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Looking back over the year

December 11, 2015

I always do this workbook by Susannah Conway at the end of every year. It’s so good to reflect on what’s happened and plot out my hopes and dreams for the new year! I love her writing style and all of the tools she provides. Also I love choosing a word for the year. This year mine was Brilliance (more about that in a future post) Best of all it’s totally free!

I love this process as it feels much more genuine than setting resolutions for things I want. This helps me focus on how I want to feel, which is so much more important.

I wanted to share this with you all – and encourage you to check out Susannah’s website. Beautiful photography and words and really inspiring!


Creative play for adults. What is it and why is it important?

November 16, 2015

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I’ve been making things all of my life, but something that has really affected me is perfectionism and trying to get things ‘right’.

“Perfectionism, in psychology, is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high performance standards, accompanied by overly critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.” Stoeber, Joachim; Childs, Julian H. (2010).

It stems from childhood; sometimes from being told you are good at something, which can lead to a fear of not getting it right next time and lots of internal messages about how it’s got to be perfect.  This can then either lead to avoidance ‘there’s no point doing it if it’s not going to be perfect’ or setting unreasonably high standards ‘if I just do a bit more I will get it right’. Either way, it can lead to anxiety and low mood and effect self esteem.

Art making and perfectionism

When it comes to making art and creative work, this can lead to complete creative block and feeling stuck. It led to me having lots of ideas and not trying any of them out. And it also led to depression and anxiety. I knew the creative part of me was desperate to be let out but I just didn’t know how.

Over the last 7 years I’ve done a lot of work around my perfectionism, particularly around art making. And one of the things that has been so valuable has been creative play.

“Play, first and foremost, is what one wants to do, as opposed to what one feels obliged to do. And is intrinsically motivated – the process is more important than the outcome. Attention is attuned to the activity itself, and there is reduced consciousness of self and time.” Dr. Peter Gray, Boston College

Creative play can help you in many ways, and is just as important for adults as it is for children.

  • It can relieve stress by triggering the release of endorphins.
  • It can help you to focus and get into a flow state
  • It can help you to learn things about yourself and your innate creativity
  • It can help you to connect with others and yourself
  • It can be a way in to your creative power
  • It can help you to find techniques to develop into artwork

“Playing, making mistakes, testing ideas and experimenting are ways we make sense of the world.” Suzi Tibbets

So give it a go. Give yourself permission to just play with some art materials and see where it takes you.

I’m running a creative play session on Saturday 21st November in Manchester for anyone who wants to learn some techniques for creative play. It’s going to be lots of fun! Find out more and book your place here. 


The magic of the art journal

October 13, 2015

Well, it’s been two weeks now since the first of the Freedom to Create courses – Art Journaling. I’ve been processing, sorting things out for the Mixed Media session and doing a bit of hibernating too!

It really was a magical session. The upstairs workshop space at The Wonder Inn was perfect. Lots of light streaming in, spacious and fairy lights strung across the old beams.

The group was fantastic too, a really creative and lovely bunch. I found the afternoon really inspiring and relaxing, I had lots of lovely chats with everyone (and the food at The Wonder Inn was delicious!)

Really looking forward to the next session – Inspirational Mixed Media, find out more and sign up here if you want to give it a go. It’s a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon!

What is an art journal anyway?

September 23, 2015

According to the dictionary, a journal is a personal record of occurrences, experiences, and reflections kept on a regular basis. It can be said then, that an art journal is somewhere between a written journal and a sketchbook, but really it can be whatever you want it to be.

The thing that I love the most about seeing other people’s art journals (even though by their very nature, art journals are designed not to be seen by anyone) is that each one is so individual, and beautiful in their own right. They reflect the personality of their creators, and evoke feelings and emotions.

Here are some examples of some of my favourite journals I’ve come across online.

Check out my Pinterest board for more of my favourite journals and artists books and of course, if you fancy giving it a try, there are still a few places for my art journaling course this Saturday.

How art journaling helped me (and how it could help you!)

September 23, 2015

Image of an art journal page

I’ve been talking a lot about Art Journaling recently as some of you know I’ll be running my first workshop soon. I thought I’d write a bit about why it can be a great thing to keep an art journal.

I started mine when I was feeling stuck in my life, creatively, but also with planning for the future. I knew that I wanted my life to take a different path but I wasn’t sure what. I was feeling anxious, de-motivated and not creative in the slightest.

Why visual journaling?

I’ve always kept a written journal, which when I was a teenager was of course filled with the boys I fancied, and the usual teenage disappointments! When I grew into adulthood it helped me through a period of depression, and the times when my thoughts spiraled it helped to write stuff down, it still does.

I started the art journal as a way to play creatively, and somewhere to go where I didn’t want to write it all down. Here are some ways that my art journal has helped me;

1. It helped me to relax

I do meditate at times, but it sometimes feels like an effort. When I get out my journal and paints, I don’t have to think. I just do. And without worrying about outcome it gives my mind a bit of space. Sometimes my thoughts wander, sometimes I’m focused on what I’m doing, but I always finish up feeling much more relaxed than when I started.

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi famously said of this feeling in his seminal work, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, ‘people are happiest when they are in a state of flow— a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand. It is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. The idea of flow is identical to the feeling of being in the zone or in the groove, an optimal state of intrinsic motivation, where the person is fully immersed in what he is doing.’

2. It helped me to get over my perfectionism

When I started my art journal I wasn’t sure what kind of artist I was. It helped me to experiment and play creatively without fear. I was so focused on the outcome that I was judging what I might make before I’d even made it, which led to me making nothing! My perfectionism in art was getting the better of me, and experimenting in my art journal, without feeling like I had to show anyone and be judged, helped me to get to where I am now. A place where experimentation is exciting and leads to possibilities. I also had some unexpected results which I’ve taken out of the art journal and into my artistic practice.

3. It’s so much fun!
It’s surprising just how much fun can be had with a blank sketchbook and some basic art materials, give it a go and see where it takes you!

There are lots of resources online about how to start an art journal, but if you fancy having a go yourself in a group of supportive people, with journal and materials supplied, come and join me on my workshop this Saturday. There are still a few places left, I’d love to see you there!

What did you love doing as a child?

September 1, 2015


This weekend I will be at a festival, helping to run den building sessions with kids! Helping out my ace friends at Envirolution.

When I found out about it, I immediately started thinking about when I used to play as a child. Building dens was so exciting, and a total unplanned activity.

I think as we get older we forget about spontaneous fun and creativity. Everything has to be in the diary, or created as a Facebook event, or be done perfectly. But when we do something spontaneous it can shift our mindset and help us to relax and feel a little more free. It opens up your world a little.

Weekend creative challenge

This weekend, think about the things you loved doing as a child, and try to bring an element of that into your weekend.

It could be dancing to your favourite song and not caring how you look, baking cupcakes and decorating them in multicoloured icing, painting a messy self portrait. Or in my case – dressing up for fun in the most wacky clothes!

Let me know how you get on and share with me on twitter or Instagram @lisarisbec #weekendchallenge

Ps. I’m running a series of courses to help you to rekindle that creative fire. If you liked this post then Freeing yourself with creative play‘ could be right up your street “Learn art making techniques to free yourself up, have fun and relax.”

Finding textures in nature

June 26, 2015


I recently took a trip to Dartmoor and photographed some Lichen and Moss growing on twigs.

As much as I love wide expansive landscapes I can’t help but become obsessed by the tiny details found in nature. I love the forms and shapes of Lichen as it twists around branches.

These details, although maybe unseen by many, inspire my own artwork and more than anything, help me to practice noticing.

Weekend challenge

This weekend, if you are out in nature; a local park or even your own garden. Look closely at the details. See if you can find and photograph unusual textures and shapes.

Share with me in the comments or over on Instagram #texturesinnature I’d love to see!

And if you want to learn more about unleashing your creative side, then my new courses could be just the thing for you!