Category Archives: inspired


If you ever have the chance to read her autobiography, “I Shock Myself”, or better yet visit her studio in Ojai, CA, do it. Both are immensely inspiring. I will post photos from my trip there, coming soon.

Lisa Sonora Beam Workshop in Los Angeles

Happy Los Angeles, and Heather Arndt are happy to host Lisa Sonora for her only LA workshop this year.

Registration ends today, see details below

Crafting the Visual Memoir: Artful Traveler Journals

An artful traveler is someone who longs to go boldly in the direction of their dreams.


The poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote:

There is only one journey,

Going inside yourself.


There is an allure and romance to travel…a call toward unknown lands and sacred places.

Maybe we are, in fact taking a trip to a foreign land, and want to document our journey.

Life is a journey. We have stories to tell, adventures to share.

We long to travel more deeply, more meaningfully into the unfolding moments of our lives

There are no ordinary moments, all is glittering around us, if we just knew how to look, how to find.

We see beauty everywhere, we long to express what we see and hear and feel and wonder about….if we just knew how to capture image and word and feeling, drawing it out of the cloud forests of our imaginations.

We long to express what we see and hear and feel and wonder about…if only we had an easy simple way to give it form on the page…in ways that feel good and life-giving and make us happy.

To express the journey we are taking, we just need a few simple tools and different ways of working with them.

The Artful Traveler is inspired by creativity and art-making, and also has fear that gets in the way….

There are places we want to go, in our work and in our lives, and in the world;

but we find ourselves holding back, hesitating, dreaming more than doing.

The compass pointing us on the journey we want to take is our heart.

But the heart’s longings seem so irrational and irresponsible to the mind.

The world we live in is a world made by rational decisions. We do what we’re supposed to do, what other people want, what other people expect, and find ourselves feeling uninspired, overwhelmed, worn-out,  exhausted, maybe even angry. We might find ourselves doing a bunch of stuff we don’t want to do, and yet, still have long to-do lists full of things we just can’t seem to ever cross off. We imagine our problem is time. Or time management.

How do we listen to the longings of the heart, when we’re supposed to be responsible and productive?

How do we move forward when we’re so afraid: of how we’ll fail or succeed. Of what other people will think. Of how we might do it wrong or mess things up.

Why an Artful Traveler Journal? Why a visual memoir?

There isn’t a map or a guidebook that exists for traveling in this manner…so we have to use our powers of imagination and creativity to make the guidebook as we go.

I believe that the heart’s longings are not random. What you long for in your heart will take you into the life you most want to live.

I believe that everyone has creative powers. If you have dreams, you are creating.

I believe it’s easy to learn how to tap into our creative powers to design the life we want to live.

I believe that all desire to “make art” and “take amazing journeys” come from the wise place deep within our own hearts that knows the exact route to the happiness we seek.

I believe that fear is desire in disguise, and that we can easily transmute fear into rocket fuel for the journeys we want to take.

I believe that taking the journey of the heart is a Hero’s Journey. It takes courage. (BTW: Courage comes from the French word for Heart)

I believe we can learn how to be courageous and turn what we fear into an ally, while we are making more art and taking more journeys! We can get started right now. Our dreams don’t have to wait.


register here


What is a Visual Memoir?

Visual Memoir is the term I use to describe my process and resulting product of combining:

expressive writing + photography + collage + mixed-media art journaling.


The Artful Traveler Journal is a beautiful, compact form that can be taught in a short workshop.

It provides the container for our explorations.

Some of us have tried journaling or art journaling or and found it:

boring, a chore, overwhelming, guilt-producing, another thing we want to do and don’t feel we’re doing “right” or “pretty enough”

or we feel stuck in a rut, relying on the same old techniques we’ve already learned;

or we sit down at the blank page and stare into space…and put nothing on the page…

or we put something on the blank page and hate it and quit

or we finish a page, but it doesn’t really feel satisfying in some way that is hard to identify

<insert curse words here>


If you’ve experienced any of the above, let me reassure you:

There’s a really good reason for it…


We will deal with that reason in the workshop.


These are manifestations of stuckness, and there are many pleasant and wondrous ways out.

I will gently guide you out of any stucky muck and back to your own happy creative place.

Sound good?


Common Dilemmas We Experience With Travel and Art Journals (or virtually any type of creative thing we want to do)

our memory cards and extra hard drives are full of photos we snap and rarely look at again

we’ve got bins of lovely scrapbook or art supplies – that are too precious to use (!)

we have stories to tell, but don’t know how

we have feelings inside we can’t quite put words to

we don’t like how we look in photos

we have experiences that are hard to write about

we have ideas for books we want to write

projects we’re eager to make

pictures of people and places we’d love to take

we have dreams of who we could be if we were more: creative, motivated, artistic

and had more time, or money, or skills,

and the right supplies, or the perfect journal, or a better camera

la di da di da….

the voices go on…

we’ve got books and magazines full of pictures of how other people do crafty art journals that inspire us but also tweak the overwhelm and envy buttons: How’d she do that? I wish I could do that! I could never do that!

we have stories inside of us to tell, but…for some reason they remain in our minds and they are not, in fact, getting out on paper

or else the stories are getting out on paper in ways that are difficult and strenuous and feel like a forced march




This workshop was created to answer one of the most common questions I get asked about my work:

How do you travel so freely in the world? How do you have time and money and freedom to create? Where do you get the ideas for your work? How do you write so much? How do you keep your visual journals and sketchbooks while traveling? What supplies do you bring with you? Do you do regular writing separate from the visual journaling? How do you use photography? How do you make time for journaling while traveling? How do you work with limited supplies? oh…so many good questions.

While I answer all of those questions, the real question I’m answering is:

How do you create when you feel broken?

How do you work when you don’t feel like it?

How do you trust your heart when you’ve made a ton of mistakes?

How do you create when you can’t draw or paint or write as good as everyone else?

How do you move forward when it seems like so many other people are doing or have already done what you want to do?

for example… :)



In this workshop, we’ll dive deeply into these topics while I’ll show you my favorite way to make artful travel journals.

Artful Travel Journals are:

small and compact, so always at the ready as your travel

infinitely adaptable to your particular interests and needs

simple, easy, and fast to make and

….require no special techniques or supplies

Once you learn these methods, you’ll be able to create artful travel journals on the fly, where ever you are, with whatever supplies are at hand.

Most importantly, these methods will help you make maps and guidebooks of your own journey…toward more heart, more creativity, more freedom.

In this workshop we will:

Build a series of small, portable visual journals made up from unlikely materials.

Create our journals out of unusual suspects, stuff that you can find at the office supply or grocery store.

Make fantastic use of the stuff in your recycling bin and junk drawers…and long-lost projects.

Play with pretty paper and the usual suspects of crafty supplies: paper punches, tags, ribbons, stickers, rubber stamps, stencils, washi tape! (Do you know about washi tape?!)


Once we build our portable journals, we’ll use one to document the days experimentations in visual memoir travel adventure.

We’ll go on a mini photo and ephemera-collecting safari in the neighborhood and and learn how to incorporate what we find into our stories.

We’ll make use of personal photos and objects we’ve brought with us, that we want to learn how to write about.

We’ll play with collage and paint and drawing materials in ways that open up your unique expression and forever cure any doubts about how talented and creative and artistic you are.

Read that last paragraph again and thing about what that would mean for you…

What could happen if you found a way to deal with doubts about your creative abilities?

What new worlds would open up?

What would that be worth to you?

Do you long to experience more beauty, more adventure, more color, more courage, more meaning, more discovery, more freedom…in your art and in your life?

I hope you’ll join us!

A few facts about Lisa:

Author of  The Creative Entrepreneur: A DIY Visual Guidebook for Making Business Ideas Real, (link takes you to Amazon) an award-winning book that has helped thousands apply create practice to solve both business and personal problems unique to artists (or anyone who doesn’t think like an accountant*).

Visual Artist. In 2010-2012, I painted 1008 Paintings as a personal marathon. You’ll see more on that project here soon.

Global Traveler. I’m inspired by wanderlust and passion to live life as a daring adventure. I take people on deeply creative journeys — both here and abroad.

Digital nomad. Meaning that I live and work globally wherever I have Internet. Home base is currently Oaxaca City, Oaxaca, Mexico. Oaxaca is way far South in Mexico, close to the Guatemala border.

If any of this sounds interesting to you, let’s connect. You can also get posts and advance notice of discounts/special offers by email.

Thanks again for stopping by!

Lisa Sonora

*Not that there’s anything wrong with thinking like an accountant.

In fact, I wish I could borrow your brain once in awhile. This footnote is in honor of my real-life CPA, who is the most literary, funny, kind (yet tough when need be) and talented accountant in the whole universe. I mean, who gets a year-end tax letter that makes them laugh out loud? I do. Thanks to Rick.


Letting it all hang out

I caught a clip of this “voting off of Rachel Crow” on a morning show and was stunned. I actually rewound it and watched it again.  It was such a raw emotional response to an unbelievably surreal situation. It stuck on my mind for several days. The thing about it is, rarely does anyone ever show this kind of raw emotion anymore. ESPECIALLY over being disappointed or let down. ESPECIALLY in PUBLIC!

I’ve spent several years getting to a place where I can actually talk to someone about a situation that hurts or disappoints me.  I’ve definitely lost friends because I was unable or unwilling to articulate what I was feeling and just crawled into my own shell. I think we are conditioned to just nod and and say “oh okay” when things don’t go our way, and/or hide any feeling or disappointment, especially in public. It was refreshing to see someone let it all hang out and really express how deeply she felt about her situation. I don’t watch this show or have any opinion of Rachel Crow or x-factor in general, but I thought this moment was really amazing.


Yoga destroys creativity…

I’ve been trying to work yoga back into my daily routine. It helps me a lot physically and mentally. This morning I googled, “yoga for creativity”, just to see if there were some magical poses to help me through those “blocks” that happen in the studio, I found this HILARIOUS Creative Mornings Lecture by illustrator Christoph Niemann. If you haven’t heard of the Creative Mornings Lecture series, it’s worth checking out.

2011/04 Christoph Niemann from CreativeMornings on Vimeo.


Never Forget

Never forget

You hear people say it, or read it on bumper stickers. I can’t imagine how anyone would.

I flew into NYC in October 2001 from Korea. The plane was almost empty. Immigration was quiet, people were subdued, officers were helpful, even nice.  When I made my way out of the subway in Manhattan I automatically looked up, searching for the twin towers that indicated my orientation for so many years. The sky was clear, I was confused. Then I smelled it. As I made my way across town, the smell was pervasive, melting metal, or plastic, or what was it exactly… foreign.  I walked along the street, plywood construction sites covered with Xerox print outs of  missing….missing everyone. At this point, the fate of those in the photos had most likely been determined, but they remained, holding vigil, singular identities representing families who were beyond horrified. Block after block, hundreds and hundreds of photos… it was so shocking, so intense, so beyond explanation.

On September 11, 2001, I was at the airport in San Diego. The towers were struck, I was sent home. I cried in front of my TV as they fell. My (now) husband was on a flight to Hong Kong.  I went into the office, cried with co-workers, talked on the phone, cried with friends, talked to neighbors I had never met before, as we all tried to make sense, figure out, what was happening exactly, or what was going to happen next.

The thing I noticed as I traveled over the weeks following 9/11,  to Canada, to Korea, and finally to New York, was how gentle everyone was with each other. Everyone. From Airport Security, NYPD officers, taxi drivers, to the woman in the check out line at Dwayne Reade. People were kind. Their eyes were searching, “are you okay?” “am I okay?” “are we going to be okay?”

The horror of that day, and the continued terror and horror of the days that followed, I feel, would be impossible for anyone to forget.  Needing to turn on the TV every morning to see if anything else un-imaginable had happened during the night…

However, the feeling , that feeling of, we are all human after all, we are all in this together, let’s help each other, be gentle with each other, give each other some space, some room, for feeling, for processing. When I read those bumper stickers, “never forget” my hope is to “never forget” that compassion, that gentleness, that “hey, we all just went through something really big, it’s okay” feeling we had in those following weeks and months.

And to “never forget” to be kind to each other.

The Antique’s Garage Flea Market NYC

I went to the Antique’s Garage Flea Market in NYC this weekend.

Here are some of the great finds we found at the fleas…

vintage dog figuresMy daughter insisted on these two vintage doggies. Too cute.

mother and child figurine

I Loved this mother and child piece.

vintage ceramic texture and glaze

vintage letter press

Trays and trays of vintage letter press pieces

vintage letterpress 2

Metal findings, I’m going to experiment with these on my ceramic pieces. vintage metal findingsAnd my daughter also picked out these vintage horse photos.

vintage horse photos

 vintage linen label