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Author: Lee Crutchley
Publisher: Perigree Trade
Buy it at Amazon
Do you have trouble starting a new creative project? Is the blank canvas or screen too intimidating to face, so you try to avoid it? Do you wish and hope you could be an artist, but never follow through on your dreams? If so, The Art of Getting Started might be able to help you in your creative pursuits.
This unique book on jump-starting creativity doesn’t spoon-feed good ideas and suggestions for moving past blocks. Instead, it’s chock-full of exercises designed to get you out of your head and onto the page. While encouraging us to make messes and allow our work to be less than perfect, it forces us to take action and not sit around waiting for inspiration to strike.
It’s risky to start a new project when we don’t know the outcome. But if we never start, we can never know the joy of completion and the chance of success. If you work through the exercises in this book, you may find some of your creative blocks vanishing, leaving you free to create.
Reviewer: Alice Berger
Author: Julia Cameron
Genre: Creativity / Parenting
Buy it at Amazon
The Artist’s Way is one of the best-selling and most helpful books on developing creativity. But a special book was needed to help parents teach their children to honor their own creative gifts. In The Artist’s Way for Parents, Julia Cameron shares some of the secrets she learned in being the parent of a creative daughter.
The basic structure of this volume is similar to other “Artist’s Way” books. Broken down into twelve chapters with headings such as Cultivating Curiosity, Cultivating Limits, and Cultivating Independence, Cameron explores sub-topics within this framework. An exercise for parents and/or children is included after each lesson. Familiar tools are utilized, such as morning pages and creative expeditions (artist’s dates) along with something new – sharing highlights of the day with your child.
Allowing a child to have a safe environment to create in is key to maximizing his highest potential. But this may not come naturally, and guidance from an expert can be helpful. If you want to nurture your child in exploring his creativity, The Artist’s Way for Parents would be a valuable resource. I highly recommend this book and the others in the “Artist’s Way” collection by Julia Cameron.
Reviewer: Alice Berger
Blog: Kid Lit Reviews
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Today, September 15th-ish is INTERNATIONAL DOT DAY! DOT Day celebrates Creativity, Courage & Collaboration! .. Peter H. Reynolds wrote a picture book called The Dot! After teacher Terry Shay showed The Dot to his classroom on September 15, 2009. From there DOT Day was born! From Peter H. Reynolds: Imagine the power and potential of a …
International Dot Day is a celebration of creativity around the globe, inspired by Peter H. Reynolds' book, The Dot.
I was invited to contribute to the Celebri-Dots gallery, and came up with the image above.
To authors and illustrators: If you're interested in contributing a Celebri-dot to help inspired young people, here's more info.
September 15 is International Dot Day, when over 1 million teachers and students, inspired by Peter H. Reynolds’ book The Dot, plan to celebrate “teaching and learning with creativity”. This is my mark — see others by some of your favorite authors and illustrators here, at “Celebri-dots“.
Suggested Reading, Picture Books About Art and Imagination: Flyaway Katie by Polly Dunbar, The Paper Princess by Elisa Kleven, I Want to Paint My Bathroom Blue by Ruth Krauss and Maurice Sendak, Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty, How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird by Jacques Prevert and Mordicai Gerstein.
And More Picturebooks about Art and Imagination.
Filed under: Random
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Tagged: children's books
By: Deren Hansen,
by Deren Hansen
Animator Patrick Smith, writing at Scribble Junkies
, shared some of John Lasseter's advice in a post on the 7 Creative Principles of Pixar
The first principle is, "Never come up with just one idea
Here's how John explains it:
“Regardless of whether you want to write a book, design a piece of furniture or make an animated movie: At the beginning, don’t start with just one idea – it should be three.
“The reason is simple. If a producer comes to me with a proposal for a new project, then usually he has mulled over this particular idea for a very long time. That limits him. My answer always reads: 'Come again when you have three ideas, and I don’t mean one good and two bad. I want three really good ideas, of which you cannot decide the best. You must be able to defend all three before me. Then we’ll decide which one you’ll realize.'
“The problem with creative people is that they often focus their whole attention on one idea. So, right at the beginning of a project, you unnecessarily limit your options. Every creative person should try that out. You will be surprised how this requirement suddenly forces you to think about things you hadn’t even considered before. Through this detachment, you suddenly gain new perspectives. And believe me, there are always three good ideas. At least.”
The first key here, and it bears repeating, is, "this requirement suddenly forces you to think about things your hadn't even considered before." There are a lot of people out there having good ideas. If you stop with your first good idea, chances are very good that someone has already thought of it. But with each additional good idea you bring to the table, the chance of someone else thinking of the exact same ideas drops dramatically.
The second key is the perspective you gain through detachment. That is, if you have more than one good idea then you've got a fall-back if one of the ideas proves less good than you thought. More importantly, you can compare and contrast the ideas and get a better sense of their relative merits than if you have only one, precious idea ... gollum. Deren Hansen is the author of the Dunlith Hill Writers Guides. This article is from Sustainable Creativity: How to Enjoy a Committed, Long-term Relationship with your Muse. Learn more at dunlithhill.com.
I can't believe how long it's been since my last blog post: over a month. Guess I've been busy! Most of August found me editing my new novel, The Abyssal Plain, and practicing the techniques I learned in a recent 2-day art class, Splash Ink Watercolor.I was attracted to this class for two reasons: first, the word "ink" made me think of fountain and gel pens, freewriting, and calligraphy. And I just love ink! Second was the course description that mentioned using our imaginations to paint--always a good sign of something interesting up ahead.In a nutshell, Splash Ink is based on Chinese art and theory. One of the things that surprised me the most was that the word "splash" actually means "pour" in Chinese, so the class wasn't quite as messy as I thought it would be. (I wore my absolute worst clothes and shoes on both days, terrified that we would be throwing paint all over the room and each other. Thankfully, this never happened and was straight out of my over-active "imagination." Splash Ink can be safely attempted in any work space or studio with a plastic tablecloth and paper towels.)To start off the first day of class, our wonderful instructor, Ming Franz, gave us each 12 sheets of good quality rice paper measuring roughly about 14" x 14" that we divided into sets of 4. The sets of 4 were kept together and taped to plastic boards. After taping, we then sprayed water onto the top sheet until all 4 sheets were saturated. We then poured ink and liquid watercolor and/or acrylic paints onto the top paper in the following order: sumi ink first, then blue, red, yellow, and white paint. Using the white paint was the most surprising to me as I've always heard, "Don't use white in a watercolor!! Ever!" But for this method it was essential. Somehow the white paint seemed to soften, blur, and highlight the other colors all at the same time, a very nice effect.After pouring the color and letting it seep down into all 4 sheets, the next optional step was to sprinkle salt onto the first sheet. We could also drip diluted dish washing liquid into the damp color for added depth and texture. Another option was to place pieces of scrunched-up plastic wrap in selected spots. Last of all we then carried our boards outside into the New Mexico sun to let the papers dry--which in our super-dry climate took about 30 minutes.Once everything was dry we were able to separate the pages, and wow: 3 sets of 4 abstract backgrounds in varying degrees of dark to light depending on the order of the papers . Here is one of my lighter pieces that was #3 in a set of 4:This next much darker sheet was the first of a set of 4. I also used some of the crunched-up plastic wrap to fill out the design:Day 2 was where the magic really began--we got to paint over the backgrounds with either acrylic or gouache (opaque watercolor) paints. Our homework assignment between classes was to study and meditate on our pieces so that we could "find the picture" inside each one, kind of like looking at clouds or cracks in the ceiling. There's an elephant! No, it's a giraffe! Ming also suggested we look through books and magazines for reference photos we could bring to class and that could help turn our background pieces into finished paintings.For me, a magazine picture of falling autumn leaves over rushing water seemed to fit the red paint splashes I already had on this particular piece:I was sorry the class was for only two days, because I certainly had a lot more backgrounds to fill. I ended up with even more when I took 4 of my least favorite sheets and cut them down into quarters, giving me a stack of little "mini-sheets" to practice on. Here's the result of my first small attempt at home; I called it "On the Way to Taos" as that's exactly what it reminded me of:Now that the class is over, I hope to continue using Splash Ink and adapting it to my own style and choice of mediums. I think it would be an incredible way to illustrate a book, especially one for children, or perhaps a dark and mysterious Gothic novel for grown-ups. Maybe I'll have to do this one day for a new edition of Overtaken!Tip of the Day: To learn more about Ming Franz and Splash Ink, take a look at Ming's book, Splash Ink With Watercolor (Looking East, Painting West). Not only will her beautiful artwork inspire you to try some painting of your own, but you might want to experiment with using Ming's paintings as writing prompts--a great idea for yourself or your writer's group. Happy creating!
By: Deren Hansen,
by Deren Hansen
I once heard that Shannon Hale's
approach to retelling fairy tales is motivated by the question, "What's bugging me about this story?"
I started thinking seriously about this question after reading several books that bugged me enough that I wanted to make a rebuttal (it's hard to set aside old debating instincts). It's not that I had problems with the books themselves as much as some of the ideas in the stories.
Two interesting things happened as I thought about the ideas that bugged me in each story and they ways in which I might handle them differently:
- I was drawn into the "normal science" process of thinking through each idea (that I described last week) and uncovered a host of interesting ideas.
- The different lines of inquiry came together as a fascinating story molecule.
Shannon's question, "What's bugging me about this story?" is a powerful idea generator if you follow it with a second question: "How would I do it differently?"
There's another important consequence: as you work through the ideas until you can clearly express what bothers you about the story and how you would handle it differently, you find you have something to add to the conversation
.Deren Hansen is the author of the Dunlith Hill Writers Guides. This article is from Sustainable Creativity: How to Enjoy a Committed, Long-term Relationship with your Muse. Learn more at dunlithhill.com.
I’m excited to share Franki Sibberson’s latest project with you. SOLVE IT YOUR WAY! is an innovative project to encourage creative problem solving and collaborate with others around the globe. I shared this… Read More
Last week I got a new office chair (my back thanks you!)
The next day, our office manager offered us the box it came in.
I found the good boxcutter. Intrepid Brooke found the brown butcher paper, scissors and a mile of tape and 45 minutes later...
I hope you note the nifty skylights, the comfy bean bag and the exclusive nature of our box...ahem Reading Cave. No sooner was it done, then kids hopped inside one by one for a relaxing read.
Now come on, do we work in a great profession or what?!?!
Enjoyed this article today: Why NonGeek Parents Have the Advantage in Parenting Young Makers. The whole piece was interesting but this bit especially grabbed me, because it’s singing my own song:
The parent panel was surprisingly united on several points. “Makers gotta make, so if you can’t get their stuff (maker treasure) under control just find a way to live with it.” “Kudos for letting your kids disassemble, repurpose, void warranties, and explore fearlessly!” “Allow projects to take time and make room for play and exploration–even if it means lots of projects are in progress at once (if you aren’t going to work on it in the next six months maybe it can hang out in the back of the closet for now.)”
Whenever I speak to homeschooling groups, I urge something similar. Never underestimate the importance of freedom to be messy. Creativity is a messy, messy business. Art is messy. Writing is messy. Sewing, woodworking, robotics, cooking, all these awesome pursuits we want our kids to dive into, all these handcrafts and skills we love to see them develop—they require room to get sloppy. The paint-spattered corner, the room abandoned to fabric scraps and bits of Sculpey, the table overtaken by wires and circuit boards…
I know it isn’t always easy, especially for type-A parents, to live with the clutter and chaos that so often surrounds a creative mind, but there are ways to compromise. For us, it means keeping the front of the house reasonably tidy, one main room where people can count on an uncluttered space, and letting the rest of the house wear a jumble of raw materials with abandon and zest. The girls’ room is overrun right now with wand-making supplies. The house smells like hot glue. Every time Scott looks at me he finds another piece of glitter on my face—I don’t even know where it’s coming from; it’s in the air.
Along with Freedom to Be Messy goes Lots and Lots of Down Time…that’s part two of my refrain: give ’em time to be bored, time to stare into space, time to tinker, time to obsess. So much of my work as a writer happens when I’m far from my keyboard…I’m writing while I’m gardening, while I’m doing dishes, while I’m curled up under a blanket doing a crossword puzzle. I may look idle, but I’m not. Things are churning in my head. Scott used to do his best writing on the walk home from the subway. Now, far from NYC, sans commute, he stands in the backyard, mind-working while Huck runs circles around him. Our kids know that we’re absent sometimes—lost in our thoughts, working something out—and they understand, they know we try to make up for it by being extra-present, fully engaged, in other parts of the day. But also by giving them that same kind of mind-space in return: big chunks of the day unscheduled, unspoken for. Let me get out of your hair so you can put glitter in it.
By: Valerie Storey
Blog: Valerie Storey, Writing at Dava Books
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April is National Poetry Month, and this year I'm celebrating the season with a small poetry/art journal project with a Japanese-inspired theme I'm calling "30 Days of Kimono." The idea came to me when I visited the Albuquerque Art and History Museum with my writer's group several weeks ago. The museum was hosting a special exhibition on Japanese Art Deco, and because I've always been a huge fan of Japanese style, culture, and literature, it seemed like a good time to do something with all that inspiration!Rather than restricting myself to just poetry, I'm using a variety of methods, mediums, and digital sites, including Polyvore, where I made the kimono pictured above, as well as a Pinterest board. To keep all my ideas in one place, I've chosen to use a Moleskine Cahier Kraft blank notebook, which means I can decorate the cover too (still a bit of a work-in-progress...):On the inside I'm writing down my poetry thoughts, found poetry snippets, and sketch ideas for larger paintings:I'm also pasting in drawings made on other types of paper. For instance, the sketch below is made on a Japanese paper I can't describe very well other than to say it's slick on one side, rough on the other (I don't know if it's rice paper--sorry!). I used a pen cut from a piece of bamboo, Black Magic ink, and a little watercolor, then cut it into a kimono-ish shape. The pattern was based on my recent visit to New York and Central Park.One of the most enjoyable parts of this project has been my research; any excuse to go to the library and immerse myself in good books is fine with me. Besides losing myself in several gardening books covering Zen gardens and tea houses, my favorite find was a classic, The Book of Kimono by Norio Yamanaka. Everything you'd ever want to know about the history, making, and wearing of kimono is in this comprehensive little book. And believe me, there is a lot to know about wearing a kimono--about 36 actions just to get into "the thing," (which is all the word "kimono" really means: "a thing to wear") and half of those include hand-sewing, my most detested task on earth. Then of course there's the good behavior required to not crush or ruin the kimono, including never letting your back touch the back of a chair or car seat. Reminds me of when my mother forced me to wear scratchy nylon dotted Swiss on Sundays--don't move! Don't eat! Don't breathe! Which was perfectly expressed in this bit of found poetry I took from various lines of my magazine cut-outs:
Piety, memory, cleanliness,
Tip of the Day: Whether it's National Poetry Month of National Novel Writing Month, why not choose a theme or subject you've always wanted to know more about but never really had the time to explore? Not only could it start an entire new direction for your creativity, but it could also help give you that special edge to stand out from the crowd.
Controlling creative people appears to be a popular topic in the mainstream media nowadays. Following on the heels of Harvard Business Review’s incendiary article “Seven Rules for Managing Creative People”, Bloomberg Businessweek has published a short piece titled How to Manipulate Creative People. Unlike the HBR article which sounded as if it was written by someone who had never met a creative person in their life, the Businessweek piece (which is part of their annual how-to issue) is written by Matt Selman, an exec producer on The Simpsons who has run the writers’ rooms for over a decade.
Agree with what he says or not, Selman’s advice clearly stems from experience:
If your team is still irritated with you, badmouth anyone not in the room. Dumping on an unseen third party or revealing tantalizing office gossip always takes the heat off for a few minutes. Though if you’re going to make fun of people who work for you, be prepared to be made fun of by them. No matter how mean it gets, have the thickest skin in the room. Reward the completion of assignments with YouTube clips: Key and Peele, octopus vs. shark, bank robbery fails. If nothing else works, stall till lunch. It’s hard to be full and angry.
By: Tonia Allen Gould
Blog: Tonia Allen Gould's Blog
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What’s an idea? The mere concept of an idea is difficult, maybe even impossible to perfectly define. Even notable philosophers couldn’t seem to agree on what an idea truly means. The Free Dictionary Online indicates that according to the philosophy of Plato, the definition of an idea “is an archetype of which a corresponding being in phenomenal reality is an imperfect replica.” The web source goes on to say that according to the philosophy of Kant, “an idea is a concept of reason that is transcendent but nonempiral.” But, even Hagel said it differently. He claimed that an idea means “absolute truth; the complete and ultimate product of reason.” In the dictionary, the definition of an idea reads “something, such as a thought or conception that potentially or actually exists in the mind as a product of mental activity.”
To me, an idea is something that begins as a glimmer; a mere flicker in the mind that can suddenly grab hold, and unfold through any period of time, like the single root of the ivy plant that grounds itself deeply into the soil before it grows upwards, clinging to a wall with its tiny tentacles, reaching out and hanging on, until it forms its own shape and dimension. The ivy grows and grows, like no other ivy plant in existence, and reaches for the sun in a way that suits itself in order to flourish. Like an idea, the ivy didn’t plant itself. Someone had to place it there. The gardener of the ivy had to have foresight to buy or rent the house, invest in the fertilizer and the soil and the tools; he had to invest in the plant and spend his time digging the hole and planting it in the hopes that it would grow.
Like the gardener; creative professionals must make an investment in time, be committed to the outcome, and diligently work to understand and meet the project objectives. That’s a lot of footwork and fancy dancing already. But, what about the ideas you generate…those tiny seedlings of thought, that grew and took shape and added a dimension to the project that were unlike every other idea before it…those absolute truths…those nonempiral transcendent concepts of reason…those imperfect replicas…what about those? Those ideas, my friends, have value and they are your greatest asset. Sometimes, we forget that and give them away too freely, as if they have no value. So if you’re questioning your creative worth, maybe you should start looking first at your assets. #yourideashaveworth
By: Leslie Ann Clark,
Blog: Leslie Ann Clark's Skye Blue Blog
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Kicking Around Thoughts
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What warms your heart on a cold day? What warms your heart when the tides of change come crashing in? What warms your heart when the” no’s” become overwhelming? What warms your heart when the crowd scatters and you are “Home Alone”?
I have a whole list of favorite things I like to look at periodically. These are things that Warm My Heart. I found myself smiling and even laughing. They are things I feel that God has blessed me with. When I look at them I see stories! I see people, I see events… and more. Life is so much more than what we see during our day. Life is a tapestry of stories that intertwine and make memories for us. Some are so real we can almost re-live them just recalling them to our memories.
- God my Father, Jesus my elder brother, the Holy Spirit my helper.
- All my Family
- Friends / art friends
- Rosie and Violet
- Coffee with cream
- Odd things for the house
- Floor Pillows
- Coffee Shops
- Art galleries
- Sketch books
- Personal chef
- Trip to Maine and beyond
- Children’s books
- Goat yogurt and blueberries
- Colors : purply blue, raspberry, Yaya green
- Good movies with popcorn
- Breakfast in bed with a good magazine.
- my SONS.
- a zillion best friends!
- the valley between Kenosha and BaileY
- the mountains
- a crackling fire in the stove
- falling snow
- deep snow and 4wheel drive
- My cozy studio
- a good book
- a comfy chair
- writing a story
- a bike ride . . …… and today…. Matthew!
Today’s Warm Fuzzy came from a friend. She took this wonderful picture of her son sleeping with my Peepsqueak plush. He is so cute! Matthew is on my list!
What are your favorite things? I am sure mine will grow!!
Filed under: Kicking Around Thoughts
When I was little, I could play "let's pretend" all day. I mean, like, all day. I could start the morning as a secret agent, switch to being a marine biologist by lunchtime, live on the 1840's American prairie by dinner, and go to bed as a Moomintroll. You could say I lived to play.As an adult, I'm pretty much into being my own character of me: writer, artist, friend, not to mention Head of the Laundry Department, Chief of Grocery Shopping, and Executive House Cleaner. But recently during a trip to Trader Joe's and wondering why I always buy the same old things, it occurred to me how much fun it would be to play at being someone else for the day--somebody who bought champagne and Gorgonzola instead of milk and vegetarian chili. And the best person I could think of being was my latest character in my new screenplay, especially as she is NOTHING like me. For starters, she's 18, LOL, and she's a former child prodigy (I may have been imaginative, but I was a long way from being top of the class). As I stood there in the store, I began to wonder what she would buy, and that's when it struck me: pretending to be your character, at least for a little while, would be a great way to know that character on a level way beyond filling out the usual character bio. Talk about research! For instance, you could:
Tip of the Day: The next time you take an Artist's Date, try taking one for your character. Where would he or she want to go? Why? When you arrive at the chosen place, experience as much as you can through your character's viewpoint. Write up your findings either on site or as soon as you return home.
- Shop for your character in a grocery store--even Trader Joe's! Buy items he or she would choose (or at least make a list of those items if you find them inedible or too expensive).
- Using these or other ingredients you have at home, prepare your character's favorite meal. Then eat it and describe your feelings after dining.
- Go to the kind of department or clothing store your character frequents. Pick out several new outfits, complete with accessories. Take notes (because you may not really want to buy a new tiara or desert kaftan) and use as the basis of your character's fictional wardrobe.
- Buy your character a present. What is it? Can you use it in the plot somewhere? (Note: if the item is beyond a reasonable budget or something you can't actually use yourself, you can always resort to "let's pretend." Just go to the shop where the item would be sold, and imagine you are buying it, similar to the way you "bought" their new clothes. A fun and inexpensive extra would be to purchase a card, wrapping paper, and ribbons to place in your WIP binder or journal as a visual reminder.)
- Re-create your character's last vacation. Again, if you can't really travel to the destination, at least get some travel brochures, maps, and pack a real or imaginary suitcase. A day spent pretending you are in Paris or Toledo could have a charm all its own, too! The imagination is a powerful tool.
- Dream for your character--it's not as difficult as it might sound. Before you go to sleep, think of your character's main story goal or problem. Ask your subconscious to solve it. The answer could surprise you.
- Go to your character's least favorite or most feared place. Absorb the reasons why he or she dislikes it so much.
- Next time you find yourself waiting in a long line, become your character. Why is he or she so anxious for the line to move? Where does she have to be before it's too late?
- Visit a nursery or garden center. Pick out 5-10 plants your character loves or hates. What has generated these strong feelings? If possible, purchase and plant the flowers or bushes in your own garden. Use the plants' characteristics and growth cycles as metaphors.
- Go to the library. Choose your character's 12 favorite books. Now choose one they have never read. Read it through new eyes.
- Watch your character's favorite movie. Write about a scene that has the most emotional impact for your character, and why.
- Using magazine cut-outs or other print material, assemble an album of "family photos" for your character. How does your character feel about each of these people--and why? Be sure to include some bad'uns!
By: Leslie Ann Clark,
Blog: Leslie Ann Clark's Skye Blue Blog
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There is so much involved in designing. One must be up on the trends for color and pattern and more. I always have my eyes open to finding things I love to look at!
Here are the Pantone color trends for 2013.
I had to take a close look at them. . . some of them bore me unless they are paired with an “eye-catching” color. Color is so amazing! It can make your day! It can bring a smile to your face, and warm your heart. It can also bring you down. Why else do people get depressed when they experience too many gray rainy days? All that because of color? Yes! Think of the feeling you get when you take a walk and come upon a beautiful scene. Do you ever “OOOOoooh and Aaaaaahhhh?” Do colors grab you?
Colors can calm the soul. One of my favorite movies is Miss Potter. I like her spunk, I LOVE that she talks to her cartoons, and I also love the scenes of her beautiful English countryside. The colors speak peace and tranquility.
One might want calm and peaceful and serene colors for the baby nursery. So why did I decorate my first child’s nursery in bright sunshine yellow with brown and Kelly Green accents? ha! Because I crave bold colors! All I could think of was that my baby would wake up and want to be inspired by what she saw. The room had to be warm and happy and that is was!!
As the room progressed to fit two more daughters into it, we moved to pinks and browns. I loved it, but the girls were not really drawn to it. Interesting. In my house, you will find that colors change often. If I could, I would paint my house every year! My husband jokes about our bathroom being smaller because of the many times I have painted it! I am thinking of a new color as I type!!! I am leaning towards a beautiful blue with just the right amount of purple in it! Baby blue is okay, but I always want something with a little PUNCH in it! I like to walk into a room and hear my heart sing! La la! Wall colors can be muted but if that is the case, in my house, the paintings must sing! Oh how I love a noisy house filled with color.
So what am I to do? Follow the trends? Or start my own trends? Am I brave? These are the questions every designer must face. I always lean towards being a renegade trend setter! ha!
Filed under: All Things Artsy
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By: Emily Smith Pearce,
Blog: Emily Smith Pearce
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One of my favorite things is Terry Gross’s show, Fresh Air, on NPR. I especially love the interviews with actors and writers. Lately I’ve been listening to the podcasts while I’m doing something boring, like folding laundry.
Sometimes there just aren’t enough of Fresh Air interviews, though, so I’ve been looking for more conversations with authors and artists. Here are a few good ones I’ve found:
This Creative Life, created by YA author Sara Zarr (who btw also blogs here). There are interviews with a lot of writers and other creatives about how they work and live. I especially enjoyed the one with author Andrew Auseon (who is also a video game designer).
Mini studio-tours with artists at Little Scraps of Paper make me smile so much. The one above is of three collaborators who make these wacky wonderful costumey-snuggie-kind-of-things. Trust me, you just have to watch it. The videos are so beautifully filmed and just the right size for a quick pick-me-up. Thank you to Blair Stocker of Wisecraft for this hot tip.
Here’s a video of young fashion blogger/ Rookie magazine editor Tavi speaking at TEDxTeen about the strong female characters she’s looking for, and not always finding. YA writers, if you don’t know Tavi, you SHOULD!
What about you? Do you have any favorite creativity-related podcasts?
And by the way, are you on Twitter? I’ve been on it for years but am really just now learning the language and getting into it. I’m discovering all kinds of things there, including some of the above links. Meet me on Twitter @emilysmithpearc
A few other random things:
-Speaking of talks about art and writing, if you’re in the Charlotte area, check out the April meeting for the Women’s National Book Association (yes, men, you can join us, too): Monday, April 22, 6:30 – 8:30 PM at Consolidated Planning. The talk is titled “Latin American and Latino Women Writers and Literature in Translation.” More details here.
-Did you hear about the break in the Isabella Stewart Gardner art heist case? Soooo exciting. I used to work down the street from this lovely, one-of-a-kind museum.
-Saw Natalie Merchant the other night with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. Great show. Her new material is as complex and thought-provoking as ever, though I have to admit my favorite part was the 90′s set she did for an encore. The nostalgia factor is hard to beat. Seriously, what pipes she’s got—and what a talented songwriter.
-Lastly, I love this DIY magic potion kit over at Elsie Marley.
What’s got you inspired these days?
By: Caroline Starr Rose,
Blog: Caroline by line
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I have nothing to share about writing that is earth-shattering. What you’ll read here you probably already know. But like it is with all important things in our lives, it doesn’t hurt to hear certain things more than once. Here goes:
Often writers are told to be well-versed in their genre. This is excellent advice, but reading shouldn’t end there. Picking up books in genres other than your own brings freshness to your writing and strengthens what you ultimately create. This nourishes you as a reader, too.
None of us ever arrives. Our writing will improve if we continue to read craft blogs and books and take advantage of classes, critique groups, or conferences. Here are a few books I’ve read recently, am working on now, or plan to pick up this next year:
The Art and Craft of Writing Historical Fiction
-- James Alexander Thom
Second Sight: An Editor's Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults
-- Cheryl Klein
Writing the Breakout Novel
-- Donald Mass
Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them
-- Francine Prose
Writing Irresistible Kidlit
-- Mary Kole
Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication
-- Ann Whitford Paul
Take time away from writing
Make sure you are doing things outside of writing. Now that I write full-time, it’s very easy to stay detached from the rest of the world. Make an effort to engage your surroundings, whether that means tuning in to nature as you walk the dog or making a point to get involved in a new activity.
How do you nurture your writing life?
My big treat to myself over the holidays was to join (at last) Pinterest.com. After several months debating if I could afford the extra time to play amongst the pins, I finally decided I couldn't afford to NOT be there.Although I'm still a total newcomer to the site (http://pinterest.com/valeriestorey) and still figuring my way around, I'm already convinced Pinterest is a super-helpful place for writers. Whether it's about telling your personal story visually--any story, i.e., your sense of fashion style, where you went last summer, how much you love kittens, or just explaining what your next book is about, Pinterest is a serious way to deliver your message.I must say that at first I was intimidated by all the zillions of pictures, and I did have some trouble seeing where I could fit into the mix. But that was last week. Now I can't stop coming up with ideas for "boards": the categorized pages where you actually put up your various pictures. Repinning from other people's boards has been a great way to get started, but I can also see how much fun it must be to find original pins to add to your own boards. (Hope this doesn't sound too confusing to non-Pinterest users--but stick with it--if I can do it, you can too!)Right now I'm concentrating on creating boards that fit in with writing, and so far I've come up with 12 ways I hope to use this creative network. I haven't made all of these boards yet, but it's nice to plan for the future! Anyway, my first choices are:
Of course I'm sure I'll come up with more than 12 ideas as I become more familiar with the site, but I think this is plenty to keep anyone happy for a while. I think one of the elements I like best is being able to pin up a "secret" board that only I can see before I'm ready to release it to the world. I did this for the Overtaken board, and I have a couple of others hidden away at the moment. Oh, dear. Addicted already. (You didn't read that.)Tip of the Day: If you're not already a member, do consider joining, or at least visiting, Pinterest.com. I think you'll find plenty of inspiration, even if you just use it to pin images to jump-start your daily freewriting. If you do decide to join, please be sure to follow me--I follow back! Happy pinning!
- A board just for my various book covers.
- A board per book.
- A board for my book trailers.
- My favorite books, especially those that have influenced my writing.
- Writing prompts--quotes.
- Writing prompts--pictures.
- Writing encouragement and inspiration.
- A board per work-in-progress.
- Favorite pieces of artwork I'd love to use in a book cover or trailer.
- What I'm currently reading.
- Literary "shrines" and famous writers I love.
- Favorite creative supplies: pens, journals, sketchbooks, art goodies too.
For today's post I'd like to explore the second suggestion from Art Journal Class, My Favorite Tips: Write about a cherished object.The first time I tried this prompt, I ended up writing about a seashell that belonged to my grandmother. She told me it was from the Gulf of Mexico--a place as foreign as Mars to me--and I used to spend hours holding it to my ear to "hear the ocean." Although I have no idea what happened to the original shell, I do have one very much like it: dark brown, gray, and cream stripes on a swirly, spiral sort of mini-conch (I don't know how else to describe it, apologies to the marine biologists out there!). Regardless of my inability to scientifically categorize the shell, writing about it, and then drawing an accompanying picture into my journal released a flood of memories that in their turn became further journal entries. It also reconnected me to a time that was very special in my life and one that I'm sure contributed to me being the writer I am today.It doesn't really matter how you approach this exercise. You might want to choose an object first and then write about it, followed with a drawing or a collage of the object; or you could choose to first write about a specific memory that brings to mind an object you want to illustrate. Have fun with your choice of mediums: colored pencil, watercolor paints, crayons, or even a photograph you then photocopy and alter in some way with pencils or paint--it all works. Don't forget to add playful embellishments to your page(s): fabric swatches, scraps of lace or trim, glitter glue, feathers, buttons, pressed flowers or leaves--use whatever appeals to you and helps re-live the memory. There's no such thing as a right way to do this!Some ideas for objects to spark written and illustrated memories can include:
An interesting switch to this exercise is to write about an object you dislike or that bothers you on some level. For instance:
- A favorite item of clothing: dress, shirt, shoes, hat, etc.
- Your first car.
- First pet (not exactly an object, but you know what I mean).
- A favorite book, especially one from childhood
- A treasured piece of jewelry--the one you love regardless of monetary value.
- A vacation souvenir.
- A photograph.
- A tree or plant in your garden.
- Childhood toy.
- A family heirloom.
- An item from childhood that you could only play with or hold on special occasions.
- Holiday decorations.
- A religious or sacred item.
- A random item quickly selected from your shelf. It reminds you of -- ?
Working through negative emotions can often turn into your best and most enlightening journaling sessions. And who knows, it may also bring you to an entirely new perspective on both the object and the memories surrounding it.I find that aiming for at least 500-1000 words is a good goal for this exercise; it's enough to really sink into the subject. However, once you've written your piece, you might not want to keep absolutely all of it. You may want to grab your scissors and cut (or tear) out your best or most important lines, and then paste them into your drawing to create a collage. Another technique is to take those lines and turn them into a found poem--rearranging your thoughts and adding more lines as they occur to you. And if you'd prefer total privacy along with some instant artwork, stacked journaling is always an exciting approach to fully express yourself.Tip of the Day: Wherever you are right now, pick up the object nearest to you. How does it make you feel? Why is it in your life? Where's it from? What does it remind you of? It doesn't matter how small or insignificant the item is--just explore and write down your feelings. Use this as a practice session, although it could very well turn into just the right piece to add to your art journal.
- A detested item of clothing you were forced to wear, e.g., a school uniform or an unflattering bridesmaid dress.
- A gift you didn't want. But had to accept.
- A piece of clutter you want to get rid of, but can't.
- A broken appliance still hanging around.
- Housework tools: mops, brooms, sponges, buckets, ugh.
- Most disliked food.
- Something owned by a person who gets on your nerves.
- An item owned by that same person that you wish was yours (especially when you think they don't deserve it, LOL! Getting deep here....)
- Weeds or dead plants in your garden.
- Your worst photo--ever.
Doxie on the go
I was thinking the other day about how ideas come to us. It is always at the weirdest places and strangest times, isn't it?
Why do you think that is? Maybe is because we cant "force" our creative minds at times or perhaps is because there is so much stuff
on our minds from our daily lives (grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, paying bills, kids' after school activities, to do lists..) that all that noise
just doesn't let us hear our ideas clearly.
I started to do Yoga everyday now. It's been wonderful so far. One of the hardest things I've done, ever... but very rewarding. In Yoga, my teacher says at the end during relaxation time that we have to let the mind free of thoughts and to not let it wonder. She asks us to concentrate on all of our worked out and stretched muscles that are now relaxed and to go deep into our breathing. This is a lot more difficult that one could think, clearing the mind.
But I believe that doing yoga and doing what I call "auto pilot stuff", which are activities that you do without thinking that you are doing them, like driving, doing the dishes or walking your dog, can take you to the same creative place. I get most of my ideas while driving the kids to and from school. When I reach home I have no idea how the heck I got there, which if you think about it, is extremely worrisome, LOL! My mind just wonders far away. I can't help it.
I truly think this is good for us, specially if you are in the creative field. If you draw, paint or write it is vital to let your mind go. To not work so hard at accomplishing something but to instead, have faith that the answer will come to you if you are brave enough to let it go for a while. Maybe is just me but I really believe this is the way to go. :o)
Writers are often advised to write every day. In fact, we've discussed that issue here, when I brought up the points that writing every day means, presumably, generating more work, as well as encouraging flow and break-out experiences.
Personally, I have never been able to maintain a daily writing practice. On weekends, it's difficult for me to even maintain an exercise practice because of the extra people I need to and actually often even want to deal with, forget about getting away to write. And for many years now, I haven't been able to work five days a week during the workweek because of various family commitments.
Last week was not one of those weeks.
For reasons that are beside the point, I was able to work five days last week. I was here, anyway, for five days. I was home, working every day of the week. My guess is that this was the first time since 2009. Last summer I was often down to two days a week, and I'd been doing only three, at best, since the beginning of last December.
My week of work was somewhat disappointing. I didn't realize until last Thursday that last week was going to turn out the way it did, so I didn't have anything specific planned. I might have used last week as its own unit of time and planned something special to accomplish during it, if I had known it was coming up. On top of that, I had no electricity for nearly two hours on Wednesday, I wasn't feeling well late Wednesday afternoon and most of Thursday morning, and I lost another two hours on Friday to shoveling snow. By Friday evening, I was feeling I'd lost a great opportunity.
Then things started getting interesting on Saturday.
All I had time for that morning was a shortened stint on the treadmill where I tuned in to a panel discussion on MSNBC. But while walking and watching I came up with an idea I could use in the workshop presentation I'd been working on last week. On my way to visit an elder just a couple of hours later, I came up with some ideas for a response to an appearance request I'd received Friday afternoon. While talking with a family member on Sunday, I came up with still another idea I might be able to use in the workshop.
Three ideas in less than forty-eight hours when I wasn't working at all. (Well, I did run from the treadmill to the word processor to jot down that first bit for the workshop.) But I had been working previously. And I had been working what was for me a lot.
All those ideas could be described as break-out experiences, since they dealt with work I was already involved in, and break-out experiences are described in The Break-out Principle a method of maximizing creativity. I've had other experiences when managing to do even a little work on a weekend had a positive impact on the next week's work. And I've also had vacations when I've been able to do more journal work and found myself coming up with far more material than I usually do. And that would be new material, not solutions to problems, as with the break-out experiences.
On the subject of creativity, John Cleese has talked about the need for time to ponder and believes that taking more time to ponder leads to more creative work. I wasn't clear on how much time he was talking about or what kind of pondering. So what I'm wondering is, will just putting in more time on creative work, pondering one particular issue or not, lead to more creativity?
Does creativity lead to creativity?
I ended last week's post with the question "Does creativity lead to creativity?" I think it's a significant question (I would. I asked it.) because it relates to the whole writing every day issue. Writing every day does make it easier to stay in a project, as Sussman said in the article I quoted last year. It encourages break-out experiences, which are creative acts. But does doing creative work regularly actually make people more creative? Is it like working a muscle that gets stronger with use? Because if it does, then maybe those of us who aren't able to write every day really ought to be making a bigger effort to find time to do so.
Perhaps we should first consider what creativity actually is. Over the years, I've heard many people limit the term to the arts. Only writers, artists, and musicians could be creative. However, many people create things where a thing didn't exist before. And coming up with a solution to a specific problem when no solution existed before is a creative act. Evidently PBS did something on creativity and flow as part of series called This Emotional Life. That program's definition of creativity is "the ability to generate new ideas and new connections between ideas, and ways to solve problems in any field or realm of our lives."
But can we get better at generating new ideas and new connections between ideas by spending time generating new ideas and new connections between ideas? You can find lots of tip-type advice on how to become more creative--things along the lines of listen to classical music and don't watch TV. (Lots of people are down on TV as being a creative act, by the way, which is intriguing because the material on TV was created by somebody. Even programming that strikes us as uncreative, such as the multitude of real housewife programs and the twenty-somethingeth home design show, was created by somebody. We have to remember that the first creepy little girl beauty pageant show was a new idea. I'm not saying it was a good one. Also, the whole classical music is good and TV is bad thing is not a new idea. Not a creative suggestion, I would suggest.) But the closest thing I'm finding that might be said to address my question about time spent creating influencing creativity is the 10,000 hour rule popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers.
Gladwell wrote that it took 10,000 hours of work to achieve mastery in a field. (Some argue that he was talking about mastery at an extreme level, so most of us wouldn't need to practice quite that much.) Lisa Cron in Wired for Story refers to the late Herbert Simon's estimate that it takes 10 years to master a subject, by which point a person would have absorbed around 50,000 pieces of information. (Kind of makes you wish you'd started keeping track of all that learning, doesn't it?) But weren't both these people talking about skill and knowledge rather than creativity? Is there an impact of all that work on a person's ability to generate new ideas?
If you've been around here much, you will realize that I'm not done with this. But I've accepted that I will need to move on to a new time management topic next week while I'm continuing to obsess on this creativity business.
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Sara gave a fantastic keynote speech at the Winter 2010 SCBWI Conference in NYC. I hadn't taken a look at her website since but something flashed on the twitter feed and here we are...
Six episodes it (whilst working on my taxes last weekend) and I'm hooked. Great interviews and a nice insight into so many ways that people, write, draw, dance etc.. These are some fine, accomplished folk who are also real people.
Don't stop what you're doing, but put this on for some company in the studio. And thanks again nudging the creative muse: THIS CREATIVE LIFE