Please introduce yourself and your books.
Finding inspiration in unlikely places has always been what intrigues me. Hi, I am Sandra Duran Wilson, an artist, writer and closet scientist. I grew up looking into microscopes and telescopes and then painting what I saw. I have written six books on art techniques and the creative process. I have juggled creating my own art, teaching others how to become their most creative selves and writing about it all. One book, Surface Treatment Workshop has been translated into over 6 languages. But really, art is the universal language.
Why did you begin writing books?
I have both a science degree and one in fine art. I wanted to study consciousness and creativity but back in the 90’s that wasn’t an option at a behavioral based institution. So, I got a degree in fine art and cognitive science and began to do my own exploring. I didn’t realize at the time when I was taking years of statistics and writing experiments that it would come in handy for my future of writing art technique books. My first five books are all about using acrylic paint and mediums to create mixed media work. One book, Alternative Surfaces, was really based on my experiments. All books here.
What inspired your most recent book?
This book, Awakening Your Creative Soul, is the book that has been waiting for me to show up. I first had to live through the experiences and come out the other side before I could write it. Over 25 years ago my life ended as I knew it. I left the world of addiction and entered an unknown place of recovery. I took it one day at a time and I let my curiosity lead me. I knew I couldn’t go on the way I had been, so I took a class at the local community college. I never planned to go back to university, but 5 years later I had 2 degrees. When I left the world of drugs and alcohol, I also left my job as a bartender. I went from making drinks and listening to people’s stories to listening to people’s stories while staying sober. I was a counselor and art/spirituality guide, and I was very fortunate to spend a decade helping people find their way back to their soul story.
During this decade I led spirituality groups, hikes into nature, working with earth-based healing experiences and reframing the way one walks in the world. It was during this time that I was blessed with many teachers and I developed the ideas for the book Awakening Your Creative Soul. That decade was more educational than my degrees, and when I walked down a different path to develop my art career, I took all the lessons with me. They were in my backpack because many in the art world didn’t want to see the shadow side of creativity. When I pulled these lessons out, I unpacked them into a new type of art technique book. This one is based on the “why” of creating.
How has your creative process improved over time?
The journey of healing and moving around the circle of time is what inspired this book. It begins with waking up to your true creative self. The book is for the curious and the creative souls that are looking to shake up their process and connect deeper with their why. You never know what may crack open your shell to discover the sweet nuggets that are nestled deep within you. Learning to trust my journey has led me to write a much more personal art technique book than all the previous books. This book takes you on a journey around the year and it gives you detailed instructions how to create based on certain cycles of life, the seasons and nature. It will get you more in synch with your purpose.
How do you deal with creative blocks?
When I have a creative block, I look at the world upside down. This gives me a new perspective. I used to stand on my head but now I just lie on the bed or preferably on a chaise lounge at the beach and imagine how I can motor my way around an upside-down world. It works every time. Also, laughter is a great creative block buster.
What role do emotions play in creativity?
Connecting with the idea of an emotion is the first step. Any emotion is first a thought, then a vision in your mind and then an emotion. When you can come to this realization and switch the thought, your creative process will flow with ease and grace. When I am in the studio in the flow of creating, I am outside of time and space. This state of flow is what creativity is all about.
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
Well, we go back to the state of emotions. There can be 99 great reviews and one bad one and what do you focus on but that one bad review. Why? First there is the thought you have; they didn’t like it and I am a failure. Then the visualization, my world is crashing down around me, followed by the emotion, I am not good enough. All this from one bad review even after reading the glowing reviews. There is a cognitive reptilian reason we hang on to the one bad one. It may be important to our survival. Our brain pumps out neurochemicals that tell us to pay attention to it. Now let’s put it into perspective. Look at the bad review independent of the other attachments. Is there good feedback in it or is just being snarky? Constructive criticism is essential in understanding how to best connect with your audience and to be able to provide the most helpful and clear writing. Even understanding my own responses to various forms of negative feedback is helpful for my own growth.
Do you have any creativity tricks?
I have tons! That’s what I write about in my blog posts.
A few tricks are:
Hit the mute button-when your internal critic is trying to run the show, grab your remote and silence that voice.
Trust-Learning to trust your intuition is the best gift you can give your creativity. See tip above if you get pushback on your ideas. The more you let go, the more you have. Trust your choices. You don’t have to know your purpose. Your purpose knows you. It is in your soul.
Dare Yourself – When you are afraid of something, fear has control of you. Learn to take baby steps to regain control. Dare yourself to do one thing today to lessen your anxiety. You can spend 5 minutes practicing how to speak on camera or try playing music or singing in front of others.
Let the ordinary inspire you- This is my favorite one to do every day. Train yourself to see the amazing in the ordinary. Look at the textures on the walkway below your feet. Really look at a flower and see the universe inside the petals. Listen to the sounds of the city and see if you can assign an instrument to each sound.
The list goes on-check out the blog posts.
What are your plans for future books?
I have been hearing the call of an historical novel. I am not sure when, but I acknowledged the call and I got a very big intuitive ding, so I think I may follow that trail.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I used to be a farm laborer, picking fruit in Colorado and driving a tractor. This gig was in between my first go around at University and my next one as a jeweler and bartender.
Here is a look at my artwork.