Friday, December 28, 2007

Top 10 Creative Cures

To wrap up 2007, I've compiled the top 10 creative cures posted during the last year. Try one today!
  • Creativity Cure 1: Take small breaks. More...
  • Creativity Cure 2: Keep a daily passion log. More...
  • Creativity Cure 3: Stop living up to the standards of other people's ideas about creativity. More...
  • Creativity Cure 4: Dedicate a space to creativity. More...
  • Creativity Cure 5: Notice the details of your life. More...
  • Creativity Cure 6: Make inspiration cards. More...
  • Creativity Cure 7: Take some time and write a history of your creativity. More...
  • Creativity Cure 8: Work on more than one project at a time. More...
  • Creativity Cure 9: Take a field trip. More...
  • Creativity Cure 10: Start an inspiration wall. More...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Creativity Cure 11

  • Take a walk. With each step let your mind clear then refill it with new ideas. Observe the insights that occur.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

It's Our Blogaversary!

(Image Graciously Provided by KAR)

Today is Dose of CREATIVITY's first birthday. I am happy to celebrate with all of my devoted readers, who have been super supportive these past 12 months.

To keep providing you with the content you crave, I've created a short (it's less than 15 questions!) survey to help improve this blog in the upcoming year.

As a 'thank you' for completing the survey, I'll email you a copy of Dose of CREATVITY's Top 10 Creative Cures, including a never before posted bonus one.

  • The survey is now closed. Please email me comments and suggestions. I look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Creative Visualization

“I shut my eyes in order to see.” - - - Paul Gauguin
  • Try a creativity inducing visualization here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Group Genius

Do you believe becoming a creative genius is an isolated and individual process? Most people would agree with you but not Keith Sawyer. In Group Genius: the Creative Power of Collaboration he dispels this myth by using improv and jazz as successful examples of group creativity. In both processes, a small spark is created when group members interact with one another by building on previous sparks.

Sawyer goes into more depth about these sparks, even explaining that they occur in all stages of the collaborative creative process:
  1. Preparation
  2. Time off
  3. The spark
  4. Selection
  5. Elaboration

What makes this different from most theories of group creativity is that you don't have to participate in a traditional brainstorming session to get results. In fact, the most fascinating part of the book is when Sawyer debunks the myths of Morse, Edison and Darwin as individual geniuses. Instead, he explains how they developed their ideas during years of exploration, outside influences, and previous inventions.

This theory appeals to what I've always believed about creativity and that is that you can't create in a bubble. You need to embrace random experiences and diverse opinions and blend them with your personal style.

  • Who has shaped your creative spark?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Creative Process

I recently finished a creative project for a friend and presented it to her last weekend. Letting go of this creation was difficult, as I'd spent the last several weeks working on it.

This all got me to thinking about the creative process and how each of us has our own style for completing projects.

Typically, the creative process is defined as follows:

  1. Preparation (defining what you will create, researching and studying possibilities)

  2. Incubation (stepping away from your project and letting your mind rest)

  3. Illumination (when the idea explosion occurs)

  4. Verification (testing the final product)
But like so many prescriptions for creativity, there is no set way that the process must flow. Some of us may spend all of our time on the preparation while others may still be waiting for illumination.
  • What's your creative process?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Creativity Cure 10

  • Start an inspiration wall. Whenever you see something that strikes you, from a quote to a scenic view or even a new product, put it up on a bulletin board. Before you know it you will have an entire collection of inspiration.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

More New Collage

Here are more collages from my recent series. This one is my favorite, so far. The background turned out really well. And the rooster juxtaposed on the chair creates a dreamy quality.

This one has an interesting linear background and the best quote I think so far, "the future has arrived."

  • If you created an art series, what would be the theme?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Are You the Office Flake?

This is the question posed in an article about creatives in the workplace. But are all creative people flaky? The article assumes that if you excelled in the arts as a student then you must not be able to prioritize or meet deadlines as an adult, ultimately hurting your career and future success.

On the flip side, this post from Applied Imagination points to research that those who studied music while growing up were more likely to pursue advanced degrees and even succeed as college presidents and CEOs. That doesn't sound flaky to me.
  • What do you think?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cardinals = Creativity

Did you know cardinals represent creativity? They are associated with the guiding forces of expression and intuition. Think about this the next time one crosses your path. It may be time to invest in a creative project.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Writer's Quote

“Develop your interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music – the world is so rich, simply throbbing with richer treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.” - - - Henry Miller

  • How can you forget yourself to enhance your creativity?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Akron Recap

I finally made the short trek down to Akron to check out the new art museum. Although I was eagerly anticipating seeing the building, I left with a sense of indifference about the architecture and visitor accessibility. From the exterior, the structure reminded me of a combination of the Wexner Center in Columbus, where I was a tour guide and graduate intern and the Peter B. Lewis building in Cleveland. But unlike those buildings, I don't think it makes a grand statement, possibly because of it's tonal appearance. There's an over abundance of metal and glass.

That leads me to the interior, which comes across as stark and difficult to navigate. The design is meant to foster community spirit but for me it came off as cold and impersonal. It further frustrated me that there was a lack of signage for locating the actual gallery space. Once inside the galleries, there were signs next to nearly every painting discouraging touching the works and explaining why. As someone, who worked in museums, specifically managing visitor services, I felt they were condescending, considering museums with much better collections don't even have to reinforce this at every turn.

My final grievance with visitor services was their overzealous staff. I had never been followed so aggressively in an art museum, even at the National Gallery of Art, where I've wandered through gallery after gallery without being followed like a shoplifter.

(Image Courtesy of KAR)

On a much lighter note, my visit to Stan Hywet was delightful. Some of my favorite highlights were the scarecrows (see above image). Unlike traditional scarecrows, these were colorful and whimsical often incorporating architectural and decorative arts elements. It was an interesting contrast between the old and the new and very refreshing.

  • What can you create that is a new take on something old?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Creativity Cure 9

  • Take a field trip. It doesn’t have to be an exotic locale. It could be to an ethnic food market or restaurant you’ve never been to. See what insights you discover about yourself and your creative projects. Leaving your comfort zone, even for a short time can induce new ideas and perspectives. For sites out of the ordinary, check out Roadside America.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Happy Day of the Dead

Today marks the second day of Día de los Muertos, also known as Day of the Dead, a primarily Mexican celebration of the deceased.

Learn more about the symbolism and artistry of the offerings made to the spirits of dead friends and relatives from visual artist Joe Polevoi.
When: Sunday, November 4 at 2:00 pm

Where: Lakewood Public Library, Main Library Auditorium
  • See you there!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Creativity is.....


Being creative is something you work at every day, not just when you feel like it. The true rewards of creativity and bringing something new into existence occur only after you have put in a daily practice of work.

Every morning, for the last several months, I have noticed a spider web attached to the driver's side mirror of my car. The first day I simply swatted it away. But then, to my surprise, it appeared again the next day. I decided to leave it, but with driving and the occasional rain storm or car wash, it eventually falls off. The most amazing thing though is that every morning it is there again. I've come to the conclusion that this is one determined spider. Despite losing it's creation on almost a daily basis, each night this spider spins another web. True creative inspiration.
  • What obstacles do you overcome to create?

Monday, October 29, 2007

How Companies Can Encourage Innovation

The debate over creativity in the workplace continues in this article. Workers complain that they don't have opportunities to express themselves, companies pay lip service to creativity, and consultants believe it is what a company needs to survive.
  • Which category do you fall into?

Friday, October 26, 2007

New Collage

I realize it has been awhile since I've posted images of my work. But now that I am in creative mode this morning, I thought I'd share some recent pieces.

Here is one I completed as part of a series of small works (postcard size) using fashion and design imagery. I've juxtaposed this with themes of time and memory on a colorful and textured background.

  • More to come.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Creativity Cure 8

  • Are you working on more than one project at a time? Well, you should be! Inspiration comes in various forms and maybe one of your projects will create a new a-ha in another project. Try it!

Friday, October 19, 2007


Earlier this week I had the opportunity to check out the latest exhibition at the Heights Arts Gallery. Layers features 11 artists who work in collage and exploit this medium in interesting ways.

(Image Courtesy of Heights Arts)

Some of my favorite pieces in the show were created by Karin Bartimole. Her collaged books are like mini sculptures. Don't you agree?

(Image Courtesy of Karin Bartimole)
  • Check it out before it closes on October 27.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Creative Problem Solving

After reading Jack's Notebook, I've become more interested in creative problem solving (CPS). It's definitely a tool worth checking out for solving problems in both life and work with many applications.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Competition for Young Inventors

Do you know a creative and innovative student in grades 5 -8? Sealed Air and the National Museum of Education are challenging young inventors to find a new use for Bubble Wrap. Entries are due by November 1 and the grand prize is $10,000.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Is Creativity Killing the Culture?

That's the question Michael Fallon asks in his article How Creativity is Killing the Culture. Fallon explores the relationship between the rise of do it yourself creativity and what he believes is the watering down of culture. Explaining that as interest increases in YouTube and crafting, audiences for "good art" and "real creativity" decline.
  • Thoughts?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Artist Quotes

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

- - - Pablo Picasso
  • Learn more about arts advocacy here.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Creativity Cure 7

  • Take some time and write a history of your creativity. Think back as far as you can. Did you write a song as a child, draw a picture or just come up with a great new way of doing something?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Wild New Museums

(Akron Art Museum)

As museum budgets and staffs get smaller, their buildings surprisingly expand. Usually designed by cutting edge architects, they are an to attempt to lure visitors through unique design. Unfortunately, it seems like they are all looking the same; glass and steel structures twisted in contorted shapes. Where is the creativity?

Later this month, I'll be visiting the new Akron Art Museum. Stay tuned for my review.
  • Check out more new museums here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Jack's Notebook

A friend, who attended a workshop led by Gregg Fraley, lent me a copy of Jack's Notebook. I admit I was a little skeptical about the concept: a business novel about creative problem solving (CPS). After reading countless books on creativity, most of them boring or redundant, I was ready for something new.

Jack's Notebook was just the book I'd been looking for. A cross between Way of the Peaceful Warrior and The Da Vinci Code, it tells the story of Jack, an aimless young man, who meets Manny, a mentor, who teaches him creative problem solving (CPS) which he uses to change the direction of his life.

Fraley outlines the steps of CPS in the introduction:

1. Identify the challenge
2. Facts and feelings exploration
3. Problem framing and reframing
4. Idea generation
5. Solution development
6. Action planning

Then, he goes on to incorporate them into Jack's decision making, which ultimately leads to him starting his own business - among other thrilling adventures.
  • What can you achieve using creative problem solving (CPS)?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Creativity Cure 6

  • Make inspiration cards. Buy a stack of plain note cards and whenever an idea or inspiration strikes, write it down. At the end each day look over your cards and see if there are any patterns or paths you should take with your creativity.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Color in Motion

You'll never look at color in the same way after viewing this interactive site that presents an entertaining lesson in color symbolism. It will inspire the way you create.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Cleveland Goes Modern

(Image Courtesy of Cleveland Artists Foundation)

Interested in learning more about Modernism in Cleveland?

What: A conversation on the history of the "aesthetic" of Modernism

Where: Cleveland Artists Foundation, at the Beck Center for the Arts

When: Thu, Sep 20: 6-8 pm

Free and open to the public
  • See you there!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Art Bar

(Image Courtesy of Ithaca Fine Chocolates)

What do you get when you combine two of my favorite things: art and chocolate? Art Bars. Created by Ithaca Fine Chocolates, Art Bars contain fair-trade certified organic chocolate and a collectible card featuring an art reproduction. Plus a portion of the profits support art education. Brilliant!
  • Find out where to buy them here.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Creativity Cure 5

  • Notice the details of your life. Most of the time we are running through life on auto-pilot. Slow down and appreciate your surroundings. See if anything makes you think a little differently or inspires you.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Berea Arts Fest

(Image Courtesy of Berea Arts Fest)

For those of you in the Cleveland area this weekend, the Berea Arts Fest returns. I missed the Fest last year because I was in LA, so I am looking forward to experiencing it for the first time this Sunday.

Unlike other area arts festivals that simply display work by professional artists, the Berea Arts Fest focuses on promoting involvement in the arts and includes art by students and visually impaired artists as well.

You can also participate in a community art project or make something in the family art area. It sounds like a great opportunity for both adults and kids to explore their creativity.

  • See you there! Sunday, September 9 from 10 AM - 5 PM.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Design Across America

Looking for a design event? class? exhibition? fair?

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum wants to help you find one. The New York based museum has launched an interactive online calendar of design events. You can even add your own event.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Do High Ceilings Increase Creativity?

According to research out of the University of Minnesota, people in rooms with 10 foot high ceilings were found to have more abstract thoughts than those, who focused more on specific details, in 8 foot high ceiling rooms.

So does this mean people who think outdoors are the most creative because the sky is their ceiling? Just curious.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Creativity Cure 4

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Guerilla Art Kit

After promoting Keri Smith's guerilla art techniques, I discovered that she now has a full length book on the topic. Hurrah!

It covers everything from what is guerilla art to what to be aware of when creating art in public spaces and exercises and templates to fuel your creativity. I love how she describes that you don't have to be able to draw or paint to be a guerilla artist; you just need to care about something and want to express yourself.

She describes 3 ways to approach guerilla art:
  1. beautifying - altering your surroundings
  2. questioning - using your voice, challenging the status quo
  3. interacting - with the environment or people
As a public art enthusiast, I appreciate that the exercises are easy to follow and most importantly create a community connection. From guerilla gardening (she shows you how to make a seed bomb to throw in vacant lots) to chalk quotes and book leave-behinds, Smith will get you thinking about your own environment and questioning how you can change it for the better. There's even a list for you to find solutions and create your own guerrila art projects.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Icons of American Photography

If you haven't visited the Cleveland Museum of Art's exhibition covering a century of photography, there is still time. Icons of American Photography is a well researched and even more so visually stimulating exhibition.

  • Check it out before it closes on September 16.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Try the Scribbler

Create a simple sketch, then click on the Scribbler and watch it transform into a more complex drawing. You can even add color.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

More Collage

(note the collage is not crooked but the image is due to my lack of camera skills)

Here is another one I created at the CVAC workshop. This one includes tiny seashells and an old belt.

  • For inspiration, check out this museum devoted to collage.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Changing the World Through Design

This is an impressive goal, but a creative non-profit is trying. Nest, based in St. Louis, was founded to support women artisans in developing countries. It does this by selling products, including clothing, accessories and home goods by an exclusive group of designers. The profits from these sales are used to create micro-loans offered to international artisans, who in turn sell their goods on the nest website. It's a creative approach to supporting global communities.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Creativity Cure 3

  • Stop living up to the standards of other people's ideas about creativity. Everyone’s innate sense of creativity is unique. It’s that quality that allows us all to continually shape our lives. For one day, suspend all judgment, including your own.

Sunday, August 5, 2007


I am thrilled to announce my participation in the Second Annual Back to School Family Rally.

My workshop How a Dose of Creativity Can Reduce Stress, Boost Self-Esteem, and Increase Success will be held from 12:30 pm - 1:15 pm. This interactive parent seminar will dispel the myths of creativity, highlight the benefits and provide tools to encourage your child's imagination.

For instance, did you know that participating in the arts, even badly is a whole body activity that promotes a mind, body and spirit connection? Making art and engaging in creative activities involves the whole self, both logical and emotional. Tension is released when you get into the flow of your creative passion. Plus our self-esteem is boosted after we successfully finish a creative project. All of this helps us to succeed in life and work.

  • Find out more on Saturday, August 11!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Lakewood Arts Festival

Art festivals are a staple of summer in Northeastern Ohio. Normally, the endless jewelery and photography booths bore me and don't even get me started on all the pottery! But Lakewood's festival usually contains a few creative surprises and even some interesting artists.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Creative Thinking

A specific type of creative thinking involves using images. Since most of us are visual learners by nature, and frankly can't escape not being so in our society, thinking in images is a natural progression to creativity.

  • That's the point of this fun tutorial on creative thinking.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Creativity Cure 2

  • Keep a daily passion log. What makes your heart race? What causes you to lose track of time? Take note of these, for at least a month or longer. It will give you great insights on which creative projects to pursue.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Slightly Askew in Cleveland

(Image Courtesy of Slightly Askew)

Because I am an advocate for using the skills you learn developing personal creativity to improve your community, I was excited to learn about Slightly Askew coming to Cleveland.

Slightly Askew is an experimental group from NYC, with a local connection, that combines art, education, performance and culture. They have landed in Birdtown, a part of Lakewood that I have family ties to. While in the neighborhood, they are working with local residents and teens to create a video project documenting the history of this unique neighborhood. In exchange, the teens are learning skills and gaining knowledge about other cultures and history.
  • How can you use your creativity to build community connections?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Creativity Quote

“What moves men of genius, or rather what inspires their work, is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough.”

- - - Eugene Delacroix

  • What are you creating that says more than what's already out there?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Susan Danko

(Image Courtesy of the Bonfoey Gallery)

During a recent day trip up to the Lake Erie Islands, I stumbled upon a small gallery. At first writing off the shop as another touristy art trap, I was pleasantly proved wrong, when I discovered some small works by Ohio artist Susan Danko.

They were constructed like reverse shadow boxes with the painting on the back of the box providing a hollowed surface to hang the works easier. The dreamy landscapes were layered with vivid colors and lines, which reminded me of contemporary designs.
  • Check out her paper installation. Doesn't it remind you of a giant collage made from fragments of her paintings?

Monday, July 9, 2007

Creativity Cure 1

Take small breaks. Whenever I am working on something creative, I only work as long as I am in flow. When I become blocked, I switch tasks, even if it's to get up and get a glass of water or check a website. This allows my brain to rest and incubate ideas. Then I come back to the project and work some more and the cycle continues till I complete it.

  • Find your own techniques by, well, being creative. How do you finish a creative task?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Pantone Fall Color Report

While everyone else is thinking red, white and blue today, Pantone, a leading authority on color, is thinking fall with the release of their latest color report.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Creativity Cures

Soon, we begin a new bi-monthly feature on Dose of CREATIVITY called creativity cures. My goal is to provide one small dose based on my own experience that will help you develop or enhance your creative thinking ability. While there is no formula for sparking creativity, there are small things that can help shift your perspective. Some may work for you and some may not. The purpose is to get you to try something different. Creativity starts with an open mind and an exposure to a wide range of ideas.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

USA: United States Artists

(Courtesy of United States Artists and the Urban Institute)
I think this graph says a lot about how we view the arts in this country. From this statistic, USA, United States Artists was created to support artists. Their goal is to inspire innovation at its source by investing in artists. Last year, they awarded grants to 50 artists totalling $2.5 million. The organization is funded by foundations, arts patrons and corporations and awards $50,000 grants in the following disciplines: Architecture & Design, Crafts & Traditional Arts, Dance, Literature, Media Arts, Music, Theater Arts and Visual Arts.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Wack! Art and the Feminist Revolution

(Image Courtesy of MOCA LA)

Ok, to say that I am a bit obsessed with the feminist art movement is an understatement. I spent over 6 years in undergrad and grad school doing research on it. So when this exhibition debuted earlier this year, I was ecstatic. The feminist art movement transformed the landscape of the art world in the latter half of the 20th C. It opened up new dialogues about what it means to be a woman artist and has paved the way for the artists of today.

  • If you've seen the exhibition in LA, please let me know what you thought, since I won't be making it out there. Thanks!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Online Magnetic Poetry

If you've ever played magnetic poetry on your refrigerator, then you will love the online version. It's a great way to jump start creative thinking when you are blocked.
  • Try the artist version or any of the others for inspiration.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Chinese Holiday

My collage, Chinese Holiday, will be featured in the National Collage Society's Postcard Exhibition at the Art Dialogue Gallery in Buffalo, NY.
  • Check out the exhibition if you are in western New York. It will be up till July 13.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Creativity Portal

I'm happy to now be a part of the Creativity Portal. If you haven't been there, I'd recommend a visit to explore all things creative.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


After working on the pieces for my mail art class I became inspired and took a collage class at the Cuyahoga Valley Art Center to further explore this fascinating art form. Here is an example of what I created.
  • Try creating your own collage using found objects.

Monday, June 4, 2007

China's Creative Class

Hoping to transform the country from a manufacturing hub, the Chinese embrace creativity.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Summer Season Opens at MOCA

MOCA Cleveland opens their summer season with 3 widely diverse exhibitions:

OPEN: New Designs for Public Space and Expanding the Circle / Uptown Launch Pad explores innovative architecture and planning for the 21st century, including the ideas for MOCA's expansion and the newly branded Uptown District in University Circle. I'd already seen OPEN at the National Building Museum, when it was there a couple of years ago. Although I am big fan of reinventing contemporary public space, the exhibition reads like a textbook slapped up on a wall. If you have the patience and time, it's really a worthwhile exhibition though.

Olga Ziemska: Mirror Matter promises a feast for the eyes. Her installation combines little pieces to create large intallations that echo one another while trying to make what is unseen seen in an inter-connected world. Truly a treat!

Anthony Caro: Wending Back is another installation by the Cleveland Museum of Art, as a way to keep their presence in the community, while construction on their building continues.

  • The official opening is Friday, June 1 from 7-10 pm. Preceding the opening is a panel discussion on public space at 5:30 pm.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pop-Shop Gallery

Last weekend, I went to a fun gallery event in Lakewood. The Pop-Shop celebrated their two-year anniversary - a big event for a Cleveland-area gallery. It was my first time there, so I was pleasantly surprised by the turn out. People in Cleveland really do like art, after all.

While there, I met Phoebe Marie, a collage artist. Her work was featured in the show and is delightfully whimsical.
  • Check out more of her work here and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Do You Love Design?

I would suspect that most people don't even notice the many design elements that surround them on a daily basis. Training your eye to look at design is an easy way to enhance your creativity. Now, more than ever, we are exposed to more choices in our lives.

Think about it the next time you are out shopping. Try to figure out what draws you into specific stores and what makes you buy. It's probably the design.
  • Check out design*sponge for more examples of contemporary design.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Top This TV Challenge

Are you noticing a trend here? Companies encouraging and even promoting creative expression. First, there was the Wheat Thins contest honoring women artists, and now Heinz is promoting an interactive contest inspired by their ketchup.

The Top This TV challenge by Heinz is another fun contest to exercise your creativity. Create a commercial for the famous ketchup and get paid $57,000. Commercials will appear on YouTube then the finalists will be voted on by you.
  • Check out contest rules here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

More on Ten Zen Seconds

How can people learn more about Ten Zen Seconds?

EM: The book is the best resource. You can get it at Amazon. Or you can ask for it at your local bookstore. The Ten Zen Seconds website is also an excellent resource: in addition to the slide show that I mentioned, there is a bulletin board where folks can chat, audio interviews that I’ve done discussing the Ten Zen Second techniques, and more. It’s also quite a gorgeous site, so you may want to visit it just for the aesthetic experience! I would also recommend that folks check out my main site,,/ especially if they’re interested in creativity coaching or the artist’s life.

What else are you up to?

EM: Plenty! I have a new book out called Creativity for Life, which is roughly my fifteenth book in the creativity field and which people seem to like a lot. I also have a third new book out, in addition to Ten Zen Seconds and Creativity for Life, called Everyday You, which is a beautiful coffee table book about maintaining daily mindfulness. I’m working on two books for 2008, one called A Writer’s Space and a second called Creative Recovery, about using your innate creativity to help in recovering from addiction. And I’m keep up with the many other things I do: my monthly column for ArtCalendar Magazine, my regular segment for Art of the Song Creativity Radio, the trainings that I offer in creativity coaching, and my work with individual clients. I am happily busy! But my main focus for the year is on getting the word out about Ten Zen Seconds, because I really believe that it’s something special.

  • Eric, thanks for taking the time to chat!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Blogtour Chat with Eric Maisel

I am excited to have Eric Maisel, as my special guest today. He will be answering questions about the relationship between Ten Zen Seconds and the creative process:

Can you use the incantations and this method for any special purposes?

EM: As I mentioned, folks are coming up with all kinds of special uses. One that I especially like is the idea of “book-ending” a period of work, say your morning writing stint or painting stint, by using “I am completely stopping” to ready yourself, center yourself, and stop your mind chatter,and then using “I return with strength” when you’re done so that you return to “the rest of life” with energy and power. Usually we aren’t this mindful in demarcating our activities—and life feels very different when we do.

How do the incantations support the the creative process?

EM: Primarily by reminding a creative person that potential is just potential and that if you don’t completely stop, quiet your mind, announce your intention to create, feel equal to the upcoming challenge, take actual action in the service of your creating, and adopt the stance of a meaning-maker, someone who knows that she has a voice and that what she is about to say potentially matters, she will do precious little creating. Each of the incantations supports a piece of this “stopping and doing the work” process.

How would you address those that say centering is counterproductive to the creative process?

EM: There is a tremendous amount of “artist mythology” out there. Productive artists do a ton of work, they don’t wait for inspiration, and because they want to work for hours on end they have to master their inclination to run from the work when it becomes difficult, which it will at some point every day. It takes a centered presence to stay put like that, diving into the darkness of mystery and returning with poems, paintings, and symphonies, not an anxious, scattered presence. I would say that it is almost completely a piece of unfortunate mythology that centering harms artists—when they aren’t centered, they typically fall apart, grow depressed and self-destructive, and do poorer work.

Is there a way to experience this process in 'real time'?

EM: By trying it out! But my web master Ron Wheatley has also designed a slide show at the Ten Zen Seconds site ( that you can use to learn and experience the incantations. The slides that name the twelve incantations are beautiful images provided by the painter Ruth Yasharpour and each slide stays in place for ten seconds. So you can attune your breathing to the slide and really practice the method. The slide show is available at

  • Try practicing the ten zen seconds incantations.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Introduction to Ten Zen Seconds

Interview with Eric Maisel

What is Ten Zen Seconds all about?

EM: It’s actually a very simple but powerful technique for reducing your stress, getting yourself centered, and reminding yourself about how you want to live your life. It can even serve as a complete cognitive, emotional, and existential self-help program built on the single idea of “dropping a useful thought into a deep breath.” You use a deep breath, five seconds on the inhale and five seconds on the exhale, as a container for important thoughts that aim you in the right direction in life—I describe twelve of these thoughts in the book—and you begin to employ this breathing-and-thinking technique that I call incanting as the primary way to keep yourself on track.

Where did this idea come from?

EM: It comes from two primary sources, cognitive and positive psychology from the West and breath awareness and mindfulness techniques from the East. I’d been working with creative and performing artists for more than twenty years as a therapist and creativity coach and wanted to find a quick, simple technique that would help them deal with the challenges they regularly face—resistance to creating, performance anxiety, negative self-talk about a lack of talent or a lack of connections, stress over a boring day job or competing in the art marketplace, and so on. Because I have a background in both Western and Eastern ideas, it began to dawn on me that deep breathing, which is one of the best ways to reduce stress and alter thinking, could be used as a cognitive tool if I found just the right phrases to accompany the deep breathing. This started me on a hunt for the most effective phrases that I could find and eventually I landed on twelve of them that I called incantations, each of which serves a different and important purpose.

Which phrases did you settle on?

EM: The following twelve. I think that folks will intuitively get the point of each one (though some of the incantations, like “I expect nothing,” tend to need a little explaining). Naturally each incantation is explained in detail in the book and there are lots of personal reports, so readers get a good sense of how different people interpret and make use of the incantations. Here are the twelve (the parentheses show how the phrase gets“divided up” between the inhale and the exhale:

1. (I am completely) (stopping)
2. (I expect) (nothing)
3. (I am) (doing my work)
4. (I trust) (my resources)
5. (I feel) (supported)
6. (I embrace) (this moment)
7. (I am free) (of the past)
8. (I make) (my meaning)
9. (I am open) (to joy)
10. (I am equal) (to this challenge)
11. (I am) (taking action)
12. (I return) (with strength)

A small note: the third incantation functions differently from the other eleven, in that you name something specific each time you use it, for example “I am writing my novel” or “I am paying the bills.” This helps you bring mindful awareness to each of your activities throughout the day.
  • Please join me on Friday, when Eric answers questions about using this method during the creative process.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Ten Zen Seconds by Eric Maisel

I am pleased to announce that Eric Maisel will be stopping by as part of his blogtour to promote his latest book Ten Zen Seconds: Twelve Incantations for Purpose, Power and Calm.

Eric Maisel, Ph.D., is the author of more than thirty books and is widely regarded as America’s foremost creativity coach. He has presented nationally and internationally on subjects like personal creativity, creativity coaching, Zen and creativity, and mindfulness practices for the creative person.

Dr. Maisel holds undergraduate degrees in philosophy and psychology, master’s degrees in creative writing and counseling, and a doctorate in counseling psychology. He is a California licensed marriage and family therapist, a creativity coach and trainer of creativity coaches, a columnist for Art Calendar Magazine, provides regular segments for Art of the Song Creativity Radio, and teaches Ten Zen Second techniques through lectures, workshops, and teleseminars.

  • Stay tuned next week for more information.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Revolution Rock: The Story of the Clash

As pioneers of the British punk movement in the late 70s, the Clash are the ultimate creative artists. Their musical influences range from jazz to hip hop and reggae. Combining these influences they were able to evolve as artists and transform themselves from angry punk rockers all in black to funky ska artists and finally the militant performers of combat rock.

Recently, I had the opportunity to learn more about these versatile performers at an exhibition that covered their ambitious career. Featuring performance clips, handwritten lyrics, stage costumes and guitars displaying their creativity.