An Art-Full Life

Thoughts + Life

What does it mean to live an art-full life? I believe that to live artfully is to live intentionally, to strike a balance between creativity and functionality. The choices we make about our environment, our practices and our personas are intimately tied to our material culture. The way we feel in our social circles, our homes and our skins is both expressed THROUGH and influenced BY dialogues between our visual objects and our psyches, an incredibly rich & nuanced conversation of symbols and aesthetics.

So the question arises: how to make those choices? The question “How to live a good life?” becomes a lifelong creative project: “How to create what is both true and functional?” How to live your life artfully?

Let’s look at four ways for creativity, expression and function to strike a resounding chord.


Our clothing choices are about much more than just trends or utility. They’re a second skin that we get to choose every morning, a chance to reinvent ourselves day by day through colour, shape, theme; what we choose to cover or reveal; what social microcosms we reference and reflect – honestly, I could write a whole other post about the language of dress.

My point is this: when we choose what to put on our backs, we’re making a choice about which version of us we’re presenting AND inhabiting that day. That’s why favourite clothes are as potent as they are: they’re a symbol of something we value, integrated with the self, worn intimately as a chosen skin.

Before getting dressed, try taking a moment to set an intention for the day, and then choose an outfit that feels aligned to it. This choice will quietly remind you of your intention and support it for the rest of the day, in a way that’s entirely yours.


It matters where your eye lands.

It matters what’s in your field of vision: greenery or asphalt, order or clutter, an empty space or a full one. It matters because our minds are constantly running thought processes that we’re barely conscious of, if we’re even aware of them at all, and those processes interact with our sensual experiences. There’s a reason so many of us get moody in the dark days of winter, and why a walk in the woods leaves us feeling refreshed.

One way to channel this tendency: arrange a few vignettes around your home or office, especially in spots where you’re likely to see them through the day. Give some attention to the overall shapes and colour combinations, and think about what the components mean to you personally. Essentially, you’re creating strategic art moments in your space.


It’s powerful to have something you can control, however small. Even more so when you don’t have control over very much.

For example: as kids return to school this autumn, they’re facing a whole new rhythm and set of demands, different from what they’re used to, with the added challenge of talking through masks and trying to stay 2m away from their friends.

Small touches like personalized locker decor go a long way to helping your kids feel at home in a new environment. And when they can’t share their hugs with their friends, they can at least share their tastes.


Humans are tellers of stories: we write, we dance, we ululate. We leave our marks on cave walls and box cars. We express outward and explore inward using creative media: early mornings with a journal, late nights with whiskey and paint. Days of posting, photographing, commenting and calling. We are creatures of expression.

Making marks and telling stories takes us to the highest peaks of our skill and down into the most primal valleys of urgent, impulsive release. We rage. We revise. We see, hear, respond to the cacophony of our senses and what others have said, enter into an ecosystem of artistic endeavour. We join the dance.

At the end of the day, the most visceral way to live a life full of art is to make art.

We are artists from the moment we are born, and we never cease to be. We may mute our voices, but those voices never disappear, not entirely. Living art-fully, living well, requires that you heed that voice, and guide it.

Make your marks.

Shop the art from this post

Two cats

things I noticed

Two cats, both black and white but not brothers, emerge. Know them by their fears: sleek young one fears the other, his dash, his sudden flash of teeth, barbarity. The other fears me. Yellow eyes askance, we face one another. Black fur grey, an undercoat of dirt. He moves not. Half a cat facing, half hidden in the vert.

The sleek young one rolls on his back on the grass, ecstatic. The other glances, dismisses, retires.

Apples blossom.

The luxury of time to stand before a bloom for as long as is right, for as long as it takes to make the marks I need on my page and the state of my mind. To stand and slowly study light. Luxury, to breath in the wood in a season most alive, to care more for the light and the air than for when I will arrive. Luxury, to have hands that have learned to mark, eyes that have learned to see. To have this capacity.

Gratitude to past me. Only, there is no past. There is no “was”.

What if I am the only one that is? If there is only now, if was is only memory and memory is nothing but imagined sense, if reality exists only in perception, I am indeed alone.

At that thought: lonely?

A little.


No one is in the mirror.

Why need a mirror?

If reality exists only in perception, to be seen is to be made real. To see is to make real. I am made real by that one’s witnessing, yet even as (s)he witnesses (s)he is not real except in my seeing. Witnessing reciprocal, and therefore circular: therein its downfall.

A yellow smell: sun, new grass and dandelions. Cooler, greener under the maple trees.

Each light humble

things I noticed

Blue light before dawn. Wishing to be out in it. Cooler air, a chorus: birds waking as the world wakes.

Days of needing more sleep: eight hours, nine, eleven. Days of needing seven, six, of needing five. The way my body feels, this early.

No to the yellow light, no to the flickering electric light. Hold to the blue, and the crackle of the birds’ song. Hold to the shimmer of a candle, a light which does not presume to cancel the dim blue light of the dawn.

Desire for a friend which is not desire for sex, but to witness. Desire to be with, and not need to express or impress. Self less keenly urgent brought to fore, less demanding. Hanging, and content to hang, for the grip is secure. Let hang. Look elsewhere. Desire to witness another as I witness the dawn.

Dim, early light, the light of a candle. The day dandles, barely born.

To see a human in such grace.

I yearn to erase consciousness, and not to be erased.

Dawn can see a candle; candle, dawn. Each light humble. Each light on its own, but mingled. Each light, not to overrun a light, but to be one.

The Ziegarnick effect

things I noticed

I noticed myself revisiting arguments with exes, and making new ones up. Why? What door am I closing? Am I turning off a burner, or switching it on?

There’s an effect named for Zeigarnick, which describes our craving for closure. Whatever is left open must be closed, what’s unfinished must be finished, what’s unsaid, said. Years later I’m saying, and since the ex is nowhere here to hear I’ll keep saying, saying, saying.

What if I spoke for a different ear? The sky is blue, the birds are busy, and I am here.

I cannot win that argument. It’s unfinished, and it’s over. But I can tell myself what I wish I had done, and what I would like to do next time. Remember that I am here, now, not there, then. How often I speak to people who aren’t there – my ex, my mother, my friend. Fighting, describing, showing off. All my thoughts are carried on trains bound for one witness or another. Then thought rolls in the context of that relationship, and is coloured by it.

How difficult it is to think to myself, even for a moment.