Take those holidays

Creativity in everyday life

Acrylic painting. Part of “Untouched” series.

Take those holidays!

Holidays are a time to let go of working hard on your art and letting your mind shuffle around those ideas.  My best ideas have come after a holiday. Now there are different kinds of holidays; holidays where you travel somewhere interesting, holidays may be visiting local sites that you haven’t seen for a while, holidays might be going for a long walk (or run), holidays might be going to a movie you have wanted to see for a while or holidays might be staying home to have an afternoon nap.

Down time is another name for a holiday.  As artists, we focus intently on what we are doing when we work.  Day after day, we focus and work. Then suddenly, all the inspiration disappears and we panic.  We ask ourselves if have lost our creativity but mostly it is a sign of being tired or burnt out.  This is when we need to take care of ourselves.

Fawcett Lake Sunset

Holidays are a way of taking care of ourselves. So don’t be afraid of taking time to look at the sunset or take your favorite hike.  Your mind will still be working, sorting out your creative ideas while you enjoy the sites.

Another way to take a holiday is to take a painting holiday.  There are hundreds of sites out there offering ideas for you at different price points.  Check out my friend who offers tours for artists http://www.karinrichter.com/The%20Artist.htm  or newspaper articles like this one:  https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/tours/five-of-the-best-painting-holidays-/  .

Take a road trip!

Some artists take artist ‘residencies’ where they can continue creating but in a different location.  Would you like to go make art in Spain or Thailand? Some residencies offer free lodging or others charge a fee.  There are sites that offer residencies of all kinds at:
http://www.residencyunlimited.org. This is just one of many sites that you can check out.  

The whole idea is that holidays is a change of scenery that can inspire you to new and better ideas. Don’t be afraid to take those holidays.  And, most of all, they are fun!


Doris’ website: www.dorischarest.ca

I have creativity courses and art courses online at: https://www.udemy.com/user/dorischarest/

All photography and artwork by Doris Charest

Thanks for reading, and please do recommend, like, share, comment, etc. Thanks.

Till next time


Side shows

Creativity in everyday life — Side shows

Creative people love to create. That is a given. They see opportunities and ideas everywhere. We label these side shows. You have your main talent that you work regularly and then there are these little ideas that pop up out of nowhere- side shows. Do you act on these ideas or do let them go out to the universe. Practicality says you let them go because there is only so much time and these side shows use up some of that time. 

Do we let them go? NO! Many times we get caught up in these side shows. The new idea calls. It is exciting, different and a distraction when you get ‘blocked’ with your main work. Many of us, I would hasard to say, most of us, are easily convinced that these side shows will not ‘take much time’.

We love the excitement of the new and an opportunity to play. That is what these ‘side shows’ are. An opportunity to play. Creatives need to play once in a while because it allows our brains time to sort out problems in our main work. 


We have a choice with side shows. Play with the idea while your brain sorts out your main problem then let it go or follow the idea through. I faced this problem lately. While my parents took turns being ill with long hospital stays over the last few years, I doodled drawings while they slept. My nervous energy needed an outlet. This led to my latest side show — a colouring book. 

I agonized for several months on wether I should do something with these drawings. I succombed to ‘don’t let the work go to waste’. I took the drawings and looked for ways to make them useful. I discovered Amazon. You can actually create a book yourself with all the resources provided by Amazon.

I downloaded my drawings to their program, added text, a title and a front page. The whole process did not take much time. This surprized me. A side show that was not sucking up all my creative time. Is that possible? NO!

I conveniently forgot the MARKETING. Once created, you do have to market the item. Groan! Now, I not only have to market my own artwork but also a colouring book. Will I never learn?

However, I have to admit that I enjoyed creating the side show. I am willing to pay the price. At least, for the moment, I am. 

Doris’ website:www.dorischarest.ca

I have creativity courses and art courses online at:https://www.udemy.com/user/dorischarest/

All photography and artwork by Doris Charest

Thanks for reading, and please do recommend, like, share, comment, etc. Thanks.

Till next time …

Falling in love with art

Creativity in everyday life

In order to continue being creative for a long period of time, you need to love what you do.  Falling in love with your art is essential.  If you have tried watercolor but struggled with it a lot, give it up and try another medium like acrylic or pastels.  Just like a sport enthusiast may like running but not curling, you do not need to like every method of making art. It is Ok to try different mediums in order to find the one that best suits you.  Find your love.   Experiment and enjoy each one but in the end, pick one that gives you the most joy. You will know which one that is when you are doing it. You will feel like ‘this is the one’, almost like falling in love.

12 x 12
Acrylic, collage on canvas

Most artists work in more than one medium.  Degas, a famous impressionist is well known for his work with dancers in pastels but what few people realize is that he also did many sculptures of dancers.  Picasso worked as a painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet and playwright.  Each artist however, has one speciality. Picasso’s was painting and drawing but he loved to dabble.

Falling in love with your art is important but it does not guarantee that you will work happily and without problems.  Many artists dabble in other mediums when they are blocked.  Doing something different allows the creativity to flow in a different direction and the artist to relax.  Once relaxed, all artist blocks go away. There is a method to the madness. Experimenting in a different direction allows new ideas to come out and all the time, subconsciously solving the problem that created the block.   

Sometimes it takes a while to find the right medium for you.  Also, that medium might change over time. Originally, I started with watercolour because it was child-friendly.  If the children got into the paint, it was easy to clean. Later, when I was sure they would not touch my paint, I switched to acrylic.  I loved acrylic but it was not child friendly. I chose to wait until the right moment to change. 

You need to fall in love with every facet of your art (almost).  I love painting but I struggle with making the first mark on a white paper or canvas, for example.  There are parts that are definitely harder than others. This is a normal reaction. The key is to work through the hard parts and not give up.  Loving what you do does not mean that it is easy all the time or that all the different steps are also easy. If creativity was easy, we would not enjoy it so much.  Working through a challenge is fun too. Find the aspect of art that allows you to fall in love with it and make it a long lasting relationship.

Doris’ website: www.dorischarest.ca

I have creativity courses and art courses online at: https://www.udemy.com/user/dorischarest/

All photography and artwork by Doris Charest

Thanks for reading, and please do recommend, like, share, comment, etc. Thanks.

Till next time …

Enabling your creative side – Creative moments in the kitchen

Creative moments in the kitchen

How can you be creative in the kitchen?  When you are chopping vegetables, for example, do you arrange them by color? Do you see an arrangement for a painting sometimes?  Do you arrange your food so that it is colorful? If there is yes to any of these questions, you are already being creative in the kitchen.  Now you just need to step up the activities you are doing.  There are several ways to do this:

mixed media

  1. When you are cooking – add flourishes or details. For example, instead of putting the cooking pot on the table when everything is cooked, transfer it to your favorite platter. Add a garnish. Make it look good.
  2. When you see the potential for a good painting while preparing your meal, photograph it. Build up you references for your painting and then keep chopping. Some of my best paintings, in the early days of my painting, came about this way. If you are a photographer, just shoot yourself a photo. Pay attention to your everyday life.  There are opportunities you may not realize are there.              
  3. Add some of your kitchen paintings (or photos) to your kitchen wall. Decorate with your inspirations. Put up unfinished paintings on your wall too.  This is a way for you to look at the work in a different light and see potential next steps.  This also allows the rest of your family to realize how serious you are about painting (or other interest).  They might even have noticed that you are interested.  Remember that most people live in their own bubble and rarely move out of that sphere.  Putting your work on display will make them notice.  Eventually, they may even start helping you with ideas.  My son was playing with carrots one time, arranging and rearranging them.  Look Mom, he said, I made the carrots look good like you.    Children notice details you don’t ever think about.

 What is the worst thing that can happen if you do this? Nobody will notice…. Maybe. You will get unasked-for advice. Being creative feels good and the idea is to start now. After you decorated your dish with that fancy radish, did it feel good? Is it a good memory? Will it be a good memory in 5 months? In 5 years that radish will be forgotten but it will have been the start of a creative movement in your brain, a creativity that is still there. Minutes lead to hours that lead to days and soon there is a path towards a career.

Start today towards your goal to be an artist.

Doris’ website: www.dorischarest.ca

I have creativity courses and art courses online at: https://www.udemy.com/user/dorischarest/

All photography and artwork by Doris Charest

Thanks for reading, and please do recommend, like, share, comment, etc. Thanks.

Till next time …


* I adapted Zat Rana idea about the10/10/10 concept to make it work for me and my creative moments. The concept is that for personal growth, it is important to examine your actions and how they affect you.   Rana’s article is from: https://medium.com/personal-growth/the-10-10-10-method-make-decisions-like-warren-buffett-and-ray-dalio-99e4857d05e3


Creativity in Everyday Life – Enabling your creative side

Creativity in everyday life

Enabling your creative side – getting started.

Creativity is not limited to just writing, singing, playing an instrument, painting or acting in a play.  Creativity can be everywhere and in your daily actions.  For many years, I didn’t have the time to paint (my creative moment) and I felt the tug of that creative ‘making’ of things that were out of my own imagination.  Slowly, I realized that you can be creative in little simple ways that make you feel like you are making a difference and exploring your creative side.

Sunflowers in the wind.  8 x 10 in.   by Doris Charest

In this series, I will discuss different ways that you can be creative on a limited amount of time.  I will guide you through recreating other parts of your life and your home so that little touches are added that use your creative side and, on the side, get you started with your own art practice and become your creativity coach.  Coach may be too strong a word.  I prefer friend.   Each blog will give you steps you can take to create your own ‘art space’ and adding touches in your life that will change your approach and lead you to a more creative life. Everyday life is busy but adding touches of creativity into each day will make you happier (at least that is what happened to me) and lead you to a more creative path in your life. 

While you may have a job, children that need your time, a house to take care of, a lawn to mow and sick family to visit, you can still tap into your creative self.  Instead of spending hours creating, you use the time that you do have.  This may be anywhere from a minute or two to as many hours that you have.  When managing a lot of different activities in a day, you may only have minutes.  Starting small is fine.  This step involves making a list.  This is the list you will refer to when you start feeling you forgot what you were aiming for.

First, you decide which part of your life you will want to expand and add some creative touches.  For example, if you want to add extra creative touches when you are cooking.  Decide what you will do?  Do you want to increase the flavors? Do you want the food to look better? Present the food in a better light?  Do you want to increase the quantity? Write down what you want to do. List 3 areas you want to work on.  This is a good start.  Do not list anything that takes hours or days to accomplish.  Stick to items that can be done in a short amount of time.   Start by:

1.Area of creative expansion (what you want to change) -for example; you want to start drawing again

  1. List ways you can do this — for example; you can go to life drawing class, spend 15 min. a day drawing what is in front of you, join a course on drawing (this is a commitment since you have to pay for it and will probably go), or draw your children when they take their naps.
  2. Start time — give yourself a deadline. Today is best. 
  3. Done — for example; List how many drawings you will do. When you are done, check them off. 

Writing goals down leads to a commitment.  This is a basic start for what you want to do.  Remember to be flexible.  Sometimes, you write something down but as your mind sorts ideas, even better ideas come to you.  If you really want to step up the game, show your list or give your list to a friend then ask him/her to keep you accountable.

Remember: Do not start big. Start changing small things.  All big projects start with the details.  A multitude of small details lead to the big project. All this will lead you to being an artist with your own vision.  The next installment is about starting small in everyday life with cooking.  Cooking is a big part of our everyday activities and a good place to start.   

Doris’ website: www.dorischarest.ca

I have creativity courses and art courses online at: https://www.udemy.com/user/dorischarest/

All photography and artwork by Doris Charest

Thanks for reading, and please do recommend, like, share, comment, etc. Thanks.

Till next time …


Blogging blues – Blogging is hard but I have one idea -a school mural.

I have the blogging blues.  I am stuck!  Everywhere, absolutely everywhere I read, the literature says that I should blog regularly.  I am not a regular blogger simply because I have trouble finding topics to write about.  I would love suggestions if you read this. 

I went to a lecture/talk by Michelle Blanc who gave us some wonderful tips on social media updates that we should initiate.  http://www.michelleblanc.com   Mainly, she emphasized finding your niche and writing about that.  I am not sure I have a niche.  I love mixed media and know a lot of information about this but is that my niche?  

She also said that we should talk about our environment; what we see or do.  My latest is finishing a mural with a friend of mine, Karen Blanchet, https://karenblanchet.ca, at the Ecole Pere Lacombe School.  Thanks to Josee Lemire, the principal,  for the opportunity: https://pl.centrenord.ab.ca/ecole  We loved working with the children and helping them paint the mural.  Putting it together was a challenge.  Each of the little squares were painted by the students then we had to put them all together.  The steps actually went like this:

Pre work: We meet with the Principal and discuss the theme and the location of the mural.  Several meetings later, we set a budget that goes in for approval.  Once approved, we decide dates that will work for the school and for us.  There will be a time to prep the mural, a time to work with the students and teachers and a time to put together the mural.

1.We get the two pieces of plywood and put them on a frame.

2. We add some mural fabric on top of the mural without adhering it.

3. We draw out the mural – the school logo in this case.

4. We paint an undercoat of colour for the mural.

5. We cut the mural into 5 x 5 inch squares. This was long because we had to label each square. 

6. The students paint the pieces based on a theme decided on by the school. This takes a week.

7. We put all the pieces back together again!  This was a very interesting puzzle.  There are always glitches.  Keep that in mind. 

8. We gel the pieces on then gel the surface several times.

9. We varnish the mural 3 x. 

10. We seal the edges with silicone. 

11. We call the school for pick-up.

12.  The school sets up the mural and we attend the opening. 

My biggest blog blues issue is that I am not sure what people want to know.  I know a lot of technical information related to art, but is that what people want to know?  Do you want to know about the ins and outs of being an artist or ??????

Here is a new work of mine.  This is what I like to talk the most about- the work. Is that enough?


Open house and sale of work by Doris Charest

Open house at 33 Rayborn Crescent! Work for sale for one day only. Ten of us have worked for a year to create new work for you.  Come visit us and see what we have done in the past year.  On March 11, 2017, my fellow studio mates and I are having an open house.  This means that from 10 am to 4pm, you can come visit us at our studios.  We are selling and showing work.  There will be some demonstrations.  We are having a silent auction and the proceeds from this go to the food bank.  We are also donating 10% of sales to the food bank.   

There will be work for all tastes- realism, impressionism, expressionism, and contemporary.  There is landscape, abstract, florals, mosaic and more.  We are scrubbing and cleaning so the studio does not look so messy.  So come see our spruced up studios before they get messy again.  

Marketing SOS – Christmas giveaway and sale

The Shack 19 8 xx 10 in. sm IMG_2625 Marketing is a chore to most visual artists.  I have made a resolution to beat this problem.  My first step is writing this blog and committing to the project.

Here is a quote from someone good at marketing (M. Hernandez); The perfect marketer is someone that loves challenges, thrives in uncertainty, can think outside the box, likes to take risks (calculated ones), has boat loads of resilience, patience and energy.

The question is ‘Can I do it?’.  Yes, because I want to get my work known and I want to send my  painting babies to ‘nice homes’ so I can create more.  I love being in the studio and time away is painful.  Marketing is part of the away time.  All the advice says to make a plan.  Break it down into manageable sections and do it!  My plan includes two or three marketing/sales events a year, applying for at least three shows a year and promoting my website more.

Step 1.   My first marketing plan

Marketing strategies say that you need to give in order to receive.  Since it is the giving season, I will be giving away what? That is the question.  I have an idea!  The title will be:  The twelve days of Christmas giveaway.   Since it is near xmas, I am going to do a seasonal sale and giveaway.For twelve days, I will give away something that I have created. Twelve days equals 12 items.

 I do not want to spend a lot on shipping away free products.  I have several online classes, so that is inexpensive to give away.  What else?  Prints.  If the prints can be put in an envelope, that is reasonable.  Cards also.  I have a large supply.  Ideas, ideas…..please come to me………Anyone reading this column, please let me know your ideas.  I could use some help.  




You are invited to my art show

September Newsletter and invitation to my September show.
Sunflower in the wind Mixed media on paper 9 x 12 in

Time flies and a lot has happened since the last newsletter.
First, let me invite you to my show at the CAVA Gallery
on Sept. 16th at 7pm.
Address: 9103 95 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T6C 1Z4
Phone: (780) 461-3427

The clouds floated by......
The clouds floated by……

The opening night is the best time to visit the gallery. There are snacks and you can talk to the artists. It is a fun time.

I have spent a lot of time in my studio creating for the show coming up. The theme is skies. I love the abstract quality of the colours in the sky and that is what attracted me to this topic. The skies I saw in India last year started me looking at skies here in Alberta. I started seeing colours in the sky that I did not realize were there. One colour leaked into other colours until there was a blanket of multiple colours. I did get carried away with the variety and how they changed every second.
Looking at them, my first thought is that I have become traditional again. I usually like creating abstract work. However, if you focus on the skies, the abstract is there.

Every summer I try something different. This summer, I decided to build a sculpture/sign for the front of our house. My brother built me the form then I filled it with river/lake rock and cement. I put the step by step process on Facebook, if you want to know how it is done. People will now be able to find our house easily. None of the neighbours have a sign like this one. This was a fun project.

Rock sign by Doris Charest
Rock sign by Doris Charest

Shows: The above painting was accepted into ‘Painting on the Edge’ a show with the Federation of Canadian artists in Vancouver. Yahoo! Made me really happy.

A second exciting event happened. I got into the ‘Works on Paper show with the VAAA in Edmonton. This show will be in Edmonton and Calgary. Please check the VAAA web site for dates. Above is one of the three paintings in the show.

Charest 02. The creek by the trees Summer has gone quickly and my studio time limited due to family events but I have taken some great photos that will see me through the winter. We will soon be travelling and I will tell you all about that in the next newsletter.
Up the hill. Graphite, watercolour and collage on paper. VAAA works on paper show.

Charest 01. Up the hill Have a great day and come see me at my CAVA opening. Sept. 16th at 7pm.
Address: 9103 95 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T6C 1Z4
Phone: (780) 461-3427


Artists Teaching Art

Teaching art is rewarding in ways that I did not expect.  You create a love of art and an appreciation for the basics in art but there is more to teaching than you think. Students teach you, the teacher, something that you may not expect.  Read more… Monet IMG_9160 small A sample of one of the assignments I gave at Ella  –  Painting in the style of Monet

Many artists end up teaching. Some prefer adults and others children. I don’t think it matters who your favorite students are, sharing your skills with others is a reward in itself.

When I teach, my favorite moment is when a student discovers they can create ‘something’ all by themselves. I call this the ‘aha’ moment. Out of drops of paint and a scrap of canvas, they have created and captured a moment in time or a piece of their psyche and creativity. Whether the work is realistic or abstract, capturing something that pleases the eye and the soul is a magic moment. It is equal to the ballet dancer executing the perfect movement, the baseball player hitting a home run, the musician capturing the essence of a piece of music or a hole in one golf shot. A perfect moment.

These moments come out of us in well spaced moments in time. The trick is learning the skills to create the magic moment more frequently. As a teacher, I find that teaching the students the skills to do this and getting the effects they want consistently is my ‘magic moment’ as a teacher. Seeing the students develop abilities that were not quite there before and gain confidence makes my heart warm with joy.

I had one of these magic moments when teaching at ELLA (Edmonton Lifelong Learning Association). For three weeks every year, Ella puts on courses for anyone ages 50+ to enjoy. You can take up to 4 courses a day in a multitude of subjects. There are courses on topics ranging from archaeology, history, music, politics, writing, fitness, using technology or art. There are interest group meetings and lunch hour speakers.

I was teaching an art class called ‘Introduction to Contemporary Painting’. We started learning about Klimt, Monet and Picasso in the first week then created paintings in those styles. Later we went on to try Pop art, Ready-made art, Abstraction, Minimalism, Sociological art, Linear Minimalism and our final project was an installation.

I had a great group of students.  My youngest student was 55 and the eldest 84.  There is one thing that I realized and that there is no age difference when it comes to creating art.  We all create at the stage we left off the last time we did artwork.  Then, we go on from there.  Skills have no age.  

You can learn them at any time.  The one important ‘skill’ you need is bravery.  You need to create without fear.  What comes out of you is your own particular interests in colours, marks or shapes.  The way you put it out there is totally formed by all your unique experiences.  Those life experiences will always differ from the person next to you.  What you create will always be unique.  What you need to to be brave enough to accept this, be content with it and go on to carve out your own uniqueness.

This is what I have learned from my students.  They have taught me more than I can ever teach them.  Teaching gives back more than you ever give to others.  Remember this fact.

Below are some of my student’s projects.  I have permission from my students but I have kept the names off to protect their privacy.  Enjoy the variety and quality of this work.  I had a great class! IMG_1059 sm IMG_1060 sm IMG_1061sm IMG_1063sm IMG_1064sm IMG_1065sm IMG_1066 sm