Wednesday, May 23, 2018


On a recent drive through Goose Pond, we started pulling into a parking area and noticed this killdeer refusing to move even when faced with the giant blue truck.  I got out to see what was going on and she flew off a short distance and began this display - pretending to be injured to draw us away from... the gravel? 

Seriously - there was no nest on the ground and I couldn't figure out  why she would even consider a nest on the gravel and why she was luring me away from .... rocks? 

So I looked a little closer and found this single egg almost at my feet.  That's a blade of dried grass on the right of it.   It was maybe an inch long.  Just the one. 

They generally lay clutches of 4-6 eggs.  We left her in peace and I wish her luck.  That's not an easy place to raise a family.

Sunday, May 20, 2018


© Robin Edmundson, 'Haybales, Blue Trees', watercolor, 10 x 14 inches

This month we've been talking about how to stay in balance and to do that you need to know your priorities.  Once you've got your priorities, you've got to protect them.  This means setting boundaries.

Boundaries are the edges where one thing stops and another starts.  In painting, we talk about hard edges and soft edges.   If you look at the painting above, there is a hard edge on the left side of the bale against the blue trees.   You can tell exactly where one thing stops and another starts.  Now take a look at the trees.   You can see a lot of color, but it's hard to tell where one tree stops and another starts.   Same with the grass.  These are soft edges.

In our lives we have both kinds of boundaries.   Hard boundaries are the easy ones, the line-in-the-sand ones.   Here are some of mine:

  • I will not eat watermelon.
  • I will not have an arachnid for a pet.
  • We will NOT get another puppy.  
  • Murder is not an option.
  • Neither is a motorcycle. 
The soft boundaries are harder.  The lines blur and we make exceptions based on the specific individuals or situation.  For example:
  • I won't eat watermelon ... unless there's no other option and I'm hungry.
  • I won't get another puppy...unless it's really cute, and free, and it's wet/cold/hungry.
  • I won't serve on another committee...unless so-and-so asks and I can do the work in 30 minutes or less a month.
  • I will get this project done today...unless my friend calls with a crisis.
  • I won't answer the phone...unless it's my sister.
  • I will meditate every day...if I feel like it. 
  • I will say no...unless they ask again [and keep asking].
See how it works?   Those soft boundaries are our weak spots.  People can use them to manipulate us.  And when we give in, we get angry at ourselves, or we don't follow through, or we tell ourselves we're weak, or we suck and so we don't really deserve the thing we're working toward since we let ourselves get derailed.  

What do we do?   First, identify where you need to firm up a boundary.  Then, take a one-day-at-a-time approach.   Just TODAY, I will let the dishes sit in the sink so I can finish my thing instead.  Or just today I will do the dishes first, so when I come home the house feels nice and I'm not greeted with chaos and more work.

Maybe you need a one-hour-at-a-time approach.  For this HOUR, I will not answer the phone.  I will focus on this task and it will feel so good to get it done.   For this HOUR, I will focus on my kiddos completely with no multitasking.

Baby steps are magic.  Look back at your priorities - What boundaries do you need to firm up to protect your highest priorities?   What will you do differently this week?

I'd like to invite you to join our Best Self facebook group where we can talk freely about becoming our best selves - and all the messy work that entails.  In addition, I have another group, The Well Balanced Artist, for creatives of all kinds and in all stages of their creative lives, who are trying to balance their art, business and personal lives.   

Sunday, May 13, 2018


I don't know about you, but in May my workload doubles.  I have all of the regular business work and creative work, plus all the outside work on top of - and the grass keeps on growing.  I know you've got a lot on your plate, too - probably way too much.  In order to stay in balance, you need to decide where to put your effort for best return, and you need to see where your priorities lay.  Here are two easy ways to approach that.

1.  Make a list of all the stuff on your plate,  Then put it in order according to importance.  The things at the top of the list are your highest priorities. 

2.  Fill out one of these Covey Quadrants.  It's a very simple way of examining your To Do list and putting things in their proper place with regard to Urgency and Importance.   What's nice about this approach is that it shows you what things you can take off your list completely. 

Take a look at your priorities.  Are they where you want them to be?  Are you giving more time & effort to things you don't think are important?   Are you neglecting things that are?  Do you need to make changes? 

Once you've decided your priorities, you'll need to protect them.   Next time we'll be talking about boundaries.

I'd like to invite you to join our Best Self facebook group where we can talk freely about becoming our best selves - and all the messy work that entails.  In addition, I have another group, The Well Balanced Artist, for creatives of all kinds and in all stages of their creative lives, who are trying to balance their art, business and personal lives.   

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Loosening Up: A Class with Dale Popovich

© Robin Edmundson (with Dale Popovich), 'North Woods', watercolor, 12 x 16 inches

April 28th, I attended a class with Dale Popovich in Bloomington, Indiana. He did two demonstrations in the morning and we did a paint-along in the afternoon, one layer at a time. I learned a lot from him and was reasonably happy with the finished piece. 

His style of teaching is very fluid. He is able to talk as he works and as a group of experienced painters, we had a lot of questions about his process and thinking. He is very generous with information and it was a pleasure to learn with him. As we were painting, he would walk around and give feedback - the most valuable to me was, 'STOP painting now. Let it dry before you work it more.' I was happy to see that he would pick up a brush and actually show me what he was talking about on my piece. It was great to see exactly how he uses the tools. 

The composition was from a reference photo he provided and we all painted with the same colors in roughly the same way. Since the purpose of the activity was to be loose, I didn't worry about making it look just like his, I worried about making it look right given how the paint moved for me. I added more bold color in areas and focused on finding shapes and volumes that appeared for me. Yes, it was intense and I came home pretty wired. I jiggled things a bit more the next day and then STOPPED. It's in a frame now, safe from over-working.

Sunday, May 6, 2018


The theme for this month is 'balance'.  Balance is hard for me.  I do a lot of things, wear a lot of hats, work as efficiently as I can to be as productive as I can be, which means I often neglect things that are good for me and which feel good when I do them, but do not meet my very strict definition of  'productive'.  I love how I feel when I'm productive.  I don't love how I feel when I'm neglecting something and get out of balance.

Lately I feel very out of balance.  To get back in balance, I answered these questions:

A.  What are the things/goals I'm trying to accomplish and work toward these days?
  • Am I making progress?
  • Do I feel good about that progress
B.  What am I neglecting?
  • Has that neglect caused problems?   What are they?
C.  Do I want to continue feeling out of balance?
  • What specific things do I need to do to address the things I'm neglecting?
  • How much time will I set aside to address these?  (Doesn't have to be a lot)
D.  What strategy will I use to free up the time I need to do these things?
  • What things will I no longer spend time on?  
  • What boundaries will I instate to protect my time & focus?
  • What physical space do I need to have available?
  • What reminders do I need?
E.  Who do I have to support me? [This one is not easy for me, either.]
  • My accountability partner is _______________.
  • My cheerleader is _______________.
F.  How am I going to reward myself for doing this stuff (based on difficulty/effort)?
  • My little reward is _______________.
  • My medium sized reward is _______________.
  • My OMG-I-really-did-this reward is _______________.
  • My accountability partner who will make sure I reward myself is _______________.

My current issues have to do with a creative practice and a meditation practice.  I need to schedule these into my day.   I have very reasonable and measurable goals.  My meditation practice is five and a half minutes.  [Seriously.  Go to that link and read about it.]   I set a timer.   My creative practice should be at least 10 minutes.  I'll set a timer for that one, too. 

The challenge for me with these is that I do them better when I'm in the right head space and I haven't been, so it's hard to sit down and sketch or meditate.   I think my strategy for this is to do them first thing in the day, then give myself a really awesome reward when I've done them for so long.  10 days?  30 days?  [Note:  I'm not interested in doing them everysingleday-all-or-nothing.  30 days with the occasional skip is still 30 days and that would be awesome.  They don't have to be 30 consecutive days.]   I'm still thinking about the reward thing.  It brings up other issues I have about being deserving of rewards.   I have more work to do on that.   Maybe I should give myself a reward for accepting a reward?  I'll keep you posted. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Sketchbooks and Sketching

I've been doing the Sketchbook Revival activities over the past little while.  I'm not a sketchbook person, but somehow I signed up for these posts, then forgot and was surprised to get the Day 1 reminder in my email.   Since the vast majority of my creative pursuits are guided by intuition rather than planning, I just went with it. My intention for the Sketchbook Revival was to find a way to be more comfortable with the transitions and to allow myself to be a Confident Explorer.

I've been looking for ways to get more comfortable with the ebb and flow of a creative life.  Transitions are not fun for me.  They are full of panic and fear - and dealing with those feelings only makes it harder to get in the flow of the next project.  Once I'm in the flow, I'm great.

It's transition time right now and here I am getting these great posts and vids all about using sketchbooks, which I don't use the way these guys do at all. [I have sketchbooks that I use for thumbnails, scribbles, notes, really awful attempts at drawing things.  They are nothing to be proud of and I am not exaggerating or being modest.  They are crap.]  As I listened, I kept hearing the term 'creative practice'. 

After a few days, I realized that I don't 'really have a creative practice.   I have a creative business. 

I have a business practice.

I have a busy-ness practice.

No creative practice. 

Huh.    I want to change that.

So, during the very next video, which was the one by Val Webb, I got out one of my crap sketchbooks, my favorite mechanical pencil with an eraser that never stops and a really awesome carbon ink pen [by Jane Davenport that was a gift from my awesome mom] and decided to play along. 

Val Webb is a superb teacher.  Kind, patient and gentle.  Before I knew it, I had a heron sketched out in pencil, then over that in permanent ink.   And then I added all the background stuff and water in ink, spontaneously with no pencil first.   It may not sound like much, but committing a drawing on paper in ink is a big deal for me. 

If I'm going to be really honest, I'm considering doing more of this kind of sketching in a real sketchbook devoted to this kind of work...but only because this one turned out ok.   I have discovered that I'm that person who only considers doing more of something if she can do it reasonably well out of the box.  I don't like to be bad at things and certainly never in public. 

That part of myself is governed by fear and I'm not very happy with that so I'll be thinking about this a lot more.   But hopefully, I'll be doing a lot more of these nature/bird sketches.  I actually ordered a sketchbook for it. I'm going to work these into some sort of real 'creative practice.' 

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, April 29, 2018


This month I've been talking a lot about how to deal with obstacles.  A very useful tool for tackling obstacles is perspective.  A change in perspective allows you to look at things from different vantage points.  Here are three simple ways to practice using perspective.

1. You've heard the expression about not being able to see the forest for the trees.  This is when you're so focused on the details that you forget to take a step back to see the bigger picture.  Maybe things aren't about you. Maybe this obstacle will direct you onto a path that will take you somewhere better. Maybe this delay or hardship really isn't very important in the eternal scheme of things and it's OK to let it go.

2.  Look more closely.  When you're feeling frustrated because nothing is happening!... what if you stepped in for a closer look?  Progress is happening, but it's happening incrementally, like dew forming on the grass.  You just need to give it time.

3. Finally remember that we can rarely see all of something from just one vantage point. Sometimes taking a few steps to the left or right, or walking around to see what's in back is enough to shake something loose in your thinking and give you an idea for how to proceed when you feel stuck.

What are your favorite ways of dealing with obstacles?

I'd like to invite you to join our Best Self facebook group where we can talk freely about becoming our best selves - and all the messy work that entails.  In addition, I have another group, The Well Balanced Artist, for creatives of all kinds and in all stages of their creative lives, who are trying to balance their art, business and personal lives. 

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