Finding creativity and building a community on Instagram and beyond
Synopsis: In Hashtag Authentic, social media guru Sara Tasker provides tips, advice and guidance on how to turn your personal Instagram account into a profitable creative outlet.
Since setting up her Instagram account (me_and_orla) while on maternity leave in 2013, Sara has become a celebrated influencer and iPhoneographer, and through her calm, atmospheric and authentic style has garnered legions of followers. Here, Sara presents the lessons she has learned along the way.
Sara’s nurturing voice and enchanting photography provide guidance on:
Storytelling, with tips on finding your own visual style and personal niche.
Making pictures, including composing for Instagram, finding the best light and getting the most out of your camera phone.
Archiving your life, with tips organized by themes like Craft & Making, Family & Pets and Food & Ingredients.
Sharing your world, detailing the keys to Instagram success and beyond.
Hashtag Authentic is both an inspiring manual and an interactive tool for finding an online voice, growing a tribe and becoming an influencer.
Hashtag Authentic by Sara Tasker, White Lion Publishing, rrp £16.99
Why I Like it
Although the book may initially be described as being about how to turn your personal Instagram account into a profitable creative outlet, there is so much more in this carefully constructed and delightful book. Sara’s voice can be heard throughout this book in a very honest and authentic way, sharing her personal experiences and giving valuable advice about visual storytelling and improving your photography skills and much more.
There are thought-provoking exercises including Identifying your favourite parts in a day, Naming Your Visual Style and Listening to Yourself, there is also essential advice about staying safe on line and the need to recognise that there is a life outside Instagram. In fact some of the most inspiring parts of the book are about Storytelling and Making Pictures which has a relevance to anyone interested in photography, or seeking to be more creative.
I particularly liked the chapters about The Simple Secrets of Composition and Chasing Light , which are packed full with really helpful practical advice and inspiration.
Whether you want to create more thoughtful Instagram posts, improve your photography, take time to journal, or inspire your creativity this is a wonderful gift to give to yourself, or another fellow creative. Highly Recommended!
Synopsis: The Writer’s Creative Workbook is a practical and insightful guide into the joyful craft of mindful writing.
Focusing on the transformative process of writing and conscious creativity, this beautifully illustrated part-manual, part-journal explores the holistic value of writing for writing’s sake.
Author Joy Kenward invites story-tellers, poets, travel-writers, journalists and letter-writers – in fact anyone curious about the ancient wisdom of mindfulness and its relevance to the modern creative voice – to embrace affirmations, meditations and Buddhist wisdom.
With practical exercises and astute notes on dissolving creative block, planning, time, and caring for your words, this is a must-have companion to help any creative wordsmith flow, flourish, and be mindful.
Why I like it
Most days I am reviewing books, either fiction, or non-fiction and while I am reading I am often fascinated about the structure of the book, how it is written and how it will develop; but there is always joy when the skill of the writer is such that it transports me away from that observation into becoming completely absorbed in the characters, the location and the story as it unfolds.
If you want to develop your own writing style and are looking at 2020 as the year to finally make this happen, The Writer’s Creative Workbook could be an inspiring place to start.
Joy has created a workbook set out over ten chapters, that can be used as a ten session course. Throughout the book there many opportunities to stimulate your creativity. In a very supportive style her questions encourage reflection, discovery, and creative ambition as well as an opportunity to recognise the joy that writing can bring both to the writer and the reader.
One of my favourite parts of the book is the chapter when she considers Fiction – Another World. As she describes,
‘We don’t need a definition to enjoy reading fiction, and we don’t need any excuse to enjoy writing it. Fiction opens up all the imaginary worlds we could wish for.They may be worlds very like our own, or they may be visions of entire fantasy. In the best stories, the reader feels they have been taken by the hand and walked through the world of the story, seeing and hearing it in their mind just as clearly as their own day-to-day life.It can be great fun to create settings – wide landscapes, tiny rooms, oceans, forests – and to place fascinating characters there. Welcome to wonderland ’
Beautifully illustrated by Ruth Allen, and full of suggestions, prompts, and space for you to write, The Writer’s Creative Workbook is a delightful exploration of how to find your voice, and develop your own unique way of writing and above all enjoy it!
If you enjoyed this, you might also like to look at our reviews of the following:
The Writer’s Eye – Amy E. Weldon Observation and Inspiration for Creative Writers
The Artist’s Way Morning Pages Journal – Julia Cameron
A visual guide to observing, drawing and painting plants
Synopsis: Observe, draw, paint, explore and master the art of botanical illustration.
Award-winning botanical artist Işik Güner shares her passion for drawing and painting living plants from around the world. Her work is both artistically accomplished and scientifically accurate, and will inspire you to master the skills you need to produce your own botanical illustrations from life.
• Discover how to select, preserve and position your specimens. • Develop your understanding of perspective and composition. • Learn the techniques of drawing and watercolour painting.
With the help of Ekin Özbiçer’s striking photography and numerous illustrations by Işik and other renowned botanical artists, this visually stunning book bridges the gap between science and art and will inspire artists, illustrators, botanists and plant lovers in equal measure.
Işik Güner is incredibly talented, it is very easy to see why she is an award-winning botanical artist.
Supported by Ekin Özbiçer’s stunning photography and numerous illustrations by Işik and other botanical artists, Botanical Illustration From Life is an absolutely beautiful book.
There is so much helpful advice and detail, the content includes the following key stages: Start,Observe, Draw, Paint, Explore, Master and each section is packed with fascinating information.
Start is about the history of botanical illustration and its importance in the recording of plants. In Observe there is detailed information about how to observe plants in their habitat and how to select which plants to preserve and draw. In Draw, there is detailed guidance on how to draw; from the correct posture, and materials to the precise detail of how to draw. There are pages and pages of detailed examples about perspective, composition and drawing. The Painting chapter is equally detailed, illustrating how to mix colours, create colour contast, perspective, texture and finally the actual act of painting. In Explore Işik takes us outdoors searching amid stunning scenery for examples and how to identify species.
The Master stage gives helpful advice about finding your own style and how to master your own technique, including inspiration from other artists.
This is an absolutely wonderful book, full of inspiration and encouragement. Highly Recommended!
Synopsis: Blousy blooms, speckled branches, rich foliage and delicate petals; nature has the power to inspire and energise, calm and soothe, focus and still. Anna has harnessed this magic with 26 tailor-made combinations of flowers to bring a floral boost to your home, no matter what your mood.
With easy-to-find seasonal blooms, found items such as twigs and dried fruit, and any assortment of containers, discover how simple it is to bring a little bit of nature’s mystery into the everyday. Spanning all seasons and including both larger installations and smaller, simpler projects, there is something for anyone looking to play, experiment and create atmosphere with flowers.
Get your daily flower fix with these and more inspiring arrangements:
Inspire Playfulness is a spring arrangement to bring joy, featuring lilac, roses, ranunculus, poppy, narcissi and forget-me-nots.
Flowers for Gratitude is a mix of summer’s bounty to inspire thankfulness, including garden rose, daucus, echinacea and chocolate sunflower.
Find Beauty in the Everday is a colourful arrangement to bring a fresh perspective, featuring autumn foliage, hydrangea, dahlia, crab apple and rosehip.
The Shape of Self-Expression is a circular wreath design to express individuality, with holly, lamb’s ear, yellow holly berries, twigs and dried seedheads, and ivy berries.
Each project lists the equipment, flowers and foliage needed to start the project along with step-by-step instructions. There is also a guide to basic flower arranging.
Be led by the flowers, foliage, stems, follow their shapes and form, feel their weight and heft to create versions of these gorgeous arrangements that are uniquely your own. The Flower Fix presents wild inspiration and modern arrangements by Swallows and Damsons florist Anna Potter, with beautiful photography by India Hobson.
Why I like it The Flower Fix is a beautifully produced book, the flower arrangements are absolutely gorgeous, and the photography is stunning! This is a book to read from cover to cover, every page has fascinating information, or helpful advice.
Part 1 of the book is full of projects with Anna’s narrative about how she created the arrangements with step by step guidance. Part 2 is an essential guide to basic flower arranging; notes on colour palettes and how to use colour; and a flower glossary listing the colour, seasonal availability and vase life of each flower. If you are new to flower arranging reading Part 2 first will help you understand some of the processes in the projects in Part 1.
What I love about the project approach to flower arranging was the insight into Anna’s thoughts which absolutely fascinating and encourages you to take a more thoughtful approach to your own flower arrangements. This is a really special book, an absolute inspiration to anyone who loves flowers and floral displays. Highly Recommended!
Synopsis: Jean Haines’ first-hand experience of the energising and life-enhancing effects of painting makes her a perfect example of how watercolours can work for you.
Bestselling international author and artist Jean Haines’ new book takes readers on an exciting journey through painting. Not just a book for artists, this is for anyone looking for a way of enhancing their life and mood through paint. It’s also a way into art for people who have never painted and may even have been told they ‘can’t paint’ at an early age. If you love the idea of sitting down and playing with colour and paint as a distraction from the stresses of modern life, then this is the book for you!
All of Jean’s books have promoted the life-enhancing effects of painting, and this is especially relevant in Paint Yourself Positive. Whether you can already paint or not, the aim of the book is for you to create in a way that you find pleasing, increases your self-confidence and leaves you feeling energized. Jean will very soon have you wanting to pick up a paintbrush and start to paint and loving every second of it.
Why I like it Paint Yourself Positive is full of beautiful images, quotes and exercises designed to uplift and enrich you. Jean also includes one of my favourite stories, The Starfish Story, which is inspiration in itself. As well as tips and techniques, every page sings with colour and positive encouragement, from her personal reflections through to each activity.
Some of the content includes: Why paint ourselves positive? Making changes, The power of colour, Being positive, The power of you, Building confidence, Reaching goals, Life plans, The value of a positive wish list, Positive creative energy and much more.
Each watercolour example is fluid and surrounded with the key steps, whether you are an experienced artist or have never painted before, this book will encourage you to experiment.
This is a glorious book and as Jean says. “Painting doesn’t have to be serious, it can be joyful, bringing with it a fabulous sense of positive energy’ Highly Recommended!
Synopsis: Learn to paint with Anna Mason, using this inspiring, practical watercolour guide.
Anna Mason’s vibrant, detailed and uplifting watercolours have earned her worldwide recognition. In this, her second book, she goes beyond flowers to explore her inspirations from across the natural world, including fruit, birds and animals. The book gives you a very personal insight into Anna’s way of working; with clarity and warmth she will help you find inspiration, choose scale and composition, see things correctly and work with discipline and flow until you produce fabulous work of your own. Packed with advice and inspiring finished pieces, this gorgeous book guides you through her method of working with four beautiful step-by-step projects: a blackberry, an autumn leaf, a sunflower and a garden bird. Each project contains a traceable outline. The book is suitable for beginners or for more experienced artists looking to refine their style or try new techniques.
Why I like it This book is glorious in every sense, from the beautiful cover to the absolutely stunning paintings throughout the book, this is something to bring joy on the dullest of days. Simply to sit and turn the pages is a wonderful source of inspiration, but the detail is outstanding. it’s easy to forget that they are paintings, her paintings are so realistic you want to touch a petal, or bite into an apple. In the Introduction Anna shares her take on her world, ‘Those precious moments, the kind that makes you stop in your tracks and feel grateful to be alive are what inspire my watercolours’ . Throughout the book she shares her inspiration tips and her love of gardening.
This beautiful book is packed full of helpful advice, how to garden, how to photograph, and how to paint from those photographs, how to understand colour, form and texture. Anna also describes in detail her 5 stage painting method, how to draw as well as helpful advice on selecting brushes, paper and paints. Four projects are broken down into the key details. The final chapter is about Improvement and also the importance of taking a break from your painting to gain a new perspective.
Anna also has a second book, equally inspirational, The Modern Flower Painter – Creating Vibrant Botanical Portraits in Watercolour Both books would be a wonderful source of inspiration to any artist whether a beginner, or more experienced, Very Highly Recommended!
Synopsis: How often do you notice the texture of a painted wall or the scent of a friend’s house and, importantly, how they make you feel? Connect your observations and your emotions and transform your creative practice with this essential toolbox packed full of exercises, tips, stunning images and personal experiences from dynamic artist Philippa Stanton. There is creativity in all of us, but it can easily be buried beneath our everyday concerns, or need a spark to bring it back to life. Whether you’ve lost your mojo or just need some fresh ideas, artist and photographer Philippa Stanton’s lively guide will stimulate your imagination and reinvigorate your creative life. Conscious Creativity will help you fully appreciate what is around you, opening all your senses to the beauty you may not notice every day, and showing you how to capture it. Simple, engaging exercises that encourage observation and experimentation will give you an insight into your own aesthetics as you take a conscious step to note the colours, shapes, shadows, sounds and textures that fill your world and how they make you feel. Bursting with practical ideas and inspirational images, Conscious Creativity shows you how to unlock your potential, learn to use your natural curiosity and take a leap into the most creative time of your life.
Why I like it From the riot of colour on the double cover to the very last page this book is an absolute joy. If you are looking for an uplifting and inspiring book to start your creative journey in 2019, Conscious Creativity is a great place to start. Written in an encouraging and inclusive style, in every section Philippa shares her own experiences, fascinating information and thoughtful exercises designed to stimulate your creativity and imagination. The book is beautifully illustrated throughout with the most gorgeous imagery. Philippa has created a magical book that should be on the bookshelf of everyone who wants to discover their inner creative soul. Highly Recommended!
Synopsis: Learning to write starts with learning to do one big thing: pay attention to the world around you, even though just about everything in modern life makes this more difficult than it needs to be. Developing habits and practices of observing, and writing down what you notice, can be the first step away from the anxieties and doubts that can hold you back from your ultimate goal as a writer: discovering something to say and a voice to say it in.
The Writer’s Eye is an inspiring guide for writers at all stages of their writing lives. Drawing on new research into creative writers and their relationship with the physical world, Amy E. Weldon shows us how to become more attentive observers of the world and find inspiration in any environment.
Including exercises, writing prompts and sample texts and spanning multiple genres from novels to nonfiction to poetry, this is the ideal starting point for anyone beginning to write seriously and offers refreshing perspectives for experienced writers seeking new inspiration.
Why I like it The Writer’s Eye is a wonderful resource for aspiring writers, written in a very accessible style and packed with thoughtful and helpful advice. Amy shares her own challenges as a writer and the advice that she gives to her own students. She includes very relevant examples to illustrate her points and throughout the book there are a number of helpful exercises. I particularly liked the chapter on Building a World on the Page.
If you have ever felt inspired to write, this delightful book is the perfect companion for your journey. Highly Recommended!
In the run up to the festive season, life can hurtle along more than usual and many of us find life hectic enough normally; which is why it’s really important to try and take as many opportunities to hit the pause button, if only for a few moments.
This time of year can be very difficult as we approach the shortest day, as many of us go to work in the dark and return in the dark, the only sight of daylight for many people may be through the office window as they eat their lunch at their desks.
Being really present for even just one moment can be surprisingly difficult, our minds are so often full of other things, plus there are so many noisy interruptions; slowing down enough to even start to be present can take some practice.
But, when you do have those moments, treasure them, whether first thing in the morning, last thing at night, or even moments during the day, take time to be silent. People have long advocated the benefits of the power nap, but stillness in the mind is equally beneficial. Just allow the tension to drift away, and as you extend those moments allow your natural creativity to emerge. So many people equate apparent busyness with productivity, but from moments spent in silent thought can emerge the most exquisite creations.
As we look forward to 2019, here are three inspiring books that can help pave the way to a more uplifting, thoughtful and motivated way of living.
You Are What You Think
365 Meditations for Extraordinary Living by DR. WAYNE W. DYER
Synopsis: One of Hay House’s most beloved authors, known worldwide as “the father of motivation,” Dr. Wayne W. Dyer was at the forefront of the personal transformation movement for decades. So many of us were touched by Wayne’s charismatic yet grounded way of speaking and writing. You may fondly remember watching one of his PBS specials or seeing him speak onstage at the many events he so loved doing throughout the years. Perhaps you were browsing a bookstore and found yourself drawn to a title, only to discover words that would change the course of the rest of your life . . . Or perhaps this is your first encounter with the wisdom of Wayne, and you’re not quite sure what this book has in store for you!
In this collection of quotes spanning Wayne’s decades-long career, you’ll find witty bon mots that make you laugh, enigmatic phrases that make you think, and wise passages that remind you of the power of your beliefs. You’ll see how his focus shifted through the years, from discussing the way of no-limit living and empowering people to free themselves of their excuses, to finding inspiration through living “in-Spirit” and discovering the beauty of the Tao. As you read a quote each day, or flip through the pages at random to find insight, we hope you take to heart the meaning behind one of Wayne’s favorite sayings:
When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
From a lifetime of inspiring others Dr. Wayne W. Dyer’suplifting quotesin You Are What You Think are a wonderful source of daily wisdom, helping you toreflect, and be inspired.
How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body
10th Anniversary Editionby DAVID R. HAMILTON, PHD
Synopsis: There is no longer any doubt that the way we think affects our bodies. For former pharmaceutical scientist Dr David Hamilton, the testing of new drugs highlighted how profoundly the mind and body are connected. Time and time again, the control group of patients in drug trials improved at similar rates to those who received the medicines.
This bestselling acclaimed book was first published 10 years ago. In it, Dr Hamilton explores the effect of visualization, belief and positive thinking on the body, and shows how using our imagination and mental processes can stimulate our own defences and healing systems to combat disease, pain and illness.
In this new edition, Dr Hamilton has added four new chapters to discuss the latest cutting-edge information and extraordinary new techniques. These include using imagery to stimulate the immune system – a method that can benefit cancer patients undergoing conventional treatment – effectively using the mind to speed up rehabilitation from stroke, and powerful visualization strategies to help facilitate recovery from injury and illness.
In How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body, Dr David Hamilton highlights how profoundly the mind and body are connected and explores the effect of visualization, belief and positive thinking on the body.
How to Use Mindfulness to Calm the Hell Down and Just Be Happy by PADDY BROSNAN
Synopsis: Former investment advisor turned committed Buddhist shares a simple introduction to the deep wisdom and transformative practice of mindfulness. Everyone is talking about mindfulness, but how does it actually work and how can it help you?
Mindfulness is a simple yet radical practice that can completely transform your life. Paddy Brosnan worked for many years as an investment advisor but felt trapped in a cycle of anxiety and anger. When he began practising mindfulness every day, he found that his relationships became more profound, his interactions with others more honest and his daily frustrations and anxieties simply vanished. In other words, mindfulness helped him calm down, and he became truly happy.
This Works is the collection of tools and exercises that Paddy teaches in his workshops and events, and includes examples of everyday mindfulness from his own family life. It shows you that literally anyone can learn to meditate, and you don’t have to become a Buddhist monk to be truly zen. Through simple daily exercises, you’ll learn that mindfulness is not something you do, but something you are.
Or, put simply, mindfulness can help you be truly happy.
This is a very down to earth and easy approach to mindfulness. With clear and simple techniques that anyone can use every day,
As we move into 2019 do try and take the time to stop and take that moment, and celebrate everything that you have achieved, acknowledge those very special people in your life and resolve that whatever 2019 brings try to regularly pause and take time to breathe!
Synopsis: Too often a design or architecture degree is seen as a means to an end (a job in an established practice). But imagine for one moment that there are no employers, no firms to send your CV to, no interviews to be had – what would you do? How would you forge your own path after graduation?
The current economic climate has seen many graduates chasing a finite number of positions. The most ingenious and driven designers have found weird and wonderful ways of making opportunities for themselves, often by applying their skills across the creative disciplines of art, design, architecture and interiors. Knowing what you want from your design career and being able to adapt your strategy to suit is basic and vital – just like in the wild, designers need to evolve.
In today’s employment landscape there are both opportunities and challenges. Young people reaching the age when exam choices are made are faced with real uncertainty. What options should they choose, what qualifications will they need, is a degree necessary? For creative graduates the challenge may be even greater.
The book celebrates the various strategies that students and graduates are taking to gain exposure, while also including interviews and inspirational advice from those who are now enjoying success as a result of their creative approach to employment.