Let’s have a talk friends. This may not be a post purely about art. Although It might pop up, this post is about something way more important. It’s about Mental Health and Wellness. Mental Health affects us all in one way or another and according to The Canadian Mental Health Association “In any given year, 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness. ... Approximately 8% of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives. About 1% of Canadians will experience bipolar disorder (or “manic depression”).” That is pretty high and pretty concerning especially if people feel ashamed, embarrassed or unable to talk to someone about it. Today is Bell’s Let’s Talk day and it is a great reminder to start the conversation and help end the stigma that surrounds mental health.
I grew up on a very small close knit island called Cyprus. Everyone knew everyone and their business. Yet no one would personally talk about mental health. I do hope that is changing, because culturally, you just don’t talk about that kind of stuff.
It took a post-partum depression diagnosis after my Harvey’s
Calm the F down gland. It’s not an actual emergency.
It takes a lot of work, therapy and in my case, medication to get on the uphill road to recovery. I have been spending the last 3 years working really hard to manage it and to keep climbing up. Some days are easier and better than others.
I am thankful that I feel safe to share my story and challenges with my support network. Not everyone understands, or has the right things to say, but just that they are willing to learn and help is enough.
Moral of the story here folks: be that supportive person when someone wants to talk to you. Be that person who sends a simple text or message to see how someone is doing rather than ignoring the elephant in the room. Worried about someone? Text them/Facebook message them/tweet at them/ instagram dm/ smile signals/ pigeon. WHATEVER, just do it.
Don’t be judgemental about their medications or how they chose to feel better (for example: CBD is pretty baller and legal👌🏻BY THE WAY) but definitely listen and offer help.
I started Boston Creative Co. when my sweet Harvey was 1. I had been diagnosed 6 months earlier, and was still actively trying to get better. Painting and doing something for ME was one of the biggest pushes in the right direction towards recovery (Sometimes they call that SELF-CARE💁🏻♀️). Getting out there to show and display my art, meeting new people and filling homes with cuteness was so healing and fulfilling.
All in all, my babies giggles, making cute pictures, group therapy with my now life long soul sisters and my husbands support and love got me through those dark gloomy days.
If you are feeling any symptoms don’t forget you aren’t alone and reach out for help. Find your village. Some of these links are even anonymous, if that helps you open up at first. It’s difficult, I know, but you are not alone in this.
Here are some helpful links to get started:
Alberta Health Services:
Bell Let’s Talk Initiative:
Ironically this post took me at least triple the time to write than any other posts. Guys, the procrastination struggle is real. Especially real after an extra super duper relaxing long weekend with my cutie pies. The warm weather also makes me want to jump in a pool and forget all the things. But, you know, dishes and laundry ain’t gonna do themselves. Neither is the pile of ideas and work in progress items I have on my desk. Lets not even talk about all the fun things I want to do with my squidlets. I BOUGHT A SMALL POOL THIS WEEKEND AND ALL I WANT IS TO LAY IN IT.
Procrastinating and the Creative Block go hand in hand in my life. If I wasn’t having a Creative Block then why wouldn’t I be able to work? Right?
I understand the procrastinating to clean and do house chores. I truly do because who wants to mop or fold baby clothes (as cute as they are, just no). But, what I often find harder to get through is the Creative Block. You know the term, Writers Block but the Artist Block is also real and friends, it has me wrapped around it’s little finger. In order to help myself out of this rut, I thought I should share with you what seems to work best. Take it from me; I put the PRO in procrastination.
15 Minute Commitment (for you commitment phobes):
So, there is this theory, that if you commit to 15 minutes of work, you will often find that you can work longer and that you are actually enjoying it. If not, (insert cleaning aspect here), at least you got 15 minutes worth of cleaning done. Speaking from experience, you can get a lot done in those 15 minutes. I set a timer on my phone and get started. Start anywhere. The most difficult part is the start and I often find that around 5 minutes in I am totally willing to push through, turn off the timer and work for as long as I can/said squidlets let me.
Peak your Interest with Pinterest:
Pinterest is my online happy place. I don’t have facebook on my phone anymore but I sure as heck have the pinterest app on the homescreen next to contacts and above instagram. Lets be real, taking pictures, instagram and pinterest are the sole purpose of my phone and I am totally ok with it.
If you don’t already have a pinterest board then you need to get your sh** together and make an account like right now, Ill wait.
Pinterest is amazing. It’s jam packed full of all kinds of great stuff like recipes, diy projects, décor inspo, art, fashion, nail art, woodworking, man crafts and wedding stuff (just to name a few). The greatest thing about Pinterest is it’s smart algorithm. Once you pin some amazeball stuff on your boards (I have around 20 boards -no jokes) Pinterest shows you all kinds of stuff you might be interested in. I often spend a good 20 minutes of pinning (when I don’t know what to do with myself) and I end up in a whirlwind of fresh new ideas or at the very least, a bajillion pins that I plan on being inspired by in the future. 9 pinterest times out of 10 I can’t wait to start drawing up some new designs.
If all else fails, you can also find a load of task lists and checklists that might just help you get your butt in gear. There is also a ‘keep secret’ option for your boards, which is really handy. I do a lot of my idea work on Pinterest but most of my work related ideas I keep as private. It makes me feel comfortable and safe from the idea stealers* of the world. It’s also especially nice for planning your fake hypothetical wedding (you know who you are).
Use those Peepers and Read:
Flipping through my backlog of favourite magazines and books usually boils up some creative juices. I find that any magazine can help spark some inspo. I have a free subscription to an interior design magazine – I’m not sure why but I gots it and I likes it. I find so many hidden gems in there that the magazine is just a pile of scrap paper by the time I am done with it. Other great magazines are ones that feature makers (like Molly Makes – From the UK and I am obsessed). Getting inspiration from other makers can really help mould some new ideas and techniques.
Read anything! Having that little mental break is very helpful to relax your mind and move on. Don’t get stuck in a cycle of negativity.
Creating art journals and sketchbooks are my jam. I love being free to just draw what ever my mind thinks up. Doodling can be so relaxing! I always have a sketchbook around. I have one in my day planner, one upstairs and one in the kitchen. I also keep a ‘Smash Book’ on my desk. Smash Books should be essential to any creative. They are basically a place to glue your tangible ideas, findings and inspiration. I sometimes add paint, stencils, stickers, quotes and texture. Their more chaotic and messier the better (I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to them. Truth.)
Take a $10 note to the dollar store, venture down their craft aisle and splurge. They have a selection of acrylic craft paint, sticker letters, stencils, glitter, buttons, Paper - you name it! That should be an excellent start to an ideal Smash Book.
You have to figure out what works for you. If you find that you just wasted 2 hours on Pinterest then, friend, it’s time to step away from the computer. Maybe your 20 minute inspiration journey starts at the local library, at Michaels or the art book section at Chapters. Not all of these always work for me, different problems call for different measures.
What are your tried and tested go to anti-procrastination methods? Let me know!
*There is a book called Steal like an Artist By Austin Kleon and it has helped me numerous times. He basically says to ‘steal’ from other artists. Not actually steal but to use other artists as inspiration, but please oh please, don’t plagarise or copy someones intellectual property. That’s is the lamest of all. It’s just not cool. (Even when you are inspired by someone – mention them. They will absolutely appreciate it and will without a doubt be so flattered that their work has touched you in some way #communityovercompetition)
I feel like the term WAHM seems really cheesy. Like why do I need to state that I am a Mom who not only works, but works at home. Like who the fudge even cares where I work? Is it the being ‘at home’ part that is also important? Or is it to signify that like hey, I work when my children sleep and that’s it?
I'm only actually ok with it when I also remember that George Michael and some other dude had a band called WHAM! If I pretend like I misread it, them i’m absolutely, without a doubt, TOTES ok with being a WAHM! (Are you confused yet? Because I AM!)
I’d like to tell you about some of the skills I have acquired to run this ship I call home whilst also being a Creative Entrepreneur. Unfortunately, it isn’t to put your kids in daycare and go to your private studio space that is filled with amazing inspiring decor and botanicals. But if it is, you should just take over from here and teach me all your magic.
I don’t know everything, nor am I super successful but two years in, I know what works for me and my family (most days). It isn’t easy but I wish I had read something from someone who was still starting out but, had a little bit of knowledge to share. Or at the very least, a few tips.
Work When They Sleep
This advice was given to me over at an amazing blog Carve Out Time For Art. I was expecting baby #2 and I was so worried that I wouldn’t even be able to do anything for myself never mind actually working. They kindly replied to my frantic neuroticism and said that what is most important is to make sure you make time for it. Work when they sleep, the other chores and stuff can happen when they are awake for the most part. Having that in the back of my mind really helped me stick to it and allow a semi- regimented schedule for the kids to nap, but also so that I know what to do during that time. Of course this is irrelevant during the first 3-6 months. That sh#% is crazy and just sleep whenever you can. My second baby was THE WORST sleeper and so all I basically did was sleep if both boys were down and then maybe draw/sketch here and there when I wasn’t downing all the coffee. I kept a sketchbook handy to dabble in the pencil arts whenever an idea popped into my mind. I’m also currently waiting for my basement studio to be finished, so I have a workspace on the main floor that consists of my computer plus a folding easel by the dining room table and my work desk upstairs in our bonus room. It's not ideal but it actually helped when the baby WOULD NOT sleep and was bouncing/swinging while I could work on whatever floor we had to be on. (Now that he is 1, he finally found out that sleeping is pretty rad. Which makes this mama less of a monster.)
Give Yourself Some Time
Taking care of a newborn is super demanding, emotionally and physically. I don’t care how they came out/to you. Newborn is a newborn, it’s crazy tough. The sleepless nights, feeding issues, colic (@#Y&⁄°·‹ﬂ€·⁄°›‡ﬂ!). But like, all children are demanding. You need time to do whatever the heck you want sometimes, and isn’t that why we are entrepreneurs? So you can do whatever you want and be free of the daily grind? Side note, If for any reason, your work isn’t making you happy, then maybe it’s time to take a break. Refocus, take care of yourself and revisit when it feels right again. ("If it’s not a full yes, it’s a no"—> words I should get tattooed on my face to repeat to my reflection every day)
Make A Space That Is Childfree
…she says, writing on her laptop in the bonus room. (I’m also 89% sure a small thomas the tank engine is poking my ribs but after the double whammy joint birthday party we threw yesterday for the boys, mama isn’t moving.) Having a little area that is 100% yours will help the motivation and juice you need to keep creating. Working on the dining room table just means you have to pack up all your work mid inspirational sesh to feed the kids, or BETTER YET the kids grabbed a paint brush and ran towards your couch. Having your own space, even just a corner desk in the living room where you can, ideally, block it off with a room divider, will help you get right back where you left off. After all, this is your business and you need to treat it as such. I personally find myself becoming hesitant to start something if I just have to pack it all away and wash brushes in 15 min.
Take Yourself Seriously
I use to be embarrassed to call myself an artist because, what usually goes with that is ‘starving’. If you have met me i’m definitely not currently starving (haha thanks kids- jk more like chocolate almonds) and I also totally hate that such a negative term is associated with being creative. Only recently have I embraced telling people that I am an Artist, the maker community is so inspiring and it feels like such a gift to be a part of it. OWN THAT SH!T. It is what makes you, you. Not everyone can be an accountant or a doctor, not everyone can be happy in an office environment.
Schedule Your Time
In order to be a Mama, a maker and a happy wife, I have learned (only recently) that schedules and lists really help me. I treated myself to a fancy planner binder, a sketchbook insert for said planner and basically all the planner stickers from Michaels (because its what real heaven on earth looks like). It helps me plan out my social media posts, blog and video ideas, when I can work, when I can rest - and not feel guilty. Nevermind all the appointments, dinner planning and childcare bookings. This way, I don’t feel so overwhelmed by ALL THE THINGS and I can just look and see when things become a hot mess.
It doesn't matter if you only get a little bit of time to work on your business. The point is that you made the time and had intention to do so. Life can get in the way and not all things can run smoothly. Be nice to yourself and check off all the incredible things you did do! I only usually get maximum 2 hours to work a day but i’m not only building a little creative company but I am also raising some real delightful little humans. The house isn’t always tidy or organized and right now my hubbers is taking on most (if not all) of the dinner cooking. It really isn’t perfect but I would hate to wake up one day and regret missing out on memories with my littles and living my creative entrepreneurial dream so my house was immaculate and everyones laundry was put away. Just sayin' (insert laugh crying emoji here).
How do you keep everything afloat? I'd lurve to hear!
Friends, I don't know much about paints. It's the truth. If you started a conversation with me about paints before and I looked blankly through you smiling and nodding, it was because I gots zero facts.
Truth is, I just experiment until I find what works best for me and then I stick to it till it implodes/is no longer manufactured.
For example, many years ago now, I wanted to learn <my now numero uno passion>, watercolour. I had never really attempted it and found it all so overwhelming. That was until I found the easiest, (child) friendly product made. It's called the aquarelle pencil! Guys! It's a pencil crayon that you splash water on and BAM…Watercolour. I got mine from where most magical items come from. From the kids section at IKEA (you can also pick up a few stuffed animals and call it a day). If you are interested in learning how to watercolour then my friend, look no further. This is where you start. Get really comfortable with it until it dumps you because you were being 'too clingy'.
That's when you move on and on to the second most mythical magical product (that I once saw a Disney Pixar illustrator use on the extras dvd of Up) the Water Brush Pen. Imagine that a paintbrush and a vase made a baby, that baby would be this. You fill the handle with water, squeeze to saturate the brush and dab onto your palette (or aquarelle crayons - can't ever have too much amazingness) and Bobs your father's brother. It's portable and so easy to use. I use to carry them around with me everywhere and a little mini palette but then #kids.
Once you have mastered this, it's time young grasshopper, to move onto real ass paints and brushes. My personal favourites is the generic Michaels watercolour pan. They have the most fun and vibrant colours I have seen and a palette can last me almost 7 months! (THATS A DOLLAR A MONTH) I also have some cheap watercolour paints that I bought at Walmart (straight up) that I use as a thicker highlighting paint to add texture/shades to my work. There may be a few other metallic and sparkly pan sets under my desk, but like do we need to really discuss all my craft hoarding RIGHT NOW?
From my experience, what type of watercolour doesn't seem to matter, but the paper, wood type/grain and canvas do. A good quality cold pressed watercolour paper will give you an even and durable surface to get yo paint on. I prefer to spend the money on a good stack of paper, clear gesso, canvas and sanding paper for my woods then on the higher end watercolour paint variety. I have been tempted by that fancy locked cabinet at Michaels that holds those $20 watercolour tubes, because if it's $20 it must be legit liquid gold just waiting to be let out. But for now, I just don't want to stray from a good thing. If it ain’t broke - please note that my current actual palette IS in fact broken but it’s a metaphor guys - don't fix it.
Do you know of any amazing watercolours that I need to get my hands on? Do you know of a product that will BLOW MY MIND? Then please, comment below.
Hello friends! Let's start off by stating that I'm not a writer. Do I like writing? Yes, especially about things that I am super interested and find great happiness in. One of those things is Woodburning. Not in the ‘Hey, I'm a pyromaniac!' kind of way but the pyrography way.
What is Pyrography? According to Wikipedia it's exact definition is:
If you research the term, you will find lots of crazy talented people that draw, shade and almost paint with the burner. I tip my hat to those amazing artists. It simply boggles the mind! I like to use the burner to outline and illustrate. Then I paint with watercolours inside those lines. Water and fire guys, water AND fire.
My first burner was the Walnut Hollow Creative Woodburner Value Pen from Michael's for $17. I found that for a beginner that wants to try it out to make sure you even like burning, it works ok. But as soon as you start burning more, you will find that the handle gets super warm and you might get some pain in your fingers/wrist. Or at least I did. After a few months or so of fiddling around with techniques and different tips (multi pack tips are around $15) I upgraded to the Walnut Hollow Versa Tool ($43 pictures above). It has a fancy little grip that really makes working for a long period of time way more comfortable than before. It also comes with some fancy tips - which include some my favourites! It also has this super fancy temperature dial, which can be used at low temps if cutting foam etc. but mine was always at high. I found the dial to be in the way and i’d knock it down to a low temp accidentally and loose my mind purposefully. Personally, had I known that (hindsight 50/50 and all that jazz) I would have just found DAT 50% OFF MICHAELS MAGIC COUPON and bought the Versa Tool first. A super big plus is that all the tips and metal letters are interchangeable and work the exact same on both Walnut Hollow burners.
Guys, fun tip time. Read the manual and don't try and take out the tips before it cools. It happened to me and I broke my most favourite tip in half. Half of which was still stuck in there. I might have cried, its hard to tell, “i’m not crying, YOU’RE CRYING".
After a long family discussion, (jk it went something like 'hey, can we go get me a professional burner? Yep? LETSGO) I treated myself to the most amazing little machine ever. I feel so darn spoiled I might blush while writing this. I took my butt, my husbands butt and my smallest child’s butt down to Lee Valley and purchased a fine Canada Made product called the Razertip SK. It's so darn fancy that it takes a whole whopping 8 seconds to heat up. Did I mentioned I'm so smitten with it? (This is probably a good time to mention that I am not endorsed or affiliated with said Razertip in any way, I'm just a super fan/nerd). This beast is the 10 amp Detail Burning System of my dreams. There is a dual pen option but i’m not totally sure why you would need that if it only takes 8 (EIGHT!!) seconds to heat up. Turn it off, unplug your pen, insert new pen, turn on, take a sip of cof… oh it’s hot again.
It is a little bit expensive compared to the walnut hollow/plaid varieties, and you have to buy the pens separately but, what we decided (we = husband) was to buy the writing nib and the interchangeable pen until I figure out which ones I mega love and then just buy the pen form of those. Luckily, it also comes with a fine line shader nib which is super versatile and makes my mountains so amazeballs. So far though, the writing nib is my jam. They have around 350 different pens so like, have at 'er. They are around $35 each which is a slight problem in my economic climate (I want all the pens) but I can't see myself breaking any anytime soon so totally worth it in the long run (I have my eyes on some fancy ball points, and a coil one for feathers. Y'all know I like a good feather)
My art is also my business so it was super important to me to have an efficient machine that allows more to be done in as little of time as possible. I can confidently say that the Razertip SK totally hits the nail on the head.
One of my upmost favourite things to paint on is wood. I love the effect it has on the brushes and I love how when the paint dries you can see the wood grain underneath. It also gives the watercolours a beautiful waxy matte feel that cannot be beat, in my opinion anyway!
I don't only paint in watercolour but it sure is my main tool these days. I just love the fluidity and grain.
It's a tricky substance and especially on wood you need to prepare it sometimes with a quick sand, acrylic gesso, another sand and off you go! (Acrylic Gesso on anything makes it able to watercolour BTW!)
Here are a few examples:
Wood Slate + Acrylic Gesso + Acrylic Sealent
Wood Slice + Sanding + Watercolour + Matte Glaze
Hello my lovelies,
It's been a crazy time here at the Boston household, little H is turning 2 just one month before baby boston #2 is due! Having said that, my work hours have sometimes been filled with pregnancy appointments and of course naps!
That has not stopped me from posting on instagram on anything and everything this mama has been working on.
If you don't already follow me - now is your chance @bostoncreativeco is where you can find updates on all my current projects, ideas and upcoming markets!
Thank you for all the follows and likes, it fills my heart up with joy!
I packed up my little mummy mobile with all my stuff and my dearest friend Amy, and we made our way to a very rainy and cloudy Canmore. Despite not seeing one single mountain... we had such a beautiful day. It was so fun drinking lattes, meeting new people and being involved in such an awesome Market ❤
What a busy day I had today! Doing all the finishing touches on my work for my booth at Mountain Made Market, in Canmore tomorrow (Saturday, September 5th). None of all this hard work would have been possible with out the help from my Mister. He took on his daddy role like a champ and let me get to work!
I can't wait to share some pictures of the creative stuff I have been making.
What an amazing year! It was filled with a new baby boy, my first baby boy turning two (!?!) and a very successful year in the teeny tiny business department. It's been pretty incredible and I have loved every minute of it.
I have spent most of this last year doing some amazing art markets all over this beautiful city and it has been a blast! It was a truly inspiring time! It felt scary to put mysef out there but i am so pleased that I did! The comments, support and networking has been invaluable. This is what I wanted to do for so long but I never had the courage to just do it. I was too scared of the critiques or GASP - maybe noone would like my stuff! It's safe to say that I made the right choice and I am ready to take this creative company to it's fullest! (Etsy- I will conquer you!)
I have so much gratitude for all the likes, hearts and comments. They have helped me believe in what I am doing and inspired me to create and not give up!
I look forward to seeing you all next year in person at the markets and online,