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How I Started Painting {And Pictures From My Gallery Opening.}

Wow, wow, wow.  Friends, this past weekend was so monumental for me!  I am part of an art show at a local gallery and showing my art totally put things into perspective.  It felt so right.

Growing up, I was always a little artistic;  I used to draw + make dioramas quietly in my room– it was a way I could relax from the busy-ness of grade school + my large family.  In 3rd grade I won the art contest for my drawing of “what my family means to me” (It was a drawing of us eating Sunday dinner together in the dining room and my dad still has it framed + hung there to this day).

I was always trying to figure out something new to try, artistically.

The creating continued in high school where I would collage with my buds on poster board on the weekends until three in the morning.  We were obsessed with cutting out the right words + images from magazines to show how we were feeling at the time (or how we wanted to feel).  Little did I know, I was actually creating a vision board.

Throughout college and after, I continued to dabble in sketching and painting, but nothing of a consistent, concrete nature.  I would just pick it up now and again when I had some time.

Prep for the show

Fast forward to a couple of years ago when I started taking a local abstract painting class.  It was my first formal art class as an adult and I wasn’t sure what to expect, I just knew I needed to try it.  Would I like it?  Would I be any good at it?  Would I be able to express what was deep in my heart that motivated me to go there in the first place?

Turns out I was pretty bad when I started painting in that abstract class; I felt clumsy and misunderstood.  What I was painting was not jiving with what I wanted to paint.  Looking back, I realize I was painting in a way that would help me fit in–it was awkward to try something new as an adult and I was trying to paint like the other students (and how my teacher told me to).

But painting like everyone else felt wrong.  I wasn’t enjoying it and it quickly began to feel like a task rather than a release.  So I gave myself a pep talk, “Steph you’re here to have fun–to explore the deep desire in your heart to create.  Listening to others and their direction is not going to get you there, so let’s start doing it your way.”  After I admitted painting for them and not me was not going to get me where I wanted to go, everything changed.

I started exploring my own style, my own voice.  Even though it looked very different from my classmates.

And then the girls were born.

Me + my work

This past Sunday when I was standing in front of a wall full of my creations thinking about my rocky start, I was so grateful that I followed my heart + kept trying.  I knew that I needed to express myself through painting and collage, but I wasn’t sure how to do it or where it would lead me.  It was a humbling reminder that a lot of life happens just by showing up and being willing.  This art journey I’m on is so very fulfilling + make me so so happy when I’m immersed in it.

Me + Chris

Me + My Honey

me + my muses

My nieces (and muses)

So I encourage all of you out there reading this to listen to that little whisper inside your heart that’s calling you to do something.  We all have those whispers. Take a mini step today towards that thing, even if it’s just writing it down or saying it out loud.

My 2 hour class each week over the past few years led to this gallery show.  I couldn’t have seen this on my first night of painting in class, but inch by inch, I made a dream come true–and you can too.

PS: Want to see some of the girls in the show?  Look here and here and here.

How I Started Painting {And Pictures From My Gallery Opening.}2018-03-29T20:23:14-04:00

5 Simple Steps to get what you want from life. {Lunch is optional}

finding yourself or creating yourself-

Each year before school started, my mom used to take me and my sister to a ‘goal setting luncheon’.  We would get all dressed up, go somewhere fancy and talk about our intentions for the upcoming year.  This entailed us pouring our hearts out and writing down our deepest wishes and yearnings; it was exhilarating and terrifying all at once.

It wasn’t until later in life that I realized that others may view this as an offbeat (odd?) thing to do with your mom, especially as a 12 year old.  But to me, it was one of my favorite days of the year–a fun lunch, hanging with my peeps and getting special attention from my mom.  It was something that I looked forward to because it helped me get clear about where I was going.

And clarity feels good, no matter what age you are.

What I didn’t realize at the time, is that she was helping me design my life.  She wanted me to intentionally construct where I wanted to go rather than just let life happen to me.  She was showing me I was the artist of my own life.  And if no one else ever told you, you’re an artist too.  All you need is a vision and a desire to follow through on it.

Here are 5 simple steps to bring out your inner artist and get what you want from life:

1. Pick a target. Get clear about exactly what it is that you are moving towards and start making moves towards it, no matter how small those moves may be. Some people hesitate doing this because they don’t feel confident about what they choose. Don’t worry about getting it perfect the first time out–you can always change your mind. Just trust your gut,and get moving; you can change direction later if you need to.

2. Be your own cheerleader. The universe doesn’t take a joke, so don’t pooh-pooh your ideas, even to yourself (for example:”I can’t do this, it’s too hard”, “I don’t deserve to get that” etc). Negative talk doesn’t do any good and it only sends the message to yourself and others that you’re not serious about what you want. If you find yourself being a Negative Nelly, pick a different goal that you feel more confident about–a goal that gets you excited will keep you inspired to move towards it.

3. Pay attention to the cues of the universe.  It’s amazing what happens when you make up your mind–everything and everyone around you suddenly seems to be in on it with you.  When you make up your mind about what you want, you will notice ‘coincidences’ happening and find people who want to help you along the way; go with that flow.

4. Be open.  When you are thinking about the things you want to achieve, remember that there are many ways to reach them.  Be open to opportunities that you may not have considered before–surprises can often be amazing catalysts.  Trust your feelings and your gut; there’s a reason they’re usually right.

5. Let it go.  With all that said, it’s a good philosophy to keep a loose grip on things.  Remember that spazzy boy that used to chase you in grammar school?  You ran away fast from him, right?  That’s the needy energy you’re trying to avoid; the tighter hold you try to have on something, the more it will elude you.  Set the wheels in motion and trust the process.  Don’t try to control everything–control is an illusion and chasing it delays the big picture from coming to life.

Crafting your vision is a work in progress, so go easy and make it fun!  Vision boarding can help you get started, or you can make a lunch date with your favorite pal and see what happens…



5 Simple Steps to get what you want from life. {Lunch is optional}2018-03-29T20:23:25-04:00

What are you creating in your life? Why making a vision board can seem like magic.


how to create a vision board and manifest what you want.

I wanted to share with you an oldie but a goodie I use to get my creative ju-ju flowing that also incorporates mapping out desires: a vision board.  I’ve created them periodically throughout my life–in times of despair when I wanted to drum up a much needed change, and also in times of happiness when I wanted to multiply flow that was already running through everything.

It looks like a poster board of pictures (it is) but it’s also a board where you display images that represent whatever you want to be, do or have in your life.  A vision board is a tool used to help clarify, concentrate and maintain focus on your life goals or dreams.

Vision Boarding is like incorporating a little hocus pocus with art, topped off with a dose of letting go.  Sound a little interesting?

It’s also about focusing on how you want to feel while achieving your deep desires.  I think that’s the really important part because without being clear about the feeling, you won’t be able to create what you really want.

Everything you possess of skill, and wealth, and handicraft, wasn’t it first merely a thought and a quest? –Rumi

I was recently looking at at my own vision board that was a couple of years old.  I was fascinated that so many things had come true. It was like magic because I didn’t even remember everything that I put on there!  It wasn’t totally spot on, but for the most part I was pretty impressed with the outcome.  That’s when I knew it was time to do another one.

Here are 3 tips to get you started on your own vision board process:

1) It’s important to really dig in when you start creating a vision board.  Anyone can slap a picture up of a gorgeous house, an Adonis of a husband, perfect looking babies and a check for a million dollars.  But that’s not using your unique desires and imagination.  Tap into what YOU really want, not what you think you SHOULD want.

Don’t cheat yourself by falling into the cookie cutter trap.

You have to dig in deeper and closer to the source of why you want those things.

2.) Pay attention to the really deep part of your longing that emerges at very inopportune moments.  Like when you’re relaxed and you have that split second of yearning for something.  That’s the subconscious speaking to you and most of the time it doesn’t come in words.

Those split second desires can often come in the form of pictures, feelings, sounds and even textures.  When it happens, notice the things that give you that visceral reaction–a heart thump, a caught breath, a sudden burst of feeling.  THAT’s the reaction you want about items you slap on your board.

Those feelings will help you attract what you’re really seeking.

3) Once you create the board, put it in a place where you’ll see it just once in a while.  If you put it in the obvious in-your-face-everyday spot, you’ll begin to feel like you’re pushing things to happen (or failing at making them happen at all) and that’s counter-productive.

Set things into action with the creation of your board and then let it go.


Part of doing the vision board is having faith.  It’s about feeling something, creating a physical representation of it and then letting it go.  The faith part is knowing that the seed was planted in you so that it would, at some point, grow.

It’s time to create your very own vision board of happiness.


P.S. That picture above is the beginning of my new board.  I would love to see yours!  Tag me #stephaniemartel on social media to show me!

What are you creating in your life? Why making a vision board can seem like magic.2018-03-29T20:23:27-04:00
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