Do Something!

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DO SOMETHINGAfter recently tweaking the “elevator-speech” description of my artwork, I was able to identify the latest bug in my brain; how to keep creativity and its fraternal twin, productivity, flowing.

For awhile now, the speech had read, “I feed my experimental urges to tease out my cartoon-style characters.”  It stressed what I felt was the erratic success I had been experiencing in following through with ideas by fixing them into a  piece of artwork.  Besides the unpredictability of my work, I was protective of my process, ever reluctant to sketch with other people around.

The latest version reads, “I regularly tap into my imagination at will.”  This wording change reflects my expanded confidence and the expectation that many of my ideas turn into pictures fairly frequently. Now I discover and draw ideas anywhere, in waiting rooms or while talking with friends at lunch. I also notice that the more I do, the more I want to do.

When a friend gave my associative doodling a name, “pareidolia” (,  I understood more clearly what was actually happening.  My “mind perceives a familiar pattern where none actually exists….”   I count on “the perception of patterns within random data,” reordering lines to make a completely new and unexpected image.  And, happily, after continuing practice, I can turn it into artwork about every third effort, or when I return to the scene of the drawing later on.

The book How to Fly a Horse:  The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery ( is a fascinating feast of explanations and examples which can help direct creators of all sorts.  It seems to me that from the outset the author, Kevin Ashton, emphasizes that creating is only part of the story.  One has to go on to produce, fail, produce, fail, etcetera.  “Creation is not a moment of inspiration but a lifetime of endurance….more monotony than adventure….early mornings and late nights….Beginning is hard, but continuing is harder….The most important thing creators do is work.  The most important thing they don’t do is quit.”  That is a mouthful that has to be said!

On the heels of beginning the book, I caught last weekend’s TED talks, about…creativity, of course.  Sting discussed searching outside himself and thinking about his childhood and background to jump-start what had been a years-long hiatus from composing.  Then Dame Gillian Lynn ( spoke of time and practice allowing her to have increasing control over ideas and tools as a dancer/choreographer.

However, the person who kept my attention as his comments threaded through the hour was Sir Ken Robinson (  Along with many other pithy statements, he said that “curiosity is the engine of achievement….To be creative you actually have to do something.”  

So, whatever it is that revs you up, get going.