Create with Me: Sorting Collage (Quiet Studio Time. No Music. No Instruction.)

I’ve been feeling the need for some Studio Time and thought maybe you have been too. Choose something you’d like to work on for 30 minutes and join me.  Gather your supplies and let’s spend some Studio Time creating together.

I’ll be working on gathering collage materials for a future piece. I am sorting strictly by colour combinations, paying no attention to the subject matter at all. I started looking through pages until a colour story started to catch my eye and then that’s what I started to look for. Today it was blues and yellows, like the pale sun in the sky.  I also had a pile of sort of acidy greens for a piece I haven’t completed and a pile for some pinks that looked like they might be my next piece.

What did you work on in your studio?

Things you might be interested in:

  • You can listen to the same playlist as I did, Dance Hits on Spotify
  • The fantastic green boxes I use for collage materials are the Kuggis series from IKEA. They come in various colours and sizes and they stack beautifully.
  • My extravagant cordless Bose headphones are one of my favourite things ever. I wear them around the house and listen to audiobooks while doing chores! You can find them here.
  • You might also want to check out my Journal with Me video. We can journal together at dawn while listening to the rain.

An Invitation for Your Creative Spirit to Come Back Home (and Stay)

At the heart of my work in the studio is a mission to restore and strengthen the relationship creative souls have with their art so that they can be whole, fulfilled and radiant. When our creativity comes home, when we recognize it as an irrevocable part of who we are, we can finally fully be ourselves and create the life and the work we long to create.

What I want for you is an unwavering relationship with your art.

One pathway to developing this relationship is the Studio Yearbook. This simple black-and-white fill-in-the-blank seasonal journal is a daily invitation to your creative soul. Each page offers an opportunity to partake in practices that have been a part of my own creative toolkit for years. Day by day, as you embrace these practices, you will feel your creativity come to life and you will see your artistic heart reflected on the page.

Each one of us begins with the same black-and-white journal and, in no time at all, each of us has a Studio Yearbook that is unmistakable our own. Our yearbook comes to reflect our unique spirit, our singular voice. In these pages, we discover our colours, our words, our priorities and our point of view. We express our passions, our preferences, our personality and our desires. In these pages, we are free to be fully and completely ourselves – free to tell the truth, free to make a mess, free to make magic and free to dream.

And dreaming is one of our creative practices. In the Studio Yearbook, we dream along with the blessing and guidance of each full moon. This magical act involves not only the creation of a dreamboard but also a process of inquiry and reflection. When you follow these steps, your dreamboard becomes a visual road map, revealing the inner workings of your creative heart and guiding the way.

In addition to dreamboards, the Studio Yearbook provides many unintimidating ways to make images a part of your creative life. On our daily pages, there is a spot to add an image of any kind. You can glue in a picture from a magazine, use a stamp or put in a sticker or print a photo from your day. I love to encourage people to create a little drawing. On Halloween, I doodled our two Halloween zombie dolls (as you do). Though not great works of art, they delight me and bring me back to the day. In your Studio Yearbook, your drawings don’t have to be skilled (though they might be). They simply have to be yours. Every season the gentle creative act of doodling opens up intrepid yearbookers to a whole new world of possibility .

As well having fun with images, much of the Studio Yearbook practice is writing. For example, in our dailies we document our day, gathering memories and moments of everyday life. We also make note of what has inspired us, what we have created and what we are grateful for. We collect our insights and, in so doing, we reinforce what we have learned. These learnings can range from the personal to the practical. I’ve personally made note of everything from identifying limiting beliefs to listing which colour combinations make ‘mud.’

On our artistic journey, when we acknowledge our growing wisdom, we deepen our creative roots and grow our confidence.

There is so much more to explore in the Studio Yearbook – identifying your true priorities, setting new moon intentions and, of course, just plain having fun. I can’t tell you how much joy and solace I get from simply cutting and pasting, drawing borders and embellishing pages with washi tape!

I hope you are inspired to dive in and get a Studio Yearbook for the season ahead. The winter edition has the added bonus of including a Crossing the Threshold section to move you powerfully into the new year. I have a video here that gives you a peek inside an actual yearbook and if you want to hear a yearbooker’s experience, please check out this video from Sundeep, who reconnected to her creativity through this practice. If you have any questions at all about whether the Studio Yearbook is for you, hit reply and ask. I’m happy to help.

This has been a heck of a year and we continue to move forward with so many unknowns. Our creative practices can be a powerful lifeline on the road, keeping us connected to ourselves and to the art that is always within us. I hope the Studio Yearbook will be a part of your journey this winter.

Studio Yearbook Winter Edition


Order your Studio Yearbook today!

Remember, print copies are only available until tomorrow, Monday, November 9 at 10:00 am.


When Life is Stressful

On Tuesdays I invite you Behind the Scenes at my studio.

Today:   When life is stressful, we don’t need to leave behind our art. We can lean into it and additional practices to support and nourish us every day. Thank you to the Mindful Mondays Wisdom Circle for sharing thoughts on how to stay present and well during anxious times.

Mentioned in Today’s Video:

Journal With Me: Rainy Day Dawn
(Quiet. No Instruction.)

Every morning I wake up and head to the studio to journal. I noticed recently that while I am spending time at the page, the sun is coming up and I wanted to share that with you.

There’s no instruction or speaking in this video. This is a simple invitation to spend some quiet time journaling with me. I hope you’ll join in and enjoy journaling, the rain and the sunrise!

If you want to listen to the same playlist I am listening to click here.

Some other things you might be interested in. My candles are from Wick WitchThe ‘good witch’ candle has become a staple for me. I light it every day while I write.

A student at the studio gifted me with a rechargeable candle lighter and I have never looked back! It’s particularly awesome when you are trying to reach deep into a holder to get to the wick! Thank you, Laura! Here’s the one I am currently using this one.

My extravagant cordless Bose headphones are one of my favourite things ever. I wear them around the house and listen to audiobooks while doing chores! You can find them here.

For what I call “journaling-journaling” i.e. free writing, morning pages, stream of consciousness writing, I use a Moleskine classic large notebook, lined, black (or white, or sometimes a kraft cahier if I am going out).

I’m also using my much loved pen is a Lamy Safari Fountain Pen

Do You Miss Coffee Shops?

Jamie Ridler sitting in a coffee shop looking out the window
photo credit: Suzie Ridler

As we stay close to home due to COVID-19 restrictions, one of the things I have truly been missing is spending time in coffee shops. What a joy to pack up my pencil case, a journal (or three) and a good book (or two) and take a few hours to fill my well.

This weekend I decided that if I couldn’t go to the coffee shop, then I would bring the coffee shop home. With about 10 minues of care and creativity, Justin and I were able to relish hours of café time, reading, writing and relaxing.

How to Create a Coffee Shop Experience at Home

First let me say this isn’t about ordering a bistro set or investing in a cappuccino maker. If you can and want to, by all means, go ahead! I just want you to know that nothing extravagant is required to create this experience.

Space: Choose a small and manageable location to serve as your “coffee shop”. You just need a spot to sit comfortably, somewhere to set your coffee and, of course, a book or a journal! Maybe your kitchen table would be perfect or a corner of your couch or your bed and nightstand. The important part is deciding, “Here is where I am setting up my coffee shop.” And remember, this isn’t meant to be a massive undertaking. It’s a simple and magical way to shift the energy, have some respite and enjoy a bit of a change!

Once you’ve decided on your ‘where’, it’s time to work some energetic magic and welcome in all that you love about coffee shops. You can do that by focusing on the senses.

Sight: How can you quickly and easily make adjustments to bring a café vibe into your space? A quick tidy-up is a good place to start. Maybe even a spot-clean. It does wonders for an energy shift! Tuck away some of the ‘stuff’ you associate with the space’s regular identity and make a bit of room. Add a touch of beauty. Bring over that plant from the windowsill. Add a pretty little tealight beside it. Do you have a mug or teacup you adore? How about a lovely plate for a cookie?

Taste: Speaking of cookies, I learned from my Dutch father-in-law that in Holland, whenever you order a coffee, you always get a little treat on the saucer, perhaps a small cookie or chocolate. This will definitely be a constant for our coffee-shop-at-home experiences! Justin and I have also ordered ground coffee from a coffee shop we love. Not only does that “Bards Blend” evoke sensory memories but our order supports a local business at a difficult time. What flavours will you bring into your café?

Scent: The smell of coffee is the obvious choice here. Maybe now is a good time to amp it up by grinding your own beans. And remember, coffee shops aren’t just for coffee!! You can also savour the scent of your peppermint tea or chai. If you’re someone who relishes café patios for the fresh air, open your windows. If it’s a little chilly, all the better! You’ll remember exactly what it feels like to be out and about at this time of year.

Touch/Feel: At a café, do you always pick a chair and a table so that you can write or do you gravitate to the cozy armchair in the corner? The kinesthetics of your body posture are a part of how an experience feels. What clothing would you wear to a café in autumn? Is it time for a chunky sweater? If you want to don your beret, go for it! For me, the best at-home addition to the coffee shop was a cozy throw! And of course, consider the feel of your mugy, your book, your journal, your pen.

Sound: One of the joys of coffee shops is the music.* Whether it is welcoming and familiar, full of new discoveries or even a bit corny, the music always creates a unique moment in time. Both Spotify and YouTube have playlists that will provide an appropriate soundtrack for hours. You can even listen to soundscapes that create the feeling of a coffee shop – even a coffee shop in the rainHere’s what Justin and I listened to for our coffee shop date.

With a bit of ingenuity and intention, we can call in a familiar experience in a brand new way. I know that I’ll be relaxing at Chez J&J today. I hope you have a wonderful time Chez Vous.

Finding Creative Freedom

Every year my sister Shannon and I sign up for Carla Sonheim‘s year-long art course. We’ve explored collage, worked through the alphabet, followed our creative spark. My art table has been covered with paints, papers and pastels as well as wires, books and stuffed animals. It’s always an adventure.

This year’s topic is Words & Pictures and the course features lessons from many different artists. This week I caught up on a class by Kara Kramer about keeping a messy notebook. The concept is to have a sketchbook in which anything goes and to dive into it for 15 minutes a day.

As I watched Kara work in her own messy journal, I was moved by her absolute lack of hesitation. With assuredness and immediacy she would grab an oil pastel and make confident marks. She would reach for a paintbrush and slap on striking colours. She’d grab a piece of paper, cut out a word or a shape and quickly glue it onto the page. Her moves were bold and instinctive. Her hand was strong.

That’s what comes form having a regular practice.

That’s what comes from being creatively free.

It’s taken me a long time to feel free with the visual arts. I had childhood art wounds that left me believing this was simply not a venue for me, Even though drawing and painting had always brought me great joy, I turned away from them for a very long time. It was only when my little niece came over and we went out for art supplies and then spent the whole day painting that a love for the visual arts rekindled inside of me*.

After that day, I slowly found my way back. It was a long, hard and frustrating road. I signed up for community art classes and would leave each night in tears, weeping out of the sheer frustration of having a desire that couldn’t find its way out of me and working with teachers that didn’t help. It was like having something I deeply want to say without having access to any words at all and it was painful.

Over the years I found better teachers, including Carla. I started to understand that it’s that unrelenting impulse to express myself that makes me an artist and the development of skills over time that makes that visible.

You don’t start out knowing how to speak.

You don’t start out knowing how to draw.

You learn.

Bit by bit, you learn.

And a part of learning is making crappy drawings and messy art. It’s not easy at first because each bit of wobbly artwork seems to affirm what your inner and outer critics have been saying for years, “You have no talent. I mean, look at that!”

This is where you must build the most powerful artistic muscle of them all: devotion. You must keep going, keep experimenting, keep learning and growing until you start to discover and recover the artist that you are meant to be. You must not give up on yourself or your art. You must find your way through.

When you do, you will remember that making a mess with paint is a blast, that playing with colour is a joy, that making marks is your birthright and you need never let any of it go.

And so it is that today, instead of crying in frustration at not having a language for my fingertips, I am here with you on a Sunday morning, eyes misty with the joy of knowing I am healed, that I can spend hours drawing and painting, making a mess or attempting something ‘finished’. The visual arts are mine and I am theirs and we will not be separated again.

Now I am delighted to have a sketchbook open on the table, to be surrounded by supplies. Now I can reach for a marker, a paintbrush, a pastel and, without hesitation, make marks on the page.

I hope that you’ll give yourself a chance to experience this too. Create a safe space for the journey, whether it’s a sketchbook, your kitchen or your backyard, to experiment, discover and grow. Find your teachers. I hope I am one of them. Weep if you need to. And heal.

Find your way back to your art. Find your way back to yourself. And once you do, never let go.

* Remember, you are the keeper of your creative fire.