How to Put Yourself Out There as a Highly Creative Introvert

I'm an Introvert.  I'm also a Creative.  I think the two are somewhat related.

Many introverts are also highly creative individuals.  It makes sense.  We have rich inner lives, we seek solitude, we observe and we listen.  And since we generally don't express ourselves openly and often with others, all of this information has to go somewhere.  If we don't find some way to release it, we will explode.  So we express ourselves in the things that we create.

I, like many other introverts, am content living in my own inner world a majority of the time.  I can get lost in my writing and my art for days on end before I start to feel the twinge of loneliness or realize that I should probably reach out to another human being.  During this alone time, I create.  I write my stories, I paint, I sketch, I design, I build.

And for a very long time, this was enough.

But eventually, I felt the call to start sharing my work with the world.  I promptly ignored this call.  It felt too risky.  Only wildly confident, extroverted, professionals put their work out into the world, right??  I thought:  I'm not a real writer, or a real artist.  I was just doing this for fun, I though it didn't matter if no one else ever saw my work other than my husband and my dog.

But it does matter.

Creativity is a force of nature.  It is a fundamental part of who we are.  And whether you and I like it or not, it is meant to be shared.

As introverts, we tend to avoid any form of over-sharing.  But as creatives, it is our duty to share our work with the world.

The likely result of this duplicity:  FEAR and PROCRASTINATION.

I found myself locked in inaction due to fear and procrastination for years.  I continued to create - in one way or another - throughout this time, but I could not find the courage to take that first step toward sharing my work with the world. 

The moment that I finally burst through the fear was when I asked myself this question:

When I am at the end of my life, and I'm looking back over all of the things that I did and didn't do, which would I regret more:  facing my fears by putting myself out there and risking failure and embarrassment, or playing it safe and not even trying? 

The thought of the latter was too much to bear, and terrified me more than anything else.

It was time to take action.

And so I did.  I started to put myself out there.  It was one of the hardest things that I have ever done.  I felt vulnerable, afraid, embarrassed.  But I also felt ALIVE.  At long last, I felt like I was really living, like I was finally in the game.  

Here are few things that I learned and insights that I gained as I started to put myself and my creative ideas out into the world.  If you are a highly creative introvert, maybe they can help you too.

1.  Start small.

I knew in my heart that the thing I most wanted to share was my writing.  But it was too personal and too precious to me to just throw it out there for all to see.  I needed to ease into this.  So I did other things to get warmed up.  I had a small side business decorating cakes and teaching cake decorating classes at the time, so that seemed to be  logical place to start.  I began by sharing photos of my cakes on social media.  I started decorating cakes for friends, and work events.  I started sharing my cake decorating skills and talents freely.  And it went great.  The feedback that I got was very encouraging.  It helped me see that when you share your skills and talents, others are grateful.  They appreciate what you have to offer.  

2.  Take the Plunge.

After several years of expressing my creativity through cakes, I finally got up the nerve to start a blog.  I had no idea how to start a blog, or even what my topic would be, but I knew that I had to do it.  So I set up a simple website, made a page for my cakes, another for my artwork, and finally... a BLOG!  I will never forget the day I published my first article, I was both terrified and excited.  I hit "publish" and did a happy dance.  But then it hit me:  NO ONE even knew that  my blog existed other than me, my husband and my mom.  Hmmm.  I realized that I was going to have to do more than just post on my website, I was going to have to advertise my work.  Oh God, no.  Self promotion was too much to even think about at this point.  I had mistakenly thought that "if I wrote it they would come."  

3.  Own Your Worth.

I finally got up the nerve to start sharing my blog articles on social media.  But still, I was reluctant to talk about it with others.  Anytime my blog came up in conversation, I would downplay it as though it was nothing.  Then I couldn't understand why others weren't at all interested in talking about it with me.  Well, I had hardly made it sound interesting!  Only very recently have I begun to talk about my writing and my blog openly.  I am proud of my blog, more-so than maybe anything else in my life.  I have worked so hard and poured my heart out in my writing, I've made my very best attempt to be honest and to help others who may be dealing with some of the same things that I am.  So I finally realized that it's ok to be proud of something that I have created and to share these positive feelings.  It's ok to talk about it.  Its ok to suggest that others read it.  That is not arrogance - it's generosity.  It's sharing something that I honestly believe will help someone else or make their life better.  I'm not helping anyone by writing or creating something and then hiding away and keeping it to myself, am I?  Neither are you.  Share your art.  Own your worth.

4.  Be Consistent.

I'm not gonna lie, some of what I've created is crap.  But some of it is gold.  And if I hadn't muddled through the crap, I would never have struck gold.  That's just how it goes.  So.  Keep on creating and sharing your stuff, even if it isn't perfect, even if it doesn't live up to the ridiculously high standards you've set for yourself.  Sometimes it is better to be consistent than to be great.  Especially when you are just starting out.  Also.  Just to warn you:  when you start putting yourself out there more and more, you are inevitably going to want to quit.  You'll hit "post" and become overwhelmed with feelings of doubt and shame.  You'll ask yourself how you could ever have been so stupid as to think that anyone would enjoy or appreciate your art.  You'll stress over how your family and friends will react to your stories.  You'll worry that you've offended someone.  You'll want to hide under a rock.  But then, a few days later, another seed of an idea will take hold in your heart, and you'll get excited about your art again.  You'll nurture it until it becomes something beautiful, then you'll share it, and the whole process will begin again.  And that's the good news.  Keep going.   

I hope some of this was helpful to you, dear introverted sisters and brothers. 

Now, get crackin'!  There's work to do - your creativity awaits!

Till next time,


© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo credit: Kiosea39 |



Creativity Workshop starting soon - Want in?

A few years ago, I was stuck.  I was blocked creativity, paralyzed by fear and self doubt, and overwhelmed with confusion about what I wanted out of life.

I wished at that time that I had a group of supporters to help me find my way, to encourage and uplift me while I stumbled around in the dark.  

Then I found The Artist's Way.  It's a book about creativity, or more importantly, how to get un-stuck in your creative life.  Julia Cameron takes the reader on a 12 week journey, guiding them along a spiritual path to higher creativity.

So I followed the course step by step.  I started facing my fears.  I started trying new things so that I could get some clarity on what I actually wanted to do.  I started identifying self-limiting beliefs and the impact they were having on my life.  I did the exercises that are specifically designed to get you out of your head and allow you to tune into your creative voice.  I learned to overcome resistance and DO THE WORK.  And eventually, I became unblocked.  I started creating things, lots of things.  Thoughts and ideas and images poured out of me like a flood.  I started painting and sketching, I started writing, I decorated cakes, I built things, I started a website and a blog to share my ideas.  And I even wrote an e-Book about it.

But the one thing that was still missing was a group of like-minded people to share this journey with.  I talked about my experiences and what I was learning with some friends and family members of course, but a dedicated group of people experiencing the very same things that I was would have been invaluable to me at the time.

It has been on my heart for several years to start such a group.  I've led soulful small groups, I've taught creative cake decorating classes and college design courses, and I feel that this will be a perfect combination of those experiences.  Art & Soul.  That's what this group will be about.   

I'm so passionate about this idea, and so sure that there are others out there who need it too, that I'm offering it for free.  No charge, I just want others who may be in the same position that I found myself a few years ago to have a safe place to grow.  To have a group to lean on, a support system, a cheerleading team behind them as they take the first terrifying steps toward their dreams. 

Does this sound like a group that you would like to be a part of?  

Do you have a creative idea burning inside of you, but no idea how to define it or express it?

Do you long to do more in your life, but you're not sure where to start or how to harness your creativity and talents and skills and use them to make the difference you long to make?

Do you wish you had more time to devote to your creative life, but you are so burdened with work and other obligations that you don't have much time left to do something for yourself - something that will make you happy?

If so, then this might be just the thing for you.  I intend to follow the material as outlined in The Artist's Way, however, most small groups that I have been a part of have evolved into much different things than what they were originally intended to be, so I believe that an open mind and heart are important to maintain throughout the process.

If you're in the Knoxville area and you are interested in being a part of this group, please leave a comment below or send me a message here to let me know!

The course will be starting in late March and will last 3 months.  We will meet once a week for 1-2 hours  to discuss the readings and to support one another along the way.

If you're not in Knoxville but would be interested in such a group, let me know.  I'll send you all the info I have so that you can start your own Artist's Way group wherever you are!

Happy Friday!


© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo by author

Think Outside Your Box

I was doing some research at work the other day, and I came across a blog post with the most peculiar message.

It was about how the author (an architect) takes great pride in his drawings, and views them as an opportunity to express his "artistic" side.  

I scoffed.  

Technical construction drawings are the farthest thing I can think of from artistic or creative expression.

But his words kept nagging at me, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that he is RIGHT.  

I may have been making a huge mistake in my life by wishing and waiting for an opportunity to be creative, rather than turning what I'm ALREADY DOING into that very opportunity!

I have a very narrow idea of creativity in my mind.  For me, it consists of writing, creating art (i.e. painting, drawing, making cakes, sculpting, etc.), any kind of crafting, jewelry making, decorating and party planning.  I don't really branch out much beyond those things.

But creativity can be SO MUCH MORE.

Dan and I were talking the other day about creativity for men.  He was arguing that guys sometimes express themselves differently than women, but it is creative expression none-the-less.  For example, a guy who spends his free time re-building an engine may view that as a highly creative endeavor.  I personally view it as the worst kind of torture, but that's just me.  Different strokes for different folks.  Or what about the way that Dan tricks out his truck and boat.  Or the hours he spends organizing his fishing tackle.  That looks like a real snooze-fest to me, but he is honoring the very deepest parts of himself when he engages in these activities.  He is painstakingly caring for a dream and a vision that he has for himself.  He is devoting time and attention and effort to his heart's desires, and he is practicing self love by allowing himself to enjoy something so thoroughly.  If that isn't creativity then I don't know what is.   

I had a conversation with a structural engineer this week about the various ways that we could attach a guardrail to the edge of a concrete wall.  It was eye-opening to see how he thought through creative solutions to the problem at hand.  He was passionate about steel and concrete, and thrilled when we came up with the simplest, cleanest and most cost effective solution.  I never thought about structural design as an expression of creativity until that moment, but it IS.  Or at least it CAN BE.

Any time you are engaging the deepest parts of yourself and acknowledging your true interests and passions:  that's creativity.

Any time you are making connections between things in your world, putting them together in new and interesting ways (whether it's physical objects or ideas):  that's creativity.

Any time you are actively engaging a problem and developing a solution:  that's creativity.

Any time you are figuring things out on your own, rather than waiting around for someone else to do it for you:  that's creativity.

Any time you are making time and space in your life to do the thing that your soul longs to do:  that's creativity.

Creativity is using the brain that God gave you.  It's fully engaging with what you are doing, and doing it to the best of your ability.  It's looking at a problem and allowing yourself to think outside of the box for the solution.

Yes, creativity can be expressed through art and music and writing, but it can also be expressed in the way you live your life.  Creative Living.  This is how you engage with the world; how you do things, how you pay attention, how you interact, how you carry yourself, WHO YOU ARE.

I worked at Red Lobster for a number of years back in college, and I will never forget one particularly busy day when my sister and I were on dessert duty together.  I was slinging key-lime pie and cheesecake like a mad woman, some of my plates looked like piles of sugary wreckage.  But my sister was carefully and lovingly creating each dessert, decorating every plate like she was freaking Martha Stewart.  At one point, the manager came over, looked at my sister's work, and demanded to know who had created that dessert.  We looked at each other in alarm.  "I did" my sister said timidly.  "Good work!."  the manager barked and turned on her heel in the other direction.  

That's creativity.  Taking any task you are given or situation you encounter, and putting your heart into it - owning it and using all of who you are to accomplish the task.

"How you do anything is how you do everything."

So the good news it:  we have no excuse to not engage our creativity on a regular basis.  We don't have to wait around until we have a week off of work to devote to our creativity.  We can  be creative NOW, with whatever we find ourselves doing.

When I think about my career in terms of this new idea of creativity, what I start to realize is maybe the key to a fulfilling career lies in finding ways to combine elements of the things that your soul longs to do.  

I woke up this morning with an overwhelming desire to do graphic design.  There is something about organizing words and images that makes me feel alive.  And even though I haven't done much graphic design since college, it is still there, as much a part of who I am as the fact that I work every day as an architect now.

I've been watching the Great British Baking Challenge this week, and watching those contestants lovingly baking pies and pastries stirs up a lot of the same emotions in me as graphic design does... it's another part of who I am.  I LOVE to bake, my soul longs to do it sometimes.  

So, while my role at work is an architect, that doesn't mean that I can't approach my job duties with some creativity and identify ways to incorporate my passions into that.  I can utilize my design skills, my intuitive knack for organizing and laying out images and words, my love of baking (ok, maybe baking is a stretch but you see where I'm going with this).

We need to figure out ways to bring ALL of who we are to whatever we are doing.  I've been guilty of keeping various parts of myself separate, I get into "technical" mode, or "creative" mode, and neglect to utilize the whole of my abilities.  But creative living requires us to bring all of who we are to everything we do.  Nothing less will suffice.  That is what we are called to do.  No one else on earth has the same perspective, the same background and passions and point of view and ideas that I have, or that you have, and no one ever will.  It is up to each of us to share our passions and talents and ideas with the world, or else they will go to waste.  And what a terrible shame that would be.  

What about you?  How can you approach what you are already doing in a more creative way?

Let me know in the comments.  I'd love to hear from you!

Till next time,


© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo credit:  Vitalii Shastun | 



Flex Both Muscles

I feel like I lead two separate lives.

In my day job as an architect, I deal with the details.  I have to pay attention to the physical world around me.  I have to know how things go together and why they work.  Sometimes this is not easy for me.  It's not my natural mindset.

My natural inclination is to ignore the world around me and get lost in the inner world of my own mind.  

So that is what I do in my second life.  I get lost in my own little world of reading and writing and decorating cakes and sketching and painting and whatever else suits my fancy in the moment.  This is where I feel most like ME.  

Since my second life is so easy and comfortable for me, I've considered on many occasions giving up on  my first life altogether so that I can be in isolated bliss and devote 100% of my energy and effort to my creativity.

But something keeps me coming back for more.  I'm not sure exactly what, maybe its the challenge.  Maybe the mystery.  It's certainly not the money, although a steady income is nice. 

The truth is, although I complain a lot about my "real" job, I'm not happy without it.  I need that challenge to be happy.  It's not easy, in fact its downright difficult for me sometimes to force myself into that mindset.  But that challenge is what makes me feel alive.  That challenge is what makes my other life so fulfilling.  That challenge is often what enables the other, easier life; it provides ideas for my writing, it allows me to so thoroughly enjoy retreating into my own inner world and getting lost in my creativity.  It's my laboratory for life and learning.  It is my inspiration.

Also, If it weren't for my studies and my efforts and my hard work in my career in architecture, I would be DRASTICALLY UN-rounded. (That's the opposite of WELL-rounded, in case you were wondering).  I would be freakishly oblong.  I would be grossly deficient in common sense and spatial reasoning.  I would not know anything about the simple beauty of math and physics or the natural order of the universe, the beauty of the earth and seasons and how the world works.  

I had to fight for that knowledge.  I had to FIGHT for every minute of time that I devoted to learning this stuff.  I had to step outside of my head, my safe place, my comfort zone, my imagination, and I had to work really hard.  I still have to work really hard.  Every single day.  

But that is what makes it worthwhile.  That is why my career is so valuable to me, because it wasn't just handed to me, I didn't stumble upon it.  I worked for it.

So my point in sharing all of this with you is this:  maybe you are facing something in your life that is downright hard work.  Maybe you're struggling with how heavy it all is, maybe you're wishing and dreaming of a life where everything is easy and flows so you can ride the waves of good fortune and luck and EASE.  Maybe you want to not have to work so hard for JUST ONE DAY.  

I get it.

But ask yourself what it truly is that makes you happy.  Would you still have the same motivation, the same drive, if everything in your life was easy?  Would you still possess the qualities that you love most about yourself if everything in your life had been handed to you on a silver platter?  Probably not.  It's one of mine and Dan's favorite soap boxes to discuss how hard we have had to work.  We both worked our way through college and grad school.  We both drove crappy cars and ate ramen noodles and easy mac to save money.  We both scrounged by, with little help from our parents, not because they didn't want to help and support us, but because they didn't have the extra to give.  And we both survived.  We both learned the value of a dollar and the meaning of a good work ethic.  And while we both may have wished that hard work away while we were in the middle of it, we both take great pride in it now.  I bet you will too.

Because I know that the most treasured things in life are the things that we have to work the hardest for.  The easy stuff is great, but it's also easier to take it for granted.  The hard stuff won't let you forget the work.  The hard stuff sticks with you.  

What about you?  What have you had to work the hardest for in you life?  Would you trade all of that hard work for the easy road if you could?  

Till next time,


© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My Week In Creativity

There are few things in this world that I enjoy more than turning on some great music, cranking it really loud, gathering all my supplies, and MAKING something.

There is something divine in that act of bringing an object into physical form that was only a vision in my mind - of creating something with my imagination and my own two hands.

I've been doing this my whole entire life.  It's part of who I am like the fact that I have brown eyes, or I'm 5'-10" tall.  It's just what I do.  

I sometimes forget that not everyone does this.  Not everyone has saved every art and crafting supply since high school.  Not everyone has an entire room dedicated to their creativity.  Not everyone can spend a blissful evening organizing their Prismacolor marker collection.  

Is this odd?  Maybe.  But I don't care.  I love it.  Always have and always will.

But over the years, I have to admit that I've been doing this less and less.  I am busy building my career.  I'm busy trying to start a family.  I've discovered a new passion with my writing, so I've been spending most of my free time exploring it.  But nothing else that I do brings me quite the same simple joy as making things.  

So I've decided to start doing more making.

As in:  I plan to make something EVERY WEEK.

I want to engage in something each and every week in order to stay in touch with my creative side and keep the juices flowing.  It doesn't have to be something grand or amazing.  In fact, I'm excited to see how I can think outside the box with this goal.  Maybe it will be decorating a cake one week, and making jewelry the next.  Or completing a pencil sketch or planting some herbs or cooking a new meal.  There are endless ways to express our creativity, and I intend to explore as many as possible.

But this isn't intended to bring more stress into my life.  It is intended to bring more joy.  So if it becomes overwhelming, I'll re-assess, and figure out how to make it joyful again.  But for now the plan is to make something every week.

Starting this week.

So here it is, this weeks creation.

My materials:

My music selection:  the Chris Stapleton Pandora station.  So fun!

And... the result!  I got to make a fun baby shower cake for a sweet mom-to-be, and bring some more joy into my life at the same time.  Win-win.

And there may have been some dancing and icing-bag microphone action involved.

There is a reason why I taught cake decorating classes for so many years.  And why so many grown women showed up each week to play with frosting and fondant.  Because it is FUN!  That's really it.  Nothing more, nothing less.  There was something magical about those classes, and the experience of coming together with a small group of women with no other agenda than to MAKE something beautiful (and yummy).  Everything else just kind of went away during those hours.  Oh, the memories.

Stay tuned for more fun creative projects in the weeks to come.  I'll share some of my creations on the blog, but mostly in my newsletter.  So if you haven't already, be sure to sign up for weekly Fearless Friday newsletters.  You'll be glad you did!

Till next time,


© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Why I left Tribe Conference in Tears

I attended Jeff Goins' first ever Tribe Conference this weekend in Franklin, TN.  It was absolutely amazing and blew my mind in ways I never even dreamed possible.  This was my first writing conference.  Being new to the writing world, I had no idea what to expect, and I certainly didn't expect to cry.

But, I must admit that I cried the entire weekend.  I cried at the very beginning when Ally Vesterfelt told us to embrace the rawness and realness of our own voices, and told the stories of how she and her father found their voices amidst the least desirable of circumstances.  And I cried until the very end when Grant Baldwin encouraged us to take care of ourselves, our health, and our families as we do great things in this world, because without those things, what is the point of great success at work. As I listened to each amazing speaker, different parts of my soul called out in recognition and yearning for the lives these extraordinary people were living, the things they were building, and the impact that they were making in this world.  I held back my tears as best I could, although several made their way down my cheeks as I watched Jeremy Cowart's illustration of his story of overcoming self doubt and realizing that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him, and the amazing work that he is doing with his photography in Haiti and Rwanda.  

As the last speaker left the stage, and Jeff wrapped up with the story of his own high school experience with fitting in, coping with death, and embracing community, I couldn't hold back the flood any longer.  I quickly said my goodbyes and dashed out of the meeting room as the tears came freely: waves of joy, sadness, pain, frustration, regret, hope, determination, a lifetime worth of searching and waiting and quietly doing my work, and most of all, gratitude.  Gratitude for finding a place that felt like home, for hearing a familiar language that I have been searching for my entire life, for finding my voice, for recognizing the best of what I have to offer the world and making a plan to share it, and most importantly, at long last, for finding my Tribe.    

Till next time,


 © Haley McManigal 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Capture Your Creativity - Step 5: Surround Yourself with Positive, Engaged Supporters and DON'T GIVE UP!

The last and final step to Capture Your Creativity, break free of old fearful habits, and live the life you want is this:  Surround Yourself with Positive, Engaged Supporters, and NEVER Give Up!

Martha Beck calls this group of like-minded people your Tribe.  Marie Forleo calls it your Power Posse.  Whatever you choose to call it, you have to find YOUR people; people who "get" you, who support the new and different things that you are doing, and who understand where you are going.

Over the past few years, I have started to build a network of these kinds of people.  There have been a few familly members and long-time friends who have supported my creative journey and my recent endeavors, but for the most part I have met most of these people very recently.  Once I started living authentically from my heart, and doing my best to share this with the world, these creative, passionate souls are coming out of the woodwork..  I meet them left and right, in the most random of circumstances.  People that I never dreamt that I would have anything in common with are coming up to me and saying "You too?", "Me too!!".  Its unreal.

I'm not much for crowded networking events (in fact, I detest them), but I freaking love small group settings with sincere heart-felt conversations among a handful of open and honest individuals.  That's my kind of networking!  I'm so blessed to be involved with a few ladies groups like this.  I meet every other week with my Braintrust ladies group, and we provide support and encouragement to each other through all of the challenges of work, parenting, running a business, chasing our dreams, and whatever else comes up in conversation.  Braintrust was founded here in Knoxville by Sarah Martin.  She and her group had such great success that they wanted to share it with others, so during an information session that she held one night at her house, I met the ladies in my own group.  This was over a year and a half ago, and we are still going strong.  I have also been blessed to meet the lovely ladies in my Clean Slate group.  This is a holistic nutrition program offered by the lovely and fabulous Brianna Lamberson.  She guided this small group through a soulful and spiritual approach to self-love and healthy living, and I feel a special bond with these amazing women because of it.  These kinds of authentic connections are what I'm searching for.  I don't care what you do for a living, or who you know, or how much money you make.  I'm not into meeting people who want to know what I can do for them.  I want to meet and connect with real people who are living and loving their lives and just want to share the love.

You CANNOT do this alone.  There will be times when your creative journey will be HARD work, and you will feel terribly alone and vulnerable, and you will need support.  You will question your ideas, your abilities, your talent.  It's perfectly normal to experience this kind of doubt, but you cannot let it get you down.  The best thing to do when this happens is reach out to someone for support. 

The most important thing to remember when these down times inevitably come, is that they will NOT last forever.  Everything goes in cycles, and sometimes what we really need is some down time, or a long period of rest and relaxation.  We as creative individuals need ample time to fill our tanks.  We give so much, and put forth so much energy in our daily lives and in our work that we must take a rest every now and then.  I went through a period of rest at the beginning of this year.  I didn't write or draw or paint or do anything else that required my creativity for at least a month.  I simply couldn't do it.  I was going through a very rough time personally, and I just didn't have anything to give.  So I allowed myself to do nothing.  I watched tons of tv, which I never do, and I spent a lot of time with my family.  And then after about a month had gone by, when I was ready, I was right back in full swing, ideas bouncing around in my head like crazy, just like always.

The bottom line is:  YOU can do this.  You can embrace your creativity, face your fears, chase your dreams, and start living the life that you want.  It will not always be easy, and there will be a few bumps in the road, but I know that you can do it.  

We did it!  Thanks for sticking with me throughout this series.  I have enjoyed sharing my thoughts on creativity with you, and I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed it as well!

Until next time,


PS:  If you are interested in getting involved with a small group similar to the ones that I mentioned, Please let me know!  I am starting a Creativity Cluster soon, based on the Artist's Way - A Spiritual Path to Highter Creativity.

© Haley McManigal 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo:  © Rawpixelimages | - Group Of Hands Holding Support Photo

Capture Your Creativity - Step 4: Take Yourself Seriously

"The world won't know who you are until you tell them with your own voice"  Something clicked in my brain like dynamite when I read this quote by Sally Hope.  Tears welled up in my eyes as I realized the truth and the significance of these words.

Others can see the potential in us, they can recognize our talents and strenghts... but they cannot know our deepest hopes and our hearts desires - until we tell them.  So many of us, myself included, wait around for permission from other people to start pursuing our dreams, to start living our lives free from fear.  But the good (and scary) news is that we do not need anyone else's approval except our own..  We can grant ourselves the permission that we need, and we can get started NOW.

This is what Step 4 of Capturing Your Creativity is all about - Taking Yourself Seriously.

Ask yourself:  "What would I do if I was not afraid?"  The answer?  Exactly what you should be doing RIGHT NOW.  Ask yourself another question:  "What am I most afraid of?"  The answer?  The thing that you MUST do.

But here's the problem:  we don't feel qualified to do that thing.  We don't feel smart enough, or talented enough, or attractive enough, or well-connected or resourceful or outgoing enough to do the thing that we secretly want to do.  So we don't do it.  We procrastinate.  We daydream, but never take action.  We sigh a sigh of resignation and are bummed that we just weren't born with what it takes to do what we really want to do.  So we keep doing the same old thing, working in a job that doesn't light us up, staying in unhealthy relationships, keeping up old habits that no longer serve us.  

But what if I told you that you COULD do that thing that you want to do?  What if I told you that all it takes is acknowledging the fear and the uncertainty that you feel, and then acting anyway?  What if I told you that it is time to drop all of the excuses that have been holding you back and start to take steps toward your dream?  Well, that is what I'm telling you - because its true.

Here's how it worked for me:  Throughout my mid to late 20's and early 30's I was obsessed with personal development and spirituality.  I read every single book that I could get my hands on, and I wrote constantly about what I was learning in my journal, but never dared share any of it.  I also longed to create art.  I was making cakes on a regular basis, but I would go to art museums and shows, and just stare longingly at the artwork, aching to create something more myself.  I started following people who inspired me, several of whom were "life coaches", something that I hadn't heard of before but was fascinated by.  I was also fascinated by successful entrepreneurs and savvy inspirational speakers.  And while I loved what all of these people were doing, I didn't think for one second that I was qualified to do any of it myself.  But over time, as I started to Face My Fears, I slowly started to realize that... I would love to do some of these things myself.  I really AM a writer, I just need to start writing regularly.  I already am an artist, I just need to be more committed to actually creating artwork.   Slowly but surely, as I faced one fear after the next, I started to realize that... I can do whatever I want to do.  No one has to give me permission, I just have to DO it.  I'm still working toward gaining the courage to do some of the things that I want to do.  I'm still facing fears on a regular basis.  But the difference now is that my default mindset has changed from "I could never do that" to "I would love to do that! What do I need to learn or do or overcome to make it happen?"

But there is more to this... you have to go do the thing that scares the crap out of you, and then you have to OWN it!  This might come naturally for some, appearing confident despite the deafening roar of self doubt in your head.  But for me, it often gets the best of me.  When I first started writing this blog, I would just dismiss it in conversation like it was no biggie, and then I couldn't figure out why others weren't at all interested in talking about it with me.  Well, I hadn't exactly made it sound fascinating.  I had made it seem small and insignificant, which was in fact the farthest thing from the truth.  But I didn't have the confidence in myself to share this excitement with others.  I felt like a fraud, even though this work was the most authentic version of myself that I had ever dared share with the world.  Bottom line:  if you aren't excited about your work (and willing to share that excitement with others) then others probably won't be too excited about it either.  So here's what you have to do; the same thing that everyone on the planet has to do when they are first starting out (unless they are an ego-maniac - which I am assuming you are not since you're reading this)  FAKE it till you make it, baby!   Everyone is a beginner at some point but that is no excuse to stand on the sidelines too timid to get in the game.  Fake it till you make it.  Its the only way.

So, I want you to ask yourself these questions:  What would I do if I were not afraid, and What am I most afraid of?  Then, you guessed it, go do it!  Do it loud and proud and unapolagetically.  We've got this!

Must Reads for "Take Yourself Seriously":  The Art of Work by Jeff Goins, and check out Sally Hope's website for some serious fearlessness at

We're about to wrap up my Capture Your Creativity Series. I have thoroughly enjoyed writing these articles.  I hope that what I have learned and shared with you here has been of some benefit to you as well.  Thank you so much for reading each week.  If you like this series so far, feel free to share it with your friends!

So far in this Capture Your Creativity series, we've covered Step 1:  Tune In, Step 2:  Face Your Fears, and Step 3:  Get Real (and Start Where You Are).  

Next time I'll talk about Step 5:  Surround Yourself With Positive, Engaged Supporters and Never Give Up!

See you then!


© Haley McManigal 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Capture Your Creativity - Step 3: Get Real (And Start Where You Are)

start where you are.jpg

So far in this series, I've talked about the first two steps in learning how to live your best creative life:  Step 1:  Tune In, and Step 2:  Face Your Fears.  Today I want to talk about Step 3:  Get Real (and Start Where You Are).  This step serves as a reality check and a kick in the butt!  It was just the push that I needed to really make changes in my life.

Here's the deal:  You are not going to be able to create award winning art at first.  You will not write a best-seller the first time you put your thoughts down on paper.  You are going to go through the learning process just like everyone else on the planet.  No one is perfect, everyone is a beginner at some point or another.  This was a huge problem for me.  I had been carrying around this grandiose notion in the back of my mind for years that I was an artist, but I wasn't actually creating art.  News flash:  Just thinking about it does not count.  You are not going to improve while you sit around thinking.  The journey doesn't start until you do.  As Marie Forleo says:  "Clarity comes from engagement, not thought." 

For so many of us, perfectionism keeps us locked in inaction.  It makes us think:  "I'm not going to get started until I know that I will succeed" or "I don't want to look stupid if I make a mistake so I just won't do anything."  But this is keeping us from the very thing that we need to do to move forward, which is learn from our mistakes.  Lots of experts will recommend that you do a certain number of projects, just to throw them away.  So, if you're an artist, go ahead and do 10 paintings that you know you are going to chunk, just to get your juices flowing.  Or write 10 blog posts that you know you will never post.  I know this may sound like a waste of time, but you are not going to improve until you have put in the time and effort to develop your skills.  There is no shortcut to this.  You have to be honest with yourself about where you are currently, and what it is going to take for you to get to where you want to be.  Then you have to take action.  Consistent action.  Every day.

Get Real also means not expecting too much from yourself and your circumstances.  Maybe you have obligations such as children or aging parents or providing for yourself and your family, and you cannot just quit what you are doing to chase after your dreams.  So What.  Do what you can within the constraints of your current circumstances.  Stop putting off starting until things are perfect.  Start where you are.  Elizabeth Gilbert suggests that when the heroine of the story can't manage a full-fledged heroine's journey, that she opt for a mini-quest instead. This is something that can be accomplished within the span of an afternoon.  Challenge yourself to find something beautiful, create a ritual around releasing something in your life that is troubling you, do whatever feels right for you within the constraints of your current circumstances.   Your goal doesn't have to be a life changing event that would require you to become an entirely different person.  Your goal can simply be to start carving out an hour here, two hours there to devote to yourself and your creative life.  It doesn't sound quite as glamorous as a life-changing experience, but it is realistic, and that's what we're going for.

For me, Getting Real meant that I could not quit my day job to pursue my passions.  I have bills and obligations and student loans that are not going to wait around for me to find myself.  So I have to work around them.  In fact, my working life has provided invaluable material for my art.  I face challenges at work that show me where I need to focus my attention, where I need to grow.  Life is what gives us creative material.  I had the opportunity to not work for several months a few years ago and it was disastrous.  Instead of using the time to focus on my art, I spent the entire time desperately searching for a job, anxious and lacking direction.  I realized during that time that I need structure in my life.  And a full-time job provides just that for me.   Sure, sometimes it is the absolute pits to have to leave my own personal projects to go work on someone else's all day, only to come home in the evening too tired to do anything that I had planned, but at least it keeps me interested and on my toes and excited about my work when I do have the time to focus on it. 

But here's the really cool thing that I've learned:  You will get where you need to go no matter which path you choose or which road you are on in life.  It does not matter if you are working full-time, caring for your family, and juggling a variety of other obligations, or if you are able to devote 100% of your time to your creative life.  If you are awake and aware and consistently facing your fears and tuning into your inner voice, you cannot go wrong.  It took me a while to understand this.  For years I worried that I had chosen the wrong path, that I was spending my time on the wrong things, that I was going to miss the thing that I was born to do.  Not gonna happen!  A great illustration of this concept is Santiago's journey in Paulo Cuelo's book The Alchemist.  Santiago learns what he needs to know in all of the different things that he does along his journey and all of those things ultimately lead him to his treasure.  But the key is... he makes the most of each situation that he finds himself in.  When he is a shepherd, he is the best shepherd that he can be.  When he works in a shop selling crystal, he excels there and helps the shop owner to make more money than he ever thought possible.  Neither of those jobs were his ultimate destiny, but they were practical situations in which he could learn the skills that he needed for the long term.  That is how life is.  Everything that we do along the way is leading us to our destiny, we just have to trust the process.

So, I challenge you to take the first step to get started on that project that you've had in the back of your mind for months (or even years!).  I challenge you to schedule time for yourself this week, to do whatever you need to do to feed your creativity.  I challenge you to Get Real, acknowledge your situation, and then Take Action in whatever way you can.  Let me know how it goes!

Must Read for "Get Real":  The Alchemist by Paulo Cuelo.  Also, watch Elizabeth Gilbert's conversation with Oprah on 'Mini-quests' here.

Next time I'll talk about Step 4:  Take Yourself Seriously.

See you then!


© Haley McManigal 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo credit:  © Stevanovicigor | - Start Line Photo

Capture Your Creativity - Step 2: Face Your Fears

In my last post, I talked about the first step that I took in my journey to Capture My Creativity.  Step 1 was "Tune In"  Today I want to talk about Step 2:  Face Your Fears.  This topic isn't usually much fun to talk about.  Many people will do anything to avoid their fears.  But if I have learned anything this past year on my journey to creative recovery it is this:  In order to break through the barriers and claim the life you want, you have to do the things that you fear the most.  

Joseph Campbell said it:  “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek.”

Steven Pressfield said it too:  “The more important a project is to your soul’s evolution, the more you’ll resist it.”

Even Ralph Waldo Emerson said it, so it must be true:  “He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.” 

Fear is the number one block to living your best life and Capturing Your Creativity.  It is the most significant obstacle that I had to overcome in my own journey.  It is the reason that following your passions, embracing your creativity, and living your dreams are not the path that everyone chooses.  If you are not following your passions, fear is probably the reason. If you are not acting on your deepest desires, fear is probably the reason.  If you are not following through with the projects that you start, fear is probably the reason.  If you never find the time to even start new projects, fear is probably the reason.  If you feel stuck and just want to expand your horizons, but don’t know where to start… guess what?!  It is most likely FEAR that is holding you back. 

In my own journey, I have had to face a lot of fears.  I finally got to a point where facing my fears was less scary than not facing them and having to live with the fact that I hadn’t even tried.  That was too much to bear.  My hope is that it hasn’t taken you guys quite so long to figure this out.  I’m a really late bloomer in the following your passion department, but at least I finally got there! 

A few of the things that terrified the crap out of me for years:  Writing a blog.  Sitting down and actually painting instead of just sitting around thinking about it.  Submitting my writing to a publication.  Submitting my artwork to a juried show.  Taking the next step in my career.  But over the past year I have done each and every one of those things, and guess what?  I survived!  Not all of my efforts have been successful, but I’ve learned that the outcome is far less important than the simple act of DOING IT.  Sure, my efforts may bomb some (or most) of the time.  My artwork may not be accepted.  My writing may be rejected.   But that is not my concern.  My concern is DOING THE WORK.  I am responsible for moving through my fear, committing to my work, and delivering the best product that I am capable of at that point in time. 

So what can we do about this ugly thing called fear.  All of us have it.  It is mean and nasty and doesn’t leave anyone out.  Some of us may not recognize it as fear… we may label it as indifference.  (“I’m way to busy and important to spend time being creative.  I don’t have time for such frivolities).  We may label it as anger. (“I can’t believe my boss is making me work overtime again!  That jerk, guess I won’t get to work on my project this weekend”)  We may label it as frustration.  (“My life is never going to amount to anything.  It’s hopeless, why even bother!”)  We may even label it as jealousy. (“I can’t believe she is doing what I want to do… I could do it so much better!) but all of those emotions really boil down to fear.  We are scared.  Scared that our projects won’t pan out.  Scared that our work won’t be accepted by others.  Scared that our work will be accepted by others and we’ll have to work harder to keep up our success.  Scared that we’ll run out of ideas.  Scared that we are a fraud.

What I found to be so ironic though is that once I decided to act on my ideas and desires and follow my passions and I finally faced the fears of doing so… it was not really that scary.  Once I got to the other side, I realized that there had really never been anything to fear.  That’s the deal with fear… it tricks you into believing that you are not enough just as you are.  It makes you believe that you need to do or be or achieve MORE before you can be happy.  Fear tells you that you need more experience or better connections or more talent.  But you don’t.  You have all you need right now.

For those of you stuck in limbo, not taking action on your passions, on your genius ideas, or just feeling kind of stuck, I challenge you to just do it.  Just face your fears head on and I guarantee you…Your creativity is waiting for you… just beyond your fear.

Must Read for "Face Your Fears":  The War of Art and Turning Pro both by Steven Pressfield and Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck.

Next time I'll talk about Step 3:  Get Real (And Start Where You Are).

See you then!


© Haley McManigal 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo Credit:  © Raywoo |


Capture Your Creativity - Step 1: Tune In

I introduced my new series on Capturing Your Creativity on Monday, so without further ado, lets talk about the first step that I took and that must be taken if you are going to fulfill your dreams, live your purpose, and reclaim your creativity- Step 1:  Tune In.

What do I mean by "Tune In"?  It's simple, you have to start listening to yourself.  You know, that still small voice down deep inside that you have been ignoring for years.  That flash of intuition that you shrug off, only to realize later that it was spot on.  That sensation in your body that you will do anything to numb.  Illness, anxiety, stress - they are all trying to tell us something but we just don't listen. 

But - if we are going to live the life that we truly want, one that fulfills us and allows us to experience our true purpose and creativity, then we have to find a way back to ourselves.  We have to wake up and stop living in denial.  It is essential that we determine the difference - once and for all - between what we think we want or think we should want and what our hearts actually desire.

Some of us have repressed our inner voice for so long that it may take some coaxing for our intuition and higher selves to reveal themselves to us.  There are several techniques that can aid in this process.  What I personally did to connect with my inner wisdom is write in a journal every day.  This process took some discipline at first, but now it is invaluable to me and my creative recovery and I would be lost without it.  Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way, calls this journaling practice the "Morning Pages".  She requires all of her students to complete the pages every single day of their training.  Morning Pages are just stream of consciousness writing, usually 2 or 3 pages, and should be done by hand.  They do not have to be grammatically correct, sound good, or even make sense.  You just write what is on your mind, as it comes to you, therefore creating a channel from your higher self to the paper.  Sometimes you will be amazed by the insight that it reveals.  And when you look back at these pages over an extended period of time, patterns start to emerge.  You start to see exactly where your issues are... exactly where you are stuck. 

Julia Cameron also recommends what she calls "The Artist's Date" as a technique for Tuning In.  This is just a time that you set aside each week to fill your creative self with inspiration.  It could be a trip to a museum or a thrift store, or going to see a movie, or whatever inspires you.  The point is that you can't be creative if your tank is empty.  We as creative individuals need to keep our inspiration tanks full.  You never know when that one image or scene or idea will be exactly what you need, so you have to stay stocked with a constant supply. 

Another way to Tune In is through meditation.  I used to think that meditation was hokey and new age, but after getting into a regular practice, I now know that it is extremely beneficial and life changing.  There are obviously countless ways to meditate, but what has worked best for me is just sitting still with myself and my body and actually paying attention to how I feel.  It is a time to stop the constant stream of nonsense that is running through our brains 24/7 and experience the present moment.

Tuning In can also involve looking to your past for insight.  What did you love to do as a child?  maybe you played sports constantly when you were a kid but you haven't hit the field in decades.  Does the feeling of holding a ball, or an instrument or a paint brush feel like home to you?  Just because you're 20 years older now doesn't mean that you can't still connect to that passion that you once had.  If you're feeling like something is missing but you don't know what it is, why not start with what you loved to do as a child.  Even if that activity itself is a dead end, it could lead to something else that you hadn't even thought of.  When I was younger, I was a total nerd; perfectly content reading books and drawing pictures and writing stories.  I didn't really know that those were my passions, that is just what I loved to do.  I realized how significant this was one night while unpacking some books at our previous house.  I found several old journals from when I was 10, 11, 12 years old.  It was heartbreaking and hilarious at the same time, taking that trip down memory lane.  Those journals were filled with stories that I had written, and outlines for books, and descriptions of characters.  And I talked about how I wished that I could just spend more time reading and writing and drawing because that's all I really wanted to do.  And what I realized in that moment was... those are still the things that I really want to do!  I was blown away by the consistency of those passions throughout my life.  But what is really ridiculous is that I didn't do those things for years, all along knowing that something was missing but not being able to figure out what it was.  Looking to the past, and stumbling upon those old journals helped me make that connection and find my way home.

Whether you choose to start a journaling practice, or meditate, or go back to an activity that you loved as a child, you must figure out a way to listen to what your heart is telling you to do.  It always knows best.

Do you have other ways of "Tuning In"?  What has worked for you?  Please share, I'd love to hear other opinions on this subject!

Must Read for "Tuning In"The Artist's Way and The Right to Write both by Julia Cameron

Next time I'll talk about Step 2:  Face Your Fears.

See you then!


© Haley McManigal 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo credit:  © Dirima |

Capture Your Creativity - Introduction

I'm bursting at the seams with creativity right now.  I'm writing and painting and creating and dreaming more than ever.  But it hasn't always been that way.  For a period of about 10 years, I was in creative limbo.  My creativity vanished around the same time that I started architecture school.  I was so singularly focused on succeeding at architecture, that I forgot what got me there in the first place.  I forgot that I wanted to create something special and unique in this world.  But I could only neglect and ignore this part of  myself for so long, whether consciously or not, until I started missing it so badly that my mood grew sour, my soul shriveled, my heart felt broken and I didn't even know why.  Or rather, I did know (all along really) but failed to acknowledge it. 

So finally, after years of avoiding this nagging feeling that something wasn't right, I decided to confront it head on.  I sat down and had an honest conversation with myself.  I made lists, flow charts, pros and cons, order of importance, whatever list you can make I made it.  Then I got to work.

This planning session generated a series of steps that I have been taking over the past year in my own journey of creative recovery.  This has been a rocky road, full of uncertainty and some self-doubt, but for the first time in years, I feel like I'm living the life that I was meant to live.  I have no idea where it will take me, but at least I'm taking steps in the right direction. 

I want to take the next few weeks to share what I have learned with you.  I'm still on my path to creative recovery, but I definitely know more now than I knew a year ago, and I hope that some of what I have learned will be of benefit to you.

If you're anything like me, you NEED creativity in your life.  It keeps you sane.  It provides an outlet that work, family, and everyday life just can't fulfill.  It is your own special time to tune everyone else out and tune yourself in. 

I have been on a quest this year to tune back into that creativity that I called upon so easily when I was younger.  I knew that it was still there, but wasn't sure how to access it. 

Here are the 5 steps that I have found to be prerequisites if you want to Capture your Creativity:

1. Tune In.

2. Face your fears.

3. Get real (and start where you are).

4. Take yourself seriously.

5. Surround yourself with positive, engaged supporters and Don't Give Up!

Having trouble accessing your own creative genius?  Stay tuned for a  more in-depth discussion of each of these five steps. 

See you soon!


© Haley McManigal 2014

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo credit:  © Marekuliasz |

Are you producing Shit Nuggets or Creative Gold?

I was skimming the clearance aisle at TJ Maxx the other day, and a funny little book caught my eye.  It was just a bunch of outlines of different things, "blank" pages basically, and you fill in your own designs.  It contained templates for everything from coffee mugs to skyscrapers to men's facial hair.

As I stood there in the aisle, flipping through the disturbingly blank pages, I was overcome by a mixture of anxiety and excitement.  This feeling is all to familiar to me... it is the same feeling that I get every time I start a new project; every time that I come face to face with a blank slate.  Every. Single. Time.  My shoulders tense, heartbeat quickens, and palms get sweaty.  I am terrified of a blank page; yet at the same time, it is what I live for.

This book spoke to me so intently, I believe, because it embodies exactly what I need to work on right now - getting started, making the first mark.  I tend to wait until I feel ready before starting something new, until I know that I will succeed, until I have it worked out in my head and can put it all down perfectly on paper.  But imagine the opportunities that I am missing out on by not being willing to make a few mistakes.  Imagine what I could be learning about myself and my art if I allowed myself to fail more often.  I think that this is a huge hurdle for many creative people.  Perfectionism does far more harm than good to the creative process.  In fact, perfectionism and creativity are exact opposites. 

So what can we do about this?  We can just get started - before we are ready.  And we can recognize the fact that some of what we create is going to suck, that's just part of it.  Tina Fey says that you have to be willing to put the shit nuggets out there with the good stuff.  "You can't worry about it.  As long as you know the difference, you can go back to panning for gold on Monday."

But, even as I stood there in the aisle at TJ Maxx that day, I was already strategizing that I could fill in the designs with pencil first, in case I mess up (don't want to commit to a design concept too soon!)  But that defeats the whole purpose.  So I have decided that I will fill in the blanks with INK.  No half-hearted attempts that I can erase or correct later.  I'm all in, mistakes and all.

So if you need me, I'll be here, creating shit nuggets (in ink), so I can get one step closer to the gold!

© Haley McManigal 2014

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Sketching Fun

I took a sketching class this past semester through the UT Non-Credit program.  It was a great experience...and provided just the inspiration and motivation that I needed to get some work done.  The class focused on basic sketching techniques and we were free to choose our own subject matter.  I didn't have time to gather up photographs, so I bought an interior design magazine on my way to the first class and chose a different photo from it each week. 

We started with graphite pencils (which I loved to use back in high school and college, but had not used since then).  It felt awkward to me to be able to actually blend the felt like cheating.  I have gotten so used to using an ink pen to sketch, and with that you have build up shadows and dark areas with a series of lines or dots or cross-hatching.  Blending seemed too easy!  But it was as fun as I had remembered, and I loved attempting to get a range of intensity just from using the different hardnesses of the lead.  And since I'm a leftie, I had graphite all the way up to my elbow by the time class was over!  Here is one of my graphite sketches:

We used a wet graphite wash during one class.  It was pretty cool, but I don't like having to wait for it to dry before I can continue sketching.  I prefer just plain graphite or ink.  Here is my graphite wash:

About halfway through the course, the teacher demonstrated how to use ink, so at that point, I switched to ink for the remainder of the course... it just makes more sense for the subject matter that I'm interested in, and I love the challenge of using cross-hatch, stipple, etc. to achieve dark areas.  Here are a few of my ink sketches:

On the last night of class, the teacher brought in her watercolors and let us play around with them.  I love the look of ink with watercolor!  I have been experimenting with this combination all year, and hope to take a watercolor course next semester to improve on my techniques even more.  Here is one of my ink sketches (done on watercolor paper) with watercolor added:

One of the most beneficial things that I learned in the class was the importance of composition, and techniques for guiding your viewers eye around the page.  Each line that you draw should contribute to this.  The direction of your lines determine the direction that they eye will follow.  This is huge.  Also, I learned that one should always draw the outline first, and then fill in the contour lines or the details (such as shadows, patterning, wrinkles, etc.)  after that, its just a matter of filling in the blanks with lines of varying intensity (lines close together for dark areas and far apart for light areas).  That's really all there is too it... well, that and a LOT of practice!! 

© Haley McManigal 2014

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.