Be an Expert, Be a Learner

Artists and writers are always pushing ahead–pushing their boundaries, pushing themselves to learn a new technique. That’s growth. But there is also a time for being an expert and sticking to what you know.

First, sketch the raven. Then, cut out words and letters about ravens and glue them in place, using tweezers. Tiny, fiddly steps. There is no worthwhile project that doesn’t require time, attention, and practice. © Quinn McDonald, 2018

I’m learning how to create and run an online class. I’ve been teaching for many years,but it’s always been face-to-face. Online is a new medium for me, and a new medium always brings a learning curve. I don’t always love steep learning curves.

While creating a course (The Invisible, Visible World will be an online class as well as a book), I began with a brain dump of all the things I wanted to do in a four-week class. I had so many great ideas! But then I began to cram them into the modules. Either just a taste of an idea, or too many to finish in one class. Stop!

I backed up and looked at what I had a lot of experience in. I narrowed down the content, because too much information is just passing on my feeling of being overwhelmed.  The modules are simple and leave time for practice. Practice bring out expertise.

With less to learn and more time to practice, I see a better course emerging.  I hope so.

–Quinn McDonald is a certified creativity coach and a trainer in business writing topics. The Invisible, Visible World is a book on what we miss.

Healing Through Writing

We all meet dips in our lives. We don't always get warnings.

We all meet dips in our lives. We don’t always get warnings.

It’s been a tough year, no matter what side you are on. There were surprises enough for the whole world. If you feel in need of healing medicine, I’m offering a healing through writing class. It’s online, on a private group on Facebook.

The details are here, on my professional writing blog.  The basics? It’s four classes, one every two weeks, starting on November 19. There are two warm-up lessons already on the Facebook group, so you won’t be bored till it starts. The class is non-partisan, no political talk allowed. It’s about healing whatever needs to be healed in you.

Price? Pay what you want. There is a link to a PayPal donation page. You can pay nothing, you can pay a bit to help you feel accountable, you can pay a lot. All of the money goes to two charities.

If you have questions, you can always contact me through comments or by the Contact page on either blog site.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer who teaches writing. She is studying poetic medicine and will become a writing therapist.

Stow-Away Poetry (Aug.4, 2016)

Stow-away poetry is a way to share what you write and remain anonymous. But that’s just a tiny part of it. It’s simple: you write a poem, put it in an envelope, and leave it in a public place for someone to find. Anything else is up to you. You can join the stow-away poetry group on Facebook, you can make your own poems to leave.

I have no idea what the copyright law is about copying someone’s poetry and leaving it in public, even with attribution. There, I’ve said that. I must admit, I take the risk. My inner artist also likes me to dress up the poem to make it easy to see. There are a lot of different ways to do it: a decorative envelope, pretty paper, calligraphy. Here’s one I did filling in letters with colors. The complete poem appears on the back. It’s by William Stafford.

Colorful Stow-Away poem, using several lines from a Wiliam Safford poem. © Quinn McDonald, 2016.

Stow-away poetry became something I began when I went back to school to become a poetry therapist. Our class began by writing poetry to do some personal healing.  Healing is a powerful benefit of writing poetry. (If you want to know more about poetry as therapy, contact me through my other website contact page.)

Even better is writing your own poetry. Never written a poem? Anyone can. They don’t have to rhyme, they don’t have to have a certain rhythm or beat. Poetry can be short, meaningful and to the point. Here is an example from my classmate Barbara London.

Listening to the Morning News
Animals kill each other

Humans kill each other
and talk about it.

Short poems take effort. You have to take out all the extra words and be careful about choosing the right ones to use. Few words make each word do a lot of work and require picking and choosing. But the result is powerful.

I’m thinking of holding a poetry-writing online workshop. I want more poetry in the world; it’s so satisfying to write and participate. If you are interested (no, it’s not a promise to take the class), leave a comment. Let me know if you would take an online poetry class. If you want, tell me how you like to use online classes–once a week, everything at once, with an in-person part–whatever makes you feel involved and creative.

Quinn McDonald is studying to become a poetry therapist. She is a writer who teaches writing.

Looking Ahead

Thanks to all of you who emailed me about the new website. And for voicing an opinion on a tagline. You want me to stay here, not join the corporate world, and keep posting blogs. Breathe, breathe.  I’m not running off.

Pen Nib Sigil for Quinn McDonald 2I’ve been a corporate trainer for about 20 years, I just didn’t talk about it much. I teach business writing, grammar, emails, persuasive writing, writing for the web, and create custom courses for clients who have special requests. The most recent class is on writing answers for complaint letters, for a customer service department of a business I work with.

Why didn’t I tell you? Because the classes aren’t open enrollment–each class is for a specific company’s employees.

Yes, I will still be coaching, more than ever. I’m developing several three-session sets for people who want to be coached on a specific topic.

And the blog? Just like it is now. I write about living a creative life and making the most of yourself in this life. I share information that I believe to be useful to you. Including mistakes. Because I am the same person all the time, the blog posts are not suddenly going to morph into annual reports.  I may emphasize writing more because that’s who I am–a writer. I’m not giving up art, but I am doing some personal development work and don’t have much to show. Why? Talking about art ideas while I’m still working on them makes me see all the things I could be doing differently and that, for me, is the road to perdition. I prefer to share when I can talk about the good parts of the journey.

And now, I’m off to bed. A chest cold knocked me flat today, and I’m taking it easy. I am deeply grateful that I got to teach the two-day class in Dallas before this hit. Colds rarely get me, but this one did, and I’m letting it run its course.

—Quinn McDonald is grateful that the two-day class in Dallas was over before she got the cold.

Inner Hero Blog Class Starts Sept. 13

We all need inner heroes. Not all of us know how to find them. We are far more familiar with our inner critics. I want to help people find their inner heroes, even though it is not always easy. The class is about Writing Yourself Whole, gathering up the parts that don’t fit, that may be broken and finding a way to get to your strength through your journal.

Starting on this coming Saturday, I’ll be teaching a week-long class on this blog. YehudaBergQuoteIt’s about finding yourself in your inner hero, claiming your strength, knowing when you run off the rails by listening to your inner critic and all the people who mimic him. Naming your inner heroes help make them real, usable.

Each day you will be introduced to an inner critic you are probably familiar with.  Some you may recognize, some are facing you daily at work or at home, in your family or friends. You’ll then be given several prompts to use in your journal. The prompts will help you explore different ways to climb over the obstructions that block happiness, satisfaction, and contentment.

This is not an art journaling class. It’s a bone-deep writing class. You can make it into an art journaling class if you want, but this time, it’s about the writing. The connection to yourself and your strength. Through your fears and doubts. Doing some hard writing, deep writing.

The class is free. Some people will want to pay anyway. Some will find value and want to account for that. I am leaving it up to you–if you want to pay, you can. If you want to take the class for free, you are welcome to it. Here is the link to my site that allows you to donate any amount or get a gift for donating certain amounts. Again, the class is free; you don’t have to pay unless you want to.

(If, for any reason the buttons don’t work, please contact me at QuinnCreative [at] Yahoo [dot] com. They have been cranky today.)

I’m hoping that you will want to take the class and that it will help you find out the wonderful parts of you that are your inner heroes.

-Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach and the author of The Inner Hero Creative Art Journal


Summer Classes

Summer is a wonderful time to take classes. Even with kids out of school, there are fewer stresses in life, and the urge to create is strong.

I’m teaching two classes this summer, and would like to see you at either one.

July 19, 2014. Blue Twig Studio, Colorado Springs.

Monsoon Papers: Ink, Water, Words.

You’ll create two sheets of Monsoon Papers, then use them to build an accordion folder or a stitched pamphlet (your choice) of pockets, fold-outs, faux stitching,FolderInside-300x169 and scraps of wisdom—small designed pieces of paper on which you’ll write favorite quotes–and tuck into place. You can also add quotes directly on the folder or flaps. At the end of the day you will have a journal packed with quotes and cleverly designed, tucked-away notes!

When: July 19, 2014

Time: 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Monsoon Papers

Monsoon Papers

Where: Blue Twig Studio Classes   5039 N. Academy Blvd. Colorado Spring, CO 80918

Register: At Blue Twig Shop website or call 719-266-1866.

Blue Twig Studio will send you a supply list. If you do not receive one, please contact me at QuinnCreative AT Yahoo DOT com

August 9, 2014 Frenzy Stamper, Scottsdale, AZ

Easy Does It: The Shipping Tag Journal

Date: August 9 (Saturday) 2014

Time: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Location: Frenzy Stamper. 7064 E 5th Ave, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

To register: Call Frenzy Stamper (480) 946-0007

Supply list: Frenzy Stamper will supply a list. Or, contact me at QuinnCreative AT yahoo DOT com


tagbookDescription: Create a useful, flexible journal using shipping tags. How flexible? It can be a travel journal or mail art. Postcards or bookmarks. Create separate tags and then sort them by date, by color, by theme.

You’ll spend the morning learning techniques to use with the shipping tags–painting, collage, choosing a theme, using ephemera you have. Knowing what to keep and what to discard.

During the afternoon, you’ll make as many pages as you want. You’ll do some writing exercises and have fun creating new ways of exploring journaling.

You’ll create some mail art for yourself and for others, and when you leave, you’ll have learned a new way to journal that is so flexible, fun, and fast you will never be without shipping tags again!

–Quinn McDonald is an outsider artist and a certified creativity coach. She is teaching only two classes this summer, and would love to meet you at one of them.

Four New Classes

OK, superstars–I’ve got new classes coming up–fun all the way around.

On May 24th, at Arizona Art Supply, we’ll be turning a small handle-bag (or a gift bag) into a journal. Keeps your secrets to itself. Use it for your tell-all memoir.

You can bind pages of different sizes into your journal.

You can bind pages of different sizes into your journal.

I’m really happy to have been invited for not one, but two classes at Frenzy Stamper in Scottsdale:

June 7, we are doing Monsoon Papers and turning them into an accordion folder for favorite quotes.

Monsoon Papers

Monsoon Papers

On August 9, I’m back at Frenzy Stamper for a collage class–Easy Does It–Minimalist Collage. I’m tired of “layers on layers” and frantic pages. Let’s dial it back to cool and simple.

Collage: "Flight" ©Quinn McDonald, 2014

Collage: “Flight” ©Quinn McDonald, 2014

But wait! If you are in Colorado (or want to get out the the heat in Phoenix)–meet me at Blue Twig Studio in Colorado Springs for the Monsoon Paper class! That class will be on July 19.


One journal making class, two Monsoon Paper classes, and a collage class–just in time for summer! Details, photos, and registration are on my QuinnCreative website.   I hope to see you at at least one event!

–Quinn McDonald is going to have a fun summer meeting new people.


Confusing Words

We write fast and think more slowly. The words leap ahead of us, and we type what we “hear,” which often misses the bull’s-eye of accuracy.

Here are the ones I’ve noticed lately:

A trooper is a military person or a police officer. We can have a troop of troopers–smaller than a squadron, and often used interchangeably with platoon.

A troupe is a group of performers. “The show must go on” is the rallying cry for performers who are sick or hurt–no matter, they are going to be brave and do what it takes to support the entire cast of the show.

Someone who braves through a lot of pain, effort, emotional upheaval or just plain work to get the project done is a trouper, not a trooper.

*     *     *


A visual will help here.

peekPeak is the top of a mountain or the best part of an experience.

Peek is to look or take a quick glance.

Pique (still pronounced ‘peek’ and not ‘pee-kay’) means to stimulate curiosity or interest or to annoy: She was piqued that he did not notice her new dress.

*     *     *    *
You know what uninterested means. Disinterested means fair or impartial. You want the jury to be disinterested in your case.

*     *     *    *   *
Flout is to disregard a rule.  Flaunt is to display ostentatiously. “He flouted the rule of how much to spend on the engagement ring so his fiancee could flaunt her ring to all her friends.”

*     *     *    *

Alot/allot and their cousins alright and all right
Alot is not a word; it is mistakenly used for a lot.

Allot is to divide or parcel out.

Alright is not a word, even though many people use it. All right is still the correct way to spell it.

* * * * *

Often when I discuss easily confused words, people tell me “but it’s in the dictionary.” True. Many non-standard, incorrect, and scatological words are in the dictionary, which does not mean they are “right” or should be used. The dictionary is not a judge, but a source of explanations and definitions. In the same way, Google is not an encyclopedia, but a popularity reporter. The first listing (after the ads) is not the most correct, it is the one most often clicked on.

Quinn McDonald loves the evolving English language. She teaches business writing, persuasive writing, technical writing, and grammar. She loves that our language expands to accept new words and then regularly abandons them. (Remember floppy disk?)


Red Barn Discount–till April 30

The studio s a mess. Navigating across the room takes steel-toed workshoes and a good sense of balance. But it is coming together. Two new bookcases flank the window and the desk has been moved. The wobbly, leaning bookcase is now empty and will get taken out tomorrow. Bins will replace the bookcase and hold all the art supplies I need close to the desk. Besides sneezing my brains out from the dust, I’m glad to be making progress, even if it is slow.

Looks like a painting, but it's the view from the classroom at Madeline Island School of Arts

Looks like a painting, but it’s the view from the classroom at Madeline Island School of Arts

As I bring order to chaos, I’m day dreaming about Madeline Island. I’ll be teaching Jungle Gym for Monkey Mind the week of June 2, teaching a class that combines writing,  print-making, exploring color and texture, and book making. Best of all, you don’t have to have any experience in those arts to have a successful week.

I dream of the amazing prairie surrounding the farmhouse and studio buildings. The warm, friendly  breakfast where you get to meet the students and instructors and talk about art and writing. Then a day of sinking into a project that you can really explore. Work any time of day or night. Enjoy the food, galleries, and shops the island has to offer, or take the 20-minute ferry ride back to the mainland. Each day in class, we will do a new art journaling technique and a writing exercise. By mid-afternoon you are deep into your own work at your own pace. It’s exciting and relaxing at the same time.

The work tables at last year's class. This year's will be just as filled with papers, colors and idea.

The work tables at last year’s class. This year’s will be just as filled with papers, colors and ideas.

Jenna Erickson at MISA has extended the special and made it even sweeter. I’m still a few people short to make the class, so I’d love to persuade a few more of you who are on the fence about going to take the leap and sign up. I know it’s still cold in a lot of places, but the class is in June, and the closing date is coming up soon.

Jenna came up with the“The Red Barn Special.” This is specifically for my workshop at MISA. It’s simple. Save 30 percent on your on-site lodging reservation and when you register for my workshop by April 30, 2014. Call Jenna Erickson at (715) 747-2054 to ask for details.

April 30 is decision day. I’d love to have you there, and I know you will learn a lot about yourself, your Inner Hero, and art journaling!

–Quinn McDonald hopes to find the floor of the studio sometime tomorrow.



Checking in on the Word of the Year

Moonrise over Houston. The bright full moon is caught under the wing, as we turn west toward Phoenix.

Moonrise over Houston. The bright full moon is caught under the wing, as we turn west toward Phoenix.

April is already half over and I haven’t checked in on your Word of the Year. Do you remember it? Is it serving you well? If not, you may find that putting it down and choosing a new word is just what you need.

“Scatter” is my word. It’s been very interesting. Some days, I do something from all parts of my life, some days I explore the edges of something I’ve done for a long time.

On the business front: I’m amazed at the people I sit next to on airplanes. So many people crushed by their own lives. Who flee into “busy” to give themselves self-worth. Who will talk to me about their lives although they don’t know me. Very interesting.

On the coaching front: I’m grateful for clients who recommend me. Very grateful. It’s a wonderful way to accumulate more gifted people who want to work on change.

On the creative front: I’m exploring collage again. Deeply. Collage with Monsoon papers and words. Always those words! And after returning to my Commonplace Journal, I’m thinking I need to teach a class that includes . . . . a lot.

On the identity front: I’m so interesting in how people perceive others. Now that I have identified as an outsider artist, I have found that I’m not alone. There are creatively hungry people out there. And yes, people who just like to mess around. Room for both!

On the art teaching front: I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Madeline Island class makes. The long, cold winter slowed class enrollment, so I’m holding my breath and hoping for a few more people who want to retreat into creativity, explore writing and art and make a journal —all in early June!

What’s your experience with the word you chose?

-Quinn McDonald is thinking of working on a plane-coaching model, because she seems to be doing a lot of listening to people’s stories.