10 Notebook Prompts

 from my notebooks

from my notebooks

ideas - quotes - lists - dreams - doodles - letters - sketches - notes - poems - art

 If you keep a notebook and find yourself staring at a blank page like I sometimes do, here are a few prompts that may help. Also, I'd love to hold my workshop "Keeping a Notebook" for you and your group. Contact me to set it up.

  1. Draw different size squares and rectangles. Color them in, decorate them, and forget about perfection.
  2. Create with recycled magazines. Collect 3-5 words and one image from a magazine. Combine them to collage something fun of your own.
  3. Draw straight lines all over your page going in different directions. Use these lines to write about your day, things to do, thoughts, or whatever you like. Add color if you like. 
  4. Make a list. Gratitude, Favorite foods, Favorite hobbies, Your best friends, Travel destinations, Creative projects. 
  5. The ability to recognize patterns is useful to our thinking and problem solving process. Create a pattern using lines, shapes and colors of your choice to fill your page. 
  6. Using any art supplies you like, draw a big flower to fill your page. Decorate your flower with doodles, writing and colors.
  7. Document your day by writing, sketching, or taking photos—a simple list of what you did, who you talked to, where you went, etc.
  8. Write a 50 word short story about a memory you have. “I remember the day when…” Include a photo or a quick sketch.
  9. Look around at your surroundings and sketch a common object nearby. Add shading with a soft pencil and blend with your fingertips. 
  10. Write out a favorite quote or literary excerpt. Use wacky hand lettering and get creative with size, shapes and colors.

Thanks for reading. I'd love to hear about how you keep a notebook. ~Maria

3 Tips for Keeping a Notebook

“I think we’re creative all day long. We have to have an appointment to have that work out on the page. Because the creative part of us gets tired of waiting, or just gets tired.” Mary Oliver
 A few of my notebook pages

A few of my notebook pages

I am a big believer in keeping a notebook even if I go days without giving anything to it. I've read that some of the greatest minds in history kept a notebook so I figure this practice can help me bring out my best...whatever that may be. I've shared my post here on 5 reasons to keep a notebook but this time I just want to share a few easy tips to make it easy on you.

1. Keep it open so it calls to you, inviting you to share your thought for the day or whatever it is you have to offer.

2. Have easy things you put in your notebook, such as: your exercise routine, your gratitude list, and in fact let's include lists in general. A list  of who you talked to, where you went and what you did—all the mundane can be your muse.  If you have an idea, write it down...in between your lists. If you read a good quote on social media, write that down too. And just to top it all off, add a little color to your page. I'm not talking about a masterpiece, just a colorful line and doodle here and there.

3. Life is your material. I like printing out a few pics from my phone of simple daily life and taping those into my notebook. Allow your life to be inspirational material for your notebook.

Your notebook doesn't have to be pretty and perfect. It simply has to be done by you. And don't be so hard on yourself. I'll leave you with this quote:

“Inspiration and work ethic – they ride right next to each other.... Not every day you're gonna wake up and the clouds are gonna part and rays from heaven are gonna come down and you're gonna write a song from it. Sometimes, you just get in there and just force yourself to work, and maybe something good will come out.” Jack White



My Top 3 Travel Tips

After a trip to San Diego CA I discovered a few things that made it very relaxing. These are my top three travel tips.

  • Don't rent a car if you have Lyft or another ride service available. We used Lyft for the times we got tired of walking or distance was too far to walk. It was wonderful not to deal with traffic, parking, and navigating. Walking allowed us to be more spontaneous, stop at unexpected places along the way, and notice things we may not otherwise see.
  • Allow yourself to simply do nothing! After all, that's the purpose of a getaway...to relax and do or not do the normal things on your day to day agenda. We sat on the balcony of our hotel room and watched the boats, the people, and talked. By not over-planning and having too much on our agenda, we came across a great funk band that was playing early...so after walking to dinner, we walked in and had a great time dancing before walking back to our hotel.
  • Pack a little creativity into your trip, starting on your flight. A friend of mine shared with me the idea of using the Southwest Magazine to tear out anything that inspires you. I chose to create a few blackout poems. Another thing I enjoyed was coming across an art supply store on one of our walks.

What are some of your favorite travel tips? ~Maria

3 Tips To Grow Your Creative Spirit

Preparing for workshops has a way of helping me see content in a new way. I tend to keep valuable information I read and then see how I can use nuggets of it for my creativity workshops.

We all experience creative ruts…as well as grooves. Easy to be creative when you’re in the groove but sometimes really tough to get out of a rut. Here are 3 simple tips to help keep the flame going or get it back:

1. Tend to Your Flame: You cannot give what you do not have…Feed your well and nourish your soul. Your passion is critical to those around you. Every morning, ask yourself - “When was I at my best?”  Identify and incorporate the things that made you happy and gave you a sense of fulfillment. Have something to wake up for and be excited about. What are you currently excited about?

2. Keep a Notebook: Your creative notebook is an indication of where you are in your life - mentally, physically, socially, creatively. Just filling one page per day will help you get to know yourself better. Do you keep a notebook?

3. Set Creative Goals For Yourself: This can be as simple as documenting one new idea in your notebook every day for the next 30 days or taking one photo every day of something interesting or beautiful…you decide on the theme. Also try these creative goals: say thank you in writing, speak in public, teach others, write daily, and lead a tribe. What creative goals do you have?

Be inspired to create. ~Maria

Why Do We Create?

As I was preparing for a workshop and thinking about why we need to make things and be creative, I compiled this collection of 10 quotes which answer the question of why we create. Enjoy and be moved to create something for your own pleasure.

“Being an artist is not just about what happens when you are in the studio. The way you live, the people you choose to love and the way you love them, the way you vote, the words that come out of your mouth...will also become the raw material for the art you make.” Teresita Fernandez

“Why should we all use our creative power? Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money. Because the best way to know the truth or beauty is to try to express it.” Brenda Ueland

“I think we’re creative all day long. We have to have an appointment to have that work out on the page. Because the creative part of us gets tired of waiting, or just gets tired.” Mary Oliver

“Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something." Kurt Vonnegut

“Art opens the closets, airs out the cellars and attics. It brings healing.” Julia Cameron

“It’s not necessarily about the money or even a business, and it’s certainly not about building an industrial empire. It might merely be about the joy of doing art.” Seth Godin

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” Anne Lamott

"Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one."  Stella Adler

“When people aren’t having any fun, they seldom produce good work.” David Ogilvy

“Ultimately, what we need to do is get out from behind the desk and the chores from time to time and create opportunities for our souls.” Gregg Levoy

 Be inspired to create. ~Maria Gatling

5 Reasons To Sketch and Draw

Learning to draw is really a matter of learning to see - to see correctly - and that means a good deal more than merely looking with the eye.
— Kimon Nicolaides

Even if you think you can’t draw, getting started with simple line sketches can get you in the groove. All you need to get started is a pencil, paper, and a little courage to make mistakes. And don't forget to have fun along the way.

 According to the dictionary, the difference between a sketch and a drawing is:

draw: verb... produce (a picture or diagram) by making lines and marks, especially with a pen or pencil, on paper.

sketch: verb...make a rough drawing of …

 Here are my top 5 reasons why we should all experience sketching and drawing:

  1. Draw to experience greater freedom of expression. Drawing is like adding another language, after all art is a visual language.
  2. Draw to develop the right side of your brain, the creative side, which will help you view things with a different perspective and enhance problem solving skills. This is like working a muscle.
  3. Draw to expand your perception and awareness. Drawing teaches us to see differently. When we draw we begin to have more of a sense of awe and wonder because we see more of the usually unnoticed details.
  4. Draw to unleash and enhance your imagination which will allow you to be more daring. Expanding your creativity adds value to all aspects of your life.
  5. Draw to just have fun! Drawing can help you relax and relieve stress by getting lost in your drawing. It gets your mind off the stressful things previously occupying your mind.

Reconnect With Your Creative Self! ~Maria

10 Travel Sketching Tips

Travel is the only context in which some people ever look around. If we spent half the energy looking at our own neighborhoods, we’d probably learn twice as much.
— Lucy R. Lippard
 sketches from my travel photo taken in Montreal

sketches from my travel photo taken in Montreal

Recently I began urban sketching to improve my skills. Aside from taking a travel sketching class and a few online classes on Craftsy, I am practicing my sketching and have put together these 10 tips which have helped me. You don't need to travel far to enjoy and improve your sketching skills but you do need to practice.

10 Travel Sketching Tips

1. Choose your subject.

2. Decide what to keep and what not to draw in your sketch.

3. Keep it simple.

4. Break the scene down into shapes. Look for the contours of your scene.

5. Practice Single Line Sketching - Draw your horizon line using one single line, meaning that you should try doing this without picking up your pen. Think of single line sketching as visual notation…controlled scribble…a ball of string unrolling across the landscape.

6. Speed up. Speed forces you to simplify.

7. Loosen up. When you are trying to find the right line in your contour it is more likely you will find it after drawing several lines. This will prevent your sketch from looking stiff. Capture the essence of your scene, not all the details.

8. Travel with minimal supplies.

  • A small to medium sketchbook
  • HB pencil and eraser
  • One or two archival ink pens such as Micron
  • For adding color you can include a few watercolor pencils & a water brush.

9. Practice sketching from life as well as from your photos.

10. Practice Practice Practice! Sketching is a skill and will improve the more you practice. Keep a sketchbook and sketch every day if possible. Sketch objects in your immediate surroundings. Go outside your own backyard, your neighborhood cafe, or park and sketch.

Reconnect with your creative self!~Maria