Steal, And Make It Your Own!

Trees by Sara Rockinger

Trees by Sara Rockinger

Written by Sara Rockinger

I wanted to steal the title for this blog from a book I love by Austin Kleon. It’s called Steal Like An Artist. I wanted to take his advice and steal his title. On further inspection of his book, I realized his book is more about doing your own work than stealing someone else’s. In fact, it’s all about doing your own work. Let me give you a quick overview and then I will tell you what I love about this book, why, and why I think you should “steal like an artist” too.

Mr. Kleon has written a lovely little, easy-to-read book called Steal Like An Artist. It is organized into 10 guidelines to help you unlock your creativity. The book jacket uses words like “transformative” and “reimagine.” I don’t know about that, but I do know that I value learning from others what works for them, and Kleon generously shares his 10 best tips for living a creative life.

I love this little book. It’s one of those you can open anywhere among its 140+ pages and get a tidbit of creative juice for the day. For example, Chapter 2: Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started. Kleon says if you wait, you will always be waiting. Actually, he says if HE had waited, he’d still be figuring it out. Jump in! Get started. “You’re ready. Start making stuff.” (pg 27)

In other sections of the book the author suggests that if you don’t know where to start, steal an idea from someone famous. Copy a “master.” You won’t be making an original ‘yours’ but you will be learning a lot and chances are the act of creating, even from someone else’s work, will suggest ideas of how you want to try it differently and make it your own, which is way better than being stuck. I have done this in my own work. In fact, when I started making art quilts 20 years ago I copied the styles of many famous artists, and sometimes actual paintings. Not only did I want to learn about the methods and madness of the artists, but I also wanted to see if I could do in fabric what others do in paint. Creativity is an exploration of one thing that leads you to another. That is a given; it will lead you. As Kleon said, “Start making stuff.”

I don’t know if this book will transform your life, but it’s handy as a tool to remind yourself of your desire to live a creative life. When we forget, this book is a daily mindfulness tool to bring us back to our creative spark.


About the Author and Artist:

Sara Rockinger has been a practicing artist for over 20 years. Using her sewing machine as a drawing and sculptural tool has rewarded her with national attention. Sara’s work has been included in several national exhibitions including the traveling fiber art exhibit Innovators and Legends: Generations in Textiles and Fibers.  Her work has been published in Fiber Arts Magazine and the book Freestyle Machine Embroidery. Sara received her MFA in Fiber from Colorado State University in 2008 and has been awarded two artists residencies, Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts and Jentel, both in Wyoming. Sara resides in Colorado.

In/Visible by Sara Rockinger

by Sara Rockinger

Want To Write 50,000 Words In 30 Days?



This post will be short and sweet and this is for all you writers out there.

November is National Novel Writing Month or NANOWRIMO. You can go to the website: to find all the information you need to decide if it’s something you want to do for the month of November. You write 50,000 words in 30 days.

Last year I tried it with a friend and failed miserably but I am up for the challenge this year and I am going to give it a go!

This is a link to a good article on the Pros and Cons of NANOWRIMO  that really sums it up way better than I ever could.

It’s by by Chuck Wendig: (be forewarned he uses some racy language)

I wanted to pass this on in case you didn’t know about it and because November 1 is this Sunday! If you are inspired I highly recommend giving it a try and would love to hear how it’s going if you do.

10 Ideas To Change Your Scenery

Ever get bored of your surroundings? Feeling uninspired by the environment?

You may need a change of scenery.

I just recently came back from an amazing visit to the beach. I live in Colorado and absolutely love the mountains but it is always good to escape land lock and get near the sandy shore.

Lately, I have been incredibly blocked with my creative efforts and of course it is ultimately an inside job (i.e. dealing with the internal demons that keep me blocked). However, sometimes a change in the external environment can positively influence my internal environment. It definitely helped me to have a change of scenery and shift my stuck perspective.

Not everyone can escape to a completely different environment like I did but I have used the following strategies to get out of my own way and get unstuck from a creative block—and better yet, these strategies can be free to as inexpensive as you want!

  1.  If you live in a city go to a park or if possible get out of the city where there is more nature—hike, throw a frisbee or just take a walk and notice the wildlife, the smells, and the sounds are different. 
  2. If you live in the country or somewhere rural go to the nearest town or city and explore. Walk around, notice architecture, how the light is different, how the noises, and the smells are different.
  3. Go to a museum or some galleries to be inspired by famous artists and your peers.
  4. Go to a concert—something different then you would normally listen to. There are a lot of free concerts offered in local communities.
  5. Go to a new restaurant. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Try one thing on the menu that you would normally never eat.
  6. If you work in one medium (i.e. like painting) try something completely different like pottery. Or try something complementary to painting like drawing. You get the picture. 🙂
  7. Take pictures of things that catch your interest. Most everyone has a camera on their phone-it will help you to notice and pay attention to things you don’t normally see and change your perspective.
  8. Read a biography of someone who inspires you-you will learn that they had their challenges and blocks too!
  9. Go to a poetry slam , open mic, or improv—talk about creative spark!
  10. Maybe you need to escape into another world for a few hours…read a book, see a play or watch a movie.    

I’d love for you to share your strategies…What do you do to change your scenery for a different perspective when you are feeling blocked?

The World Is Your Oyster, My Friend

IMG_0198Another day has gone by and you haven’t worked on your creative projects. Like everyone else you say to yourself, “I am too busy”. The fact is, we are all busy going to work, relating to family and friends, trying to eat healthy and exercise and the list goes on and on. How can we make the time to create when we are too busy?

The better question to ask ourselves is how can we NOT make time to create? Instead of putting creative time on the back burner or the last “to do” on your list make it a priority and one of the first “to do’s” at the top of your list. You may be mumbling to yourself …I don’t have time to do that, I need two hours, I need to make space to create, I have to do the laundry”. There will ALWAYS be something else that takes priority if you do not make creative time a priority.

What is a reasonable amount of time in your life to focus on creativity? Get specific. When we focus our time in one area, goal, or project it means that we have to say no to something else. What are you willing to say no to? Watching the television, meeting up with friends? Spending less time shopping. Look at areas where you may be spending time on things that have no value or meaning for you. Can you give that up and replace it with time spent on creating meaning in your life? What are you willing to commit to and shift so you can create? Be realistic and be open to adapt if your plans need to change. Keep modifying so you can have success and stay focused on your goal.

If you are in focus you are probably on your way to meeting some of the goals you have set for yourself. Maybe you created a plan and the steps to get there. You are making time for what is really important to you. You are taking yourself seriously.

Wherever you put your focus of energy is where things happen. Opportunities line up and present themselves, support shows up (seemingly out of thin air) and people who are interested in what your interested in come into your life. What is really happening is that you are becoming more aware of these occurrences because you are focused on what you want to accomplish.

Part of the trick here is to not over extend your self and have too many goals since this makes it harder to focus on what is really important to you. With scattered focus comes scattered energy and the likelihood of meeting or accomplishing your goals becomes less of a reality. You can become out of focus. Your plans may get too complicated or the steps to reach the many goals you have set for yourself feel overwhelming. All of a sudden there is no time to fit in everything you have to do and you give up. Another year goes by and you have not reached your goals or made your dreams come true.

Being in focus on a few goals, resolutions, or intentions that are really important and meaningful to you will help you recognize the opportunities and support that will come your way.

And guess what? You can do it in baby steps. Start with ten minutes. It may mean making a short journal entry, doing a fast sketch, or taking a picture with your phone camera for that matter. Just start with something small so you don’t feel overwhelmed by time constraints that you may have put on yourself (ie…I need two hours to …). Little by little inspiration will bubble up. The excitement of engaging in your creative practice will create momentum…creativity is a like a muscle that needs to be exercised. The more you exercise it, the better you feel. You will become more and more interested in making creative time a priority in your life because not doing it will become more painful.

To Commit Or Not Commit…

IMG_1155It’s already mid-September we are 3/4 through 2015. Have you stayed committed to your creative goals and aspirations since the beginning of the year? This is the perfect time to review what is working and what is not working for you to accomplish a creative project or creating the life you want to live. Now is NOT the time to give up! Be flexible and make some hard choices about what kind of commitment is really possible and take action!

Ask yourself what commitment to your vision means for you and what is realistic. It can mean deciding how much time and what actions you will take during that time frame to further your goals. Will you commit to a daily practice of following through or a couple of times a week? Committing can also mean asking yourself if you commit to everyone else except yourself. Do you put other people’s needs before your own? Do you think that their needs are more important than making your dreams come true? No one else is going to take the action to make your dreams come true. It’s up to you.

When you make the commitment to your creative vision take action and follow through. When we don’t follow through on our commitments we let ourselves down and learn to distrust ourselves. This affects our self-esteem and our sense of integrity making it harder to achieve our goals and aspirations. Pay attention, and take a moment to ask yourself if what you are doing in the moment or if the choice you are about to make will help to further your goals and aspirations or sabotage them. Make a schedule to hold yourself accountable so you can check in with yourself and see your progress.

Don’t be a commitment phobe! Make the commitment to yourself to focus, make the time, and work on your creative goals on a consistent basis. Have flexibility and enjoy the process. It doesn’t have to be painful. Again, this does not have to be painful– it’s a process. As you see progress you will gain more and more self-confidence and self- respect. The momentum of success will keep you motivated and excited to stay committed to your creative goals and aspirations and most importantly to yourself!