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.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Gather, Prepare, Put down and Enter

Thank you to Quijing Wong for sharing this fantastic piece of inspiration last night - it is exactly what I needed to hear - if you feel that you are struggling at the moment - please take a minute to read this - then hold onto the sentiments - and walk through that door!

"It was a snowy night, and Robert was recalling the time two springs ago when he was determined to paint the family room. Up early, he was out the door, to the hardware story gathering gallons of red, the wooden mixing sticks, the drop cloths, and the one-time brushes that always harden, no matter what you soak them in.

He mixed the paint outside and waddled to the door with a gallon in each hand, the drop cloth under his arm, and a wide brush in his mouth. He began to chuckle in telling what happened "I teetered there for minutes, trying to open the door, not wanting to put anything down. I was so stubborn. I had the door almost open when I lost my grip, stumbled back-ward, and wound up on the ground, red gallons all over me".

At this point, he laughed at himself, as he had done many times, and we watched the snow fall in silence. I thought of his little story the whole way home. Amazingly, we all do this, whether with groceries or paint or with the stories we feel determined to share. we do this with our love, with our sense of truth, even with our pain. It's such a simple thing, but in a moment of ego we refuse to put down what we carry in order to open the door. Time and time again, we are offered the chance to truly learn this: We cannot hold on to things and enter. We must put down what we carry, open the door, and then take up only what we need to bring inside.

It is a basic human sequence: gather, prepare, put down, enter. But failing as we do, we always have that second chance: to learn how to fall, get up, and laugh.

- Meditate on some threshold you are having trouble crossing your life. It might be at work, at home, in a relationship, or the doorway to greater peace.
- Breathe steadily and look at yourself to see if you are carrying too much to open the door.
- Breathe slowly and with each out-breath put things you are carrying down.
- Breathe freely now and open the door."

(From book by Mark Nepo - the book of awakening).

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

You're invited to join me on opening night ...

Image artworks:
Top row: Angela Laby, Marimba Powley, Jo Mallinger, Tanya Dann
Bottom row: Tash Shackleton, Sue Shore, Sophia Elise, Bruce Fergusson

"Our Future"
Opening night: Tuesday 26th July 2011 at 5.00pm – Free entry – All welcome
Venue: Mairangi Arts Centre, 20 Hastings Rd, Mairangi Bay, Auckland
Exhibition Open: 26th July to 7th August 2011. Mon to Sat 9.30am - 4.00pm
Featuring the NZ Art Guild 2011 Collaborative Art Project
"Light of my life"

Be there on opening night to witness the unveiling of  the NZ Art Guild 2011 Collaborative Project "Light of my life". This is a fantastic, single artwork created by individual paintings by 56 New Zealand artists. The overall image of this artwork is kept secret, even from those participating it, until the opening night. To read more about the previous collaborative artwork projects go to

To coincide with this event 40 artists from around NZ (including me of course!) will be having a month long exhibition of original, diverse artworks depicting "Our Future" - Artworks include paintings, jewellery, sculpture, photography, print making and much more!

"Light of my life" will be auctioned off via Trade Me with the proceeds being donated to KidsCan. KidsCan is an amazing nationwide charity that is dedicated to eliminating poverty by helping meet the physical and nutritional needs of disadvantaged NZ children, so they can reach their full potential in life. They have several different programmes including Food for Kids, Shoes for Kids, Raincoats for Kids, Warm Kids (providing beanies and thermal tops) and Cool Kids (providing sun hats). For more information and to see how you can help go to

Exhibiting Artists:
Ambury Hall, Angela Laby, Angela Dunn, Bruce Ferguson, Cath Sheard, Chris Cruickshank, Claire Fairweather, Cynthia McKenzie, Dennis Clark, Freeman Hau, Gerda Smit, Jane Bold, Jo Mallinger, John Boylan, John Towers, Leo Cappel, Linda Paul, Lorraine Beattie, Marimba Powley, Melissa Muirhead, Michael Cashmore, Michele Courage, Michelle Thorby, Nanette Randall, Pam Tapp, Paul Haysom, Peter Augustin, Rochelle May van der Werff, Roeleen Steenkamp-Struning, Sarah Marks, Sharlene Schmidt, Sherrill Bentley, Sofia Spirtova, Sophia Elise, Sue Shore, Tanya Dann, Tanya McCabe, Tash Shackleton, Victoria Anderson, Yana Meech.
"Light of my life" participants:
Alex Riley, Angela Laby, Anglea Dunn, Anni Morris, Briar Williamson, Caroline Viesnik, Cath Sheard, Chavah Kinloch, Cheryl Irwin, Chris Cruickshank, Christine Dempster, Christine Whetton, Claire Fairweather, Dennis Clark, Donna Massey, Ellen Eskildsen, Fiona Woods, Francesca Gallo, Gerda Smit, Graham Williamson, Jac Connelly, Jane Bold, Jane Santos, Jane Tan, Jean Grant, John Boylan, Julia Clements, Lei Wen, Linda Paul, Lisz Bodsworth, Livia Dias, Marimba Powley, Mary Prema, Melissa Muirhead, Melodie Joseph, Michelle Wallis, Nancy Frazer, Pam Buffery, Paula Richa, Paulette Shepherd, Peter Augustin, Racheal Inch, RifRaf, Rochelle May van der Werff, Ron Esplin, Sharlene Schmidt, Shaun Hedley, Shelly van Soest, Siu Chhour, Sofia Spirtova, Sophia Elise, Tanya Dann, Teresa Rodger, Veronica Young, Victoria Anderson, Yuqing Qiu

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Gratitude is the Key to Happiness - Be thankful

Be thankful that you don't already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don't know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement. 

Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you're tired and weary
Because it means you've made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for the setbacks.

GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles and they can become your blessings.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Life is the colour you paint it

You can choose what type of day you have

You can complain because it's raining or be thankful that the plants are getting watered for free.

You can feel sad that money is scarse or be glad that your finances encourage you to plan and guide you away from waste.

You can grumble about your health or you can rejoice that you are alive.

You can lament over all that your parents didn't give you while you were growing up or you can feel grateful that they gave you life.

You can cry because roses have thorns or you can celebrate that thorns have roses.

You can mourn your lack of friends or you can excitedly embark upon a quest to discover new relationships.

You can whine because you have to go to work or you can shout for joy because you have a job to do.

You can complain because you have to go to school or eagerly open your mind and fill it with rich new knowledge.

You can murmur dejectedly because you have to do housework or you can feel honored because you have shelter for your mind, body and soul.

Today stretches ahead of you, waiting to be shaped. You are the sculptor who gets to do the shaping.

Remember - Life is the colour you paint it

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Aesthetica Magazine ....

Aesthetica Magazine is a great arts magazine that originates in the UK but is sold all over the world.  You can see my listing in the latest issue

- the online artists directory

- and in the actual magazine

New Zealand artist, Karley Feaver, was featured in the last issue and got picked up by two UK galleries - would love if I was as fortunate as Karley! :-)

Aesthetica have loads of fabulous articles to read - well worth subscribing to

Monday, June 6, 2011

Please take 10 seconds to vote for me to help me win an AMP Scholarship

Please take 10 seconds to vote for me to help me win an AMP Scholarship ....

AMP are offering scholarships to New Zealanders from all walks of life to help them "do their thing". Everyone who has applied for an AMP scholarship is in the running to win the AMP People's Choice Award ($10,000) Please vote for me to help me me win so that I can "do my thing".

It's really easy to vote - click on this link (or cut and paste into your browser) and then click the vote button

So what's my thing? 
Helping NZ visual artists achieve success.  I have devoted the last 7 years of my life to creating a nationwide organisation that provides promotion, support, resources and opportunities to NZ visual artists of all career stages and mediums.  The NZ Art Guild is an award winning organisation which has been formed into a charitable trust this year. 

What would I do with the $10,000?
I want to create a professional development programme for visual artists that includes workshops, elearning,  mentoring, coaching and much more.  It will offer quality, accessible, affordable, innovative and  practical education that will transform starving artists into thriving ones by teaching them sustainable business practices. 

Why do I want to win? Winning the $10,000 would enable me to create an education and mentoring programme therefore helping hundreds of NZ visual artists achieve success by becoming confident, independent practitioners.
By voting for me and helping me win, you will be
- helping and supporting many visual artists achieve success and fulfill their goals
- improving New Zealands creative economy
- engaging the public in our rich arts culture
- taking NZ art into the international market

How can you help me achieve this goal?
Besides voting for me - I would LOVE and appreciate if you would share this link ( with all your friends, family, colleagues etc  You can even click the share button on my AMP page to send it direct to your facebook and twitter pages.

Want to learn more about me professionally?

Thank you for taking the time to support me and NZ visual artists.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

tatau pounamu - enduring peace

The fourth and final artwork for "Reflections of Italy" Exhibition that opens at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts in  Wellington on Monday.

Title: tatau pounamu (enduring peace)
Artist: Sophia Elise
Media: Acrylic on torso. This is freestanding sculpture. Dots are handpainted - greens and white.
Torso is textured.
For Sale: $1500 contact
This torso was actually started over a year ago for the "Legato" exhibition in Cassino, Italy.  After spending days preparing the torso, texturing it, painting the background, repainting it etc the idea I had started with didn't work for this torso. He was left behind - sitting in the corner of my studio - waiting for inspiration to come. 
Once we started planning "Reflections of Italy"- which is being held exactly a year after  "Legato" - some very different ideas came to me.  The ideas were inspired by our time spent in Italy.  However, once again after many practice runs with designs, those ideas didn't make it to the torso. 
Then two weeks ago - it came to me in a sudden flash of inspiration and I just "Knew"what it was going to be. I spent a day designing the outlines of what I wanted on the front and back getting it ready for the next stage.  Then came some more thinking time - planning the colours and design of the dots inside - more test runs - and finally paint to torso.
This torso was always designed to look like greenstone - it is symbolic of the tears on greenstone at the Army Museum which is the wall of remembrance for our fallen soldiers and returned servicemen. I think that the symbolism combined with the title really says it all - we want and need enduring peace  ...... 

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

The Art of Peace is based on Four Great Virtues: Bravery, Wisdom, Love, and Friendship -Morihei Ueshiba

"To be glad of life, because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars; to be satisfied with your possessions, but not contented with yourself until you have made the best of them; to despise nothing in the world except falsehood and meanness, and to fear nothing except cowardice; to be governed by your admirations rather than by your disgusts; to covet nothing that is your neighbor's except his kindness of heart and gentleness of manners; to think seldom of your enemies and often of your friends... these are little guideposts on the footpath to peace." - Henry Van Dyke

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

waikanetanga - peace/tranquility

Title: waikanaetanga (peace/tranqulity)
Artist: Sophia Elise
Media: Acrylic on torso - has flat back so can be hung on the wall. Dots are hand painted - dark blue, turquoise and metallic silver.
FOR SALE: $POA contact
PLEASE NOTE: This artwork background is pthalo green and blue which doesn't show true in photos - it actually has more of a green/teal look to it in real life.

This artwork will be exhibited at "Reflections of Italy"in Wellington opening May 16th.  This is a continuation of a series I started for the  "Legato" exhibition in Italy last year. 

This represents the ripple effect of peace - that peace starts within each and everyone of us and radiates outwards with all those that we come in contact with.  We are all responsible for creating a culture of peace and if everyone of us has that as a focus for our lives and truly embraces it then we will create a community that is peaceful - a country that is peaceful and so on ....

You and I posses within ourselves, at every moment of our lives, under all circumstances, the power to transform the quality of our lives. - Werner Erhad

We are formed and molded by our thoughts. Those whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts give joy when they speak or act. Joy follows them like a shadow that never leaves them. - Buddha quotes

Monday, May 9, 2011

connissione - connections

Title: connissione (connections)
Artist: Sophia Elise
Media: Acrylic on torso - has flat back so can be hung on the wall. Dots are hand painted - dark blue, turquoise and metallic silver.
FOR SALE: $POA contact

PLEASE NOTE: This artwork background is pthalo green and blue which doesn't show true in photos - it actually has more of a green/teal look to it in real life.
This is the third in a series that I'm doing for the "Reflections of Italy" Exhibition which opens in Wellington May 16th.
This one is all about connections - the connections we make throughout our lives that leave lasting impressions on us - whether they are people, places, emotions, events, countries .... There are many threads that bind us together across oceans, across time and across generations.
Every time you make a connection with someone remember this ...
"In life you can never be too kind or too fair; everyone you meet is carrying a heavy load. When you go through your day expressing kindness and courtesy to all you meet, you leave behind a feeling of warmth and good cheer, and you help alleviate the burdens everyone is struggling with" - Brian Tracy
"You have it easily in your power to increase the sum total of this world's happiness now. How? By giving a few words of sincere appreciation to someone who is lonely or discouraged. Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish them over a lifetime."     Dale Carnegie
And lastly remember this ....
"We don't accomplish anything in this world alone ... and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one's life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something."-Sandra Day O'Connor

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Title: Forevermore
Artist: Sophia Elise
Media: Acrylic on Torso - flat back so can be hung on a wall
Dots are all hand painted in black, white and grey
FOR SALE: $POA contact

This torso will be exhibited at "Reflections of Italy" at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts in Wellington - opening night Monday 16th May 5:30pm.

I'm really looking forward to meeting up with fellow NZ Art Guild members and the friends I made in Italy last year when we all exhibited together at the "Legato" Exhibition.

The title if this artwork actually came to me while I was painting it - although I wasn't convinced that that was the right title for it at the time it is the one that keeps coming back to me again and again.  The theme and emotions are a continuation of the series that I exhibited in Italy. 

This is about eternal love - love lost -  but love that still lives on forever ..... It's a really positive piece - this women has incredible strength - and amazing gratitude for having experienced such a wonderful love in her life despite having it taken from her.  She enjoys the memories that are with her forevermore as her life goes on and she grows ....

Initially the grief is overwhelming .... How does she live without him?  Please take a minute to listen to this song and lyrics

Then the realisation that the love will live on .... please stop for a minute to listen to this song and lyrics

I feel a huge sense of peace with this artwork - It is hanging on my wall giving out such wonderful energy - I hope that you enjoy it too and the story behind it.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Please join me ....

In May 2010, 10 New Zealand artists travelled to Cassino, Italy for the largest exhibition of New Zealand artworks. I was part of this group and it also included several NZ Art Guild members. The "Legato" exhibition was in commemoration of the Battle of Cassino and the focus of the artworks was spreading the message of world peace. We all spent time in the region and then went separate ways to explore Italy - from the far north to the deep south.  We had many different adventures and experiences.

One year on, eight artists from this group have come together again to share with you our experiences and thoughts from Italy. Through photography, painting and sculpture we will take you on a journey that you won't want to miss. 

All of the artists exhibiting will be at the opening night and would love the opportunity to talk to you personally about their artworks and experiences.

Please join us on Monday 16th May, 5:30 - 7:30pm, New Zealand Academy of Arts, 1 Queen's Warf, Wellington.

While we were in Italy at the Legato exhibition we were all interviewed about our artworks and our involvement.  To see a glimpse behind the scenes click on these links

Sophia Elise
Theresa Cashmore
Cath Sheard
Jon Stevenson
Lorraine Beattie
Sharlene Schmidt
Frances Rookes
Margherita Giampietri

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Take these thoughts with you ....

On Your Journey To Your Dreams

Always remember that you are unique. Be your best self and not an imitation of someone else.

Find your strength and use them in a positive way. Don't listen to those who ridicule the choices you make.

Travel the road that you have chosen and don't look back with regret. You have to take chances to make your dreams happen.

Remember that there is plenty of time to travel another road - and still another - in your journey through life.

Take the time to find the route that is right for you. You will learn something valuable from every trip you take, so don't be afraid to make mistakes.

Tell yourself that you're okay just the way you are. Make friends who respect your true self.
Take the time to be alone, too, so you can know just how terrific your own company can be.

Remember that being alone doesn't always mean being lonely; it can be a beautiful experience of finding your creativity, your heartfelt feelings, and the calm and quiet peace deep inside you.

Don't ever forget that you are special and you have within you the ability to make your dreams come true.

~ Jacqueline Schiff ~

Friday, April 8, 2011

I Believe ...

Title: Wahine Toa (woman of strength)
Artist: Sophia Elise
Media: Acrylic on plastic

Many of you will have read these before - but it's nice to read them again ....

I Believe ...
Our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become
No matter how good a friend is they are going to hurt us every once in a while and we must forgive them for that
Just because someone doesn't love you the way that you want them to love you doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have
You should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you ever see them
That you control your attitude or it controls you
That sometimes when I'm angry, I have the right to be angry, but that doesn't give me the right to be cruel
It isn't always enough to be forgiven by others. Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself

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.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fair Go ....

Well I certainly got a Fair Go last night on TVNZ Fair Go Housing special. About three minutes into a clip, which featured fabulous designer Andrew Loader from Monochrome Inc, you got to see my torso art. There it was, a stunning, red, hand painted, torso art hanging on a white wall.

Of course - as Murphy's law would have it - I wasn't home to see it - but luckily lots of friends around NZ alerted me to it via texts, emails and facebook. It really has made my year and I feel so honoured to have one of my artworks used in one of Monochrome Incs designs!

If you want to see the segment follow this link - it's about 3 minutes in on the clip about decorating.

And as my friends at pub quiz last night said - "Sophia Elise - as seen on award winning, prime time, TV show" lol ;-)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Time, time. time ....

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

I received this via email - and wuld love you all to take a minute to read through ...

Imagine that you had won the following prize in a contest:
Each morning your bank would deposit $86,400.00 in your private account for your use.

However,this prize has rules, just as any game has certain rules.

The first set of rules would be:
Everything that you didn't spend during each day would be taken away from you.
You may not simply transfer money into some other account. You may only spend it.
Each morning upon awakening, the bank opens your account with another $86,400.00 for that day.

The second set of rules:
The bank can end the game without warning; at any time it can say, Its over,the game is over! It can close the account and you will not receive a new one.

What would you personally do?

You would buy anything and everything you wanted right? Not only for yourself, but for all people you love, right? Even for people you don't know, because you couldn't possibly spend it all on yourself, right? You would try to spend every cent, and use it all, right?

Each of us is in possession of such a magical bank. We just can't seem to see it.

Each morning we awaken to receive 86,400 seconds as a gift of life, and when we go to sleep at night, any remaining time is NOT credited to us.

What we haven't lived up that day is forever lost. Yesterday is forever gone.

Each morning the account is refilled, but the bank can dissolve your account at any time....WITHOUT WARNING.

SO, what will YOU do with your 86,400 seconds?
Those seconds are worth so much more than the same amount in dollars.

Think about that, and always think of this:
Enjoy every second of your life, because time races by so much quicker than you think.

So take care of yourself, be Happy, Love Deeply and enjoy life! Here's wishing you a wonderful and beautiful day. Start spending.