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Hours For Art Interview with Brenda Leifso

In April 2011, I hosted the Hours For Art telethon, where writers and artists pledged their time to their creative work. Now I’m happy to bring you another Hours For Art interview, as well as an update on the pledgers.

Brenda Leifso is an Ottawa poet, teacher, and editor who shares the same dreams as many of us: to live a creative life, to set goals for herself, to love herself and others well, and to teach other people to do the same. She has a powerful book of poems out with Brick Books, called Daughters of Men. (I got the title wrong during the interview! Sorry, Brenda! I can see you opened your mouth to correct me and then decided to let it pass.)

I have been lucky enough to get to know Brenda as an In-Real-Life friend, and it was a treat to catch up with her during this interview.

Brenda and I talk about:

0:57 ~ How she became even more committed to a holistic creative life after her second child was born

3:57 ~ Opportunities that are coming now that she’s put in the grunt work

5:36 ~ The impact of writing poetry first thing every day

7:33 ~ Navigating the differential between her vocation and that of her doctor-husband, Kirk

10:56 ~ Why she stopped putting herself on hold

12:14 ~ What writers get from group workshops like the online ones Brenda is offering this fall (affiliate link)

13:40 ~ The unique flavour of Brenda’s writing studios

It does my heart good to see Brenda on fire for her many expressions of creativity, and asserting her right to make space for herself in a busy life.


If you’re a poet or fiction writer looking for a good labyrinth to support your creative practice this fall, take a look at Brenda’s fall writing studios.

I signed up as an affiliate because I’ve really benefited from these kinds of workshops — in writing time, craft development, motivation, and friendships. So I’d love to see some of you enrolled and on the path to creative flow.

I’m offering a bonus to anyone who registers for a writing studio using my affiliate link by Wednesday, August 31 at 8 pm EDT (that’s the day we leave Grosse Pointe!). You’ll get a recording of my Irresistible Creativity group class, The Flow Hypothesis: Conditions for Creative Bliss. This class was offered exclusively to clients, and we talked about what holds us back from living in the zone, and how to find flow more consistently.

And now a word from our Hours For Art pledgers:

Laureen Marchand originally pledged 16 hours a week for painting. She’s kept a good pace going despite the busy summer gallery season.

Since April, I’ve re-opened my commercial art gallery, Grasslands Gallery for the summer. It’s a full time job in a short season, and I want to give it the attention that’s necessary to make it work. But at the same time, I definitely don’t want to stop painting. I’m still re-working schedules and expectations, but at this point I’m probably averaging 10-12 hours per week at my easel. Not as much as I pledged, but maybe all I can do right now — or maybe not. I feel a little push from typing this! But the gallery is 15 times busier than this time last year so there are definitely days when this is where my energy and focus goes. However, I’ve managed to complete two paintings and am all-but-done on another, all larger than I’ve been used to working recently. And for sure I have plans for more.

As well, I have three pieces in a Summer Salon invitational exhibition at the Art Gallery of Swift Current, my nearest public art gallery, have worked with a photographer to get some new studio shots/portraits, and have taken part in a studio visit mentorship program with an internationally known curator from Calgary (it was a great experience).

Now I’m drafting some solo show submissions and further artist residency applications. Art life feels a lot more flowing than it did a few months ago. But though the summer gallery business is good, I look forward to the return of longer sessions in my home studio in the fall — even if I hate to see the end of summer!

Rachel Gordon pledged two hours a week for drawing. Here’s how she’s doing with her pledge:

So, it’s been a wild and wonderfully art-focused crazy for the last two months.  I have not been keeping to my pledge — and really appreciate the reminder, because I really want to and want to reach a point where I don’t excuse not keeping my pledge because I am doing so many other art-related things.  And that, my friends, is my rationale for not keeping my pledge!

In mid-July, my husband and I participated as an art team in an artist residency for a week.  We had a big project that we did involving making 100 boats out of cardboard and paper-mache. The idea of the residency was to create art out of used materials. It was amazing. We worked for 2 weeks before getting things together and then were working 18 hour days when we were there. There were 15 other artists in the residency and it was great to be in that kind of energy.

When I got back I immediately was plunged into getting my photo show ready for the opening. Chaos ensued and again I was putting in 10s of hours a day and utterly exhausted at night. It all came off well, thankfully.

So, yes, I’d say my rhythm has changed — in that I don’t really have one.  I’m going from project to project.  As I’m writing this, I’m thinking how nice it would be if I have one thing that is constant.  I do have a drawing project in mind as the ‘constant.’  It would definitely be an incentive for me to keep producing drawings!

Thanks to Brenda, Laureen and Rachel for inspiring us with their stick-to-it-iveness! Feel free to add your own summer update in the comments.

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Kim Reynolds August 30, 2011, 1:16 pm

    Not sure if it was just me, but I was listening(and enjoying ) and the sound cut out.

    • Alison August 31, 2011, 3:13 pm

      Ack! Looks like my quality assurance process broke down — the sound is fine on the source file but there was an uploading error on Vimeo. I re-uploaded and it should work fine now. Thanks for letting me know!

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