Watercolor Painting for Beginners

Watercolor Painting for Beginners

Starting a new hobby in watercolor painting doesn’t need to be daunting; watercolor is a versatile painting medium that’s been around even before the invention of watercolor sets in the 18th century or the influence of the English school that helped popularize the craft in continental Europe. With just a few simple art supplies and techniques, you’ll be on your way to creating stunning watercolor paintings akin to Paul Cézanne in no time.

The great thing about watercolor painting is that there are several price points available as you’re learning. You can get a great 36 color watercolor set to get going and then expand your collection of colors easily by purchasing tubes, and drying them out in watercolor pan sets or other paint pans to create your own customized set. When making the jump into professional-grade tubes it’s a good idea to get a set with colors from a basic color wheel (look out for promo codes or free shipping sales online).

Starting a new hobby in watercolor doesn't need to be daunting. Check out our guide to watercolor for beginners from Natalie Malan on the CreativeLive blog.

Winsor & Newton paints are great paint manufacturers to start with if you are looking for professional quality pigments. They are vibrant and bright, and worth the investment. My first picks are usually primary colors: Scarlet Lake, Lemon Yellow and Manganese Blue Hue. They work well for most people and are my most frequently used red, yellow, and blue. Building out from that set into some secondary colors, I love Sap Green, Winsor Orange (Red Shade), and Cobalt Violet. Prussian Blue and Opera Rose are also great colors to add to your art supplies. There is a handy color wheel printable available here that you can fill in and use as a reference when you are watercolor painting.

Starting a new hobby in watercolor doesn't need to be daunting. Check out our guide to watercolor for beginners from Natalie Malan on the CreativeLive blog.

Creating a reference chart specific to your palette is always a good idea, and it’s a fun watercolor workout to get you started. Simply paint blobs onto a piece of watercolor paper to see what the watercolor colors from your palette actually look like on paper. Then keep it around while you are painting so it’s easy to remember exactly which color is which.

Start Working With Watercolors Today with Rhode Island School of Design instructor Mary Jane Begin. Learn More

Starting a new hobby in watercolor doesn't need to be daunting. Check out our guide to watercolor for beginners from Natalie Malan on the CreativeLive blog.

If you decide to purchase a budget-friendly watercolor set, you may be happier prewetting your colors with a spray bottle filled with water. Sometimes the less expensive colors need more water to get the colors flowing and give you a real watercolor consistency, so don’t be afraid to add lots of water at first if your paints appear opaque. Watercolors should have a transparent quality to them, so to make a lighter color all you need to do it add more water.

Paper towels or an old terry cloth rag are great for blotting wet brushes. And scraps of paper to test your colors on are always a good idea to have around while you are learning the ins and outs of mixing your colors with a new palette.

Starting a new hobby in watercolor doesn't need to be daunting. Check out our guide to watercolor for beginners from Natalie Malan on the CreativeLive blog.

Taping down your paper is a good idea to keep it flat as the paint dries. Watercolor paper likes to curl up and contort when it’s introduced to water. Using painters tape or masking tape usually works well. Make sure to leave it taped down until all the paint is completely dry. Flat paintings are much easier to frame and look more professional than a painting that is buckled from the water.

Round brushes are pretty versatile, but there are some nice budget friendly kits out now that come with a variety of shapes like this one from Ranger which includes a set of both rounds and flats.

Aren't these colors gorgeous? Check out our guide to watercolor for beginners from Natalie Malan on the CreativeLive blog.

Setting up your workspace is another key to success. Please note that this is a left-handed arrangement. Set up the paint and water to the opposite side of you if you are right-handed. An “L” shape usually works best with your paper in front of you, palette to the side with a paper towel below, a scrap of paper for testing colors before placing them on your painting, and two cups of water above the palette. One for clean water and one for dirty water is a pretty standard arrangement.

Starting a new hobby in watercolor doesn't need to be daunting. Check out our guide to watercolor for beginners from Natalie Malan on the CreativeLive blog.

Watercolor paper is another hugely important factor when it comes to watercolor. Arches cold press is an amazing surface to paint on; and an investment. Starting out with a pad of student grade paper to play around with and get comfortable painting on is a good idea at first. Strathmore makes a great student grade paper. Purchasing both is a great way to become familiar with the qualities of your paint, and how it reacts with the paper. If you are an intermediate painter, and had to choose between nicer pigments, or nicer paper, the paper would probably be the better investment.

Some great resources include Periscope (@nataliemalan), Snap Chat and Instagram for simple video watercolor tutorials and tips – nataliemalan.com and the Facebook page: Natalie Malan Studio are other great resources as well. With these tips, you’ll discover how to be a watercolor artist in no time at all!

Start Working With Watercolors Today with Rhode Island School of Design instructor Mary Jane Begin. Learn More

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7 New Wedding & Portrait Photography Trends for 2019

7 New Wedding & Portrait Photography Trends for 2019

If there’s a single physical place to go to uncover the year’s portrait photography and wedding photography trends, it’s WPPI. The Wedding and Portrait Photographers International Conference takes over Las Vegas at the end of February, bringing photographers from budding new professionals to well-known creatives together in one place. The 2019 show has just wrapped up — but while the conference may be over, the event is still sparking ideas for creatives.

Photo: Ryan Schembri

From the winners of the 16×20 print competition to the lists of speakers and rising stars, WPPI 2019 offers a glimpse at the biggest trends in the industry. While factors like portrait lighting, lens choice, depth of field, and proper camera settings will always be essential, here are the creative trends spotted at this year’s WPPI.

Photographs that pay homage to paintings and traditional art

Several of the category winners more closely resemble traditional paintings than images from a digital camera. Using props, poses, and colors, photographers are bridging modern photography and classic artwork. Brooke Kasper’s second place fine art portrait uses a distinctive posing and props resembling a Renniasance painting; her third place teen portrait uses the dress of a classical painting. Some go beyond the pose and colors — Creative Live instructor and newborn photographer Kelly Brown’s second place family category image of a breastfeeding mother uses painterly textures. 

Photo: Kelly Brown

All three images in the children’s category by Melody Smith (first place) and Julia Kelleher (second and third place) use props for a fairytale feel and colors and textures that feel painting-like. WPPI Grand Master Ryan Schembri‘s first place wedding couples image uses shutter speed blur to obscure the couple’s identity in a way that feels almost like Impressionist brush strokes. Feng He uses shutter speed blur in a sandstorm to create painter-like texture in the first place pre-wedding bridal portrait. Then, of course, there’s Mauro Cantelmi’s first place grand award-winning image where the father of the bride actually mirrors the pose of a large painting of Jesus.

Conceptual photography bringing abstractions to life

Photo: Julia Kelleher, High-Risk Pregnancy

Some stories are more abstract than visual — so when a photographer manages to capture a feeling or another abstract idea, the result is impressive. Julia Kelleher’s winning maternity image of a mother-to-be balancing on a stack of books with twigs strapped to her feet makes perfect sense when you take in the image with the title: High-Risk Pregnancy. Her winning newborn image captures the struggle of post-partum depression. Marja Sullavan’s The Last Tie bleeds emotion with an elderly gentlemen sitting across from an empty chair and an old wedding photo.

Pops of color

Photo: Amnon Eichelberg, Student Work

Sure, photographers don’t have the same color choices as painters, but many of the top images from this year’s WPPI and those from the Rising Stars had an excellent command of color. From bright pink and turquoise backgrounds to brightly colored images, color takes center stage. Take a look at the bright red dress exaggerating sharp feminine curves in Sal Cincotta’s winning fashion image or the reds in Mauro Cantelmi’s composites. The colors don’t have to be bright to stand out if the rest of the image uses dark tones, like Savio Isshak’s boudoir image with the color of the cupboards mirrored in the bowl on the opposite side of the frame.

Harness the power of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom and take your creative potential to the next level. Get the entire Photoshop Week bundle for just $99.

Photoshop Week 2018

Monochromatic and film-inspired colors

While many images used pops of bright colors, others successfully created a bold statement using neutral tones or keeping almost everything in the same color family. Several photographers didn’t need a black and white conversion to keep tones in one color family. Take a look at Feng He and Chuqing Ye’s bridal portraits, Erich Caparas’ pet portrait, Joseph Cogliandro’s boudoir image, Rocco Ancora’s winning teen portrait, and Belinda Richard’s composite.

Photo: Petronella Lugemwa

Others don’t go to a monochromatic extreme but use film-inspired colorization. Many of the winning photographers, WPPI speakers, and the event’s rising stars use dark, contrasty colors, while others favor a style with lighter pastels and a matte finish. Looking at the portfolios of Rangefinder’s Rising Stars like Petronella Lugemwa, Christopher Glenn, Jasmin Neidhart, Phil Porto, Qiya Ng, and Kuoloon Chong, each has a distinct style throughout, in particular with color toning.

The importance of story

Photo: Keren Dobia, The Toy Tinkerer

Images tell a story — but some images have a knack for making that story so real you can reach out and touch it. Like Cassandra Jones’ Triumphant Heart newborn portrait. Some use props to tell that story — like Marja Sullavan’s winning family portrait and Keren Dobian’s environmental portrait The Toy Tinkerer. Whatever the method, capturing a story in a single image is a task that’s tough to do, but creates stunning portraits when done right.

Shape, lines, and repetition

Photo: Aleksi Kallioja, Student Work

While several stand-out WPPI images create their own trends or capitalize on growing fads, others prove that some things just never go out of style. Like using shape, lines, and repetition as compositional tools. Browsing through the entire gallery of winners shows how a simple command of composition creates a good portrait, from the spiral of a staircase to ornate windows. Repetition, too, shows in several images, like work from Chiu Yu-Jing, Celine Law, Pan Alex, and Jerry Ghionis.

DSLRs are no longer first and foremost

Browsing through the WPPI winners, the images inspire thoughts of stories, art and more. What’s not as important are things like whether a Canon, Nikon, or Sony was used, or whether it was a DSLR, a mirrorless camera, or even a drone. The debates between natural light, window light or an artificial light source, between hard light and soft light matters little next to the way the light helps tell the story.

Photo: Zoraya Stern‎, Student Work

Between the speakers, the workshops, and the contests, WPPI helps portrait and wedding photographers grow their craft and find new inspiration. Browse through all the incredible contest images here, or learn more about the 2020 show at the WPPI website.

Harness the power of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom and take your creative potential to the next level. Get the entire Photoshop Week bundle for just $99.

Photoshop Week 2018

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Two Dozen Free Wedding Dress Patterns and Tutorials

Two Dozen Free Wedding Dress Patterns and Tutorials

Yes, you can DIY your wedding dress!

If you’re the crafty type, and you’ve got a good bit of ingenuity, you can find yourself walking down the aisle not in a mass-produced, factory-made wedding dress, but in your very own hand-sewn, custom-made original.

Whether you’re upcycling, remaking, or sewing your wedding dress from scratch, check out these free wedding dress patterns and tutorials to get you started.

1. The DIY wedding dress processRegardless of the fabric or style or pattern of wedding dress that you choose, THIS is the basic process that you’ll follow. Yes, it’s time-consuming, and yes, it can be tedious, but if there was ever a time for precision and perfection, then it’s when you’re DIYing your wedding dress.

2. Ball gownDepending on your colorway, this dress would work equally well as a wedding dress or bridesmaid’s dress.

3. Boatneck dressYou might want to lengthen the skirt on this dress–or you might not!

4. Boning for a strapless wedding dressSometimes the main difference between a standard dress and a wedding dress is the construction; here, a tutorial on adding boning to a strapless dress shows you how to add structure to a standard pattern.

5. Cocktail dress patternA wedding doesn’t have to be the biggest production ever–perhaps all you want is a party, and all you need is the perfect cocktail dress. Here you go!

6. Crepe and chiffon wedding gownThis is a versatile pattern that flatters a variety of body types and goes through a size 18.

7. CrinolineEven if you don’t want to make your entire wedding dress from scratch, a crinoline is an easy way to add something you’ve sewn yourself to your garment.

8. Crochet wedding dressIf you can crochet, I REALLY think that you should crochet your wedding dress!

9. Dip-dyed wedding dressHere’s a great way to remake a thrifted or upcycled wedding dress. Dip-dye it an interesting color!

10. DIY bustleYou don’t necessarily have to build your entire wedding dress from scratch; you can save money and achieve the dress of your dreams simply by doing some of the refashioning yourself. Here, for instance, is a DIY method to bustle the train on your wedding dress.

11. DIY dress formCustom clothing is most easily sewn–especially for yourself!–with a custom dress form on hand. Here’s how to make a duct tape dress form that’s custom-built just for you.

12. Elastic-waist evening dressI LOVE how comfortable this dress looks, while still fitting into a formal theme. To make it even comfier, it’s secretly a two-piece garment.

13. Goddess gownThis beautiful dress has little structure and lots of drape, and as such, won’t work for everyone, but if it works for you, it’s a great way to sew a dress that you really CAN use over and over again–and honestly, that’s a far more traditional way to make a wedding dress than the current way.

14. How to hem a formal gownEven doing your own hemming of your wedding dress can give you more custom options, as it allows you to use a thrifted or off-the-rack dress without shelling out for alterations. This method of hemming is accessible to an intermediate sewer.

15. Laced-back dressHere’s a pro tip for those of you who are looking for even more free resources for wedding dress patterns and tutorials–search for prom dress patterns and tutorials, too! Lots of people DIY prom dresses, so there are a lot more tutorials to choose from, and often those tutorials are for dresses that are both thrifty and adventurous. This lace-up back dress, for example, was built to be a prom dress, but would make a beautiful and fairly easy to sew wedding dress, as well.

16. Lace maxi dressThe pattern and style of this dress are deceptively conservative; it’s the use of lace that makes it an over-the-top wedding dress! If you’re a seasoned thrifted, keep your eye out for antique lace tablecloths to make your dress even more special.

17. Linen wrap dressOne of the best circumstances in which you can sew your own wedding dress is if you’re looking for something simple and understated. In that case, you can often DIY the perfect dress using a pattern that isn’t wedding-themed at all. This linen wrap dress, for instance, would be perfect for an outdoor wedding.

18. Off-the-shoulder wedding dressThis downloadable pattern for a simple, off-the-shoulder wedding dress comes in sizes small through extra-large.

19. Off-the-shoulder ball gownHere’s another free, downloadable pattern for a dress that’s similar to the previous one, but has a fuller skirt and a more structured bodice–it’s your fairy tale wedding gown!

20. Ruffle wedding dressBurdastyle patterns are the BEST! This particular Burdastyle creation is light and fluttery, with ruffles at the spaghetti straps.

21. Satin beltA sash or belt is another DIY way to add definition to a non-standard wedding dress.

22. Sweetheart dress with a bubble skirtYou have to imagine this dress in white, but think of how well the strapless bodice and bubble skirt will look as a wedding dress.

23. Tulle skirtAdd this tulle skirt to a suitable top or sew it to a fitted bodice.

24. Just add lightsThis hack works with any of the tulle or lace dresses above–for an evening wedding, why not add twinkle lights to your skirt?

P.S. Want to skip the florist, as well? Check out these DIY, eco-friendly bouquets!


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8 Outdoor Photographers You Should Know

8 Outdoor Photographers You Should Know

Ian Shive is on CreativeLive's list of Nature Photographers to Follow.
source: Ian Shive

Outdoor photography is a powerful medium. It can capture incredible natural locations many people don’t get to see in person. It can enact policy change to preserve the great outdoors. And it can remind us of everything there is to be thankful for. While there are some big names that everyone knows – the Ansel Adamses of the world – there are plenty more who are doing incredible work in the genres of outdoor and landscape photography.

Below a list of some incredible outdoor photographers whose names you may not know, but definitely should. You may have seen their work in outdoor photo magazines like National Geographic, or heard about their conservation work, or maybe glanced their wildlife photography or travel photography in a gallery — or maybe they’re completely new to you.

Either way, add these folks — some iconic, some brand-new — to your must-watch list and discover some of the best images out there. Learn some photography tips from their beautiful photographs or simply allow yourself to be transported to a new part of the world via outdoor photography images that are sure to stun. No matter what, these outdoor photographers will confirm that some of the best photos are the ones that capture the spirit of our landscapes.

Alex Strohl

Alex Strohl is a Madrid-born, French photographer whose adventures around the world in places like Alaska and Canada have informed his unique style of photography.

Instead of creating contrived scenes, Strohl creates authentic moments and captures them as they unfold before him—continually blurring the lines between work and life.

Strohl’s photography has been featured in prestigious publications such as Forbes, Vanity Fair, and Gentleman’s Journal; his client lists includes dozens of household names. He is based in Whitefish, Montana—but spends the vast majority of his time on the road with his life partner Andrea Dabene; they often journey to their favorite places in some of the most remote reaches of the world.

Frans Lanting

Photo: Frans Lanting, Lesser flamingos, Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya

Dutch photographer Frans Lanting has spent years living among his natural subjects in remote locations like Africa. “The existence of huge free-roaming herds of elephants in Botswana is a symbol for both the nature of this landscape and for the human decisions that must be made about the fate of wild places and wildlife both here and elsewhere on Earth,” Frans told National Geographic, “How we balance those interests will be the legacy of our time, the path we leave on the land.”

He’s won photo contests and awards including the Sierra Club’s Ansel Adams Award and was awarded the title of BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

Erin Sullivan

Erin Sullivan, aka @ErinOutdoors, is a travel photographer and writer who believes that images and words have the power to inspire meaningful change. Her photos of the great outdoors spark curiosity and her social media channels and blog create a space for connection with people of similar passions to this world and each other.

Erin is a Sony Alpha Ambassador based out of Los Angeles – but you’d be hard pressed to find her there for long. She’s more often than not traveling the world running photography workshops and sharing the incredible diversity that exists on our planet, and the connection each one of us has to it and to each other.

Photo: Ami Vitale

Ami Vitale

After more than a decade covering conflict, photographer and filmmaker Ami Vitale couldn’t help but notice that the less sensational—but equally true—stories were often not getting told: the wedding happening around the corner from the revolution, triumphs amidst seemingly endless devastation.

As a result, she re-committed herself to seeking out the stories within and around “the story,” and remaining independent, so that she would have the freedom to shoot what she believed deserved to be shared.  Her belief that “you can’t talk about humanity without talking about nature” led her to chronicle her journey from documenting war zones to telling some of the most compelling wildlife and environmental stories of our time, where individuals are making a profound difference in the future of their communities and this planet.

Ami Vitale’s journeys as a photographer, writer and filmmaker have taken her to over 100 countries where she has witnessed civil unrest and violence, but also surreal beauty and the enduring power of the human spirit. She has lived in mud huts and war zones, contracted malaria, and donned a panda suit—all in keeping with her philosophy of “living the story.”

Learn How To Photograph Birds With Renowned National Geographic Photographer Frans Lanting.

Ellie Davies

ellie davies
Photo: Ellie Davies

Combining outdoor photography with fine art, UK photographer Ellie Davis creates rich, dramatic images of remote forested areas in ways that are strangely emotional.

“From an early age the notion of the forest is given a sinister and threatening personality in the form of fairy tales and children’s stories. Stepping inside the dense forest feels like entering another world,” she explains in an artist statement. “These sensory experiences often lead to the forest being used as metaphor. The wild and impenetrable forest has long symbolized the dark, hidden world of the unconscious.”

Photo: Michelle Valberg

Michelle Valberg

Michelle Valberg is a renowned explorer, adventurer and wildlife photographer. She is a Nikon Ambassador Canada, a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and was the first ever Canadian Geographic Photographer-in-Residence. She started as a generalist photographer, picking up wedding and portrait gigs, but really found her stride in nature.

She now photographs everything from narwhals to ice bears to snowy owls to a field of 10,000 walrus. “As a photographer, it’s important to share with the world what we have to lose if we don’t take better care of our planet.”

Listen as she describes her first time making eye-to-eye contact with a polar bear and how photographing wildlife involves using all of your senses to anticipate the decisive moment in her We Are Photographers episode.

Brian Skerry

You have definitely seen underwater photojournalist Brian Skerry‘s beautiful seascapes in the pages of National Geographic, whether you knew it or not — but you may not be aware of the kind of change his images and work really are inciting. Illustrating important pieces like Joel K. Bourne, Jr.’s “How to Far a Better Fish,” Skerry says that he makes pictures to educate the general population about the environmental concerns facing the ocean.

“My hope is to continually find new ways of creating images and stories that both celebrate the sea yet also highlight environmental problems. Photography can be a powerful instrument for change,” he told National Geographic.

Vincent Munier

French photographer Vincent Munier was named the BBC’s Wildlife Photographer for three years in a row — 2000, 2001, and 2002 — and has had work featured in National Geographic and Audubon Magazine. He’s also the subject of Running Wild with Vincent Munier, a 2012 documentary.

Munier, who has been involved in environmental matters since childhood, says that one of the most difficult parts about photographing nature is being present, without harming it.

“Nature can be so fragile, and mankind can disturb — or even destroy — large swaths of it with very little effort, so when I am in the field, I try to leave the smallest footprint I can,” he once explained.

Ian Shive

Author of The National Parks: Our American Landscape, Ian Shive falls squarely into that category of conservation photographers who are saving the world through landscape images. Through his work in conservation photography, which has been published in National Geographic, Outside, Men’s Journal, Backpacker, Sierra Magazine, The Nature Conservancy, National Parks Magazine, and Popular Science, Ian has helped chronicle and advocate on behalf of the U.S.’s national natural treasures.

Learn How To Photograph Birds With Renowned National Geographic Photographer Frans Lanting.

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Call For Photo Submissions: National Geographic Photographer Frans Lanting Wants to Critique Your Bird Photography

Call For Photo Submissions: National Geographic Photographer Frans Lanting Wants to Critique Your Bird Photography

World-renowned National Geographic photographer, Frans Lanting is a master at telling a visual story with his photos. For three decades he has documented wildlife from the Amazon to Antarctica to promote understanding about the Earth and its natural history through images that convey a passion for nature and a sense of wonder about our living planet.

This March, Frans returns to CreativeLive for an exciting course entitled The Art of Bird Photography, where you’ll have the opportunity to have this  wildlife photography master take a look at how you see the world, and offer constructive and actionable critiques on how to improve your imagery

As part of this incredible course, we are calling on you, our photography students, to submit your images for a chance to have it critiqued by Frans Lanting in his class

Hone Your Wildlife and Bird Photography

In this curated review, you’ll get expert insight into improving your work so you can begin capturing unforgettable images of birds..

Want to see your work critiqued by Frans Lanting live on airImages should be at least 4k pixels on the long side, but keep files under 10MB

Label your JPG files: yourfullname.jpg.

Here are a couple of Frans’s incredible images to inspire you to go through your catalog and submit your work:

Submit an image showing how you see the world, and then tune in on March  to see if your photo made the cut for critique by a true nature photography master.  Even if your work is not chosen, the lessons provided will be invaluable in helping you to take on your next adventure.  

This is an incredible opportunity, so make sure you submit now, because he will only have time to critique a certain number of images during this live event! 


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See nature photography in a new way. Join Frans Lanting for an in-depth photo critique of landscape, wildlife, and macro photography. Sign up now.

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Using Design Thinking to Turn Challenges into Opportunities

Using Design Thinking to Turn Challenges into Opportunities

Using Design Thinking to Turn Challenges into Opportunities

We’ve all heard the term “design thinking,” freely bandied about, but what does it really mean and can only creative people apply this in their work? “No,” says designer, educator, author Matthew Jervis, founder of Make It Creativity.

Every person has the capacity to be creative—not just designers and artists. Being creative is instinctual. It’s a set of basic survival skills that have evolved over time and continue to evolve…and not necessarily in a positive way.

Use design-thinking to become unstuck. Join Stanford professors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans as they teach a class based on their #1 New York Times bestseller, Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life.

Jervis points out that our ancestors needed to be creative to survive. “We ran buffalo off cliffs because we needed to eat and clothe ourselves since we didn’t have horses yet. We needed to be creative. What’s the best way to run them off a cliff? Where is the nearest cliff? How do we keep from running ALL the buffalo off the cliff?”

He approaches the creative process and design thinking with the idea that it’s a way of living and approaching everyday challenges…not just for designers working with clients. “The ability to see a challenge as an opportunity is key to thinking creatively,” he simply states.

“The ability to see a challenge as an opportunity is key to thinking creatively.” @mkit_creativity
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“I feel that parenthood/childcare/teaching are some of THE best examples of design thinking as well as being some of the most creative endeavors out there,” he says. Here is a list of ten tactics devised by Jervis that parents—or anyone for that matter–can deploy in a challenging situation.

Whether it’s a kid having a temper tantrum, or running out of gas on your way to work. How we react to and deal with the circumstances is key to coming up with the best solution.


It’s important to note here that creativity is a collection of skills, not a stand-alone endeavor.

“Creativity is a collection of skills, not a stand-alone endeavor.” @emilyjpotts
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To become sharper and ultimately more creative, we have to dig into the specific parts that make up creativity and strengthen them individually in order to strengthen the whole. Then we can mix and match these skills and apply them as needed. It’s as if any challenge comes with an ala carte menu. A little of this a little of that. Through Jervis’s research, he has developed this top 10 list of his favorite creative skills:

1. Empathy

Strictly speaking, this is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. In design thinking we rely on our empathy to help us more fully appreciate a situation, the people that it effects, and how a particular strategy or solution may be received. As a parent or care-giver, we rely heavily on our ability to think empathetically. Everything and I mean everything is better with empathy on it! How to approach a situation requires us to know just HOW to approach the situation.

Use design-thinking to become unstuck. Join Stanford professors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans as they teach a class based on their #1 New York Times bestseller, Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life.

2. Negotiation

Simply put, this is a discussion aimed at reaching an agreement with another party or parties. This is an extremely important expression of creativity, and also goes hand-in-hand with empathy. The outcome is to control a narrative, to make or strengthen a relationship, or to move a discussion in the desired direction to achieve a mutually beneficial solution or agreement.

3. Contingencies

When one strategy doesn’t work the individual using their creativity will have a ‘plan B’ ready to go, another characteristic of the mindful parent in full creative mode. When we brainstorm we come up with tons of great ideas. From there we usually move ahead with one of them, but it’s always a good idea, no matter what the situation is, to keep a couple in your back pocket as ‘plan B’ and ‘C,’ just in case ‘plan A’ doesn’t get the job done.

4. Problem-solving

Thinking and approaching problems basically means using a mix of generic or ad hoc methods, in an orderly and focused way, in order to find a solution to a particular problem. As humans, we problem-solve constantly, from what to get for lunch, to fixing a leaky faucet, trying to locate missing lunch boxes, to much larger global issues, like peace in the Middle East.

5. Imagination

Einstein famously said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” What we have come to realize is that imagination is another way to think of “What if.” Once we are able to ask that question, all things become possible. Without asking that question or being able to imagine, we stall out with no hope of being able to innovate on any level.


6. Create new and worthwhile ideas (both incremental and radical concepts)

In other words, being able to think divergently. This is a technique where there are no wrong answers. Kids are great divergent thinkers. They have no problem thinking of crazy solutions to get a ball off the roof. From using a broom handle to paying off a helicopter pilot. All ideas are on the table. Fluency! Originality! Again, kids are great at this and we are better teachers and parents when we ask them for their ideas and really listen to them. As we get older we poo-poo ideas almost faster than we can speak them. As a result, we miss some great ideas, some truly creative solutions never see the light of day.

7. Permission to innovate

Having permission is the first step to curiosity which immediately precedes innovation. We need permission. Whether we give it to ourselves, give it to others (parents teachers, I’m talking to you), or we have been given permission through our work culture or a manager/project leader etc., we can not move into curiosity without it. If we don’t feel that we have the permission or that our curiosity is not welcome or valued, we will lack the confidence to allow ourselves to be and act with curiosity and we will never explore possibilities or alternative solutions.

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8. Working with limitations

When we can see the opportunities in materials and ideas that might on the surface seem unremarkable or inappropriate for the task at hand. If we have everything at our fingertips, then what we create really is not as surprising or incredible as if I created that same thing with very limited materials that I had lying around. If I could just pop over to Home Depot or the local craft store to get everything I needed to fix a leaky faucet, then my solution won’t be judged on how creative I am, but rather if the leak is fixed or not. Now if I fixed that same leak with say a tin can and some twist ties, then I’ll be regarded as an artist. Limitations create value. Take a breath before you throw money at a challenge.

9. Humor

Making someone laugh is an incredible skill. It requires us to be observant, present, know our audience, and to be able to curate our messages appropriately. Humor can be a weapon; it can educate; it can incite behavior, and it can heal. It is a skill that can be applied to negotiation, collaboration, even problem-solving! With a dash of humor, we can make solutions or strategies more inclusive and human.

10. Collaboration

Playing well with others. If you can’t collaborate or deal with people than you have a long and hard road ahead. Being a team player is what 90 percent of life is about. I can’t substantiate that number, but it feels right. If you’re a parent, teacher, bus driver, or whatever, you need to be able to interact and collaborate with people all the time just to get through the day.

All of the above skills are just simple bite-sized ways for us to regard challenges as opportunities to be creative.  To see a challenge as an opportunity is also a great way for us to enter into design thinking and look at the creative process!

Use design-thinking to become unstuck. Join Stanford professors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans as they teach a class based on their #1 New York Times bestseller, Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life.

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Modern-Day Rosies: Deanne Fitzmaurice Re-Envisions the Iconic Symbol of Women Empowerment

Modern-Day Rosies: Deanne Fitzmaurice Re-Envisions the Iconic Symbol of Women Empowerment

STACEY CORCORAN, an electrician at the Nippon Sharyo railcar manufacturing facility in Rochelle, Illinois. Photo by Deanne Fitzmaurice

Some ladies have all the luck drive. Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, filmmaker, and co-founder of Think Tank Bags, Deanne Fitzmaurice, is known for pushing the boundaries of what is typically expected of photojournalists.

One of her latest projects, ‘Women Can Build‘, demonstrates the impact and stories that she can convey in a single image. It’s goal is to help challenge stereotypes and highlight role models for millions of women across the country.

For International Women’s Day we join Deanne in sharing the stories of the extraordinary women who are building our 21st century transportation infrastructure in industries traditionally dominated by men.

Modern Day Rosies

Photo by Deanne Fitzmaurice

Lilla Wallace is a cleaning specialist at a railcar refurbishment facility in Los Angeles, CA. “I work inside the garage, the Service and Inspection area called S&I. We do two cars a day — the whole thing! It’s detailing, elbow grease, hard cleaning, hard work, not soft cleaning.” Lilla sees herself as one day being a mechanic, drawn to the physicality of the work. “You can work hard and still retain your femininity.” Read more of her story here.

Photo by Deanne Fitzmaurice

Ruby Diaz a quality control technician at the Kinkisharyo railcar factory in Palmdale, CA., recently promoted after establishing herself as an electrical worker. She worked with thick, heavy copper wires, oftentimes having to withstand vibrations from the moving trains. “I was a little intimidated with so many male coworkers,” Ruby says.  “But I thought, why not take the challenge. It’s hard for women, they feel they don’t have enough strength, or power, or dedication. It is a tough and heavy job. But women can work just as hard as anybody. Women shouldn’t be intimidated.” Read more of her story here.

As a photojournalist, how much do we engage with our subject? Join Deann Fitzmaurice for her free online discussion answering the question: Can We Be Objective Observers?

Photo by Deanne Fitzmaurice

Ami Rasmussen is an interior assembly foreman at the Kinkisharyo railcar factory in Palmdale, CA and mother of two. It wasn’t until her daughters were older that she was able to fulfill a lifelong dream to join the U.S. army serving as a light vehicle mechanic. Post-service and with established experience, she now works on the Interior 2 team, with seven other men. “We probably touch the trains more than anyone else,” Ami says. “There is no typical day, here. We install seats, the rear locker, grab bars, pretty much anything you grab onto inside the train. We’ll build the actual locker, and others will install the electrical components. The tools I use vary, from screwdrivers to torque wrenches, to drills, to rivet guns.” Ami admits that there are pros and cons to working with a majority male workforce but being in charge of 78 men in the military, she thought to herself ‘I got this.’ Read more of her story here.

Photo by Deanne Fitzmaurice

Elisangela “Lisa” Oliveira is a bridge painter for the New York City Department of Transportation and was the very first woman to pass the Civil Service Exam for Bridge Painters at the NYC DOT. “It’s a physically demanding exam,” said Lisa. “I had to climb the Williamsburg Bridge and demonstrate that I knew what I was doing with the safety procedures to pass!” She started as an apprentice with the bridge painter’s union and advanced to a journeywoman position, followed by a forewoman position. Lisa said she experienced a lot of discrimination in the beginning of her career but Lisa pushed back, telling them, “Put me to work, if you don’t like me, you don’t like me.” Read more of her story here.

Deanne Fitzmaurice is a Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist and filmmaker whose work is known for using emotional and physical layers to expose human connection. Join CreativeLive as Deanne discusses her 13 year project about an injured Iraqi boy, and the questions she’s wrestled with on her photographic journey. 

As a photojournalist, how much do we engage with our subject? Join Deann Fitzmaurice for her free online discussion.

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14 Vintage Photos of Real-Life Rosie the Riveters

14 Vintage Photos of Real-Life Rosie the Riveters

Rosie the Riveter was based on a real woman — actually, a lot of them. The US cultural icon represented the many American women who found factory work during WWII, producing war supplies and other munitions, including aircraft. During this time, the female workforce more than doubled, as women moved into roles from which they were previously discouraged or outwardly barred. However, the labor of the women was necessary as men left the country to fight, making Rosie the Riveter a symbol not only of patriotism, but of pioneering female spirit and hard work.

For International Women’s Day weekend, we’re looking back at the real-life Rosies. Wondering what the new face of Rosie is? Check pulitzer prize winning photojournalist out Deanne Fitzmaurice’s re-envisioned symbol of women empowerment.

real-life rosie the riveter

The Library of Congress writes of this photo: “This girl in a glass house is putting finishing touches on the bombardier nose section of a B-17F navy bomber, Long Beach, Calif. She’s one of many capable women workers in the Douglas Aircraft Company plant. Better known as the ‘Flying Fortress,’ the B-17F is a later model of the B-17 which distinguished itself in action in the South Pacific, over Germany and elsewhere. It is a long range, high altitude heavy bomber, with a crew of seven to nine men, and with armament sufficient to defend itself on daylight missions.” The photographer of this and many of these shots was Alfred T. Palmer.

rosie the riveter

Another Palmer photo, this one shows women at work on a bomber at the Douglas Aircraft Company in Long Beach, California.

real life rosie the riverter

“Women workers employed as wipers in the roundhouse having lunch in their rest room, C. & N.W. R.R., Clinton, Iowa,” notes the Library of Congress of this photo by Jack Delano.

WWII women's service

“Painting the American insignia on airplane wings is a job that Mrs. Irma Lee McElroy, a former office worker, does with precision and patriotic zeal,” writes the Library of Congress. “Mrs. McElroy is a civil service employee at the naval Air Base, Corpus Christi, Texas. Her husband is a flight instructor.”

library of congress WW2

This machinist was one of many during WWII. Here’s some more background on one of the women who served in this capacity during the 1940s.

rosie the riveter

The Library of Congress notes that women like these two were “trained to do precise and vital engine installation detail,” which was essential to the American armed forces during the war.

For a limited time — save up to 60% off our inspired by women classes! Shop now.

rosie the riveter

In many of the photo captions, the Library of Congress seemed more concerned about the aircraft than the women making them. From the image description: “A girl riveting machine operator at the Douglas Aircraft Company plant joins sections of wing ribs to reinforce the inner wing assemblies of B-17F heavy bombers, Long Beach, Calif. Better known as the ‘Flying Fortress,’ the B-17F bomber is a later model of the B-17, which distinguished itself in action in the south Pacific, over Germany and elsewhere. It is a long range, high altitude, heavy bomber, with a crew of seven to nine men — and with armament sufficient to defend itself on daylight missions.”

real rosie the riveter

Several of the men of this women’s family were headed to the service. According to the caption, she had “one brother in Coast Guard, one going to Army.”

rosie the riveter

Factory work wasn’t just a way to serve the country at home; it was also a financial necessity for many of the women who took on these jobs. The woman featured in this photo was “formerly a sculptress and designer of tiles,” writes the Library of Congress.

“Dorothy Cole converted her basement into a workshop to tin plate needles for valves for blood transfusion bottles prepared by Baxter Laboratories, Glenview, Ill. She turns in her profits to war bonds to provide a college education for her young nephew.”

real life rosie the riveter

The factories of WWII were extremely diverse places, with workers of all socio-economic statuses and races. The woman was pictured “operating a hand drill at Vultee-Nashville,” in Tennessee, according to the Library of Congress.

rosie the riveter

“With careful Douglas training, women do accurate electrical assembly and installation work,” the Library of Congress notes in the caption for this photo. That kind of electrical work went on to be an important skill for many of the women who, while they may not have stayed in the workforce, were able to do home repairs and even work for friends and neighbors.


Here’s another caption which mostly focuses on the machinery: “Capping and inspecting tubing: two women are shown capping and inspecting tubing which goes into the manufacture of the “Vengeance” dive bomber made at Vultee’s Nashville division, Tennessee. The “Vengeance” (A-31) was originally designed for the French. It was later adopted by the R.A.F. and still later by the U.S. Army Air Forces. It is a single-engine, low-wing plane, carrying a crew of two men and having six machine guns of varying calibers.”

rosie the riveter

This 1944 photo shows a woman working on an airplane motor.

rosie the riveter real life

Howard Hollen captured this young woman in Texas drilling on a bomber.

For a limited time — save up to 60% off our inspired by women classes! Shop now.

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How to Make a Shadow Box from Corrugated Cardboard

How to Make a Shadow Box from Corrugated Cardboard

ALL MY THINGS bring me joy. I am not giving up a single one of my priceless possessions, whether that possession is a dragon egg-themed Easter egg, a tiny skull-shaped bottle, a handmade polymer clay narwhal, or the name of my home state cut out of a license plate.

Why do I have the name of my home state cut out of a license plate? Don’t remember. Don’t care. But I am KEEPING IT.

As I’ve discovered, one’s priceless possessions look less like you’re a hoarder when they’re displayed nicely so that you can enjoy them, not piled up on top of your dresser gathering dust. Storing your little treasures nicely is as easy as arranging them in a shadow box, and making that shadow box is as easy as cutting and pasting.

You learned how to do that stuff in kindergarten. You can totally do this.

Why make a shadow box instead of buying one? Well, it’s cheaper, for one thing. And it’s better for the environment because these shadow boxes are made from corrugated cardboard and old papers, not particle board and plastic. And you will absolutely LOVE the way that you can customize each shadow box to have exactly the shape and the shelves that you want.

Seriously, hot glue is a miracle of science.

I think that these DIY shadow boxes look nice, and most importantly, they keep your stuff stored and on display so that you can enjoy it. Check out how to make your own, and then get your own stuff off your dresser and displayed like you love it!

Supplies & Tools

You will need:

  • Corrugated cardboard. All of the cardboard that I’m using in this project comes from cases of Girl Scout cookies. Ask a Girl Scout of your own, and I’m sure she’ll be thrilled to offload some to you, too.
  • Xacto knife
  • Metal Ruler
  • Self-healing cutting mat.
  • Hot glue gun and hot glue.
  • Stash wire, sturdy enough to hold your shadow box full of treasures
  • White glue, water, and a container to mix it in
  • Paper. I’ve used old book pages, sheet music, comic books, and even plain newspaper for these shadow boxes.
  • Optional materials: paint and polyurethane sealant. Paint can cover ugly papers, such as newspaper, and polyurethane sealant will make your shadow box sturdier and easier to wipe off, and will keep the surface from getting sticky over time (that can sometimes be a problem with glue-based decoupage, so definitely consider it if you plan to put something legitimately precious in your shadow box)


1. Make the outside frame of the shadow box.

Find a box whose area you like for your shadow box, and break it down and lay it flat on top of your self-healing cutting mat. You’ll be cutting the top and bottom off of the box, and then cutting it into a strip that will equal the depth of your shadow box. I really like three inches for this, although I used four inches for the shadow box that holds my friendship rocks and that depth works well, too.

Open up the strip that you cut and stand it up on your cutting mat; this is the outside frame of your shadow box!

2. Add a back to the shadow box.

Set your shadow box frame on top of another piece of corrugated cardboard with at least the same area as the frame; if you’re using Girl Scout cookie cases, one of the larger sides of a second case is perfect for this.

Hot glue the back to the frame all the way around, and then cut away any excess cardboard.

3. Add shelves.

Cut more corrugated cardboard strips the same width as the shadow box frame, and then use those strips to add shelves to the shadowbox. Use hot glue to tack the shelves down, but you’ll be securing them much better a little later.

4. Add a hanging wire to the shadow box.

Hot glue a length of wire or cording to the sides of the shadow box, making a loop that goes over the top of the shadow box for hanging. Don’t secure the hanging wire to the back of the shadow box (as I did on my very first attempt at making this project), because if you do, the shadow box will tend to tip forward when it’s filled and hung. Securing the wire to the sides of the shadow box will even out its balance a little better.

5. Decoupage the shadow box.

If you liked the look of the raw cardboard, you could be just about done with your project there. I think these shadow boxes look nicer and are sturdier when decoupaged, however. To do this, choose a fun paper and tear it into strips. Pour a 1:1 mixture of white glue and water into a jar and stir it up. Piece by piece, dip a strip of paper into the mixture, strip off excess glue with your fingers, and smooth it onto the shadow box.

Overlap as necessary to cover the entire surface area of the shadow box. I like to cover the back first, let it dry, and then cover the front.

Covering the front will take a lot more time, as you use lots of paper to cover all those fiddly corners and seams.

Let the glue dry well, and then you can paint or seal your shadow box if you wish. After that, it’s ready to be enjoyed! What will you display in your DIY shadow box? Let us know in the comments!


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Sue Bryce Shares Her Favorite Pose Ever

Sue Bryce Shares Her Favorite Pose Ever

sue bryce posing tips

Most people are neither comfortable nor particularly experienced in front of the camera. Which means that, in order to take the very best photo of your subject, you, as a photographer, need to be able to give the kind of direction that makes sense and churns out consistently beautiful results.

After years of portrait photography — wherein her sole motivation is to make women look and feel their very best — master photographer Sue Bryce has devised several fool-proof instructions and methods of posing that not only delight her clients, but almost always sell her products for her.

This one trick, which she calls “the faux-waist,” is a concept that every portrait photographer should adopt immediately.

The idea, says Sue, is to create the illusion of a narrow waist in clients. However, when you instruct a subject to encircle her waist, she’ll likely actually put her hands much lower.

“This is what all clients do. They put their hands on their waist,” she says, “but they really put their hands on their hips.”

To create the illusion — and, in doing so, create the best pose — Sue instructs them instead to bring their hands higher and in toward the center of their abdomens.

“It’s not your real waist,” says Sue, but many subjects think that’s where their hands should be. As a photographer, it’s up to you to instruct them how to pose in such a way that the illusion of a very narrow waist is there.

Do note, though, that when given this instruction, many women will also roll their shoulders forward.

“To correct this…I’m going to just say, ‘drop your shoulders and relax them. And push your elbows back.’ And as soon as her elbows go back from her body, she’s no longer rolling her shoulders.”

The shot, says Sue, works almost every time.

“That covergirl shot sells to pretty much every single client that I ever photograph,” she says.

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