come from?
  • What do I actually want discipline to look like in my art? In my life?
  • What are 3 ways I can implement this?
  • What could applying discipline do for my art? For my life?

What thoughts came up for you about discipline? Please feel free to share in our creative group. Share your ideas of how you can begin to implement discipline into your creative practice. We are all here to support each other! Let’s become creative disciples…

  • Take 15 mins a day to sketch, doodle or jot down your thoughts in your sketchbook.
join us in the


creative academy

When you join Studioworks, you’ll enjoy FULL ACCESS to over 130+ Creative Classes, Live Member Calls, Private Creative Group and so much more!

Each and every month you will be supported in your creative journey through teachings I will be sharing with you in the Studioworks Journal. This specially crafted online magazine is packed with inspiration, guidance, sketchbook explorations, creative prompts and MORE!


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 a loud is powerful and can begin to re-write some of our own limiting beliefs and calm our fears. Try it now…

Color Palette of the Month

Now you might think this color palette is a bit dull but I chose it for a good reason. The shades of gray, white and black will allow us to explore value and will simplify our materials. Remember, we are focusing on process over product. The aim is not to create the most beautiful sketchbook pages (although they may end up being that), the aim is to learn, explore and experiment.

These monochromatic tones speak to the simple sketches, doodles and designs that can lead to pieces of art – BUT we must start here first. Humble, open and willing to learn.

Now, I threw in gold, because, well let’s face it. It’s pretty, but on a deeper level is represents illumination. The illumination that happens when we expand our minds and our hearts through the process of learning.

Of course, you don’t have to adhere to this color palette, but you will see it reflected in the exercises and projects I share with you.

  • Stop for a moment each day this week and fill in these blanks in your sketchbook – I see, I hear, I taste, I smell, I feel. Tapping into our senses is often a window to our creativity and the quiet whispers of our muse.


Leonardo Da Vinci

Okay, I know…he’s a tad intimidating right? I get it. Here’s the thing, don’t we want our role models, gurus, leaders, muses and guides to be a touch intimidating? I mean that’s why we look up to them because they’ve accomplished amazing things, executed incredible ideas, changed cultures, influenced movements and expanded minds! Yes! I think so. Does this mean we need to be like them or think like them or measure ourselves to them? No. Actually, while putting people on pedestals is rather natural, it’s really not that helpful.

So instead, let’s look at what we can learn from dear Leo. Well, besides being a savant he is a true embodiment of discipline. He was a disciple of LIFE. He was voracious in his quest to understand the world around him. His passion for knowledge seemed limitless AND he worked very, very, VERY hard, relentlessly and consistently. As a result, he filled his sketchbooks like a champ! Observing, studying, documenting, examining, dreaming, analyzing, sketching, writing and ultimately attempting to absorb and articulate the visions in his mind. He was a true Artisan. He achieved mastery via his passion and his discipline (his willingness to learn and put into practice.)

His feats are too long to list or go into, so instead, I thought it would be beautiful and inspiring to take a peek inside his sketchbooks. His PROCESS is where the beauty originates. His sketchbooks were the sacred birthplace of all he ultimately brought to fruition. **Notice how many circles appear as foundations to his designs and sketches!

  • Take a minute and really look at his sketches. Marvel at them and then print one out and do a master study. Copy what you see as best you can. Try and step into his mind and his process. Doing a Master study of any kind is a fantastic tool for learning. You can paste any of these into your sketchbook as inspiration. Or find one you prefer.
my final sketch
join us in the


creative academy

When you join Studioworks, you’ll enjoy FULL ACCESS to over 130+ Creative Classes, Live Member Calls, Private Creative Group and so much more!

Each and every month you will be supported in your creative journey through teachings I will be sharing with you in the Studioworks Journal. This specially crafted online magazine is packed with inspiration, guidance, sketchbook explorations, creative prompts and MORE!


Let’s Talk Sketchbooks

Okay, so let’s discuss Sketchbooks for a minute! Why do we need them and what exactly are they for? This is important to understand. Of course your how and why will be personal to you but the overarching purpose of the Artist’s Sketchbook is three fold.

    1. It is a place to record information. To take note of everything from the color of the sky, to your mood, to your new favorite paint color to your ideas, concepts, themes, poetry, lyrics from songs, really any and ALL information that inspires you. It may look like Greek to someone else, it only needs to make sense to you.
    2. It is a place to practice our art.To draw that darn hand, over and over and over. To angrily cross out that stupid nose we can’t get right! To try again and again, till we get better. To mix paints until we find that perfect blend. To compose a painting and figure out just the right balance. To draw the world around us or the images in our head. 
    3. It is a place to explore, experiment and express. To jot down weird concepts or themes, throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks. To push ourselves, to grow and to expand. It’s a safe place to visually express our ideas, hopes, dreams, despair, doubts and everything in between.

1. You DO NOT have to make your Sketchbook PRETTY. You can, if this truly brings you joy but it’s not meant to be a showcase piece. Making everything pretty, sometimes means we are trying to make it acceptable to everyone else. Don’t shortchange yourself by doing this.

2. You DO NOT have to share it with anyone. 

3. You DO NOT have to feel shame over the “mistakes” in your sketchbook – the wonky face, the strange looking hand. Just cross them out and move on. It is good to be able to look back at these pages and see your growth.

Okay, so let me share a story about my own journey with the Sketchbook…

I have to admit that I have been rather blocked from my using sketchbooks since art school. It was an inherent part of my formal education and we were required to SHOW our process before we were given the green light to go create a piece of art. In fact, our sketchbook work was often graded! Gasp. I know….it was intense. It wasn’t until I started journaling about WHY I was so blocked that I realized…

I was blocked from using my sketchbook now because back then, my sketchbook didn’t LOOK as good as many of my classmates – (many of whom religiously carried around a sketchbook and filled it with gorgeous sketches). I decided that “those people” were the REAL artists. The REAL talent of the school. The SERIOUS artists. My friends and I even cracked jokes about “them”. Now, as a mature adult, I can see it was my fear that was stopping me. Right then and there at the age of 18, I created a limiting belief:

“I am not good enough, disciplined enough or talented enough to carry around a sketchbook.”

Furthermore, if I tried, it would most likely be filled with crap. So let’s just avoid it.” 

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”
– William Wordsworth

So, when I say I am with you, when I say that I am experiencing this alongside you – I truly am. I am being very vulnerable in starting this practice but I know I’m not alone. We are in this together, my friends!

For those of you who already carry a sketchbook and consistently fill it – well hats off to you for real!! I truly admire this practice. I commend it! I aspire to it!

I want to fill up these blank pages and let myself play and explore openly – like my six year old daughter does. She fills up sketchbooks faster than I can buy them for her. She draws with a freedom and fury that would make us drool. Carefree and full of playful passion she whips through those white pages, covering them in all sorts of shapes, faces, squiggles, words – whatever ideas flow through her in that present moment. It’s truly a sight to revere. I often watch in wonder…

So, let’s begin! Let’s fill up those blank pages together. Remember, this sketchbook is just for YOU! You don’t have to show anyone OR you can show everyone. There is NO right or wrong way to fill your book. Just fill it! Collage, paint, doodle, sketch, write…we will be doing a bit of it all.

I will be working in this sketchbook, (the 5.5” x 8.5” size) but please feel free to choose a book that feels right to you. Big or small…it doesn’t matter. I do recommend you choose heavy enough paper so you don’t feel constrained by media. I love a good mixed media paper that is at least 98 lbs (160 gms).

I will have one dedicated StudioWorks sketchbook per month. You also don’t have to do this….you could use one large one and combine months. It’s totally up to you.

Let’s take a look at some explorations…

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 with a simple place to start when approaching a VERY white and VERY blank sketchbook.

So our sketchbook theme is the CIRCLE. Yup. A simple shape. Does this mean we are going to fill our pages with just circles? Yes….and no. Does this mean we have to stick with only circles? No certainly not, but it’s a place to start. It’s a doorway into our sketchbook practice.

We are going to explore this divine shape and see how it is at the root of so many forms. Not only is the circle a basis for balance, unity and harmonious symmetry but it is a spiritual shape. Its meanings and symbolism are seen in Art across every culture since the beginning of time.

Check out all these beautiful examples of “circle” themed art.

The circle is going to center us, remind us of our wholeness and help us to cultivate focus and stillness in our practice.

Creative Disciple Prompt:

Quickly draw freehand as many circles as you can in 1 minute. Stay loose and allow your wrist to engage in the movement. You may want to try using your non-dominant hands. Use a light grip on your pencil. Let the circles overlap. Learning to draw fluid circles is important when sketching other forms like faces and figures.

“Life is a circle. The end of one journey is the beginning of the next.”
– Joseph M. Marshall

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. 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. These may feel silly at first but let your inner artist play…if you get tired of the exercise let yourself change it.


Circle Scapes

Draw or Trace 3 Circles. Within those circles paint a tiny landscape, it can be realistic or very abstract. Do this in our color theme of shades of gray, black, white and gold. Explore how fun it is to create tiny scenes within the circles.

Here are some images you can use as reference.


Circle the Why

Discovering what we want from our art is very important and the answer will shift and change as we evolve in our practice but for now let’s begin to explore the question. “What kind of art do I want to make right now?” Write this at the top of a sketchbook page and then freely jot down any words that come to mind. ANY WORDS! Don’t overthink! Write as many as you can. They might be words like abstract, or whimsical, or portraits or realism or expression or cartoons or floral! The words might just evoke a feeling or a color…like red, or spontaneous or messy or delicate. Don’t judge the words. Take a minute or so, don’t worry about making it pretty. Then go back and circle all the words that resonate the strongest with you at this moment. You can decorate this page if you want or just leave it as notes for yourself. This will be handy to look back on as your progress through your art.


Blind Circles

Use ink or watered down black paint and a long handled small brush. On a blank page, load up your brush place it on the page and begin to draw circles, with your eyes CLOSED! Yes, close them! Loosley let the brush repeat circle shapes on the page, you can use your non-dominant hand too! Music helps this process! While your eyes are close, focus on the sounds around you, don’t worry about what you hand is doing. Surrender. After a minute or two open your eyes and look at your page. Do you see any forms you want to explore or build upon? A face? A cool shape? A figure? Using whatever medium you choose begin to carve out that image and see where it take you. Try to stay unattached to the outcome. If you tighten up close your eyes and again or switch hands.

Creative Disciple Prompt:

Dedicate (at least) one day a week to NO social media. Be fully present. Listen within and refill your well. Too much external noise, distraction and influence can be confusing.

Other Explorations To Try

NEW YEAR INTENTIONS : Draw large circles on a two-page spread in your sketchbook – Label each one with Health, Travel, Family, Career, Friends (whatever makes sense for your life) Now create collages within those spheres using words and images that resonate with how you envision your 2019.

CIRCLES OF GRATITUDE : Draw or trace 30 circles onto a two-page spread of your sketchbook. Each day, write or draw or collage one thing you are grateful for. Gratitude is essential in our creative life. It can interrupt anxiety, grief, anger and transform your energy and sense of wellbeing.

SPIRAL NOTES : Draw a large spiral on one page with a pencil. Now following the spiral, starting at the center, write down your dreams and ideas (no matter) how wild they might be. Writing things down has power. Manifestation begins in defining what you want. Decorate the page as you wish.

POWER OF THREE : Draw or trace 3 large circles on a page, divide up the space in each one differently. Now shade, color of paint in the shapes with varying shades of gray, white and black and gold. Enjoy how the shapes and values interact with each other.

CIRCLES AROUND : Circles are all around us, fill a page with circle objects in your space or out your window. Sketch loosely with a pencil or pen. Observation is a vital practice for the artist. 

join us in the


creative academy

When you join Studioworks, you’ll enjoy FULL ACCESS to over 130+ Creative Classes, Live Member Calls, Private Creative Group and so much more!

Each and every month you will be supported in your creative journey through teachings I will be sharing with you in the Studioworks Journal. This specially crafted online magazine is packed with inspiration, guidance, sketchbook explorations, creative prompts and MORE!



Girl in the Moon

After all this circle exploration, I have discovered that I am very drawn to the moon this month. To me, the moon represents shifting, dark and light, balance and most strongly for me, self reflection. This symbol keeps presenting itself to me and I am seeing it appear in my art, so I decided I would love to share a Moon-themed art project with you.

You can do this project in your sketchbook or on a separate substrate. It would be a great idea to do a few sketches of your design in your sketchbook too before you approach the canvas. Maybe make some small sketches and explore your design or you are welcome to work from mine.

It is easy to see how the divine circle will be the basis for this piece and will provide unity and harmonious form to our design.




January: issue one

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 month’s playlist is all about looking within. Finding stillness and calm. I have selected songs that resonate with my soul and hopefully with yours too.


These feeds capture our mood of the month and reflect beauty, stillness and wonder.




JOIN Us in The Studioworks Academy

The Studioworks Academy offers FULL access to ALL our creative classes and instant access to each and every new class we launch! In addition, you will receive a monthly issue of the Studioworks journal which will include, articles, creative prompts, curated resources, downloadable artistic affirmations, sketchbook explorations, a full-length art lesson AND MORE!