Is Creative Block a Myth?

I hear a lot of artists talk about being blocked and it confuses me. We’re creative beings, how is it possible to be blocked? I believe that what artists are trying to say is that their next masterpiece is not imminent, but how does that translate to being blocked?

As a person who’s extremely focused on process creativity is never out-of-reach. My focus on art and healing isn’t about trying to make a living from the art I create, but continually storytelling as a means of creating wholeness in my physical, emotional, and spiritual life.

Using art as an extension of my voice allows me to tell stories, sometimes the same story in many different ways. It gives me the freedom to explore feelings, physical sensations, or life experiences in a safe manner. It promotes holistic thinking and that’s important if you’re on a health and healing pilgrimage.

I feel fortunate that when I don’t feel inspired to sit at my sewing machine, I can pick up my pen and write something. If that doesn’t fit the bill I can pull out my needles and yarn and knit. The laws of physics state that a body in motion will stay in motion, seems obvious and I don’t believe we stop we just aren’t in masterpiece mode.

If you are a working artist follow Austin Kleon’s words of wisdom from Show Your Work. Kleon states, “Concept of chain smoking-you avoid stalling out in your career by never losing momentum. Here’s how you do it: Instead of taking a break between projects, waiting for feedback, and worrying about what’s next, use the end of one project to light up the next one.” I think this is one of the reasons many of the artists I know work on more than one piece at a time so there is always another piece to jump to because they are following their energy!

Tell your story, continue telling your story, don’t stop telling your story and do it creatively! Doodles, a few words on a post-it, swaying to the music are all ways of self-expression. Don’t buy into the creative block as an excuse for not creating something, anything…just do it!

Follow me on Twitter: @GregKatz2


I Believe Leonardo Had It Right!

I love notebooks, sketchbooks, journals, and anything else I can use to write in, draw in, or create in. I believe that Leonardo daVinci had it right because his notebooks have been the inspiration for many for many years. He used the notebooks to capture ideas, thoughts, hopes, and dreams. He utilized those notebooks to retain fleeting, tangential, or recurring ideas. These notebooks are priceless.

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I came to appreciate the value and treasure of daVinci’s notebooks after listening to the audio version of Michael Gelb’s How to Think Like Leonard daVinci. In the book Gelb has boiled daVinci’s thoughts and inventions down to seven principles. The principles are inspiring and utilizing them to expand your creative potential will take you far.

The number of notebooks I have is almost comical. I collect notebooks, especially this time of year when the kids go back to school because they are on sale. I’m not a spiral notebook kind of guy because there’s too much potential to tear out a page you don’t like, think is stupid or crazy. It’s important to retain those pages because they can be the springboard for your next idea journey.

Keeping the notebooks/journals/sketchbooks allows us to marvel at our own talent. We’re able to reflect on our creative journeys. When you keep your past work you’re able to experience the shifts in your creative energies, the change in your sources of inspiration, and the lessons you’ve learned from ultimate self-expression.

I believe in this premise so strongly that I give notebooks as a gift to those who participate in exercises when I speak to groups. I want to spread the wisdom of the notebook, a central place for collecting information and inspiration. It doesn’t mater if you’re an artist, a computer programmer, a chef, a physician, or any other profession; we all have ideas that we want to be able to follow-up on later and they need to be in one place (or multiple notebooks if you’re me).

Try following in daVinci’s footsteps and see how your creative energies blossom!

Follow me on Twitter: @GregKatz2


Art: Our Language of Understanding

We create work that is meaningful to us and represent our life stories. We share not only events in our lives, but our belief system, our hopes, our political leanings, and our like Julie Andrews sings, “A few of our favorite things.” Our art makes us transparent. It’s not that we’re not leaving anything to the imagination, we’re just choosing how and when we let those unspoken areas of our lives reveal themselves.

It may be easier for some of us to show how we think and feel about something rather than speaking an explanation. Gia Mora is a cabaret singer with a unique twist. I saw a segment about Mora on PBS’ Arts District. Mora created a cabaret show that incorporates music, humor, and academia; yes you read it correctly…academia.   It’s a unique twist, but emphasizes the power of art to explain what some may feel are complicated intellectual concepts.

Gia Mora uses art to disarm the public about science and technology. We are continuously looking for ways to engage kids in the fields of math and science and Mora may have the method to draw them in to those subject arenas. When we utilize creativity to share a concept we expand the possibility for connection between us all.

The concept of teaching through art was emphasized in the television movie “The Ron Clark Story”. Clark left North Carolina and went to the inner city in New York and taught kids previously thought to be underachievers. When teaching these kids about the Presidents of the United States, he created a rap song about the presidents and a factoid to help them remember the order. These kids thrived because Clark was able to tap into another part of their brain, their creative side, increasing their capacity for learning.

Looking to share something that others don’t quite get? Try using your creative brain and engage others through art because art is a common denominator!

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Follow me on Twitter: @GregKatz2

Keeping Your Art Honest

We read fairy tales because they sweep us off our feet. They take us on a journey and we join in whole heartedly experiencing every twist and turn the main character takes till he/she lives happily ever after. The authors of these stories create a fantasy, but are the stories honest? Are they representations of the life they are living or creating a life they would like to live?

Art as a healing modality can benefit from brutal honesty and a bit of fantasy. The brutal honest means that your art is true, a representation of the life you’re living. It doesn’t matter if it’s “pretty” as long as it’s real. George Orwell shared, “Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful.” Our art is our autobiography, are you willing to share the good, the bad, and the ugly?

I’ve been studying the art of autobiography for some time now and I’m continually amazed at the revelations shared by people. There is an energy of renewal when you read, view, hear someone’s story and experience how these people overcame life’s interruptions. When you’re honest in your art you give yourself the gift of freedom. There is no shame, no hiding, and no judgment. Your story can’t be denied!

Art allows you to expose yourself without getting arrested. You can show your true self and that allows others to follow your journey. We are all artists because we’re all storytellers. Our lives are meant to be shared; how we share it is up to us. We create because we’re all strands in life’s tapestry. It’s imperative to tell your story honestly because without your strand in the tapestry the world would be incomplete.

Keeping your art honest creates a natural flow. When you’re creating art as a reflection of your life story there is an ease since you don’t have to make it up. I think George Orwell is right; making art that is honest/trusted means showing not only the persona of who we think others want us to be, but who we really are walking in this world!

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Creating with Conviction

Art is a personal expression of our thoughts, beliefs, hopes, and dreams. It gives us a voice that is clear and pointed in this noisy and often blurry world. We create in order to give ourselves an escape hatch from spending too much time ruminating about things in our heads. It gets our ideas out to the world giving us a platform to live our lives.

One of the things I’m exploring and would like to take a journey with you is the idea of creating with conviction. When we create some do so to make pretty things. There are other artists who use their art for political activism and still others who combine autobiography, beauty, and exploration. There are many who use their art as a spiritual practice delving to the depths of the soul through creativity.

Are we creating art with hesitancy either figuratively or literally? Are we editing ourselves before we even get the work out in the world? Are we fearful of our message or story that holds us back from fully expressing ourselves with conviction? I know this is a series of startling questions, but I do believe that conviction is a like a muscle; it gets stronger with use. I know personally that I have had many doubts when creating and instead of going through the fire I switch projects because it seems safe. I guess my next self-exploration is to flush out whether or not it’s really safe or a false sense of security.

I don’t know that I ever equated bravery with being an artist, but I am considering this as one of the components to art and healing. When we bring our true stories to life we stand taller. We are seen in the world and that means we knowingly are societal influencers. Our choice of creating with conviction deepens our spiritual practice. It announces to the world that we have set our priorities and our priorities include ultimate self-expression through art.

How does creating with conviction show up in your life?

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We All Experience Art Differently

Ever go to an art gallery, museum, or a friend’s studio and see a work of art that you don’t understand? Have you ever left feeling less than excited about a work of art? How about your own work, do you have a favorite? Is it the same piece that others have as their favorite? Art is great because it creates experiences. Our life experiences and what we’ve been exposed to influences our taste, that’s why there are so many different forms of art; something different sparks a different note in each of us.

Jason Rohlf on a recent episode of Arts District shared, “A favorite painting for the artist may be a different painting for the viewer. My favorite paintings are the ones that we the most challenging, gave me the most trouble.” If you look at creating art from Rohlf’s view, it’s the challenge that endears the piece to his heart. His experience of challenge and overcoming that challenge make the piece more meaningful to him because he’s connected to the process as well as the painting.

Do you create stories about the art you see? If you do you’re creating stories based on your own life experience. We all have filters that we use to process our experiences. When we see art we filter our likes and dislikes and when we connect to a song, a poem, a painting, or a sculpture we make it a part our lives. We sing the song, recite the poem, take pictures or purchase the sculpture, or buy the painting. We want these creative expressions to be a part of our lives because they have meaning for us.

Lilly’s Oncology on Canvas is an example of how life perspective influences our creative endeavors. This art exhibit is work created by cancer survivors. There are times when the emotionality of the piece may be too hard for a viewer, but it’s the honest expression of the creator. I have work that was created when I was having a flare of my autoimmune disease. The work isn’t “pretty” but it’s quite meaningful. Is it the first piece people are drawn to, perhaps not, but is it an honest piece based on my experience? ABSOLUTELY!

Allow your experience of art to guide you and inspire you. Allow your experience of art to instigate a rebuttal expressed through your own creative expression. Your experience of art can provide you with an outlet for your own story, don’t let the opportunity pass you by!


Do What Makes You Come Alive!

There is a Chinese proverb, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Those are wise words. They speak to the importance of being true to yourself. They emphasize the power of our decisions. The proverb challenges us to dig deep and find what you’re passionate about so you can pursue your life’s mission.

As artists we often know from an early age what motivates and inspires us. We’re aware that some form of creative expression is as important as the oxygen we breathe. We have found as we grow that our voices are important and we need to share our stories with others. I believe more importantly that creative energy makes us come alive. It infuses us with energy that we can share.

Howard Thurman said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive!” This is crucial because otherwise we live the life of a zombie. We move through the world with unmotivated, unintentional movements and actions. We hold back our true nature trying to fit in the mold of “the norm”. If we’re not true to ourselves how can we be of service to humanity?

It has taken me a long time to understand the immense power of creative expression. I always liked music. When I was in high school I thought I would become a music therapist. I chose another path, but still like to sing. I found my creative voice as a textile artist. Working with fabric, paint, beads, ribbons, etc. makes me feel like a kid. It provides endless opportunity, and it’s that energy I hope you find in your lives.

Creating art, whether textile or writing, impacts my body, mind, and spirit. It’s quite apparent how lack of artistic expression impacts my mood if I haven’t been in the studio for a while. The moment I walk in the studio and pick up a piece of fabric its as if my body relaxes and I can exhale. What makes you exhale?

Be yourself! Be alive! Be creative!

Creating Your Own Visual Self-Help Manual

There are entire sections of every bookstore devoted to self-help. We’ve become a self-help culture often drowning in offers that will lead you to freedom, peace, and liberation. I get self-help. At one time in my life I was probably the king of self-help with bookshelves filled with ways to decrease anger, increase prosperity, resolve conflict, communicate better, and a host of other issues. I’ve attended more lectures and conferences than I can count because I find being in the experience more helpful, but as I’ve learned; what you learn only works if you work it.

We’re an intellectual culture. We are often looking for the secret password, the magic wand, or some other totem to guide us to personal freedom, providing us with the keys to the kingdom. We mull things over in minds over and over causing sleepless nights and irritability. What if you could see your thoughts and feelings? How would you seek peace if you had new ways, creative ways of inspiration for living the life you want and deserve?

Eileen Caddy shared, “Cease trying to work everything out with our mind. It will get you nowhere. Live by intuition and inspiration and let your whole life be revelation.” Abandoning the intellectual for the experiential can be frightening as well as liberating. It can reveal, much like dream work, hidden clues from you unconscious that want to be revealed to aid you in living a full life.

I love working in a series when I create art. It’s as if each piece of art is a chapter of the whole. It allows me to express fully and idea or experience. It allows me to refer back to these works to relive something pleasurable or see how I worked out a challenge from earlier in my life through the creative process. My work becomes my own self-help manual. It elevates my senses and creates sparks that I follow till they land in the next work of art.

Create your own self-help manual because it’s specific to you. It doesn’t deal in generalities. It is not a hit or miss solution because it comes from deep in your soul. It is time to live creatively!

Does It Have to be a Masterpiece?

As artists are we caught up in the need for every work of art, every song, every poem to be the pinnacle of our success? You know the answer to the age-old question, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” Practice! Practice! Practice! Believe it or not everything we create will win a Grammy, a Nobel Prize, or the center of a retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

What if your process was the art, would that change how you work or the outcome of your work? I think a lot about process because I want to be immersed in creating, that’s where I find joy and peace. The outcome doesn’t have to be beautiful or noteworthy, but it does have to be honest. It does have to feel representative of my message, my experience, my opinions, or my beliefs.

Art is a healing force and if we get caught up in the trap that everything has to be a masterpiece do some feel like they can’t join the club? Have we imposed a secret password to get into the “art” club? What if we were to employ the benefits of art as we do taking a multi-vitamin daily, would that invite more people to use their creative thoughts and urges?

Incorporating art or creative expression as a practice enhances our lives. When utilizing art as a part of a health and healing regimen it’s the act of creating that gives us the physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits. When we’re able to synthesize our body, mind, and spirit we become energized. We take our place at the banquet table we call life.

If you simply get a children’s coloring book and play with crayons you’d be surprised at the impact on your life. We hang those pictures on our refrigerator when our kids color them, why not when we adults create them? Make the refrigerator your own museum! Use your car as a recording studio and sing your heart out! Stand on a mountain and if you don’t have a poem at the ready recite a nursery rhyme and life the creative life!

Bring It To Life

One of the great things about being an artist or expressively yourself creatively is your ability to bring things to life. We have the vision to bring something to the world that has been lying in wait to come forth. We are devoted to providing the world with a new way of viewing things expanding our reach emotionally and spiritually. We make conscious those ideas that have been bubbling below the surface of our collective unconscious.

I remember when I was writing my dissertation, I fell off the grid. I was incommunicado with my advisor. She was patient with me giving the space I needed growing within my own chrysalis. Then it happened, I had emerged from my cocoon and was ready, willing, and able to create. I asked her about her approach to letting me have the time without anyone harping one me, and she said, “It’s a creative process and your giving birth to something that needs time. I knew when you were ready to give birth it would take off.”

Our ideas, our inspirations, and our creativity come together to gestate. When the time is right the art will appear. Have you ever looked at an artist’s sketchbook? There are too many marks, doodles, drawings, scraps of paper, words, etc. to count. These are the seeds that will eventually become the art we create. These are the components of the story we want to tell. These are our truths we want to share.

Bringing our intentions, hopes, observations, and aspirations to life requires us to be present in our daily lives. It asks us to solve problems and spark debate. What we bring to life eases our pain and that our society. What we birth is our reality. It’s how we show up in the world.

Our art allows us to show our strength and weakness, opinions and beliefs, and our joy and sadness. What we bring to life is limitless. Our inspirations continue everyday, the moment we open our eyes and say good morning to the world.

What will you bring to life today?