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.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Today I'm grateful for giving

Title: Angela's Story
Artist: Sophia Elise
Medium: Acrylic paint on plastic

Today I'm grateful for giving - not only being able to give - but for those who have given to m - because as George Burton Adams so nicely stated

"there is no such thing as a 'self-made' man. We are made up of thousands of others. Everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken one word of encouragement to us, has entered into the make-up of our character and of our thoughts, as well as our success"

 The most important things about giving is to give with out remembering and to take without forgetting.

 When you think that you have nothing to give - remember what Barbara Bush said ....

Some people give time, some money, some their skills and connections, some literally give their life's blood. But everyone has something to give.

For those that are scared to give remember you don't loose anything by giving ....

Live to give instead of to get. As you concentrate on the giving, you discover that just as you cannot receive without giving, so neither can you give without receiving - even the most wonderful things like health and happiness and inner peace. - Peace Pilgrim
And the final word about giving goes to Isabel Allende who really sums it up perfectly .....

Give, give, give - what is the point of having experience, knowledge or talent if I don't give it away? Of having stories if I don't tell them to others? Of having wealth if I don't share it? I don't intend to be cremated with any of it! It is in giving that I connect with others, with the world and with the divine.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Today I am grateful for forgiveness

Title: Ripple Effect
Artist: Sophia Elise
Media: Mixed media and acrylic

I know many of us talk about forgiveness being a gift we give ourselves.  But sometimes I wonder if we really practice genuine forgiveness.  I know myself how hard it can be - and even sometimes when you really believe that you have let go and forgiven someone you can find those negative emotions creeping back in towards that person or situation.  It usually is at times of stress or emotional upset. None of us are perfect - and I think it's important to our total well being to keep forgiveness at the forefront along with gratitude.

The only true way to free ourselves from a person or situation that has caused us pain and to truly begin to heal is through forgiveness. By carrying a grudge and holding onto the the belief that the person who wronged us doesn't deserve our forgiveness means we are operating from our ego.  To really function from the divine that is within all of us we need to give sincere, heartfelt forgiveness. Remember to err is human - to forgive devine.

I learnt many years ago that forgiveness doesn't mean that you accept or approve of that persons behaviour - it just means that we choose to let go of our stance that prevents us from living at peace with ourselves and others.  Forgiveness isn't about whether that person "deserves" to be forgiven -  it's about you deserving to have freedom and peace that can only come from letting go. It's about releasing the negativity that holds us to our past pain - that's not the same as forgetting.  Resentment is toxic and it causes us to suffer even further.  By genuinely forgiving we learn to detach from the person who caused the pain which then releases us from the prison of emotions that we have created for ourselves.

There doesn't seem to be a magic formula to forgiving and healing the relationships in our lives. However, being truly open to forgiving can do more than just heal a relationship - it can heal our hearts. The other wonderful things about forgiveness is that we can do it on our own.  The person may have died or may simply not be present in our lives - that's ok - forgiveness is still possible. We don't have to have the other persons knowledge, understanding, or cooperation - what we need is the sincere desire to forgive past hurts and to heal our pain.

When something awful happened to me several years ago a friend told me that the only way I could have peace and move forward in my life was to genuinely forgive this person.  At the time I thought that forgiveness meant that you had no hard feeling towards them - and if that was the case then you should still continue to be friends with them -after all if you don't have a grudge then why should you have an issue with them being in your life.  I couldn't understand why this didn't give me any peace until I realised that forgiveness does not mean we have to invite an abusive person back into our lives. Forgiveness means clearing the residual effects of the pain that we still carry buried deeply within us. As said we must forgive others  not because they necessarily deserve to be forgiven but for our own sake - to set ourselves free.

Sometimes the hardest person of all to forgive is ourselves. We can be far harder on ourselves than we are on other people. The feelings of guilt and shame that we can carry with us when we feel that we have disappointed a loved one can be overwhelming.

Hate is a far stronger karmic tie than love and maintaining  hate and lack of forgiveness is the fastest way to ensure that we receive the same pattern of energy over and over again. Even thought the person we hated may have left our lives if we haven't learnt the lessons and the art of forgiveness we will continue to attract the same type of person over and over again. 

There is a lightness of spirit that comes from forgiveness - it is a gift that you give yourself.  As said the other week we always have choices - we have the option and power to forgive  - to release ourselves from a prison of negative emotions - to let go of the anger and resentment - to live in peace - the choice is ours.

“Sincere forgiveness isn't colored with expectations that the other person apologize or change. Don't worry whether or not they finally understand you. Love them and release them. Life feeds back truth to people in its own way and time.” - Sara Paddison

The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world. – Marianne Williamson

Friday, March 25, 2011

Gold Pan Art - celebrating 150 years

It was impossible for me to resist this opportunity when it landed in my inbox several months ago.  Be part of a fabulous exhibition and celebration at the Tuapeka Goldfields Museum in Lawrence, New Zealand.  The reason for celebration - 150 years since the discovery of gold in Gabriel's Gully.  What made it even more special - all artworks had to be created on a gold pan!

A total of 38 artists participated in this wonderful event - you can check out all the amazing gold pans by clicking << here >> and  see the fabulous exhibition  << here >>

There are still some of these gold pans available for purchase - but you better get in quickly as they are selling fast.  They take sales over the Internet and phone so you don't even have to be there in person!

Here is my gold pan that I created

Title: Family Ties
Artist: Sophia Elise
Media: Acrylic on Gold pan
For Sale

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Today I am grateful for Choices

Why today in particular am I grateful for this? After re-reading the post below I realised that the essence of what I was saying was that we determine the direction of our lives by the choices we make. 

Having choices available gives us possibilities and with that comes hope.  Sometimes when we make a choice it can be clouded by fear or the desperate need for external approval.  It's really important in life that we learn to make authentic choices which resonate with our core - ones that will move us in the direction of our goals and dreams. We need to love ourselves enough to take the time to examine options, to be still, to be honest with ourselves so that we make the right choices for us.  When we make choices that are in alignment with ourselves we feel a sense of ease and and increased energy.  When we go against our true self it has the opposite affect; it increases our anxiety and drains our energy. The most important thing when making a choice is to be true to yourself. Afterall you have to live with yourself 24/7.

And even in times when we feel that we have no choices available to us - there will always remain our power to choose our actions, attitudes and responses.

As Viktor E Frankl said "We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." For those who haven't heard of Viktor  Frankl - he is an inspirational Austrian psychiatrist, neurologist and survivor of the holocaust. 

"If you can't change a situation - change the way you look at it"

"Once, an elderly general practitioner consulted me because of his severe depression. He could not overcome the loss of his wife who had died two years before and whom he had loved above all else. Now how could I help him? What should I tell him? I refrained from telling him anything, but instead confronted him with a question, "What would have happened, Doctor, if you had died first, and your wife would have had to survive you?:" "Oh," he said, "for her this would have been terrible; how she would have suffered!" Whereupon I replied, "You see, Doctor, such a suffering has been spared her, and it is you who have spared her this suffering; but now, you have to pay for it by surviving and mourning her." He said no word but shook my hand and calmly left the office."- Viktor Frankl

Friday, March 18, 2011

Dealing with Knockbacks

Last month I was asked by The Big Idea to answer some questions on how I deal with knockbacks and lack of confidence as a creative entrepreneur. Here's the link to the article on The Big Idea website

Or you can read the interview below - I would love to hear how you have dealt with knockbacks and lack of self confidence :-)

As Managing Director of the NZ Art Guild and a creative business mentor, Sophia Elise is used to supporting others and knows a thing or two about how to stay focused when faced with a knockback.

“A knockback doesn’t have to be a knock out. We choose whether we stand back up and if you don’t get back up you won’t achieve anything.”

Sophia shares her personal experience and advice in this Generator QnA.

Have you ever had knockbacks, lost confidence or started to doubt your talent?
Over the last seven years there have been several times that a knockback has made me question my ability to create a successful business or event. The knockbacks come in various shapes and sizes; they can be internal or external and can be completely out of your control.

What did you do to get back on track?
I believe that the times when you feel your confidence is low and you experience self doubt it’s essential to take time out to reflect on all the things you have achieved. At times I have even written lists of my achievements so that I can get things in perspective. You suddenly realise that you have achieved more than you have given yourself credit for and it puts the one knockback that you have just experienced into perspective. Remember to take time to celebrate your successes.

Another thing I do is talk to my peers and mentors and ask them their thoughts. I believe it’s important to be open to constructive criticism so that you can grow as a person and a business. Most of the time people are more than willing to share insight, advice and information – you just need to ask. The support and encouragement they can offer you can be essential to getting back on track. Surround yourself with good people.

When I’ve had a knockback in regards to a project or event I’ve stepped back and re-clarified my intention. I then looked at alternative ways to move forward with it. How can I get around it? Who else can I talk to? What do I need to change? What do I need to learn? If there is a way to achieve it and the project will deliver what you need and want then persevere by instituting plan B.

If I get continual knockbacks for a project, I’ve had to stop and analyse why. I’ve needed to be honest and impartial in my assessment (which is hard when you are passionate about or emotionally involved with the project) It’s important to acknowledge that there are valid reasons for the knockbacks, maybe it’s just timing (eg. trying to get sponsorship for art awards during a recession) and if so you may need to let it go and put your energy into a project that has more potential for success and results.

A project can be parked while you establish more contacts, gain more knowledge, increase finances, wait for external influences to pass and then that project can be picked up again later. It doesn’t mean it’s over forever; it’s just not the right time for that project.

Another way of overcoming the self doubt is to set yourself an achievable goal. If you have had to park a project or let it go, focus your energy and attention into another project or business area. Choose something that comes easily to you, which you know you will succeed with. This can help remind you what your strengths are and boost your confidence again.

It’s important to remember that whenever you make a mistake or have a knockback that affects your confidence that you don’t spend too long looking back at it. No one wins them all. Everyone makes mistakes and experiences set backs – they are just part of our growth. They help us to know our limits. Shake off the self doubt and lack of confidence – don’t quit, because your turn will come.

How do you deal with a 'no' - particularly one that is important to your project?
I think that most people when they get a ‘no’ start to question themselves and the project. That’s not a bad thing, it’s natural and it’s important, as it makes us improve, change direction, innovate, persevere etc.

I like to make sure I understand why they’ve said no. This is so I can work out if it’s something inherent that needs to be changed or maybe it just wasn’t the right door I knocked on. Remember not to take it personally – it’s not you as an individual they are saying no to – but your idea, concept, proposal.

It’s important to try and remain objective so that you don’t get stuck on one way being the right and only way. Sometimes you have to look at alternative ways to address the issue and reassess your expectations and priorities.

It’s important to keep the knockbacks in perspective. For example, when I didn’t win a business award, I looked at the level of competition I was up against and celebrated how far I had come to even be in the same category as them. It’s not that I wasn’t worthy – it was just that someone else was more worthy.

When you are lacking confidence, do you wait till this passes or do you get on with it anyway?
If you have other people relying on you to keep the business ticking over you don’t have the luxury to wait till it passes.

I also believe that if you focus inwardly on the negative it can contribute to a lack of confidence and a downward spiral where if you focus on giving out it can help you stay on track.

Has self doubt and a lack of confidence helped you achieve or bring a project to successful fruition?
I don’t believe that self doubt or a lack of confidence brings a project to successful fruition. What will make it a success is the way you respond to that self doubt.

A knockback doesn’t have to be a knock out. We choose whether we stand back up and if you don’t get back up you won’t achieve anything. We make a decision about whether we persevere or give up – Thomas Edison said when inventing the light bulb “I’ve not failed I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”

It comes down to the way you look at set backs, no’s, mistakes etc. If you treat the obstacles as an opportunity for learning you won’t suffer from the downward spiral of self doubt and lack of confidence.

What’s the best advice you have ever been given about dealing with knockbacks?
I don’t think there is one single piece of advice I have been given – it’s more a combination of advice which include
- If you can’t change the situation change the way you look at it
- Be prepared to listen, analyse and change
- Never ever give up
- And remember that necessity is the mother of all inventions

Sophia Elise Profile
Sophia Elise is the Managing Director of the NZ Art Guild, which provides support, promotion, opportunities and resources to NZ visual artists.

In 2009 she won the David Awards for Most Community Minded Business. In 2010 she was a finalist in the David Awards for Most Inspired Use of Marketing and Most Community Minded Business and was also a finalist in the Her Businesswoman of the Year Awards for Outstanding Business Citizenship.

She was one of 13 Auckland creative entrepreneurs to be awarded a place on the ART Venture Programme 2010. Sophia provides business mentoring for start up businesses under her company Creative Business Consultants. She is also a visual artist who has exhibited extensively throughout NZ and overseas. Sophia is active within the art community as a Member of the Board of Trustees for Mairangi Art Centre and a member of the ART Generator Network.