Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Cheese Advent Calendar

Can't find the Advent calendar you want to make your holiday special?  Make it yourself -
Cheese Advent Calendar

Speaking of cheese how about making a custom cheeseboard for a Christmas gift.  I'll show you how.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Creativity is Not Always About the Lesson You Intended to Learn.

I set out to watch this video called 4 lessons in Creativity because I'm all about learning about creativity but  what caught my attention was not the lessons in this video but a little story about Sculptor Richard Serra.  The story was about how he threw his painting supplies in the river and then went on to become a famous sculptor.  I think the lesson was about being open to experience or something like that but the part I got excited about was he made a list.  It was a long list of verbs - to cut, to spread, to lift, to roll, and so on.  and he applied the list to materials.

What I got out of this video is that I wanted to know more about this list!  So here it is...

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

How to Relieve Stress for Creatives

I found this funny video at  

I don't think there's a business with a room like this in the US but maybe you could try it on a hike in the woods.   Of course, doing art is a good way to relieve stress too.  But sometimes it leads to more stress like when you think your cat is making fun of you.

Don't put up with mean cats.  Take my newest class and find out How to Calm Your Inner Critic
Hint The problem is not your cat at all!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

30, 100, or 365 Days? How Long Should Your Creative Challenge last?

You probably think my answer will be 100 days because I teach this class

A 100 Day Challenge for Creative and Artistic Growth

But the answer is it depends.  Ask yourself...
What do I want to get out of the project?  
How much time do I have to devote to the challenge?
How hard do I want to push myself?
The answers to these questions will determine what type of challenge is right for you.

For example, if you want an intense challenge to push yourself to complete a creative project then a 30 day challenge such as National Novel Writing Month might be right for you.  It's a deep dive to fully immerse yourself but generally not a schedule you can sustain for a long time.  (Get ready NaNoWriMo starts Nov 1!)

But maybe instead you want to establish a daily habit, then a year long challenge might be right for you.  New Year is the perfect day to start a 365 day challenge and set the theme for your year.  And when the year is up you can decide to keep going or pick a new challenge.  Here's an example Movie Poster a Day.

And of course, 100 days is somewhere in between.  Short enough to push yourself and long enough to build up a body of work and grow your creative talent.  Like my own photography challenge #100daysofXena.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Why You Should Share Your Creative Work

photo by Cassie Brenn

As an introvert, at times in my life I have been reluctant to share my creative work with the outside world.  But after reading Austin Kleon's book Show Your Work, I've changed my point of view.

I've started posting my work on different websites and it has been extremely satisfying.  Maybe no one is watching, I have a mere 7 followers on Instagram, but it has helped me sort through my thoughts on art and creativity, given me an archive of work, and helped me discover new talents.

And here's 3 more reasons why YOU should share your work.

1. You learn by doing and having the goal of sharing your work can be the push you need to get started.

2. It helps us all overcome the idea of perfectionism. No one gets it right the first time. But everyone must have a first time. Show your work even if you are a beginner and everyone benefits from seeing your growth, not just your highly polished talent after years of practice.

3. Posting your work connects you to the community and that can lead to some great things such as   finding like minded people and mentors.

Now go Seize the Day!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Remove your Creative Barriers

Creative barriers are things that are blocking you from creating the creative works you want to create.  And here's the kicker, they are barriers we put up ourselves.  It is telling yourself things like I'm too old, I'm too young, I don't have enough money, etc.  The truth is they are just excuses we make up because we think we will be judged by others.  If I try this and I fail others will judge me.  Yeah they might.  but you can't control what other people do.   And you might also say, "but it's true, I don't have enough money."   Well, when there's a will, there's a way.  Just watch this video about Folk Artist Butch Anthony.... Barriers removed.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Discover Something New Day

Today is Columbus day in the US.  Supposedly Christopher Columbus was the first person to discover America. That is if you don't count the people that were already here or the Vikings, which we are now learning, probably landed in North America some 500 years before that.  And not to mention that Columbus never set foot on what is now the US mainland or that he thought he was in India.  Yes, besides all of that.  I say let's celebrate.  Let's celebrate the fact that he took a chance and set out on a voyage of the unknown in search of something new.

So Let's make our own voyage as explorers of the creative and dedicate this day to discovering something new.  Who knows what you will find but one things for sure ...

 "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."

So get out there and see what is waiting to be discovered...
  • Eat a new food, discover the spice of life
  • Try a new art material, discover a new perspective
  • Visit a new place, discover inspiration
  • Learn a new skill, discover a hidden talent  
Ok the last one is a shameless plug for my new class, How to Write Funny Riddles which you can find here.  It's free for the first 25 students, I'm just saying... discover laughter, make the world a happier place...

Happy Discover Something New Day!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

What Computer Scientist Can Teach Us about Creativity

I was reading the latest issue of Neuroscience News when... wait, why are you laughing?  No really I read it all the time...  Ok, ok I was reading the headlines looking for joke set ups but I came across an  article that I actually did read  Computer Experts Identify 14 Themes of Creativity.

Computer Scientist want to teach computers to think more creatively so they need to know what creativity is.  To do that they looked at all the scientific papers on the subject, did a language analysis of them and came up with these 14 themes that are used the most when academics describe the creative process.

See what you think.  Do you agree or disagree?

Creativity is ...

  • active involvement and persistence
  • dealing with uncertainty
  • domain competence
  • general intellect
  • generating results
  • independence and freedom
  • intention and emotional involvement
  • originality
  • progression and development
  • social interaction and communication
  • spontaneity and subconscious processing
  • thinking and evaluation
  • value
  • variety, divergence and experimentation

University of Kent. “Computer Experts Identify 14 Themes of Creativity.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 6 October 2016.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

How to Write Riddles

My new class is now on line.  I'm offering free enrollments to the first 25 students.  If you would like to learn how to make kids or kids at heart laugh then check it out.

Go ahead I'll wait...

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Joke vs. Riddle vs. Comic Strip: What's the difference?

A joke, a riddle and a comic strip walk into a bar, and the bartender says, "Are you kidding me?"
Although the words are often used interchangeably, the difference between the 3 all comes down to the set up.   A joke is a statement, a riddle is a question, and a comic uses a picture for the set up.

There's a group of witches that claim they can make a love potion in under a minute.  They call themselves a microwave coven.

What do you call a group of witches that can make a potion in under a minute?
A microwave coven

Single Panel Comic Strip

So, if you're having trouble writing your jokes, maybe they would work better as riddles or draw it up as a comic strip.   

My next class with Skillshare will be on How to Write Funny Riddles.  I'll be releasing it in the next few days.  Hope to see you there.  But in the mean time why not take one of my other classes

Monday, September 26, 2016

2 Podcast Recommendations for Creatives

As you know from reading my profile at the right, I love to listen to podcasts on creative subjects. Recently I listened to 2 episodes that I thought I would mention.  If you would like to listen to either of these podcasts click on the episode title.

The first one I recommend wholeheartedly for anyone doing any sort of creative endeavor.
"How to Gain Clarity in Your Work"  by Todd Henry at the Accidental Creative.  If you've ever thought of writing a Creative Manifesto, this episode will tell you how to do it and more importantly why.  It's a short listen, 18 minutes, short as far as podcasts go.  And it's to the point and full of strategy, philosophy and examples.

The second recommendation I give with half a heart and for a specific few. The episode is  "The Art of Comics with Josh Neufeld"  by Srini Rao at the Unmistakable Creative.  The title caught my attention since comics are something I'm interested in but what the title and even the episode description doesn't mention is that Josh writes comics in a really tight niche Comic Journalism.*   Ok I'm still on board with that but it's not until the second half of the interview that they get around to talking about it.  The first half is all questions about his unusual childhood, parenting, art in education.   Now  I know this is a pet peeve of mine but I want them to get to the point.  I feel like the title is a promise - I'm going to teach you about the art of comics. And yes, sometimes this kind of talk can be illuminating but in this case I felt even the interviewee was confused by the questions and wondering when they were going to talk about his work?  

Well, I'm happy to say in the second half of the interview the title promise is fulfilled and for anyone interested in sequential art and specifically nonfiction comic journalism, you will learn a lot from this episode.  So, if that's your thing give it a listen, just maybe skip to the second half.  

*To be fair at the bottom of the podcast page it does say Josh Neufeld is a cartoonist who works primarily in the field of non-fiction comics, specifically as a comic journalist.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Need a New Idea? Read!

"What you know + Something new you learned = A new idea"
-Levi Belnap

Just read the article How to Read to Learn and Exercise Your Brain by Levi Belnap.   Here's the break down:

Step 1 - Read something you can mull over.
Step 2 - Mull it over.  And take notes while you read.
Step 3 - Decide what info is worth keeping and meaningful to you.

My favorite part is the pull-out quote above.    

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Sometimes the Muse is Behind You

What's chasing you creatively?  How does your past play into your art?  Is it helping you or hurting you?  Just some things to think about...

Oh and this video came from a post at Motto talking about branded content.  So if you're like me and didn't get it, the above video is an ad for Saucony running shoes.  Nice shoes but I'm more interested in the story.  So is it a bad ad?  I'm not going to buy them but I did repost it.... Just some thing else to think about.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Fire and Art

If you were to make a list of art supplies fire would probably not come to mind.  Yet it can be used in traditional and nontraditional ways to make beautiful art.

A traditional example -
My husband, Michael Brenn, makes birdhouses that he sells on Etsy.  He uses a torch to bring out the texture and grain in the wood giving it a deep, rich quality.

wood Birdhouse

A nontraditional example -
Artist Steve Spazuk uses candles and soot to create surreal wonders.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Creative Combination

Calligraphy + Origami = Calligami

Try the idea of creative combinations for yourself.  Combine 2 things and see what creative ideas happen.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

In a Creative Rut Try This

Just read this article  7 Fun exercises to quickly improve creative thinking and tried exercise #6 Make a Treasure out of Trash.  I looked in the bin and found the container for my daily vitamin is a nice thin foil.  So I bent and scratched and etched out a few letters to make a monogram.  

Cassie's Take Away
1. Keep Your Eyes Open
I would have never thought about using those packets as art material.  What else am I overlooking?

2.  Play Matters
Okay I don't know if I really made a treasure but it was fun and tactile.  And started me thinking about the rounded shapes of the letters.  I want to work with that more and see where it leads.

Friday, September 9, 2016

How to Improve Your Creative Skills

Cassie's Take Away from the article The 4 Rituals That Will Make You an Expert at Anything by Eric Barker at Barking Up the Wrong Tree.  I should mention that these tips are from Barker's interview with Anders Ericsson author of Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise.

1.  Get out of your comfort zone
If you want to really grow at your skills and improve you need to push yourself.  You'll know if you are outside of your zone if you mess up over half the time you try.  If you can't do it at all, it's too hard.  Barker suggests a failure rate of 50-80% is where you want to be.

2.  Go Do
Knowing what to do will not necessarily make you better at it.  You need to go and do it.  Barker suggests using the 3 Fs - Focus, Feedback, Fix it.

That's also the philosophy behind Skillshare's project based classes.  Watch the class, do the project, get feedback from teachers and classmates.  Try it for yourself.

3.  Train Your Feedback Muscle                                                      
We've all heard the phrase Practice Makes Perfect.  Well, someone very wise who I should have written down their name once said, Imperfect Practice Makes Imperfect.  In other words, practice won't make you better if your not doing it right.  You'll just get really good at doing it wrong.  So, getting feedback is crucial to improving.   But you're not always in a situation to get feedback from another person.  Barker suggests looking at past works with established outcomes.  Look at creative works that have been reviewed or evaluated for certain criteria that your interested in.  But before you read the review, evaluate the work for yourself.  Now compare what you found with the established view.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Finding Your Style

Checking out Typography Mania 
Here are some works that excited me.  
So, what can I learn about my own creative style by looking at these as a group?
It's important to look at them as a group.  If you look at them individually you run the risk of just copying another artist's style.  But instead if you look at a group of art works, you are discovering style elements.  I see I'm drawn to messy styles, blocky letters,  and lay outs that don't follow a standard grid.  Now I have some creative elements that I can explore and play with in my own art works.

Try this for yourself.   Do you have a pinterest board of your favorite art?  Look at it as a cohesive group.  What are the creative elements that bind this group?  What do they have in common?




Thursday, September 1, 2016

Finding Your Creative Niche

I don't remember where I first heard this but someone wise once said that it's the thing that is weird about you, that makes you special.  Maybe it's the thing that got you teased as a kid.  In other words, the thing that makes you different from others is what makes you unique.  In this presentation by Musician Heather Dale, she talks about being a nerdy kid before that was cool - she enjoyed things like Dungeons and Dragons, vampires and medieval history.  When she first started to make music, she tried to be mainstream with little success.  It wasn't until she found  others who liked the same thing she did, that she embraced her true self.  When she started writing music that reflected those interests, she found success.

It's almost cliche to say "Follow Your Passion" but as we learned from the interview with Font Designer Mark Simonson, why waste your time on something you don't really care about.  That is what Dale discovered but she takes that one step further.  She found others who shared her passions, she found her tribe.  Find the people that love what you do, find out where they hang out and go there.

 Now if you'll excuse me I must find the people who enjoy napping and watching videos on creativity.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Idea Generating Game

In this TED Talk Shimpei Takahashi teaches us how to have fun coming up with new ideas.  Normally I would now share my takeaway but instead here's a look at my creative process for notetaking.

PS - my takeaway - Come up with a few random words and force connections between them.  The juxtaposition of unrelated words will cause you to have new ideas.

Monday, August 29, 2016

How to Find Your Style and Niche as an Artist

In this video the artist Fieldey discusses how she found her own personal style as an artist.  And here's the take away...

1.  Be Open to Inspiration
It's important to explore different art forms and try out new things to find what it is you are good at and enjoy.  But it's also important to be open to inspiration when you aren't trying to attract it. Sometimes it's the unplanned moments that bring us the greatest insights.

2.  Creative Limitations
It all clicked with Fieldey when she bought a new surf board and decided to paint it.   It was the natural limitations of the project - size limit and style, that created the guidelines that became her own personal Art Style.  

If you are interested in learning more about how limitations can make you more creative, take my class A 100 Days Project for Artistic and Creative Growth.  Use the link for free enrollment while supplies last!  

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

When you Feel Jealous of Other Artists

This Lego movie is awesome and get ready to hate yourself, the maker is only 16 years old.  Sometimes it's hard to look at others good works and not feel lousy about yourself.     I did a post about it here.  When I feel this way, I try to look at the maker as a teacher and see what I can learn from them.   And if that doesn't work try watching funny cat videos until the pain goes away.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Janet Echelman - Lessons in Overcoming Rejection and Challenge

1. Rejection Doesn't Need to Be the End
Echelman was rejected by all 7 art schools that she applied to after college.  But that didn't stop her from becoming an artist.  There are many roads to the same destination.

2.  Creative Challenges
Lack of materials is a problem to solve not an excuse to stop creating.  Echelman might not be creating these wonderful sculptures that she is now known for if her paints had arrived in India.   Challenge yourself to give up your favorite materials and see if your creativity grows.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Follow the Muse or Follow the Trend?

This podcast features Font Designer Mark Simonson.

Here are my takeaways -
1.  Creative Process = Problem Solving
In designing a font, Simonson's creative process takes 2 distinct paths.  As a graphic designer, when he can't find the font he wants, he creates it.  In other words, he's a problem solver just like Book Designer Chip Kidd.

2. Serial Obsession
The second path comes from his varied interests.  Simonson calls these passions his serial obsessions.  He takes a deep dive into a subject only to drop it for the next thing that catches his fancy.  But he believes all of these influences "cross-fertilize" in his mind to create something new.

3.  Follow the Muse or Follow the Trend?
One problem with chasing the trend is, as Simonson puts it using a sports metaphor, "you want to go where the puck is going to be, not where it is now."  And if your art takes time to produce, like font design, then the trend may be gone by the time your done and you'll feel like you've wasted a lot of time on something you didn't really care about in the first place.

4.  Success = Lack of Motivation
One of the biggest hurdles that Simonson faces now is his own success.  He no longer needs to work to pay the bills, so he doesn't feel motivated.  It's not such a bad problem to have but I would suggest his lack of motivation has to do more with needing to meet an external source of expectation such as a deadline than just being financially comfortable.  I recommend the book Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin if you have the same problem.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Riddle Writing

Kids love punny jokes and riddles.  That's why I incorporate them into the word puzzles that I create for Children's Magazines.  When they solve the puzzle they get the answer to the riddle.

I explain my process for creating unique, visual word puzzles in my FREE class Create Puzzles, Get Published but I don't talk about how I create the riddles I use.  That will soon change, as I've already started work on  my next class that will look at my riddle writing process.

I like to use "recipes" as one method for writing riddles.  Such as
What did one ______ say to the other?  
Fill in the blank with any word and see if it sparks a funny idea.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Creative Resources

13 Online Resources to Break Through Your Creative Block from Wrike

I'm not sure if these websites are Creative Block Busters or Procrastination Destinations but you should definitely check them out.  I'm loving the Times Haiku!  Weirdly it makes me feel like painting... Block Busted.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Creating Customer Experince

In this podcast the hosts go to a pizza place that is known for its excellent pizza and its long wait times.  And they ask is it worth it?  You, on the other hand, might be asking what does this have to do with art and creativity?  A lot it turns out.  The pizza maker is described by his daughter as an artist, making each individual order by hand from scratch.  He puts in skill, quality, caring attention the same way a painter might work a canvas.  But is it worth it for the customer?  In the end, after waiting an hour in the summer heat for their order the hosts decide it's more than just an excellent slice of pizza, it's the whole experience that's worth having.

In your creative endeavors are you creating a piece of work or are you creating an experience?  When I create word puzzles for magazines such as Highlights for Children, I try to keep this in mind. Puzzle + theme + riddle = fun play experience.  Otherwise, they might as well be doing homework and that's not the experience I want to create for the readers.

Interested in learning more about my process for creating Children's Word Puzzles?  Take my FREE class Create Puzzles, Get Published.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Go Big

More inspiration for those of you contemplating a 100 Day Project.

I had a question from a student in my class A 100 Days Project for Artistic and Creative Growth  -
"Instead of working on a small project every day, can I do one large project over the entire 100 days?"

The answer is -
Of course you can.  It's your project, you make the rules.  Ask yourself these questions -
Will this project help me accomplish the goals I hope to achieve for my creative growth?
Is this a large enough project for the entire 100 days?  If not, What will I do next?  How will I continue my creative habit?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Inspiration = Art = Inspiration

While on vacation at the Grand Canyon the Director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab was inspired by the old WPA posters for the National Parks.  That led to this series of posters called Visions of the Future designed to inspire future generations to join NASA and become "architects of the future." 

This poster was designed by David Delgado and Joby Harris.   You can download all the posters for free here.  Read about what inspired each design here.

(WPA = Works Project Administrtaion)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

How to Deal with Creative Influence

"Pretend you're in a group show with your influences.  So, you're not copying them, but you're able to show with them."
-Chad Hasegawa

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Vote Your Art

Has the Presidential Political Race here in the US motivated you to make some art?  Well, here's a recipe for coming up with inspiration.

And if I can steal a line from one of the candidates...
"A lot of people are saying" you should take one of my SkillShare classes.  Not a member use this link to try a premium membership for just 99 cents.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Gotta Step Up My Pet Photo Game

Just started using instagram... So yeah here's a 100 pictures of my dog.

Take Away
1.  Step Away from the Internet
Just go take a bunch of photos of your pet and decide what you like and what you don't like.  That's the way you'll find your voice, your style.

2.  Good Pet Photography is Good Photography
Everything you know about taking good photos is true for pet photography as well.  The best advice I ever read about taking good photos is get closer.  Where ever you're standing take a giant step forward and your photos will improve.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Be Creative and Make Cool Stuff

Cool Things to notice in this video -

1.  Planning and References
Adam shares many sketches he did during the planning phase.  It's a nice glimpse at his process - very detailed and well thought out before he begins.

2. Attention to Detail
When making the head, he pieced together several pieces of faux fur in order to get the fur to fall in a realistic way.

3.  Lots of What and How
If you're interested in how to make a costume, there's lots of materials talk and hands on demos.  Even if you're not, it's interesting to see the process.  He uses low temp hot glue so that he has the flexibility to make changes later if he's not satisfied.  How can you build in some flexibility to your creative projects?

4.  What story do you want to tell?
He's really concerned with getting the right eyes because it will really show the personality of the bear that he wants portray.

5.  Cool T-Shirt
Wear your passion for all to see.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Terrible Reviews are Good for His Business

Johnny Cupcakes bakery gets terrible reviews on Yelp and that's just the way he likes it.  Because at Johnny Cupcakes he sells t-shirts, not baked goods. (hence the terrible food reviews and the clever advertising.)  The designs, the displays, the packaging all tells the story of a bakery.  More than just a creative brand, it's about creating an experience for the customer.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Monday, August 1, 2016

Why We Think We Suck

My Take Away from Ira Glass

1.  You wanna be Like Mike
 Remember those old Nike ads?  I'm re-framing Ira's idea as a sports metaphor.  but the idea is the same.  We all want to play basketball like Michael Jordan.   He's one of the best all time players.  That's why we admire him because we recognize his greatness.  But when we start to play we suck. So there's a gap between Jordan's ability and our ability.  We recognize that gap and that makes us feel bad about ourselves so we quit.

2.  Be Like Mike
But Jordan didn't start off playing in the NBA.  He practiced diligently, he developed his work ethic, he shot free throws in his free time over and over again, day after day.  So, don't quit just keep working and you'll get there.   The gap will narrow.

Of course Ira is talking about Creative works and that means the gap in our mind is between where we are now as beginners and where we think we should be aka perfectionism.  But the answer is the same.  Be Like Mike or as Ira puts it, " Do a lot of work...set yourself deadlines...It's going to take a while you just have to fight your way through that."

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Ask Yourself... What Else Can This Be?

 Here's the takeaway from Kristian Mensa as quoted in this article.  "Try to look around when on your way to school or work and you'll be surprised how many things around us can represent something completely different!"  And yeah, I'm definitely stealing this "animation" idea for my next video.

Same idea, different artist - Jesuso Malaga

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Sting and Finding the Muse when she goes MIA

Writing songs came easy to him and when it suddenly didn't he was lost.  That's why it's good to study the creative process and make notes about what works for you and what doesn't.  Anyway,
I don't know that I learned a whole lot from this talk but Sting sings and that's always good.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Creative Process of Filmaker Tiffany Shlain

I found this little gem on the Brain Pickings website.  Their article has all 10 steps written out for you so just watch and soak it all in like a sponge.  (That's step #3 by the way.)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

100 Days of Handlettering

Here's an excellent example of a 100 Days Project.  Not from my class but an article by Tiantian Xu.  She shares her project but more importantly she shares her insights about the process and what she learned.

Here are a few highlights

1. "Progress, not Perfection"
This is a quote from one of my favorite writing books, If You Can Talk, You Can Write by Joel Saltzman.  It neatly sums up a big lesson Xu learned doing the project.  On days she resisted doing her daily deliverable because "I won't be as good as last time," she reminded herself that the goal was "creation and persistence, not polished art."  This is hard if you are a perfectionist but oh so important to cultivating a creative habit.

2.  Ideas Show Up If You Do
Xu started her project by copying the style and ideas of other artists.  She found after a few months of doing her daily deliverable everyday that her own original ideas began to flow.

3. Create Structure
She broke down her daily process into 4 steps - brainstorming, pencil sketch, inking, and cleaning up.  This structure made doing her daily deliverable easy and achievable.  How does this compare to your own process?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Free Class on Skillshare

I just published a new class all about doing a 100 Days Project and you can take it for FREE if you are one of the first 25 students to enroll.   Use this link  to sign up.

"It kinda ran away with me..."

My Take Away

1.  Have a Passion Project
"It kinda ran away with me..."  says Philip Coppola.  This is what people say when they find their passion.  What things capture your attention and won't let go?  Is it possible to go deeper ... to let it run away with you?   That's what I started doing with this blog - a deep dive into the creative process. It doesn't have to be the thing that pays the bills but it can give you a feeling of purpose.

2.  Make it Real
Philip makes his drawings into volumes.  In the video you can see him binding the pages himself.  It makes it real.  It gives it a sense of its own validation.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Doodling Can make you more Creative

That's according to the this article 7 Ways Doodling Will Change Your Life.

Most creatives are familiar with Word Webs as a way of brainstorming ideas but what if you used doodles instead of words.   That idea comes from Sunni Brown author of Doodle Revolution.  She calls it a process map.  I like it.  I think I'll give it a try.  I guess you can call that my Take Away.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Creative Ideas

Here's the formula
Something old + Something new = Creative idea

Like these embroidery projects combined with -

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Fruit Carving

A nice tutorial for fruit carving from Valeriano Fatica.  But if that's too easy for you ....

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Do you have enough Grit?

Creatives, by their very nature are interested in many things.  That can be both a blessing and a curse.  The curse is that we can easily be distracted by new interests and leave our last pursuits unfinished.  If you are lacking a certain amount of stick-to-itiveness , the answer might be that you need more GRIT.  Check out this podcast from Freakonomics Radio called, How to Get More Grit in Your Life.

My Take Away from author Angela Duckworth, "substitute nuisance for novelty."   When you feel bored and want to quit your current practice, go deeper instead.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Artist at Work - Cartoonist Mark Anderson

Cartoonists Mark Anderson shows his work over at his blog Andertoons
Here is a list of all of Mark's Blog Posts on his creative process and cartooning as a business.
His post on Blogger's Block is especially helpful for any creative who feels out of ideas.

Monday, July 11, 2016

"Put it in Your Work"

This is a short film about the artist James Victore.  It's fascinating in itself, but the great thing is it's part of a series of short films with Creatives called Like Knows Like by Bas Berkhout.  I discovered it via the Swiss Miss.

Take a class on-line with James Victore on Skillshare.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Fear of Rejection

TED talk by Jia Jiang

I'm working on my next class which will be about Doing a 100 Days Project.  In my research I came across this excellent talk by Jia Jiang.  His 100 day project was not an artistic challenge but something everyone pursuing a creative life can relate to -The Fear of Rejection.  He set out to overcome his fear by seeking out rejection and blogging about it.  Check it out here.

My Take Away
1. Rejection is Constant
You will always face rejection even if you reach a high level of success in your field.  For every painting you sell, there was someone who didn't buy it.

2.  Are you Quitting Too Soon
Jia learned that rejection is a numbers game.  We've all heard the stories of famous authors getting a number of rejections before finally publishing their book.  Jia uses the example of C.S. Lewis author of The Chronicles of Narnia.  Looking backward it seems hard to imagine that it was rejected.  

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Bear in Mind

Phil Cousineau once said -
"Inspiration comes and goes, creativity is the result of practice."

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Show and Tell - Fruit Bowl

Some art is perishable and you can only enjoy it for a short time, like this bald eagle fruit bowl I made for a 4th of July picnic or the sand art I featured the other day.  Is it worth the effort for something so fleeting?  I think so.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Bring the Funk

In honor of the 4th of July* I bring you  4 Tips for Artist Who Want to Succeed, an article by former Disney animator Aaron Blaise.  Ok enough business talk it's time to bring the funk!

*Independence Day in the USA

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Inspiration Everywhere

Going to the Beach this weekend?  Get inspired by this work by Matthew Tapia.  The muse don't take no Vacay!


Friday, July 1, 2016

2 Take Aways from Artist Anthony Burrill

OIL & WATER DO NOT MIX from Anthony Burrill on Vimeo.

1.  Art as Activism.  
This poster makes a bold statement about an environmental issue.  And it does it in an appealing way.  A way that viewers can get involved and support.  Plus, the profits go to a charity directly dealing with the issue.

2.  Unusual Materials
This poster is printed using the actual oil from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  I love that the materials tie in with the message but it's also a great creative idea.  What non-traditional things can be used to make art?

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Invite Criticism


Ad for Miami Ad School Toronto via Visual News

No one likes to hear bad things about their art work but if you think of it as a learning experience it becomes an opportunity for growth.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Stretch your Creativity

If you're into graffiti art, if you're into creative film making, if you're into artist at work, then you'll be into this video.

If not ... well... why not?   Exploring different art forms can be inspiring.   Who knows where it will take you.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Muse Spotting - Maps

Some see streets, some see animals, some see alphabets.  What do you see?

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Creativity Everyday

15 Quotes To Nurture Your Creative Soul! from DesignMantic

Here are my 2 Favorite Quotes from the presentation -

"Inspiration comes and goes, creativity is the result of practice"
- Phil Cousineau

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.  Design is knowing which ones to keep."
- Scott Adams

So my Take Away is that you need to schedule time to do creative work everyday and do lots of it without judgment.  Later you can let the "Designer" decide what the good stuff worth keeping is.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

1 Take Away from Chip Kidd

This is my take away from an interview with Book Cover Designer Chip Kidd.  You can listen to it here at The Great Discontent Website.

1.  Give yourself a problem  
Staring at a blank canvas and don't know what to do?   Chip Kidd calls it Blank Canvas Syndrome.  And it's the reason he didn't go into the fine arts but instead choose to become a graphic designer.  He says Graphic designers are problem solvers.  Clients give him a brief with their needs and he sets to work.   Ironically, He does enjoy the freedom that side projects bring.  So, how does he overcome the Blank Canvas in those situations?  He gives himself a problem to solve.

Whether you are an artist or a writer staring at the blank page, take a cue from Chip and make up your own problem to solve.  

Chip also has a class on Skillshare you can take a look at it here

Friday, June 24, 2016

Be Inspired

Look inside the creative process of Google Doodler Olivia Huynh's doodle for Lotte Reiniger's 117th birthday.  Two artist at work, twice the inspiration.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

3 Take Aways from Emma Rogan

 This TED Talk by Emma Rogan is about The 100 Days Project and what she learned about creativity.  Here are my 3 Take Aways -

1.  Give Yourself Permission to Create
When Emma started the 100 Day Project she was surprised to find many non-artist signed up.  It seemed natural for artist to want to commit to daily practicing skills that they could apply to their artistic work but what did non artist get from this exercise?  The answer turned out to be a License to Create.  It gave their desire to be creative validation.  But the truth is you don't need this external validation if you want to create.  Just create.

2.  Don't Over Think it
Emma describes children's creativity as being the same as play.   Kids work fast and don't overthink things like we do when we grow up and start to worry about making things or what other people think.  What would happen if you allowed yourself to just create for the fun of it?  And if you get stuck, well, just have a cookie and play outside for a while.

3.  Know Your Limits
It might seem counter intuitive but setting limitations can be freeing.  It forces you to be more flexible in your thinking.  For example, one of the project participants in Emma's lecture decided to take a selfie everyday but her obstacle was not to show her face in the photo.  The woman had to be very creative in coming up with ways to do this.  If you are feeling stuck or bored with your current art practice try setting some limitations such as you can't use your favorite pen or color palette.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

3 Take Aways from Franchesca Ramsey

Writing for Late Night from Center for Communication on Vimeo.

Even if you aren't interested in Comedy Writing, this video is worth watching for insights into the creative process and making a living from your creative work.  My 3 take aways are from just one answer given by panelist Franchesca Ramsey, writer and performer on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.

1.  Challenge
Before getting a job in comedy, Franchesca and her friends set a goal of emailing each other 10 jokes a day that they had written.   Setting a goal or a challenge can help you be more productive.  The second part of this is that she didn't work in comedy but that didn't stop her from doing the type of work she wanted to do.

2.  Accountability
If you have a partner who is expecting your email it will help you be more accountable to your goal. This is great for people who have problems getting motivated to do things on their own.  (for more on the topic of accountability check out

3.  No, no, no, YES!
Franchesca mentions that maybe 8 out of the 10 jokes are bad but 2 are good.  This might sound like a terrible ratio but if you keep it up everyday you'll have a handful of good jokes at the end of the week.  Not every idea is going to be a winner, but if you keep producing the amount of winners will increase.  Sometimes you have to get rid of the bad to find the good.

Last but not least, if you are interested in Comedy Writing, I want to mention that I found this video via Joe Toplyn's blog .   His book, Comedy Writing for Late Night TV is a must read.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Creative Workout - Make it Small

For fresh ideas to boost your creative juices try thinking small. Can you miniaturize your work?

Here are some examples -
These tiny books redefine short stories.
Mini bouquets bring maximum flower power.
Little foods for big mouths.
Wearable Mini Embroidery hoops (pictured above from

Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday Show and Tell - Goldi "Pick" Locks

Here is my latest work.  This is my first try at Linoleum block printing and I've got to tell you I'm in love.  I love the design process, the hands-on cutting and proofing, everything.   I call it Goldi "Pick" locks.  It's my fun little twist on the classic tale.  I mean really how did that girl get in to the 3 bears house anyway.  

I started printmaking just last month after taking a class from fellow Skillshare teacher Leitha Matz.  The class is called Quick and Easy Block Printing.  Click on the class title if you want to check it out.  (If you are not a member of Skillshare click here to get a 3 month trial membership for 99 cents.) Just goes to show that you should try new things because you never know when cupid's arrow will hit you.  

I wish I thought of that!

I love the blog The Jealous Curator.  Not only is it a great place to see artwork that made blog creator and author Danielle Krysa think, "Damn, I wish I thought of that."  but I love the whole idea behind it.  In her bio which you can read here and in the video above, she describes how seeing others artwork often made her feel awful about herself.  I know the feeling personally and I'm sure many Creatives can relate to it.  But the good news is she turned around this toxic thinking into a source of inspiration that she now uses as "fuel for her creative fires."

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Artist at Work: Henri Matisse

From the ArtFundUK YouTube Channel

1. Adjustments are part of the Process
Henri Matisse called his cut out work painting with scissors.  He cut shapes.  Lots of them.
He cut them, then they were pinned to the wall,  where he viewed, adjusted, re-cut, and readjusted them again and again until he was satisfied.  Only then did he glue them down and make them permanent.  Game designers do the same thing in their play testing phase.  They call it iterating.

2. Reconnect with your Youth
Gretchen Rubin author of  the books The Happiness Project and Better Than Before, often talks about finding pleasure by asking yourself the question "What did you enjoy doing when you were 10 years old?"  For Matisse it was getting back to the basics of cutting and collage.

3. Give yourself a Second Life
Matisse created his cut outs late in life and from the confines of a wheelchair but he found his work so inspiring that he called it his Second Life.  Are obstacles keeping you from creating?  Can you find new inspirations, new techniques and give yourself a Second Life?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Oscar Wilde Once Said ...

Quote from Oscar Wilde
Photo Napoleon Sarony [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Are you Poking the System?

What Modern Art can teach us about Creativity from Podium Wisdom

Judging by my posts, I seem to have a rebellious streak going lately.  Here's a quote that jumped out at me from the above lecture.
"There's a feeling of rebellion in any act of creativity."
-Philippe Petit, The Man on the Wire

Sunday, June 12, 2016

If you love Art...

Art (2008) from Andrea Dorfman on Vimeo.

Andrea Dorfman's song on loving art brings up many ideas that most Creatives can relate to.  Things like...
"Art...If I make it, will they take it." 
Click on her name above to check out Andrea's website.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

4 Takeaways from Printmaker Dave Lefner

The [ahr-tuh-zen] Project: Dave Lefner from Serena Creative on Vimeo.

Just watched this great video on the art and process of printmaker Dave Lefner.  Here are my 4 takeaways. watch the video and find yours.

1. Subject as Muse
Dave makes art prints using the reduction technique of linocut printmaking.  His subject is neon signs around Los Angeles.  The love of his subject shines through in his work and process.  What do you love?  Can you make it your muse?

2. Greater Purpose
His subject matter not only highlights the beauty of the signs but he's also keenly aware that he is documenting this piece of history that is slowly fading away.

3. Making his own Rules
After being scolded by a painting professor for leaving the whites of the eyes unpainted in an assignment, Dave remained true to his own ideals...
"I thought to myself, 'Well, this is art and I can do anything I want to for one.' So I always use the white of the paper in my prints as sort of my ... you know... thumbing my nose at my paint professor."

4. Embrace the Mystery of Art and Life
"I have an idea of what I want in a final piece but even I don't know what it's going to look like until usually that final color and I just have to give over to the mystery of that process.  Whether it's in my art or the process or in life that you have to really just slow down and enjoy the journey as well as the destination."