Awakening Your Creative Soul: A 52-Week Journey to Artistic Discovery

Awakening Your Creative Soul: A 52-Week Journey to Artistic Discovery

by Sandra Duran Wilson


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Open the door to your creative awakening!

"Do everything with great love, whether it is painting, writing, dancing, relationships or learning." —Sandra Duran Wilson

Sharing your passion is the greatest gift you can give, and the journey to your creative awakening starts with a single step—or a single exercise. You never know what will open the door.

This book is for curious souls wanting to find the right spark to jump-start their creativity. Inside, there are 52 chapters with an exercise for each week of the year featuring a step-by-step art, writing or meditation project. Following the flow of the seasons, the exercises are designed to take you from the spring of your intuition, through the summer of personal growth, fall of self-discovery to arrive at the end of your creative cycle refreshed, revived and renewed.

Find your voice and vision:

  • 52 fun and beautiful projects offer a new chance at self-discovery every week for one year—they are not necessarily sequential and can be completed at any time on your journey
  • Weekly prompts merge art making with universal life challenges to help you open your mind and explore different spiritual and creative philosophies

Refill your well, become the light, expand yourself and your story.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781440353079
Publisher: F+W Media
Publication date: 10/16/2018
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 595,415
Product dimensions: 7.90(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Sandra Duran Wilson comes from a family of artists and scientists. She grew up in a world where all things were possible in her imagination. It was a world where she could look through the microscope in her father's office and paint what she saw. Her early years were spent on the border of Mexico where the people, animals, landscape, music, culture and the stories of the curanderos shaped her reality. Years later she would return frequently to Mexico and South America to absorb the culture, traditions and art. Her spirituality combined with her scientific studies directed her work from realism to abstraction.

Her work is influenced by scientific concepts in physics, chemistry and biology. The pure fun of exploring what paint can do and her natural curiosity keeps the work fresh and lively. She is continually exploring new surfaces, materials and techniques. Her work is represented in galleries in the U.S. and Australia and is found in corporate, civic and educational institutions and private collections globally.

She experiments, paints, writes and teaches at her studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She also teaches around the U.S., Europe and Australia. She is the author of six art technique books and several DVDs, and her work has been featured in numerous books and magazines. Visit her website at

Read an Excerpt



The Eastern Gate


The east's energies are about becoming new again. Beginning and returning, awakening, new growth, seeing things through fresh eyes, embracing the dawn and springtime. This is the time of early childhood and learning who you are. Spontaneity, playfulness, wonder, inquisitiveness, truth and creativity are all eastern energies. Question everything with a child's mind and curiosity. This is a magical time when all seems possible.

Face the eastern dawn and awake from the sleep of winter. Feel the rising sun illuminate your mind, body and soul. You are beginning anew, yet you retain the wisdom that you have carried around the wheel of life. The earth is coming alive with new growth and fresh promise.

Now is the time to turn outward to greet the day. You have completed the circle of the seasons and been reborn from the darkness of winter, bursting forth with the lively curiosity of the child.

In this season of light emerging from the darkness, we are fueled by the spirit — the part of us that is eternal. This light births creativity, and is manifested in art and writing. Through the exercises in the eastern section, we will peel away the layers of the ego to identify and clarify our soul. We will learn to see with fresh eyes and gain new perspective. We will begin anew and learn to trust our intuitive voices, harness our dreams and jump outside the constraints of time to manifest our creativity.


New Eyes

Make the common sights strange and the unusual familiar.

Your art will be found in the hidden corners and crevices of your soul. It won't hit you over the head, it will whisper your name. Learn to listen and see with fresh eyes. Expand your perceptions and invite your muse to join you in a grand adventure. Think of how when you are traveling to a new place, the time passes slowly compared to the return trip. You see with new eyes on the outward journey, and on the return trip your brain is editing those experiences. Time changes. Our routines can be very helpful for many things, but seeing with new eyes is not one of them.

When we become accustomed to seeing the same things every day, they tend to disappear. Our mind cuts out the familiar. We must train our mind to see again. Take, for example, water. How often do you encounter water in some shape or form during the course of your day? Many times, yet your mind doesn't register these encounters as events to remember.

Look at the page of this book or at a piece of paper. Do you see the cloud in the paper? Thich Nhat Hahn discusses this regarding meditation. The artist can see the cloud floating in the paper or the canvas. The cloud is necessary to produce water. The water is needed for the tree to grow and the paper comes from the tree. This exercise is twofold. First we will make the common sights and experiences memorable, then we will make the strange and unusual concepts more familiar. We are training ourselves to encounter our muse in both the most familiar and the most unlikely places.

Begin today by taking note of every time you encounter water. It is in your coffee or tea in the morning. It is in the shower and the bath. It is in the food you eat. All food requires water. It is used to grow the fibers to make many of the clothes you wear and to grow food for the cattle that produce the leather for your shoes. It is used in manufacturing plastics. It is everywhere. Notice and think about this for the day. Make yourself aware of the familiar. Think about how you will use this information in creating a work of art.

Now attempt to make the strange familiar by looking at something from a unique perspective. Open your eyes to the minute patterns around you to tell your muse that you are awake and listening. The muse will respond by revealing all kinds of creative ideas and patterns. Let's look from high above. Aerial or topographical maps that indicate elevation changes are a new way of seeing the earth. Think of these like vibrational lines or fractals. Fractals are never-ending patterns that continuously replicate themselves at an increasing scale. These same patterns are repeated over and over until they form larger patterns, but the same form is contained within the larger pattern. They surround us. When you begin to look you will see them everywhere, such as the center of a sunflower, the form of a cauliflower or the veins of a leaf.

Maybe math is strange for you, so begin to look at pictures of coastlines or satellite images of a river delta following its path as it flows into the ocean. This, too, is mathematics. Not as strange now, is it? Science and technology continue to bring new tools to the artist. Drone photography reveals incredible views from a fresh perspective, with artists today creating amazing video art by choreographing and filming illuminated drones at night to create patterns and movement.


Who Are You

Transform a blank canvas into a portrait to get to the heart of your identity.


Panel or old painting Creative Paperclay Ornament or object to shape the clay around or wax paper Unmounted rubber stamp or flexible texture plate Light molding paste by Golden Paper and pencil Acrylic gel gloss Paintbrushes Palette knife Scissors Grafix Artist-tac adhesive Washi tape Acrylic paints DecoArt Metallic Lustre cream wax Water-soluble colored pencils
Who you are is much deeper than the labels we usually give ourselves. What are your labels — woman, friend, mother, artist, healer, man, father or the identity of your career? Think of it like peeling the fine, thin layers off an onion. First there are the dry outer skin layers that come off easily. Next there is a thicker protective layer and then the fine, thin membranes, which are very fragile. These layers are like our labels: easy to identify. Below are the layers of our experiences, followed by the layers of our emotions and, at the innermost center, our soul's core layers.

You can do this exercise with a partner or you can use a mirror to do the exercise by yourself.

To begin, ask the question, Who am I? Take a moment to breathe and answer the first thing that comes to you. It will probably be your name. Ask again, who are you? Continue repeating and answering the question like you are peeling off the layers to reveal your inner self. Take time to breathe and let your answers flow. There is no wrong answer.

You may write the words down, or simply stay in the process and write them afterward. If you are doing this with someone, ask them Who are you? making sure to look into their eyes when asking and responding. This may feel awkward in the beginning but stay with it. If you are doing this on your own, use a mirror to look deeply into your own eyes.

Write your words in pencil on paper.

When you have finished this exercise, make a self-portrait based on your responses. This is not a traditional self-portrait. It is not based on your outward appearance, but on who you are experientially, emotionally and soulfully.

Here are some of my words: Sandra, wife, friend, daughter, sister, artist, scientist, writer, poet, dreamer, activist, lover of life, sailor of space, light, the wind, the silence between the notes, stillness. The many roles I have throughout my life are the outer layers. My aspirations and dreams are the inner layers, and my soul's core is who I am without all those other roles, like stillness.

I decided to use an old painting I had done back in art school as my background canvas. I like the idea of building layers on top of who I was to create a current self-portrait many years later. All of my past experiences are contained and transformed into who I have become.

To prepare the surface, I covered the entire surface of my old painting with light molding paste, then I added gel gloss onto some areas at random. This created a totally white and somewhat absorbent substrate. If you choose to use an old painting, you can prepare it with gesso or just start with a new blank canvas altogether.

1 Make a heart with paper clay. Roll out the clay to about ¼" (6mm) thickness. I am using a decorative heart ornament as a base to shape the clay around. If you aren't using a base, simply roll the clay flat on top of wax paper and then cut out a heart shape with a knife.

Build up the clay gradually so it has some depth. Dampen your fingers to smooth additional clay and press around the edges to create the heart shape.

2 Using an unmounted rubber stamp or other textured material to emboss, press texture onto the heart. Carefully remove the clay from the heart base or the wax paper and set it aside to dry. It may take a day or two to dry.

3 Once the clay heart is fully dry, brush on a base of gold acrylic paint and let it dry.

4 When the paint is dry, use your fingers to apply some turquoise metallic cream wax to give the heart a metallic look. Set it aside to dry.

5 Draw the shape of a head and neck on copy paper and cut it out. Place the paper cutouts on your panel surface and use a brown water-soluble colored pencil to outline the shapes. If you like, you can simply draw the shapes freehand.

6 Paint the head and neck with mixtures of yellow and red acrylic paints diluted with water.

7 Select the colors for your background. My color palette is green, yellow, white and brown. Dilute the acrylic paints with a lot of water and apply with a large brush. Let it sit for a few minutes, then blot some off. This is a great way to control and build layers.

8 Use the brown water-soluble colored pencil to outline the face on your self-portrait.

9 Write your Who Am I words on a piece of copy paper using a pencil. Turn the paper over with the words facedown and apply overlapping strips of washi tape to the paper.

10 Here you see the washi tape, but the words are not visible. The words will be collaged facedown into the finished piece as a meaningful layer, just like the layers of an onion.

11 Cut the washi tape across the layers to create a new pattern: hair that will flow from the head.

12 Pull the protective backing away from a sheet of adhesive film and place the strips onto the sticky side. Reposition the cover paper and rub down to adhere the sticky adhesive to the strips of paper. Remove the cover paper and peel the strips off. The back side of the strips will now have adhesive on them.

13 Position the strips of washi tape where you want them. You can easily reposition them before you rub them down into place. Once everything is arranged as you like, use your hand or a burnishing tool to rub the strips onto the surface.

14 Finish painting the face with your acrylics and watercolor pencil, and continue to add the washi strips.

15 I found some wooden rings that I painted gold. You could also use old jewelry or personal symbols to make this your own portrait. Use acrylic gel gloss to attach the heart and your symbols. Apply enough to the objects so that when you press down, some gel oozes out. You can clean off the extra before it dries. Set it aside and let it dry.


A Beginner's Mind

Avoid overthinking your work by abandoning expectations.

Contributed by Seth Apter


Watercolor paper,
Sometimes starting something new, especially as a beginner, can feel daunting and overwhelming. On the other hand, a beginner does not bring the expectations of immediate success, which can often stifle creativity. In fact, beginners come with excitement, eagerness, passion, hope, curiosity and often a sense of playfulness. Think about creating as a child, the ultimate example of a new beginning.

No matter where you are on your creative path, a complete novice or a seasoned pro, try to think like a beginner. Take risks, be spontaneous, let go of any preconceived outcome, and bring with you the sense that anything is possible. The exercise here, which I call "Layer Conveyor," is all about letting go and having fun. I selected these techniques to help you create without over-thinking. So bring your beginner's mind and play!

1 Cut watercolor paper into four 6" × 6" (15cm × 15cm) squares. Brush black gesso loosely on one side of each square. When the gesso is dry, squeeze two colors of acrylic paint onto the surface of each square one at a time and brush it out. Let the colors mix and leave bits of the black surface showing through. Add additional colors of paint as desired.

2 Place your watercolor squares into a pile, overlapping one another. Select one pattern from a variety of pieces of textured paper and brush on acrylic paint. Press the surface of the pattern paper onto the pile of squares, swiping with your hand to apply the pattern from the textured paper to the squares. Shuffle your pile of squares and repeat the process with different colors of paint and different patterns of paper.

3 Once dry, replace your watercolor squares into an overlapping pile. Ink a variety of rubber stamps with background details and press onto the pile. Do this at random with no thought of composition. Shuffle your pile of squares and repeat the process with different colors of ink and different stamps.

4 Select a variety of stencils and create a focal point on each watercolor square by pouncing layers of acrylic paint and ink from the ink pads through the stencil using a craft sponge. Let each layer dry before proceeding to the next. I used 6" × 6" (15cm × 15cm) stencils/masks on each piece, but you can use any number of different stencils to create your own design.

5 Using your choice of journaling pens, outline the stencil words and designs and add your own marks or doodles to make the artwork uniquely yours.


Vision Board

Find your vision in the circle by following the Earth's energies.


Foamcore or mat board Pencil Craft knife Cutting board/surface Ruler or T-square Shapes for making circles Magazine images or other printouts Paper and pens for writing words Glue stick
I have used visioning to manifest most things in my life. I didn't have the words vision board when I was a child, and manifesting didn't mean the same thing back then, but I used pictures. I would write and draw about the things I wanted to do or things I wished for. I would use pictures for my birthday or holiday wish list to present to my parents. I never did get my horse, but I became very adept at drawing them. Later I had posters in my room of places I wanted to go and things I wanted to do. These were my early vision boards. I would stare at the posters and this would become a type of meditation. When I looked out the window and heard the whistle of a distant train, I would imagine where it was going and that I would be on it. I used words, pictures and my imagination to create and manifest.

I now understand that the secret to manifesting relies on feelings. What you focus on expands, so make room for it in your life. Focus on how you want to feel. Create a vision board to hold your desires and dreams in front of you daily so you can focus on them. When you create the vision board, you are defining your desires and dreams. When you put it in front of you every day, you are refining these dreams through short visualizations every time you look at it.

"Your brain will work tirelessly to achieve the statements you give your subconscious mind. And when those statements are the affirmations and images of your goals, you are destined to achieve them!"

Jack Canfi eld

at it. Visualization works. It works for improving performance in sports, and it works for imagining the outcome of an activity. It stimulates the same areas in the brain whether you are doing the activity or simply imagining it. It works when you feel the experience like it is happening now.

I have been making simple vision boards with groups for years using a piece of posterboard, a glue stick and a stack of magazines. I remember one person methodically looking through a huge stack of magazines for a very specific image. I suggested that she shut her eyes and visualize the image she wanted using her imagination and to focus on this until it became very clear and she could sense it. I then told her to open her eyes and go grab a magazine from the table. Pick up the first one that speaks to you. She started to give me that are-you-kidding-me look, so I asked her to just act, not think. She trusted and did as I asked. She picked up a magazine and began to flip through it. I returned to the rest of the group, but within a few minutes I heard a squeal. "It's here. It's perfect. It is exactly what I saw!" She added it to her board and proceeded to close her eyes and visualize her next image. She got it. She now understood the power of visualization.

In this project we are going to make a vision board by allowing the Earth's energies to direct and guide us. We will keep an opening in the center of the circle to represent the unknown — the place where all creation is possible. Here are some of the symbolic meanings behind each of the Earth's four directions and a simple objective to contemplate:

EAST — Spring, new beginnings, dawn, awakening, illumination, imagination, play, rebirth, curiosity, wonder and clarity: things I wish to embody.

SOUTH — Summer, growth, learning trust, abundance, paradox, clarity, action, intuition, experimentation, joy: things I wish to learn.

WEST — Autumn, strength, introspection, renewal, gratitude, understanding, acceptance, self-love, maturity, reflection, collaboration: things I wish to share.

NORTH — Winter, wisdom, purity, peace, paradox, serenity, time of reinvention, sitting in the silence, balance transformation, moving from old age to the next level: to simply be.


Excerpted from "Awakening Your Creative Soul"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Sandra Duran Wilson.
Excerpted by permission of F+W Media, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction, 6,
PART 1 The Eastern Gate, 8,
1 New Eyes, 10,
2 Who Are You, 12,
3 A Beginner's Mind, 17,
4 Vision Board, 19,
5 Attitude Cards, 22,
6 Life Force, 25,
7 Stone Meditation, 30,
8 Freedom, 32,
9 Outside of Time, 36,
10 Holding Intentions, 38,
11 Find Your Tribe, 42,
12 Dreams, 45,
13 Rebirth, 48,
PART 2 The Southern Gate, 50,
14 Go With the Flow, 52,
15 Tell a Story, 55,
16 A New Perspective, 58,
17 Animal Friends, 62,
18 Rekindle Passion, 66,
19 Planting the Seeds, 68,
20 Angel Art, 72,
21 Collaboration, 74,
22 Recognizing Intuition, 76,
23 Accidental Masterpiece, 78,
24 Focus, 80,
25 Awareness, 84,
26 Road Map, 86,
PART 3 The Western Gate, 90,
27 Power Shield, 92,
28 The Seven Chakras, 96,
29 Doorway to Stillness, 98,
30 Labyrinth, 100,
31 Double Decker, 103,
32 The Verb, 106,
33 Healing, 108,
34 Habits, 111,
35 Rhythm, 114,
36 Shadow Play, 118,
37 No Comparison, 120,
38 Resistance, 124,
39 Be Bigger Than Your Fears, 126,
PART 4 The Northern Gate, 128,
40 Ancestors, 130,
41 Living in the Question, 134,
42 Embrace the Unknown, 136,
43 Buried Treasure, 140,
44 Sacred Shrine, 142,
45 Trust and Synchronicity, 146,
46 Gratitude Tree, 148,
47 Share Your Light, 152,
48 What to Do When You Fall, 156,
49 Success, 160,
50 Find Your Song, 162,
51 Joy Is a Circle, 165,
52 Refill the Well, 168,
Contributors, 170,
Index, 172,
About the Author, 174,
Dedication & Acknowledgments, 175,

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Awakening Your Creative Soul: A 52-Week Journey to Artistic Discovery 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
CharJones2525 9 months ago
The author is an artist who inspires creative expression through this gorgeous book really geared to mixed media artists. It offers weekly exercises, timed to the seasons, that stir artistic juices but rely on costly materials to produce. Inspiring to look at but unrealistic for all but the most adept visual artists among us. 3/5 stars Pub Date 16 Oct 2018    Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the ARC. Opinions are mine. #AwakeningYourCreativeSoul #NetGalley
toReadistoEscape More than 1 year ago
This was a unique and enjoyable book meant to spark your creativity. There are 52 chapters meant to be completed weekly. Each chapter has inspirational, creative ideas for painting, writing, journaling and more. Even if you just enjoy looking at the art Sandra has created you will enjoy this book and be inspired by it. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to be more creative. I think someone looking for a new hobby would enjoy trying several of her ideas and would find a new hobby to enjoy. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own. If this review was helpful to you please click the link below.