Lore Spivey - Book, Paper, and Mixed Media Artist




Sometimes it is easy to fall into the pit of artist’s block. Self doubt, lack of ideas, infrequent recognition of work, time commitments, and everyday distractions are all demons trying to drag us into the pit. Our job as artists is to stay out of that pit. I was looking through my daughter’s sketch book and I came upon several pages of nothing but stars she had drawn. “Hey, this is really cool,” I told her, “Why did you draw all these stars?” “When I can’t think of anything else to draw, I draw stars, because I have to draw something.” That was a lightbulb moment for me, I have to create, something. The creation is the important part. 

When there is “nothing new under the sun” what does it mean to create? The artist takes an idea and placed upon it their unique, personal touch, resulting in a variation unlike any other. This yields one completely original possibility among infinite combinations. We share the same universal themes. We love, we hurt, we want, we need, and sometimes we hate. But, we never find the exact same answers to life’s questions. The view is different from every window though we all live in the same house. 

But what about when you are trying so hard to create and getting nowhere? You’ve drawn an entire sketchbook of stars. Consider this story by Steven R. Covey from his book THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE:

“You come upon someone in the woods working to cut down a tree. “What are you doing?” You ask. “Can’t you see?” They reply, I’m sawing down this tree. “You look tired!” you say. “How long have you been at it?” “Over five hours,” he answers, “and I’m beat!” This is hard work. “Well, why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen that saw?” You ask. “I’m sure it would go a lot faster.” “I don’t have time to sharpen the saw,” the man says emphatically. “I’m too busy sawing!”  

I “sharpen my saw” many different ways. I go for a walk in the woods. I visit a museum and soak up the creative energy of the place.  I read blogs of fellow artists.  I write in my journal. I clean my studio. I watch documentaries, and yes, sometimes I browse Pinterest. So you might be thinking some of these are the “everyday distractions” I mentioned earlier. 

They could be, but purpose makes the difference. 

I think of these activities like ladders. I can fall off the ladder, spending hours wandering aimlessly through websites, advertisements, and mental garbage. I can “take the day off” after visiting the museum to go out for lunch and shopping. When I do these things I am continuing to fall into the pit, and the further I fall the harder it is to climb back out. 

OR I can climb the ladder, focused on my goal of achieving new creative heights. It is not easy. There is no easy way.  

The difference is between distraction and determination.

Elizabeth Gilbert explains it like this in her book BIG MAGIC:

“The fun part is when you’re creating something wonderful, and everything is going great, and everyone loves it. But such moments are rare. You don’t get to leap from bright moment to bright moment. How you manage yourself between those bright moments, when things aren’t going so great is a measure of how devoted you are to your vocation. Holding yourself together through all the phases of creation is where the real work lies.”

I have been in the pit. I believe we all fall off the ladder at least once, but I hope reading this helps someone out there to get their foot up on the first rung.



This lantern is easy to make, and it’s a fun project to do with kids, or on a rainy afternoon.

The light it casts makes beautiful patterns on the walls of a dimly lit room.

1. Print out the pattern below to fit an 8.5” x 11” sheet of card stock.

2. Cut out the shape. 

3. Use a hole punch to make the round openings in each petal. 

4. Lace a pretty ribbon in and put through the outermost holes on each petal.

5. Pull the ribbon so the petals come together to form the lantern shape, then tie a bow.

6. Insert a battery operated tea light.

If you enjoyed this project, send me a picture, I love to see all the variations creativity brings to the basic design. 



September 18th through October 2nd this fall I will be visiting the International Center for the Arts to work with and learn from four legends of the artist book and paper world, Helen Hiebert, Carol Barton, Amanda Degener, and Denise Carbone. We will make paper by hand, create objects from paper, sew bookbindings, and design pop-ups. This is the most exciting professional opportunity I’ve had since attending Penland School of Craft to study with Julie Chen. 

The International Center for the Arts, founded in 1994, is located in a small village in Italy called Monte Castello di Vibio (Monte Castello means Mountain Castle). The village dates back to the medieval 15th century and is in Umbria overlooking the Tiber Valley.

This bijou village has a population of just 1,536, which is exciting to me because I am not fond of crowded places. I will also visit the Fabriano Paper Mill which is near by, and Florence, my favorite city in Italy where the Statue of David and  the Birth of Venus painting both reside. I anticipate this to be a peaceful, creative, reflective time. The last time I was in Italy was about 13 years ago.



It is no secret that I LOVE PUGS! 


Originally posted on Thursday, October 1, 2020


“Who are you?” said the Caterpillar. This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, “I—I hardly know, Sir, just at present—at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”                                                                                   -Lewis Carroll

Sometimes I feel like a puzzle piece in the wrong box.