49 | Creative Prompts: Omens

64 Arts

This post is part of an ongoing series exploring the everyday applications of The 64 Arts.

As we wrap up this relatively brief foray into omens and related topics–let’s face it, you know whether you buy into superstitions, omens, etc. or not and it’s not my goal to convince you–we’ve come to my favorite part of each Art, the creative prompts.

See, what I said above is true: I’m not here to convince you one way or another. But my goal with this series is to encourage us all to live more creative lives. And that means approaching topics in creative ways. So here we go!

1. Have your chart done.

Chart? You mean astrology? Yeppers!

Now, you might be wondering why I believe (as friends have opined) that clouds of gas hundreds of thousands of light years away have any bearing whatsoever on my day to day life. Let me quote Guggenheim Grotto:

It’s not that I do or don’t believe
It’s that I just don’t not believe
In god and aliens and love at first sight…

And astrology. Some folks have said that since the Moon can affect the tides, and we’re made up largely of water, it’s not impossible that celestial events affect our pedestrian existence. And then there’s the point I read about how we’re not who we are because of where the stars were when we were born, but that we were born when and where we were in relation to the stars because of who we are. I tend to really like that last bit, because it puts astrology in the same light as reading Tarot and other forms of “divination:” a tool for reflection, meditation, and insight.

For instance, Mercury is about to go retrograde on September 18, which signifies an increase in technical issues, computer problems, and communication upsets. Now, most people see this as a prediction of doom, gloom, and general miserableness for 3 weeks. I prefer to see it as a reminder to be more careful with what I say, not to jump to conclusions, give people the benefit of the doubt, take my time, and backup my computer data. See, it’s all about perspective.

But I digress.

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to have your chart done. Not just your sun sign, but the whole shebang. While you can pay people to do these for you, I’ve found a really fabulous resource in astro.com and if you know the time and place of your birth you can generate your entire chart and look up all the bits and pieces to explain it. And if you’d like some very down-to-earth astrological advice, I suggest heading over to MysticMedusa.com. I’ve especially enjoyed her “Style Your Ascendant” series (your ascendant being your “rising sign” and the sign other people initially perceive you as; for instance, I’m sun/moon Taurus with Virgo rising, so most people’s first impressions of me fit the Virgo mold more so than Taurus).

2. Grab your crayons and destress with this coloring page I made you.

See, one of the many “side effects” of paying attention to superstitions, omens, astrology and more could be a propensity towards worrying. Worrying leads to stress and stress leads to all kinds of other bad things. Not to mention, stress can bring about a lot of those things we’re already worrying about, or seem to, self-fulfilling prophecy style. Apparently the simple act of coloring can be very therapeutic (who knew? Oh, right, I did–it’s been a sure-fire way to bust through a creative block for ages).


Just click the pdf link here jvanderbeek_omens_coloringbookpage to download a full-size version.

And if you have watercolor pencils (or my Portable Plein Air kit, now available on etsy) you can absolutely print this out on watercolor paper and have even more fun with it!

3. Writing prompt: Hindsight is 20/20.

Sure, omens are all about portents of the future, but what about the past? Once a chapter of our lives has come to a close, it’s far easier to see the signposts along the way that we may have missed or brushed off as nothing in the moment. What can we learn about trusting our gut and our intuition by examining the past?

Along the lines of ‘those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it,’ take an experience from your past (or a friend’s or family member’s past, if that’s what comes to mind more easily–we can learn from other’s mistakes just as much as our own!) and write about lessons learned and ways it can be applied in the future. Or draw something, collage something, create something from it. Anything goes, medium is up to you.

In my comic book, Rings on Her Fingers, I talked about the different signs and omens I ignored leading up to my first marriage (which, by virtue of calling it the first one, I’m sure you can guess that it didn’t last–not really a spoiler there). Case in point:



If you choose to do one, two, or all of these prompts, I’d love to see what comes out of it. Leave a comment here with a link or tag me (@scrapsoflife) on twitter or instagram!

46, 47, 54 | Creative Prompts for Language Arts

64 Arts

This post is part of our ongoing exploration of The 64 Arts.

Knowledge is the acquisition of facts and wisdom is knowing what to do with them.

Or something like that…

Point being, it’s great to educate ourselves about something but until we put it into practice, we’re missing the best part! So here are some prompts for a bit of creative play about our foreign language, slang, and jargon topics:


Explaining how our cups, pints, tablespoons, and teaspoons all interact to a room much more familiar with metric!

1. If you’re anything like me, you find helping other people incredibly rewarding. Volunteer at your local library or literacy center. They might be in need of storytime readers for the kids section or ESOL volunteer tutors like my friend Lyssa does! Even if your schedule is too busy to commit long-term, you can offer to be a guest like I was two weeks ago for a cooking segment. Put your particular skills to work in a fun way!

Melissa & Jennifer

Lyssa and I

2. Learn a new language. Again, I’m a fan of DuoLingo (though I’ve let my Italian lessons slip–gotta get back to that!) but there are plenty of other ways to go about it. To make it more interesting, create a skit in your head and use Google Translate or Babel Fish to translate it back and forth a couple of times to see how garbled it can get. Just for fun, of course.

3. Go on a word search! Not the puzzle in the activity books type, but on a hunt for word origins. One of my favorite things from Latin class back in high school was learning derivatives. Sometimes they’re obvious, but look up some innocuous words in the dictionary and see where they come from, tracking a few levels back when necessary, and it gives you a whole new perspective on what that word really means. You can do the same with phrases, too! There are books like Common Phrases and Where They Come From that will make it easy on you without resorting to too many dusty tomes. (Looks like that particular book might be out of print, but that’s what used book stores are for, right?)

4. Brave a new frontier. This next one’s not for the faint of heart (or the innocent, for that matter!) but if you’re feeling brave, go hang out on Urban Dictionary for a few hours and see what’s going on with slang today. It’s both interesting and frightening to see how words take on new meanings in common usage.


5. Watch Auntie Mame with Rosalind Russel. Fabulous movie in general, but I specifically remember at the beginning when Patrick comes to live with Mame and he starts asking “what does ____ mean?” Mame hands him a pad of paper and a pencil and tells him to write down all the things he’s unfamiliar with so they can go over them later. Have you ever made a list like that? One of my favorite things about reading books on a Kindle (aside from the lack of strain on my thumbs) is the ability to highlight a word and instantly look it up thanks to the preloaded dictionary on the device.

Painted Fur Close-Up

Say Hello to My Little Monkey

Everyday Adventures

I’d say this doesn’t have anything really to do with the 64 Arts only, well… all of this is about living a more creative life and today’s post is all about making time for a little creative play and recharging relationships, so take from it what you will.


A couple of weeks ago, on my way home from the farmers’ market, I spied a new shop sign in Market Square. A short search later I’d found Firefly Pottery–a brand-spanking-new paint your own pottery shop and then some opening less than 5 minutes from my front door. Oh, this could be dangerous!

I love paint your own pottery shops! You walk in, pick your piece and your colors and then settle into a chair for however long it takes to take that green clay object to what it was meant to be. You pay the fee and wait a week and come back to a transformed piece that’s been glazed and fired to a very shiny finish. Pretty sweet!

Now, this new place had a bit of a twist hiding inside. Not only did they have a fairly well-stocked paint-your-own selection (there’s a cake stand there that I just HAVE to go back for one day when I’ve got plenty of time and a bit of extra cash), they also have a mosaic section as well as glass fusing! Even better? They will melt down your empty wine bottles for a price, making awesome platters or shallow bowls if you use one of their molds. Those two boxes of empties in my craft room might find their way to flat before too long!

But this day I was in the mood to paint. I was also in the mood for a little girl time so my BFF and I headed over after a late lunch, picked out our pieces (her a dragon, me a monkey–of course!) and spent the next 3 hours chatting and dabbing bits of paint around. Heaven!

Jenn & Teresa Paint Pottery

Jenn & Teresa Paint Pottery

Now, I went with a gal-pal but this is easily a prime alone-time activity. In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron encourages individuals to have a weekly “artist’s date” where you go off someplace, by yourself, and do something that is enriching, inspiring or otherwise creativity-sparking. This isn’t just for capital-A-Artists, this is for anyone looking to get a little more creativity in their day-to-day.

Pottery not your thing? Quite understandable. Head out to a museum, a park, a stroll around a lake, take in a movie or treat yourself to a facial if what you’re crying out for is a little self-love. Heck, go to the dollar store and pick up some crayons and a coloring book or a little toy to amuse yourself with. Anything that helps to unlock that childlike glee and wonder in your life, certainly can’t hurt!

Painted Monkey

Obviously, for my day at Firefly Studio, I painted a little monkey figurine. They actually have 3 others, plus a monkey-shaped mosaic form, so the next several visits (oh yes, I’ll be going back) will be monkeys galore. In fact, when I went in to pick up this little guy, they recognized me as “the monkey lady.” Guess I made an impression, huh?

For those curious how I got the fur-like coloring on his body, here’s a how I did it:

  • Start with 3 shades of brown: light, medium and dark
  • Give the hands, feet and face 2 or 3 coats of the lightest color (the color deepens with each layer of glaze you add, so keep track of what you’ve gone over once already)
  • Give the body 2 coats of the medium brown
  • With the dark brown and a small brush, make short strokes along the surface of the “fur” sections, only 1 coat

Painted Fur Close-UpThis was totally an experiment and I really didn’t know if it would work until I went and picked the little guy up. Thankfully, the single-strength dark over the double-strength medium provided just enough contrast to create a great fur-like pattern without being too stark a contrast. Yay for experimentation!

Here’s a close-up of his fur, so you can better see what I mean. This layering technique could be used for all sorts of fur-type patterns from giraffe and leopard spots to tiger stripes to kitty fur. Also, creating visual interest in trees and grassy areas of a larger scene.

Got those creative juices pumping yet?