Monthly Archives: January 2010

Conscious Encounter

“Creativity is the encounter of the intensely conscious human being with his or her world.” Rollo May

“Art is the quality that makes the difference between merely witnessing or performing things and being touched by them, shaken by them, changed by the forces that are inherent in everything we give and receive.”

“The most characteristic trait of a genuine culture is the integration of concrete, everyday experiences with guiding philosophical ideas.” Rudolph Arnheim


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A New Yorker cartoon I keep at my desk: “If at first you don’t succeed, redefine success.”

On January 2nd, I resolved to write in this blog every day of 2010. But already I missed two days. So I re-resolve to make new entries almost every day and, on missed days, I’ll make up by copying entries from old or new journals, in which I still write and draw regularly.

Creativity is all about finding one’s rhythm. I’m not in sync yet with daily blogging, though I am now administering five blogs. I’m discovering that for me there can be “blog brain,” just as there is “painting brain,” “novel brain,” or was once upon a time “baby brain.” They are deep holes of concentration and joy into which I free fall or have free-fallen. I didn’t think blogging could be that way, but with Read to Write Books it is.

Blogging can also be about finding one’s voice. In this way, it is similar to other writing forms, published and unpublished. As a writer, I’m aware of who I think my audiences are: journal/sketchbook = me; letters = friends and family; writing for business and nonprofit clients = clients’ audiences; agent queries = my best guess based on web bios; novels = trusted readers, children’s books = children and adults who are delighted by illustrated stories. The blogsphere is different in that its universal accessibility leaves me less sure of who my readers are, though I’m sure there are few at this point. I hope that number grows over time as I find my rhythm for these posts On Creativity.


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Focus comes from internal prompts, not random external. Listen.

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I learned a new word today: Howdah. It’s a carriage or seat in which people ride on the back of an elephant. It’s not one I’ll use often, but wish I could! 

Not howdy. Howdah. I was at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco with my East Bay College Fund mentee, scholar Emely Srimoukda. There was an actual howdah exhibited, as well as howdahs pictured in art on the walls. You could yell howdy! from your howdah if you had one perched on top of your elephant as you swayed down the road.

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I keep a quote by Anonymous on my desk: “Art is the giving by each woman of her evidence to the world. Those who wish to give, love to give, discover the pleasure of giving. Those who give are tremendously strong.” Right next to it a fortune cookie keeper: “If you wish to, you will have an opportunity.”

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Creation and Destruction

Picasso said, “Every act of creation is an act of destruction.” I don’t think it works vice versa. A client I work with at OneCalifornia Bank in Oakland emailed me today to say that the bank had been vandalized and a front window broken. She wanted information about replacing the large decal of the logo that I had designed. I could easily direct her to that information, but I can’t easily understand the destructive action. The bank was founded by generous, good-hearted people to improve economic opportunity and benefit the Oakland community.

I like to round out these short entries, tie up loose ends, end with an “ah-ha,” but nothing rescues this one.

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Starting Small

A new acquaintance Dani Antman comes to visit my studio and take a walk. She’s wanting to set up a studio in her home and start painting again. I tell her about “starting small,” the way a teacher of mine at the Kansas City Art Institute, Michael Meyers, once suggested: “Do whatever you can finish in the amount of time you have, use whatever you have—your name in script, for instance.” In those days I was holding down several teaching jobs and came home tired every day. I began making one-inch square, colored pencil drawings from cursive shapes. They soon demanded more from me and I gave it; I drew, fueled by the work, while listening for hours to classical music every night. One-inch drawings became six-inch grids became two-feet layered plexiglas acrylic paintings that I exhibited in my first museum competition.  

This is what we can do for one another: inspire the starting small with the belief that deeper engagement will multiply our efforts many-fold.

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