Despite extensive visual impairment Erica Dornbusch is an award winning, internationally published illustrator and designer with more than 25 years of experience in creative art direction, marketing and design and fine art.

As a fine artist, she is an actively exhibiting expressionistic painter, specializing in acrylics on canvas. Her current work intuitively portrays the energy, palette and essence of people and landscapes.

Erica studied at Sheridan College, Toronto and has continued the habit of life-long learning and spiritual study. She lives in London, Canada where she is creating a joyful art narrative, moment by moment.

Carrie: Welcome to Artist Strong Erica, tell us, what is The Cosmic Toad?

The Cosmic Toad is my studio name and is all about creating a toad-ally joyful art narrative, moment by moment. In ancient alchemy, the toad represents great spiritual potential, transcendence, and acquired wisdom.

Creative Spirit Erica Dornbusch

Creative Spirit Erica Dornbusch
Makeup: Melanie Richards, Makeup Artist
Photo: R.S. Cousins Photography

As we age, we are in a constant state of change, of metamorphosis, of growth. We acquire wisdom and develop into our own beautiful, unique toads …warts and all. When we learn to embrace, celebrate and be grateful for everything we’ve experienced, we might recognize the extraordinary sum that we’ve become… As such, our own stories form the living anchors of our lives and give us inspiration to draw from.

As a visual artist I can help clients celebrate themselves and their essence by bringing their unique journey to life in a painting that honours them and their most sacred places, meaningful moments, personal symbols, and loves and words.

When we’re feeling present, balanced and connected we’re at our best, most joyful and engaged selves. We live out loud with authenticity and everything in our universe hums.

The Cosmic Toad makes art that I hope acts as a talisman for being fully alive and chronicles the magic of deep and meaningful connections.

Creative Spirit Erica Dornbusch

Night Cloak
Acrylic 30×40 on gallery wrapped canvas

Carrie: How would you describe your creative interests to our readers?

Paint, paint, paint, read, read, paint, write, write, read, paint, paint and a tattoo or logo design or two.

Carrie: When you have multiple creative interests, how do you decide when and where to focus your creative energies?

I’ve recently made the move towards exclusively painting. Frankly, with a diagnosis that confirms an accelerated vision degeneration, I only have so much time to put paint on canvas. So I’m going to do that obsessively and solely until I can’t in the same way any longer. Then I’ll find different ways to do the same thing.

Carrie: How did you discover your artistic style?

I think ‘voice’ or style makes itself evident over time through any continuing body of work. It’s how and what seems to want to flow from you and your tools intuitively as you create. I could, and did try to ‘correct’ my palette or brush stroke and drawing style, but it always comes back to home.

Creative Spirit Erica Dornbusch

Pocket Wren
30×40 Acrylic on gallery profile canvas

Carrie: What do you hope viewers take from your artwork?

I hope the viewer feels the magic of a deep and meaningful connection to themselves and joy through my work. I hope they feel a sacred life energy, the hum of the universe at work, some joy and their own essence reflected.

Carrie: How do you navigate the feelings of vulnerability that show up during the creative process?

When my work is at the ugly stage and I’m not sure where it’s going or I am getting hung up on whether or not the client will like it, I do my best to let go of self-criticism and and to simply root my feet in front of my easel. When I plant my feet, I make the commitment to keep going and see that rough stage through. This is the time to ignore distractions, no matter how important it seems to be that the dishes need doing or the laundry is yelling at me.

When the old stuff that we hear in our heads (when we are not feeling confident) comes up, it’s best to kindly send it packing. Ask yourself whose voice is that? Is it useful, does it serve? Because it’s likely just fear expressing itself. The only way through that stuff is to be willing to make shitty art and love it for trying.

Carrie: What are important strategies or choices you make that help support your creative process?

I show up every single day, willing to learn, to work – willing to walk into whatever comes up. I invest in workshops, working with mentors and coaches and teachers who I admire and I do the work full throttle, 100% in. I take myself seriously as an artist and I ask others to as well. I look at a ton of other art. I use quality supplies, always. I paint my edges. I invest in my well-being; physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally.I find space and make time to be mindfully aware of my surroundings as an open-hearted keen observer.

Creative Spirit Erica Dornbusch

16″x40″ Acrylic on gallery profile canvas

Carrie: How do you take risk in your art?

I feel like I am taking enormous risk in my art these days. I am asking it to become my sole source of income, I’m essentially taking on a new career at 50. I am asking myself to face my changing vision every day at the easel. I am stepping into a new language around my work in a way that freaks my “logical play-it-safe brain” completely out. I am working larger and larger and more intuitively by feel. I am painting at a very personal level and putting it all out there. It all feels pretty scary, but also the very, oh so very right thing to do.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

~ Mary Oliver

Creative Spirit Erica Dornbusch

Sky Bowl
Acrylic 30×40 on gallery wrapped canvas

Carrie: What is one piece of advice you have for struggling creatives?

Make your art daily as much as is humanly possible. Consider this sacred you time, make space and work in a mood and medium you like. Practice by looking at everything around you as art and breaking the composition down in your head. Look at art you like and try to figure out how the artist did that. Next time you are at your table, try it. Take courses from artists you believe in, online or in person; there are many available. Put it out there. Call yourself an artist. Go to shows. Be in shows. Live it, breathe it.

Carrie: Who/what inspires you?

Nature, spirit, philosophy, science, good prose, and any author, poet, artist, music, teacher, entrepreneur, philanthropist, etc. who is connected to source and creating brilliantly.

Carrie: Name one creative resource you can’t live without.

Other people’s art and words.

Carrie: How do you define Creativity?

I firmly believe we are all creative beings with different skill sets and that all creativity is seeded in mindful observation and expression, inward and out. Creativity for me is a way of seeing and responding to feelings, ideas, events, sights or sounds. When we make expressions of those interpretations, they are in our own voice and tell our own unique story on our terms. Creativity is our own unique filter for what is around us.

“I take myself seriously as an artist and I ask others to as well.” (Click to Tweet)

BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Do you show up for your art 100%? What can you do today to honor your inner artist with that 100%? I want to know! Tell me about it in the comments below.


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