Giving Up?

Ever Feel Like Giving Up On Your Art?

Do you ever get so frustrated with your art that you just want to throw in the towel? Bin it? Give up?

I’m currently teaching in several places (Let’s Face It & Love Art Happy Life) and apart from the wonderful work that is being posted, people also sometimes express their frustration. Their annoyance at not getting it right or not drawing what they see in their mind’s eye. I read about people throwing their art in the bin or ripping it up.

My heart feels heavy when I see people being so hard on themselves!

I really understand that feeling, that annoyance and disgust at what was supporsed to be wonderful, but ended up severely lacking. I’ve never binned my art, but in a way I binned my creativity for years: by simply not creating for fear of creating something disappointing (again).

For me I want art to be something joyful, even if I recognise that it is sometimes a struggle (believe me, I struggle). Getting the balance right is actually a really big part of my wish for self-care and self-respect. Shooting yourself down actually adds another layer of suffering on top of the already existing disappointment of not liking something or something not working out right.

I feel so sad thinking about the fact that so many of you experience this, I want to share my tips for allowing art to be a more joyful experience.

1. Struggle. First of all, let’s just sit with the fact that we sometimes struggle. Life can be a struggle, art can be a struggle. And that is OK. Struggle is not something to be avoided at all cost or a marker of not doing it right. It just happens. Sometimes we struggle with something physical (e.g. art techniques) or emotional (e.g. confidence). If we interact with the struggle and face it it can help us actually get further on our journey. It helps us grow.

2. Letting Go Of The Outcome. I know I harp on a lot about letting go of the outcome *grins* but it’s just so relevant! The art you create simply is. It is not good, it is not bad, it just is. WHY do we want to throw it in the bin, or annihilate ourselves or rip it up? It’s about attaching an importance to it being something ELSE. As long as we’re focussed on wanting it to be anything other than what it is, we’re creating disappointment and suffering for ourselves.

3. Noticing. Being able to think critically and assess our work is a strength and can help us improve, but there is a difference between observing and criticising/annihilation. When you notice instead of judge, you’re simply observing what is. You can then absorb that knowledge in a positive way, rather than a judgy feel-bad-about-yourself-way. It’s the difference between “The eyes are all wrong! It’s ruined!” and noticing “The left eye is smaller than the right eye. I don’t enjoy the look that creates, next time I will try to pay more attention to getting the eyes the same size”.

4. Be Where You Are At. It’s so tough in this online world not to compare ourselves. I don’t know about you but my Facebook feed is filled with wonderful art from amazing artists all over the world. Everyone is doing their own thing and everyone is on their own path. Consuming dozens or hundreds of pictures of what other people are doing can really affect my confidence about what I am doing myself. I start comparing myself and wishing my art was ‘a little more like this’ or ‘a little less like that’. When I compare myself to others I’m treating myself so unfairly, because really I can’t compare myself to anyone other than myself! I’m Iris, I’ve been painting on and off since 2008 and consistently since 2013. I paint a few times a week. I tend to choose expression and play over technical skill and practice. I’ve not been to art school. I’ve followed some online classes. I love trying different materials. Etc etc etc (everyone has their own unique story). The art I’m making is a beautiful reflection of who I am at this point in time, and I am exactly where I need to be.

Say it with me now:

The art I’m making is a beautiful reflection of who I am at this point in time, and I am exactly where I need to be

I really hope that the above will give you some of the tools that have helped me get out of the critical judging way of approaching art and into a more accepting and joyful way of doing art.

If you have any tips I’d love to hear them, please leave a comment below!

Do It For Fun, Do It For You


I’ve made 13 short art journal videos in the last 20 days. That’s a reason in itself to celebrate! But what it also gives me the opportunity to do is examine my ways of working, my habits and my reasons. And then to share these insights with you in the hope that you find it useful too!

The thing I’ve noticed most of all from doing a challenge in which I only spend 15 minutes on a page and from recording the process, is that I want art to be easy and fun. That’s also why I’m sharing these videos. The art making is for me, but the video making is to share and give back, because I so appreciate everyone out there who shares their process and helps people like me get inspired, be entertained and get better!

It would be really easy NOT to share these videos of quick pages. After all they’re not masterpieces, nor super in-depth tutorials, but I think the key to what they do have is that they are fun and lighthearted. I want to show that you can make something nice in 15 minutes, that you don’t need to take it too seriously, that it can be beautiful or it can be average.

I think a lot of us feel held back by the thought that whatever we do (and especially whatever we share) needs to be somehow GOOD or MEANINGFUL. We think it has to be WORTHY. And then we attach a load of restrictions on ourselves in terms of what fulfills those criteria. What I’m saying is: it doesn’t have to be any of those things. Let go of the harsh judgements and requirements or the worry of what others may think, and instead do it for fun. Do it because it makes you feel joyful.

In sharing everything I attempt (even the messes and fuckups) I’m hoping that you get inspired to make art too and embrace the joy and let things be what they are. Let’s remove the pressure and let ourselves play!

Also, in case you were wondering, the days in November for which there are no videos are simply because I didn’t have the time or capability to film on those days, not because I’m filtering what I share.

Here are 3 of my favourite videos, and as a bonus the 4th video is the fuckup. Important! I call it a fuckup tongue in cheek. I am not feeling badly or being down on myself, I’m just being humorous because I don’t particularly like that page, but I see it as part of the process and I fully accept it and love it in its own way. I encourage you to do the same with your ‘oopsies’, love them and let go.

Day 19: Smudgy smudgy with oil pastels & oil bar

Day 5: Neocolor II and stenciling fun

Day 9: Drippy drippy inks

Day 12: A weird alien type person, wtf??

I Want To Go On An Art Date With… 9 Amazing Artists


Being a part of this wonderful online community of artists means being continually inspired by the people around me. There’s a wealth of people just doing their thing, making their beautiful art and sharing it with all of us to see and let it enrich us.

Art dates are one of my most favouritest things in the whole world, but I definitely don’t get to do enough of them. So I thought it would be fun to share with you my ultimate art date wish-list! I’ve chosen these people not just because I love their art, but also because they really appeal to me as beautiful human beings. Their being, messages, humour and individuality resonates with me on a deep level.

Go check them out, I promise you will be super inspired! And don’t forget to let me know in the comments who would be on YOUR art date wishlist!

Tamara-LaporteTamara Laporte – Willowing Arts

To me Tam is like an art celebrity (heehee!) who I feel so lucky to be able to call my friend for many years now. She is such an inspiration and example for me in art, life and business! I have wanted to organize an art date with her in forevaaaaa but circumstances have conspired against us until now. This year it’s gonna happen!

Sara-The-Rosy-LifeSara Torbett – The Rosy Life

I met Sara through an online group and I felt an instant connection to her due to her awesome attitude and us both having young kids of similar ages. Every time I read Sara’s blog I get so inspired, not just by art but by life itself. Her site is so aptly named, because she is able to see the rosy in everything. I have this dream of visiting her farm in Arkansas with my family and Sara and I will make art and chat while our kids run around and get muddy in the garden!

Marieke-BloklandMarieke Blokland – Bloknote

I came across Marieke’s quirky videos several years ago and I was an instant fan! She evokes such a sense of cheer through the dolls she draws and the way she edits her videos with uplifting music. We’ve actually become good friends and accountability partners (she kicks me up the butt when I’m slacking off on my goals lol) and she helps me keep my Dutch up to scratch. Although we live in different countries our art date is imminent, I just know it!

Donna-DowneyDonna Downey

Who doesn’t love Donna Downey? She’s totally my kind of silly. I discovered her YouTube series Inspiration Wednesday and she always has me in stitches with the way she expresses herself. I think an art date with Donna would be hilarious fun! Plus, she might even love turquoise more than me (might) so we’re on to a winner here.

Erin-Faith-AllenErin Faith Allen

I had the absolute privilege to attend a workshop facilitated by Erin Faith Allen. Wow. If you can ever attend a workshop with Erin in person DO IT, DO IT NOW. Her art is not so much about technique, it’s about releasing the TRUE YOU in art. She is wise and it comes across in a way that brings out your own wisdom. She’s simply a master facilitator. Creating art in her presence is a soul changing experience and I can’t wait to do it again someday.

Jane-DavenportJane Davenport

I recently encountered Jane in a Life Book lesson and as soon as she likened drawing arms to drawing sausages I was sold! She seems like such a fun and laid-back person (sorry is this me just using an Australian stereotype…? Lol!). Her art is so colourful and always includes faces which is totally up my street. Having an art date with Jane would be such a lot of fun!

Alena-HennessyAlena Hennessy

When I watched Alena’s lesson in Life Book 2014 I just got goosebumps. I felt I found someone who was speaking my language, someone who could really help me access a part of myself that I was ready to uncover. Her calmness and intuitive way of working are so soothing. An art date with Alena would be so immensely inspiring.

Effy-WildEffy Wild

Have you ever encountered a person who writes things where you think: omg how were you inside my mind?! Effy is that person for me. Often I read her blog and my head about falls off from the fervent nodding that I find myself doing. Her approach to life, self-care and self-development (all with a wonderful arty flavour) are so close to my own.

Flora-BowleyFlora Bowley – Brave Intuitive You

I love watching Flora paint. She paints with her whole being and you can see it’s a process of letting things emerge, letting things go, intuition taking over. I love her message of braveness and intuitiveness, they are both things I am seeking and practicing. I watched an interview with Flora in which she advocates being brave on your canvas as a way of practicing so you can be brave in life. I love that! I do hope to someday take an in-person class with Flora and learn from her face-to-face!

Now tell me, who would YOU like to go on an art date with?

Embracing Your Inner Darkness

I’m afraid of my inner darkness. That might not be a very surprising statement, because I don’t know many people going around declaring how much they luuuuuuuurve their dark stuff. (Other words for this might be inner demons, or issues, or icky stuff, or what do you call it?)

I had a realisation the other day though: I have this wonderful platform for exploring my darkness in a safe place.


And yet I don’t. I’m afraid of what might come out. I’m afraid it might not be pretty. I’m afraid I’ll sit down with the intention to connect with some darkness and then for nothing to happen because I don’t even know HOW to do it.

You may have noticed I like to draw pretty faces. Or cute whimsies. I love stuff that looks pretty, cute and colourful. It’s definitely the type of art I enjoy looking at (as evidenced by my Pinterest). I actually even enjoy creating cute & pretty stuff.

It’s not like I don’t like what I create, but when I think about it, I might not feel a deep satisfaction with what I create lately.

This is kind of funny, because a while back I broke through the block of not enjoying the result of what I created (can you say: inner critic?). Then a while after that I broke through the block of not enjoying the process.

And now I’m finding there is another block to encounter & work through. It’s scary, but it’s actually also exciting! It sends such a strong message to me that this is a journey. That whatever we learn and learn to deal with, we’re never done because there’s always MORE. It keeps life (and art!) from getting boring.

So I’m going to be digging in. Trying to access and let flow the scary stuff. Let my own intuition and inner landscape guide me.

Are you with me? Ready to face the scary stuff in a safe space?

Half the time I don't know wtf I'm doing, but I think I have this wish to display to the world that I've got it all figured out. That stuff I do is intentional, you know, with purpose. But I realise I hide behind it. That I pretend even to myself that I know all the steps. It's the really letting go that I'm scared of. On this spread I'm trying. But it's still actively TRYING rather than just LETTING or BEING. It's so scary. It's so exciting. I just want to stick with it and see where this journey takes me. #intuitiveart #lettinggo #artismyteacher #mixedmedia #artjournal #irisimpressionsart

Flowers Grow Out Of Darkness | mixed media in A5 art journal | @rrreow

Pink Hills | mixed media in A5 art journal | @rrreow

Why Do I Create Art?

why-do-i-create-art[image by Fré Sonneveld]

The simple (and slightly vague) answer is, because it fills my soul. I can’t not create art. I live a full life raising two kids and running a business so it often happens that I can’t create art for a few days. When that happens I just don’t feel quite right, I start getting frustrated and I just feel that pull of needing to create!

I guess that all sounds lovely and divinely inspired, but I want to level with you:

It hasn’t always been this way for me

For years I dabbled with art, stopping and starting, struggling to find a groove, not finding it to be that amazing creative holy grail that I thought it would be. I looked at other people creating their amazing art in their own unique style and it felt SO FAR REMOVED from my reality. It was pretty disheartening.

I kept coming back to it though. There was an attraction to art and to creating art that I couldn’t deny, but I had to do some work on coming to it from the right place, even though at first I didn’t even realise I was coming to it from the wrong place. That ‘place’ I am talking about is how you approach making art in your mind and in your heart.

And I’ll tell you a secret:

It has nothing to do with whether you can or can’t draw

I didn’t fully grasp until the beginning of 2014, when I picked ‘journey’ as my word of the year, that I had been approaching art in a results focussed way, rather than as a process. I wanted to create certain paintings, inspired by what I loved seeing other artists create. I thought the joy was in the completed piece, in the end result. I never thought about how I wanted the creating process to feel or whether that could be something enjoyable too.

Or I thought it was one of those elusive things reserved for other people. They know how to enjoy creating art, but I don’t. Or I attached it to skill: I will start enjoying creating art when I can draw a photo realistic portrait.

I started focussing more on the process. What did I like doing, what materials did I enjoy using, what was it I needed to let go of, what was it I needed to invite more of into my heart & mind? The biggest change that this brought was the realisation that what other people do or like or use does NOT have to be same same as me.

That realisation set me free

I admit that I still get tripped up with this sometimes. I look at the work of artists I admire and I start thinking that because I LOVE their work, somehow my art needs to be like theirs.

It doesn’t.

Asking myself what I like doing and the other questions above, has been transformational. Your answers will probably be completely different from mine: CELEBRATE THAT!

Get to know your own unique loveable fallible quirky amazing self

I realised my passion is doing faces. I don’t like ‘colouring in’ (illustration-type work). I ADORE acrylics but I don’t care as much for watersoluble media. I need(ed) to let go of perfection and the wish for my art to look like other people’s art. I needed to invite more trust in, that my work is just right, right now.

Reading back what I’ve written above makes me feel so excited and amazed that I’ve come so far! It also makes me hopeful that if you are on any stage along a similar journey that you will find reading my story helpful and it will help you be a happier person and artist!

Why do YOU create art?

Let me know in the comments below.

Stop Calling Me Talented

Let’s stop thinking of ‘talented’ as a rigid concept that is inherent (you are born with it), and let’s start thinking about it as something more fluid. Talent can be built on and it isn’t required in order to have fun or do something really well.

When people like my art they often tell me ‘Oh you’re so talented!’. It’s a lovely compliment to receive, but it always makes me feel a bit funny. ‘Talented’ seems such a rigid concept. You can’t become talented, you either are or you aren’t. It also doesn’t take into account the hard work that came before it. It seems the most prevalent attitude is: I am talented therefore I can paint a nice picture, not: I have practiced therefore I can paint a nice picture.

Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.  Stephen King  |

I’ve touched upon this before in my article about Deserving to Do Art. There seems to be this notion that there are people who are already inherently good at something, and therefore they are allowed to pursue that thing. On the other side there are people who are not inherently good at something, and therefore they shouldn’t bother.

Yes, there are people who pick up a brush for the first time when they’re 20 (or 30 or 40) and create amazing paintings. There are child savants who create art beyond anything I will ever dream of achieving.

That’s not the norm!

If you’re reading this it’s likely you’re more like me: enthusiastic and passionate, but not ridiculously talented in any way. If you think my paintings have anything to do with talent, think again. Instead, it’s hours and hours of practice. It was picking up a brush and creating something that looked crap. It made me never want to paint again, but instead I said ‘never mind’ and kept creating. Until one day (honestly, this day came MUCH MUCH later than I would’ve wanted!) I painted something and thought ‘hey, I actually quite like that!’

The thing that makes me sad though is that often with the compliment from the first paragraph comes a feeling that is left unsaid: ‘you’re talented, but I’m not’. People lament and say they ‘can’t paint faces’. Back to that feeling of you can only do it if you’re already magically good at it; if you’re talented. Want to know a secret? I couldn’t paint faces either! I took some online courses and I practiced, and now I can!

Stop Calling Me Talented | comparison image before and after practisingLOOKIE!! I practised!!! I actually have a soft spot for the one on the left too, even if I can see all the flaws. It looks like she was created with a lot of freedom, even though I didn’t yet have the skill to know where to put the eyes or do the shading.

It’s so easy to get trapped in that thinking of not being able to acquire a skill (or attributing it to the magical ‘talent’, which makes it even more elusive and ‘not for us mere mortals’), especially once we leave full-time education. We’re formed, we’re done, can’t change now!

BUT WE CAN!!! We just need to want it enough!

And we need to put in the work. Don’t let that put you off though, the work can be fun. You can make it fun. Remember how kids learn? By playing! Get out your art supplies and play. Talent schmalent. Fun and fulfillment is where it’s at, and that is achieved by enjoying the process.

In the video below I embrace playfulness in art and create a journal spread based around giving myself permission to create.

Let me know in the comments what you think of the relationship between talent and doing things well!

Working With Your Inner Critic & Free Printables!

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Do you ever listen to those voices inside your head? The ones that tell you you’re not good enough. The ones that whisper “that’s crap, you should just pack it in, you think that looks like a nose/cat/person, you must be joking?” The ones that when you listen to them for too long make you want to hide under the covers and never attempt anything creative ever again…

A lot of the time I manage to quieten these voices, I’ve learned coping mechanisms and strategies (more on that below). At other times they are loud, they shout, and I almost give in to them.

These unwelcome opinions inside our own minds, they have a purpose though. When you start listening, really listening to more than just the surface thoughts, their message is actually one of care. It’s the part of our self that doesn’t want to take risks, that wants to be safe in the knowledge we’re not going to be judged or create a situation where we feel badly.

So how can I translate my inner critic’s painful judgements and turn them into something positive?

‘That’s crap’ becomes
‘I want to protect myself from negative opinions. What I create simply is, there is no judgement of what is’

‘You should just pack it in’ becomes
‘I’m scared of what lies ahead, of the unknown. I will keep going so the unknown becomes known’

‘That doesn’t look like a [insert subject]’ becomes
‘This is my interpretation of this subject at this point in time, I am allowed to practice so it will look more and more like what I see in my mind’s eye’

None of this comes easy, all of it is hard work, but in time and with practice it gets easier. I will be really honest with you (and myself) right now: sometimes I listen to the voices because I WANT to listen. It’s easier to feel negative and justified in not creating than to do the work and push through the blocks and difficulties. Sometimes I need to give myself a kick up the backside!

I can’t presume I can do that to you though or that you’d want me to (heehee!) so instead I created a free printable for you! And then I created another one because I couldn’t stop at just one!

Download here

Download here

I hope you find these quotes as inspiring and helpful as I do! These two images are free for you to use and decorate your creative space with, or glue into your scrapbook or stick on your fridge or anything else you can think of! Click each image or link to access the high-res file.

Are there any quotes that you love and go back to again and again for motivation, inspiration or simply a literary hug? I’d love to know what they are, let me know in the comments below!

Amazing & Inspiring

This girl, I want to learn from her and be as amazingly creative & dedicated!