Category: Art

New Freebies: Easter Cards

Easter card featuring the Carrot Express with a bunny driving a car loaded with carrots.

Easter is around the corner, so I added some new cards to my Freebies page. They’re completely free to download; feel free to have a look and use what you like, no strings attached.

I hope you like them. I love working on greeting cards; I don’t feel any performance anxiety as I’m not an illustrator. It’s just a pleasant hobby, and it makes me happy to see people using them.


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A Full Moon on the World Poetry Day

Full moon

What better way of celebrating World Poetry Day today than by writing or reading a poem? I wrote this haiku a few days ago, on the night of the full moon.

full moon
watching its twin
In the pond


To read more poetry, click here.


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Faith and the Art of Writing

Seashells heart

I do not know whether I shall make progress; but I should prefer to lack success rather than to lack faith. Once again, Seneca hits the nail on its head. My writing mornings have become more and more torture sessions after the almost euphoric beginning. I write and write, one sentence after another, and I write almost anything, no matter how bad or irrelevant to the topic, just to record something in the log and say, See, I’ve written that much today. But do I believe in what I’m writing? Not anymore. I’m losing faith, and that’s about the worst. In survival situations, mental strength is the difference between who dies and who lives; in writing, between who finishes a book and who doesn’t.

I finish the daily quota and go for a walk, unsatisfied by the day’s production. A jumble of words, a bright spark here and there … how can all this become a book? How could I think I could write? But isn’t every author saying that you have to write, no matter how bad, in order to learn how to write? You’ll suck at first, they say, and you’ll continue sucking for a while; you have to make your peace with that. But with every word scribbled down in anguish, with every sentence excavated from the depths of your creative mine, with every doubt encountered but dismissed on the way – you learn. 

That is, you learn if you have faith and keep at it long enough to notice your progress. That’s the difference between those who finish a book and those who don’t. Learning how to write means learning how to live with inadequacy and doubt and how to keep going despite your mind screaming in protest. “What’s the use?” that traitor would say, “You call that writing? You’re lucky your life doesn’t depend on it.” You hear it scream, yet you continue, you endure it and write another sentence, and another one, and another one.

I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it”; Picasso’s words comfort me. Have faith and keep going. Never stop working; never lose faith. You’ll make it.


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How to Write Anything

An abstract photo of the sea
Fire in the Sea © Mihaela Limberea 2021

“I don’t know what to write about.”

“Of course you do. You must know something.”

“I know nothing.”

OK. Let’s see.

I know my name and the name of the street I live on. And of this tiny island I call home.

I know the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. I’ve seen it. It’s real.

I know the blackbirds are early risers and catch the worms indeed.

I know a jay can scoop and carry away twenty peanuts in one go.

I know the sounds of the trees when the wind catches in their long arms.

“See, you do know something. What else do you know?”

How quickly rabbits and squirrels demolish my Halloween pumpkins. (Very).

What finches and blackbirds love to eat (hemp seeds and apples).

The funny way the squirrels or the woodpeckers chase each other around the old oak in my back yard.

The way the cat twitches her whiskers in her sleep, chasing squirrels and sparrows and growling softly.

The blare of the emergency broadcast testing on Mondays at 3 pm, always on schedule, always unexpected.

“That can’t be all. Surely there’s more.”

Resistance is futile.”

“Very funny.”

“Very well. A writer’s life is lonely.”

“Would you want it any other way?”

“Of course not.”

“Go on.”

Writing is a curse and a blessing.

It’s hard to start and even harder to stop.

All first drafts are atrocious. Awful. Lousy. Get used to it.

Words form slowly on the paper, and when they do, they don’t sound as good as they did in your head. So get used to this, too.

It’s most likely that your writing will be misunderstood, but that’s OK. Once you send something out into the world, it doesn’t belong to you anymore. So let it be and move on.

Other people’s work is always better, you think. Don’t. What others do is not your business. Your business is to write.

Know that there’s plentiful in the world to keep you from writing: airing the mattresses; checking if there’s milk in the fridge and potatoes in the pantry; looking up what a baby porcupine is called (a porcupette – you’re welcome!); and a myriad other needs that arise suddenly the moment you sit down to write.

Resist the urge to rush to the bedroom or the pantry. Instead, write down the porcupine question for later. If need be, tie yourself to the chair like a modern Odysseus, but keep your butt on the chair. This is called the BIC technique by the people in the know.

“What’s BIC?”

“Butt in the chair.”

“Oh, I see.”

Talent is good, but self-discipline is better. 

If you want to be a writer, write. Don’t talk about writing; write.

The self-appointed inner critic is a jerk; ditch him. 

Doubt is the writer’s constant companion, as is fear, perfectionism, and other delights you’ll discover on your own. It’s normal; you’re not alone.

Write, write, write. Then write some more. It’s the only way to stay sane; that, and some strenuous walking every day—bonus points for wandering in the woods. (Look up Japanese forest bathing after you’ve done your writing for the day).

Having high expectations of your work is the surest way of failing. So do your best and call it good enough.

Does a little perfectionist live inside you? Lock him up and throw away the key. Always striving to become better is good; never being satisfied with anything you do is bad. Nothing is ever purr-fect but a cat.

“What did I tell you? It’s hard to start but even harder to stop.”

“What can I say? You were right.”

“I always am. I have to go now, though; the mattresses need airing this very moment, I’m afraid.”


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Art is Warfare: A Status Report

Abstract photo in hues of blue by Mihaela Limberea.
Speed. © Mihaela Limberea 2021

Am I still writing a book? Sure I am. And I’ll tell you a secret: it’s good I’ve decided to document my journey publicly; it forces me to continue even when I’m tempted to give up, to be honest. I can’t think of a better way of staying the course as a writer. Only I wouldn’t give up, of course. Instead, I would write something different and much better, and finish the other book later. Oh, the lies we can tell ourselves!

Anyway, I managed to evade the siren calls of the new ideas and stay with The Book. (In an attempt to focus on the work, I’ve started now calling it The Book, using capital letters; any means are allowed to keep going!).

I’m now reading the last few research books and working on the lecture notes. I’m so fed up with reading books when my whole body screams to start writing. Hence, the lure and allure of the shiny new ideas. 

But I’m almost out of the tunnel, and I think I can see the light (unless it’s the train, as my old boss used to say). So I’ve allowed myself to start putting some meat on the preliminary outline. It almost feels like writing and keeps me happy, or, at least, calm, while I’m wrapping up the research.

So, not so much to report from the trenches, just soldiering on. I’m shooting for January 1st to start the actual writing. Art is warfare; Steven Pressfield was right.


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TMIS or The Too Many Ideas Syndrome

Remember when I was talking about my temptation to abandon my non-fiction book and start writing a different kind of book? Guess what? It happened again! No surprise there. It felt so good (it always does!), I almost started jotting down the first pages. Then reality set in, and I have, in fact, looked up that blog post just to remind myself that ideas are a dime a dozen

Most (non-writing) people think that writers need ideas for new books, but getting new ideas is seldom a problem. Quite the opposite, in fact. Enter TMIS, i.e., Too Many Ideas Syndrome. You have more ideas that you could possibly be working on. So beware: TMIS sounds like a luxury problem, but it can be paralyzing or make you jump from project to project, never finishing anything.

I have a pretty long list of things I’d like to write about, and – as you can see here – every now and then, I even convince myself that it may be worth abandoning whatever I was working on to pursue that shiny new thing.

However, this time I was ready and stayed the course. I followed my own advice (something I should do more often, I always think) and archived that shiny thing in the slush file. With a sigh and some heartache but I did it. If nothing else, I hope it’ll make me finish this book as soon as possible; then, I can start working on the new one. Win-win!


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A Desert of Waves, a Wilderness of Water

Abstract Photo of the Sea

It seems I talk a lot about my writing creative process on the blog at the moment – which is quite natural as I’m working on a book. So, today I wanted to offer you an insight into one of my recent photo projects for a change.

A few weeks ago, I dreamed about huge waves crashing thunderously on a rugged beach. The full moon, high in the pitch-black sky, illuminated an alien landscape. 

No trees or shrubs, no dwellings, no boats. No people. No animals or birds (I knew this in my dream). An utterly deserted landscape, devoid of any life. Nothing but the huge rocks and the surf glittering like tiny diamonds in the moonshine. Nothing but the endless rumbling of the waves and the cold silvery moon. “A desert of waves, a wilderness of water” (Langston Hughes). 

The dream made such an impression on me that it haunted me for several days. I couldn’t get that desolate landscape out of my mind. So, I did what any artist would do: set to work. I wanted to capture that landscape in my mind in a series of photos, and I knew it wouldn’t be realistic photos from the beginning. The atmosphere called for something else.

As luck would have it, we live by the sea. So every day, I would go down to the beach and experiment with ICM (Intentional Camera Movement). The light, the color of the sea, the clouds, they all factor in. I knew how I wanted the photos to look like; I tested different settings and motions; I learned patience. And got the photos I wanted.

As an artist, you’re always struggling to create the vision in your mind in whatever medium you’re working in, only to fail when you do – more often than not. But this was one of these dream projects where I didn’t fail. I love how the photos turned out. 

You can see the rest of the photos in my photo gallery and buy prints in the online shop if you like them too.


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Happy World Photography Day!

Photography of pink bleeding hearts by Mihaela Limberea

August 19th is World Photography Day, an annual celebration of art, science, and history of photography.

Why August 19th, you ask? On August 19th, 1839, the French Academy of Sciences announced the Daguerreotype process, the first to obtain a permanent image with a camera. History was made that day, and the long road to photography as we know it today began.

The best way of celebrating it is to share your best photos with the world. The one above is one of my favorites, a close-up of a pink bleeding heart in my garden.

Happy World Photography Day!


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Writing Is a Job

Writing is a job-text on the background of a notebook.

Writing a book sounds romantic, gazing over the roofs of Paris in a chilly attic room, slowly sipping hot black coffee. Fluttering curtains in the golden sunset. Sometimes it can even be that. 

But writing is, above all, a job. It’s work and routine. Toil and exhaustion. 

You have to go to work like everybody else and do the time on the chair. It means having a set time and place – be it a home office, a café, or the kitchen table. So you put on your working clothes, sit down at the set time, and start writing. No exceptions, no excuses, just doing. Every day.

Sometimes the words will flow, pouring of you so quickly you can hardly keep up typing, the pages filling effortlessly. You’re a gift to the world. Working is easy and pleasurable, and you can keep at it for hours.

Other times, you stare at the blank page and can hardly resist the urge to run. You write a few words, decide they’re lousy, and delete them. You start again. How could you ever think you could write?


Time drags on. Lunch cannot come soon enough. Or any interruption, really. You’re almost glad if something breaks. Then, suddenly, you’re happy calling the plumber or the electrician for an emergency repair. Or grateful if the delivery man seems to have time for a chat. Anything to avoid looking at that blank page, the blinking cursor a silent countdown to an inexorable deadline.

But you keep at it, how uncomfortable you may be. You’ve learned discipline. You’ve learned that if you sit there long enough, something will happen. An idea, even a kernel of an idea, will appear, seemingly out of thin air. An image that triggers long-gone memories. Scenes from a distant past or a shimmering future. And you’re in again. In the zone where fantastic things happen and writing is easy.

If you’re not able to write, write about not being able to write. For a writer, everything is writing material. Even not being able to write.

Like this text.


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How To See the World Like an Artist

Lines. Black and white abstract photo by Mihaela Limberea.

”Seeing,” really seeing what you’re looking at, is an essential skill for a photographer. For any visual artist, in fact. Some people may have been born with it, while some may struggle. No fancy equipment can compensate for its lack, though. The good news is that you can learn to, as any art student can tell you.

And this is not something you’d turn on and off; it’ll change the way you look and see the world. For example, the black & white abstract photo above …

… was converted from this.

It’s part of a terrace roof in the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Marrakech. As soon as I stepped out on the terrace and saw this pergola, I knew it would make a perfect abstract photograph. It was just a question of trying various compositions and angles until getting that ultimate photo that all photographs dream about when they press the shutter button.


How To See the World as an Artist

Simply put: practice, practice, practice. A few tips:

  • Similar to beginners, when learning how to draw, you need to let go of identifying various objects (a chair, a vase, a hat) and see the shapes, lines, and contours that make up those things instead.
  • Notice the play of shadows and light, the contrast, the textures, the colors, and the patterns they create. How complementary colors work well together, such as orange and blue, or red and green.
  • Look at things from a different perspective: taking a photo from a low angle can show the world as seen by a small animal or a child, or turn a flower into a towering tree.
  • Look at the works of established photographers and painters and analyze what you see. What makes that artwork good? What did the artist do? How? Visiting museums is a good start, and nowadays, you can do that online too (a good thing in pandemic times).
  • Practice, practice, practice. And practice some more. Learning any craft requires effort, perseverance, and dedication.

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To read more on photography, click here. Artsy has a good article on how to learn to see the world as an artist here.


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