Creativity: Questions & Answers-Part 7: Barbara Florio Graham

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This is the seventh in a series featuring worldwide creative-thinkers’ responses  to questions about creativity posted previously on this site.  

Please welcome Barbara Florio Graham, a writer, teacher and communications consultant. Her book “Musings”  was a winner in the 2002  Cat Writers’ Association, Inc. communications contest. Visit Barbara’s website at

 1. What is a creative environment?

Any environment can be enhanced to stimulate creativity. If you work all day in a small cubicle with neutral walls decorated only with calendars, charts, and the occasional family photo, it’s very difficult to think creatively.

 How do you define it?

 A creative environment is full of things that stimulate your right brain. The ideal surroundings include plants, running water (perhaps a table fountain), a view outside where you can see nature (my office overlooks a large pine tree and bird feeders), and lots of visual images: not just photos, but posters, drawings, abstract as well as conventional art.

What do you need to be at your creative best? How do you/can we develop a creative environment to promote day-to-day creative-thinking and solutions at home, school and in business? (You can refer to physical space, attitudes, systems, beliefs, etc.)

 In addition to the surroundings I’ve described above, anyone can move into a space that’s more right-brain friendly, such as the courtyard or lobby of a building where there is art, plants, a fountain, and different kinds of seating from your office chair. Taking a walk outdoors is helpful, and those who work at home (or tend to brainstorm problems while they’re at home) will find that taking a shower or a bath can help. Water is a great stimulant for the right brain. 

 2. What are the common obstacles and fears people commonly face when called to use their creativity?

I mentor writers, and many complain about writer’s block. But that is almost always caused by fear. If you don’t attempt something, you can’t fail! Thinking you might not be able to do something is a sure way to shut down and become more frustrated.

 What solutions do you have?

 I teach an online course, called Tapping Your Innate Creativity, that has received rave evaluations from participants since I first began to offer it in hands-on workshops two decades ago. The lessons and exercises are original with me, and everyone who has taken the course tells me they really work.

3. What strategies are available for people to access their creativity?

I describe a great many in my course, and work individually with participants to help them along the way, because each person  is different.

4. In what ways are you creative?

 The best testament to my creativity is my famous cat, who owns the company, has been featured on radio and TV, wrote an award-winning book, and has a blog. I created the persona more than 30 years ago, and the third (real) cat to carry the name Simon Teakettle heads a MEWSical Society with 33 cats from six countries plus a parrot. He now has a Facebook Fan Club, and the fan page on his website includes several dogs, birds, a rabbit, an alpaca and a llama. How creative is that!

In what ways do you contribute to the creative process/outcomes for others?

By working with writers and entrepreneurs I mentor, and through my online course.


Your comments and feedback to this posting are more than welcome.  

If you would like to send your own opinions, ideas and experiences, click here for the questions. When you’ve completed them, click here to send your responses and contact details 

You and your story may be mentioned in my book-in-progress about mining creativity, with acknowledgement and reference to you and your contact information.

 Please forward the link to this site to anyone in your network who might be interested in reading them and/or participating.  

 All the best.   

Creatively yours,        



To listen to call-ins discussing “Creativity and Innovation in Our Homes, Schools and Workplaces” with co-host World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15-21 co-founder and Creativityland CEO Marci Segal, click here to tune in to Part One on Episode 29 and Part Two on Episode 30

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Life Metaphors

#1 - MountaintopIn my introduction for the last Internet radio show of Season 2, (Episode 24-Cliff Sutton: Communicating Effectively)  I said I love using metaphors. Metaphors help clarify, exemplify or simplify complexities facing us.
For example, years ago, I became fascinated with rocks. Over time, until today, I’ve photographed and painted them.

 My very first large sheet of water colour painting, Life Series #2, was created in one of several series of classes I took that were led by Elaine Gitalis, an extraordinary instructor and fine artist. 

Life Series #2. Copyright Nellie Jacobs 2009

Life Series #2. Copyright Nellie Jacobs 2009

Since then, I’ve created many rock paintings in all kinds of styles and media:
Life Series # 5. Watercolour. Copyright 2009 Nellie Jacobs

Life Series # 5. Watercolour. Copyright 2009 Nellie Jacobs

   Life series #1, below, was my first experiment in shape, lighting and shading. It was also a study in negative and positive space:

Life Series # 1, Rocky Crag. Watercolour. Copyright 2009 Nellie Jacobs

Life Series # 1, Rocky Crag. Watercolour. Copyright 2009 Nellie Jacobs

When I began Magical MousePainting™ (computer painting with a mouse using the Microsoft Paint application), I couldn’t help but create illustrations of rocks and mountains:
Same drawing, inverted colours:
Here’s a different perspective:
Picture Perfect. Copyright Nellie Jacobs 2009

Picture Perfect. Copyright Nellie Jacobs 2009

In the week-end nature and photography retreat I attended in April, rocks were again a focus of many of my pictures:

Copyright 2009 Nellie Jacobs

Copyright 2009 Nellie Jacobs

Lessons Learned

1. Rocks can represent the positive characteristics of people.

Copyright Nellie Jacobs 2009

Copyright 2009 Nellie Jacobs

Rocks symbolize steadiness, permanance, reliability and strength. All of these are fine features I look for in colleagues and friends.

2. Like rocks, people come in all different sizes, shapes and colors. The source of their creation and their history are varied, as well. 

Copyright 2009 Nellie Jacobs

Copyright 2009 Nellie Jacobs

3. Like rocks, people can be surface (interested mainly in events) or deep (interested in ideas).  

Into the depths. Copyright Nellie Jacobs, 2009

Into the depths. Copyright Nellie Jacobs, 2009

 I love the way these rocks below nestle into each other like friends sharing secrets, or maybe recipes:

Copyright Nellie Jacobs 2009

Copyright Nellie Jacobs 2009

What are some metaphors you like to use or that fascinate you?

Creatively Yours,

Nellie Jacobs


Through her Igniting Imagination programs and services, creativity consultant Nellie Jacobs stimulates creative-thinking, providing tools to individuals, organizations and companies to help ‘mine’ hidden or latent human resources for the personal and professional betterment of all.

All Igniting Imagination with Nellie Jacobs talk radio episodes are numbered and archived for your listening pleasure, inspiration and convenience at

Seasons 1 and 2 guest photos, profiles, topics and links to their episodes are posted on at Just follow the links.