Monday, February 27, 2012



Picture 1

Apollo Dancing with the Muses by Francesco Bartolozzi (1725-1815)

The Muses are an ancient concept: a divine goddess of Greek myth that fills humanity with artistic inspiration. What I love about the concept is that the Muse does not discriminate. Some unexplainable creative inspiration can visit both the richest and the poorest of us. From the most powerful to the most insignificant, from the charismatic to the ordinary, from the interesting to the annoying, from the saint to the criminal: we are all voices, all potential mouthpieces for some unexplainable and mysterious creative source.

Our inner Muse speaks to us all in unique places. People, places, dreams, fears, relationships, hopes, all have the ability to inspire us in completely different ways. When I was fifteen, my family made a big decision to pack up the kids and move to a small town frozen in time on the Oregon coast. I was a typical gawky teenager (with braces recently removed!) with all of the insecurities, self-doubts, and emotional whirlwinds that are a part of the youthful package. I remember that first day in a new high school, sitting bewildered in a cold and crowded cafeteria: entirely new, entirely self-conscious, entirely alone.


It wasn’t long before I got my feelings hurt: some popular girl said my hair was frizzy (which it was!) and the smallest most insignificant things could cut deep. But, strangely enough, it was at this time that my creative output skyrocketed.


At the time when I felt the most alone, the most vulnerable, it was as if the world became more alive. The forests and ocean seemed like magical places where anything could happen, the wonders of the natural world revealed themselves in all their color and creativity.


In the midst of turbulent teenage emotions, like a girl possessed- I turned everything I could find into art. Beachcombing, wandering through the forest, gathering anything I could that represented my new environment – I would paint, build, nail, glue, and sew the artifacts of my environment and emotional life to create anything I could


Though I had been making art long before my high school years- what clicked in my creative experience was that our Muse can be found in any situation- positive or negative- in the light and in the dark- in beautiful places and also in the ordinary. Mining our emotions, our experiences and our daily lives for inspiration is what gives our creativity its flavor. This realization has stuck with me over time and been such an important part of how I find inspiration and how I make art.


  1. We uprooted my daughter when she was 15, from a small private So. Calif school to a huge indoor school in Salem, Or. She too turned to art during that time. We has since all moved back to So. Calif. Thank you for offering this class

  2. Creativity and writing was my only way I coping with a similar situation. I was the outcast at school and frequently alone but I spent that time making up stories and characters and using my imagination to fill that gap. I have fond memories of that time. I was ferociously protective over it too- if anyone tried to see what I was doing or join in I wouldn't let them, even to my own professional downfall. I remain quite defensive over my creative process and it's something I'm learning to be open about for once.

  3. very well said! all these things i can feel but you put them into words so beautifully!!! and also thanks for doing this class. i havent had the extra cash or the time needed to devote to an online class before. i really really appreciate it!!!

  4. what an amazing way to get through the rough teenage years, by finding your muse in such a great variety of surroundings, and then making art! Looking back, I had similar issues as a teenager, but succumbed to peer pressure by partying to cope with my problems. As an adult, and a returning student working on a second career in art this time around, I find solace and inspiration in nature. I thank you for showing us how to translate what inspires us onto the pages of our sketchbooks!

  5. Alisa, thank you so much for this huge opportunity to just be able to watch you and hear your thoughts and, ultimately, find my muse. Actually, I don't have a lot of problem finding it, I'm a very sensitive and creative person BUT I'm always so "shy" when it comes to sharing my ideas and work...
    Being able to have this "chat" with you is so important to make me feel confortable with what I do and to assume myself as an artist.

    Again, thank you so much.

  6. Thank you Alisa. My muse is hidden amongst the artwork of others. All that I do I have learned from blogs, utube videos, courses etc and I am truly grateful for the generosity of those who share their talents - but!!!...I have never met my own muse, I think, and I must search her out and see what she can inspire me to do and find out what my own art is like.

    I have shared your first video on my blog to encourage others to take part.

    Thanks once again.
    Lesley x

  7. interesting....I was thinking lately how I ever got started in art and it has been a part of my life in one way or another.....just being creative.....whether I was hiding socially or feeling inadequate ..... I always was comforted and filled with accomplishment when I was creating....mostly hand sewing as a younger girl....then using nature in our woods, then older got to actually have paints.....looking back, I think a needle, thread and fabric has always been one of my loves and comforts....touching fabric and playing with colors in the embroidery threads all the colors.....the other is paper.

  8. Alisa, thank you so much for this course, your honesty and insight. I just blogged about it.

    I too experienced feeling an outsider in my teen years. I turned to sewing and writing. Interestingly, when I felt a sense of belonging and happiness in my life, I stopped creating. Now, I want to integrate creativity into my life when I'm happy too!

  9. This is a beautifully expressed piece of writing. It is so full of heart. Thank you for taking the time to share your Self.