5/16/11

Finding the Common Thread and Free Goodies

I was recently introduced to Whitney Freya and her book The Artist Within. Whitney is a creativity coach and art teacher with boundless energy. I'm going to give away a copy of her book and some artwork, but first, let me tell you a little about it.
           



    
The Artist Within extolls the virtues of creativity for everyone and references the brain science to back the claim that taking time for artistic experience can push you into new territory in every area of your life.

Robert Henri wrote in The Art Spirit; “When the artist is alive in any person, whatevers his kind of work may be, he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressing creature...”

But how can you locate your artistic voice? Ninety percent of us spend our days in the left brain voice, which deals with practicalities, deadlines and the stuff of everyday life. Sound familiar? With creative exercises, Whitney introduces 8 principles of design that most artists intuitively know how to exploit when creating art. But they can also be used as a tool to help you see a new way of looking at your life and the world around you. The way we see things with our eyes and the way we think about and experience things are intertwined. The more thoughtful we are when creating, the more we are able to apply that same mode of thinking to our everyday lives. 


Through hands-on lessons, you'll see how to be conscious of where you place the emphasis in your paintings, quilts or drawing, but also your life. You can learn to be in balance and proportion, to ensure that you're apportioning your time to benefit your priorities. Many other small projects underline the need for harmony, rhythm, repetition and contrast. When you create art and life with unity, you'll find the common thread in your life. I love this metaphor. It's important, yet most of us never do the work necessary to refine our life's theme.
If you think you don't have a central thread running through your life, ask a friend who knows you. Sometimes it's easier for someone else to put things in perspective and isolate the central message that comes through in your art and how you spend your time.



According to William Butler Yeats: “People who lean on logic and philosophy and rational exposition end by starving the best part of the mind.” Strengthening the right brain is as simple as building small creative exercises into the small spaces in your life.
I decided to put The Artist Within to the test and chose the Creativity Workout on page 191. There are many fun and thought-provoking workouts throughout the book and it was difficult to decide on one. I took a large piece of watercolor paper and began creating a mandala by tracing a circle with a plate and then placing a dot in the center. From there I pulled out many kinds of art supplies, starting with acrylic paints, then moving on to oil pastels, marker and ink. I worked completely blissfully--not thinking about an outcome, but moving through the colors I love and not knowing what would be next until the path appeared. It was pure and unadulterated joy. The beauty of the mandala is that whatever you draw in the circle is what you are supposed to draw. It's as simple as that.
I have long been a proponent of play, but sometimes I need to be reminded too. Playing with all of my supplies without need to create something useful or even "good" was wonderful. When the mandala felt finished, I grabbed a small brush and some Tsukineko black ink and began writing across it with words that made me happy. I don't think too hard about these things....I just write as it occurs to me. That is the best way.
The next morning, when everything was dry, I cut the mandala into four postcards and then cut up the remainder into squares, strips and circles. I decided to stitch them onto the postcards to add layer and contrast--two of Whitney's principles. Out of a day of art play I emerged at peace, feeling super energized and with four lovely postcards on my art table.
You'll be encouraged to scribble and draw directly into The Artist Within, as you find your own symbols, map personal geographies, explore the language of color and realize that the opportunity to create is everywhere.

Creativity=Hope and Hope is where you want to live. 

Leave a comment below and I'll do a random draw on Saturday, May 21 to mail a copy of The Artist Within and also one of my postcards to a lucky winner. Please check back or follow me on Twitter to get the winner's name.

47 comments:

  1. I love the suggestion about asking a friend about the common thread - I spend way too much time in my head and my thoughts get all too tangled up!

    edie

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  2. AS I did my Morning Pages this morning I thought about needed a new study. A book of some kind to work through and get my mind off life for a bit and get my brain refocused. This one sounds perfect. Thank you for the introduction and I love the postcards.

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  3. Wow, I love the idea of applying the principles of design to your life. Thanks for blogging about this book, I'm off to find out more!

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  4. An important concept of asking friends to 'see you' in so many ways... art included! Thanks for the post and offering.

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  5. This sounds like a great book! Thanks for the opportunity to enter. I too have trouble allowing myself to play, thinking I'll be wasting materials. I think I'll try this out.

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  6. Anonymous5/16/2011

    Thanks for sharing a new find and some artwork too!

    Diana

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  7. I haven't seen this book yet and wow, it just sounds like something I'd really enjoy! Love your postcards too, so happy and free. You've inspired me to draw a mandala again soon. THanks!

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  8. This sounds like a book for great inspiration. Love your thoughts on play and letting it be. Thanks for sharing.

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  9. Thank you for your give away and I think I will need to get this book, even if I don't win. Thanks for the post also, I am inspired to go and play with some of my materials.
    Charlene

    katknit at gmail dot com

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  10. I still feel guilty when I just "play". Not healthy... can't seem to get over it.

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  11. Great idea's! and an awesome giveaway!

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  12. This sounds like exactly the type of a book I need at this time in my life. Thanks for the book information.

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  13. sounds like a book I need to read. I love the photos you have throughout the post!!!

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  14. The Artist Within sounds like just the sort of book I could do with reading, thanks for the review and yes please, enter me in your giveaway, thanks for your generousity of spirit in sharing your experiences with us x

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  15. Sounds interesting, please enter me in your drawing. Thanks!

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  16. Thanks for introducing me to a new book! Thanks, too, for giving away a copy. :) (P.s. my verification word was "playonski" :)

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  17. Anonymous5/16/2011

    Thank you for your inspiring post. I'd love to do more of these exercises!
    Ronda L.

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  18. Anonymous5/16/2011

    Wonderfully inspiring- thanks. I will look out for the book and all your colourful ideas.

    Norma B

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  19. Anonymous5/16/2011

    Thank you for the review of the book. This definitely sounds like a book for me!!!

    Thank you!
    mtneedle in MN

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  20. This book sounds like a must-have for me! Can't wait to order it. I LOVE these pieces of art you have done - so juicy and inviting! It's like Summer fun on paper. Jessi

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  21. Anonymous5/16/2011

    Artist Within---a good jump start for me. Estelle

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  22. The book looks amazing, but I'll tell you a secret: I'm more excited about the chance to win one of your postcards!

    I've admired your work for a long time (a looooooong time) and in fact, last weekend I was sorting through a whole binder of ATCs and I found one from YOU that I got in a swap way back when! It's gorgeous (natch) but it's all in pencil. I would love to add a postcard to my collection that's full of the blazing colour that I so love and very much associate with you.

    What a great prize to offer: this very cool book PLUS something you made from one of the exercises. Very generous - thank you!!

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  23. What a nice thing to give away! I've thought before about buying this book - hope I win it (but, if not, maybe I'll go spring:)

    Linda

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  24. Anonymous5/16/2011

    Your postcards are beautiful! So many talented artists and great books out there!
    Suzanne

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  25. This book sounds wonderful! Please add me to your drawing!
    Lotus
    lootsvele@yahoo.com

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  26. Well ........Is The book going to have THAT effect on me !!!!!!!
    Thats wishful thinking ! I would like to enter give away too please.

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  27. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this book.
    The premise makes sense. I like to gather creative prompts and consider them an essential resource to have at the ready.
    Nancilyn

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  28. I would love to win this book! Thanks for hosting the giveaway!

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  29. great post, awesome quote and will be adding this book to my list of needs. thanks! :D I love what you came out with as well. good luck to everyone on the giveaway!

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  30. Thanks Kelli! This introduction to a great idea sounds wonderful right now. I remember the old Artist Way and one where we attempted to reunite ourselves with our inner child.... well my inner artist child needs to reappear again! I would, in fact, love for her to show herself once again! Bring on my artist voice! lol. Awesome post from you!!!! Linda

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  31. The book sounds great! I love to be included in the draw :-)

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  32. I love Whitney and her approach to art. I participated in her Women for Nigeria Project with my art group, and we had a blast. Thank you for the chance to win her book. It's been on my wish list for awhile, now.

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  33. Sounds like a great book...just what I need.
    Thanks for the giveaway. Keeping my fingers crossed!

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  34. First of all, thank you for taking the time to blog . . . your work is fun and inspiring and always makes me want to "make, make, make!" Second, thanks for the giveaway. Just the cover of the book makes you want to open it!

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  35. I 'discovered' art about two years ago and don't know how I kept my life in order before then. The book sounds fascinating and I thank you for the opportunity to be included in the draw.

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  36. alyce unger5/18/2011

    oh this sounds like wonderous fun!!! Gonna ask a friend to help me find my common thread... as I paint every day...every way.....TY for all your time!!!

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  37. I am thrilled at a chance for the book...with working and family...it becomes harder and harder to spark that creativity that makes the rest worthwhile!

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  38. What an awesome book! As an artist and mother to 3 small children I find my creativity taking the backseat to the routine parts of my day. I miss my artist self and know she would teach my children so much. This book sounds like a great resource to reconnect with her. Thanks for showcasing it!

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  39. As someone who works full time finding time to make art and discover my artistic voice is a challenge. But I am determined to do so. This book sounds like it would be really helpful!

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  40. Very good Post Kelli.. Bravo for reminding us of the value of play! I have been contemplating this book as well as I thought it definitely speaks to some of the struggles I face in my art on a daily basis.

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  41. What a wonderful giveaway. I would love to have the book AND one of your postcards!!!!

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  42. Beautiful artwork. I am going to have to get a copy of that book:)

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  43. Looks like an interesting book, can't wait to read it!

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  44. Anonymous5/19/2011

    Boy, does this book sound apropos. I wonder if our library will get it. Hmm... I like the way you discussed the mandala too, I don't think I've ever heard anyone describe the process before, just the fact that it is made as a temporary event/expression. I'm glad it was so helpful to you and I'd be I'll be curious to take a look at it. Also, way cool portrait of your daughter. I hope she enjoys it, but probably not.

    Lizzie Bo (I don't have an URL, etc)

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  45. This sounds very intriguing! I'd love to play with this book. Thanks for offering this give-a-way.

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  46. Sounds like just what I need as I'm finding myself sort of stuck these days. Thanks for the opportunity to win this book.

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  47. I would love to win this book..it would help me to focus a little whilst still having a playful approach to art. Thanks for the opportunity to win this and one of your beautiful postcards

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