Collecting Creativity 6 – Really Look

I’m heading to Washington D.C. with some friends in October, and one stop I’d like to make while there is the National Portrait Gallery.

I really love portraits — the way they capture individuals in unique ways or add something to the representation of an individual’s personality with light, artistic style, or imaginative interpretation. Portraits ask you to slow down and really LOOK at people, which is something I think we can sometimes be a little too busy, distracted, or intimidated to do when we see the people around us every day.

Of course, it’s also less awkward to stare at a portrait than at a person.

Do you have a favorite portrait artist or portrait style? Is there someone in your life that you could take a few extra minutes to REALLY look at today? I’d love to hear any thoughts in a comment below!

Hey, how’s it going? My regular schedule is a weekly post every Monday & I’m also sharing content related to creativity in this series called “Collecting Creativity.” If you haven’t already subscribed to my blog, you may want to do so by clicking the link in the sidebar!

On My Mind: VAST – Valley Against Sex Trafficking


I intended to post the 3rd part of my “Design Principles” series this week, but I decided to take a pause for something else that’s on my mind . . . 

This week has been a series of complexities: between work, personal life, friends’ lives, and generally lots of obligations, I admit I sometimes find it difficult to juggle.

Despite there being a million things on my mind and “to-do” list, I spent three hours tonight at a Volunteer Training session for VAST (Valley Against Sex Trafficking), an organization that fights for an issue that’s really important to me — for all human beings to be seen as valuable and not to be viewed as commodities or as objects to be used or abused for the pleasure of others.

At the training, I was reminded of a lot of information related to the topic of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation in general and learned some new things, too. I particularly appreciated hearing more about trauma-informed care and seeing the way the group shared some thoughts at the end of the session. 

I was thankful for the chance to take my eyes away from all of the swirling things that have been going on in my day-to-day (those things will wait for me) just to acknowledge this topic . .

. . . and be reminded of why I get involved in small ways as a volunteer.

. . . and be grateful for/amazed by all the other members of the coalition that invest so much more time and energy into their programs and services for awareness, prevention, and aftercare.

There is so much need for volunteers and for community members to be informed and aware that sex trafficking happens even here in our own neighborhoods.

This Saturday 9/17/16, there’s a community event called ARISE being held at Lehigh University. Artists and musicians will perform live to support awareness and stand against sex trafficking (I LOVE the creativity of this event). 

If you’re local to the Lehigh Valley, consider stopping by to support the cause. If you’re not local, maybe you can find a group or event in your area that is on the same page and throw some support their way . . .

If sex trafficking isn’t the topic that most grabs your heart, what is? How can you “arise” to take a stand for it even when life seems busy? If you can’t go or volunteer or actively do anything right now, will you pray?

❤ Nicole


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Design Principles in Everyday Life #2 – Balance:


Last week, I shared with you about a class called Intro to Design that I took as a freshman art student. In the class, the professor emphasized 3 basic design principles: Dominance, Balance & Movement, which I’ve seen apply in my design work over the years and also, unexpectedly, in the context of everyday life. In part 1 of this series, I narrowed in on the principle of Dominance. In 1 more future post, I plan to talk a bit more about Movement, but . . .

For today, I want to focus on BALANCE. 

In art & design, BALANCE creates a sense of equilibrium. In visual images, there are several ways to create balance — formally, balance can be created through a very symmetrical design, or it can be created informally by placing elements in a way that isn’t symmetrical but still feels balanced. Similar ideas apply in other artistic forms, like music or dance where combinations of chords, volume, or footwork can create a sense of harmony. Skill and knowledge allow artists to use specific tools to create the sense of balance.

In our everyday lives, BALANCE is created in a similar way. Our circumstances and behaviors create a sense of weight in certain areas of our lives, and we have the opportunity to make choices to even out to scales. At times, it may seem like one side of the scale is much more heavily loaded than the other. Sometimes we feel like difficult circumstances are throwing everything off kilter, and we feel overwhelmed. There are also times when we allow easy, comfortable circumstances to throw us off balance, because we feel too at ease and lose a sense of motivation.

Here are a few simple art/design examples related to water lilies:

  • If you paint a pond with three water lilies at the left side of the pond and three water lilies at the right side of the pond that are roughly all the same size and shape, this is formal, symmetrical balance.
  • If you paint the same pond and paint 1 very large water lily to the left side and 3 rather smaller water lilies (that are about the same size in total as the first large water lily), this is informal balance.
  • If you were designing an avant garde art piece where you placed water lilies around the spokes of a bike tire, you would probably feel most psychologically comfortable gluing one flower onto each spoke of the bicycle, every-other spoke, or some other regular pattern because it would feel balanced.

Here are a few simple, everyday-life examples:

  • If my job requires a lot of hard physical labor in a loud environment, I may need to take time in the evening to balance that out with rest and quiet.
  • If I usually eat healthful foods that are good sources of nutritious fuel for my body, I may occasionally enjoy a less nutritious sweet snack or treat without worrying that it will throw off my overall well-being, but if I lack balance and give into the sweets too often, it will have a detrimental impact on my health.
  • If a medical situation is taking up a lot of my time with Doctors, medication, scheduling, and emotional concern about the circumstance, I may find it difficult to balance out that weight in order to find time to maintain my relationships, health, home, or job.

What’s Your Story?

In your creative life and work, how do you use the principle of balance? Do you consider this when you’re painting, illustrating, or in any other creative outlet? If you’d like to learn more about the principle of Balance and ways to apply it artistically, a simple Google search yields dozens of results explaining more.

In your daily life, do you have a specific routine or pattern you try to follow that helps to bring harmony and balance to life’s assorted happenings? Are there wiser choices you can make so that your life can become increasingly balanced even when you’re faced with challenges? How does leaning into support systems like family, friends, or faith help you to remain balanced?

I’d love to hear any thoughts about this that you might be willing to share. If you read this & think it might be of value to anyone you know, would you pass it along?

I’m wishing you well as you seek balance, with flexibility for unexpected adventures.

❤ Nicole

Hey there! Would you like to click “Follow” to be notified each time I post? I promise you’ll never be bombarded with spammy e-mails. My regular schedule is a weekly post every Monday & then sometimes I add a mid-week “Collecting Creativity” post about other creative topics.