Everyone’s a Critic, eh?

I can’t stop thinking about it…

The other day, some of our kids and grandkids came for a visit. Among them was our youngest grandchild, the cause of my curiosity.

Next month, she will be just 2½. She’s quite a character. She tries to be fiercely independent and walks with great confidence. Resolute in her opinions, last year she was going through that typical toddler stage at which she replied to every and any request with a determined “No!!!” When our son/her dad tried to urge her to say yes, she looked at him squarely in the eye, and insisted, “NO ‘yes’ daddy!”

She loves to draw, colour, and paint…

Zoey at art

She loves to draw,  colour and paint

So, back to what happened the other day…

While everyone was interacting, I was busy laying out the food I’d prepared earlier in the day for a buffet. I noticed this little girl walk into the space between our dining room table and kitchen island, stop in her tracks, and stare at the painting resting on an easel in the corner of the dining room.

Candles with Flowers

“Still Life with Flowers” Mixed media by Nellie Jacobs

Fascinated to see such a young child study the painting so carefully, I stopped what I was doing  to watch her. Just as I began wondering what thoughts were going through her head she turned to me, and declared,

“I don’t like it.”

I almost fell over.

“What?” I asked, not sure I heard her words correctly. “What did you say?”

“I don’t like it,” she repeated.

Now I was really fascinated, so I asked her, “Why don’t you like it?”

Her answer, “Because.”

No explanation. So, now, like a fool, I began pleading my case to this two year old. I told her I was the one who painted it and that I’d also painted the artwork behind her.

Flowers on Windowsill

“Vases with Flowers” Mixed media by Nellie Jacobs

She turned to look, and immediately turned back to the first one. I mumbled on, pointing out again that I was the painter, that the subject was only flowers – and ended with the grand, “Who asked your opinion anyhow?”

I’d argued in vain. Unmoved, she barely glanced at me as she went off to continue playing with her cousins…

Later in the evening after everyone had left, I repeated the exchange with my husband Paul. He asked why I was feeling so sensitive.

On the contrary, I told him, I was fascinated.  What about the painting prompted this two year old to stop, look and give an unasked for opinion? Why would she say she didn’t like it? What did she find disagreeable? I wished aloud that she could have had the ability to articulate the reason for her reaction. My musings led to the bigger picture, the question of criticism overall: understanding where it comes from, the person’s agenda, expertise, background, knowledge, our reaction to it, our own tendencies to be critical, etc.

I had conversations about it with others. “Out of the mouths of babes” and “She’s pure of heart” and “She knows what she likes” were some of their responses. Those discussions became deeper, leading to provocative debate over the definition of criticism, why people criticize,  and whether there can be any value to critics generally.

 

Zoey the art critic

Hard at work, colouring

Your thoughts?

_____

See below for comments to this post…

 

 

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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….

Creativity: Shifting “Should” Mindset to “Could”

[Click here to see the YouTube video]

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

[Click here to see the YouTube video]

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.”

***

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

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: 
***

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

 

 

***

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. 

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.

***

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.

 

 

How Did Van Gogh Become Famous?

I was fortunate to visit the remarkable, thought-provoking Van Gogh exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

I came away with my mind spinning with all sorts of thoughts/inspiration/ideas. However, the particularly burning question that consumed me was how Van Gogh-who barely sold a painting in his lifetime-without current influence of social media became so famous in the years following his untimely death.

Curiosity overtook. I conducted intensive research (simply Googling “How did Van Gogh become famous?”) and, to my surprise, I discovered two sites that begin to answer the question:

1. The Woman Who Brought Van Gogh to the World

2. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger

Barely a year after Vincent’s death, his own brother and steadfast supporter Theo died. Theo’s wife Joanna was left a widow with a baby, an art gallery – and an entire catalogue of her brother-in-law’s paintings. Relying on her late husband’s advice to keep the collection together, as well as the experience and support of trusted friends and experts in business, she set out to create a buzz….

Johanna’s strategies were so successful over time they became what we would now refer to as viral.

Always curious about the road people travel towards their successes, I would love to know exactly how YOU created a buzz for your products and services? Share with readers your experiences, viewpoints, and suggestions in the comment section below.

Creatively Yours,

Nellie

Are you member or facilitator of a book club, study group, organization, educational institution or workplace?

Marci Segal, founder of World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15-21 featured in chapter 5, speaking at "Making Opportunity Knocking" launch.

Marci Segal, founder of World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15-21 featured in chapter 5, speaking at “Making Opportunity Knocking” launch.

“Making Opportunity Knock” provides excellent material for in-depth group discussion and debate as well as personal insights and self-discovery. For details, visit http://www.ignitingimagination.com/bestsellingauthor/makingopportunityknock.html

 ________________

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