To view more of Sophia's art go to or

to purchase prints and cards of her artwork go to

If you see an artwork on this website that you like but it's already sold - please contact Sophia as she does commissions.

Friday, December 31, 2010

An absolute must for everyone .....

It's something that seems so simple - some people take them for granted - others long for them - others never make time to have them - what are they? Holidays!!

Now I'm not talking about the type of holidays which involve masses of running around, sightseeing, rushing from place to place - I'm talking about the chill out at home - away from work - doing the things that you love in a relaxed way.

This year is the first time, in several years, that I have had a "real" holiday. I am self employed - which anyone who is self employed will be able to identify with - taking a holiday is often logistically impossible (who will take over), it can be financially difficult (not bringing in any income) and for me personally - I feel guilt ridden.

What?? you may ask - why would you feel guilty? I have this problem. I constantly think about work 24/7 - I wake up thinking about work, I go to bed thinking about work, I dream about work - I strategise, plan, write, organise all the time. I feel that if I'm not working then I'm letting people down in some way ..... But in actual fact by living like this I am letting myself down.

The NZ Art Guild has only ever closed over the Christmas/New Year period for the statutory holidays. This year we (my good friend and colleague Tanya Dann) made the decision to close. As two workaholics, we actually agreed that the world would not stop spinning if we both had a true break from work for 11 days!! And wow!! Guess what - the world kept on spinning - nothing drastic happened and I feel great!!!

It's been really hard to ignore the guilt, to ignore the work emails, ignore the work thoughts and consciously push them aside every time they creep in. But it has been soooooo worth it. I've taken time to sit and chat with friends and family, to have a drink on the deck with my man, enjoy the holidays with my kids, go to bed early, sleep in (have 10 hours of sleep a night rather than 6!) watch dvd's, read and write my first blog post for 3 months!! Sheer bliss!!

For the first time in several months I feel the creative spark coming back into my life - I have cooked gourmet food, spent 3 days gardening (after 4 years of none at all!) and have started 3 artworks - with so many wonderful ideas flooding in. I have missed this wonderful feeling - it almost feels like a lifetime ago that I felt this good - and now I'm wondering why on earth I never allowed myself this time in order to receive this gift of feeling this wonderful.

In fact I'm enjoying my break so much that I have extended it for another week - and I will not feel guilty! I will enjoy it, embrace it and know that I will be able to give so much more when I do go back to work.

Now I need to make sure that I actually allow myself down time through out the year so that I can keep that creative spark alive - give myself time to write, paint, cook, garden - share my time with family and friends and actually have a more balanced life! ...... oh and catch up on my blog posts!! ;-)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monochrome Inc in NZ House and Garden

My favourite interior designer (and lovely friend) Andrew Loader has been featured in this months NZ House and Garden. Monochrome Inc is a fabulous interior design business based in Auckland.

I was lucky enough to have one of my artworks in the photos (above - caption reads - Called Wahine Toa, this red torso by artist Sophia Elise features a Maori koru pattern rendered in dots). Andrew and Mike bought my torso as a feature artwork for their bedroom a few months ago and I was stoked that it was photgraphed and included inthis feature - what a huge honour!

The rest of the beautiful artwork you see in this article is done by Mike Galvin (another wonderful friend!)

To read the full article go and grab a copy today! :-)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

School Art Day

A few weeks ago my daughter (year 4) asked me if I could come to school and teach art for the day. Apparently she had told her class I'm a "famous" artist because I'm on google - and of course I run this "huge" art organisation across NZ. Wow - after that kind of lead up how could I say no. lol

I have to say the thought of teaching groups of children art for a whole day terrified me - trying to think of an activity they could complete in an hour - and of course having never taught children art in my life! arghhh! What was I going to do - aside form freak out and have anxiety attacks?

Anyway - once the panic subsided I thought about the things my kids liked doing - and one was when we did a mini collaborative project artwork like the NZ Art Guild does each year. Perfect - that's what I was going to do. Only thing was I didn't want to use paints (my medium) because of the mess and time constraints. So I decided a dry medium would be better.

I nearly died when they sent home the form telling the kids I was teaching drawing skills - what the ...? Anyone who know me and my art knows that I do abstract - drawing is well and truly out of my sphere of things I do. And as my kids put it - "mum does abstract cos she can't draw real stuff" Thanks guys! lol

The day was a great success - the kids were an absolute delight - and I have a renewed admiration for teachers - man what an exhausting day - I really don't know how they do it - thank you to all the wonderful teachers out there!!

All the children had the same image and colours to work with and were given the same set of instruction s and theme to create to. I really wanted to see how they all interpreted it and I wasn't disappointed with the results - they let their creativity and imaginations go.

Many of you have asked what the finished artworks were like so I have added them here. The best thing about it was hearing them go "wow, awesome, amazing etc" once they saw it all put together. They really were gobsmacked at what they had all managed to achieve together.

Pink and Blue hair

no ... not me before you all panic. Several weeks ago my daughter asked if we could dye her hair - she really wanted to have blue and pink streaks in it. I agreed that we could - but suggested that we only dye the bottom few inches just in case she hated it - that way we could easily cut it off and it would be back to normal.

I asked my friend Helen how she had done her daughters hair (which looked AMAZING! Totally rainbow colours - very funky!) And bought some dye from her.

So off we set on this adventure - my very scared as I'm no hairdresser. Anyway - we had to bleach it to start with- and while the bleach was out my son and fiance both decided that they wanted to join in with the hair dying - so they had blond streaks through the top of their hair.

Hey - who am I to judge - I've been dying my hair since I was 16! And after all - it's only hair - and it's their hair - their choice - it will grow back - and I really think we have more important things to worry about with our kids like, drugs, teen pregnancy, suicide, binge drinking etc than what colour our children want their hair. Anyway - I'm sure most of us would have loved to have had pink and blue hair when we were 9 too - after all by the time we were old enough to do that it wasn't the done thing.

So we finished the dying and the next day my daughter decided she wanted more done - yes she loved it that much. So out with the hair dye again (no bleach this time) and we dyed it again - she didn't want to go all the way to the roots - so we had about 6 inches of natural hair and 10 inches of multicolour streaks.

It's been amazing how positive everyone has been about it - including the school Principal who loved it - in fact we have only heard of three people who haven't liked it - and hey that's their choice to make. So for all the people that asked for photos - I have the stage one's here. Unfortunately I didn't take any of stage two dye and as we didn't bleach it first it has washed out really quickly (mainly because her fathers girlfriend, unfortunately, really hates it and has made her wash her hair heaps when she is with them in order to get the dye out as quickly as possible) Never mind we still have heaps of dye left to do it again and I will be sure to take photos after :-)

I think the best thing about this was seeing how happy my kids were - my son saying he felt and looked like a rock star - my daughter feeling so beautiful and being able to express her creative side through her hair - and seeing the increased confidence in them both. Amazing how a simple thing like allowing them the freedom to decide what they do with their hair can have such a positive impact on their self esteem.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

RAK Day! ( Random Act of Kindness )

Today is officially RAK ( Random Act of Kindness Day ) - So I would love to hear all your stories about the RAK that you receive and that you give. Of course RAK don't have to be limited to today - they can be any day of the year - and every day if you feel like it. They don't have to be big - they can be as simple as giving someone a hug who needs it ....

Today 15 artists are doing a RAK - they have donated artworks to be auctioned to raise funds for the North Shore Women's Centre. (See event details below for "Inner Strength" What a perfect day to have this event too! And of course as with many events it's reliant on volunteers so they are all performing RAK's today too ...

Already heard one lovely story today from a friend who's 11 year old did an RAK for her ... yay!!!

To read more about RAK day -

Your invitation to Inner Strength - Charity Art Auction and Exhibition

The NZ Art Guild and North Shore Womens Centre (NSWC) are proud to join together to raise funds and awareness for the NSWC with the Inner Strength Charity Art Auction and Exhibition.

The NSWC are the only holistic service for women, by women on the North Shore. The funds raised from the charity auction will assist in the administration of their core services: low-cost counseling, family support service, free legal clinic, clothing exchange, low-cost courses and support groups and the Go Girl Youth programme. Donations enable NSWC to continue to offer their services at little or no cost to women.

Please join us on September 2nd 6:30pm at the Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna Auckland where the month long exhibition "Inner Strength" will open with a fantastic charity art auction. Our guest speaker is Catherine Livingstone who has inspired many women over the years and was recently the last woman standing in the NZ Apprentice

Top NZ artists - Jess Foote, Lisz Bodsworth, Angela Laby, Sophia Elise, Rachel Olsen, Sharlene Scmidt, Nancy Frazer, Michele Courage, Merle Bishop, Lorraine Beattie, Liz de King, Lauryne Hart, Jane Santos, Beate Minderjahn, and Amy Walker have also generously donated artworks to be auctioned on the night. 100% of the proceeds will be donated to NSWC.

The theme of this exhibition is "Celebrating and Strengthening Women" and it brings together 33 very, talented NZ female artists from around NZ.

We would like to thank the following sponsors:
Tony Laugharn - Barfoot and Thompson
Tineswari Maruthamuthu - Graphic Designer
Kip Brook - Word of Mouth Media

For more information about the NSWC of NZ go to

To view the Online Auction Catalogue -

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis by Tina McFadden

Tina McFadden is launching her new children’s book today. I am always looking for interesting books for my kids - and especially ones with a message that inspires them. although I haven't read a copy of it yet - it certainly sounds like the perfect present for them. Read the press release below for more info ....

Get the fantasy-adventure novel that is delighting readers and reviewers everywhere with its tale of magic and mystery in legendary Atlantis - Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis.

Elffolk takes young readers into a world of intrigue and wonder with its page-turning story and positive message. An empowering novel for children ages 7 to 10, it reveals the power of our thoughts, expectations and beliefs. A fast-paced, easy read, it tells the story of Enna and Nissa in the mysterious crystal caves of mystical Atlantis.

“Thousands of years ago, on the island of Atlantis, there were signs of a coming disaster. The very first omens were the earthquakes.... When an earthquake strikes the village of Elffolk, an elderly elf becomes trapped in the crystal caves. Two young elves, Enna and Nissa, must save her. But their rescue mission won't be easy. A dark magic lurks within the caves, stirring up danger at every turn and leaving nothing as it seems.”

Order your copy today:

Order today and you’ll receive FREE gifts from parenting coaches, children’s authors and more.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Prints and cards now available for sale online

Art Prints

You can now buy prints and greeting cards of Sophia Elise original artworks online at my new website

The prints come in a variety of sizes and start from as low as $19 They are available in stretched canvas, framed or standard (unframed) If you want them framed you get to select the mat colour, style and frame. Lots of fun playing around on the site with this to get just the right look.

Cards - Greeting cards
The cards can be bought as single cards or in multiple packs. They are priced from $4.95 - the more you buy the cheaper they get. The cards are great because you can even choose to have a personalised message inside not to mention you can also select how large you want the image to be on the front of the card.

Original Art For Purchase
All the artwork on this site is organised into galleries - certain series of artworks and a special gallery of art currently available for purchase - more to be added as soon as I get some time to paint!

If there is an artwork of mine that you really love but isn't listed on my print and greeting card pages please let me know and I will add it just for you

If your a member of facebook - friend me - and you will also be able to purchase art, cards and prints via my Facebook shop

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Boy for Sale...bonus girl may be included!

This morning I received this email from my wonderful cousin Gretchen Andersen - great mum - all round lovely person and very talented writer - just had to share - I'm sure there are plenty of mums (and dads) out there who can identify with this and will enjoy the chuckle ... Thanks Cuz for brightening up my day and letting me share this with others ... don't worry I won't tell CYFS ;-)

Boy for sale, any reasonable offer considered!

He's got LOTS of energy, and would make a great guard boy...could easily scare off any child-unfriendly visitors you may have, along with birds, mice or other small animals. Eats almost anything you put in front of him, especially if it's previously been refused and is deemed destined for the rubbish bin. Doesn't need much sleep. Good at making train tracks, mud pies, noise and messes. Doesn't need minor accessories like tissues, as has developed an effective "self- cleaning" method (a.k.a. "sharing the slime"). Great at waking babies, cats, neighbours or the dead.

Only minor functional defects, in that the "off" button is missing and the volume control seems stuck on "loud". But I'm sure these could be easily remedied with lots of open space, or alternatively, rubber walls and/or soundproofing. Patience and caregiver-energy might also work, but I haven't got any of that to try at present and the local hardware store seems to have run out.

PLUS, if you get in fast I'll also throw in a bonus Girl for no extra cost! She's great for self-esteem, as she is always in the mood for cuddles and being carried - doubles as a great workout partner, and will tone and strengthen arms, back and stomach if used correctly. Presently also has a self-lubricating face for those extra sloppy kisses. Has an infectious laugh, but the snot isn't similarly contagious. Runs almost entirely on mother's milk still, but is happy to supplement her diet with paper, books, shoes and cat fur so weaning probably wouldn't be a problem if the right foods are chosen. Good at waking those late night partying neighbours early the next morning. Also doesn't need much sleep.

If full-time child(ren) purchase isn't possible for you, I am willing to negotiate part-time or job-share opportunities.

Free shipping available!

Please contact the manager if you'd like to arrange a viewing or trial period.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Continuing saga of worthwhile art ...

Artist: Sophia Elise
Media: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 25cm x 25cm
For Sale: contact

Following on from my post yesterday about "what is worthwhile art?" - I started this same conversation on my facebook wall (by the way if you haven't connected with me on facebook already please do! :-))

I really wanted to share some of the thoughts that came through - some from artists - some from art admirers - some very interesting thoughts and some wise words ...

Pamela - "I don't think anyone has the right to sit on a pedestal and judge other peoples artwork. Because we may not like or value or have some kind of prejudice over a particular style or person does not mean the piece of work itself is not worthwhile. I think there are too many people out there who value their own opinions. I think we seek way to much validation for our art externally instead of believing in our own talent and skill and its easy to lose sight of ones path, and get caught up in what you think you should be doing rather than what you want to do."

Bernice - "Opinion is the worst yardstick one can react to in a creative endeavour. Along those lines ..... Does not having a fine arts degree make one less of an artist or an artist of note? This has been a... continuous struggle I have faced in my art career. Could I get an art degree... Yes. Do I want to... No. Am I an artist.... Yes. Do I create worthwhile art.... Yes. For many years now I have refused to placate certain factions of the 'art community' who have repeatedly recommended I do the degree in order to prove my artistic worth. It makes it harder to be taken seriously, for sure (in my experience), but i will keep on doing what I do, regardless of whether other's view my work as worthwhile or not. I have a voice. You have a voice. Every single creative person has a voice. It won't be silenced by anything as linear as an opinion."

Denita - "passion, talent, and love makes worthwhile art and art worthwhile"

Ross - "I'm always asked this by my school students. We live in an age of Post Modernist who's-to-say mentality. They are always trying to pin it down to $ signs. Like "what's the most you've sold a work for sir?". That's because they have been taught that this is a way to value stuff (we are now doing that more and more in dear old NZ. I reckon there are a whole host of questions like - Is there an honest voice there? Is there some good mark making going on? (I mean that in a 3d and 2d sense) Is the person demonstrating some sort of control of their media? In contrast to these and there are heaps more, that we could go on about, we have unmade beds, beer crates, piles of rubbish, all winning prizes. So the ideas (and some of them are quite clever, whilst others are plain grandstanding like Damien Hurst's over hyped, over priced nonsense. I reckon the best guy to read on the subject is Robert Hughes. "Shock of the New" is a goody but it's a bit old. I would love to know what sort of spirit Bazaleel and Aholiab had in the Old Testament"

John - "Many things in this world are subjective. Movies, books, music, art, likes, dislikes etc. It is a combination of ignorance and arrogance for one person (often from their own perception of academic superiority) to suggest one thing is worthwhile and suggest that your particular taste is not. All these subjective likes and dislikes come from the heart, they can't be and shouldn't be found in books, internet or otherwise."

Brian - "Good art in my opinion elicits an emotional response in the viewer"

Colin - "If the artist likes it, its worthwhile to them, if the viewer likes it, then its worthwhile to that person and if your lucky both artist and viewer like it therefore making it worthwhile to both. In some cases the artist will not be happy with the finished article and few viewers like it making it worthwhile to few. A piece of arts worth both monetary and visually is a very individual thing....Some people see arts worth in relation to monetary value (So IS a factor to them), others see art purely for the aesthetic value i.e. like the look of it, or sound of it, feel of it (Myself) and others for some perceived meaning behind it all. No one motivation or trigger for an individuals impression of a given piece or form of art is any more valid than another. With art there are no more rules to the appreciation of art than there are to the creation of it or form it should take."

Stan - "who is this person to cast a judgement on the marks of a fellow artist? Certainly no one with any academic background in the profession. From the first crude paleolithic markings on the walls of caves until the present, art is a reflection of human labour and a catharsis of the imagination. To attempt to discredit one artists work as not worthwhile is to deny individualistic creative processes."

Ross - "Again though, we're coming back to the very thing that prompts this debate. There is an opinion that if something provokes emotion then if it good. I don't think it's that simple. Like a Swastika for many people would provoke and emotion, but it is not art it is an offensive icon. So there has to be some sort of conceptual underpinning. Oh for the days when we were told what was good and what was rubbish! (that's tongue in cheek). It's not just technical ability either is it? Think about the beautifully produced kitch sold all over the world."

Leo - "it took me the standard 4 years plus a post graduate year, but that did NOT make my work art, nor did it make me an artist. That came later. What it did - and that made it worthwhile after all - was break down all my pre-conceived ideas, thanks to excellent tutors, and give me a lot of useful technical knowledge. But that was all it did. There are countless great artists who never had any formal training. And Sophia, thanks for starting this discussion!"

I think my favourite quote from all the posts though is Colins - "With art there are no more rules to the appreciation of art, than there are to the creation of it or to the form it should take."

Thanks to everyone for joining in this discussion - sharing your thoughts and feeling - opinions and insights - to follow this more go to my facebook page

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What is worthwhile art?

Artist: Sophia Elise
Media: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 25cm x 25cm

Today I'm pondering the question - "What is worthwhile art?" This question was provoked by an email I received today. Not an email directed at my art - but a general comment about worthwhile art having a specific voice and means to be heard.

I had never thought of art being classified as "worthwhile" before - well more precisely that some art wouldn't be considered worthwhile in some peoples eyes. Ok, admittedly, some art is not be to my taste - or maybe it doesn't have the technical finesse of other artworks - but I never thought about it not being worthwhile. At the very core of it - at the very least - it is a worthwhile artwork for the person who has created it surely. It is something they have enjoyed, felt compelled to do, have expressed an emotion or shared a scene - to them it was worthwhile.

To me - It is worthwhile if that artwork has helped someone in some way - be it the creator or the viewer. If it has put a smile on someones face - made them feel something within - evoked a conversation - created a connection - then that is worthwhile to me. A child's artwork is worthwhile to the parent who receives it and the child who has created it with love. The artwork that we see as a "mistake" is worthwhile to that child that loves it and retrieves it from the junk pile to hang in their room. Or the artwork that is donated to charity to raise funds for a cause. Or simply the one that is beautiful - which of course is in the eye of the beholder.

Perhaps my art may not be termed worthwhile by academic circles but to the hundreds of people that have purchased my art and who enjoy hanging it on their walls it's worthwhile. It was worthwhile to me to be able to create it and share part of my spirit on canvas. It was worthwhile to my children who hang it on their walls and proudly tell their classmates that their mum is an artist on google (how cute is that! lol) It was worthwhile to the artists I have swapped artworks with. It is worthwhile to the charities that have benefited from the artwork donations I've made.

So - Who is the judge of what is worthwhile? What is the criteria? Is there criteria? Is it arrogance to state some art is worthwhile and other art isn't? Is it an intellectulisation born out of academia? Or is it a real life issue? What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Glass Balls

30 Second Speech by Bryan Dyson Former CEO of Coca Cola

"Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them - work, family, health, Friends and spirit and you're keeping all of these in the Air.

You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back.

But the other four Balls - Family, Health, Friends and Spirit - are made of glass. If you drop one of these; they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for it.

Work efficiently during office hours and leave on time. Give the required time to your family and friends and have a proper rest

Value has a value only if its value is valued"

We all need to be reminded of this from time to time - I am probably one of the worst people at this - I am a self confessed workaholic - if I'm not working I feel guilty - I feel lazy - like I haven't accomplished anything - I feel that all my time needs to be production - but how do we define productive?

I need to remember that rest, and time spent with family and friends is productive time too. The weekend just been we caught up with friends for a birthday - we went to bed before 11 for the first time in several months - we slept in - went to an art exhibition opening - visited the in laws - visited my family - went to dinner - to a show - bought some books - did some painting - finished a commission - had friends around for drinks. What soul food that was!! It was the best thing I could have done - I now feel more energised and ready to take on the busy week again - I need to remind myself of how important down time is - and the flow on benefits it has.

Are there any other self confessed workaholics out there who suffer from guilt when they are not working? Where does it come from? How do you deal with it?

Monday, July 12, 2010

What makes people get involved?

We had a couple of friends around last night and the conversation turned to what makes people get involved in other peoples fights - ie. standing up for someone that you think is being treated unfairly.

There was a lot of discussion around this as I'm one of those people that can't stand to see any kind of injustice - I want life to be fair - ok we all get told early on that it isn't - but it doesn't stop me being idealistic or trying to help if I can. But at what point is that considered interfering - or even damaging to the person you are standing up for? My friend raised that point that by standing up for someone - fighting their battle that you can actually be dis-empowering and not allowing them personal growth. A very good point - and I hadn't looked at it that way.

But then what if that person doesn't have the knowledge or ability and you can help them learn - we all need guidance and support at various times of our lives -and how can someone who has never stood up for themselves int he past learn how to do it if no one will help them?

What about the people that take not getting involved to the extreme - their reasoning isn't like my friends - they just believe that it's none of their business and it doesn't affect their life in any way. They stay out of potential conflict at all costs - they are the ones that would walk past a women getting hit by her husband - or a child left unattended in a car crying - or stand by while someones character gets unfairly maligned.

Personally I find this level of apathy frustrating - and I actually don't think it is coming form a place of good - but a place of selfishness. Maybe I'm wrong - but it's the way I feel. I believe that if I can help then I should - and to ignore anything like that wouldn't sit right with me - I couldn't sleep at night.

My friend asked where this need of mine came from - I had never analysed it - it has always been innate within me and I accepted it as part of who I am. But this morning I had a light bulb moment and I know where it comes from. It is a core value that was instilled in me from a very young age was "protect and help those who are weaker than yourself"

I suppose at no time have I stopped to consider that I am using my subjective judgement to determine whether a person fits in this category - and what I see as someone needing help - will not bee seen that way by another - they can be seen as interfering. More food for thought.

So why is it that some people feel passionately about helping others - and others feel just as passionately that it's wrong to get involved because it's nothing to do with them - and others feel that you are robbing that person of the personal growth and life experiences?

What category do you fall into? What is your reasoning? And is there a right or wrong in this case?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What makes someone inspirational?

Just lately I've been thinking about this a lot - what is it that makes someone inspirational?

I admire people for many different reason - the lady who adopted 4 girls with Downs Syndrome - She's inspirational to me because I don't think I could ever have done that - that takes a huge amount of dedication, love and sacrifice.

The man who was on Gladiator today with a prosthetic leg who not only competed but also completed the whole course - I couldn't even do that as an able body person so to me he is inspirational.

The man on Good Sorts segment last week who fought to save lives with a new system for organ donations - and then to be the first one to actually have his body used for organ donation under the new system.

So many people giving selflessly of their time with various charities - looking after others - making peoples lives better each day.

Listening to Ray Avery talk on Thursday - that man is amazing - from simple ideas he has managed to change millions of peoples lives all over the world. Incredible to think it came out of his garage in Mt Eden - from a desire to help people.

So many different people that I find inspiring and just as many reasons - my list could go on forever. It does includes personal attributes - usually some quality that I don't see in myself and a quality that I would like to have. Seeing what these people achieve makes you want to be a better person - to give more - do more and be more grateful.

I have been told an a few occasions that I'm an inspiration to someone - and I always feels a bit gobsmacked - flattered naturally - but I do ask why? I honestly don't see myself any differently from the people that have said this to me. In fact they have sometimes even been an inspiration to me! Therefore to find out that I have in some way inspired them is very humbling.

I feel grateful that we are not only surrounded by many wonderful role models - but people who inspire us in every day lives - and they aren't necessarily the richest or most famous - they are our mums, dads, friends, children, friends, colleagues etc

I would love to hear who inspires you? Or just even what characteristics you find inspirational?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I'm excited to be involved with this fabulous exhibition - and very lucky to have such an amazing person organising it in Dunedin - Tanya Dann. Without her vision, dedication and hardwork this just wouldn't be possible.

If you are in the area it would be great to see you at the opening of "Pocket Rockets" exhibition at ROCDA Gallery in Dunedin.

Over 40 NZ artists bring you an amazing array of artworks including, paintings, jewellery, sculpture, glass art, textile and much more!

The exhibition is for one week only - so make sure you mark it in your diary today so you don't miss out!

Where: ROCDA Gallery, 73 Princes Street, Dunedin
Opening: Monday 2nd August, 5:30pm - 8pm
Exhibition Open: Mon - Fri 11am - 6pm and Sat 11am - 3pm

Tanya Dann
Sophia Elise
Tash Shackleton
Mike Greenwood
Amy Walker
Lei Wen
Lorraine Beattie
Melodie Joseph
Chris Cruickshank
Amanda Cass
Peter Augustin
Sofia Spirtova
Sue McPhee
Suzanne Carter
Marimba Powley
Stan Blanch
Ron Esplin
Pam Tapp
Jac Connelly
Tama Florentina
Amahlia Wolf
Pam Tapp
Cath Sheard
Michele Courage

Collette Fergus
Irene Joseph
Sandra Adams
Soo Lee
Ryan van Heerden
Peter Viesnik
Bobby Shen
Jill Shackleton
Diane Schnarr
Virginia O'Dear
Barbara Bullock
Jane Sussmilch
Lisa-Jane Harvey
Holly Budge
Sudhir Duppati Kumar
Isla Osborne

Bloom revealed ...

MEDIA: Mixed media - wood frame.
SIZE: The finished artwork is 1.3m x 1.3m
(List of participating artists below)

On Friday 2nd July the NZ Art Guild unveiled their 2010 Collaborative Artwork "Bloom"

"Bloom" is a unique artwork which comprises of 64 individual artworks by 62 artists from all over NZ. The theme of this artwork is New Beginnings and Growth.

To view this stunning artwork in person visit the Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna, Auckland. Open Mon - Fri 9 - 5 or Sat 10 - 4. It will be exhibited there until July 30th.

This artwork will be auctioned on Trademe ( from July 17th with 100% of the proceeds donated to the Mental Health Foundation of NZ. (When you login to Trademe search for NZ Art Guild).

- Print run limited to 100 prints - all prints are numbered
- Printed on archival art paper by specialist fine art printers
- Comes un-mounted so you can select your framing
(We recommend Lesley's Picture Framing - email:
- Size: 410 mm x 410mm. (unframed)
- Delivery will be approx 2 weeks from the date of order.
- $5 from every print sale is donated to the Mental Health Foundation of NZ

Bloom Limited Edition Print $79.00
Postage - North Island $8.00 Postage - South Island $12.00 Postage - Rural $15.00

How to order your print:
via the NZ Art Guild website
or by email

PARTICIPATING ARTISTS (from left to right)
Row 1:
1) Ana ter Huurne
2) Melissa Muirhead
3) Amanda Hook
4) Chelsea Davies
5) Michelle Whitehouse
6) Jacqueline Runham
7) Caroline Viesnik
8) Sophia Elise

Row 2:
9) Marilyn Andrews
10) Bill Rutledge
11) Wendy Matthews
12) Cath Sheard
13) Silver Dunlop
14) Angela Laby
15) Sheryl Eustace
16) Neala Glass

Row 3:
17) Nancy Frazer
18) Natasha Wheeler
19) Gail Boyle
20) Melissa Muirhead
21) Anni Morris
22) Tracy MacDonald
23) Chris Cruickshank
24) Melodie Joseph

Row 4:
25) Tessa Birks
26) Julie Sills
27) Sally Blyth
28) Beate Minderjahn
29) Sandra Toornstra
30) Michelle Whitehouse
31) Rochelle van der Werff
32) Amy Mackiewicz

Row 5:
33) Chavah Kinloch
34) Sharlene Schmidt
35) Jane Bold
36) Helen Sherrock
37) Ronda Turk
38) Theresa Rodger
39) Christine Dempster
40) Paulette Shepherd

Row 6:
41) Lei Wen
42) Victoria Anderson
43) Jo Mallinger
44) Cheryl Irwin
45) Lyn Hurring
46) Linda Paul
47) Stan Blanch
48) Shaun Hedley

Row 7:
49) Dennis Clark
50) Michele Courage
51) Shelly van Soest
52) Marimba Powley
53) Tineswari Maruthamuthu
54) Fiona Woods
55) Michelle Thorby
56) Helen McNamara

Row 8:
57) Pam Tapp
58) Ron Esplin
59) Natalie Makeef
60) Rachael Inch
61) Tanya Dann
62) Pam Buffery
63) Sofia Spirtova
64) Tama Florentina

Allan McIntosh - Buildology - the Art of Design and Build
Mike Thornton - Giclee Print Limited
Michael Woods - Photographer
Brendon and Lesley - Lesley's Picture Framing

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Emerge Exhibition, Charity Art Auction, Bloom Unveiling

You're all invited!!
What: NZ Art Guild Members Exhibition and Charity Art Auction
When: July 2nd 6:30pm
Where: Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna, Auckland

For the third year in a row artists from the New Zealand Art Guild are joining forces to raise money and awareness for the Mental Health Foundation through a unique charity art project and auction.

On July 2, the NZ Art Guild will unveil their 2010 collaborative project titled ‘Bloom’ during the opening night of their exhibition “Emerge”. This one of a kind project is compiled from 64 individual artworks created by 62 NZ artists who each interpreted the theme “New Beginnings and Growth” into their piece.

When combined these individual panels will create a stunning artwork measuring 1.3m x 1.3m that will then be auctioned on TradeMe with 100 percent of the proceeds donated to the Mental Health Foundation.

The opening night of ‘Emerge’ will also see 12 fantastic artworks by some of New Zealand’s top artists auctioned off to benefit the Foundation. More information on these can be found on the NZ Art Guild website ( To view the auction catalogue go to

"We are once again thrilled to be working with the New Zealand Art Guild on such an exciting project," says Judi Clements, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation. “We are truly appreciative of the commitment we have received from the Guild’s members over the last three years”.

“The Mental Health Foundation relies heavily on donations to help provide resources and support to New Zealanders affected by mental health issues and it is the support of such events that not only helps us to do this but also brings us closer to our aim of making mental health everybody’s business”

“Emerge” opens on 2 July at 6:30pm at the Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna, Auckland.
Come along and support people with experience of a mental illness, and their friends and families, by bidding on the artwork.

Huge honour .... Her Businesswoman of the Year Awards

Last week was the 2010 Her Businesswoman of the Year Awards - and I was one of three finalist in the Outstanding Business Citizenship Award - what a fabulous category to be a finalist in - and the competition was very high! Unfortunately I didn't win it - BUT Biddy who did is amazing - CEO of Hospice - great work! As friends and family keep saying - there is always next year :-) I'm just happy to have achieved the position as finalist this year!
The two day Bloom Conference was very inspirational - amazing speakers - fantastic women to spend two days with - and the energy was phenomenal. Was great to be part of it all.

Recession is ...... over!!

Yes well that is def the feeling I'm getting here - art sales and commissions are on the rise again and that is usually a good sign that people are feeling more comfortable about their money and financial situations.

I've been very fortunate since the beginning of April to have sold 10 artworks and gained a couple of commissions too. Many artists will tell you that if they have artworks sitting around for months on end and they aren't making any sales then it can start to sap your creativity - you just can feel very down and question what the point is ... makes you doubt your talent ... your ability and style. So this is why the increased sales are doubly exciting.

The torso that I did for Legato has proved really popular and have had many enquiries including a couple of commissions - unfortunately the commissions for these are on the back burner while I try and clear some of my work - thank goodness for patient buyers!!! You know who you are. ;-)

It certainly has been full on with exhibitions for me this year I currently have work being exhibited in Napier and this weekend in Auckland at the Original Art Sale and then next week is the opening of our annual members exhibition in Takapuna - not to mention that I have an exhibition in Dunedin next month, Auckland again in September, October, November and December!

I will try to load the details BEFORE the events so that people can come along if they wish. :-)

Italy ... Legato Exhibition .... art

Venice at night

Venice at day

Well it seems a distant memory now but it has been less than a month since we got back from Italy. What a fabulous trip!! It started in Roccasecca and Cassino Italy with the Legato exhibition - then we started the amazing race .. well that's what it felt like! We went from Cassino to Naples - then to Pompeii - Sorrento - Amalfi Coast - Rome - Florence - Venice - Vatican City - we didn't spend more than two night anywhere and hit the ground running every day. (ok not literally!!) such an amazing experience and one that we shared with other fabulous Kiwis at different legs of the trip. We made many very special life long friends and had a ball along the way. I took 680 photos - my wonderful man was more restrained and only took 500. I couldn't get enough of the churches, buildings, architecture and the art works in them. Really were breathtaking and despite the photos you just couldn't capture the sheer magnificence of them.

Commonwealth War Cemetry at Cassino

Inside Casserta Palace

Grounds of Casserta Palace
The downside to the holiday ... I missed my babies .... we managed a few texts, emails and two phone calls - the phone calls were absolute gold - I never slept well the night before - set as many alarms as possible so scared I would miss the small window of time to phone them. How wonderful just to hear their voices.

I feel so grateful to have been given the opportunity to exhibit in Italy along with 39 other artists and to travel there with a dozen of the artists. This was only possible because I had a fantastic team of family, friends and volunteers back in NZ that looked after every aspect of the NZ Art Guild for me and kept everything running smoothly. for the first time in 6 years I actually was away from work - I had PC access only on a couple of days - and managed to really get my head out of work. Huge thanks to all those amazing people in my life.

Florence by Night

Amalfi Coast beach

I've jsut shared a few photos from the trip ... still have hundreds to sort through!

Just do it ....

I've been agonising over the fact that I haven't updated my blog for nearly two months - I know I've needed to update it - fill in the blanks - where I've been - what I've been doing - what's coming up - sharing thoughts - ideas - sayings I heard and loved - artworks and more. Everytime I stop and think - right better start I get paralysed by where to start - it just seems like such an enormous task that I close the screen down and do something else. Well today - I decided - so what if I don't update what I've done - the past is past - but what I can do is start from today and share where I'm going.

So today is brief .... I want to share two quotes ....

"Scars remind us of where we've been but don't dictate where we are going"

"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen." -- Elizabeth Kubler Ross

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Glamorgan School Fundraiser ....

If I wasn't already busy enough with an exhibition which launched this week, finalising travel and plans for Italy next week and completing artworks - I was approached by our fabulous charity auctioneer about a fundraiser at his son's school. I couldn't say no to this one - I love the concept!!

All the children are going to create an artwork which will then be exhibited. On the opening evening parents will be able to "buy" their child's artwork and children will be awarded prizes. There will also be a charity auction of about 8 artworks to help raise funds for the school.

Tony asked me if I would judge it - and as much as I would have loved to have (I tried to convince him to change the date eve lol) I will be in Italy. So my good friend, artist and fellow BOT member at MAC - Natalie Bliss will take on this challenge. In actual fact she couldn't be more perfect as she is also a children's art teacher!

I then had to put out a call to our members for donations - and within a couple of hours I had enough. Amazing to see such generous spirit of giving from artists - I know they are constantly asked to donate - probably more than any other group of people. And I am always humbled by their generosity. The artworks are great - very diverse with something to appeal to everyone.

Thanks to all the wonderful artists who offered donations - I'm so sorry we couldn't take all the artworks - but there are two other fundraisers coming up a bit later this year where we will need more artworks. Fundraiser for the Mental Health Foundation of NZ and for North Shore Women's Centre.

Above is the artwork I have donated for this fundraiser - Passion - Mixed media and resin.

Nearly time to go ....

Count down is on ... Only 3 more sleeps and we jet set off to Italy for the Legato Exhibition, It is still very surreal like its not really happening don't think it will hit us properly until we are on the plane. Opening day for the Legato is Sat 15th May so if your in Italy Join us in Cassino!!! (Sorry Shar - stole your words!! lol)

I can't believe that it was only 4 months ago that Kay approached me about the possibility of organising an exhibition of NZ art in Cassino. It's amazing what you can achieve in 4 very short months if you are passionate enough about a cause. And this is one that was so easy to be passionate about - Peace - and Remembrance.

40 incredibly talented NZ artist have come together to create a NZ first in art exhibitions. Not only is it great to be part of history but for history to be part of this event. Now it's our job to make an awesome future together from it.

Arts on Sunday - Radio NZ

Tune in this Sunday at 1:40pm (tomorrow) to Radio NZ - Arts on Sunday. Lynn Freeman interviewed Legato Exhibition Organiser Kay De Latour this week, Syd Mainsbridge (Cassino Vet and father of one of the artists involved) and myself earlier this week. See the link below for program details.

Hmmm hope I don't sound too much like a dork!! ;-)

Anything Goes ......

Open now until May 29th at the Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna, Auckland. Anything goes is a fabulous exhibition involving 31 North Island Artists from the NZ Art Guild. A really diverse range of artworks from truly talented NZ artists.

I was very excited to sell 5 out of 11 of my artworks on opening night - 2 to a lovely couple that I met on Facebook - one who is an artist themselves and the other a fabulous interior designer!! The other three sold as a set to a lovely lady from Cambridge - who has now been added as a friend on facebook too. As Lynda said - I can now afford to eat gelato in Italy!! lol

On a more disapointing note ... one of our members Claire Fairweather who creates the most amazing Art-Brroches had one of her pieces stolen between hanging day and opening night. Read the article belwo - and if you see this artwork please let her know.

Urban Living - fabulous new magazine

Urban Living is a fabulous new magazine launched today by the same publishers as Business to Business and Rural Living Magazines. Check out this great article written by Virin Gomber with quotes from me and featuring artworks by NZ Art Guild members - Donna, Massey, Sandra Toornstra and me (Sophia Elise).

Final Artwork for Legato Exhibition completed

Only this week have I managed to find the time to complete my artwork for the Legato Exhibition in Italy. A dear friend of mine gave me this idea - (thanks Tim!!)

Artist: Sophia Elise
Title: Journey of Life
Media: Mixed Media
Size: 38cm x 76cm

This artwork represents the life journey of a young man who has gone to war. The dotted paths represent the life he travelled - the texture of the canvas the difficulties and obstacles he was faced with and the cross his life's journey tragically cut short.

Howick RSA preshowing of Legato Artworks

A couple of weeks ago the Howick RSA very kindly hosted us at their wonderful venue for 13 of the Legato Artists to show some of their artworks. This was a fabulous opportunity to talk with the members of the RSA and especially Watty McEwen who is a Cassino Veteran.

Anzac story leads to special work of art
TV3 were at Howick RSA where there was a small group of the Legato artists showed some of their artworks. Cassino Vet Watty McEwen was presented with a very special artwork done by Auckland artist Merv Appleton. Read and watch the story by following the link above.
Presentation of Merv Appletons artwork from Barry to Watty

Some of the artists - left to right - Lorraine Beattie, Gail Boyle, Gilmore Wall, Merv Appleton, Sally Blyth, Sophia Elise and Angela Laby - artwork by Angela Laby.

Watty McEwen being intervied by Sophia Elise and TV3 news

Artworks by Sally Blyth, Gail Boyle, Merv Appleton, Gidon Bing, Sophia Elise, Pam Tapp

Artworks by Lorraine Beattie, Sally Blyth, Sophia Elise

Legato Exhibition in the News

Bit of a catch up for me - the last month has been crazy busy with wonderful events and happenings all over NZ. My focus as you know has primarily been the Legato Exhibition in Cassino, Italy and I was very fortunate to have two front page newspaper articles in one week about my involvement ....
Albany and East Coast Bays News in Auckland

and the North Shore Times Advertiser with fabulous fellow NZ Art Guild members and artist Gail Boyle.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tears on Greenstone

The inspiration for this piece came from the Tears on Greenstone at the Army Musem - see this link

On this "greenstone wall" that I painted are the names of family members and friends that have inspired many of the artworks in the Legato exhibition - there have been many tears shed by the participapnts of this exhibition and their families. This is in recognition of the tears of remembrance and the tears of loss and a reminder to us all to not let this happen again. We need to come together and work for world peace.

Thank you to all the artists who shared the names, stories and emotions with me on this ver personal and heartfelt journey.

Title: Tears on Greenstone
Artist: Sophia Elise
Media: Acrylic and resin on canvas
Size: 38cm x 76cm

We are all joined together wtih a common goal - world peace. Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. - Vince Lombardi

We need to start wtih ourselves and our children “A babe in the house is a well-spring of pleasure, a messenger of peace and love, a resting place for innocence on earth, a link between angels and men” - Martin Fraquhar Tupper

Nothing is more powerful than an individual acting out of his conscience, thus helping to bring the collective conscience to life. - Norman Cousins

Spreading the message of peace

Title: Ripple Effect
Artist: Sophia Elise
Media: Mixed Media
Size: 60cm x 50cm

One question though - Why doesn't phathlo green and blue photograph well? This is more turquoise with green and blue in the background. The light dots are metallic silver. Getting accurate photos of artworks still proves to be one of the hardest parts of creating art!

The title of this artwork says it all ....
Peace will spread like a ripple - starting small within ourselves and spreading outwards with our actions - Let every action be done with perfect gravity, humanity, freedom and justice, and perform it as though that action were your last. - Anon

It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. - Robert Kennedy

Saturday, April 10, 2010

From NZ to Italy ....

Spreading the message of Peace through artworks from NZ to Italy ... fantastic to be part of something so huge!! If you're a member of Facebook join the fan page for this event and see the artworks of the 41 NZ Artists selected to exhibit in Italy in May.

Here is another artwork I've just finished off for this exhibition

Title: One World
Media: Mixed Media and Acrylic
Artist: Sophia Elise
Size: 40cm x 50cm

The title of this artwork says it all - much like the one below. They need no further explanation.

Finishing touches

It's nearing closer ...the Legato Exhibition in Cassino, Italy - not much longer now to finish my artworks for this fabulous event.

My man snapped this one of me deep in thought adding some finishing touches ... on the way out to my fathers brithday dinner ... hmmmm ....hope I didn't get any paint on my clothes! lol

This artwork was inspired by a small one I did earlier this week (below) and now I've decided to send this larger version - much prefer the imapct of this one - it's called "One More Is One Too Many"

Title: One More is One Too Many
Media: Mixed Media and Acrylic
Artist: Sophia Elise
Size: 30cm x 70cm

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Art Sale - save more than 50% retail price

I'm having an art sale - I have listed several artworks on my facebook page with their details and prices. The money raised through this sale will go towards the costs of my upcoming exhibition in Italy ín May. If you're interested in any of the artworks please send me an email

View Artworks -

41 artists to send paintings to Kiwi exhibition

Title: One More is one too many
Artist: Sophia Elise
Media: Mixed Media on Canvas
Size: 10cm x 30cm

I'm so excited to be part of this event - my artworks are nearly complete - OK may be a light exaggeration - but half way there! Our travel plans are taking shape - and the publicity that this event and the associated artists are receiving is very inspiring - it's great to have so much support by the Cassino Commune, NZ Artists and the public.

Here's the latest press release by Word of Mouth Media

41 artists prepare to send paintings to Kiwi exhibition in Italy to mark Kiwi involvement in the Battle of Cassino

Forty-one selected artists are preparing to send their paintings to a landmark Kiwi exhibition in Italy to commemorate New Zealand’s involvement in the Battle of Monte Cassino.

Organisers Kay de Lautour (in Cassino) and Sophia Elise (Auckland) said today the May 15 exhibition would be the biggest single New Zealand art event ever held in Italy.

Most of the artists had grandparents, uncles and relatives who fought in World War Two, or who fought in Italy and some had parents, grandparents and uncles who were at the Battle of Cassino.

Artists taking part are from Patea, Christchurch, Upper Hutt, Waipu, Whitianga, the USA, Italy, Auckland, Mt Maunganui, Napier, Opotiki, Orewa, South Otago, Whangarei, Levin, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Oban, Pokeno and Wellington. A number of them will be at the exhibition and staying at nearby Roccasecca, a town over 1000 years old where the Kiwi soldiers are well remembered.

The commemorative art event has been labelled the Legato exhibition. De Lautour said legato in Italian meant intertwined, like strands of rope, giving it strength.
``As with Italy and New Zealand, so many friendships were formed between families during WWII and maintained after the war.

``Now, two generations later, the grandchildren of the Kiwi soldiers are returning to Italy to visit these families, and young Italians are moving to New Zealand. Every year hundreds of New Zealanders visit the graves of their countrymen who remained here.

"Artists have a responsibility to reflect what is happening in society, and they do so whether they are conscious of it or not. In New Zealand we see Anzac Day parades growing in strength. World-wide there is a resurgence in interest in the history of the world wars. The time is right for artists to be proactive and take up the challenge of the old soldiers who urge us to ensure that "peace" is not an empty word," de Lautour said.

With Anzac Day just a few weeks away de Lautour said she always visited the Commonwealth Cemetery on the day to visit the graves of NZ soldiers. She said so many Kiwis still pay their respects at the cemetery every Anzac Day with new poppies, little flags, photos of soldiers and messages laminated in plastic propped against the graves.

``I think it would be nice for families to know that the tributes they leave are carefully maintained and even after bad weather are still neatly aligned against the headstones by the gardeners. Wellington College leave a tribute there every year or so and it always amazes me how long it stays there before it is replaced by the next visiting group from the school.’’

The NZ art exhibition will be held in Cassino’s public library complex in the centre of the town with a formal gala opening on May 15. Many of the artists are depicting links between New Zealand and Italy, featuring their fallen relatives and other connections to the battle.

The NZ Ambassador to Rome Laurie Markes will tour the exhibition on May 17. A souvenir programme has been produced which features a Cassino peace painting by Auckland artist Merv Appleton.


Friday, March 19, 2010

3 more books coming my way soon

I'm really excited - after writing my review yesterday The Cadence Group invited me to join their group of book reviewers. I now have three more books coming to me from the States - a self help book - WOW, a childrens book - Sund and Moon and a novel - Citizen Dick. Can't wait to get them - they all look fantastic! Will share my thoughts with you all once I've read them.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Alphatudes: The Alphabet of Gratitude by Michele Wahlder

Below ia a book review by Sophia Elise

Alphatudes: The Alphabet of Gratitude
written by Michele Wahlder

Beautiful images, inspirational quotes, short narratives, affirmative statements, and an easy to read style make this small book with powerful messages a must have for everyone. Alphatudes – The Alpahbet of Gratitude by Michele Wahlder states on the cover that it contains 26 solutions for life’s challenges. I think more aptly it should read how to turn your life around with 26 letters.

Before I go any further I want to take a brief moment to explain what alphatudes are. An alphatude is where you go through each letter of the alphabet naming things starting with that letter that you are grateful for and why. Sounds like a simple exercise that anyone could do and why would anyone bother to write a book about it. Well, Michele takes it a step further and opts for things which are more holistic and philosophical like being grateful for Acceptance.

Before you start rolling your eyes and thinking here we go again – another airy fairy, self help book – I want to assure you it’s not. Michele doesn’t make promises like reading this book will result in financial freedom or deliver you with everything you ever wanted. What she offers the reader is the opportunity to take control of their lives and happiness. You can increase your optimism, find hidden blessings, overcome challenges and free yourself from negativity.

Ok – now I’ve made it sound like a very labour intensive process requiring a lot of soul searching and personal growth. Don’t panic – all the homework has been done for you and the only pre-requisite to putting this into action and incorporating it into your life is that you know your alphabet. I can hear you saying now – that can’t be right – I can assure you it is.

For each letter in this book Michele has selected a stunning image and a quote. The following page starts with “I am grateful for ….” followed by a short narrative and an affirmation. The opposite page contains what Michele calls a “prayer”. These aren’t traditional prayers - they are more what I would term spiritual affirmations – they are non denominational and so long as your not a staunch atheist then this is something that can appeal to everyone. For example, When Miclele talks about being Grateful for Giving she follows it with “let generosity of heart and hand begin with me. Help me to create a better world through the giving of my unique gifts, talents and passions ….”

So now we have covered what’s in the book - You may be asking – why would I want to do this and How will it make me feel? I would like to share with you how adopting a spirit of gratitude will help improve your life and make you feel happier.

Every day things happen that are out of our control, however what we always maintain control over is how we perceive and react to them. By replacing our negative thoughts with positive affirming ones we increase our feeling of optimism and we also start to take responsibility for our own happiness.

Many of us are not only guilty of the negative self talk but of also delaying our own happiness. We put our energies into finding things that we think will make us happy. We say to ourselves I’ll be happy when I get a new house, when I loose a few kilos etc. Unfortunately often when achieve that “thing” we thought would make us happy we often find we aren’t. We immediately embark on another search, looking for the next thing that we hope will make us happy. We keep postponing our happiness and when we do this we are robbing ourselves of our opportunity to feel happy every day of our lives and in turn pass that positivity onto others.

Michele talks about gratitude being a choice available to us all. We can make a conscious decision to see the blessings instead of hardships. If you are not used to doing this you may find it morally and intellectually demanding when you start but the more we express gratitude, the more positively we perceive the world and our experiences..

I remember a few years ago I used to say that the only thing I wanted was to be happy. I knew happiness had to come from within but the question was how do you get it inside when everything around you seemed so awful. I learnt that if you focus on the positive and are grateful for even the seemingly small things in life then you start to develop this deep internal happiness that no one can take from you. Even when the negative things happen you are so practised in looking for the positive in things that you don’t dwell on the negative but immediately turn it around so that you can feel good about it. I know this may sound like Pollyanna talking but I can assure you I was very much the negative thinker, dark side of life, and have suffered from debilitating depression. I have been at the bottom I know just how low you can get but I also know the other side and what has helped turn me and my life around – and that is the simple thing of gratitude.

In fact Michele’s book turned our whole families’ attitude around in less than 2 hours. Here’s how we did it – and how you can too. Firstly – this book is a fantastically easy read. I read it in less than 90 minutes in a school hall with 30 children doing karate in the background. . My children love books and wanted to know what I was reading – in less that 5 mins I had told them and they had looked through the book Then in the car ride home we put it into practice by going through the alphabet and each taking turns to express our gratitude (another 20 mins) It not only increased the positivity but it also opened up dialogues for us as well – dialogue we may not have had otherwise. How many books have the power and potential to change so many lives in such a short space of time with so little effort?

Ok – admittedly it may not be that easy to keep the alphabet of gratitude alive and breathing all the time – we all have our moments when we can struggle to see the light. But if you can just stop for a minute during one of those difficult moments and start your aphatudes you are guaranteed to start feeling a whole lot happier. It will make you feel so good that you will actually want to make this a part of your daily life.

I knew my children 8 and 10 had bought into the alpahtudes 100% when a couple of days after they had read the book they presented me and my partner with a poster. It was a poster with all our names and a complete alphatude. My son even wrote in a school report recently Count your blessings - people in India don’t have a lot, they don’t have food, houses, school, money etc – but they are happy – we could learn a lot from them. Alphatudes is now something they use when they are having trouble getting to sleep or if they are worried about something – we don’t count sheep anymore we count our blessings. This is a much more effective way to relax and increase happiness.

And lastly – one of the things that I am grateful for is the price of this beautiful book – only $9.32USD

Robert A Emmons – “gratitude is a deep and abiding recognition and acknowledgment that goodness exists under even the worst that life offers.

Over the coming weeks I will share some of my favourite parts from Micheles book.

Check out her website to read more about it and have a peak inside

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Am I a book reviewer?

In January I received an email from an American publisher to write a book review for one of their books due to be release this year. I was intrigued on many levels.

Firstly - that they had contacted me personally - not just in a mass produced email
Secondly - that they had chosen me because of the focus of my blog - inspiration and gratitude being two key focus points
Thirdly - with the increase in hoax and spam emails I did wonder if this is too good to be true - they will send me a copy of the book from America for FREE in exchange for me writing a review and putting it on my blog.
Fourthly - why would they want someone who isn't even a book reviewer to do this?

Anyway - I thought - I have nothing to loose by saying yes and everything to gain - and I LOVE books - Love writing - if it was a great book then I would enjoy the opportunity to help promote it and of course the title of the book sealed the deal for me ......

Alphatudes - the Alphabet of Gratitude by Michele Wahdler.

Two weeks later I have to admit to being a little surprised when this beautiful book actually arrived in my mail box. I opened it with great excitement and then proceeded to read it from cover to cover that afternoon. Yes it was that enjoyable and that easy to read! Not only that but my children who also love books leaped on it with great excitement and looked through it thoroughly sharing their favourite parts.

So now - finally - I am completing my end of the deal - writing my formal book review of this wonderful book (I have to admit that having my friend Kay de Latour Scott receive her book after me and finish her review before me was the little shove that I needed to bite the bullet and get this done)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pick Your Battles

We all know that life contains conflict and unfortunately we aren't able to escape it. But one thing that it's important to learn in life is how to reduce conflict. A great way is to pick your battles.

I read this on and really wanted to share it with you - it is written so simply and if we all took the time to adopt these principles than I think it would go a long way to promoting peace and harmony.

To gain a better perspective on when to fight back and when to “let it go,” practice the following disciplines:

1. Spend time with people who are different from you. This helps you appreciate and understand how others think and work. You will be less inclined to judge or battle them.

2. In matters of personal preference or taste, give in. Keep the main thing the main thing. If you don’t save your energy for what really matters, you’ll wear yourself out and wear out your welcome with others.

3. Don’t take things too personally. In general, hurting people hurt people. And they’re also easily hurt by others. Keep that in mind when you’re on the receiving end of someone’s anger.

4. Practice the 101% Principle. Whenever possible in a difficult situation, find the 1% that you do agree on and give it 100% of your effort.

Adapted from Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork

All the principles above are things we should be teaching our children from day one if we want any hope of creating a peaceful world for them to grown old in and raise their children in.

Number 1 on this list is something we were taught as children in my family and it is something I have worked hard to instill in my children. I believe that one of our jobs as parents is to present to children a smorgasbord of life and experiences - allow them the opportunities to experience, think, react, learn and develop their own opinions and thoughts. If we only ever let them eat green jelly beans their whole life because that's all we like, then we are making them miss out on the many other wonderful colours and flavours of the other jelly beans. Of course they may experience red, orange, yellow etc and still decide that green is the one that suits them best. Or they may decide that black is their favourite. Just because our children choose a different path from ours doesn't make them wrong - we still love them. And this needs to be transferred over to other people - just because they are different for whatever reason - doesn't make them wrong. Of course it's not as simple as just learning about other people, or understanding them - its about respecting that they are different. Once we take the time to understand others, respect them for their differences then we are one big step closer to world peace.

Number 2 is a great one - I decided long ago that most things don't matter. Whether we have pizza or Indian, watch sport or the movie, wear red or black etc. These are the little things in life which really aren't going to make a huge difference to our life. Let them go - put your energy into the battles that really need it - like animal cruelty, global warming etc. On the plus side you might discover that by "giving in" on the small things, that you make some one else happy and that is a reward in itself :-)

Number 3 is soooo true!! It is very important to try not to respond from the "got at" place - where you take things so personally. Yesterday I received an email from someone on our mailing list who was very upset and almost abusive at me for a typo - I spelt Coatesville without an e. She told me that it was offensive and disrespectful for the whole community. Of course it was a simple error, completely unintentional and not one that a spell checker piskc up. I apologised and reassured her that we would rectify the error. If I had chosen to take the attack personally (which was how it was written) then it would have left me in a blubbering mess - or angry and retaliating - however I realised that there must be something bigger going on here for her and responded with kindness, understanding and appreciation for pointing the error out. Admittedly her next email was just as rude - but as my partner says - the view is always better from the high road. If we all endeavoured to take the high road in conflict, think about how the other person feels, about how we would like to be treated if situations were reversed then we would be yet another step closer to peace.

Number 4 - this one is a new one to me - and I LOVE it!! I am going to give that a go next time conflict rears it's head - find that 1% of agreement and be thankful for that and then give that part the 100% :-)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My first artwork for Cassino, Italy

I have completed my first artwork for Legato - Cassino, Italy. This is from my Journey of Life Series - there is a story behind it - but the story will have to wait until the second artwork is complete :-)

Title: Journey of Life
Artist: Sophia Elise
Media: Acrylic paints on mannequin torso. The torso is solid with a flat back and hangs flat on a wall. It is textured (but hard to tell from the photo) The dots are handpainted by brush in black, white and grey.
Size: (aprox) 90cm long x 32cm wide x 15cm deep (all measurements taken at largest point)
Price: For Sale - POA Commissions accepted

To practice properly the Art of Peace, you must:
Calm the spirit and return to the source.
Cleanse the body and spirit by removing all malice, selfishness, and desire.
Be ever-grateful for the gifts received from the universe, your family, Mother Nature, and your fellow human beings. -
Morihei Ueshiba

"Legato" Exhibition, Cassino, Italy

"Legato" Exhibition, Cassino, Italy

The title of the exhibition I'm involved with in Italy in May is "Legato" There are 37 NZ artists who have been selected to take part in this fabulous event. 12 of them are travelling over (me included) The theme is Peace and Remembrance.

So do you want to find out why "legato was chosen for the exhibition title? Then read on ....

This explanation is copied from the "Legato" website - written by Kay de Latour Scott.

Why Legato? It is an interesting word. In music, legato is playing smoothly, but not necessarily slurring the notes together. In Italian it means "tied together". In one of my favourite songs, Non Ti Scordar Di Me, (Don't Forget Me) it is used as an adverb, and becomes "legata" as it refers to "la vita" life, which is feminine. "Tied" can have negative implications, but linked, intertwined, joined does have appeal. The strands of a rope are intertwined, giving it strength. When I first asked an Italian friend to translate the song for me he explained the word "legato" in those terms, the parts of a rope intertwined, joined together. In the context of the song that image is quite beautiful. Your life, and mine, entwined. And so it is with Italy and New Zealand.

The musical definition resonates with me. Notes are played close together, but with careful fingering are not lost in one another. Maybe that is how our cultures should be. Each has a space, there is no supremacy, but together they make beautiful music.

Italy and New Zealand are truly tied together, with so many friendships formed between families during WWII and maintained after the war. Now, two generations later, the grandchildren of the Kiwi soldiers are returning to Italy to visit these families, and young Italians are moving to New Zealand. Every year hundreds of New Zealanders visit the graves of their countrymen who remained here.

The horror of war has passed into memory, but the friendships are alive and vibrant. Nationally this connection may feel stronger in New Zealand where almost every family has a direct link to Italy, whereas in Italy there are many areas where other nations played a similar role and have these same ties. The New Zealand Division was heavily engaged in the fighting on the Gustav Line and so has a lasting place in the history of Cassino.

Legato, tied. The legacy of war is part of our common heritage. Now it is our task to make a lasting peace the focus of that heritage.

Please take the time to check out the website and see some of the fabulous artworks that will be exhibited in May and read the stories behind it.