Saturday, February 23, 2013

Seeing it through your own eyes

   "The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are." Carl Jung

 When I asked my daughter to draw people, she would always say to me, "No, mom, I don't know how to draw." She was afraid because her perfectionist side did not allow her to experiment. She always painted abstracts, but she was afraid of drawing people.
  A few days ago, at the library, she picked a book and asked me to read it to her. The book is called "No One Saw ordinary things through the eyes of an artist". The book explains that nobody saw stars the way Van Gogh did. Nobody saw people the way Miro did. There are more examples  of what other artists saw in a unique way with photos of  their beautiful artwork. My  four-year-old daughter was in awe.
   She had an epiphany. She awakened to the idea that there is not just one way of looking at things. Soon after reading this book, she was able to release her creative self and to express it on paper. She was inspired to make drawings of people holding hands.

    This situation can be transferred to many life experiences.
    Many times our minds are clouded by judgments. We are so tied to the expectations of how things should  be like that we stifle our true selves. We sap the authenticity of our relationships. Sometimes we are so attached to the fear of what the outcome will be that we don't let friendships bloom.

   It can even happen when you start a new job. The fear of making a mistake may repress you on many levels. Finding the right balance involves risks.

    Anyway, I thought this was an interesting experience and I am sharing it with you.

 What do you think?


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Writers who paint

  “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint’, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” Vincent Van Gogh

   Writers paint worlds, scenes and situations with words. They portray characters and stir emotions. Words are the colors of their palettes. Yet many writers out there enjoy painting as well. 
 The vivid imagination of a writer sometimes begs to be expressed in the form of paintings or drawings. This happened (and still happens) with many writers today.

   I gathered a list of them, but feel free to add names. Let’s enjoy their artwork and learn more about their relationship with art.

  Sylvia Plath, who killed herself due to severe depression at age 30, was a talented artist. Now her daughter Frieda Hughes expresses her desire to write poetry and paint. She says she has a "visual imagination".

Feel free to check Sylvia Plath’s drawings here.

 Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900-1944) was a French writer, poet and pioneering aviator, author of my all-time favorite novel “The Little Prince.” Saint-Exupery wrote and illustrated this story in New York City. It was published in 1943 in the United States, both in English and French. 

   During his flights, Saint-Exupery had time to reflect on the meaning of life and the human condition. Some critics believe that The Little Prince was a kind of spiritual autobiography. I have read The Little Prince many times, and every time I read it I discover something new in it. It is profound, charming and magical.

Leila Fortier, artist and poet, is an inspiration to me.

Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) was an American writer who called himself a freethinking humanist. His books blend satire and science fiction. He illustrated his own book Slaughterhouse-Five. Later in life he became interested in silk-screen prints. I found this link to check his work:

 Henry Miller (1891-1980) was an American writer and painter. He painted thousands of watercolors in his lifetime. His paintings have been shown in exhibitions in the US, Japan and Europe. Enjoy his art by checking this link:
Other writers that I'd like to mention are William Blake, Aldus Huxley, William Butler Yeats, Ernesto Sabato, Jorge Luis Borges and Susan Minot.
  I love painting with pastels. Doing it carries me away to another world. Occasionally, I use my own artwork on my blog because I don't have to worry about copyright issues.
 How about you? What  mediums do you enjoy to express yourself? Music? painting?photography? Share your experience.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Exercise boosts your creativity

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep  your balance, you must keep moving." Albert Einstein

   There is some interesting research on the impact of exercise on creative thinking. For those of us who exercise on a regular basis this does not come us a surprise. 
   Exercise has other benefits that contribute to our creativity.
- It relieves tension
- It improves your stamina
- It increases your optimism
   Music also has an important effect because it activates the part of your brain that is hardwired for pleasure and it influences your state of mind. Hence, it makes sense to believe that combining both physical exercise and music will be even more powerful than either of them alone.
   Less than a year ago I posted a blog entry about corporal expression and creativity. I don't have any options to do it where I live, so I resorted to something else: Zumba.
    Zumba is like a dance because it allows you to exercise with music while having fun. On the other hand, it is different from any kind of real dance. If you do Zumba or are willing to try it, do not stifle your body by trying to accomplish a perfect set of movements.   
  The secret to enjoy the class is to loosen your body and to connect with the music. It doesn't matter if you are not following the exact steps your instructor is taking. You can add your touch of creativity and humor. Let your body go where it is willing to go. Leave "Mr Perfection" aside and have fun with it. Laughing is healthy too, so a good dose of it will help you to relax and get the best effects of it.
  Another important matter to consider is the instructor. After trying with different instructors, I know how important it is to connect with them. If your instructor seems to be more interested in running a marathon than in dancing, you may be better off with somebody else. 
   My favorite instructor treats the movements with care, making it easy for us to follow her and to develop our own style. Going fast serves no purpose. I also prefer instructors who hop less and dance more.
   Even a regular brisk walk outdoors is enough to benefit your mind and body with the added gift of being in touch with nature.
    If you have any specific health concerns, discuss it with your health care provider. Above all, have fun, laugh and be creative.
   Do you exercise? What do you do? Share your experience.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

How often do you write?

"Let others pride themselves about how many pages they've written; I'd rather boast about the ones I've read." Jorge Luis Borges

   I don't agree with those who say that we all have to write every single day. I do think it is important to write regularly, but writing every day when you have nothing to say is pointless.
   I only write when I have something to say, which happens to be almost every day. The same applies to blogging. I feel compelled to post if I believe that what I write is of relevance. (Many times I write posts that I never have the courage to post).
   Writing goes hand in hand with living. It is ingrained in my thoughts, my actions, the way I experience life.
    This does not mean that I always know where I am going every time I sit to write. Sometimes  a first sentence can be the beginning of a story, a journey into the unkown. There are two important things I can recommend:
1) When you have an idea, you need to put it on paper (or on the screen) and let it linger in your mind. Carrying a note-book will make your writing life easier.
2) Embrace uncertainty. You can't predict if the outcome will be acceptable. You need to trust your motivation and your intuition without fretting over the outcome. You need to push through the boundaries of uncertainty.
  This is not easy because since a very early age we are taught that it is not okay to make mistakes. However, whenever you are creating something you need to give yourself the freedom to do it.  Here's an excellent article on this:
Why are we so afraid of creativity?   from Scientific American.
   How often do you write?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Short story contest

   If you want to challenge yourself by submitting to a literary contest, this is one you may want to consider. There is no reading fee and the prize is $100  USD and publication in the Southern Pacific Review. The deadline is on March 30, 2013.
    Simultaneous admissions are allowed but not multiple submissions. E-mail your short story to

  The Southern Pacific Review has been publishing both established and new writers from all over the world for over a year.

Good luck and have fun with it.