my big creative year : what’s working

It’s March! I love March – it always feels like a corner is being turned. And I’m two months into My Big Creative Year. Since beginning (kind of impulsively) I’ve thought a lot about what I mean by that – a big creative year – what do I want from it. The short answer is – to grow. To grow faster, to know myself better and be true to that, to be uncompromising and unapologetic, to challenge my presumptions and explore the farthest reaches of my imagination.

What I’ve learned so far:

The more creative work I do the more creative work I do. Quantity, or maybe more accurately consistency counts. Writing and sharing these posts with you, being intentional and curious and conscious about moving forward, trying new stuff that might not work, and the daily sketchbook practice are having positive effects on all my work, on everything really, there is an energy and agility in my thinking that feels new – I’m solving problems and getting unstuck more easily. The scheduled posts and daily sketchbook are also giving my week structure and shape and definition that’s making me more productive and building some momentum.

sketchbook charlotte  mew 3/1

Searching for something, reaching and experimenting in public does not always feel good – it never has and it never will, but it keeps me moving forward and the commitment and constraints force me to let go of perfection. I love this quote from Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland (I’m reading it right now and loving it- I’ll definitely  talk more about it when I’m done).

“To demand perfection is to deny your ordinary (and universal) humanity, as though you would be better off without it.”

Letting go of perfection, letting go of outcome and expectations and giving myself permission to just respond to things and try stuff and play feels refreshing and like an opening. The sketchbook practice puts me in the moment and focuses me – I lose myself in these little experiments. I think its important that they are small, if I had a lot of time or a bigger space to work in (the little cards I made are small 4.5 x 4.5 inches) I would feel overwhelmed.

sketchbook 3/2

I show up for them every day, whether I want to or not (mostly I have wanted to) and just like physical exercise – it’s not always pretty and it doesn’t need to feel good all the time for the practice to be undeniably valuable and bring growth and transformation.


  1. I am starting a New Chapter in My Life , you are helping me to know that life is messy at times and that is o k ,,, what is important is that you show up to make the mess or what could be a wonderful work of art . I am enjoying following you and your life’s Art .

  2. hello Ann, your ‘big creative year’ has my full attention 🙂
    love your thoughts and words, love to see your work.

    some time ago i happened to stumble on your blog and i liked what i saw.
    the foxes you made are fantastic.
    keep up the good work and a fine day to you.

    • Thank you so much Renilde – a fine day to you as well! And your name is lovely- i’ve never heard it before.

    • Thank you so much Elizabeth – that Charlotte Mew quote always make’s me think of you and Squam: ” The real things are happening in the forest still”

  3. Lafargue

    Bonjour Ann,
    Désolée de vous écrire en français, mais je ne pourrais pas m’exprimer assez finement dans votre langue.
    Un immense bravo pour votre talent, vos créations … et aussi pour toute l’énergie que vous me donnez en vous exposant ainsi à nous. Vous êtes un véritable guide dans ma réflexion quand je vous lis. S’autoriser à abandonner l’idée de perfection, ce concept qui bloque insidieusement la créativité et m’angoisse.
    Merci de me montrer votre chemin de pensée qui me permet de réfléchir sur moi-même.
    Vos créations éveillent en moi de multiples émotions et c’est merveilleux !

    • Thanks you so much for the beautiful thoughts Carole, I’m glad you’re enjoying the posts – and no worries – I can’t express myself in French at all!

  4. Hi Ann, I learn so much from you. I cannot hear it enough to show up whether you feel like it or not. It is what I have to tell myself over and over again and I still act as though my showing up, my work, is not important. I must consistently counter that lie. To let go of perfection and give myself permission to respond to things, to experiment, to play and this idea of opening reminds me of how my mind wants to stay “in a box”. Just showing up to practice and play, like a child, is a way to get past my critical mind and into wonderful creative surprises that nourish and refresh. Thank you for taking the time to record your learning process and to share it with us. Debra

    • Thanks Debra and yes – making it mandatory weirdly takes the pressure off – just show up and start.

  5. Jackie Koreen

    I am also starting a new life and so looking forward to it, with my youngest daughter doing the same. My great love was always fabric, but now am more into creating one of a kind greeting cards (have sold them for years), but now in great numbers at three stores. I believe you may have it right in planning the next session of life. I found over the years, that I enjoy teaching greatly.
    I hate teaching, but love teaching what I love, which is what you do. To see people grow in what they create is satisfying.
    You are bringing me to be accountable to myself. Thank you! Jackie

    • Thanks so much Jackie and as a novice teach myself I can relate- I did not anticipate how much I would love it.

  6. pam aries

    I love your art. Just having discovered it when a fellow artist posted your horse template !

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