Posts in Creative Practice
Summer Creativity

What I love about the summer heat is painting... well, everywhere! It can be a little random considering the variety of choices. Watercolor at a cafe early in the morning as the sun comes up at 5:30 a.m.? Or order two cups of coffee and paint with one, skip the cup of water for dipping? And then what about breakfast? Consider the many types of breakfasts possible with all the fresh fruit and vegetables. But what I get a kick out of is the yoga that happens organically from painting large (and in charge? ha! not really) on the floor. 

This has been a year of deep and wide organization and the new website and brand is part of the outcome of digging through the piles of digital dust and art in pockets, containers and vessels all over the place. Years of mining and deciding what matters not, what might matter later to keep and what might matter later but isn't in line with goals and so it goes. I'm still deep into it. Finding half written children's stories and business ideas such as The Half Sandwich shop (if we can mix and match ice cream why not 1/2 sandwiches? Besides how many times do you just eat 1/2 of the sandwich?) and piles of sketches, old novels, scripts and more. It's endless. What keeps me going is the vision of a light and airy creative summer. 

Summer can be that way. I remember it well as a child. Sun, water and suntans - wet dogs and the smells of food cooking, swimming until toes are soggy and hair is turning green. 

Summer is a good vitamin. I would love to hear about your creative summer thoughts and plans. 

May 2016 be your best creative habit ever!

  2016 began early for me — if renewing good habits over bad has anything to do with it.

Since Christmas eve., I have been unplugged from technology and recently, TV and screens of any type. I'm sleeping better, painting better, feeling better, walking more, reading more and calling to touch base with friends  vs. texting etc. I can't tell you how life changing this has been in just one short week. Body and mind are talking to each other and creative chemistry is at work in a more focused way. The seeds are planted for some new ground rules in 2016.

I'm a total mush-ball sponge type. This  means that  if I watch a movie, I dream about it. If I engage in social media, I'm everywhere and nowhere at all. When I interact with Facebook everyone might as well be sitting around the campfire with me.

I have needed to sip camomile tea and numb out on a movie on more than one occasion to reset to  the standard mean of "thick skin".  I realized 2016 will contain better coping mechanisms. Whatever your balance metric is, this is what I wish for you in the NEW YEAR:

"Use the year like a tool - make space for creative passion, hone it, practice a little bit day by day, and make it the year of your most abundant creative habit ever — whatever that means for you."

Space to let things marinate, simmer, and move organically feels like an amazing thing to me. Nearly a luxury! Until I decide to  take a stand and do what is necessary to carve out a bit of feeling time. Suddenly problems are solving themselves, decisions get made like buttah! Even my rabbit jumps for joy more. Secret: Rabbits love creative energy. They dance to it. It's pretty funny.

I want to leave you with this video - Eve Ensler. It was passed onto me by a fellow MFA alumni and I adore it. One of the best talks I've ever seen. Made me cry actually. So INSPIRING.

If this video is not working for any reason, Click this LINK to go there.


PS: The image in this post is the beginning of a series of large paintings I'm working on now. This happened this past week in my unplug mode. The second painting is in the works and all I will say is that a dreamy rabbit and hard working pony are involved. ; D

Animal Stories * New Directions

  Love stories ... they inspire action.

I have a love story that I'm writing and illustrating right now about a yellow cat. He adopted me and coveted my heart for 9 months before his many illnesses took him over. He lived to see 16 years, though feral and was outside until his final 9 months with me. I called him my 'sack of cat' because he aimed to attach to my body at every possible angle. The desk, the toilet, the couch, while cooking, while leaving for work.

As I grieve him, I just have to write about his amazing story. I had to sketch him and bring him close after he was gone. It has done me a world of good. I've discovered a new direction in my illustration style and for whatever reasons other animals are showing up. Chicken, pig and rabbit. I have 8 illustrations done and 5 pages of the story. I don't exactly know what it will become. I just keep doing an illustration every other day and writing on the days I don't illustrate. It's given me peace and grounding in a time that is otherwise painful. He was a great cat. Old soul and kind of a bad ass. Loved him!!!! My first cat. Kind of like 'first love' -- it bowls you over.

I'm getting organized for the new year. Another retreat coming up. And some fun programs and new directions in art. Filling the store with holiday fun and people are already buying the farm animals here including myself. I just hung this one in my bathroom yesterday of Max.

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 7.07.11 PM

I am wishing you all a loving holiday season. Remember to be quirky and laugh as much as you can. It matters!

Love, Niya

Habits are Boring


I think about habit formation a lot.

I gather facts, I listen to podcasts, I study the psychology of habit making and heartbreaking habit diffusiveness at the start of a new year. I heard a stat the other day that our lives are comprised of 40% habit. These are the habits we don't know about. Brushing our teeth, getting up for work, etc. The auto-pilot habits.

But the habit discussions that are in fashion these days are the ones that improve our lives, bodies, health, relationships and productivity. There are many tricks to learning habits. Visual reminders to plan your day an hour in advance to get the gym, alarms to remind oneself of a commitment made to work on that novel.

I am bored just writing about it.

While making the transition to habit formation is not the most luxurious experience a person might have ... when the new habit is a disruption of ennui, inertia, being on autopilot, prioritizing tasks for others before yourself, trading what's important for what seems urgent in our 24/7 communications technology era ... it is then far from boring. More like how Jessie James must have felt in his first robbery. Like he got away with something and can't believe he is not dead.

My experience of creating a successful new habit engages many aspects of what makes happiness. It begins with a vision. What would amaze me if I got away with it and it didn't hurt my life? What if I did it a lot and my life grew as a result? What if on the days I didn't want to do it, I did it anyway because I am training my mind and body -- creating a new story and memory that undergirds precious resources and energy?

These days when I swim, I still feel the same. I can't believe I have created a habit of being in water intensively 4 times a week for the past 16 years. It has changed my life and health in ways I cannot begin to count. Yet, what gets me through the boring part of the habit is that the pay off over time exceeds the resistance. It's never boring -- It's different every time. Painting habits are the same. The water is in my brush vs. swimming in it. Expressing the water on a substrate -- It feels good, so I keep coming back to it. But there was a time when it was boring. I just had to do it frequently enough to get to the good stuff. Motivation was key. This habit was mine to make for no other reason than I love it.

Should's don't work in habit making and life transformation.

The reason habit formation is encouraged in 'frequency' is because the more we do it the more momentum it gathers and creates a life of its own. How proud a person feels to know that they succeeded in the creation of a habit that is true to who they are that they can access at any time. Quality of life and health amplifies. The sky is the limit after that.

Not so boring after all.


Postscript: The doggie in this illustration clearly gets it and is training her owner.