Creativity: Setting Parameters

Creativity and creative solutions can often come from setting very specific or restrictive parameters. Believe it.

Here’s an example…

While searching through my art portfolio, I found an art pad which included preliminary drawings for a painting challenge our class had been assigned. The object was to choose a subject while emphasizing in it something indicating or starting with the letters from A to L.

I decided to create a painting entitled Birds, From A to L, while adding another restriction: limiting the color/colour palette.

After extensive research and consideration, I carefully planned a draft on the sketch pad, dividing the proposed painting into sections:

 

Birds study 1

Draft plan layout w sample colours/etchings

A: Air > Thinking  about how to depict the idea of air, I decided to show in the upper left corner a bird souring along with air balloons rising.

 

A: Air Study on left photo; Finished section on right

B: Beak > I chose to draw the profile of an eagle’s beak.

Birds study 15

C: Claw > The claw, or talon, had to indicate power and strength. Again, I chose the eagle as the example.

Birds study 16

D: Ducks > I wanted to show them taking off and flying.

E: Eggs > As I tend to do, I wanted something different and mysterious  in the painting, I chose to include wry humour with a dozen eggs in a box, some of them broken. I didn’t have that many eggs, so kept moving them. It took a day of sketching to get them and the broken ones right, in my opinion.

F: Feather > Years ago, my husband brought back home a large, gorgeous eagle’s feather he found while visiting Canadian country singer icon Ian Tyson’s Alberta ranch. That feather, still on display at our Muskoka cottage, became the anchor of the painting.

 

G: Geese/Grass > Have you seen geese landing on fields and beaches to take a rest and replenish during their long flight? Their V formations are a sight to behold.

H: House/Home > I wanted to incorporate many aspects of birds, such as their variety, appearance, environment (wild and tame),  etc. Hence, the bird house…

I: Infants > Baby birds nestled together seemed to be an endearing way to depict this letter, and demonstrated the life cycle (from egg to soaring birds to eggs for consumption) …

 

J: Jungle > I enjoy the beauty and personality of parrots, and wanted to indicate possibly mated birds, too.

K: Kingfisher > I looked through magazines to find the prototype for this one.

Birds study 17

L: Loons > We have loons on Lake Muskoka. Their distinct cries across the water are so hauntingly beautiful. A visitor pointed out that the loons are prehistoric and that the eagle is more recent development, so the painting is full circle. I don’t know if the information is true. I like to think it is.

Below is the completed painting, purchased as a gift for a bird lover who has a Masters degree that included studying bird species. It hangs in a place of honor, lighted up for family and guests to admire.

Birds from A to L

Birds, From A to L-22″ x 30″ Watermedia by Nellie Jacobs. Smaller copies available for sale…

  • Creativity is
    • personal,
    • individualistic,
    • can be enjoyed by, and shared with others.
  • Restrictions imposed can lead to something you would never have considered.
  • Choices you make as a result won’t necessarily be replicated by anyone else.
  • There is no right or wrong.

What are your thoughts and experiences in regards to the points made in this posting? Share in the comments section below….

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Creativity: Shifting “Should” Mindset to “Could”

I had just completed the painting and wanted to share the process. So yesterday I posted photos and this text on Facebook:

Parts of the completed reworked painting …Please help me give it a title…

 I have included throughout this article photos of various sections of this unnamed art piece. The complete painting is posted at the end…

floral fantasy1Elaine Rose immediately suggested ‘Floral Fantasy’, which I like.

floral fantasy2Then I got a heartwarming, validating comment from acquaintance and Facebook friend Andreea Negrea:

This is just beautiful Nellie ! I’ve come back to this post 3-4 times today just to take another look, there is something in this painting that’s hidden… I don’t know how to explain it. There are so many elements in it that give me a different emotion every time I come back to look at it. For some reason I want to call it “The longing”, that’s what came to me every time. I love it. You are very talented.

I find painting to be a unique way of expressing oneself and I wish I had that talent. It must be an amazing way to release emotion and energy.

floral fantasy3Andreea’s comment inspired this blog post …Read on…

floral fantasy4I am just getting back into creating art after a very long break, in spite of  the fact that – as with any creator – when I’m fully into it, the process of art creation takes me to a high, a place that’s beyond this world, to feeling that is  almost indescribable, at least on a public site as this.

I want to share with you information about the painting’s years’ long development and the creative truths verified along the way …

floral fantasy5Years ago, I framed what I thought was a completed painting as a triptych, and hung it on a wall. Here is the original:

floral fantasy originalOver time, however, whenever I looked at it – except for certain elements – I came to hate it.

I felt it was too busy, too dull, too much of an experiment in too many areas that didn’t really work as a whole. Two years ago, I took it down and turned it to face a wall.

Every time I walked by, I’d glance at the back of the frame, and wonder what to do with it.

Two weeks ago,  I  spontaneously began dismantling the frame layer by layer.

First off were the screws holding the support wire, then the glued wrapping paper protecting the back, followed by the heavy cardboard backing held in place by dozens of staples, and finally, the white matte. It took almost an hour of careful removal to free the painting.

I placed it on a table, ready for something, but what? I’d stop, stare at it and wonder, “What should I do to improve it? What if I mess it up?” And then,  after a few days, asked myself, “Who am I answering to …and, really, who cares?” I decided to let go of the “should” and instead embrace the “could”. What could be done to make this painting more exciting, cohesive and, even, mysterious?

Out came pastel crayons, liquid acrylics, and magic markers. The colour red became my friend. Each day, I eliminated the busy-ness, added a bit of colour here, a brush stroke there. And then, yesterday I was done!

floral fantasy7Not only did I enjoy the process, not only did I love the changes, but the fact that someone else expressed her emotional reactions to it was really an unexpected icing on the cake.

I wrote a note of appreciation, “Thanks again, Andreea. Your response is very meaningful to me.

floral fantasy8To which she replied,

Thank YOU for sharing something so beautiful, something made by your hands and driven by emotions and soul. This was truly a breath of fresh air in this social media world that’s full of disturbing and draining drama … Keep doing all you do, it’s inspirational!

Here’s the completed painting, needing a title… (I LOVE the red!)

Floral Fantasy_1

Untitiled Triptych – Multi-media 21½” high x 31½” wide 

After posting on Facebook, my friend and fine artist Elaine Clarfield Gitalis, who taught a few of my art courses (see my next article for her A to L assignment), wrote, “…the red was a bold move!……you made great painting out of a good painting!”

My reply, not a word of a lie? ” Red just came to me like a bolt out of the sky. Who can explain those moments, Elaine? There are no words.

So, I suggest anyone looking for creative solutions:

  • Let go of restrictions caused by
    • traditional practices,
    • preconceived ideas,
    • self-criticism,
    • concern of what others expect or think, or
    • striving for imaginary perfection (who is the judge?).
  • Experiment with new elements and fresh ideas.
  • Access limitless creativity and problem solving change your thinking from “should” to “could.”

Conquering the Fear

So … this morning I get a text from my daughter-in-law Livy who wrote, “I cried laughing at this.”

“At what?” I ask.

She sends three photos.

The first is a cover page of a swim report she found with her husband/my son Ricky’s name on it. He was 7 years old at the time. He is now 41:

Rickys swim report1Livy next sent a photo of the inside of the report:

Rickys swim report2

Did you notice that no section is checked off or commented on?

The last photo explains why …

Rickys swim card3

The swim instructor writes, “Ricky has never been into the water in swimming lessons…when you ask him to go into the water he refuses and starts to cry…”

Thinking of what he’s done since then, I couldn’t stop laughing today.

I should look for the swim instructor Risa Starr now.

I’d tell her about Ricky setting and overcoming personal challenges such as climbing Machu Picchu, Kilimanjaro, and to base camp at Mount Everest.

I’d tell her about his successful participation in several triathlons.

And I’d take great joy in telling her about his initiative this past weekend: the second annual #organdonorswim, a 30 kilometre, six person relay swim across Lake Muskoka, from Gravenhurst Wharf to Port Carling’s Hanna Park, to raise 1) awareness for organ donation, and 2) donations to send kids with organ transplants to overnight Camp Kivita for a week.

 

 

Who says you can’t conquer your fears? Who says you can’t learn new skills? Who says you can’t change who you are? Who says you can’t successfully achieve goals? Tell them you can, and you will. And figure out the ways to do it…

Organ Donor Swim1

We’re still laughing…

Nellie Jacobs Presents SunnySideUP!

As previously, this week’s SunnySideUp! preview was a success! (Then again, we plied participants with great refreshments beforehand to soften them up…)

I LOVED doing it. I loved the interaction of guests to each other (meeting for first time) and to the stories. I’m looking forward to take the show on the road.

SunnySideUp promo card
(Yes, for those of you who have asked. Nellie Jacobs Presents SunnySideUP! would be suitable for men, if they have a good sense of humour – and are accompanied by their wives. Great for moms with their daughters who are young moms. Leads to all kinds of discussions and memories….)
SO, if you would like an entertaining, fun-filled program for a meeting, workshop, fund-raiser, or special occasion, and if you belong to a women’s network – such as a chapter of an organization, a book or study group, a Sisterhood, Woman’s Auxiliary, or a circle of friends and neighbours – that might enjoy a couple of hours of laughter, contact me for details. Let’s chat, with no obligation on your part. I am happy to discuss fee and email to you a pr package.
 Below are excerpts of testimonials from participants in Wednesday’s presentation: 
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SunnySideUp2!-2Thank you so much for a delightful afternoon. You are such a good story teller that I forgot my aches & pains for a few hours. Please send me your poem about f*ck’n dancing… Thanks again for a wonderful afternoon.” Lila Satok

Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! Nellie” Sondra Ezrin

Thank you for a delightfully entertaining afternoon. It was easy to relate to all your stories Nellie. Some happy , some sad but all with a humorous slant. It is wonderful to see a glass as half full rather than half empty. Good luck. I even liked the sweater you made.” Kathy RottmannSunnySideUp2!-3

“Hi Nellie, I was truly entertained with your stories and of course being your neighbour for 41 years a few of them included us! I truly feel blessed to have grown up with our children and with you and Paul next door. Good luck in all you do.” Cheryl Graff

A great afternoon! Creative Nellie at her best – a natural!” Bonnie Otto

Hi, Nellie!!! Thank you for inviting me!! ..,your stories weave common threads of our lives into tapestries of our common experiences as daughters, working mothers, wives, and (some of you lucky people) grandmothers . Or something like that !!!! …The stories were wonderful and I enjoyed every moment!!! It was great to connect with new people in such a lovely environment. Each story contained recognizable moments for someone in the group. It was a great afternoon —- ohhhh and the refreshments were out of this world!!!! Those Skor bars—– to die for.

SunnySideUp2!-5I would change nothing… except … maybe allow some time for sharing stories after you speak? Your stories spark other stories. I loved the story behind your poem so much and could relate very easily to it. So I started videotaping it up to the point where you started reading the poem. Thank you again for a wonderful, warm and enlightening afternoon.” Fran Cohen

(Click here to watch Fran’s video.)

“I’m still chuckling remembering some of your stories. I see you doing a ‘One woman show’ in intimate theatres. I love the rather worldly naivety in your presentation. All the very best to you.” Tamara Penn

SunnySideUp2!-4“I think you have a great idea and your positivity is amazing. You reach  out and draw people in with ease and warmth.” Laurie Manoim

 

 

You are able to encourage people to “open up”, shares thoughts, stories and feelings and, even more importantly, encourage and enable them to connect with each other. The afternoon was light and light-hearted while still touching on some of the realities of life that are not always “light”. Keep doing what you are doing — you bring joy, happiness and laughter to those around you — what could be better!! Also — if you would like to share the chocolate cake recipe….. I would be a willing and mouth-wateringly happy recipient!” Lynn Catzman

SunnySideUp2!

Just got back from your SunnySideUp performance and it was hilarious. I can’t believe how everyone laughed and enjoyed your life stories. You are so creative and should bring your talent to a wide audience… You are a natural born comedian and you write your own material. Congratulations.”  Lusette Shapson

 

 

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To read my post about the first SunnySideUp! preview and the motivation behind it, click here.

To Like, Connect, read about ongoing events, and share your own stories on SunnySideUp!’s Facebook page, click here.

Click on each of these blue links for more details about the SunnySideUp! program, my book take-home bonus gift  Making Opportunity Knockrave reviewsFAQs, pricingcontact, and to visit the new Nellie Jacobs Presents SunnySideUp! website homepage.

Click here to  contact me.

United Nations recognizes Canadian’s World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21 |

It’s official! I’m pleased to announce that on her birthday April 20th, sixteen years after its creation by my friend, colleague and fellow Canadian Marci Segal, the UN will recognize World Creativity & Innovation Day April 21, celebrated in more than 50 countries:

World Creativity and Innovation Day April 21

https://wciw.org/2017/04/07/special-announcement-united-nations-recognizes-world-creativity-and-innovation-day-april-21/

I. Rhonda King

The event and declaration can be followed live online April 20th 10:00 Eastern Time on UNWebTv when Inga Rhonda King, Permanent Representative/Ambassador to the United Nations from St. Vincent and the Grenadines will read a UN resolution on the floor of the General Assembly to include World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21, among the UN Days of Observance which includes Earth Day, Water Day, World Humanitarian Day, etc.

In her 10-minute speech, Ms. King will emphasize the importance of using creativity to meet the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals: 17 Goals to Transform the World

Marci Segal began studying creativity in 1977 at the International Center for Studies in

Image result for marci segal

Marci Segal, MS

Creativity at the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is the first Canadian to hold the paired designation of the program’s first accredited minor and their master’s degree in Creativity and Change Leadership. 

Segal has been a senior faculty member at the Creative Problem Solving Institute, an MBTI ® instrument qualifying instructor, and sessional faculty at Canada’s Ontario College of Art and Design. She sat on the board of the American Creativity Association and was a member of and presenter at the World Future Society for many years.Image result for marci segal She has spoken worldwide at other conferences and events, including TedXCanmore, and has consulted with many leading organizations including NASA, the Ontario Public Service, PHD Canada, Ricoh and Bosch.

Marci founded World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21 (WCID) in 2001 which grew to become World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15 – 21 (WCIW) in 2006. This observance reaches people, businesses, organizations, families, communities, schools, and governments in over 50 countries. WCID and WCIW are non-commercial, volunteer occurrences, and no one pays to participate. Like Mother’s Day, each celebrates in their own way, relevant to their context. 

Marci was born and grew up in Toronto and now lives in Canmore (another metaphor I love), Alberta. Her creative life journey is featured in Optimizing Your Creativity, Chapter 5 in my book Making Opportunity Knock.

She will be attending the April 20th proceedings at the UN. Watch it live!

She can be reached by email at marci@wciw.org

Websites: 

https://wciw.org/  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marci_Segal

Please share the news with your network. 

Don’t Give Up

I love hearing stories of the twisted routes creative people take towards achieving their goals.  In my TV and podcast radio interview programs and Making Opportunity Knock book, I’ve shared their “failures” and successes. The overriding message loud and clear is, “Don’t give up…you never know how one thing with lead to another…” It’s about going with the flow…

I’ve had plenty of my own failures.

Computer KeysWhen I attended high school, if we chose the general rather than commercial (secretarial) track, we were not allowed to take typing. I always felt typing was a necessary skill, so years later I took an adult typing class offered by our city’s Continuing Education program. This was before computers. I’d forgotten that I don’t like competition – and speed typing in a classroom of ‘competitors’ didn’t suit me. When I ‘failed’ typing. I was ashamed. However, my second name is Perseverance: I practiced on my own, first on a typewriter, then on a computer. I’ve managed to write/type books, scripts, essays, articles and blogs. Who knew back when that all of these would come about?

MY BOOKS

As a child growing up, I attended 13 schools in Toronto when my immigrant parents moved around according to circumstances. I became an elementary school teacher, leaving when I gave birth to the first of four kids. Returning to university, I took note of the profs in addition to my kids’ teachers. What made them good instructors? Subsequently, because of problematic issues I was identifying in the school system, I wrote the draft to an article which I submitted to a newspaper editor – who rejected it. Who knew that a chain of events arising from that rejection would lead to a manuscript my agent sent out that would be itself be rejected by 29 publishers before being picked up by Penguin Books Canada? Who knew that all those positive and negative school experiences from childhood through adulthood would contribute to Grading the Teacher: A Parent/Teacher Guide, a book that became a bestseller featured nationwide by media and sold worldwide? Not I.

What’s your story? What failures led up to your success? What roads did you travel to achieve your goals?


The updated 2017 print edition of Grading the Teacher: A Parent/Teacher Guide will soon be available. To be notified of publication date, contact me to add your name to the list.

 

Now Playing: SunnySideUP!

My friend Barbara has been after me for years to pull together and share the stories I’ve told her about encounters I’ve had with others. She says I have such funny way of presenting – even experiences that aren’t funny to begin with, yet turn out so – that audiences would enjoy listening and participating.

I resisted. Look, Barbara’s a really good friend, and she always laughs uproariously at my telling, so why would she say otherwise? And she’s a great audience all by herself.

She and I each like a good moral, metaphor and character analysis. Barbara thought the themes I’d likely weave through the presentation would speak to and connect with common experiences of participants. She thought I could provoke great discussions and sharing of others’ stories.

I resisted.

I reThirsty Free Clipart #1sisted until a few months ago, when life circumstances were unfolding that almost shut me down. I thrive on being creative. Creativity raises me, envelopes me, encourages and inspires me. Without creativity, I’m in a drought, saddened and very, very thirsty.

Sound drastic? It was.

So. You know how sometimes events come together and build? A former aquatic instructorlaughter%20clipart emailed me that for years she has shared my sweater story and laughs like crazy each time. A neighbour I met at the hairdresser became hysterical over my meeting my former boyfriend at the bank after 40 years story. I still fall into gales of laughter along with the listener every time I unfold the recent true story about my mom and a dog…

In the manner of a really good friend who understands me, Barbara kept hammering at me until my shell of resistance began to crack. I started to record, remembering more and more as days passed. My creative juices began flowing again. She and I discussed at length format, themes, issues, organization of material, what to include, our objectives and the impact we aimed for.

sunnysideup-themes

Over months, we brainstormed a title, planned a preview event, prepared a special guest list and decided on food to serve.

A month ago, we sent out invitations. Two weeks ago, when guests arrived we offered a table full of refreshments and drinks. Well sated, they took to their seats. The imaginary curtain went up – and the show began. How did it turn out? Read for yourself:

sunnysideup-full-image-pr

Thank you, Barbara.

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To read my post about the second SunnySideUp! preview, click here.

To Like, connect, and share your own stories on SunnySideUp!’s Facebook page, click here.

Click on each of these blue links for more details about the SunnySideUp! program, my book take-home bonus gift  Making Opportunity Knock, rave reviews, FAQs, pricing, contact, and to visit the new Nellie Jacobs Presents SunnySideUp! website homepage.

Click here to  contact me.