Tuesday, January 31, 2012

7 Ways to Spark Your Creativity

7 Ways to Spark Your Creativity
Instant inspiration, courtesy of designer Anna Rabinowicz
From the February 2011 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
Anna Rabinowicz
Photo: William Abronowicz

1. Read Not a Box, by Antoinette Portis
A rabbit sits in a cardboard box and uses his imagination to transform it into a racecar, a mountain, a robot. The lesson? "Anything can be anything," Anna says.

2. Go outside
Nature informs most of Anna's designs: "A pinecone, a caterpillar, some gnarled gourds from a pumpkin patch—the natural world is full of bizarre, beautiful stuff."

3. Start a collection
Curating your own little exhibit of similar objects makes you more attuned to what's special about each one. "Try to figure out why the designers made the choices they did, and you'll get a peek into their creative process," Anna says. "I collect toothbrushes. They have to do something very specific—and it's not a very exciting something—but their simplicity is an opportunity for imaginative design."

4. Touch stuff
Everywhere Anna goes, she picks up objects she sees. "I get acquainted with a thing's thing-ness. I experience it with my hands, not just my eyes."

5. Travel solo
"Once in a while, go somewhere alone," says Anna. "It's much easier to experience everything around you and to cover lots of ground. I decided to be a designer at the top of the Antoni Gaudí cathedral in Barcelona, because I was so moved by the architecture." But you don't necessarily have to cross an ocean. "You can get inspired by traveling practically anywhere, as long as you're open to what you see."

6. Go analog
"Don't check your e-mail when you're creating," Anna says. "Nothing earth-shattering is going to happen in an hour or two."

7. Grab every opportunity
Hosting a group of friends? Make party favors. Received a gift? Write a handwritten note. "If you're having dinner at home tonight," Anna says, "why not make something you never made before?"

Unleash Your Creativity

* A day in the life of a creative renaissance woman
* You don't need to be an artist to have imagination
* Where do poets get their inspiration?

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Advice-to-Get-Creative-Designer-Anna-Rabinowicz#ixzz1l4X8E5UI

Thursday, January 26, 2012

6 Procrastination Busters

6 Procrastination Busters
January 26, 2012
By LJ Innes
Tips to Get Moving On

The one thing a perfectionist and a lazy person have in common is procrastination. The perfectionist always wants to do it perfectly or not at all, and the lazy person just keeps putting things off. Believe it or not, both types of thinking can lead to procrastination which can eventually lead to feelings of being over-burdened, overwhelmed and even agitated.

Thomas Jefferson said, “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” By putting things off, you may be buying time in the present, but it may leave you scrambling later when more things pop up.

Here are six procrastination busters that will get you moving when you need to so you can relax when you want to.

1. Do just one thing. Procrastination can give you that anxious feeling, that leaves you staring at your “to do” list like a deer in headlights. Do just one thing on that list, even if it’s the smallest, quickest, most inconsequential thing on it. Crossing it off the list will give you that empowering rush of accomplishment, making you want to do more.
“It’s all about distraction.” – Shyla ext. 5431

2. Skip the commercials. You may reward a hard day at work with a trip to the couch to catch up on all the latest TV has to offer, but what about those commercials? Use commercial time to empty the dishwasher, take out the garbage or throw a load of laundry in the washer. When your show resumes, you can plop yourself down again and relax, and you’re still getting stuff done.

3. Reward yourself. You and that chocolate chip cookie have been flirting with each other for hours. Bargain with yourself that you can eat that cookie, but only after you clean out your closet and box up some clothes for a local charity. After that, it’s all about you and the cookie. Enjoy.

4. Turn up the tunes. As Madonna would say, “Dance and sing, everybody get up and do your thing.” Put on some loud music, something with a little kick to it that makes you move. No one has to know you danced with a vacuum. Two for one bonus: In a short 20 minutes, you can cross vacuuming and cardio workout off of that to do list.

5. Imaginary company. Pretend your new boyfriend just called from his car, down the street, and he’s got a friend with him. You’d be surprised what a motivator imaginary company can be. Plus, if real company shows up unexpectedly, you’re prepared.
“Guilt is living in the past, anxiety is living in the future; live in the present.” – Blythe ext. 5339

6. Clear your head. Moving at a snail’s pace? Can’t get motivated? When procrastination settles in, just go outside and take a short walk or drive, breathe in fresh air. Doing something as simple as getting out of your own head for a while can beat down that procrastination monster. Wipe the slate clean, and see all of your obligations in their true perspective and priority.

Whether at work or at home, it’s worth it to try one or all of these 6 suggestions. Nothing feels better than getting things done.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Robert Genn talks about the importance of journaling

My little black book

January 6, 2012

Dear Sherrie,

Like many artists, I've gone through periods of writing down fleeting thoughts in a little journal. Some of the entries are pretty personal--which I'll tell you about later.

Right now we have a worldwide viral epidemic of "gratitude journaling." This is where folks put down a few nice things that happened during the day. A lot of the good stuff takes place under the covers at bedtime, and is not meant to be shared. As my daughter Sara says, "It's not a journal, it's a brain exercise." Fact is, there's considerable evidence it makes us into better people, maybe better artists.

Sara just closed out last year's Moleskine and started this year's. The Italian company that makes these beautiful books with ribbon bookmarks, elastic closures and acid free paper follows a tradition started in Paris about 1850 by a small stationery company that allegedly supplied Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, Oscar Wilde, and Henri Matisse. The celebrated Australian traveller and Songlines author Bruce Chatwin used the little books so voraciously that in 1986 he bought up all copies then available.

These books are more than journals. They're a way of life--key, says the Moleskine promo, to "culture, imagination, memory, travel and personal identity."

Understanding that we become what we think, advanced Moleskiners avoid three main negatives--nostalgic regret, adherence to outcome, and fearful anticipation. These sorts of thoughts, common to all humanity, are banned from the tiny pages. Proper Moleskiners stick to a positive, optimistic outlook.

I find mentioning things that no one else must know about, even if I have to erase it right after, to be particularly valuable. For example, last night I wrote, "Three square inches in the lower left centre of that 11" x 14" are rather excellent." But I wouldn't want this sort of flagrant boasting to get around. Keep it under your bonnet, eh? And even though I erased it right after, I wouldn't want my journal and all that positive erased info getting into the wrong hands.

Best regards,


PS: "To lose a passport was the least of one's worries. To lose a Moleskine notebook was a catastrophe." (Bruce Chatwin)

Esoterica: Painter Nicoletta Baumeister uses her journal for another purpose: "A poem, haiku or a small drawing at night has the effect of driving all other thoughts away. The narrowed focus and purity of intent creates a sense of calm after a day of supersaturated activity. It also affords feelings of satisfaction, job well done, if only in the tiniest work, so that I slip seamlessly into excellent sleep. Too many people out there have insomnia!" Baumeister does it again in the morning: "Gratefulness thoughts in the morning light are about the setting of the daily lens. What will we take in, what will we seek and what is today's sense of self? Feeling grateful puts my feet on solid ground, able to work out the next step; whereas, asking what I don't have sets my day on a frantic course."

Go here to see more of Genn's posts: http://clicks.robertgenn.com/love-anger.php

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A gift of words from SFWC Director and Founder Michael Larsen

Now a gift of words from SFWC Director and Founder Michael Larsen...

A Holiday Wish List for Perfect Days
If your days were perfect, what would they be like? They might include

* waking in early morning light next to your beloved, passionate about pursuing your missions
* living as if every day were your last
* spending time with a family that is a source of love, renewal, encouragement, and wisdom
* having a home filled with love, light, color, art, books, and music that enlightens, entertains, and inspires everyone who enters it
* sharing simple, varied, beautiful, colorful, delicious, nutritious locally produced food
* filling the day with challenges that inspire your creativity
* loving what you do so much you don't notice the time
* learning about what excites you and you need to know
* striving to improve whatever you do
* seeing the value of people, information, and experiences to give them the attention they deserve
* staying informed about what's important
* transforming anger about problems into action
* laughing and making others laugh
* balancing desire and necessity; thought and feeling; serving others and yourself; screen time and the rest of your life; work, home, and leisure; planning, flexibility, and spontaneity
* putting short-term goals in the service of long-term achievements with enduring value
* having patience with yourself, others, and life's problems and obstacles
* being debt-free, meeting your obligations, and saving for the future you've planned
* exercising your mind and body
* renewing your sense of wonder at the beauty and grandeur of nature
* understanding your significance in 100 billion galaxies
* having a spiritual practice that brings you peace of mind
* celebrating your achievements
* expressing gratitude through giving and service
* making love as if it were the first time
* ending your day knowing you've done all you can as well as you can
* uninterrupted sleep that begins the moment you snuggle your beloved

We hope your days will be as close to perfect as you can make them during the holidays and the new year. Please feel free to share the list. I hope it inspires you and the people you love to make your own lists and share them. The list will always be a work in progress, and I'd like to learn from yours.
Happy Holidays!
Mike Larsen
Michael Larsen-Elizabeth Pomada Literary Agents
Larsenpoma@aol.com / www.larsenpomada.com

"Love and anger" by Robert Genn

Love and anger
January 3, 2012

Dear Sherrie,

During the past year, Canada's Leader of the Opposition, Jack Layton, died of cancer at the age of 61. In his final message Jack said, "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world."

These words resonated across our country. It has always struck me that both love and anger are two of the main motivators in the making of art. Both emotions can work equally well. It's just that love is so much the more pleasant of the two.

Discouraged early on by economic conditions, disabilities, contrarian parents, peer pressure, teachers or others, a few artists are able to fight the uphill battle to overcome or at least channel their anger. Daily they are driven to "show the world."

Other creatives take a more gentle, loving path. It can be a love of some particular someone, a family, a principle, a passion or a charity. It can be that peculiar and miraculous state of simply doing something for the love of it. Each work we produce is our very own baby brought into the world for a span that may extend beyond ours. It's been my observation that these main brands of working love can be bound together into a wholesome bundle where tangible, finished work is key to hope, optimism and a sense of well-being. "Work," said Kahlil Gibran, "is love made visible."

The finding of love within our work unlocks the studio and prompts the actions of hand and mind. The extraordinary prevails and even ordinary and well-trodden subject matter can be freshly explored and rejuvenated. One might even be blessed with the aura of popular greatness. "He alone is great," said Gibran, "who turns the voice of the wind into a song made sweeter by his own loving."

In my last letter of the old year I mentioned the gentle productive hum of studios. Between the turning on and the turning off of the lights there's a span of privilege. Held steady by the gentle hand of love, we begin, we keep going, and we sign off. There may not be a higher calling.

Best regards,

PS: "In the arts, as in life, everything is possible provided it is based on love." (Marc Chagall)

Esoterica: One of the great features of studio life is the capacity for renewal. Daily love manifests itself and is a fairly reliable prod. Some projects can be measured in no time at all. Sometimes three or four projects can be performed and completed in a single day. Other projects progress over days or weeks, dependent on the uncanny sleep-work that lies between. "Love does not just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new." (Ursula K. LeGuin)

Current Clickback: "Occupy art studio" talks of the co-dependent nature of the artist and his studio. Your further input will be appreciated.