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Creative Connections

Hi Everyone,

I’m having a blast at the Craft & Hobby Show in Anaheim, California, and wanted to share photos from the ‘Make-it, Take-it’ project I led for Sakura this weekend. I provided pre-printed Zenspirations® images, and I showed how to color them with the awesome Koi® Coloring Brushes. Below is a montage of the lovely piece that Johnna Moore from Scrappy Camper Sisters did. 

And here is one by Jackie Cyr:

My friend, renowned decorative painter Debbie Cole,  tackled a star design:

And here are step-by-step photos of one of the demo pieces I did. Notice the glitter accents in the top left photo.

Best of all has been getting to visit with some of my creative friends:

Attending CHA is a creative dream... although there are so many things to see, and so many people to connect with, that it is hard to know what to do first! CHA is an amazing place to discover new things-- not just the latest design trends (coloring books and paper flowers are huge!), but new ways to connect creatively. For example, last year at CHA, social media guru Jennifer Priest introduced me to Instagram... and this year Jennifer's uber-talented daughter Katie introduced me to Canva, and helped me create the photo-montages that I've shared tonight (thanks, Katie!). 

Through Instagram I have connected with fellow creatives all over the world-- and find the images and photos they share to be an endless source of inspiration. I try to post a photo of something I'm working on once or twice a week... so if you are on Instagram, follow Zenspirations to see what I'm up to. If you aren't on Instagram yet, I'd recommend giving it a try... like Pinterest, it is a visual feast for the creative soul.

Stay Zenspired,



Happy 2016!

Happy 2016 Everyone!

Hope your new year is off to a great start, and that you were able to greet 2016 with a hopeful heart.               

I celebrated New Year’s Eve by trying out some new tools… the 2016 was done with Derwent's metallic colored pencils on Strathmore’s awesome Art Again black paper. I still prefer my Microns, but I do like the effect of the blended metallic pencil on the black paper. I suspect that I’m not the only one who spent time coloring and creating over the holidays… WoW! The Trim-A-Rim border designs that were posted in the Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play FB Group this week are FABULOUS! Hope you are having fun with them.                                                                                                                                                        
As I spent time this week trying to select my first-ever ‘word of the year’… I realized that this is no easy task! In order to pick a word to guide your personal growth, you have to understand not just where you are and where you hope to go— but also what is preventing you from moving towards your goals. Thank you to those who shared their 2016 Word of the Year; I loved getting a glimpse into your hearts and goals. In appreciation, I hand-lettered all the words which were shared:
I know that once I decide what word to use I will want to put it where I can look at it every day… and I'll probably create multiple versions in different styles to make it fun and interesting. I wanted to invite you to create and share a visual interpretation of YOUR word. It doesn't have to be a masterpiece-- just a way of drawing your focus to the word you choose. To help you get started I thought I’d share a few layout ideas. Below is the first sketch I made; it has a framed area for the Word of the Year.
Next I did a circular version, also with a frame to make the word of the year stand out. In honor of the new year, I’m making this available as a FREE DOWNLOAD for you to inscribe your word of the the year, and then add your own special touches.
Click here to download your free copy of the 2016 Word of the Year Color, Create, Pattern, Play page. I’d love to see what you do… hope you’ll post your design in the album I’ve set up in the FB group. Here is the link:  

There were a couple of people who chose two words, and below is an example of how you can put two words in the frame. 
For those who don’t like the idea of a frame, here are a couple of ideas on how to highlight your word:
and even an idea on how to color it:                
One of my goals for Zenspirations is to build a compassionate, caring and connected community of creative individuals who are committed to kindness and spiritual growth. Starting the Facebook Group in 2015 really helped; as we stand on the threshold of the new year, I feel so blessed to be a part of this group!                      
In closing tonight I wanted to share a piece I did while I was trying to narrow my options down to the one word I’ll focus on this year. This week I managed to narrow it down to one letter… All the words in the piece below start with the letter C— and I didn’t even include Color or Create! Trying to pick only one word is TOUGH… and i will let you know next week what my final choice is.                                                                      
I’ll be writing my blog from Anaheim next week, where I’ll be attending the Craft & Hobby Show… I’ll be doing demos and make-it, take-its at my favorite pen manufacturer, Sakura of America, and also at Fox Chapel/Design Originals, my awesome book publisher… if you’ll be at the show please stop by to say hi!                         
Stay Zenspired,




Words to Light the Way

Hi Everyone,
Have you heard of the practice of selecting a specific word to ruminate on in the year ahead? Choosing one word is supposed to help you focus on developing or strengthening selected character traits, impact your experiences and light your way as you journey through the next 12 months.                                                      
I was unfamiliar with this practice, but immediately started trying to think of my own ‘watch-word’ for 2016. I’ve toyed with many, including:
but haven’t settled on ONE word yet... I am also considering Resonate, Sanctify, Aspire, Connect, Intend and Transform. There are so many awesome, uplifting and empowering words that I'm not sure I'll be able to narrow it down to just one... can you?                                                                                                            
As a lettering artist I strive to hand-letter words in a way that visually enhances their meaning. It's important to me to focus on positive sentiments, I actually went through the dictionary and wrote down inspiring words for each letter of the alphabet. There are a LOT of wonderful words which begin with the letter "C":
As I progressed through the alphabet I started to add weight to the letters to make them more interesting. Here's an example of weighted words from my ‘V’ page:                                                                                                                        
I’m still not sure what one word to choose… but if you have chosen a word for yourself I’d love to know what it is. I may even surprise you and letter it!                                                                                                     
To celebrate the end of 2015, its time for more FREE downloads, and another contest! One of my licensees, Trim-A-Rim, is thinking about launching a ‘color-your-own’ line, and would appreciate feedback on the concept — they are also interested in getting ‘inspiration samples’ to help their customers envision the creative opportunities here. Given that so many of you like to color, I said I’d be happy to poll the Color & Creativity Enthusiasts, and in return for your input Trim-A-Rim is offering Trim-A-Rim loot as prizes! (More on that below). 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the product, Trim-A-Rim is an innovative magnetic whiteboard and mirror (it’s reversible) with a clear frame in which you can display a wide variety of different border options. One of the things I like best about the product is that you can change the rim art as often as you wish. It’s a fun and practical way to display your work...


Here is a photo showing the two different sizes:
Below is a photo of the Zenspirations® Trim-A-Rim collection (shown here in the Mini size):  

There are two ways to Participate in the Contest:  
A)  Answer the four questions below by leaving a comment on this week’s blog, and your name will be entered into a drawing to win your choice of a Mini or Full-size Trim-A-Rim kit, along with print-outs of the colorable Zenspirations black & white borders for your chosen size. Two winners will be selected at random for this Participation option A.  

B) The second way to participate is to download the designs below (OPEN LEAVES, FISH and/or HEARTS), add your own special touches, and post what you do in the Zenspirations Create, Color, Pattern, Play FB Group. As usual I’ve set up albums where you can post your designs. Here is the link:  

For every design you post (and yes, you may post more than one version of the same border), your name will be entered into a random drawing to win both sizes of the Trim-A-Rim kit, along with print-outs of the colorable Zenspirations black & white borders for both sizes.   If you post two designs, you’ll have two chances to win; if you post five designs, you’ll have five chances to win. Two prizes winners will be selected at random for this Participation option B.

For both of the random draw giveaways above (A and B), the prizes can be mailed only to addresses within the continental United States.


If any of your designs are selected as an inspiration sample, in addition to published credit, you’ll receive both sizes of the Trim-A-Rim kit, plus print-outs of all 9 of the colorable Zenspirations black & white borders and the full-color borders (a total of 36 border sheets), as well as several border print-outs of your inspiration sample(s). THIS BONUS IS OPEN TO OUR INTERNATIONAL MEMBERS! 

As always, I encourage you to express yourself however you wish, whether that is coloring the designs as drawn, or adding your favorite patterns and embellishments (within the circular border lines). If you do choose to embellish your border, I recommend not adding dimensional items which might prevent the Trim-A-Rim frame from closing securely.

1. You will need to post your comments and creations by end of day Sunday, January 17th. 

2. It's important that you print the sheets out at Actual Size only (100%, or No scaling), so that the finished result will fit properly inside the Mini Trim-A-Rim clear frame.  Please color only within the printed design area bounded by the interior and exterior border lines, leaving the rest of the page white, and submit your finished work in the full sheet form (not cut out)                         

3. VERY IMPORTANT: PUT YOUR NAME, e-dress and phone number on each design before you scan or photograph it!
4. Post your images IN the appropriate album in the new Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play Facebook Group. You can get to the albums by clicking the Photos button underneath the imagine banner.

5. If your art is selected, you’ll need to send Trim-A-Rim a high-res scan (300 dpi) or the original art so they can scan it, and you’ll need to sign a Permission-to-Publish form.
6. Unlike your creations for my books, for these Trim-A-Rim borders you can use wet media as well as dry, including watercolors and other paints, as well as color pencils, gel pens, markers, crayons, rubber stamps, etc. 

7. Submitting border designs is not a guarantee that they will be selected by Trim-A-Rim.

8. Artists whose work is selected will be given credit wherever their work is published or made available for download, and will receive all of the items noted in the bonus opportunity prize package description above. 

9. As always, I'd like to include inspiration samples from as many ‘Color & Creativity Enthusiasts’ as possible, so I hope you’ll help spread the word about the colorable Trim-A-Rim borders. Please invite some of your creative friends to participate!

10. You can e-mail me ( if you have any questions: please put  “ZENSPIRATIONS® TRIM-A-RIM BORDER QUESTIONS” in the subject line.                                                  

Below are the 4 questions for which we'd like your feedback:

1)  Would you be interested in a black and white version of these designs that you could color and embellish?                           

2)  If so, which designs would you most like to have a coloring version of? 
1. Patterned Leaves
2. Fish
3. Hearts
4. Bubbles
5. Large Scallops
6. Open Leaves
7. Triangles
8. Birds & Leaves
9. Small Scallops

Here are black & white versions of three of the designs so you can get a closer look (and the questions continue below).  
These are the designs for which Trim-A-Rim is seeking your colored “inspiration samples”:


Click here to download your free copy of the OPEN LEAVES border.

Click here to download your free copy of the FISH border.                                                                                                                

Click here to download your free copy of the HEARTS border.                                                                                                           
3)  Would you prefer to have line art to color for the Trim-A-Rim border only, as in the 3 examples above, or would you like to have something in the center that you could print out at the same time and then cut out and use on a different project, as in the sample below?
4)  Are there other themes you’d like me to design for use with Trim-A-Rim? If so, what themes are at the top of your wish list?

Thanks for your participation! If you are interested in getting Trim-A-Rim for yourself or as a gift… it’s not yet sold in stores — you’ll find the best pricing (and more photos and info) on Amazon at Trim-A-Rim’s owner, Philip Fleet, would welcome your thoughts and suggestions.                                                                                                         
It’s hard to believe that 2015 is almost over… it seems to have flown by! January is ’show season’, and I’ll be attending the Craft & Hobby Show in Anaheim, as well as the Atlanta and Dallas Gift Shows. I’ll be doing signings and make-it-take-its at the shows, and would love to meet as many of you as I can… if you’ll be attending please stop by to say hi.                                             
Wishing you and your loved ones a New Year filled with 
good health & happiness,
peace & prosperity,
laughter & love.

Stay Zenspired,


Create a Colorful Christmas!


Hi Everyone,
I believe in the power of prayer, and pray constantly and continually. Some prayers, like this one which I turned into a page in my Zenspirations® Expressions of Faith book, I say daily:
Life’s challenges and blessings, as well as the seasons often prompt other prayers. At this special time of year, when everyone seems to have WAAAAYYYYY too much to do, it’s important to take a few minutes for ourselves… to reflect, to reconnect, to rejuvenate. My morning journaling sessions are when I find quiet time for this… which brings me a sense of peace… I’ve discovered that peace and kindness are interrelated. When we reach out in kindness and love, it has a calming influence on everyone, ourselves included. I wanted to share a holiday card I did a few years ago. The inside message said: May all the world join in the prayer for peace, for people everywhere.

May God grant the most precious gift of peace to each person reading this. May we be blessed with:
Peace in our hearts
Peace in our homes
Peace in our world.

In honor of the Christmas holiday, I’ve created some special Zenspirations® Create, Color, Patten, Play coloring pages and ornaments; they are my gifts to you… and I hope you’ll make them for-- and/or share them with-- those you love.
First is a wreath coloring page… I’m looking forward to seeing how these get colored and patterned, and I’m especially looking forward to the messages that will be written in the ribbon. 
Click here to download the Wreath CREATE, COLOR, PATTERN, PLAY page.
Next is a 'Santa Owl' coloring page:
Click here to download the Santa Owl CREATE, COLOR, PATTERN, PLAY page.                                                        
I’d love to see what you do with the design, and will set up a folder in the Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play FB group where you can post your Christmas creations. Here is the link:                                                                             
And since Christmas can be hard for those who have lost a loved one, I also made some angel ornaments which can be personalized in memory of someone special. The idea is to download the image, print it out, add color and your own creative special touches, and then hang on the tree (or gift to someone to hang on their tree). I created three different versions: Forever in MY Heart; Forever in OUR Hearts; or one where you can put your own words.
Click here to download the FOREVER IN MY HEART angel
Click here to download the BLANK angel
Click here to download the FOREVER IN OUR HEARTS angel                                                                                   
Here are two examples of how the angel ornament can be personalized:
Although this isn’t the identical piece, here are three color options to consider:                                                         
Wishing you all a creative, colorful and connective Christmas.
Stay Zenspired,



Zenspirations® Connection

Hi Everyone,
I’ve spent most of the past week trying to finish the pages for my next book, Expressions of Nature, and wanted to give you a sneak peak at some of the pages.
The book is due this week, and I have done multiple versions of some of the designs… for example, here are three different rough layouts of the dragonfly design:
I decided to go with the version on the left, and am pretty pleased with how it turned out. 
I’m still trying to decide whether or not to include pattern in the border of the pomegranate design, and would welcome your thoughts. Which version would inspire you to get out your favorite coloring tools and add your own creative touches to the design?                                                                                                
I always appreciate getting feedback, and have been wondering if there would be interest in starting a monthly Zenspirations® Connection, where we could all go to a ‘virtual hang-out’ and visit. Although most of us have never met, the Zenspirations community we are building is quite special, and I’d love to figure out a way we can strengthen our connection. Leave a comment to let me know if you'd be interested in attending a virtual hangout of some kind… if there is a strong response I’ll try to figure out how to make it happen.                                                                                 
In the meantime, if you’ll be at the Craft & Hobby Association Show next month, we can plan to get together in person. If you’ll be there, I hope you’ll come to the Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play workshop I’m giving Friday morning. This is the piece that we’ll be doing in the workshop:                        
Workshop participants will get a set of handouts, a copy of my Zenspirations Birds & Butterflies book, a pad of my favorite Strathmore drawing paper, a selection of my favorite pens from Sakura of America, and a selection of Faber Castell’s Polychromos color pencils. If you won’t be attending the show, but are interested in the information and goodies, check with your local craft retailer to see if someone from the store is going, and invite them to sign up and bring things back for you. You can register on the CHA website. I'd love to have lunch with after the workshop with any Zenspirations blog readers who will be there. Being with my creative friends (even those I haven't met yet!) is always inspiring!                                                                
In addition to the workshop, I’ll be teaching make-it-take-its for Sakura Saturday and Monday afternoons, and doing a Zenspirations demo and signing books for my publisher, Design Originals/Fox Chapel Sunday afternoon. At some point I'll be visiting the Impression Obsession booth to see my new line of rubber stamps... I love getting to see all the new supplies that are launched at the show. I hope to see you in Anaheim!                                                          
Stay Zenspired,