Another inspiring mixed media fearless art making workshop in my LA art studio

Those of you who know how I mentor will understand that Im all about the art making process. Being fearless in the studio is tough, for me too. Constant questions come up: "Im stuck", "What happens if I ruin" it etc. etc...

This past Saturday, in a sold out workshop,  I had the good fortune to have 10 brave artists in my tree lined Los Angeles studio. I always start us off with a meditation. That seems to bring us out of our heads and into our senses in a more open way.  We did some loose drawing of our surroundings, observing nature's lines, shapes and  textures. Then we created some gorgeous papers to use in a collage overlay and used paint over that.  Watch the short movie and you will be blown away as I was! I welcome your comments. And if you are interested I have many more workshops and a retreat coming up in the next few months. Check out my schedule at


Art as prayer

The Art Process Workshop: Making your own portable sanctuary

Recently I had the good fortune of designing an art mixed media workshop for the Jewish Wisdom and Wellness festival of learning. The idea was to create your own portable sanctuary (mishkan). By adorning the "sanctuary" with beautiful fabrics; papers; jewels we were honoring the mitzvah of "Hiddur Mitzvah". The idea behind this is that by bringing beauty to a sacred space, it transports us to a higher plane, and then we can enter into a more holy or spiritually elevated state. Inside the "sanctuary" we created a personal prayer filled collage. Watch the video and you will begin to understand the deep healing power of art and its power to transport us. 

This workshop for Jewish Wisdom and Wellness in which we made our own portable sanctuary/mishkan used collage, paint and mixed media to beautify the sanctuary.

Fear and Artmaking

do you have doubts and fears about your artmaking?

I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.
— Georgia O'Keefe
  mixed media collage piece made by student in fearless art making workshop

mixed media collage piece made by student in fearless art making workshop

My biggest challenge when I start any of my own painting is facing my fears: Will I be creating something worthwhile? How will other people react to my piece? etc...In the book "Fear and Art" by David Bayles & Ted Orlando they describe fears of artmaking as falling into 2 categories: fears about yourself and fears about your reception by others. They go on to say: ..."fears about yourself prevent you from doing your best work, while fears about your reception by others prevents you from doing your own work."

 I call my mixed media collage all day art workshops in Los Angeles: "Fear-less Creating". Real self expression can only happen when we unlock those fears and allow our subconscious to emerge in its own way. Inserting a hyphen in between fear and less is my play on the word: We should fear less creating! 


The Healing Power of Art

Watch Oscar winner "Heaven is a traffic jam on the 405" 

I urge you to see this inspiring 40 minute documentary by Frank Steifel. Major mental illness had caused Mindy Alper to be committed to mental institutions for many years of her life. She survived abuse at home and a 10 year period without the ability to speak. At the age of 4 she began studying art and drew images of her experiences as a way of coping.  Her art has allowed her to emerge from darkness and isolation to a life that includes love, trust and support.

After watching this movie, you will understand the healing power of creativity and why I encourage ALL ages and stages to try the art process as a way of accessing your inner world. In my mixed media and collage classes in Los Angeles through meditation, writing and experimenting, I encourage participants to feel the healing power of art. 


How meditation heightens our creativity

Meditate and Create Art Workshop

Yesterday was a windy day in the garden next to the art process studio. As we meditated, I reminded everyone to breathe the wind in and breathe out into the wind, a way of connecting us to our environment. As we sat in silence, breathing in and out as the wind swirled around us, I was reminded of my days growing up in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, known as "the windy city". I developed an antipathy towards the wind. I saw it as a combatant, an element that I had to fight against just to simply cross the street. I began to wonder about what would happen if I didn't fight the wind, but tried to breathe with it...just a thought. 

What was created after out meditation was nothing short of breathtaking. The mandalas that were created from the natural environment in total silence, reflected everyone's personal story. Take a look at the video and you will be inspired to join one of our workshops in the future and discover the value of mindful creating. Check out the schedule at Namaste

Art Workshop in the west LA studio: image use and mixed media,collage

The Art Process mixed media and collage workshop and why I love being a creative coach!

My job as a creative coach/facilitator is to inspire my students and nudge them towards their own fearless form of self expression. Saturday's all day workshop was another affirmation that what I am doing is so exciting. The title of the art workshop: "Image use in mixed media and collage" was a new focus for my art students. The work that evolved was nothing short of breathtaking!

How to use images effectively in a collage

I started the art workshop by asking participants to find images that they intuitively respond to. They then were invited to write about the images and what they evoked for them. We are continuously bombarded with images not of our choosing in our daily lives, whether on billboards,TV, magazines etc. The therapeutic nature of the art process studio encourages us to focus in on our own quiet inner voice that gets drowned out by all the image noise. These mixed media workshops occur monthly in an inspiring art studio in west Los Angeles. Id love you to join us next time! 

 natural light inspiration in mixed media and collage art workshop west Los Angeles

natural light inspiration in mixed media and collage art workshop west Los Angeles

Check out our schedule at

My Daily Walk and the art process...

In the mornings I wake up and photograph some decaying plant material...then I try to resurrect it in the studio. I'm not sure what Im doing at the time, its only after reflection that I capture my subconscious intentions. 

When I’m painting, I’m not aware of what I’m doing. It’s only after a get acquainted period that I see what I’ve been about. I’ve no fears about making changes for the painting has a life of its own.
— Jackson Pollock
 Observations of Decay: My daily walk....

Observations of Decay: My daily walk....

creating a new studio, no time to paint....

For the last few weeks I have focused on creating a NEW STUDIO SPACE which I LOVE! The natural light and surrounding trees inspire my art students and myself.

SO WHY AM I NOT PAINTING?? I have a few good excuses such as my paints  aren't where they used to be, my rhythm is off, I have a new puppy to take care of (very cute one!) and then there were the fires that unnerved me and all of a sudden the beautiful trees surrounding my house looked more like possible fuel for fire than inspiration. 

Creativity takes courage
— Henri Matisse

I FORGOT that the gift of art making that I encourage so many of my students to do, I had not had the courage to embrace myself. Im not down on myself, just noticing what happened...Im excited to see what comes out when I get into my new space.






Art as therapy

To all of you creatives out there....your time is NOW

There was an Experience Life Study that was done that I found not at all surprising. To measure cortisol levels (an indicator of stress), researchers collected saliva samples from participants before and after their creative work. The results, published in Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, titled “Reduction of Cortisol Levels and Participants’ Responses Following Art Making,” found that 45 minutes of creative activity significantly lessens stress in the body, regardless of artistic experience or talent.

REGARDLESS OF ARTISTIC EXPERIENCE OR TALENT!!!!! Did you hear that? So those of you who are convincing yourselves that you don't have talent, come and participate in THE ART PROCESS activities and experience this for yourself. ART IS THERAPY!

 beautiful work from November all day mixed media art workshop: developing your own personal iconography

beautiful work from November all day mixed media art workshop: developing your own personal iconography

The liberating nature of going larger in your artwork

Recently I have been encouraging my art students to work on larger surfaces.

We require more of our body to work on a larger surface which allows us to pour ourselves into the art in a more immersive way. We are forced to step back and view it as a whole and not get too caught up in the little details. Well... a metaphor for life, right?



Why Corporate Art Workshops

The most innovative companies are turning to art as a tool for creating astimulating work environment

Companies like google, facebook and apple have understood that having a creative workplace allows employees to not only feel happier and more connected, but to have the freedom to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions to problem solving. The same creative thinking that goes into art making goes into coming up with innovative ideas. Its the same muscle, just applied to a different situation.

“We are drowning in information but starving for wisdom”.
— E.O. Wilson (well known American Sociobiologist)

Team Building, an overused phrase!

Developing trust amongst employees starts with listening and spinning off of each others' ideas. Sometimes the best ideas start with a conversation, a thought shared over a cup of coffee and not necessarily in the board room. Doing art together, encourages that type of creative dialog and openness.

Solitude and writing as part of the art process

Twyla Tharp, one of America's greatest choreographers, wrote in "The Creative Habit" about building up a tolerance for solitude.  "Solitude is an unavoidable part of creativity."  After all, creativity is about expressing those deep murmurings and one can only access them by being quiet and not distracted. Yes, it's more fun to work in community (and that has its place too) however, being alone with yourself is when our real voice is heard. Of course it  can be terrifying, depending on how you respond to it. "Alone is a fact, a condition where no one else is around. Lonely is how you feel about that." says Tharp.

I have been trying to build up a tolerance for solitude while seeing it as a gift in time when I am able to go into my studio and befriend my inner voice instead of being afraid of it. This is allowing me to start writing in my of consciousness writing, writing that is like a pathway to my painting. Sometimes, I don't paint at all, but just write. That is all part of the art process and I have recently started to encourage my students to do the same. Why not try it and tell me what you think? Id love to hear from you.

We will be exploring some of these ideas in the all day November 4th workshop. Im inviting you to join me on the art process journey...


Yūgen (幽玄)

While trying to understand the Japanese aesthetic of Wabi-Sabi, a friend introduced me to the concept of Yūgen, another important concept of traditional Japanese aesthetics. It  suggests that which is beyond what can be said. 

The term is first found in Chinese philosophical texts, where it has the meaning of “dark,” or “mysterious.”

Kamo no Chōmei, the author of the well-known Hōjōki poetry, wrote of yūgen: “It is like an autumn evening under a colorless expanse of silent sky. Somehow, as if for some reason that we should be able to recall, tears well uncontrollably.” Another characterization helpfully mentions the importance of the imagination: “When looking at autumn mountains through mist, the view may be indistinct yet have great depth. Although few autumn leaves may be visible through the mist, the view is alluring. The limitless vista created in imagination far surpasses anything one can see more clearly” (Hume, 253–54).

And so I come to the "limitless vista of the imagination" and its mysterious quality. As artists and appreciators of art, these concepts are not new. Yet the beauty of the imagination is that it is infinite and constantly changing. By embracing it, we are giving life to art every step pf the way...

 Ojai is a perfect place to experience Yugen! Sign up at

Ojai is a perfect place to experience Yugen! Sign up at


In traditional Japanese aesthetics, Wabi-sabi (侘寂) is a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete". (WIKI). It is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It's simple, slow, and uncluttered-and it reveres authenticity above all. It is rooted in Zen Buddhism and the ancient tea ceremony in which the imperfections in the pottery and glazes were honored.

Ive been thinking so much about this idea lately as I take a look at my unfinished paintings at various points of imperfection and transience. I am learning to appreciate them for what they are and not try to find the "just perfect" point at which I can say that they are done. It is a deeply self-accepting way of being, one in which our society does not value. We are constantly struggling to make our faces, bodies, houses, cars, children...perfect. How about if we just loved the cracks, the broken edges, what would that look like in our art and in our life?

This photograph of some decaying plant near my home struck me as beautiful in its subtlety of color, texture and shape. I think of that time honored Leonard Cohen song: There is a crack in the darkness, that's where the light comes in. 







 Lets dive in to the art process together at the inspiring Peppertree Retreat 

Lets dive in to the art process together at the inspiring Peppertree Retreat 



nature as canvas and why I love my art classes for kids!

I have just completed a week of summer art camp with the most creative, enthusiastic group of kids imaginable. I provide the inspiration and the opportunity and they run with it to places that I couldn't predict. This week we focused on animals. I always incorporate use of natural materials and look what they did with the bark that had fallen off the trees in the park!! They are gorgeous.

I have 2 more weeks of camp each with a different theme. One will focus on the intersection between Science and Art, a very exciting program. Check them out if your child is free in August. 

In the meantime, enjoy whatever summer plans you have. And sometimes, no plans are the best!! Our lives are so programmed...



 nature as canvas

nature as canvas


I have just returned from a glorious week of sailing in the Mediterranean around the Greek Isles. If anybody has ever wondered how to kickstart your creativity, go and experience something COMPLETELY different. I was fortunate enough to be sailing on the Mediterranean Sea and was inspired by the dazzling aqua of the ocean and the muted tones of the houses on the island of Symi. However, you can have a change of scenery wherever you are. The art process doesn't happen always in the studio. It happens when you dive into the ocean, take a stroll in the woods, climb a mountain, explore a new neighborhood or page through a new book. Changing your perspective is a great way to avoid stagnation in your artwork. Join the art process studio in one of our many classes, workshops and retreats. We focus on the whole"CARASTROPHY" as Zorba would say...


 The magnificent Greek Island of Symi

The magnificent Greek Island of Symi