Trust In the Process of Growth

Posted by jmh on January 24, 2012 in Authentic Living, Creative Genius, Creative Living, Goals and Intentions

Take a Creative Coffee Break!

Re-Creating Ourselves:

We have to be patient with ourselves as we learn and grow. We have to go through the “growing pains” of learning and assimulating and  more significantly applying the new information to our life. As we try new things, we will sometimes stumble and fall. We have to get back up and continue in our  present pursuit. It is my belief that we are here to grow, expand, and unfold—mentally, spiritually, and materially. We are shedding our old selves and reinventing our self and our life.

2012′s Intended Selves

My phrase for this new year is “2012: Becoming more of our intended selves.” Each of us has a unique DNA and therefore why not also a unique set of desires and passions to fullfill in this life. It takes time and patience to know what you want. As someone once said to me,”God, grant me patience but hurry!”   Then, it takes time to determine how to get there from where you are.  Lastly, it takes discipline and persistence to master new sets of skills along the way. In this the first month of the new year, it is the perfect time to reevaluate what we are each doing with our life. Take time to ask ourselves,  if we are on track for the kinds of things we want to accomplish. They can be small or monumental accomplishments. Maybe we hope to leave behind some new invention to make life better on the planet as our legacy.   Perhaps we just want to be good people who assist others in life. Whatever your intention, it’s all good.”

Good, better, best, I won’t stop till my good is better and my better is best”

Great Minds Do Think Alike

Wonder what Andrew Carnegie did to make sure he was on track? What was he doing when he had the idea of hiring Napolean Hill to interview over 500 successful and wealthy men to reveal their  success secrets. Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich, is phenomenal. It gives the thoughts, ideas, and organized plans for acquiring wealth. It has impacted people from all walks of life and is considered one of the most influential books of all times. Carnegie  and Hill did a great thing for the world in working together on that literary jewel. Did Carnegie sit at  the breakfast table one morning and decide that he would build libraries all over the world so that others could be the  benefactors of his generosity.   So many great people have done wonderful things for the world.

Follow your Passions

What is your burning desire? With every ounce of my being,my deep knowing is that life long teaching and learning is my reason for being.  One of my frustrations is not knowing fast enough how to put solutions in the hands of educators so that their lives can be made easier in their classrooms.  By providing relief to these devoted educators, there would be more time to interact with their students. Students are after all 100% of our future. The students can then first determine what their dreams are and then learn to develop the skill sets to turn their passions into viable contributions in the way of careers. Just as Marsha Sinetar said,” Love what you do and the money will follow.” My life has been a living example of doing  that which I love. Rumi said, “Let what you do— be what you love.”   I am doing just that.

Inspired by Others’ Lives

Who has inspired you? I intend to read more books about visionary people and learn how they stayed the course to  serve humanity in generous ways by living lives of service. This month,  both my University of Sedona master’s thesis and my doctoral dissertation are in their final stages of completion for my PhD.  Extensive research  has allowed me to review many of my favorite books from such great minds as  Eric Butterworth, Catherine Ponder, Esther Hicks, Dr. Joseph Murphy, Napolean Hill, Dr. Wayne Dyer,  and many more. Both of my papers involve distilling spiritual truths to mine from this large body of content,  a simple formula for living prosperous, peace-filled, struggle free lives.

One of my favorite Christmas gifts was a book about another of my heroes Steve Jobs. He gave so much to the world with his creative and innovative technologies.  His words to his staff in his last board meeting were that Apple must stay at the intersection of creativity and technology. His life is such an inspiration. What if he had not worked in the garage with his  previous running buddy Steve Wozniak to invent the Macintosh computer? Certainly, they had their challenges.  Because they moved through their difficulties a new technology was born. Think how many lives have been positively impacted including mine. It is their fault that now I am an “artsy girl geek.” My first computer was that first  Apple Macintosh SE with 312 K of memory and  it was upgraded to 512k and  I thought I had a loaded computer.  Isn’t that funny? That summer was spent with half eaten sandwiches beside what was to me an instant desktop publishing machine.  That was the beginning of my self publishing adventures.

The Story Continues…Writing It Down To Make It Happen

The Egyptians believed that when you write things down you give them power. With that in mind, my future vision is a mix of  intended  and expanded skills which include;

  • building and maintaining virtual art rooms in my  web sites,
  • understanding the code required in building user friendly dynamic sites,
  • creating service oriented useful blogs ( & remembering to post on them),
  • adding  security with private membership areas to each site, and
  • keeping up with all the social media networks & their possibilities.
  • keeping myself organized to log in to the numerous sites maintained/ visited regularly.
  • broadcasting webinars (Webin-ARTS) and hosting teleseminars (teleseminARTS) with juicy inspirational visual reinforcement,
  • reformatting my Art Work Book Series of ebooks for Amazon.com’s Kindle
  • hosting monthly Artworkbook Bootcamps across Texas/USA.
  • providing more products that support quality programs in art employing creative  and innovative technologies.

We live in a fast paced world and it can overwhelm the best of us. My overarching goal or intention of mine is to maintain laser focus on these fewer more challenging goals.

Understanding Expands

It was my privilege to facilitate the learning of very talented art students in a high end Mac lab in Aldine ISD for almost a decade. What a job, teaching art on and off  computers, somebody had to do it. Another passion of mine is sharing successful strategies with others so that they too can experience successes. Oftentimes when presenting the benefits of archiving student work using whatever technology you presently have,  some members of the audience would have that “deer in the headlights” look. Now that I too am traveling down some new roads through new and uncharted territories, my understanding of their frustrations have expanded of  not only just how much there is to know— but also how difficult it is to keep up with the newest and latest technologies especially if these schools are without computers. At the conclusion of my state and national conference presentation the following quote was shared. It  rang true for me then and continues to ring true for me as I  continue to explore new things. Enjoy reading it and enjoy the adventure that life can be. Thanks for sharing this journey with me. Please comment to let me know what you are up to on the planet.

“Be Patient with yourself. It takes time to work out issues, to work through things. It takes time to learn lessons. The more important the lesson, the longer the cycle to work it out and work it through.

We live in a technical age, but our souls aren’t technical. They’re still connected to nature. We grow and change as nature does. Learn her ways. Study her seasons and cycles, and know those same seasons and cycles are in each of us. The process of change is like planting a seed and watching it grow and bloom into a flower.

What are you trying to develop? A project? A change in yourself? Is there something new you’re learning, trying to do? Are you trying to adjust to a major change in your life? Is there an old habit you’re struggling to let go of? A love relationship or a friendship you’re hoping to begin or attempting to end?

Each stage of the process of growth and change is important. From those first moments when we see the idea, or the change begins, to those long moments of nurturing and nourishing the idea, each stage counts. Is there a change in your life that’s begun, one you’ve started to notice? Are you thinking about it a lot, talking about it a lot, but not quite ready to take action? This stage is important too. You are nurturing and nourishing the seeds of change.

It takes time for nature to change things into what they’re becoming, it takes time for things to develop. Be patient with yourself and life. Trust the process of growth.”

Suggested Readings:



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Reflective Teaching Practices

Posted by jmh on October 23, 2011 in Reflective Practioner

I am here to tell you that my teaching life was nothing short of incredible. It had it’s ups and downs and those challenges were just part of the learning curve required in anything you do in life. That first year of teaching was one with great anticipation for how students under my guidance would do great things. Shortly after the start, the reality hit and suddenly, I discovered that teaching was not the only thing expected of me. Students needed some discipline and motivation, principals needed reports, the counselors needed paperwork, parents needed to be informed of their child’s progress, managing time and materials was necessary, and it all seemed to happen at the same time. I don’t remember hearing anything about budgets or grading or duty when I was considering teaching as my life work. Eventually, I felt a little bit overwhelmed asking myself: how will I do all of this? Can I do all of this?
Finally, the WINTER holiday break came around giving me time to reflect on the first semester and some well deserved time for myself. Coming back I felt rejuvenated and with half the year under my belt, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. With a semester left, it was always a good time to look at what happened, stop and reflect to understand what worked and what didn’t work. At first I thought I had to work solo. Then suddenly I was enlightened to the support of other like minded individuals. So before you go through thirty years, let me offer some hard earned advice.
1. Remember to ask the teachers around you for their input. Look for teachers in your subject area and watch the activities in classrooms located around you. Some of my best advisers were English teachers who taught next door. If there was anything that I learned in my more than three decades of teaching was that you can never do it all alone. Well, you can but why should you? It is important to have administration, counselors, colleagues, students and parents and even businesses on your team.
2. Team up to get strategies and new ideas for your classes. Attend conferences and join professional groups. Join your state and national organization and any local professional groups in your area. It is always good to know that other people share in some of your concerns and can guide you to solutions. You can also feel rejuvenated with fresh new ideas. Two places to start are: Texas Art Education Association, and the National Art Education Association . Check on each of these sources to see if you too will enjoy the benefits of their association.
3. Look for outside resources and ask others how they do things. We are never too old to learn something new. Several web sites offer incredible amounts of information. They include; my sites ArtWork on the Web and My Virtual Art Room, and Cool Art Cards, and  two of my favorites; The Incredible Art Department, and Art Education 2.0
Speaking of learning something new, during the first edition of the Creative Juice News to Use newsletter which is the complimentary edition which supports all of the offerings including ebooks of the newly developed and always progressing web site. It is a resource for art educators and their students. Be sure and tell other art teachers about it and let me know what you would like to read about.

What subjects?

What Issues?

How can I help? Email me @jmh5@mac.com
The Teacher’s Almanac & The ArtTestPack:
180 pages provide assistance in maintaining an efficient and orderly classroom all year long. Favorite forms for organizing and managing classes include, the Clean-up Crew forms, Project Evaluation forms, Seating Charts, Things to Do form, blank six week planning calendars and much more. This deluxe teacher’s edition begins with an introduction entitled “Why Study Art,” to Art Class Rules, with suggested outlines for each level of art. The ArtTestPack is NEW offering concept terminology, history, procedures, project ideas, worksheets and exercises. Tests with test keys are included reinforcing your students’ understanding of the material presented.

So— What’s in it for Me?

When I first started self publishing, I did so because I needed handouts and step by step procedures in all the media that we used in our school ( at the time we had no curriculum). Icould not find what I wanted so I spent ten years putting it into word processed files on my computer. I found that other teachers liked them
therefore I offered them to others in GBC bound books.Well— fast forward twenty more years and many successes later and these lessons have been re-formatted, re-worked with more lessons added. The material has so expanded it is in several volumes.

According to a survey taken at the Texas Art Education Association conference, many teachers wanted black and white pages so they can xerox them to be used in their classes. So the first offerings will be in black and white in an e-book format for immediate access and the ability to download the files any time of the day or night.
The site will be two fold allowing visitors to look around and a membership portion of the sight that will eventually be like walking into a virtual art room. There will be file cabinets with lesson plans, a shelf to house samples of student art work, a place to view electronic presentations of student portfolios and projects. It will be like I am right there with you all year long to assist you with whatever you are teaching.

Several kinds of offerings will be made available through the site. E-classes and even Art Classes in a Box ( when I find a software developer to assist me). School districts can hire me to come and do an all day or a three day Art Work Book  bootcamp with tons of ideas being shared mixed with some hands-on art activities so you can relax while learning. Recently Ector County ISD and then Lamar CISD had me come down to do a three-four day ArtWorkBook Bootcamp customized to accommodate their needs. One of the enthusiastic participants, Becky Hayne, had this to say,

” I have never met anyone with so much information. I completed the workshop inspired instead of feeling drained as is usually the case.”
For details on how you can arrange a Staff Development with an Art-itude, visit the Art Work on the Web site or just email me at: jmh5@mac.com.

The ArtWorkBook Series Self published in 1990, several volumes of The ArtWorkBook Series SOLD out many times across the great state of Texas and across the nation. Available again in an e-book format for immediate access is Art Class Notes with 223 pages of art class assignments (over 150 lessons) in a one-two page format that can be used in the organization and presentation of art concepts and processes that are taught year after year. Projects are formatted to provide; objectives, tools and materials, time line, procedures, continuations and variations, terminology, motivational resources, & questioning strategies. Everything needed to present a clear concise lesson. Post Art Class Notes for future reference. New Printmaking
and Sculpture lessons are included. Let me know if anything needed or missing?

What moves men to genius, or rather what inspires their work, is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has alreadybeen said ( or done) is still not enough.” Delacroix

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Jobs: Well Done!

Posted by jmh on October 6, 2011 in Authentic Living, Creative Genius, Creative Living

Steve Jobs was our Edison, our Disney, our Da Vinci…. he was an artist who worked in plastic and glass and pixels… creating technological innovations that will impact the world forever. He changed my life. "Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being,"

“Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

My heart is sad. Today the world lost one of my heroes. Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computers, was one of those individuals in the 5% who was truly self-actualized, who was his authentic self.  Steve Jobs gave a 2005 Stanford University graduation commencement address..  The speech will be remembered as one of the most profound statements of love and compassion made by someone of his stature.  Though he does not call it by the name, he speaks about the authentic self, about finding yourself, then finding your passion (that which you love) and giving your passion to the world.  Make time to listen to the address.  Please share your impressions.   Please post your comments and  I will gladly and with my heart reply to all of them.

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.– Steve Jobs, 2005

Steve Jobs was one of my heroes and had it not been for his innovations perhaps technology may not have been an integral part of my life.  I now consider myself an artsy girl geek. I love my Apple computers and gadgets. My first computer was that very first Apple Macintosh. It had 127k of memory and I upgraded to 512k and I  thought  it was really powerful. That summer was spent with half eaten sandwiches beside the computer as I excitedly began my journey in desktop publishing. I could type and print, combine images with words, all my art teaching handouts became totally transformed. For  the next five years, I typed and word processed my handouts into my first self published GBC bound series of  books—now called the Art Work Book Series. Next I was ask to be the TAEA Editor of their cut and paste and literally use scissors and glue newsletter, I only agreed to be the editor if they would allow it to be the state’s first electronically desktop published newsletter. They agreed. Adobe Pagemaker was the software of choice and the renamed TAEA Star was born.

Steve Jobs talks about the concept of desktop publishing in this commencement when he reflects on a time when he took a calligraphy class and never thought that he would use that knowledge until this first computer when he used the fonts embedded in this new innovative technology.

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

My life was changed in the most amazing ways because of Steve Jobs and his courage to invent these new and innovative technologies.It was after that first summer and my first Macintosh SE computer that it became evident to me that unless my very talented art students  knew technology, they would be unprepared for the  future workforce that was sure to be technological. For over thirteen years, I wrote grant after grant to integrate technology into our already successful  FBISD art programs. The grant readers would call me to say that it was a beautifully written grant however they were giving the grant monies to math and science classes who needed it most.

Fast forward, over a decade later, my presentations at the state and national level were done using borrowed  upgraded Apple equipment and  their staff  ( Thanks David McCall)who assisted me by building the presentations and even running them while I spoke to a hungry and unskilled audience about the necessity of each of us as educators learning and effectively integrating these new technologies.  Then one of those nagging ideas came to me to put computer labs on site at the national and state conferences. We (a group of like minded people) did that successfully in the most serendipitous effortless ways positively impacting all who attended those conferences and eventually their students. The next confirmation was receiving two of the greatest honors as TAEA’s Texas’ Secondary Art Educator of the Year, then months later being notified that my colleagues had selected me as NAEA’s Secondary Art Educator of the year. Walking off the stage in San Francisco after being honored, James Clark,  at the time the art coordinator of Aldine ISD School, told me that I was the one to start and create Texas’ first electronic media program in a very high end Mac lab—finally my “dream come true.” My very talented students combined exemplary traditional skills with digital skills and together we experienced technological breakthroughs that were shared in publishing opportunities with 18 feature articles in School Arts, and  Digital Studio Projects with McGraw Hill-Glencoe, and graphic design opportunities out in the world with Cynthia Woods Pavillion and winning third place in the nation in Xerox’s Strut Your Stuff competition.

“I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.”[NBC Nightly News, May 2006]

All of these things resulted in my life because of Steve Jobs and his visionary innovation like a ripple effect on humanity.He has impacted millions of lives in such a positive way. It reminds me of one of my favorite Melville quotes about how we are all connected and cannot live for ourselves alone. “Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being,”Heaven, however has gained a new technological genius with whom we now have  high speed access.  Remember the wisdom and life modeled by Jobs. Listen to your intuitive nudges, then take action to bring them to fruition.Steve Jobs did and as a result the world is a better place.

“Don’t let the noise of other ‘s opionions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary”

Each morning when I wake up I look in the mirror and ask myself.”If today were the last day of my life, would I want to be doing what I am doing…and when the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, then I know I need to change something.”

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Goal Setting Maps Success!

Posted by jmh on October 5, 2011 in Art as form of expression, creative processes, Journal writing

One of my favorite books is “If You Don’t Know Where You Are Going You Might End Up Someplace Else.” I was awarded this book in a goal setting class because I had the most creative goal setting notebook. Imagine that! Since reading this and believing what it said, another book fell into my hands entitled,”Write It Down To Make It Happen.” This books starts off describing how the Egyptians believed that when you wrote something down you gave it power. It told stories of celebrities who wrote down their goals and saw them come to fruition. Actor Jim Carey wrote himself a three million dollar check and placed that torn and tattered check into the top pocket of his fathers suit at his funeral when he’d received a movie contract for the same amount. Suze Orman had a job as an office worker making minimum wage, each day she wrote a statement about how she would someday make a huge income advising others in financial matters. She now does several syndicated columns, is famous as an author and financial advisor to many. My life has also been filled with evidence of this truth so I began applying this knowledge to the sketchbook assignments given in each of my classes. This was usually done at the beginning of the course, however it is the beginning of a new year so it seems appropriate to begin with new intentions .

Art I Goal Setting as "Get to know you" warm-up

Art I Classes: The first year classes were assigned a page in the front of their sketchbook, journals or altered books to write out ten goals. They were encouraged to make these goals about art, and to include the different arenas of their personal lives. It simply became a list to check back on through out the year to see if any progress had been made to date. These were also done on the side of blind and modified contour warm-ups. These served as a “Getting to know you” warm up activity while improving their drawing skills.


Collaage of Dreams and Goals

Art II Classes: Second year art students were to dedicate a page to writing down their goals and dreams with the additional challenge of enhancing these statements in colors and they could add images like a Vision board. These were pasted in their sketchbook,journal, altered books and referred to during the class and could include reference material for new projects.

Carrie's Self Portrait in journal

Art 3 Quote in Sketchbook


Art III Classes: Third year art students took more of a combined fine art vs graphic art approach with an assigned two page spread in their hard cover journals or altered books. They had to design one page with their artist’s statements in calligraphy which included their intentions and this was across from their self portrait ( drawn from life). The first letter of the statement had to be illuminated with colors matching the palette and media chosen for their self portrait. Students were encouraged to use famous quotes that inspired them and reinforced their intended life path.


Amber's Inside Story

Art IV Classes: The Inside Story was based upon the idea of people who say you cannot judge a book by it’s cover. In art, the opposite is true that the cover design may just lure the viewer into a deeper look inside the pages. The Inside Story is likened to “peeling the layers off of an onion” and comparing that to taking your two hands and opening up your chest to reveal the “Soul” of who you are as a person and artist. Of coarse we cannot do that, however , we can look at the pages of a sketchbook and have revealed to us who that artist is. This amazingly successful assignment had three parts.

1. )Draw something on the first page about you that tells a story about your goals. One of my aspiring children’s book illustrators drew a cartoon of herself holding a key. This page will have an opening cut into it to reveal the goals written on the next page. Hers had a key hole. Be imaginative and creative as you develop the imagery.

2. )Develop a continuation of the imagery on the back of the second page that connects to the third page where your goals and dreams are written. Her second page was a storybook like background with a treasure chest.

3.) Write out your goals and intentions for your life. Here she had her goal statements pouring out of the treasure chest. Encourage your students to reach for the stars and put their dreams down on paper. Like the Egyptians, give power to these goals and imagine them happening with feeling as you write them down. Imagine them daily and look back in years to see if you did indeed create your future. One of my students intended for himself to become a Walt Disney Animator, he is one and remembers the very beginning creation of it. There is much being written about the Law of Attraction. For more information about this concept see my first inspiration in a book called, Psycho-cybernetics by Maxwell Waltz. Paul Briggs borrowed it and read it when intending his animation career.


Amber's back side to her pages with goals

AP Students: On day one of the AP Class we began to formulate ideas for our area of concentration. These ideas were put in writing and then we began to list ideas in complete sentences with media and technique to support those ideas. Many of these written intentions were completed by the words that sparked incredible ideas. One of my  favorite college professors Dr. Murphy in graduate school said any time you get an idea, “Write it down!”  he went on to say that the brain connections happen quickly and as soon as an idea can come to mind, it can just as easily be forgotten. if not saved for future reference in written words.

Samples of Goals Assignment in Journals, Sketchbooks and Altered Books can eventually be seen in the sister sites.  Art Work on the Web  and My Virtual Art Room and Cool Art Cards and in the photo albums of The Art Life Facebook Fan page so go there and look around and LIKE the page. ( if so inclined). Sketchbooks, Journals, and Altered or Deconstructed books are the perfect solution to:

  • early finishers,
  • to reviewing concepts taught in class and
  • to the common complaint in an art class when art students say,” When can we do what we want to do?”

The answer is whenever and wherever you are in your portable studio called your sketchbook. Use them often and use them well. Let me hear some of the ways you enjoy using sketchbooks.

Paul Brigg's Goals are now REALITY!

Favorite Books for Sketchbooks, Journals and Altered Books

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How-To-Teach-Drawing Conclusions

Posted by jmh on July 29, 2011 in Art as form of expression, creative processes, creativity, Drawing

“ In order to apprehend meaning in our experience, it is essential for us to see, and drawing is the instrument of the inquiring eye that teaches us how to see,” The Language of Drawing, Edward Hill

Carol Vick's Safety Pins

William Soo's Self Portrait Series

Learning to draw well is about learning how to see correctly. When you draw something you must see it in a different way. My greatest successes in teaching my students how to draw came from focusing first on the blind and modified contour drawing process. In this approach, you must be guided by your sense of touch. You must convince yourself that you are touching the edge of whatever you are looking at. In reality your eye is simply seeing that spot and as you move your eyes along the edge of the subject, your hand moves at the same rate.

This is considered and named the natural way to draw. It is about developing eye hand coordination. As your eye moves your hand moves to record what it is seeing. An analogy that I have always liked is that the correct way to contour draw can be compared to climbing over a mountain,you very carefully place your foot and hand on every rock and crevice. The incorrect way to contour draw is compared to flying over that mountain in an airplane. Contour drawing can at first look distorted when you are using the blind contour approach where you do not look at your paper while you draw, The modified approach allows you to flicker your eyes up and down as you draw. Soon you will be amazed at your results.

In my art classes we drew simple objects and then worked up to more complex subject matter and groupings of subject matter. First year students draw their hands, shoes, bottles, boxes. Second year students draw models in different poses and third and fourth year students draw live models with still life and different props and costumes. Media and paper and subject matter changed daily to keep the enthusiasm high and the experimental possibilities happening.

Ralph Lauren Grid Drawing

The Drawing Process:

“At the heart of all drawing is an interactive process of seeing, visualizing, and expressing images. The images we see give rise to our discovery of the world; the images we visualize enable us to think in visual terms and to understand what we see; the images we draw allow us to express and communicate our thoughts and perceptions”

“In drawing, we make marks on a surface in an attempt to graphically represent our perception and understanding of the outer reality we see and inner imagery of the mind’s eye,” Drawing A Creative Process, Francis D. K. Ching

Representation Drawings: “With representational drawing,we seek to accurately record what we see in reality. It is drawing things we see before us. Drawing is not simply a skill but a discipline which trains the eye,the mind, and the hand in accurate seeing,correct perception, and the making of legible representations.”

Shopping Bags Still Life

“Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain one once the child grows up.” Pablo Picasso

Drawing for most young people is a natural tendency. What challenges an art educator is how to preserve and further develop this tendency. Meeting this challenge requires us to plan for a wide range of drawing experiences. Plan both what the students will draw and what they will draw on and what media with which they will draw.

Pat Nowak’s Self Portrait

Lead Pencils: The most familiar drawing tool and my favorite is the graphite pencil also called the “lead” pencil. Children of all ages used it for scribbling often times on walls. With the spirit of a young child’s enthusiasm, one can experiment and enjoy the many ways of using a pencil.What kinds of pencils are on the market? What are the characteristics of each? They are numbered to indicate the degree of hardness and softness with a gradation from hard to soft. Hard pencils are #6H,5H,4H,3H,2H,1H,H.Hard pencils have more clay baked into the lead and leave a very light line. Soft pencils are #HB,1B,2B,3B,4B,5B,6B. Soft pencils leave a heavy dark line without the need of much pressure. They also respond easily to rubbing to creategray areas in drawing, A harder pencil creates sharp cold lines.

Christy's Cowgirl

Colored Pencils: There are two distinct kinds of color pencils:those that used to be called “map” pencils and have a range of hues available.

Watercolor Pencils: Water soluble or watercolor pencils can be found in art supply stores. You can draw with the watercolor pencils, then bring water to them. You can dip the pencils in the water and draw leaving a much darker line. Or you can roll the pencil through wet areas letting the pigment bleed into those areas to add colors.

China Markers: The china marking pencil with it’s soft, crayon like filling offers the possibility of fascinating results on paper and is ideal for drawing on acetate.

Conte Crayon: The conte crayon has many of the same uses as the wax crayon. It is a French clay crayon that comes in white, earth reds and black, and brown.

Charcoal: the blackest of all dry media is an excellent tool for working with value studies and the subtle changes from light to dark.

Paul Brigg's Line and Foliage in Marker

Felt tip pens and markers:  make possible a great variety of uses for drawing.

Ink: Pen and ink and ink and brush can also provide surprising results. So many traditional and untraditional tools can provide endless hours of play for the creative mind mixed with an active imagination.

Contour Drawing Continuations: After a series of 7 or more contour drawings, students select their favorite line drawing then continue in their media of choice. Above, Carrie posed as cowgirl while Christy drew her first in line then in Prismacolors. Colorless blending  is shown in Paul’s marker rendering of the plants in the art room. . Pam

added value to her self portrait. Shopping Bags became a still life in value using pencil. Safety pins and self portraiture are shown above with great success. What would you enjoy drawing? What have you drawn before now? Try your hand at it and get your eyes to see things in a new and different way. The Chinese believed that once you have drawn your first one thousand things then you can begin to see in this new way.

Recommended Reading:

Volume III: Drawing Conclusions

This volume emphasizes drawing, which is the most universal form of art expression. Educators will learn how to instruct students effectively in realizing the shift that must occur, within the students’ minds, in order to successfully draw what they see. Numerous traditional and experimental approaches to drawing and seeing processes are introduced.

Available in Art Catalog

This is one of my very favorite books on learning the way to see in order to draw.

Lots of creative drawing ideas in this fun and informative volume.

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Acknowledge Your Creative Impulses

Posted by jmh on December 20, 2010 in Uncategorized

“Creative work is play. It is free speculation using the materials of one’s chosen form.” Stephen Nachmanovitch

Living life with a creative twist can be so much fun! It can make your life more enjoyable, less stressful and just plain fun. What creative impulse have you recently had? Most all of us have in some way been creative. This time of the year, we are decorating our homes both inside and out for the Christmas season. We are wrapping gifts for those special in our life in just the right paper with complimentary ribbons and tags. We may be creating edible gifts from the kitchen to brighten someone’s day. Too often I think we sometimes ignore the urge to be creative and instead numb the sensations for something less creative. The television can rob us of time that could be spent doing something much more productive. On the other hand, it can also offer us inspiration during a break in our day with a cooking,decorating or crafting channel .

Sketching & camping is a favorite activity!

Austin,Tx another place to retreat to Nature!

Sketching places visited document the moments!

My suggestion is that you allow the impulse to drive you in the direction of more creative projects.

What are your  Interests?

There are too many things that I have allowed to be a thing of the past in my life that I intend to stir back up in order to allow the creative muse to nudge me in the direction of making and creating new things.

Some examples of how any of us could be more creative includes the following list.

Take up an interest that you have previously had and then ceased to continue.Whether your interest is in cooking, decorating, writing, photography, sewing, music or something else, classes are offered in a wide variety of topics that one will surely strike your fancy.In addition, you may make friends that also enjoy the same interests.Here we have leisure learning classes offered all over the greater Houston area. For more information, contact Leisure Learning.

Look around your house, any unfinished projects or intentions? Last year I was inspired after watching a girlfriend Cindi Lou making scarves for gifts, she taught me to knit. I have gathered together my knitting books, yarns, needles and now even unfinished projects so that with a little initiative, I can easily begin to knit again. It is a very calming practice and easy to do once you get the hang of it. Start like I did  by knitting a simple scarf. It is that time of the year that you can either enjoy the warmth yourself or wrap it up and give the gift of a homemade scarf to someone special on your Christmas list.

Drawing is an easy and  inexpensive and relaxing hobby requiring only a pencil and paper.  Above are some of my past sketchbook entries. Put drawing supplies ( sketchbooks,pencils, erasers) all organized in one place. My pencils are sharpened so that I can  simply sit down and enjoy the pleasure of making marks on paper to interpret the world around me.

“Creativity is seeing something that doesn’t already exist. You need to find out how you can bring it into being and that way be a playmate with God.” Michele Shea

Do you enjoy writing? Maybe you want to simply capture some thoughts or clarify some ideas that keep flashing through your mind. Blank journals are everywhere in my house. By putting them in a  comfortable setting along with some pens and pencils it is likely that it will be more probable that one would be comfortable to write.

Do you enjoy sewing? Set up your sewing machine to mend or  make something.

Have old books that you want to give a second life. Learn the art of altered or deconstructed books.Below are  two pages from my altered book where plants in my greenhouse became a subject to paint.

Here an old book is a place to paint plants.

Want to change the feel and  look of your rooms in your home, paint rooms a different color,  try one of the many creative paint treatments available today. Smoozing is one of my favorite techniques as are both staining and using washes on walls.I have yet to add words onto the walls of my home and am fascinated with that possibility since the walls can’t talk, they could be read by visitors who enter the rooms. “Home and happy to be,” is the statement said by Truman Capote that I would like to add to a wall in my home. Yes, I  confess that I am a very content person who enjoys being at home.

Try your hand at gardening both inside or out. Grow lights can be added to an existing lamp and a new table scape can be created with your little green friends that can grow inside during the winter season. Follow a tradition from the Victorian era and create a paper garden during the cold winter months. In  a blank book you can do your planning and add notes from your reading about plants that you plan to add into your garden spaces in the spring. You can also add photographs of the plants that interest you. Investigate and learn to grow  different houseplants to brighten up the rooms in your home.

Learn more about the technologies and softwares that you already own. Most of us have smart phones or computers that we could learn to use for efficiently. This year with numerous sites up and the membership site in place, my plans are  to create more products to connect to other like-minded art enthusiasts on this and my other sites. I am also seeking that programmer for that IPAD app. I too will continue to investigate the software and the technologies that  I possess so that my comfort zone is enlarged and more ways to communicate are understood so that I may be of service to more people out in the world.

It costs nothing to take some time to purge your home of unwanted or unnecessary belongings. Many people are less fortunate and would be delighted to acquire slightly used clothing and household items. You can contact your local charities which do regular pick-ups in neighborhoods and can take your unwanted things with little effort on your part except placing the boxed items on the front steps and contact the charity to let them know you have things to give them. Then with more space and less clutter, you can rearrange your beautiful home and garden rooms to live more comfortably.

If you are worried that a new hobby may be expensive. A hobby does not have to be costly. Organize things you already have in order not to incur any additional expenses. For example, my painting easel came apart and is now pulled out in my studio upstairs to be glued together in order  to be functional again. The cost is that of some wood glue to secure the parts. My paints have been placed upstairs beside the easel so that painting can be easy as a  dip of my brush.

There are so many other things that you may be inspired to do. Travel the world, read and study books on a particular subject, go back to school, speak to groups, volunteer, and many other ideas.

Following and acknowledging your creative impulses may lead  you to any number  of original ideas.  It has been my experience that when I am at rest and at play, ideas seem to flow and even solutions to challenges in my life seem to present themselves. There are many recorded stories of the great minds of our time who while at leisure had brilliant ideas. Einstein while biting into an apple or was it while he was shaving— clairfied the theory of relativity. Edison was known for his planned naps where he would intentionally incubate ideas to inventions that he was presently working on. Take time to enjoy those activities that you love and at the very least, you will be a more satisfied individual for having given yourself the gift of leisure in doing that which you love.

“Regardless of how absurd your inner callings might seem, they are authentically yours. They don’t have to make sense to anyone else. The willingness to listen and act on your inspiration, independent of the opinions of others is imperative.” Wayne Dyer  on Inspiration

Julia Cameron, in The Artist’s Way says,” As recovering creatives we often have to excavate our own past shards of buried dreams and delights. Do a little digging now please. List very quickly without doing a lot of thinking the answers to the following questions.

1. List five hobbies that sound like fun.

2. List five classes that sound fun.

3. List five skills that would be fun to have.

4. List five things that you used to enjoy doing.

5. List five silly things you would like to try once.

Now pick one or two things in the next couple of weeks and  as the Nike commercial says, ” Just do it!” Let me hear some of the results of such inspired action on your part.

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Creative Imagination

Posted by jmh on April 24, 2010 in Creative Living, creative processes, creativity

creative-imagination Creative imagination is a fascinating thing. A friend of mine recently ask me to expand upon an idea that I had commented on. The idea was that I enjoyed ways of doing things that allowed my own creative imagination to flourish. Recently my discovery had to do with the fact that when I play and relax, my creative ideas abound. Ideas pour forth when doing the simplest things. Examples that were shared with her included the following; write each day at the same time and your creative muse will arrive with you, paint a picture and eventually the painting will begin to paint  itself taking on a life of one’s own, create a vision board and you become clear on what you want in your life, write out a gratitude list and suddenly you are awakened to what you want more of in your already blessed life. Get your hands in the dirt in gardening and as you weed your garden, your thoughts begin to be more organized. Cook a meal and as the ingredients begin to blend and smell and taste delicious so do your creative ideas begin to flow.

Relaxing and playing allows the floodgates to open and you are illuminated with new and unique ideas. Reading is another favorite past time and as words and thoughts are consumed, new innovative concepts emerge.

Napolean Hill, who wrote the 1937 classic Think and Grow Rich devotes an entire chapter in Laws of Success to imagination. Hill explored the scientific basis for the concept of the LAW of ATTRACTION as well as a common sense  explanation for how like attracts like and how this actually works in the real world. Next, he focused upon improving the way Infinite Intelligence is accessed through the imagination. Hill created methods to unlock ideas hidden in our subconscious minds and developed other methods that allow the possibility that ideas may be accessed from outside sources.

Hill described two kinds of ways to use your imagination. One was called “synthetic”imagination which is actually more effective if described as synthesized imagination. This approach uses all of your life experiences, knowledge and allows new combinations of former knowledge. Inventors like Thomas Edison used this approach when as he discovered 10,000 ways to not create a light bulb with consistent efforts, he finally found a new combination of knowledge that made his efforts a success. Creative imagination is the second approach and this one employs the contact made with Infinite Intelligence and allows us to telepathically access information from other people’s minds.

Hill goes on to say that his term Cosmic Habit Force is WHY his methods work. Infinite Intelligence is HOW it works and Imagination is WHERE it works. Without totally understanding all of this new terminology, my confidence increases as in my own life experiences, the kind of fun activities that I engage in allow a simultaneous opportunity to have solutions present themselves as these activities are enjoyed. It also is in alignment with the idea that what you resists persist. Once you are relaxed and no longer pushing against things in your life, things tend to be released.

Other methods include a consistent practice of meditation will give you a “tapped in, tuned in and turned on” access to Source with ideas flooding your mind with a  Divine intervention.This can also be called “intuition.” Recording your dreams will have those messages and symbols become clearer to you while solutions are presented to a challenge that you went to sleep thinking about. This new epiphany came to me as I refused to spend all day plugging away at projects—instead I made the decision to enjoy my life more. Each day do more of the things that I love. You can imagine my surprise when I realized the  incredible benefits of such play time. Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way gives credence to these same ideas when she encourages you to enjoy an artist’s date with yourself each week to replenish the creative resources that may have been depleted in your busy and overworked lives. Cameron says,

Creativity is God’s will for us and should be practiced like any other spiritual practice—a day at a time.”

Discovery of this truth and way of being and continuing to pursue the avenues that open up for me can only catapult me into  new and exciting arenas that teach me more about myself and life. Continuing down this kind of path can only reveal truths and like honesty in a relationship, will only take me deeper.

” I have always known that at last I would take this road, but yesterday I did not know that it would be today.” Narihara  (excerpted from Christina Baldwin’s Life’s Companion)

Recommended Readings:

1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

2. Life’s Companion by Christina Baldwin

3. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

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Clearing Out The Stuff

Posted by jmh on January 1, 2010 in Creative Living, creative processes

burried_in_clutter_In my last post, I mentioned that I was feeling the “urge to purge.” For any art teachers out there, you know that is a rare sensation as we usually were on the hunt for new still life items or interesting and unique things to use in decorating our classrooms, homes or garden rooms.

However I have found that clearing out stuff and making room for new things can do a lot to lift your spirits. When we make art, we sort and choose. Now I will be the first to say that during the process as you turn your house upside down, that can be more than a little bit distressing. When it is all said and done, now that’s a very good feeling.  I  will confess that I have always been a “ pack rat,”  and finally I am ready to unpack many unused items. After the clearing out, I will attend more estate sales and auctions and seek out some new  unusual and unique kinds of items.  What I have discovered is as I move through the layers, there is a system of organization underneath the top layer of stuff. It is getting some things out the door to make room for an organizational system that works for you now with what you are doing in your life.

Yesterday for example, I took the leap and purchased a new IMac computer with a huge 27″ screen. I am more than anxious to get it set up and running and have spent two days backing up the information on the two 300 GB hard drives. It gave me an opportunity to organize and discard duplicates and unused, outdated items. It will be fun to continue organizing all the information and even get creative with the new applications to see how I can create some new things as I gain the skills.

It is a new year and a perfect time to streamline each of our lives. I read somewhere that the state of your environment is a reflection of your state of mind. I wouldn’t want you to pop in on me in my office with boxes and disks and cables laying everywhere. Oddly enough, I feel invigorated and excited about the new possibilities that can result from my ongoing intentions to “lighten up.”

Happy New Year and may you also be inspired to “create the space in your life for miracles,” as Michelle Passoff says.” by freeing yourself from too much stuff.” I have a ways to go and it’s a start.

“Once there is nothing to improve upon in the physical environment one can set about improving on oneself.Henry Miller

Recommended Readings:

1. Lighten Up: Free Yourself from Clutter, Michell Passoff. Offered in this book is a look at how stuff robs you of energy and when the stuff is eliminated, your free to create miracles.

2. Clutters Last Stand, Don Aslet. This book provides a whimsical approach to junk with a junkee’s exam to see if you classify as a “ junkee.”

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Life: Our Greatest Work of Art

Posted by jmh on December 31, 2009 in Creative Living, creativity

gse_multipart8646Art is considered the first language. During my teaching life in both art and eventually art with technology, I had a poster with a child scribbling saying that art is/was our first form of communication. Those fortunate enough among us that both read and write use this form of communication daily. We use everyday aesthetics in our lives—in marriage, friendships, chores, and in most everything we do. We use our thoughts, our creative ideas in preparing our meals, rearranging our homes, dressing each day for work or play. We do the same kind of problem solving as Beethoven, the difference is that our symphony is our life. Whenever we set things apart and tend to them in a special way, we are creating something new.

Although teaching art and technology was my life work in the public eyes. My greatest work of art has been my life. Now in my  fifth year of being out of the public school system as a classroom teacher,  I realize that more than ever. We can create each moment to make things more beautiful, more tasty, more appealing to our senses.

More than ever, I am enjoying savoring each opportunity for creative change. My friends and family have always kidded me because when I clean house inevitably, I will rearrange a room or two—if not the entire house. It makes cleaning a lot less repetitive. It  also adds so much fun to the  living in your home when your environment reflects personal changes, creative additions and can be found in good order.

” Every action, every moment,every step is filled with the work of art.”

Lately, my resolve has been to eliminate extra things from my environment, pass them on to someone else who can appreciate them. It seems like the perfect time of year to be thinking about new spaces and places and ways to live in your own life. What do you do in your life that reflects your creativity?

“We are traditionally rather proud of ourselves to have slipped creative work in their between the domestic chores and obligations. I am not sure we deserve such A-pluses for that.” Toni Morrison

Let me hear how you have added some zest to your day to day living with a punch of creative work in between the things you must do.

Wishing you a fulfilling and creative New Year! 2010—the year to begin…

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Learning Creativity as a Skill

Posted by jmh on September 18, 2009 in Art as form of expression, creative processes, creativity

I Close My Eyes to See!

I Close My Eyes in Order to See!

Robert Fritz begins in his book, Creating, saying, “Many of us have the suspicion  that there is much more to life than what we have been led to expect. Perhaps our lives are filled with secret possibilities—possibilities that there are dimensions to ourselves, depths of our being, and heights to our aspirations that are lurking just below the surface.”

We each have the urge to do something that matters to us. Perhaps we exist only  as shadows of our future selves, and this subtle yet persistent force nagging at our consciousness—to be a creator, to be one who brings into existence creations that previously lived only in our inner thoughts.

This deep longing to create resides within the soul of humanity. Beyond our basic instincts for survival which includes fulfilling such needs as food, warmth,water, and air— we also have a natural instinct for building, organizing,  forming, and creating.

Webster defines creativity as ” creative ability; artistic or intellectual inventiveness.” Webster tells us that the word  create means ” to originate; to bring into being from nothing: to cause to exist. In other words, when we talk about creating we are talking about causality—that is causing something to exist that did not previously exist.

The creative process has had more impact, power and influence than any other process in history. Consider all of the inventions, the arts, architecture, and the amazing technological age we now live in as a result of the creative process.We have experienced so much innovation and growth in our lifetime. … continue reading.

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