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Posts from the ‘Carmen’ Category

Carmen Torbus: The Artist Unique

Long-time readers of this blog — as well as those who are hooked up to the creative blogosphere at large — are likely acquainted with artist and mother Carmen Torbus. Last year, Carmen’s book, The Artist Unique, was published. It’s apparent — just a few pages in — that Carmen’s book is different from other hands-on guides in the “use creativity to express yourself” category. (If you don’t have a copy already, I highly recommend that you add this book to your creative toolkit.) I asked Carmen to join us for a belated stop on her book tour. Enjoy!

Q: What inspired your book? How did you develop your clear message?

The Artist Unique was inspired by the realization that something was missing in my artwork… me.

I was spending a ton of time creating. I was in awe of many of the mixed-media artists I was seeing in books and magazines and I was giddy about the art projects I was completing. I was so excited when my work came out looking as good as theirs, but they never really felt like they were mine. They were replicas. Knock-offs.

When I realized something was missing, I started exploring. I wanted to take inventory of all the little things that make me unique and then incorporate them into my work. I like to describe signature style as, “You, on canvas.” Soon after I felt my style was emerging, I developed an online workshop called Spill It. The class description was as follows:


All the little things that makes you unique
will make your creative endeavors unique.
And in this workshop,
you will put all of those little things
that make you, you
on your palette
and Spill It onto canvas.
We will explore Mixed Media technique combinations to help you
discover and project personal creative style.

While teaching that workshop, I realized that there was more to this idea than a small online workshop and so the idea for a book was born. I wanted to stick to inspiration and techniques and encourage exploration. I did not want to write a book with step-by-step projects because I wanted to empower creative play and allow room for improvising, brainstorming, and light-bulb moments.

Q: What was the process of writing a book — expanding your workshop framework into a full-on manuscript — like for you?

It was interesting because I didn’t just pull from my own experiences. I really wanted the book to focus on the reader and empowering them to play and try new things so their signature style can emerge. To do that, I asked 15 artists who I feel have a distinct style to share one of their favorite techniques. I shared their artwork and the steps for using the technique. Then I used the technique in my artwork to illustrate the different outcomes that came come from using the same technique.

I also wanted to inspire the reader and give them hope that regardless of their skill level or where they are in their artistic journey, they are becoming a unique artist — just like the contributing artists. The stories of each contributor were a joy to share.

The process of writing and pulling all of the information together was a bit of a challenge for me. Truth be told, I don’t do well with deadlines. They paralyze me. Especially when they are months away. Once you have a contract to write a book, there are several deadlines set. There have to be. It feels like you have all the time in the world when a deadline is months or even a year out.

I’m a bit of a procrastinator. (Who am I kidding, I’m a complete procrastinator!) I do my best work when time is crunched. I prefer shorter deadlines if I have to have them at all. I did most of the writing literally a week or two before each deadline.

My publisher and editor were wonderful to work with. I highly recommend Northlight for any creative folks that dream of writing a creative book.

Q: What do you most want your readers to take away from your book?

Inspiration and the belief that they can develop their own style as a creative person or artist. My hope is that readers will take inspiration from the contributors and explore their creative desires.

Q: What’s on deck?

I’m not sure what’s in my future. I’m exploring a few options right now. And to be completely honest, the unsureness (is that even a word?) is leaving me feeling a little vulnerable and uneasy, but sort of free at the same time.

My dream is to encourage, inspire, and empower big dreamers to actively pursue their wildest dreams. I’m not 100% sure what the best avenue is for me to support my tribe, but I’m bound and determined to keep trying until I figure it out. I’m about to begin formal life coach training and I’m currently working with a limited number of coaching clients.

I’ve spent the last three months focusing inward, specifically on my health and happiness. Which has taken the form of regular exercise and a better diet, resulting in weight loss, feeling better, more self-confidence and an overall healthier, happier me. The best ripple effect of this happier healthier me is improvement in my most important relationships. I love it and it’s inspiring me to expand my vision and dream a little bigger — even to the point of incorporating health and wellness into my coaching practice along with a healthy dose of creativity.


Please join me in wishing Carmen the very best in her future adventures. You can stay in the loop at

Creative Haven: Purple Cottage Retreats

If you’ve been hanging around at Studio Mothers for a while, you’re already familiar with Kelly Warren. Kelly is an inspiration, living life to the fullest with her twin daughters and husband, a fulltime job, and a busy creative life as a jewelery designer, photographer, collage artist, guitarist, singer, and active blogger. Read the Studio Mothers Breakfast interview with Kelly for details — and a guaranteed smile.

As further evidence that Kelly’s creative mojo just can’t be contained, she recently took a big step toward realizing another creative dream and launched a new venture, The Purple Cottage. The Purple Cottage offers unique creative retreats in Jacksonville, FL. The first retreat will take place May 21-23, 2010, featuring the talented Carmen Torbus — who joined us for a memorable Breakfast interview of her own. Carmen is a empowering and inspiring teacher, in addition to being a talented artist. Have a peek at Carmen’s work for yourself.

From The Purple Cottage website:

Spend the weekend constructing your personal Dream Book. Explore a mixed assortment of techniques, exercises, prompts and methods to uniquely express your thoughts, emotions and individual artistic style. Cultivate your wildest creative dreams and tuck them neatly into your Dream Book to cherish, reflect upon and nourish your soul.

Enjoy a supportive atmosphere where you can give your muse the complete freedom to play and experiment with many techniques. My demos will use paint, papers, photos, ink, collage and other media. I will toss some exercises your way to challenge you to dream bigger and expand your vision. We’ll explore words and text to create personal affirmations and find creative ways to incorporate them in our Dream Books.

At this retreat you are free to make a mess, play and let go of the need for perfection. I will gently and playfully encourage you to let loose and fully engage in the moment — creating simply for the joy of the process. Enjoy sheer artful indulgence!

Throughout the weekend, we’ll use brushes, pencils, our fingers, stamps, crayons and other tools to create texture and add color to the pages that will fill your Dream Books. We will work on several pages simultaneously, giving you complete freedom to work intuitively. Savor absolute creative abandon!

Art and Dreams ButtonIt’s hard to overestimate just how much creative excitement, learning, sharing, growing, bonding, and exploring will happen at this retreat. It sounds like a dream come true, doesn’t it? I’m still trying to figure out if I can attend this retreat myself. If I lived within a 6-hour drive of Jacksonville, it would be a no-brainer. I’m not sure my husband is still reading my blog these days, but Honey, if you are……

Carmen: Taking the Plunge

PhotobucketIn October, I received an email from Miranda requesting a  “Breakfast with Carmen” interview and I was super excited. I had never had anyone request an interview with me before. I think I was giddy all day at the thought of someone being genuinely interested in learning more about me. What I didn’t know, was that the Universe was trying to tell me something. This interview was my first hint. Sometimes I need to be smacked over the head and handed a sign in order to see things for how they really are.

About a month after the interview, the night before my 32nd birthday, I sat down and wrote my intentions for the coming year. One of my intentions is to write more. I journal a great deal, but I’m not always brave enough to actually share my innermost thoughts, hopes and dreams.

Putting my raw emotions out there always makes me feel extremely vulnerable and for the few seconds before I sit the “submit” button, the butterflies start going berserk and the fear sets in and my thoughts shift to questions of…  What if they make fun of me? What if that sounds crazy? What if I’m the only one that feels that way? and when I’m strong enough, I take a deep breath and surrender. I let go of the fear for that split second to click submit. Then comes relief and then doubt follows.

On the rare occasion that I open myself up and share, I always get the most amazing feedback and encouragement from other bloggers and I feel validated somehow. I’m learning to embrace this vulnerability and sit with it. Each time I go through this process, I grow and I feel the Universe winking at me, like she knew all along that I had it in me.

It occurred to me about a month ago that this community is the perfect place to begin my writing and so I got in touch with Miranda and within minutes, I was all set as a contributor. Then I froze. Fear set in. The questions came… What if they make fun of me? What if that sounds crazy? What if I’m the only one that feels that way? and eventually it all come down to shame and the dreaded question… What if I’m not good enough?

I think that I was onto something in one of my brave moments when I wrote, “I suppose the only way to find out is to “do” while continuing to dream. I suppose I don’t have to know how, I just have to start.”

So this is my beginning at Creative Construction. I could have started this journey sooner, when the Universal hints started coming my way, but I won’t “should” on myself. For all I know the timing could be absolutely perfect! I will be back soon writing from my heart.

Go easy on me and I will attempt to go easy on myself in the process.



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