Creativity, The Creative Heart

I am not creative. Why you should ignore this limiting belief

I was once told, in no uncertain terms

‘You are not creative’.

I believed them. This was my Art teacher, in Year 7 Art Class. I was gutted that my lino print on an old school case was a dismal failure of creativity.

I dropped Art.


Meanwhile as a teen at home I was taught to cook, creatively. I was taught to do embroidery. I was shown how to knit and crochet, but these did not become loves of my life and I am not necessarily expert at them. I learned to decorate cakes, and even had people ask me to do their cakes in those years.

I grew up with a couple of DIYers for parents, so I learned to paint, sand, strip down and refurbish furniture and walls and even hang wallpaper. Really good stuff!

But I wasn’t creative….

I loved to colour in, but I didn’t dare draw.

I taught myself tapestry, my little sister taught me cross stitch. I still have a cross stitch in progress. (I call these UFO’s)

Folk Art and decorative Painting

And then there was Folk Art and Decorative Painting that swept me off my feet in the 90’s.

I loved painting so much I taught others with the mantra ‘You can do this too’!

Oh My God! Give me a paint brush, a few stroke techniques, some decent paint and a pattern to follow and there was no stopping me! My mum introduced me to this art and I was hooked. I could paint! In fact from that I learned to draw. I learned to paint freehand, and do scenery. I learned about all manner of mediums. I booked into every workshop I could afford with those who were publishing at the time. I studied Jo Sonja, I did a workshop with David Jansen, I joined the Folk Art Society of Victoria.  I helped deign and deliver a program for accrediting teachers of Folk Art and Decorative painting. I taught it. I even hosted a Canadian teacher in my studio. More on that another day. The point is, I had been told that I was not creative. PHOOEY!

I even took to painting my cupboards.

At around this time I had also got into scrapbooking and before long I was running a full time studio with classes in both scrapbooking and decorative painting. (I look forward to telling you more about this journey in blog posts to come. )

Discovering new creative outlets

After this, I moved home, and left my studio behind, but not my creativity. I started doing huge paintings – a giant pyramid, a massive wall of books, trees, under the sea scenes. I transferred all my decorative painting skills to stage sized canvases for the local Gang Show, which my children were part of. I also helped out in costume design.

Gangshow set for a Ned Kelly number. I needed a ladder to paint this one.

I was, simply, very creative. A bit messy. (Actually very messy but who is telling this story?) But very creative. My nickname was ‘Arty Farty’.

Arty Farty was my back stage Crew Nickname and it was n my painting coat.

I was inspired to tackle things I had never done before, to solve problems to meet the needs of the show’s director, and have fun, loads of fun! It was hard work, but the process was awesome.  I got to use an overhead projector to get my sketch up on big canvases! Huge canvases….like this one. I never dreamed that taking one step to learn a simple comma stroke with a round brush would lead to this, but it did.

Terrace Houses on Canvas

Meanwhile,  I decided I wanted a quilt for my new country style bed. I could not find one that I could afford that I really liked, so in honour of my DIY parents, I made one. I learned patchwork with my dear friend and teacher Sandra Boulton.

Bedroom quilts made by me beat any doona cover hands down.

I have made a dozen or so awesome quilts since then, and while not perfect, they are a complete reflection of her mantra ‘we don’t make mistakes, we do variations’.

‘We Don’t Make Mistakes. We Do Variations’

That is it! That is what creativity is all about, for me anyway. You see, through all of these things, I do not think I was ever perfect in execution, but it doesn’t matter a bit! And I always have my students make use of their creative license.

Creativity is about joy in the journey of learning and doing and making mistakes, I mean variations, and overcoming them with creative license!

Find Joy in the journey. The outcome does not matter. My dear Jane quilt has been more than 10 years in the making and I am still going. 

So here we are in 2017, I am still creative. I continue to scrapbook.  I recently finished a quilt, I have a hand made dear Jane that has been more than 10 years in the making, and while I do not paint much I am feeling the urge to do something in that area. I also now do digital scrapbooking.

Do not listen to anyone who tells you you are not creative, including yourself. It is a limiting belief. It is not factually accurate either since you have a human brain. We are all creative and we all benefit from exploring our creativity whether it be in home craft, art, cooking, sewing, photography, writing, or any other creative pursuit. Remember how it was for you as a child before Inner Critic came along and took the joy out of your creative play. You created with playful abandon.

Get creative with cooking too!

You are creative.

I am creative.

And on this blog I am going to share my journey of creativity with you, both from now and in the past.

Enjoy. Go create something!

PS Please leave a comment or a question below. I would love to know if this resonates with you! Do you catch yourself saying ‘I am not very creative’? If so, remember this is a limiting belief you tell yourself.

Close To My Heart Create Layout CTMH

A Layout for Creative Hearts

I was super excited when I saw Close To My Heart has included stamps around the theme of Creativity in the current Annual Inspirations catalog.

You can see the ones I have started with right here at the top of my blog!

Here is why they speak to me and might speak to you!

“‘ProcraftinatingThe art of spending time on crafting projects that probably should be spent on adulting. ” I love word play. How many of you are guilty of procraftinating? I am guilty of procrastinating, and guilty of doing craft rather than tackling my very important jobs lists like washing, ironing, dusting, aka ‘Adulting’. I LOVE procraftinating. It allows my inner child time to play with no need to be an adult!

If you are not familiar with Brene Brown, you should check her out. She has some fabulous, well researched wisdom on courage and authenticity and being vulnerable. At the heart of this blog is this sentiment: ‘We are born makers. We move what we are learning from our heads through our hearts to our hands’ Brene Brown.  It does not matter what your hands are doing. They can be cooking, painting, or knitting. They can be molding clay, writing wise words, or putting photos on scrapbook layouts. My message is that we are all creative in some way. We are all makers.

‘Creativity is intelligence having fun’. This is my mantra. My intelligence needs a place to be expressed and it is through creativity I can do this.

Then there is the word collage: never stop creating; life is like a scrapbook; imagine love; creativity is a way of life; inspire; creating takes a disciplined eye; eat, sleep, create; if you dream it you can create it; never stop creating; creativity takes courage; I was created to create. This covers a whole range of ideas for writing, scrapbooking, painting, and more.

Create‘   It is simple…create.

So then I got to thinking how can I put all these together on one page to celebrate creativity? It is easy to know what photos to use – photos of my scrapbook friends at work in my next workshop. Yes, I will be taking photos to go with a layout not the other way around!

I created this layout to teach in my studio. It can of course be done in any colour but I really wanted to play with the colour of the year ‘Bashful’ and my new favourite paper suite the Basics fundamentals.

Here is the layout ready for photos. The steps were quite simple and products used are listed below.

create layout ctmh

I did not have a plan for this page – I started with the stamps. Then I laid them out on a double page spread (2 12 x 12 sheets of cardstock) to determine how best to fist them all on and this is what I came up with.

First, stamp out the sentiments. I used Black ink, but they would also stamp nicely if embossed. I then trimmed and mounted them on Blush cardstock. I have selected papers from the new basics range to mount these on and added some ribbon and pearl gems to finish it off.

Tip: For big stamps on big blocks it is worth tapping your inkpad on the stamp rather than tapping the stamp on the inkpad.

Supplies: Australian Shoppers can jump online right now.

(For US, Canadian and NZ readers please visit Close To My Heart in your country and find a local consultant. )

Black Ink


D1732 We are Makers


1210 Created to Create


Blush cardstock


Basics fundamentals


Basics Ribbon


Thanks for joining me today. Happy procraftinating! Please leave a comment and tell me what you think!



Creativity, The Creative Heart, Uncategorized

If you want to create something amazing, take the first step.

I have been diving into self development lately and one of the key messages that is resonating with me is to create something awesome you need to take a step, any step, just take one. The second is let go of control and see where it takes you. This is a story of exactly that and I now realise much of my life is about this edict.

I was looking for a hobby and at the time in the late 80’s and early 90’s the world of craft went through a wave of folk art or ‘Tole painting’ and decorative painting. There were books, videos, classes, societies and of course celebrities to go with it. the internet was still new but it opened up the world for us as Folk Artists. We could communicate with like minded women (and men) from around the world, get online how to articles and more. But, for many of us it started with just 3 things. A book, video or lesson, a paintbrush, and some paint.

My journey began with a lesson and supplies provided by my mum. She had attended a local community center and learned the basics from a teacher in Adelaide She could not wait to show me. I was gobsmacked….my mum was painting flowers!

She learned to paint first with a flat brush, second with a round, and felt more comfortable with the flat. I was inspired, and determined to master that little round brush sucker!

Remember, the first step is to do something, the second is to see where it leads.

My first lesson led to me sitting practicing the execution of a comma stroke for hours on paper and finally I applied it to a project. I still really had no idea about the complexities of this art form but I dove right in. Here is a lousy photo of my first piece of ‘Folk Art’. (I know I have a proper photo somewhere but after an hour of poking through my electronic files I decided it was quicker to snap a pic from my scrapbook album about painting!)

Please do not look too closely….messy stroke, uneven, awful colours (what you can do with a limited palette!) and yes those are too heavy graphite lines form the pattern transfer. But it was mine, and it was my first.


Now, what?

Keep on going…learn more, practice more, attend lessons, purchase more supplies, join a society….

And build a studio.

Yes that is what came of my humble beginnings in decorative painting. I built a studio called ‘The Black Swan Decorative Art Studio’. I really needed to teach this, and I needed some income to help pay for my new hobby! But this is not what I really wanted to share with you.

And become a painter, declare yourself an artist, create original designs, and say ‘check this out’ to the Art Teacher in year 7 who told you you were not creative! How far did I go?

I became a woman possessed. This was my passion! It ran through every grain of my being. The family joke became ‘do not stand still or Jenny will paint you!’

See for yourself what came of the above humble beginnings.

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There are 2 full albums of photos of all the things I painted. I have not kept it all, but I have the memories of them.

Here is the lesson. Just start. Do something.

I had no intention of building a studio when I first started. I had no inkling I would want to paint a redback on a toilet seat in an attempt to Trompe L’oeil my toilet door. I had no idea I would attend classes with teachers from overseas or even more, invite them to my studio. I did not dream I would go on to paint stage sized sets for the local Gangshow. I just started with one thing, learning to paint a comma stroke, and the rest grew from there. I had no ‘vision’, no particular goal, yet I think I learned so much I cannot do any of it justice in just one post.

You can do this too. Pick something. Anything and start. Let the extraordinary happen.



I realise, you may be wondering what became of all this. Life happened. The trend faded. I had no-one to give my painting to and people at market’s did not want to pay more than a few bucks for little decorative pieces. I moved from the city to the country, I went back to work full time.

But, I can still paint and have applied the knowledge and skills in other ways.

And…I have evidence for myself that taking the first step without trying to control what that will lead to can lead to something amazing.


Please leave your comments here. Were you part of the folk art, tole painting, decorative paint craze? Were you one of those teachers who flew across the world in the 90’s teach the other side a thing or to? Did you go on retreats and camps? What do you now still treasure from the experience? What have you taken the first step on?