Category Archives: Inspirational Quotes

Taming the Inner Critic

First edition originally published August 15, 2014

Artists are usually their own harshest critics. In my own studio, even if I am pleased with the results, sometimes that certain inner voice complains that I’m still not painting fast enough. It’s up to us whether or not we listen to that voice, or to the more uplifting one that says we are doing our best.

You may have read one of my previous posts, A Relaxed Mind is a Creative Mind, in which I shared some of my favorite tea tag quotes from both the Yogi and Traditional Medicinals brands of teas. Yesterday morning, my two tea bag tags worked well in tandem with each other:

Pause 1 

Be proud of who you are. 

I thought, what a nice combination — a reminder to take a moment to remember your true self and all that may entail. Why beat yourself up over the length of an undone to-do list?

My studio neighbor recently attended a weeklong art workshop. Last night he showed me the results — he’d gotten four new pieces done, and was now applying the concepts in the studio to another new piece. Taking this time away from the large painting he’d been working on for awhile helped him to open a new creative door, as he put it. In his new pieces, I saw an awakening of some dynamic visual breakthroughs. For a couple of weeks, I’ve been feeling the call to switch to a new piece to reinvigorate my practice — in the faster media of charcoal or pastel, for example — so my friend’s inspiration, kindled from working quickly and with freedom during this workshop, was infectious.

So instead of worrying about what we have to DO, why not just BE, and have fun with it? Let’s all create something experimental, unexpected, and freeing, and in releasing our Inner Critic’s expectation that everything has to be a just-so Masterpiece, who knows? You just might create one.

All the best, and Namaste,


1. “Pause” is a tea tag quote from Traditional Medicinals, .  Used with permission.

2.  “Be proud of who you are” is a Yogi tea tag quote, . Used with permission.

Also posted in General art discussion and philosophy

“A Relaxed Mind is a Creative Mind”

Inspiration Iris digital photograph © 2014 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved

Inspiration Iris
digital photograph
© 2014 Amy Funderburk
All Rights Reserved

First edition originally published May 21, 2014

A relaxed mind is a creative mind. 1 

That quote is on both my home studio door and on the inspiration board at my downtown studio. It comes from the tag on a tea bag by Yogi Teas.

The brand Traditional Medicinals also features inspirational quotes on their tea tags, but they take a more Zen-like approach by using just one or two words, such as two of my favorites:



Be heard. 

As I savor my tea each morning, I also enjoy a dip into Carl Jung’s pool of synchronicity as I read the daily wisdom printed on a small paper rectangle and suspended by a string from my steaming mug. These words can point me in the direction of inner peace as I start each day.

In addition to A relaxed mind is a creative mind, and along with a few particularly pertinent fortune cookie fortunes, I have the following tea tags on my studio inspiration board. I hope that some of these quotes speak to you as well:

Inspiration is an unlimited power. 1

When the mind is backed by will, miracles happen.1

Be yourself 2

Live from your heart, you will be most effective.1

Let your heart guide you.1

May your inner self be happy and secure.1

The Universe is a stage on which you dance, guided by your heart. 1

Empty yourself and let the Universe fill you.1

Peace 2

Joy is the essence of success. 1

Dream 2

Your intuition is your best friend.1

You are a living consciousness. 1

Have wisdom in your actions and faith in your merits. 1

In the spring, when time permits, I also like to start my day with a brief stroll around my garden to photograph the new blooms.

By enlarging the size of flowers that most people might walk hurriedly past, Georgia O’Keefe taught us to take time to notice the diminutive, thereby expanding our awareness of our surroundings. The shapes, inner light, and colors of a German Bearded Iris can become like flames — my plan for part of a particular future painting.

Irises also have a lovely scent — something that not everyone realizes. The purple ones usually smell like grapes, while the yellow ones have an lemon chiffon aroma.

Unfortunately, these dramatic showstoppers of my garden are temporary — my later bloomers didn’t produce this spring, so my iris season is now over until next year. Perhaps their temporary nature makes them all the more treasured when they reappear.

With memories of such walking meditations, I leave you with one last tea tag quote by Yogi Teas:

Meditation is the medicine of the mind.

All the best, and Namaste,


Yogi tea tag quote.  Used with permission.

Traditional Medicinals,  Used with permission.

All material, unless otherwise noted, is copyright Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved.

Also posted in Meditation and yoga, Other artists

Seeking “whelment”

First edition originally published April 8, 2014

As my husband once cleverly pointed out, people never talk about feeling “whelmed.” They only go on about being overwhelmed. At very busy periods like we’ve been recently experiencing, we would prefer to just feel whelmed.

In the lovely book The Tao of Pooh, author Benjamin Hoff takes us on a tour of the Hundred Acre Wood as seen through the lens of Taoism and illustrates this Eastern wisdom through A.A. Milne’s characters. Hoff describes the Western, Type A, doing-too-much-without-enough-time personality as a Bisy Backson.

One day, Christopher Robin left a note on his door that should have read “Busy — back soon,” but instead he spelled it “Bisy Backson.” Hoff describes this personality as being “almost desperately active.” As you may recall from the A. A. Milne classic, Rabbit was the perfect example of a Bisy Backson.1

During overwhelming, Bisy Backson times, I remind myself to prioritize; whatever I don’t get done can wait. I remember to breathe as I try to quiet my mind. Hopefully, the screeching monkey thoughts that race quickly through the trees of my brain turn into puffy clouds, gently floating above the green canopy as they slowly drift across the cerulean sky. At such busy times, I am happy to come across an inspirational quote as if it was a mental life raft.

My sister-in-law Judy gave me a wonderful birthday gift last year. I call it the Judy Jar. Purple ribbons hang out of the top of the jar like the lush center of a peony, each tied to a different quote Judy selected for me.

One of my favorite quotes from the Judy Jar is often on my mantle:

“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy.”

This seems a particularly good quote for springtime, a time of new beginnings — by putting down that which is heavy, we become lighter like all the things we associate with this time of year. I did not know the origin of this quote until I did a web search for the purpose of this blog post. It comes from author C. Joybell C., and the remainder of the quote is:

“So let them go, let go of them. I tie no weights to my ankles.” 2

One of my favorite yoga books is by Judith Hanson Lasater: A Year of Living Your Yoga: Daily Practices to Shape Your Life. 3 This small volume is a perpetual calendar of daily quotes and short meditative paragraphs to accompany them.

For those of you who have seen my painting Savasana — The Release with its grainy hardwood floor, you may be as amused as I was by the entry for my birthday. “We are seeking wholeness, not perfection,” Lasater begins. What a good meditation for someone who, ahem, may have tried not to paint every splinter within those wooden boards, but somehow managed to do it anyway.

Lasater then suggests you look at the knots and irregularities in a wood floor, pointing out that “these imperfections are what give the floor its beauty and character; they make it real.” True enough, had I painted each board of that hardwood floor like identical soldiers in a row, it would never had looked accurate, but would have become my stylized symbol for the floor. This, however, is one of the very things that led me to work in a photorealistic style — I wanted to make my surreal subject matter look real.

Forgetting that it is about painting “the masses, the whole,” as one of the Old Masters said, is admittedly one of my heavy things to put down. Why not let the viewer’s brain and eye fill in some of the blanks? There is no need to paint every blade of grass when the viewer could perceive the holistic massed texture of the grass instead. Advice I have given to many painting students I now give to myself so as to paint in a more “whelmed” way.

Johannes Vermeer painted in this manner — his clean style is what I love about his paintings. Everything you need is there; the extraneous is omitted. He may have only completed 35 attributed paintings in his short 43 years, but visually, Vermeer had no weights around his ankles.

What then is the best way to find whelment?

I think the secret lies my very favorite quote — Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your Bliss.” I will leave it to you to look up the remainder of his statement, but the essence of Campbell’s wisdom is encapsulated in those three introductory words.

All the best, and Namaste,



  1. Hoff, Benjamin.The Tao of Pooh. Penguin Books/Viking Penguin, 1982. ISBN 0-14-006747-7 Used with permission from the publisher.
  2. This quote is available under Public License via
  3. From Year of Living Your Yoga: Daily Practices to Shape Your Life, copyright © 2006 byJudith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D., P.T. Used with permission from Rodmell Press.

All material, unless otherwise noted, is copyright Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved.

Also posted in Meditation and yoga, Other artists, Painting and painting techniques Tagged , , , , |