Tag Archives: creativity

The Super Bowl and Timing

Venus Time, painting by Mary Gow

Venus Time, painting by Mary Gow

A workshop scheduled for 1:00 p.m. Sunday was just cancelled. I wonder if it was because of the Super Bowl.

At the grocery store today several people in front and behind me had shopping carts full of party snacks, bottles of wine and cartons of beer. I wonder if it was because of the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl Sunday is becoming more and more like a holiday in the U.S.A.

Magic Time

In Russell Bishop and David Allen‘s “Managing Accelerated Productivity” course, Allen says he gets more done on Friday and Saturday nights and on holidays than any other time.

But some part of me finds it so “counter” to be at home when the social norm is to be out at those times.

Would you feel comfortable having your Friday night on a Wednesday night?

Sounds do-able doesn’t it? Why go along with the crowd?

Which leads me to knowing and honoring the times you know you’re at your best. When do you do your most creative work? It’s what Craig Ballantyne, Editor of Early to Rise, calls the “Magic Time.”

Through experimentation I’ve found my magic time is before 2:00 p.m. So I try to work on my most challenging projects early in the day.

I think it’s ideal to get grocery shopping done by Thursday for the upcoming weekend. Avoid weekends at the grocery story, especially after 3:00 p.m. on Sundays which is what I call the end-of-the-weekend-rush-to-get-the-groceries time.

Except this Sunday at 3:30 p.m. (Pacific Standard Time), when Super Bowl XLIX begins. That might be the best time to go grocery shopping. Or to work on your next painting.

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10 Memorable Quotes from the Founder of Point Zero Painting

Michele Cassou

Michele Cassou, photo by Suzanne Christine

I left my letterpress class early to meet a rock star in the world of creative exploration using intuitive painting (also known as “process” painting, and in this case “Point Zero Painting“). This is an area I’ve been exploring, since intuitive painting puts to words the method of painting I enjoy the most. It is more about the experience of painting rather than the product of painting.

Now I had a chance to see and meet the pioneer of Point Zero Painting. She was giving a presentation at John F. Kennedy University’s Art & Consciousness Talks. Her introduction included what some people I admire have said about her:

“Michele Cassou is a catalytic visionary: a fuse lighter who sends people rocketing into their creativity,” said The Artist’s Way author, Julia Cameron.

“Michele Cassou offers a wise and profoundly creative inspiration for the liberation of the human spirit. Just the way lively music makes you want to get up and dance, this book makes you really want to get up and paint the fullness of your life,” said leading Buddhist teacher, Jack Kornfield.

Cassou has been praised by the American mythologist Joseph Campbell and the French painter and sculptor Jean Dubuffet.

Michele Cassou at JFK University

Michele Cassou at JFK University

Needless to say, the introduction made me even more eager to hear what she had to say. She stood with a large projection screen above her and spoke passionately about her journey to and through what is known as “process painting.”

I took notes throughout her talk since just about every sentence resonated with me.

Cassou was born in Marseille, France. She started making art as a kid. She had formal art training but had given up studying art because her last art teacher said “Do something else, painting is not for you!” (from p. xxi of “Life, Paint and Passion). A series of events put her in touch with the Free Expression Studio in Paris. There she had a profound ah ha moment watching the uninhibited children make art. “Sheltered from judgment, criticism, and competition, the children were giving themselves to the natural process of expression, to the pulse of creation.” (p. xxiii of “Life, Paint and Passion). It was there she found her true calling.

She spent three years painting with the children and learned to listen and explore freedom of creative expression. From there she started teaching small groups in her home. Now, several decades and thousands of paintings later, she continues her unteaching.

Point Zero Painting is based on the Point Zero Method. The method involves a self-questioning method that leads to that place of no judgment or limits within. It emphasizes painting for the process or experience of painting and enjoying it’s meditative qualities. It’s not about the end product. It is not about what you “should do.” It’s about becoming conscious and present.

Another characteristic about Point Zero Painting is there is a completion point to each painting. Only the painter knows when it’s finished.

Here’s my 10 favorite quotes from Cassou’s talk:

1) “When we listen to intuition there’s a connection we don’t know we have. Learn to unblock the places resisting freedom. It’s like going down the river, you’ll follow the current and the stream.”

2) “To be creative is to be completely without habits.”

3) “Creativity is a present energy passing through you. Give yourself a lot of space to be yourself.”

4) “Painting is meditation. You are left with no point of reference. You don’t have to copy anybody’s way. No comparison with anything. It is a very courageous thing to do.”

5) “If you follow your intuition, there’s always a next step. It’s always SAFE.”

Intuitive Drawing by Mary Gow

Mary Gow's Intuitive Drawing Using "Harmonious" iPhone App

6) “The energy of the Universe is constantly wanting to pass through us!”

7) “Every time you create something there is a cycle . . . but you trust. We don’t paint what we are not ready to handle. There is a benevolent aspect of creation.”

8) “Whatever calls you, take it. Don’t feel like you have to cover the white paper. Every dot is precious.”

9) “It’s what has happened inside of you that is important. Not the product. Often it’s about changing our eyes. Your eyes change. You get more of a sense of what’s real. What is compromised.”

10) “Creativity works the same in every medium. It’s not the painting, it’s the process of creativity.”

You can find out more about Cassou’s work in her books among them: “Life Paint and Passion (co-authored with Stewart Cubley), “>Point Zero: Creativity Without Limits, Kid’s Play: Igniting Children’s Creativity, and Questions: To Awaken Your Creative Power to the Fullest. She also is holding Point Zero Painting workshops in Taos, Big Sur, and Cologne (Germany) between now and September 2012. For more information check Ms. Cassou’s website.

I left the talk feeling warm and validated and ready to unlearn.

You might also enjoy:
3 Discoveries About Intuitive Painting
3 Personal Reflections on the Hero’s Journey
What Defines a “Real Artist”?

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3 Ways to See Football as a Creative Practice

Creative Play

"Creative Play," digitized photogram by Mary Gow


I grew up watching football. It was one of those events my family sat together to watch. Did yours?

The outstanding 2011 season of the San Francisco 49ers was hard to ignore. What was it about the creative artistry of Jim Harbaugh (now NFL Coach of the Year) that resulted in such an extreme makeover?

I’ve come to see that football is a creative art form. Instead of brushes and canvas, it is expressed with a ball, two teams, a hundred yards and a goal post at each end. It’s creatively expressive in many ways. Here’s several that come to mind:

1) Coming up with plays is a creative exercise in imagination which is then manifested with a mindful orchestration of finesse and agility on the field. And isn’t art play?

2) The game is a hero’s journey and every play is like a mini hero’s journey with an opportunity for heroic action. Like a story unfolding, football is a live-action show. It has four quarters and the fourth is the climax. Unlike the story formula, the conflict may be irregular or constant.

3) Like practicing any art form, excellence shines through practice, practice, and more practice. A football player is an artist who works consistently at his art. Victory comes through consistent effort.

Does this creativity apply to tennis, soccer, baseball and virtually every sport? Are you captivated by the creativity expressed in sports? Are you watching games instead of creating your art? I’ve imagined myself catching the winning touchdown more times than I care to disclose : – )

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4 + 1 Quotes to Jumpstart Your Dreams

Wordstorm, by Mary Gow

WordStorm, digitized scanogram by Mary Gow

Now, many of us are being released from the 9 to 5 routine. Some are financially prepared for the loss of income, and some aren’t. Has there ever been a greater demand to be creative and follow your heart?

In my own case I have to avoid naysayers when I am working on implementing my dreams. I am finding tribes of dreamers who are going for the gusto.

I find certain quotations incredible spirit-lifters. I recall the first time I heard each of the following quotes and it’s no coincidence that they continue to be popular. They are timeless.

1. This quote has been credited to Johann von Goethe and W.H. Murray (of the Scottish Himalayan Expedition).

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and endless plans. That the moment one definitely commits oneself then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never have otherwise occurred. A whole stream of events issue from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.

I’ve also seen it written this way:

But when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money–booked a sailing to Bombay. This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!

2. We can thank Joseph Campbell for the reminder to “Follow your bliss.”

If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.

3. This quote is from Marianne Williamson, in her book, A Return to Love.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

4. Steve Jobs says it concisely:

Real artists ship!

+ 1. From Henry Ford: Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.

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