New Podcast: Design Matters with Debbie Millman

05/23/16

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Friends, I’m so happy to share my interview with renowned designer, design thinker and podcaster Debbie Millman on her long-running show Design Matters. We really delve into my past & discuss my journey in depth. I hope you take a listen.

Thank you, Debbie!

CATEGORIES: Podcasts
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Experiments in Blue // Week 21

05/23/16

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Hello friends! Can you believe we are almost 1/2 way through the year? I realized that this morning when I write Experiments in Blue: Week 21 in the subject line above.

Yesterday I sat down to paint this week’s experiment. I drew the general composition lightly in pencil first and then squirted some of my trusty watercolors on my palette to add color. I never quite know which colors will go where when I begin!

You can check out all of my weekly Experiments in Blue for this year here.

Speaking of watercolor: stay tuned tomorrow for an interview with watercolor artist (and amazing illustrator) — my friend, Samantha Hahn.

Happy Monday!

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Sketchbook Roundup & Sketchbook Classes!

05/20/16

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{A recent spread from my MESSY SKETCHBOOK, which is basically an old book that I use as my place to get loose and messy}

Recently I was traveling for a book tour for my latest book, The Joy of Swimming. At my Creative Mornings Talk in Minneapolis, one woman asked me during the Q&A: “How do you make time for personal work?” I paused for what seemed like a long time. I was about to say, “I don’t!” And then I remembered that I spend at least a few hours each week (sometimes several) drawing and painting in my various sketchbooks. Lately, while my day-to-day illustration and writing career has kept me busy during workdays with little time for personal work, I manage to sneak it in at night while I’m watching TV or on the weekends out at my painting table — in my sketchbooks! I’ve been chronicling my sketchbook spreads on Instagram and here on my blog for many moons. Here are some of the most recent.

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I find drawing and painting in my sketchbooks enormously relaxing. For one, what I make here is not for sale or for a client or for any one but me. Here, I get to play with shapes and colors, markings and materials. Sometimes the result is beautiful. Sometimes it’s a hot mess. But it’s mostly always really relaxing and fun for me. In fact, I can’t wait to dig into my sketchbooks this weekend.

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Part of how I approach my sketchbooks is with the idea of using the space to create an all-over design or pattern. This approach is extremely meditative! If this sounds like fun to you but you aren’t sure how you’d get started, I teach two classes over on Creativebug where I teach the process of starting this kind of sketchbook practice. The first is called Sketchbook Explorations. The second is called More Sketchbook Explorations. There is no requirement to take the first before the second! If you are interested in getting some drawing practice, I also teach Basic Line Drawing and offer a 31 Day Drawing Challenge. You can purchase a subscription to Creativebug for less than $5 USD a month and view all of my classes (and many more).

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As you can see, there are so many ways to approach a sketchbook. And when you are finished, you have a book filled with your markings.

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Wondering about materials? I wrote a post with links here.

Have a great weekend, friends!

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What Makes a Good Life?

05/18/16

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Two weeks ago I was on an airplane flying to the East Coast. I have my most profound creative and emotional moments on airplanes. I have come to learn I am not alone — that many people experience intense emotion and feelings of clarity while suspended in air. I have my deepest ponderings on airplanes. I have had some of my most weighty AHA! moments on airplanes, and come up with some of my greatest ideas.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the question, What Makes a Good Life? and on the airplane that day two weeks ago, I was thinking about it deeply (of course). So I took my pen drew the question in my sketchbook (top image, above) while we were flying over the United States, somewhere between Seattle and Washington, DC.

The next day in Rhode Island, our first stop on the trip, I photographed the spread, posted it on Instagram and asked my followers what they thought made a good life. You can see the results here. I also explained underneath the photo that I have been thinking a lot about this question lately, mostly because I am experiencing a new level of weariness in my life, which has lead to more labored attempts at creativity, less motivation and an almost constant state of anxiety about getting things done.

I need to come out of the closet and admit it: Hi, my name is Lisa and I’m fried. 

I have a thriving career, a solid, loving relationship, a close circle of devoted friends and a loving family — all markers of my own idea of some of the things that make a good life. I’m enormously grateful for all of those things. But lately I have also been experiencing unprecedented fatigue and malaise. That fatigue and malaise are, ironically, the result of the thriving career I mentioned earlier. I have spent the past six years working long days and with feverish devotion to build my illustration and writing career and take advantage of every opportunity that has come my way. And I have done it with energy, love and enthusiasm. And all of that work has paid off. But, as a result, I am now really tired. The kind of tired you can feel in your bones.

The #1 question people ask me is some version of this: You do so much in your career and you seem to have so much energy! How do you do it? I have never really known how to answer that question, and my answer is usually some version of sacrifice! discipline! long hours! taking the best possible care of myself that I can when I’m not working!

But lately, I’ve been wanting to say, I work too much! I’m burned out!

Truth is, it’s time for me to work less, create space around the projects and travel I do commit to and begin to slow down. My happiness, health and quality of life depend on it.

Okay, back to the question I posed on Instagram. I got over 90 responses in the comments. So on my way back home (also on an airplane) over last weekend, I drew in my sketchbook the most common responses to the question What Makes a Good Life (as proposed my my Instagram followers). You can see a photo of that sketchbook above too.

What people didn’t say was working long hours! success! to-do lists! 

What they did say was relaxation! curiosity! mindfulness! rest! family! friends! (and on and on). I couldn’t agree more.

I would not change anything about the past six years of my life and the sacrifices I made. I am gratified by and grateful for my career, following, books, clients, opportunities, travel, new friends, everything I’ve learned — all of it.

But it’s also time for me to make a shift. I will be writing about and documenting that shift here. I am not sure it’s going to be easy. I am not sure I really know how to relax anymore. Or that I won’t want to fill up my new “free time” with more projects. So, this should be interesting! And probably a little bit funny. And I look forward to sharing my thoughts about how it’s going here.

Stay tuned for more, soon.

Happy Wednesday!

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Seattle Book Event May 24!

05/17/16

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Seattle, I’m coming your way on Tuesday, May 24 for an event at University Books. I’ll be sitting down with local Seattle journalist & personality Tracey Conway for a conversation about swimming and the creative process, followed by an audience Q&A and book signing for my latest book The Joy of Swimming. The event starts at 7 pm. Get there early — seats are limited!

More info here!

This is the FINAL stop on my book tour & I’d love to see you there!

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