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”

[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.”

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.

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.

 

 

Promoting Creativity. Selling Yourself.

sell-yourselfIt’s one thing to be chomping at the bit, ready-finally-to inspire and change the world; it’s quite another to let the world know you exist. These days, with a bit of imagination anyone engaged in the creativity field is in a terrific position to promote themselves and their creative passion. Countless platforms and websites offer simple tools to help you grow your network and achieve your goals.

If you haven’t already done so, for very little time, money and research, you can start a blog or send out an e-newsletter to your network. (If it’s too difficult to maintain regular postings, invite guests to contribute articles, or offer to write your own for other people’s blogs.) Pitch editors of traditional or online publications with an idea for a regular daily, weekly or monthly column. (Have some samples ready for submission). Consider writing and self-publishing a short e-book that might, for instance, offer a step-by-step guide to your insights, experiences, or expertise. Speaking of specialties, prepare a course to teach in-person or online. Initiate and lead supportive groups. Post comments and share links on social media. Conduct interviews of creative individuals on a podcast series-or offer yourself as a well-informed talk show guest.

BELCHATOW POLAND - MAY 02 2013: Modern white keyboard with colored social network buttons.

Creativity has become the buzz word used in ads, articles and media headlines around the world. The trick is to produce a ‘hook’ for a press release that will lead to a feature story. Plan events relating to current events or holidays. Identify a pressing public concern, its creative solution-and then act on it. As example, after internationally renowned creativity specialist Marci Segal read a 2001 newspaper banner that said creativity was in crisis, she was moved to establish World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15 (Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday) to 21 (WCIW). Through networking and media coverage, WCIW is now celebrated in more than 40 countries worldwide!

WCIWHere’s an idea to promote creativity AND yourself immediately. Use WCIW as a newsworthy reason to go out into the community to encourage individuals and groups to do something special to celebrate creativity. Approach businesses, schools, recreation centers, clubs, and public institutions to establish partnerships or guide creative projects. For great ideas, explore https://wciw.org/. Add to the list!

-Nellie


This article was first published in the March, 2014 Creativity Coaching Association Creativity Calling! newsletter

Letter to My Children

Friendship

I’m at that stage of life when I am sorting, organizing and eliminating clutter in preparation for moving out and on.  Digging through boxes stored away for years, I am making so many discoveries.  In the process, I read everything. Forgotten memories are stirred up. Letters to and from friends and relatives remind me of past relationships, events, losses and achievements. Among all that paper, I’ve come across notes I wrote to my children to help guide them through life. They grew up into loving, responsible, caring adults, now parents themselves. Hoping they will share this with their children,  written from the heart and unedited, here is one of the letters I wrote to them decades ago:

……………………

LETTER TO MY CHILDREN

Be true.

Discover your whole person.

Develop you.

Draw upon your inner resources.

Success is being happy.

Success is being fulfilled.

Success is being secure with yourself.

Be honest.

Analyze your shortcomings.

Work on a plan to improve.

ENVY

Envy no person.

No one can have it all. No one can have it all. If they do, at what price?

The rich lose their possessions; the beautiful, their looks.

The powerful, fall.

KNOWLEDGE

Learn from others.

Learn from yourself.

Read.

Discuss.

Watch.

Think.

Pause.

SELF-DEVELOPMENT

Identify your strengths. Build upon them.

Admire yourself.

Be proud of your accomplishments.

Identify your weaknesses. Attend to them.

Love yourself.

IMPROVEMENT

Not everything is self-fixable.

Get help if and when you need it.

Grow up.

Become mature.

Take responsibility for your actions and words.

Let go of blame.

CONSIDERATION

Be courteous.

Be irreverent but not rude.

THE RIPPLE EFFECT

What you don’t do can have a great – or greater – effect than what you choose to do.

Consider the effect of your words and actions on others.

SHARING

Carry your share.

Each excuse creates a heavier burden for the rest of us.

RESPECT

Don’t look down at others.

It’s too easy to be critical and patronizing.

LUCK

It is not everyone’s luck to be good-looking, bright, capable and privileged as you.

COMPASSION

Be forgiving.

You may never know what secrets your friends and acquaintances carry.

Be compassionate.

You may never know the burdens and tragedies of people you meet in your lifetime.

PRESUMPTIONS

Don’t presume.

Don’t presume you know all the answers.

You don’t even know all the questions.

No one knows. if he or she says they do, they are either lying or fooling themselves.

SUCCESS

Behind the face of every adult is a kid trying to figure out what the hell he or she is doing.

Some seem to accomplish it better than others.

No one is successful in every area.

The secrets of life are within yourself.

Have faith.

The world is wondrous.

Question values.

Hold onto humour. It may save your life.

FRIENDS

Choose friends you can love,

Choose friends who love you back.

ATTITUDE

Be open.

Learn to trust.

Accept love.

Guard yourself.

Don’t be naive.

Give yourself time.

Be patient with others.

Allow mistakes.

Reach higher, always.

GET HIGH

Forget drugs.

Learn about art. You will appreciate beauty.

Learn about music. Its rhythms captivate.

Study literature. Attend live theatre. Gather ideas.

Forget television and electronics. Interact with people. Volunteer.

Look for positive role models. follow their lead. Become a leader.

Mentor others, then set them free.

Recognize those who labour for you.

Acknowledge their work.

Be open-minded.

Consider new ideas and approach.

BALANCE

Balance your life.

Develop hobbies.

Cultivate interests.

Follow your interests and hobbies.

Become physically active.

Nurture family relationships.

Work at friendships.

Keep in touch. Regularly.

Visit.

Meet for lunch or dinner, movies, theatre.

Phone.

Write.

Email.

Be balanced emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually.

Believe in something.

Nurture yourself.

Pamper yourself.

Relax.

Take time.

Abandon sarcasm.

Don’t goad.

Encourage others.

Give compliments.

Be generous to those who deserve it.

image