Monday, November 26, 2012

Book Review: Creativity at Work

Creativity at Work is the new book by the author of the Habitually Chic blog, Heather Clawson.  Habitually Chic was my gateway drug into the world of interior design and fashion blogs, so I've been eagerly anticipating the publication of Heather's first book.

Creativity at Work is a beautiful hardcover book giving us a peek into the offices and studios of top designers, artists and creative directors.  The photos, all taken by Heather, are gorgeous, but my favorite part of the book was reading the designers stories about how they got started and what they are doing now.  They also give us a few words of advice, something I love hearing from talented professionals.

Like everyone else, I'm dying over Jenna Lyon's office and love the interview with Mickey Boardman, but my favorite story comes from Bunny Williams.  She wanted to work for a decorator so just walked up to Parish-Hadley and asked if there was an opening!  I can't imagine that happening today but you never know.  It's a good lesson to go after what you want.  Actually, that is a theme that runs throughout the book and something that is important for creative people to remember.

Creativity at Work is a great read.  I can't wait to see what Heather has planned next!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Artists Way

Are you guys familiar with The Artist's Way?  Written about twenty years ago by Julia Cameron, it is a great book for artists of any kind.  The front cover bills it as "a course in discovering and recovering your creative self".  I bought the book many years ago, put it on my shelf and promptly forgot about it.  I've since learned that this is a very common occurrence.  Last January, after spending way too much time reading design blogs and even more time on Pinterest I decided that I needed to style my bookshelves.

While this restyling was going on, I happened across my Artist's Way book.  I had forgotten that I even owned it and was actually thinking about buying one.  On a whim I decided to google around and see if there were any courses happening in my area and as luck would have it, a six week course was just about to start.  The book itself is a twelve week course, but I signed up for the six weeks to get started.

I was very lucky.  My class was taught by one of Julia Cameron's teaching partners, James Nave.  I went to my class every week for six weeks and worked along with the book.  Unfortunately, I did not continue on to the remaining six chapters,  so I have decided to do the book again on my own.  Once a week for the next twelve weeks I will write about everything that I'm doing with the course.

First up, the Basic Tools.  Julia states that there are two basic tools needed for creative recovery.  The first of them is the morning pages.

The morning pages.  Oy vey.  These would be much easier for me if they were the afternoon pages.  I am as far from a morning person as you can get, but they are a very important part of the course.  Basically it is three pages of long hand writing of what ever pops into your head.  You don't stop writing until your three pages are finished.  You are not suppose to think about it, just do it.  Julia says that in order to retrieve your creativity, you need to find it.  I'm luckier than many people doing the course.  I have not lost my creativity, but I discovered through doing the morning pages that I often let "the excruciating minutia", to quote Elaine Benes, of every day get in the way of my creativity. I was doing everything I needed to do and then making time to paint.  The painting time has to come first and if the house isn't perfect or the paperwork needs to be done it just has to wait.

The second tool is the artist date.  The artist date is a block of time set aside once a week to do something fun and nurturing to your inner artist.  I have to admit, when I did the course the first time I did not do the artist date.  I made the excuse that I did not have time for it, but the truth is, I didn't make the time.  The artist date can be anything.  A trip to the museum, a car ride, a long walk.  This past Friday I was in between appointments and I realized I had an hour and a half of free time.  I started thinking of all the tasks  I could accomplish in that time, but instead decided to take myself on my first artist date.  I happened to be on the Upper East Side, so I decided to window shop along Madison Avenue.  The store windows were beautifully decorated and seeing them was very inspirational.

Julia says that your artist needs to be taken out, pampered and listened to. I rarely do that to myself, much less my inner artist.  She also states that there are many ways to avoid this commitment and she is so right.  I have to do it again this week and am struggling to make time for it, but I will let you know where I go and what I do.

There is so much more to The Artist's Way than what I've written here.  If you would like to check out the book for yourself, it is available here.

Are you doing The Artist's Way? Leave me a comment.  I would love to read about your experience with this amazing book.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Public Service Announcement

As most of the world knows, last week Hurricane Sandy destroyed parts of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.  With another storm on the way tomorrow, people in the affected areas need all the help they can get.  I've been using Amazon Wishlists to send things to charities and organizations that need help and using the wishlists means they get exactly what they need.

If you would like to help, here are two of the links that I've been using:

Occupy Sandy: Occupy has been helping storm victims in the Rockaways, Brooklyn and Staten Island from the beginning.  They desperately need cleaning supplies, personal hygiene products and cold weather clothing. Here is their wishlist.

Liberty Humane Shelter Jersey City:  Liberty is an animal shelter in Jersey City.  They had an Amazon wishlist before the storm, but I used it the other day to send them some cleaning supplies and food.

There are lots of other places that are trying to help out.  My Assemblyman and Councilwoman are both having donation drives at their offices.  You can call your local politicians and see what they are doing.

Last, many organizations need volunteers to drive supplies and people to the affected areas, food prep and delivery, medical personnel, people to sort donations, answer phones and do data entry.

I know I usually talk about fun things here, but with all the devastation that has taken place I felt I had to do my part to publicize ways to help.  I will be back tomorrow with a fun art book post.

Thank you,


**PS:  To my US readers - Get out and vote!!