the beauty of laundry

A young girl aged six asked her mama to tell her what she did at the university where she went every day.

“I am in the art department.  I teach people how to draw and paint,” replied her mother.

Astonished, the girl inquired,

“You mean they forget?”

excerpt from the book by Jack Kornfield,                                       How to find the beauty in the act of “After the Ecstasy, the Laundry”

forging ahead

Our duty, as men and women,

is to proceed

as if limits to our ability did not exist.

We are collaborators in creation.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955)
French philosopher, Jesuit priest

“You are so right !”, I  exclaimed, as my personal  findings were supported by an article discovered through Thomas Cott‘s newsletter, “You’ve Cott Mail”!

“Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William & Mary discovered this in May, after analyzing almost 300,000 Torrance scores of children and adults. Kim found creativity scores had been steadily rising, just like IQ scores, until 1990. Since then, creativity scores have consistently inched downward. “It’s very clear, and the decrease is very significant,” Kim says. It is the scores of younger children in America—from kindergarten through sixth grade—for whom the decline is “most serious.”  The Creativity Crisis, Newsweek. July 10,

This is exactly what I have noticed over a decade of teaching art and speaking with many about creativity!  The effort to think outside the box is not something that many people generally aspire to these days. I have been deeply concerned as an artist, art educator and citizen. I know that innovation and looking at events, people and problems  from different points of view is essential, as much today as it was when our country was founded. As Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman state in this same article,

“It’s too early to determine conclusively why U.S. creativity scores are declining. One likely culprit is the number of hours kids now spend in front of the TV and playing video games rather than engaging in creative activities. Another is the lack of creativity development in our schools. In effect, it’s left to the luck of the draw who becomes creative: there’s no concerted effort to nurture the creativity of all children.”

I was also incredulous that some researchers then suggest that creativity should be taken out of the art room.  You have got to be kidding. The art classroom is or has  the potential to model creative thinking strategies for both students, teachers and administrators. Yes, the educational system absolutely needs to encourage creative habits as an integral part of the teaching process.

In addition, I wonder if we could use a few of our creative thinking skills to initiate solving this problem: America is losing its edge in innovation. Thomas Friedman acknowledged this in his latest Op-Ed piece, when he said,

It is also everything we should be celebrating and preserving but lately have not: … educational excellence, a culture of innovation and a financial system designed to promote creative destruction…”

Thinking creatively means

  • sharpening our observation skills
  • learning hoe to imagine,
  • taking ideas to essential, simplest form,
  • finding and creating patterns
  • making analogies
  • body thinking
  • feeling empathy
  • thinking in dimensions
  • modeling or imitating behaviour
  • playing
  • transforming
  • synthesizing

from Michelle and Robert Root-Bernstein’s book “Sparks of Genius”.

Now, what can you do personally to increase the collective creative and innovative “IQ” of America?

I would love to get some ideas from you so I can try new things myself  and share them here.

This week I will be focusing on observing (visiting new places), modeling(drawing), playing, and of course, my all time favorite, transforming(mistakes into opportunities)! I will share what I have learned in words and paintings ensuing posts.

What about you?  Come on, be courageous,pick one thinking skill and try it!  

by bvw

sketch of skimmers, journal, 2/2010

“Look, I don’t want to wax philosophic,

but I will say

that if you’re alive you’ve got to flap your arms and leg,

you’ve got to jump around a lot,

for life is the very opposite of death,

and therefore you must at least think

noisy and colorfully,

or you’re not alive.”

Mel Brooks (1926-       )
American film writer, actor, director, produce

No time to be creative?

July 10, 2010

If only I had enough time. Do you ever find yourself saying that to yourself?

That is what I said when the three boys were little, and part of me didn’t want that time to end.

I painted pictures with them in between making Halloween costumes and cookies, parties and putting bandaids on knees.

We read books a together and we were  a happy audience when they put on plays for us!

When they were in elementary school and middle school, I took my sketchpad to games, although sometimes I didn’t get it open.

I always carried pencils, a  favorite pen and my crayons in my bottomless pocketbook. Many times I watched the game and improved my visual memory by drawing from what I remembered later.

I worked at my job, teaching art. We made pizzas and cakes from scratch, loaves of bread, read books and had family discussions about the state of rest f the world.

Yes, and I dragged them to art museums, plays and music lessons of all kinds.

I am still teaching art to 580 students every week, and loving it!.When I teach, it nurtures my art and when I do my art it makes me a better teacher. I am always looking for time to make more of my own work.

And now it is the summer.

All the time in the world to paint, right?

Wrong. Sometimes I get creative block. Everyone gets it once in a while.

So, I  attempt to make dealing with  this issue a creative project! I enlist my  sense of humor, compassion and an assortment of creative thinking skills. If i am not up for that, I sometimes take a nap. (Try it. It works.)

Every time I get stuck procrastinating with the fear of making a mark on the white paper, I use diversionary tactics!

  • Outsmart my left brain  and allow room for the intangible creative side. Let’s not take this too seriously, after all, “playing” is one of the 13 creative thinking tools.
  • Integrate and balance other life areas. Make sure to exercise, eat right, read, leave time for spiritual, relationships and taking care of money and job. Limit times and set the alarm.
  • Watch how others do it.  I watch my son compose, sing play and mix music when he has a day off or after work, if he’s not too tired. if he is he sleeps.
  • Read . Many artists are very generous about sharing their methods of getting time to create.
  • Allow myself to do the laundry or vacuum…with a time limit!
  • Drink a glass of water.
  • Take the dogs for a walk. Good thinking time.
  • Put myself in the studio or place that is inspiring, with all of my supplies around me, look at my journals and I can’t help but make something.
  • Don’t judge. Just keep exploring.
  • Oh yes, and work daily for a self determined consistent amount of time. Stop in the middle of the best part! This was one of Hemingway’s secrets. Your mind will keep working on creative ideas  until you return the next day.

I was intrigued by the post on Write to Done guest post “How to Write When You’re Scared Spitless” by the  Jean-Berg-Sarauer.

There is also a very interesting article about another way to increase creativity called The Cure for Creative Blocks? Leave Your Desk. RT(via @the99percent) that is totally awesome!

What do you do when you are stuck and need a new idea?

adw I’ve been struggling with that lately!!!

As you probably know, I have been following that voice inside of me insisting that I make marks on paper and canvas… paint and draw!

I also have been able to articulate the process of creating and how to incorporate it more seamlessly into life, in this blog and in my teaching!

It has taken a lifetime to realize that vision. It hasn’t happened in the way I imagined it, but that is the way life is.The challenge is to transform what life gives me into the art that I live everyday.

So, when I look at this beautiful photo of sunlight breaking through the shadows, it helps me to understand the value of shadows and movement not only as I look down the road, but also in my life path.

Interfering events and  exhaustion have inhibited my blogging recently.

So I rested.

Now I find myself sorting, organizing, redesigning. When I find myself having to slow down physically , I make lots of little piles for reading, writing, planning  and sketching. This is great for my creativity, although it wreaks havoc with my dear husband’s sense of order. So I have now begun to take a look at my blog to see how I can help my subscribers to better discover or rediscover that innate creative gift that we all have. I’ve been reading lots of relevant books and searching through blogs that explore making things from different perspectives.I’ve been going to art shows and working in my journal. I will be sharing some of this in future posts!

Being creative in life and art requires balance,inspiration and some down time  The reward is transformation of our thoughts, sprits and bodies. Have you found that to be true for you?

Tell me, what inspires you when things aren’t going the way you planned? Do you have any quick and fun remedies?  ( I like a pistachio gelato break, but can’t have it often!) I look forward to hearing from you in the comments.

Now, off to my studio I go!

May 30, 2010

artichokes & lettuce by bvw

artichokes & lettuce by bvw

My attitude towards drawing is not necessarily about drawing.

It’s about making the best kind of image I can make,

it’s about talking as clearly as I can.

Jim Dine


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