Is Your Brain feeling a Little Tired?

This week my brain was tired. Do you ever feel that way? 

Believe it or not, painting is hard work. Yes, it's totally enjoyable, but it is hard work all the same. I have discovered that it takes about four straight hours of staring hard at something and trying to copy the colors and shapes before your brain starts to get tired and yell for caffeine or sugar. (Maybe that is just my brain... some brains probably yell for carrots). This week after painting so many days in a row my brain decided it needed a nap and a little switch up.

Instead of painting I decided to make stencils to use while painting. (art geek)

Everywhere you look there are patterns. Your iPhone makes it easy to record them. If you like playing around with mixed media or if you like playing around with scissors you might want to try and make your own. This would be a fun exercise to do with kids, how can you replicate the world you see around you?

I used a plastic folder with pockets (left over school supplies.) I drew the design on the folder with a sharpie then cut it out. Totally easy and now I have my own stencils.

This is only the beginning of pattern collecting. Tomorrow I'm back to painting! 


Finished stencils. 


Photographic inspiration while walking the dog. 


Balcony railings. 

Not sure what decade this is from... 

Not sure what decade this is from... 


The painted stencil. 

Explaining Inspiration

This week I spent a little time exploring a new creative process that turned out to be a blast. I want to share it with you because whether you make art or not, we all have the choice to look at the world around us and see what peaks our interest and create a life that's beautiful.

This process was taught by Tracy Verdugo on Tamara LaPorte's "LifeBook 2016," an online course I have been taking for the past two years. As an artist I am often asked where do I get my inspiration. Usually, I respond with "I don't know" or the equally vague  "life, I guess." But really, inspiration is everywhere - you just have to be willing to pay attention to the details. 

In this process, Tracy teaches students to make inspiration bundles as a creative prompt. The task was to go through 6 or 7 books or papers you have collected and tear out a random image (don't over think it) so that you have a stack of about 7 to 12 pieces of paper. Taking each piece of paper one at a time see what appeals to you and incorporate that into your piece. Below is my finished painting that, in the end,  I was very happy with. BUT - like everything in life - there was a catch...


"Little Details" 9 x 12" mixed media


This is my first image and it is not hard to see where the figure is represented. What WAS hard and what you do not see is that underneath all the layers there was a beautiful, painstakingly  painted re-creation of this woman in black and white. Then I came to my next image and had to  decide what to lose and what to keep. What to paint over and what to incorporate.

In the end it turned out to be a much more interesting painting because of what was kept and lost. That is how I see life. We can try as hard as we can to be something we think we "should" be, to hang on tight to those images and stories we want to tell about ourselves. However, the real beauty is in the details. What we observe, discard and layer. That is how we take our world and create a life that is authentic and worth living.

Each image below is represented in the finished product. Can you spot the inspirational details?

Yes, even a #10 envelope can be inspiring if you really look at it.

Yes, even a #10 envelope can be inspiring if you really look at it.


My New Adventure

This week I started a five week odyssey as an elementary school art teacher, well, the long-term substitute anyway. Our regular art teacher is on maternity leave and she left some pretty big shoes to fill. 

Its been a fun week with only a few incidents... 

One awesome thing about kids and art: the younger they are the more creatively free they are. Children are so bold, decisive and liberal about their colors and their compositions. Kiddos are all about the process and what looks and feels good in the moment.

Unfortunately, I can see a lot of the older kids (4th and 5th graders) are starting to care more about their final product and less about the process.  

When their final product does not exactly match the picture in their mind, some of them get upset, melt down and give up. 

A lesson learned for everyone (especially aspiring artists)  *Don't skip ahead and fixate on the final product. Respect the process - focus on the process - enjoy the process! *Applies to all activities.

Living in the moment, minute by minute, that's how I'll make it through the rest of the year. Trying to appreciate each kid and where they are in each moment. 

Week one? So far so good!

p.s. I get it Mom, a full week of teaching art doesn't leave a lot of energy for personal art. 

Painting a flower garden. 

Painting a flower garden. 

1st Grade work. 

1st Grade work. 

Petunia the duck, thank you #deepspacesparkle #petunia

Petunia the duck, thank you #deepspacesparkle #petunia

Boxes of poems to plant in the park. 

Boxes of poems to plant in the park. 

Weekend Wrap Up

Often times when I get busy I get upset with myself thinking "I did nothing! I frittered away my time and did nothing in the practice of my creativity." But when I look back on the past weekend I think wow, you were busy but it was pretty fun and it was in alignment with your goals. 

I spent all day Saturday crafting a jellyfish costume. if that is not creative, I don't know what is!


Here I am with my daughter on Halloween. 

Here I am with my daughter on Halloween. 

Sunday saw the completion of a six week Faith & Art class I have been leading. Our final project was a 9 x 12" canvas done in mixed-media. It is a motivational piece for participants to hang in their homes. Everyone did such a great job! Each one different, meaningful and inspiring. Below are just a few of the finished pieces.



"don't forget, you can always do something that moves you forward - clean brushes, write down ideas, look at books, organize, make Halloween costumes, etc. there is always at least one action you can take for your creativity daily!" -Julia Cameron (more or less) 

I AM an artist! No really...

Hello and nice to meet you!

My name is Beth. I am a working artist living in DC. This blog is is my record of attempting to live an ARTful life.

I am declaring once and for all (after years of denial, resistance, babies and busyness) I Beth Dougherty am committing to the CREATIVE LIFE!

What does that mean? What does that look like? I have no idea!

But - I invite you to journey with me as I try to figure that out.

I plan to figure it out by painting, drawing, collaging and journaling daily (or almost daily). If I am not able to get into the studio I plan to live out this ideal by being more mindful and creative in all other areas of my life. By "creative" I mean actually creating things like; meals from scratch, gardening, writing, sewing, etc. I plan to live with more meaning, purpose and passion instead of just coasting robotically through life.

This blog is my manifesto, my intention and my way to hold myself accountable.

Maybe you have a similar story to mine.

I have been an artist all my life. I think we are all born creative. A few of us stay that way but most of us don't. Many times, as an artist, I feel like it is either feast or famine. I have had super productive periods of life followed up by times of producing zilch. (One famine even lasted about 10 years) Sometimes you find yourself totally uninspired and doing nothing. Sometimes you are just afraid (so you do absolutely anything you can to distract yourself from that looming space you call your studio). Sometimes you are rolling along so great you don't know how you ever survived a day without painting.

The challenge is: how do you go from patterns of feast and famine to something that looks more like a sustainable "9 to 5" job? The pursuit of the creative life is what is most authentic for me. I hope I can do it!