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Zen

The Zen of Abundant Creativity

Most of us think of an artist as a person who creates art, often as an occupation, whose creative work shows imagination and sensitivity. An artist has also been defined as a person who is skilled at some activity, such as a dancer, a musician, a singer, a skater, etc. My own definition of being an artist has come out of my own, lifelong experience of what happens to me when I’m in the process of creating – when the creative “flow” is unleashed. There is a unique phenomenon that occurs for me, and it is that I have the feeling and knowing that the creative force, the creativity itself, and even the skill, is coming down through the top of my head and out my hands. The first time I became consciously aware of this, and could put words to it, was when I was around eleven or twelve years old.

Once, when my stepson was eight, we were driving in the car and a jazz tune was playing that I was very familiar with. I was singing along, improvising with nonsense syllables, creating my own melody along with the music. My stepson, who is now a professional musician, suddenly began singing along with me in perfect harmony, out of the clear blue! I had never heard this child sing before, though he had been taking piano lessons for several years. The spontaneous, excellent demonstration of his creativity and musical ear told me that music was definitely his gift. He was absorbed only in the creating of the sound, without a thought.

I use both myself as a painter and my son as a musician as two examples of children who had been free of the mind, free of all thought and conceptualization, while in the inspired moment of creativity. The ability to create from this space has continued for both of us throughout our lives, which is true for many artists. Abundance, a concept generally understood via manifesting financial prosperity, is showing up throughout the universe in infinite ways; in nature, in human love and compassion, and in the creative force of life itself.

When I was teaching fine art to children and adults, it was the students who were listening to their minds who had difficulty being imaginative and who were hard on themselves. Those who allowed themselves to be free, who came to class with an open heart and a calm but playful attitude, enjoyed themselves completely and were able to tap into the creative flow without experiencing any stressful thoughts. The challenge of teaching art was not just about imparting technical knowledge, it was in showing each individual student, of every age, that he or she has access to this creative force simply by allowing oneself to rise above (not listen to) the mind and just let go. Every one of my students was able to do this, once it was pointed out.

It would seem that being able to allow the creative flow is an enlightened state. I was recently reading about Zen, a branch of Buddhism that developed in China during the sixth and seventh centuries. A central element of Zen meditation is to free the mind of all thought and conceptualization. Zen stresses the importance of the enlightenment experience and the futility of rational thought, intellectual study and religious ritual in attaining this.

And Boheme Magazine (“An Online Magazine of Arts, Literature and Subversion”) defines a true artist as “the revolutionary who participates with Divinity in the act of creation and the mechanics of human evolution. It is always an artist of some type – painter, writer, philosopher, teacher, scientist – who advances the enlightenment and progress of humanity.” I believe that every artist has been blessed with the ability to tap into the divine energy that already moves through us. It’s simply a matter of changing one’s perception of what creative abundance really is. The zen of being an artist is to simply let go of the mind and let the divine light of the Creator flow through.

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Experimenting with Fantasy Art

Who doesn’t enjoy traveling through worlds beyond our imagination? Fantasy is the opportunity to travel forward and backward in time and even to new universes. Wonderful imaginary creatures and humanesque beings can be the answer for subject matter if you have become bored with your art. Why not bring the fantastic into your work and give your imagination a chance to play in new realms? Experimentation is the key. In other words, be open to anything. You can combine animal types to create a new animal, combine human with animal, or combine several or even many creatures into one new one. To bring fantasy into your artistic bag of tools, it’s important to begin with the spirit of play, to be willing to be playful about coming up with ideas. One’s “style” of art created does not have to remain static; it can be changed continuously or periodically. Keep the excitement for your work by experimenting all the time! Keep your doors of perception open and have fun with it. Here is a website with examples of art by excellent fantasy artists for your enjoyment.

October 22, 2017 0 Comments
Creativity-Artistic Ability

Creativity and Artistic Ability

Creativity and artistic ability are two different subjects. Creativity is a natural gift that every living person is born with. Babies engage in creative play, children pretend they are princesses and super heroes, adults create meals in the kitchen and decide what clothes to put together for the day, etc. So being creative is a basic human quality.

When someone says something like, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body,” what they are really saying is that they don’t believe they have artistic talent. Some people are born with the artistic ability to make art without much thinking, some people stress out if they’re asked to make art, some people learn the how-tos and then their artistic skills improve.

The important thing to remember is that creativity is in you, no matter what you think. Creativity is in you no matter what degree of artistic ability you have. If you’re interested in learning how to draw or paint, make jewelry or do arts and crafts or write poetry, just know that you have already achieved the first step just by virtue of being a human – you have creativity.

To develop artistic ability, first is choosing what you’re interested in creating, and then finding someone who can teach you the basic steps. Developing artistic ability is like learning how to ride a bike, as cliche as that sounds, because at first it may seem difficult… but with practice it gets easy and natural. In truth, the creative challenge is really to surrender to the learning curve so your inborn creativity can find it’s expression.

June 13, 2016 0 Comments
Blog - Craftsman

Dimensions of Creativity

We humans are magnificent, creative beings that have a fundamental human urge to do something well – for its own sake – as part of our natural makeup. Doing something well includes increasing skillfulness and keeping our attention on what we’re doing rather than on ourselves. Whether a graphics artist, a physician, a musician, or even parents or politicians – each one immerses himself or herself in a “craftsman’s” effort. When we’re in the process of creating something or doing our best to accomplish something good in life, not only are we aware of the physical/material elements of what we’re doing, but we apply our individual ethics and values as we challenge ourselves with personal ideas about what good work really means.

Being skillful at something holds many dimensions, such as the mechanical technicalities we employ and the passionate energy that we require to do good quality work, be it creative arts, professional activities, or what involves our interest in daily living. To an unexpected extent, our personal craftsmanship leads us to a place where we can discover things about ourselves through our effort and intention for making things, creating accomplishments.

For people who enjoy creating art, we lose ourselves in the process; and that is the craftsmanship that becomes time-transcending and blissful and the outcome is not as important as the process, the doingness itself. Making the most of what we are doing, developing our skill for the love of it, is a natural energy and inherent in creativity.

September 23, 2015 0 Comments
Doodle

Doodling

I find doodling to be a creative outlet. When I doodle, I am drawing in an unfocused way with my attention occupied on other things. My doodles can be uncomplicated drawings with some meaning, they may be brainstorming, quickie designs for jewelry or paintings, or they may just be abstract or curly shapes. People like to doodle silly cartoons of people they know, famous comic book characters, made-up imaginary beings, geometric shapes, landscapes and flowers, textures and wandering patterns.

Growing up, I was called a daydreamer by my teachers; I used to doodle in my school notebooks and even the margins of my textbooks, mostly because I was not interested in class. To this day I doodle when I’m on long telephone conversations and when I’m in seminars.

I also keep journals and doodle in them. Then I go back in with acrylics or watercolors and paint them, which is a fun way to get myself to re-read my notes. Doodles can be a source of ideas for later drawings and paintings, so I keep a chunky file of doodles I’ve done that I liked, torn out of old notebooks or from other pages of notes and doodles.

July 27, 2014 3 Comments
Blog - Anything is Art

Art is Anything Creative, Passionate and Personal

Many people have told me that they always wanted to be an artist but that they don’t have any talent, that they don’t have it in their genes, they don’t have a creative bone in their body, etc. Once they actually sat down and received personalized instruction, these beliefs changed. I recently read in a blog that someone named Seth Godin said, ‘Art is anything that’s creative, passionate and personal.’ If you love to bake or crochet, if you love building fences and brick walkways in your garden, if you’re crazy for singing country and western oldies, these are creative, personal passions. So everyone is an artist of one ilk or another. Being an artist does not mean you can draw and paint like a master. It means you have a natural, creative life force within you that expresses itself in many ways; much of this energy is, of course, for survival. And when you are doing things you enjoy – sports, crafts, dog training, whatever – you are also expressing that creativity that every human being is born with.

August 22, 2013 0 Comments
Inner Creative Challenges

Inner Creative Challenges

In modern society, we are continually bombarded with standards of beauty and what is cool, and these standards are imposed by others. Artists coming out of various cultures not only express what’s inside, but there is also an influence that delicately affects us out of culture. This is where the intellect takes over. It is a reservoir of endless, inner commentary based on a lifetime of inflow! This can have a deep impact on creativity, sometimes causing us to be hard on ourselves, be critical of what we are making, make us feel stuck, etc., all of which I call “inner creative challenges.” I have a personal “bag of tricks” I use to help me overcome myself, and to stay in touch with my inner creative energy. Different things work for different people and each individual can find ways to inspire his/herself.

I cannot command my creativeness to appear, but I can influence it. Some examples are that I often keep a small sketchbook in my purse, I take photos with my phone of things I want to refer to later, I jot down notes of ideas that will probably slip my mind, I change what I have hanging on the walls, I have several projects going at the same time so I can get away from something I can’t be objective about, I work on my painting upside down, I make lists of unexpected things I could incorporate into a work, I take a class in something new, and I always try the opposite of what I would normally do in a drawing or painting (or in my jewelry designs).

Other things I do when those inner creative challenges arise are I’ll take a walk or a drive to get away from my project, then draw something while I’m out for a change of pace. Or I take 5 minutes to talk to myself in the mirror and encourage the one I see across from me. Sometimes I take ten to practice changing my thoughts – I sit quietly and then for every negative thought, I make up 25 positive thoughts. I’ll trace a drawing/painting I’m working on, transfer it to another paper/canvas, and start over in a completely different color palette or style. It’s all about being kind to myself and having fun. And I’ve discovered that whenever I’m too serious about my art, the inner creative challenges rear their ugly heads!

March 21, 2013 0 Comments
Private Art Lessons Santa Monica, CA

Creativity is a Friendly Energy Within

Creativity doesn’t strike like lightning. It’s seems instead a bit like a friendly energy arising within. And it is possible to create the right environment for it to thrive. Creativeness is not something that can be learned, however, anyone can become skilled at arranging conditions to promote the best opportunity for creative expression. For example, practiced artists surround themselves with a variety of supplies they enjoy using – charcoal, sketchbooks, paints, clay, etc. – and dedicate a space to create whenever the urge strikes them.

For beginners, you can start by clearing out a drawer or shelf to have a place to begin collecting items to make art with. Try browsing large art supply vendors online for good pricing, and visit local arts and crafts stores just to wander around and see what there is. Creativity in drawing and painting loves to have lots of supplies, colors, paper… whatever strikes your fancy!

If you feel stuck (no ideas or don’t like what you’re making), shake up your thinking patterns. Most important is to train yourself to play, and not be attached to the outcome. What you make is not the goal; allowing yourself to enjoy your creative energy and have fun, is. It’s about new possibilities, new perspectives. So just relax, play, experiment and enjoy the materials. That’s what creativity is all about.

March 8, 2013 0 Comments
Private Art Lessons Santa Monica

Art for Self Esteem

When children are given the opportunity for creative, open-ended play, the imagination is stimulated and they learn to think in new ways. New ideas form because in creative play they are free to see things in different ways. They begin to rearrange things and think outside of the box they normally live in. They fantasize and dream about things, and do whatever feels fun or interesting. They exercise their curiosity as well as their visual muscles.For as long as I’ve been teaching the visual arts of drawing, painting, and animating, I’ve seen children and adults develop faith in themselves, through self expression, because each one is seeing himself or herself as unique.  (Read my full article here.)

Adults are like children in their need to express their inherent creativity. Creating art makes people of all ages feel good, and happy people have more self-esteem. I’ve had many students, children and adults, whose self-esteem grew as they became more proficient in drawing and painting.

February 13, 2013 0 Comments