August awakens the senses 👁👄

Winter is coming to a close. Get a jump start on the awakening of Spring with some sensory outing to stimulate the creative muscle.

QVB After Dark 

455 George Street, Sydney
Throughout August

https://www.qvb.com.au/#after-dark

After Dark Tour Series – just a little spooky
After Dark Live Event – Thu 22
Heart of the QVB – an immersive installation

Cherry Blossom Festival

Auburn Botanic Gardens
Sat 17 – Sun 25
https://www.cumberland.nsw.gov.au/sydney-cherry-blossom-festival
A feast for all your senses – cherry blossom, Japanese snacks (Adam Liaw), an izakaya serving  cherry blossom flower sake.

Luminous

A multi-sensory concert experience
Sat 17 – Fri 23
https://www.aco.com.au/whats-on/2019/luminous
Singer-songwriter Lior,  photographer Bill Henson and the Australian Chamber Orchestra join for a visual and aural feast.

Genius

Post workshop palettes

I recently rewatched the TED talk “Your elusive creative genius” by Elizabeth Gilbert from 2009.  

It reminded me again of the possibilities that await if I am continually opening myself to their arrival.

Some historical background 

Ancient Greece and ancient Rome did not believe that creativity came from human beings but believed it was a divine spirit that visited human beings from somewhere.

The Greeks called these spirits “daemons” and Socrates believed his wisdom came to him from a daemon.

The Romans also believed in this creative spirit but called it a “genius”. However, they did not think that a genius was particularly clever – just a magical divine entity, who would come out and invisibly assist the artist with their work.

Jump to the Renaissance. People started to believe that creativity came completely from the individual. So, for the first time in history,  people started referring to an artist as being a genius, rather than having a genius. This puts an incredible demand on the artist!

Back to now

I would guess that almost anyone involved in creative pursuits, whether they be of the “agreed” “artistic” kind – painting, writing, design, dance, … – or the rest – business, parenting,  relationships, life! … has had that moment of inspiration, that spark of an idea, that gift. Being aware of its arrival can be a joy and a scramble to jot it down, capture it in that moment before it’s gone and perhaps forgotten.

The saying “First thought, best thought” also captures this fly-in spark. As a designer, I would often be gifted with this during the initial briefing for a new job. I would be scratching it down on paper as the conversation continued. Invariably, as was convention, three designs were submitted, post briefing.

Once I’d completed the gifted piece, then was the slog began to deliver up the two others to meet the brief’s requirements. But, for me, it was always that first gifted one that was the winner.

I recall rightly or wrongly, (see box below for the facts!)  a famous New York adman from the sixties saying to a client, when they requested three designs, “No. You’ll get one design – the right design.” I haven’t been able to track this down as fact – maybe it was a scene from the hit show Mad Men! ,

Paul Rand – one design only

Paul Rand on trusting that first design idea

an Interesting example – Steve Jobs approached Paul Rand and asked him to design the NeXT identity. Paul stipulated that $100,000 would be paid upfront, he would design one identity/logo and Steve would have to like it or lump it.

It takes a confident designer to take this approach, but it also takes a very confident client to accept!

Day to day reality

But most of us don’t have that kind of confidence. 

Few of us can we call upon the genius – at will and on-demand. But some of us practice to make this visit more possible.

What we can do is to be open to the moment – because you never know when the spark will come. We can be curious and keep playing with what comes our way – then we are honing our skills to welcome the genius.

Keep playing!

Balance

This is not new. As with everything in life, the cycles keep moving – the good times pass, but so too do the challenging ones. Over the years, this little diagram keeps popping up, in slightly different forms each time, but with basically the same help.

In some forms it divides into 4 elements – fire, water, earth and air. In others, it is action, emotions, structure and wisdom. Each of the four elements should be in balance… in a perfect life…  in a perfect world!

Over the past while I’d been feeling a bit lost, unproductive, my mind awash with ideas but not quite able to get a start on anything, resulting in a feeling of time passing by without realising anything.

I happened upon the four elements again, sandwiched in a miscellaneous folder, and relooked at it. Rarely lacking in fire/action, or water/emotions, what lit up my realisation was earth/structure – my nemesis! Yes, planning. For reasons I still don’t understand, I feel that planning robs me of my freedom. My brain knows this is rubbish, even my experiences know this is rubbish. Yet tucked away snuggly and safely somewhere in my being, it resides.

So with the warmth of fresh realisation, I started to write the important things down (important for now, anyway).  Just five loose categories, ones which cover my everyday needs as well as my creative and physical needs. Almost immediately I started to pull away from the stuckness I had felt, feeling an accomplishment of sorts. Big goals, bite-sized actions and steps. My first bite-sized step!

Relook at the 4 elements diagram. Where are you strong? Where are you out of balance? Start with one small step. Good luck.

The Artist’s Date – 7 possibilities to inspire for July

Taking yourself on a weekly Artist’s Date (that’s a date with yourself) as an opportunity to let yourself follow your curiosities, is part of the creative awakening process in the book, The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, a 12 week do-it-yourself creativity course.

Here are seven inspirations for July:

1. The National Biennial of New Australian Art
Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
Until Jul 21 2019
The latest ideas & forms in contemporary Australian art

2. The Essential Duchamp
Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
Until Aug 11 2019
Discover the stories behind the art

3. Michael Armitage: The Promised Land
Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), The Rocks
Until Sep 22 2019
Oils grounded in the social fabric and political dynamics of East Africa

4. Shaun Gladwell: Pacific Undertow
Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), The Rocks
Jul 19 2019-Oct 7 2019
Cutting edge artist pushing the technological possibilities of 21st century art

5. Wellama
The Cutaway, Barangaroo

Until Dec 31 2019
New, ten-minute filmed artwork

6. A Drone Opera
Carriageworks, Eveleigh
Until Jul 28 2019
Haze, lasers and opera singers, and a cage 

7. 52 Artists, 52 Actions
Artspace, Wooloomooloo
Until Aug 4 2019
52 artists, 31 countries, 1 week to make a statement

Do it! Suspense writing

Don’t think. Just do.

Grab your journal, a book or some paper and write.

Take a mundane scene:

  • two people sitting in a car at traffic lights
  • a woman eating alone in a cafe
  • young children playing on the swings at the park
  • a young man waiting for the bus

Write a paragraph or a page that turns this seemingly mundane scene into nail-biting suspense. What details will add to the picture, giving it reality, authenticity, make the reader get to know the characters. And what might you leave out to add to the suspense.

Have fun!

10 ways smart people stay calm

I’ve just come back from a couple of days in the country – a complete change of pace, demand, activity … even got a few hours of forest bathing – bliss.  I think for me, this ticked off #1 and #4 in this article I’m sharing about staying calm and staying on top of the stress.

You can preempt much of your stress with these vital practices.

The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90 percent of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control.

As long as the stress isn’t prolonged, it’s harmless.

Here’s the first 4
1. They Appreciate What They Have
2. They Avoid Asking “What If?”
3. They Stay Positive
4. They Disconnect

For all ten ways with explanations as well as the complete article and a great  Performance vs Stress diagram head to  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/10-ways-smart-people-stay-calm_us_59134c00e4b0e070cad70b0b

A return to authenticity

Many years ago I used a bought image in a job for a client for the Asian market. The girl in the image was clean and sparkly with a fabulously engaging smile – perfect!

Over the years I see her pop up more and more often, in everything from a nurses outfit to a tennis player. She always looks “perfect”.

Seems we’re all a bit over that – now wanting an authenticity in what we see. A simplicity. A truth. We want our business people to look like they are working, that they are tired, or stressed, or fooling around or simply, honestly happy. That they actually look like people you know – not the perfectly manicured, the perfectly made-up with the perfect hair. We want them to seem real to us. We want to empathise with them in whatever role they have. We want them captured in a human moment.

Time for something real, something human, something imperfect, individual – a simplicity