Doodling, colouring & drawing

Creativity is the ultimate problem solver. The next time you have an issue at the office, a dilemma at home or are simply feeling like you are in a bit of a slump, try tapping into your creative side.  Science proves that giving your analytical mind a break and allowing your mind to relax is one of the best ways to shift from confusion to clarity.

However, it can be difficult to relax if you have a deadline looming or an issue that continues to resurface over and over again.

My top 3 relaxation practices include meditation, moving my body (on my yoga mat or in the forest) and doodling, colouring or drawing. The latter are the cornerstone of an artist’s practice, no matter their medium.  Just like an entrepreneur, a CEO or a parent, artists problem solve all day long.  Sketching, doodling and drawing is a fast, inexpensive way to tap into a creative flow.

If you are intimidated by the thought of picking up a pencil or have scathing memories of previous attempts at drawing, I have some ideas for you.

Doodling is highly under rated. It is one of the most effective ways to slow your busy mind down to actually listen and concentrate.  The word means to “scribble absentmindedly,” and synonyms include tinker, fiddle and trifle.  No wonder it gets such a bad rap.

Here are some alternative thoughts and evidence from Sunni Brown’s website –

  • That doodling is as native to human beings as are walking and talking;
  • That human beings have been doodling in the sand, in the snow and on cave walls for over 30,000 years;
  • That we are neurologically wired with an overwhelmingly visual sensory ability;
  • That doodling ignites four learning modalities—auditory, linguistic, kinesthetic, and visual—and dramatically enhances the experience of learning;
  • That doodling promotes concentration and increases information retention by up to 29%;
  • That doodling supports deep, creative problem solving and innovation;
  • That doodling has been an ever-present tool, a pre-cursor and a catalyst for the emergence of intellectual breakthroughs in science, technology, medicine, architecture, literature and art;
  • That doodling is and has been deployed by some of the best and brightest minds in history;
  • And that doodling lives outside of the elitist realms of high art and design and is a form of expression free and accessible to all.

If you are still not convinced or want to learn more, watch her 2011 Ted Talk –

I always doodle during a webinar or at a boardroom table.  It helps me focus on what’s being said and keeps me from being distracted by my electronics!



Blind contour drawing
BCD – Skull by Georgia O’Keefe

Blind contouring drawing is another way to let go and learn how to go with the flow.  The idea is simple.  You focus on an object or a scene in front of you, place your pencil on the paper and slowly draw the outside lines of the shapes you see. You try not to lift your pencil off the page and the blind part means, you don’t look at your paper while you are drawing.  I love to do this exercise in my workshops with people because whatever happens on the paper is just going to be interesting and can’t possibly look like the object or scene because we are “blind” during the process.  I love the mark making of this style of drawing and the freedom it creates.  I’ve been working on a series of blind contour drawings of famous women artist’s work (see my blog posts).  It helps me slow down and really see all the bits and pieces.  I appreciate the art even more after studying it this way.  This is a great exercise to do to slow down and really see your surroundings.  The results are surprising and fun!

A great reference for drawing in general is a book called “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,” by Betty Edwards.  It is a classic.  If you are interested in the science behind drawing and want to improve your drawing skills, I highly recommend it.  It is full of exercises like blind contour drawing.




Outside Your Lines, a colouring bookColouring for adults has hit the mainstream in a big way over the past few years and I’m glad about it.  I believe that most of us forget how to play and we forget that it is actually beneficial to create things that have no purpose, except for perhaps to just have fun.  It is sad that we collectively feel that play time for adults is a waste of time. I’m so glad to see this colouring revolution, we need creative play not only to relax but to grow just as much as kids do.

There are so many amazing colouring books out there, I was so inspired that I created one too! It is called “Outside Your Lines.”  I made a book for all of you free spirits who don’t necessarily want to colour in the lines or maybe the rebel in you is intrigued by the idea of creating something outside the box!  I also made sure that there are not too many small bits so that you don’t need reading glasses to enjoy it.  And lastly none of the designs are scenes or are symmetrical so you won’t feel restricted in colour choice. The book is also an introduction to the chakras (because yoga and creativity go hand in hand in my world), it is printed on 100% recycled paper and I’m pretty proud of the project!  Reach out if you’d like to purchase a copy or follow this link.


If you want to see what inspires me, I’ve been sharing my blind contour drawings and some of my watercolour and ink doodles on instagram .You can even “win” a card from me, I mail one out each week!

Lastly,  if you really think you can’t draw, Graham Shaw is out to prove you wrong. Grab some paper, a pen and give him 20 minutes of your time.  Enjoy!



Painting with an audience is like stepping up to the plate – all eyes are on your every move!

opusandlibreteaPainting with an audience is like stepping up to the plate – all eyes are on your every move!

It is exhilarating, challenging
AND very vulnerable!

I’m so thankful to the staff of the North Vancouver Opus who welcomed me and helped me set up the demos that I hosted in the store.
Waiting with my tea in hand and what seemed like a very BIG blank canvas was probably the hardest part.





demo at opus
This is the 2nd painting that I started that day.

I have been practicing the art of letting go of outcome and since that was my major message for the attendees, behind the guise of a mark making demo, I took a few calming breaths and did my best to practice what I preach!

The fabulous dialogue and support of the people in room helped me put my worries aside and in no time, it felt like everyone at the demo was painting along with me!  They stepped on the field and we were in this game together!
I ended up with 2 canvases at the end of the day that I wanted to finish and share with everyone who came to witness the start.

Here’s a little play by play while I worked on the demo canvas from the morning session.


Running commentary of a painting in process:


To give you a little back story.  I demonstrated a whole series of mark making ideas with red, orange and pink acrylic paints.  I dried the paint with a hairdryer then used white and black oil based markers on the canvas. I then spent the 2nd part of the demo working in oil (my preferred medium), using complimentary blues.

This is how it looked at the end of the demo.  We all played with the orientation but when I got home I flipped it around again and blocked out some areas.




IMG_5153 IMG_5152These are a couple of sweet little details – we used some matte boards in the demo to find pleasing compositions.  It helps me to take close up photos or use the matte boards, especially when things start to get a bit chaotic, so that I can see some of the beautiful details.




I started to soften the piece with whites, creams and light blues to see if I could calm some of the chaos and allow some resting space for the eye.  This ended up being the final orientation but I flipped it around quite a bit while I worked on it.





It got too washed out at one point so I went back in with a dark marker and made very distinct shapes, then I filled them in with soft pinks & creams. The shapes seemed to float on top of the underpainting.






I knew that I needed to integrate the new shapes so I used a white oil based marker, oil pastel and white paint to blend and link the underpainting and the shapes together.   I also felt like I needed more colour so I added the gold bits.  I wanted to pull from the original warm acrylic underpainting that was orange, red and pink!


I’m happy with how it all turned out.  A friend of mine on instagram helped me name it, “Weaving the Tapestry.”  The title feels right to me because I really felt supported by the people in the room. They changed from spectators to team mates.  I like how the multiple layers have woven together to represent the many ‘hands’ involved in the process.

The afternoon session painting is not complete yet.  I’ve been posting work in progress on instagram if you are curious.

And if you are looking to dive deeper into process – take a look at some of the retreats that I’m offering.

Regardless of whether you were at the demo or not, I want to thank you for your encouragement, for being part of the whole story and for being on my team!



p.s. This link will take you to the demo/workshop page at Opus – there are some fabulous opportunities coming up!

Have you ever experienced a win before you stepped on the field?

Spain 2016 - Art & Yoga RetreatThat’s how I was feeling before I boarded the plane to Spain last May.

I was in Spain when I sent this note out, hosting our first Open Your Art Retreat with Marleen Vermeulen.

I learned so much preparing for the adventure and I developed what I know will be life long friendships. To practice the art portion of our retreat, I asked my Dad, my cousins and a family friend to be my guinea pigs for a few months. After Marleen and I would create an art exercise or come up with an idea, I would test it out with all of them. We worked together almost weekly and it was invaluable. Not only did I learn so much but I got to spend precious time with them. I just loved sitting back and watching them create, play, help each other and it was wonderful to see them relax and unwind for a few hours with me.

Both Marleen and I also witnessed changes in some of the participants as they too prepared to take themselves away from their daily lives and give themselves the gift of two weeks of creative exploration. It almost seemed like the intention of the retreat started to begin to work its magic the day they signed up.  They were experiencing the same phenomenon that Marleen and I were feeling, we set something in motion, something positive, something wondrous and something life-changing.

We were just so thrilled to be offering this experience and honoured that all these wonderful people decided to join us during our first year.

That whole adventure is yet another reminder that the win comes from just playing the game, the win is in the process.



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Share Your Truth! – but what if you are not exactly sure what YOU want to say?

Speak Your Truth, Share Your Voice, Express Yourself!

I agree, we need you and your message, more than anything right now. We need positive change.

But what if YOU don’t know exactly what YOU want to say?


You know you are passionate about all sort of things, motivated to serve, to give and to share but it all feels like a bit of a swirling mess and you can’t quite put your finger on what YOUR voice is being called to speak about exactly.

Gail Larsen, one of the talented experts on public speaking calls our message our “original medicine.” In her book, Transformational Speaking, she explains that many indigenous cultures believe that we all have a unique message and gift that needs to be shared. She suggests that if you are struggling to define that message that you envision yourself in your coffin and imagine what your last words would be.

This coffin idea stopped me – mid sentence. It scared me. Desperation began to creep up my spine, I could see myself screaming –

Save the children!

Save the whales!

Save the earth!

Save yourself!

I put the book down, and took a deep yogi style breath and then, I knew my answer.

In my coffin or on my deathbed, I’d ask you to PLAY.


colouringphoto_19I’d ask you to think about the last time you spent time playing? The kind of non-structured, no purpose, for no good reason kind of play with no outcome or result expected or required. Period.

Why exactly would the world need you to play when there are so many serious crises and causes that need your attention?


Stay with me.

My inner artist and yogi would invite you to just love being in a body, your body specifically and I’d ask you to make stuff, you know, like craft time in kindergarten.

sunshinecoastyogafestival16I’d ask you to try yoga or to go dancing, swimming, hiking or go jump on your neighbour’s trampoline, (you know you want to).  I’d ask to put down the timers, the measuring tapes, the scales and stop taking it all so seriously.

Your body is not your life’s work. It is an expression of your truth for sure, but ask yourself this, are you operating from love or fear?

Your beautiful, life giving, supportive home, a.k.a your body doesn’t need a drill sergeant, it doesn’t want you to whip it into shape, to deprive it, to push it to the pain threshold and to submit to your will.

It desires movement. Your body asks you to take care of it and to treat it like you would your best friend. It wants to feel joy with you, it wants to eat leftover birthday cake for breakfast, it wants to stay up way too late dancing, it wants to skip the regime today and sleep in. Your body loves to celebrate and to play!

Your body is child like in nature and will take delight in the simplest experiences but it is also wise beyond measure.  It holds ancient messages that have been buried deep by our obsessions of superficial beauty, perfection and agelessness.


Your body is your home and within resides its soul mate, your imagination. The doorway inwards awaits you and play is the key.

Inside you will discover your message, your calling and that inner truth that everyone is talking about.

Let me explain…

pastelsCreative play, making a mess, being at ease with imperfection, letting the brain rest, and being in your body will help you enjoy the present moment and be fully engaged in now. Time away from productivity and efficiency will reveal what you deeply care about. You will discover what motivates you and playfulness will guide you beyond all the grown up reasons why not.


Play is freedom.

And in this state of freedom, trust me, you will start to hear your calling loud and clear. You will feel in it in your body, you will dream of it and ideas and words will start to form.

Play will introduce you to yourself if you take the time to listen.

With a playful spirit you can overcome all the I can’ts, someone else will, that’s a stupid idea, I’m scared to speak out, step up…

We need you.

Sorry, I know it is scary but we need you to dive deep, figure it out (make mistakes on the way) and share.

Creativity will guide you in. Through this deep connection with yourself, you will be motivated to create life-affirming positive changes.

We need that – let me be clear – we need life-affirming positive change, in short, we need you now.

Once you start feeling it, it will take courage to share because it might feel a little rough around the edges, not quite crystal clear. Share anyways because through the sharing, your message and your gift will gain momentum and clarity.

Even if you know your message, play will help you refine it and play will continue to be a source of inspiration, providing you new ways to share and serve.


Satya means truth


Your message is already there waiting for you. Enjoy the journey, my friend, I can’t wait to hear what YOU have to say.

And now you’ve had a bit of my medicine (no coffin required).