Author Archive | Sandra Magsamen

Be innovative


Recycle and reuse materials in artful ways. When my sisters and I were little girls, our mother always covered our schoolbooks with the brown paper bags that groceries were packed in. She carefully cut and turned the bags inside out and then expertly folded the paper around our books. I loved these book covers because they were perfect to draw on. Each was a blank canvas, where markers, pen, and even paint glided on the surface with ease. The paper was thick and sturdy, and my books remained covered for most of the year in these personally decorated jackets. Mom also lined the shelves of our pantry with the paper from these bags, crafted costumes out of them by cutting holes in the bottom and sides (for head and arms) and then gave us paint to cover them. She laid them on the floor of the car as a mat when our feet were muddy; she cut them into pieces to make bedding for our hamster cage and tore them apart to make papier mache material when we needed to craft a volcano for school. In a pinch, she’d use the paper to tie up a package and wrap it up with string. It always reminded me of the lyric “Brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favorite things” in the movie The Sound of Music. To this day, I still wrap gifts in brown paper, loving the simplicity and beauty of the finished package.

When I was in college, in art school, I decided to study printmaking. This class required purchasing lots of paper to print on. It was a struggle for me to be able to afford the pieces of handmade, beautiful pulpy papers, as I was a “starving student” and they were expensive. One day at the grocery store, the clerk at the check out asked, “Paper or plastic?” and it suddenly hit me that here was the paper I could print on! I remembered the books my mom had covered and realized this hardy paper would be perfect for my class. Sure enough, when I got back to my room and painted on the brown paper, I created a patina that I really loved, and that was unique to my style. The paper gave my art a touch of age, a bit of a distressed look. Today, I paint all my illustrations on this brown craft paper.

For me, being innovative grew out of the necessity for supplies.

Innovation is simply the idea of using things and seeing things in new ways. Each of us can imagine the possibilities in anything and everything.

Sandra Magsamen

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Remembering to Play


You were born with the drive to grow, to create. You might have forgotten the impulse, but it is still there inside of you. As Ashley Montagu suggested in his book, Growing Young, adults learn from children about the essential nature of fun and abandon in order to prevent “psychosclerosis,” the hardening of the mind. He prescribed the following traits of the child to avoid this dreaded condition: The need for love – friendship – sensitivity – the need to think soundly – the need to know – the need to learn – the need to work – the need to organize – curiosity – a sense of wonder – playfulness – imagination – creativity – open mindedness – flexibility – experimental mindedness – resiliency – a sense of humor – joyfulness – laughter and tears – honesty and trust – optimism – compassionate intelligence – dance – and song.

How do we translate the intrinsic and valuable qualities of creativity into adulthood? How can play, imagination, curiosity, and invention be a part of every day? This quote by Gilda Radner, the comedian who died too young, is a great reminder of the importance of being you:

“While we have the gift of life, it seems to me the only tragedy is to allow part of us to die, whether it is our spirit, our creativity, or our glorious uniqueness.” I believe that we each have the individual responsibility to bring forth ourselves into the world.

Creativity helps you gain confidence, self-understanding, and self-esteem. It increases your concentration, helps you learn to take risks, and creates balance and order. You can make mistakes more freely and solve problems with increased flexibility—skills that enhance all your relationships. Creativity supports innovation, invites you to savor a moment, engages your senses, and helps you see the beauty in all things. It leads you to imagine unlimited possibilities.

Sandra Magsamen

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20% Off All Non-Sale Items At C.R. Gibson!


I am so happy to share this very special SALE just for my FRIENDS and FAMILY courtesy of CRGibson. I design many meaningful gifts, stationery and  home and holiday decor for my wonderful partner CRGibson. They are a wonderful company to design with and I am proud to have worked with them for many, many years.

They are offering for the next week a sale of my TREASURED collection, including  wooden wall signs, mugs, baby gifts, stationery, cards and more just in time for some pre-holiday shopping.

There are some great pieces at great SALE price just for you!! Here is a link to my collection: C.R. Gibson

Happy shopping to you
All my best,

Sandra Magsamen

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Embrace your Inner Child

Embrace Your Inner ChildPablo Picasso said something so profound: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

We are born with creativity, imagination, play, exploration, and curiosity. Children act on these valuable attributes freely, discovering happiness, belonging, communication, and community through them. Can you remember when you were a child and anything was possible? Search your memory for a minute. Allow your thoughts to go back to your creative beginnings. Ask yourself:

What did I love to do when I was a child?

How did I fill my days?

What mattered?

Who and what made me happy?

What are my most cherished memories?

What things and activities did I truly treasure?

What things did I really not like?

Take a journey down memory lane. As you read the following examples, allow them to spark your own recollections of childhood. They may lead you to say, “Oh, yeah. I remember! That’s like when I …” Hold onto the feeling this memory gives you. Think a little deeper: What was it that pleased you, made you happy when you were doing these things. Was it the making of something or the being with someone that you liked better? As you run through the following experiences, make a mental note of the ones that you feel a connection with.

Remember the forts or sanctuaries you built in the backyard, under the ping-pong table, in the big cardboard box the dishwasher was delivered, in the back of a closet, deep in the bamboo hedge that ran behind the alley, in the first big snowfall, or up in the oak tree? You created spaces of your very own. You met friends there, started clubs and teams, and sometimes you made believe you were stranded on a desert island and had to forage for food.

You decorated bikes with red, white, and blue craft paper for the 4th of July, and dressed up your dog for the local pet parade. You explored the woods and streams, searching for tadpoles, rocks that glittered, and butterflies that danced. You baked cakes in your Easy Bake Oven and made stone soup and mud pies, decorating the tops with leaves, shells, and pebbles. You crafted paper kites and figured out how to make them soar; and you swung so high on swing sets that you thought you could fly. You played hide-and-seek and tag with old friends and found new ones along the way.

You played dress-up, trying on jewelry, gloves, hats, and dresses with sparkles as you tried on the role of princess, diva, mother, and super hero. You wrote, directed, and performed plays. You carted your latest “great thing” to school to share with others for “Show and Tell,” and you hosted tea parties for friends (some of whom just happened to be imaginary). You danced to “Ring Around the Rosie” and learned to line dance, tap dance, and ballet dance. You jumped up and down and jumped rope. You played leapfrog, pin the tail on the donkey, and monkey in the middle. You recited nursery rhymes, sang, played the piano, the kazoo, and the rubber band, too.

You drew pictures with chalk on the sidewalk, played hopscotch, and bounced a ball around the block without stopping. You skateboarded in the alley and made ramps out of trashcans with discarded wooden doors. You played with jacks on the front porch and hit the tennis ball against the wall off the back porch. You lit up dark nights with flashlights, and invented a code to signal your neighbor across the street.

You slept under the stars and counted how many were really up there. You saw the man in the moon and the Dippers, both big and small. You caught fireflies and made lanterns out of glass jars with holes in the lid, carefully filling them with the glowing insects to create a wash of yellow light.

Your senses were totally engaged, all day long, connecting with the beauty all around you. Effortlessly you created. You lived artfully each day. That creative spirit still lives within you. As you recalled your memories, I’m sure you recognized the many ways you lived creatively. Take time to remember how it felt to be connected to that part of yourself. Which childhood activities did you really enjoy, which did you want to do, but didn’t. Write your thoughts down if that feels right, share your memories with someone you care about, or simply reflect on the details that you remember and reclaim them.

All the playing, imagining, and curiosity that served you well in childhood can again be renewed to enhance your quality of life, well-being, and ultimately, your happiness as an adult. We are intended to remain in many ways childlike,” anthropologist Ashley Montagu once wrote. “We were never intended to grow up into the kind of adults most of us have become. We are designed… to grow and develop in ways that emphasize rather than minimize childlike traits.”

What was it that made you happy, that enlivened you, that made you want to repeat those memories? Was it the sparkle of colors and light? The smells of the garden or the baking? The laughter and conversation in the games? The feeling of appreciation and camaraderie? Whatever senses lit up for you then may hold the key to the kind of thing or moment you want to make, experience, or give today. As an adult you can again connect to this untapped source of energy that is your birthright.

Sandra Magsamen

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Defining Beauty

One early spring when I was a little girl, I looked out at a sea of beautiful yellow flowers that had sprung up practically overnight in our front yard. They blanketed the lawn, their many petals reaching towards the sky like fireworks. I called to my father and said, “Look at these pretty flowers!” He […]

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I’ve been making things for as long as I can remember. Every moment of every day I am actively making something: my art, my garden, yummy meals, great friends, a family, poetry, books, a home, a business, and a life. The truth is, we all are making things, ideas, relationships, businesses, and opportunities all the […]

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