nav-left cat-right

Hitting the Flats!

Afraid to enter your studio?  Staring into space?  Forgetting you ever knew how to paint? Convinced you’re a has-been?


Welcome to the Flats! For most artists getting started often is the greatest task…. Sometimes it is our excessive pace that causes us to miss the genius of ideas that cross our mind like a fleeting butterfly. Now what was that idea I had….hmmm….now gone we get busy again with something else and wonder where our creativity has gone. In the alternative, perhaps we are too bogged down, too slowed down, putting off things until a moment’s idea is lost in a muddled forgetfulness. What do we do when we stare at a blank canvas, hopelessly caught in the dead end zone? Perhaps the following will inspire one or more readers to great heights. OM


Cultivating Creativity

The Who-What-Where-When & How of Cultivating Creativity

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

Albert Einstein

What is creativity and who is blessed with it? Where does it come from? How do we access this powerful resource and when do we put it to use?

According to Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of creativity is “artistic or intellectual inventiveness. Creativity is marked by the ability or power to create or bring into existence, to invest with a new form, to produce through imaginative skill, to make or bring into existence something new.” Often students believe that creativity is either a mystery or a divine right. Either you have it or you don’t sort of thinking. Both as an artist and as a teacher, I have come to see that creativity can be born and developed in all of us. The blessing is all of ours.

To find our creative fountainhead, we must tap inside ourselves. We must begin by thinking we are creative to remove the barricade of doubt and fear that encloses our imagination and blocks our creative flow. How to access this fountainhead of ideas is a practice of “doing” – the exercise, like any exercise, builds strength and spontaneity.

To begin with we must take ourselves away from our familiar routine and everyday surroundings. It may help to retreat to a peaceful place, one with fewer distractions. Or, on the contrary, we might need stimulus of outside noise, sites and smells. Either situation will help to open the floodgates of imaginative thought to energize, motivate and inspire us to create.

Bring a pad of paper and colorful pens and pencils to help you map out your thoughts. Bring or look for magazines, pictures, books, art and find associations to people, places, and things. Surround yourself with the task at hand and with the things you love to think about and dream about. Be amidst all your “comfort” thoughts.  “All who study creativity agree that for something to be creative, it is not enough for it to be novel: it must have value, or be appropriate to the cognitive demands of the situation.” Creativity – Beyond the Myth of Genius, by Robert W. Weisberg, Page 4. To my way of thinking, this assertion puts the cart before the horse. The moment we say to ourselves that what we must be thinking about should have value and purpose we are stopped dead in our tracks.

So let’s step away from purpose, value, etc. Let’s stop thinking that we must “know” something to be imaginative and creative. To unleash our creative thinking, let’s just “BE” creative. Allow ourselves to say “what if” and proceed from there, full of fantasy and fun. Does it matter whether the first ideas to roll off our thoughts are perfect? No. Let each thought sponsor a new thought. Let each thought branch out and keep it branching. There is no measurement at this stage and no evaluation. The object is to get the bowl full of crazy, wonderful ideas bursting with wild imaginations. It won’t take long for you to become so excited you’ll hardly know where to begin.

Aha! And this brings us to the next step. Stepping back and looking over the results of our rampage into wonderland and coming up with something we just “know” is right. At this point your knees may weaken with thoughts like, “I’m not smart enough to pull this one off.” or “How will I get the additional information I need?” or “This looks like too much trouble.” These thoughts are not your friends.

So I suggest you write down all the negatives you can think of ahead of time in small type. Put them on pieces of paper with a big “X” through them – sort of like the “no smoking sign.” Then write the positive verse in bold letters under that and tack them around your studio. If you need more input, get it. Read, speak to authorities, other artists, and gain more information. Seeking knowledge is the way out of the maze and the way into confidence.

Einstein’s quote shown at the top of this newsletter “so beautifully captures the fact that you have to first be able to imagine something before you will be able to turn that thing into reality. Knowledge is of little use without the imagination required to put it to good use. Imagination, in turn, is what paves a pathway to the acquisition of new knowledge and new skills. Imagination and knowledge interact to create a cyclical effect, with each feeding the other and moving forwards in a unified direction.” Imagination is More Important than Knowledge By Roseanna Leaton, Hypnotherapist.

Once the idea begins to gel, creativity takes on the muscle of decisiveness. Here the process of decision-making helps toss out the “maybes” in exchange for the definite “yeses.” As artists we start to fine tune with questions of color, size, medium, etc. Pull this all together, develop your rough ideas, look them square in the face and contemplate their maturity. Watch your seeds of inspiration grow along with your confidence that CREATIVITY IS, in fact, IN EACH OF US and unleashed through fearless effort, practice and prayer.



Read About Developing Your Creativity

Ways to Explore Your Visions

Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius

by: Michael Michalko

Amazon Price: $13.59 (as of 02/07/2011)


The Zen of Creativity: Cultivating Your Artistic Life

by: John Daido Loori

Amazon Price: $12.71 (as of 02/07/2011)


Creativity Workout: 62 Exercises to Unlock Your Most Creative Ideas

by: Edward De Bono

Amazon Price: $10.36 (as of 02/07/2011)


Creativity for Life: Practical Advice on the Artist’s Personality, and Career from America’s Foremost Creativity Coach

by: Ph.D. Eric Maisel

Amazon Price: $13.46 (as of 02/07/2011)


Cave Paintings and the Human Spirit: The Origin of Creativity and Belief

by: David S. Whitley

Amazon Price: $16.32 (as of 02/07/2011)


Creative Ways to Get Creative

Links to Opening Your Mind

These wonderful links will help you find ways to work wonders with your thoughts.

Creativity Exercises


Or, how to give your right-brain a kick in the pants. Tim Stellmach, Instructor


Reader Feedback

Share Your Tips on Breaking the Block and Going Green!

Let us know what sparks your creativity and gives you the “Green Light” to get going. The Botanical or Scientific Illustrator is usually faced with researching their subject before they have a chance to complete the actual finished work. The research often deflates the enthusiasm of the creative urge to draw and paint. Here are a few of mine –

  • I clean up my work surface before I retire for the night and fill up my water buckets with fresh water so in the morning I’m ready to go.
  • I keep a file of ideas handy as well as unfinished projects in one place.  When I’m looking for the next great idea, I go to my resources.
  • I leave nothing to memory – I write it down, sketch it and keep it all handy.
  • When I’m tired, bored, or stuck, I clean up my studio.
  • I read about the Master Artists; Their lives, their frustrations, and their work habits are all inspiring.

How do you keep yourself going?

What tips do you have for turning red into green?

2 Responses to “Hitting the Flats!”

  1. Zachariah Leya says:

    Man can you say intelligent.. you know how to write! I enjoy your site.

  2. Thank you a lot for sharing!