The Creativity Interviews: Painter, Connie Hozvicka

As part of my ongoing quest to explore what it means to live a creative life, I periodically invite kickass creatives to come play with us on Zebra Sounds. First, I ask them five questions about creativity, and then a question for you…

… and that’s when the real fun (and wild generosity) begins.

Today’s episode:

Pockets of creativity, snippets on the ground… and another GREAT giveaway

Connie HozvickaIn July, 2011, when Connie Hozvicka’s painting graced the cover of Wild Sister Magazine’s first issue, I fell in love instantly and went searching for the artist. I was delighted to find her blogging away about art and life and love at Dirty Footprints Studio. What makes her blog and her art so good is her willingness to put her whole self – mind, body, heart and soul – into each piece.

Through her FEARLESS Painting workshops, retreats, teacher training program, and blog, Connie inspires women all over the world to ruthlessly trust their innate wisdom. She lives a couple of inches under the sun in Arizona with her beloved husband Hansel and son Phoenix.


j: Life is demanding. What are your tricks for getting into a creative space?

Connie: I basically try to go with the flow and don’t limit my creativity to just one thing. Ideally I would love to paint everyday, but that doesn’t always happen.  I do find ways to have fun with my creativity – even if it’s simply taking photos on my phone, writing a quick paragraph or two in my journal, or working on mandalas for a few minutes before I go to bed.  A little dose of creativity, especially in my life now as a new Mom, makes a world of difference

j: What’s the weirdest thing that inspires you?

Connie: The ground.  I have a thing for taking photos of little snippets of the ground that look like “paintings” to me.  So you’ll catch me both walking with my eyes down a lot, and stopping to take photos of leaves or stones or even garbage.  I’ve only uploaded a few of these photos HERE, but it’s probably the strangest thing, I guess, that inspires me!

j: How do you deal with critics?

Connie: I send them love and light and then let them go.  Sure, it’s not always that easy.  But I’ve found that there is more healing for myself  (and maybe them too) in sending love and light to the critics than there is in obsessing over their comments or getting angry about their negative energy.

j: What energizes you, solitude or engagement?

Connie: A harmony of both. If I have too much solitude I begin to crave being with others and vice versa.

j: A wheelbarrow, 600 Tiger Lilies, a bag of antique jewelry and a string of brightly colored lights: What will you make?

Connie: I would make an elementary school a little prettier to look at and give the students an opportunity to know the joy of gardening and making art!  How?  Well, first I would sell that bag of antique jewelry to get some money for art supplies.  Second, we would use the wheelbarrow to move dirt around as the kiddos plant those 600 Tiger Lilies outside their school.  Then, with the art supplies we purchased from selling the jewelry, I would guide the kids into creating paintings of Tiger Lilies that we would hang on the halls inside.  And those lights?  Well, we would hang them around the school for decoration when we have our art opening for their Tiger Lily paintings! Yep! That’s what I would make…a great experience for a group of kiddos!


Now the fun part: j’s question for you…

What is the weirdest (or, if you don’t like “weird,” most unusual or surprising or funniest) thing that inspires YOU?


Answer in the comments section by August 1, and we’ll pick one of your answers at random to win a free registration to Connie’s latest offering 21 SECRETS, an online, self guided, Art Journaling workshop – 21 classes taught by a family of diverse, professional Artists. It’s for “art journaling virgins and veterans” alike! You can read more about it here.

I can’t wait to hear what wonderful weirdness inspires you!

*************** UPDATE ***************

I put all your names into The Boy’s top hat and he chose Star as the winner, which made me go back and read her comment and think, “Yay!” (True, I might have done that no matter who won, but that’s only because you were all so generous and vibrant in your answers. Thank you you so much all of you for making this post one of my favorites, and congratulations to Star!

*************** UPDATE ***************


  1. Carrie Lynn Barker on July 26, 2012 at 9:00 am

    The weirdest thing that inspires me is ferns. I love ferns. I see one, it needs it’s picture taken. I got over my habit of buying every darn fern I ever saw but I still love to stare at their wonderful little leaves and vines to see what thoughts they invoke. 🙂

    • j on July 26, 2012 at 12:04 pm

      I LOVE ferns. I feel so drawn to them, love the hiking trails surrounded by them. I never thought of them as inspirational, but they totally are.

      Excellent weirdness; I’ll join you!

  2. annmariegamble on July 26, 2012 at 9:58 am

    I don’t guess I’d call any of the things that inspire me “weird” . . . (not to say that’s the same response as other people, speaking of critics) . . . but I do have to remind myself that really good creative-well-filling frequently happens when I’m “off topic”: I never get film ideas by watching films, I get a zillion fiction ideas reading nonfiction, and further afield.

    Okay, some of the best prompts are in the bibliographies of the stuff I edit for work: titles of scholarly articles that try to be evocative and clever and summarizing all at once, glimpses of story and unusual juxtapositions.

    • j on July 26, 2012 at 12:11 pm

      Maybe “weird” is too off-putting a word, but I like it because I associate weirdness with a certain sort of daring, a willingness to not fit in. Whatever we call it, scholarly article titles definitely qualify. I love them. I briefly considered naming The Love Project, “The highly unscientific study of emotional connection, human interaction, and the relationship of one to one’s self, in the face of our decidedly jaded and increasingly disconnected society.”

      But j’s Love Project fit better on the badge.

  3. Terri on July 26, 2012 at 10:52 am

    I love coming over to this blog. It’s like an “Artist’s Date” (ala The Artist’s Way). First, Connie, love your photos! (Photography was my primary medium in art school … yay!) I’ll certainly be dropping by your blog. Okay, weirdest things that inspire me? Hmmm. Imagery from Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête is pretty weird. (I think I’m too weird to think most of the things that inspire me are weird).

  4. Ang West on July 26, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    WEIRD?????Hmmmm is there anything that is truly weird if it inspires art.
    I recently got a new puppy, the smell of her cute little ears have inspired me to smile more, to open up more, to love more. And this will inspire me to make art

    • j on July 26, 2012 at 5:29 pm

      I just told Connie that I need to reclaim the word “weird.” I’ll work on that. In the meantime, the smell of puppy ears? That might just be plain magic. 😉

  5. Star on July 26, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    The thing that inspires me? Color! Color! Color! The brighter the better! Whether found in paintings, or the gazillions of bright, shiny beads in my drawer, the fabrics that are stacked in my cupboard ( mostly stacked, they can spill out from time to time) or the flowers in my garden.
    Color lifts me, makes me happy, and urges me to create something magical!

    • j on July 26, 2012 at 5:30 pm

      Your reply inspires me. Seriously. I’m getting my crayons out tonight. Thank you!

  6. Tina W. on July 26, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    I love taking photos of clouds; I always think I will paint them later or collage them but I never do. I always make something totally unrelated.

    • j on July 27, 2012 at 7:23 am

      I always like that, though. When the inspiration and the end result are only linked inside of you.

  7. Pam on July 26, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    From a certain angle, everything’s weird. (Have you ever *really* looked at your hand? Hahahaha…)

    Maybe my answer is watching the motion of leaves or pine boughs in the wind, and listening to the sounds they make. (Collective memory of the ancient bards?)

    • j on July 27, 2012 at 7:26 am

      Me too! Seriously, yesterday, I was having so much trouble with a piece – that blank-screen, first sentence, why-am-I-even-here kind of trouble. Eventually, I just stepped outside and watched the tops of trees swaying. I didn’t even think about the piece. Then I came and drafted it.

      I’m good with the ancient bard theory.

  8. Joanne Marie Firth on July 26, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    I really loved this interview j. Connie’s answers were so in line with how I think creatively. Your questions made for very interesting answers that only a creative person would understand. It is so reassuring to read another creative person’s take on things and how to best express their creative side while trying to live a busy life. This is an excellent piece! I would love to pose the same questions to you!

    I’m inspired and always have been by the “other side”. The things just on the fringe of what everyone else sees. I am fascinated by things that are distressed from age or weather. The rustier the better. I am also quite inspired when I see something that has been forgotten or left at the curb. I instantly start to feel energized thinking of how I can make it beautiful or usable again. How I can integrate it with what I already have. It is one of my bigger passions and I’ve been doing it long long before shabby sheik became popular.

    Thanks to you and Connie for a whole lot of inspiration and encouragement to keep creating. I think I shall.

    • j on July 27, 2012 at 7:29 am

      I love that inspiration! I wish I had that talent. I took The Boy to Urban Ore, which is this enormous recycling center in Oakland, with a second hand store the size of a warehouse. I saw tons of artists buying the weirdest things and I wondered what they were going to make. I’m so damned grounded in my verbal brain, I find myself making up stories about people who might have owned all the old stuff. Which is fun, but it won’t make me a craft room out of second hand treasures. If only you lived closer!

  9. OpinionsToGo on July 26, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    I have to agree with Star. Color is the driving force in whatever creativity I may posess.Whether it be in choosing my wordrobe, working on a cross stitch or describing a character. Color creates mood. Color is a huge factor for any Art form or Artist.

    • j on July 27, 2012 at 7:32 am

      You just made me curious about blind artists, who often describe what the rest of us see… I wonder what they see.

  10. Natasha White on July 27, 2012 at 2:59 am

    The weirdest thing that inspires me is my daughter’s belly laugh. Magic is to be found in that joyful sound.

    • j on July 27, 2012 at 7:32 am

      That is beautiful.

  11. Estrella Azul on July 27, 2012 at 4:56 am

    So much fun to read and take a peek into Connie’s creativity “secrets” 🙂
    Thank you for having her over!

    Something weird that inspires me? Hmm… Stationery. Probably because I don’t have much variety ready for purchase here in my city, I absolutely love it when people send me paper with pretty designs, and even more so, creating my own cards to send.
    I love love love writing on these… and photographing them as well!

  12. j on July 27, 2012 at 7:33 am

    I feel that way about stationery stores. LOVE them. Not as much as used bookstores (which are also hugely inspiring), but almost.

  13. Lilli on July 27, 2012 at 9:10 am

    One of the things that inspires me is my daily commute–it’s about 40 minutes one way, and it’s through a rural area. Most of the year, I leave home in the dark and come home in late afternoon/early evening light. I watch for animals–deer, coyotes, and other critters. Every day I see the same horses and donkeys and we watch each other as I pass. I look at houses and see how the outside changes and sometimes, I can tell that the inside has changed because of the lights.

    Seeing all these things every day makes me think about what is going on and the driving gives my brain a chance to run away with stories and ideas. I keep a notebook so I can scribble notes to myself. I’ve even taken some pictures of trees against the sky and the colors in the sky.

    Some of my colleagues make comments about how awful my commute must be, but I just smile and say, “It’s okay, it’s amazing what I see every day.”

    Thank you for this chance to share my thoughts.

    • j on July 27, 2012 at 9:52 am

      I love this answer. Every Friday, I drive to my mom’s house, which is only about 35 miles away, but on Fridays, in commute traffic, the drive home often takes an hour to an hour and a half. (I live in the SF Bay Area.) It’s not a pretty commute and I always feel stressed.

      Today, I’ll think about your commute. And also, maybe I’ll people watch. Make up stories about everyone else – where they’re going, who they’re going to see (or leaving)… You’ve got me almost looking forward to it. Thank YOU!

  14. Denise Funfsinn on July 29, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Old walls inspire me – barnwood, rusting metal, peeling paint, chipped plaster – I guess it’s mostly textures and how the light plays off the walls that gets me excited to pull out the paints. (Love your blog and the darling photos of your little one!) ~Denise

    • j on July 30, 2012 at 8:04 am

      Barns! (Which isn’t exactly what you said, but they are made of barn wood.) Absolutely inspire me too. I have so many pictures of old barns. Love your list of inspiration, and I like the overlap I’m seeing between writers and painters.

  15. Danni on July 29, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Nature is my biggest inspiration, and while in I’m out in it I find it in all sorts of strange places. In the movement of the grass, in the composition I find in different weeds growing next to each other (some of those weeds can be really pretty!). I find it in the structure of birds nests and in mushrooms growing in the shade of mighty old trees. It comes with the onset of a thunderstorm, in those minutes before the heavens open up and the leaves on the trees all seem backwards and the scent in the air is metallic.

    Those are some of the things that help get me going and spark my creative drive. 🙂

    • j on July 30, 2012 at 8:05 am

      Wow. Gorgeous response. Inspiring, even. (Thank you!)

  16. Nancy on July 29, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    OK, I’ve thought about this for a week, and nothing I thought of struck me as weird, but here goes. I get inspired by the thought of laying on a warm patch of grass and looking up at the sky or falling asleep to the sound of insects. I do that maybe once a year, but I think of it often, and the thought conjures what I would think of or wish to do while I was lying (laying?) on that patch of grass.


    • j on July 30, 2012 at 8:09 am

      I need to write a post about “weird,” and how I think the word needs to be reclaimed, the condition celebrated. But in the meantime, this counts because if I asked 100 people what inspires them, I bet only you would give me this answer this way. Falling asleep to the sound of insects. I love that. And frogs.

      When I’m camping, there’s this point when dusk meets night that all the crickets and frogs start singing… an earth concert.

    • Nancy on July 31, 2012 at 7:08 pm

      Oh J. Of course, the issue was NOT the word weird. I was uninspired for a week or so because I was out of touch with the me that wasn’t anxious and worried about serious stuff! Just today I’ve been inspired by that patch of grass and the sound of insects and birds (no frogs); by a young tom cat that seems intent on adopting me (and he’s got a heart shaped mark, askew, but still (!) on his back); by the amazingly gentle yet strong touch of my hand surgeon as he examined my scar; by the waitress who served me the best pancakes in Long Beach this morning; by the sights, sounds and scents at my local Tuesday Farmer’s market, and the passion of the woman from whom I by flowers every week as well as the warm smile that always comes with my hot-from-the-wood-fire-in-a-brick-oven amazing pizza which is now my standard Tuesday supper; by the old people, babies, in between people, and gentle big dogs. I’m inspired by the very sound of my breath and the beating of my heart (I drank real coffee this morning). The only weird thing is my ability to separate myself from the never ceasing to inspire me world if I show up and am present here. Thank you for helping me see that.

    • j on August 1, 2012 at 12:09 am

      Oh Nancy. You just made me swoon. That. Was. Beautiful. xoxo

  17. Sarah Martin on July 29, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    The things that inspire me that are the weirdest are fun color combinations that I see in children’s girly clothes and toys. I so desperatly want to be a girly little girl again and I love all the whimsey in all the princess paraphernalia. (Yes… I know…I really need to just grow up!)

    • j on July 30, 2012 at 8:11 am

      Oh, please don’t. There are quite enough soundly grown up grown ups around. There aren’t nearly enough of us letting the kids inside us loose. Wish I had a tiara to give you!

  18. jb on July 29, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Two places where inspiration often strikes me are:
    1) when I’m on a swing. (I have, in fact, been known to go use my son’s swing in the back yard for this purpose.) And,

    2) despite the fact that I don’t enjoy shopping at all, organization stores are inspiring. I’m not interested in buying another doodad to (supposedly) simplify and improve my life. But something about looking at all the items, gets me thinking about the problems (real or otherwise) that they were invented to solve. Then that gets me thinking, what other problems need creative solutions? And that leads to how these items could be used for something completely different than what they were intended? Yep, it just gets my right brain all giddy. 🙂

    • j on July 30, 2012 at 8:13 am

      Isn’t it great that the left-brained activity of organization tickles your right brain into action? Love that. Weirdly, grape vineyards do that to me. The way these gnarly plants are all in neat little rows… especially when viewed from a distance.

      And we definitely need a swing date. 🙂

  19. aussieheather on July 29, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    Maybe it’s not so weird, but I am always inspired by the ocean. If I’m feeling flat, uninspired, low in spirit or just off-kilter, I go down to the beach. It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s a dull, grey day or a sparkling sunlight on water day. I always come away invigorated. I like to take my art journal with me and begin to doodle and draw on the pages. Sometimes I just write or sketch out a jewellery design. Just love that movement of the water, the sounds and smells. 😉

    • j on July 30, 2012 at 8:16 am

      I agree – rain or shine, the ocean does something to my insides. I like to think that it’s there – at the meeting place of land and sea, the surf’s rhythm lulling our own inner rhythms into a sort of duet – that humans feel their connection to the earth strongest.

  20. Karen Pruzansky on July 30, 2012 at 6:54 am

    The weirdest thing that inspires me is stress. I get my most expressive work and colors from the release of that stress into the painting.

    • j on July 30, 2012 at 8:19 am

      Ha! I’ve thought of that too. Some of the writing I’m most proud was produced during some of my most unsettled, wrenching times. I think we imbue our art with raw humanity in those times.

  21. Lyn Girdler on July 30, 2012 at 8:41 am

    I’m generally always surprised by what inspires me. It’s usually not ‘something’ – it’s mostly someone. There are obvious things in life that keep me in spirit; like that first, surprising moment the moon catches your eye and you’re rendered breathless, or watching a child do their own thing when they think no one is watching, or, for that matter; a child holding a single balloon tugs at my heart every time. Reflections on water, mist, fog, heavy rain, a handstand, a headstand, a long drive, punk rock music, classical music, the stationary section at target, berry season at the supermarkets, laughter from the people i love… much.
    What actually inspires me to produce? People who go first.

    • j on July 30, 2012 at 5:06 pm

      I’m totally in love with your list of inspirations. I want to print them on a t-shirt and walk around, inspiring people to do more headstands!

  22. Galit Breen (@GalitBreen) on July 30, 2012 at 11:48 am

    I’m over the moon for this quest for creativity – and the openness to finding it anywhere it may lay.

    My strangest inspiration – hmm – I love hands. Eyes. Backs. But I’m thinking that the body isn’t that unique of an inspiration, right? Right?! 🙂

    {Also, hat tip for the “sell the jewelry” answer in that last question. “Outside the box,” for sure!}

    Fantastic post, ladies!

    • j on July 30, 2012 at 5:09 pm

      Actually, I think bodies should be far more inspirational than they are. A little more time being wowed and a little less time being unsatisfied with their size and shape would be awesome. So, yay you! (And yeah. I love when Connie sold the jewelry, like the hippie-painter-love-rebel she is.)

  23. Marcie on July 30, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Maybe not so weird..maybe very weird – but what most inspires me is my yoga mat. Not so much as a visual inspiration..but more as a metaphor for my creative self…for taking up space…for showing up…for practicing whatever it is that I’m practicing that day. It’s so often there – on that magical mat – that my greatest ideas happen!

    What fun to read everyone’s comments here…:-)!

    • j on July 30, 2012 at 5:10 pm

      Me too, Marcie. So much wordless work gets done on my mat.

  24. jillsalahub on July 30, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    I’m not sure how weird this is but what inspires me are birds and paths. I have collected a lot of older Asian art from thrift stores, and at one point, without having realized when I was buying them, I realized that almost every single piece had a bird. And I get up at 4:30 am every morning, first to feed the dogs and make a half cup of coffee, but then to go in my office and write. I open the window and listen to the birds, the only other sound the scratch of my pen on paper. When we were in the thick of wildfire season here and the air was so bad, I couldn’t open the window, and I felt so forlorn, not being able to hear that dawn song. And paths, other than walking them, I am obsessed with taking pictures of them. Other than those two: walking with dogs, watching them play or sleep, riding in the car somewhere gorgeous, sitting in my backyard, and being at the beach in Oregon, looking out at the Pacific and listening to the waves, noticing how they rhyme with my heartbeat, my breath.

  25. j on July 30, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    “…looking out at the Pacific and listening to the waves, noticing how they rhyme with my heartbeat, my breath.”


    Paths. Yes. Me, too. I have lots and lots and lots of pictures of paths. And doors. I think there’s something about where they can take me…

  26. Star on August 1, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    Thank-you to Connie and Judy for this post and this opportunity <3 The Art Journaling course was actually on my vision board, so I am utterly amazed and thank-ful I was chosen.
    See, wishes do come true!!
    Love, light and angel blessings to everyone <3

    • j on August 2, 2012 at 3:51 pm

      This comment makes me happy. xo

  27. aussieheather on August 1, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Congratulations to you, Star. Great to see the prize come your way. 😉

  28. […] was reading this post on Judy Clement Wall’s Zebra Sounds yesterday and clicked on the link to Dirty Footprints Studio and read this post about the art […]

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