Seven Secrets to Unleashing Your Inner Genius

Embrace Opposing Forces 

Highly creative people tend to welcome paradoxes, melding two seemingly contradictory ideas that lead to greater innovation.”There are a lot of so-called dichotomies that aren’t really dichotomies at all,” says Kaufman. For example, when it comes to the creative process, there’s no sharp  demarcation between work and play. Other lines blur as well.  “People who are really creative are good at trusting and having faith in their intuition but also at being rational in their analysis of whether or not something is correct.”  Strength  and sensitivity also seem contradictory, but the distinction may not always be so clear. ” Creative people tend to have extraordinary sensitivity but also are capable of staying true to their values, even in challenging environments.” Highly creative people have a tendency for post-traumatic growth, an ability to learn from distressing experiences.

Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman

Courtney Mifsud


Art Quote for the Day

5 May 1990

What sort of occupation is this, in which you can afford to be tired, or not in the mood – in which you can be off form for days or weeks on end and not do a thing?

24 October 1990

It doesn’t seem functional that we dwindle away and end our lives, just when we have learned so much.  And then the next generation has to spend decades slaving to regain the same standard of experience that has been reached long before.  I know that’s rubbish.

The much – maligned ‘art scene’ of the present day is perfectly harmless and even pleasant, if you don’t judge it in terms of false expectations.  It has nothing to do  with those traditional values that we hold high ( or that hold us high). It has virtually nothing whatever to do with art.  That’s why the ‘art scene’ is neither base, cynical nor mindless:  it is a scene of brief blossiming and bushy growth, just one variation on the never-ending round of social game-playing that satisfies our need for communication, alongside such others as sport, fashion, stamp-collecting and cat-breeding.  Art takes shape in spite of it all, rarely and always unexpectedly; art is never feasible.

The Daily Practice of Painting – Gerhard Richter

Art Quote for the Day

Notes, 1985

20 February 1985

Of course I constantly despair at my own incapacity, at the impossibility of ever accomplishing anything, of painting a valid, true picture or even of knowing what such a thing ought to look like. But then I always have the hope that, if I persevere, it might one day happen.  And this hope is nurtured every time something appears, a scattered, partial, initial hint of something which reminds me of what I long for, or which conveys a hint of it – although often enough I have been fooled by a momentary glimpse that then vanishes, leaving behind only the usual thing.

I have no motif, only motivation. I believe that motivation is the real thing, the natural thing, and that the motif is old-fashioned, even reactionary ( as stupid as the question about the Meaning of Life.)

28 February 1985

Letting a thing come, rather than creating it – no assertions, constructions, formulations, inventions, ideologies – in order to gain access to all that is genuine, richer, more alive: to what is beyond my understanding.

At twenty: Tolstoy’s War and Peace. It doesn’t matter how rightly I remember, the only thing that stayed with me, that struck me at the time , was Kutuzov’s way of not intervening, of planning nothing, but watching to see how things worked out, choosing the right memoent to put his weight behind a development that was beginning of its own accord. Passivity was that general’s genius. { the Abstract Pictures: more and more clearly , a method of not having and planning the ‘motif ‘ but evolving it, letting it come.}

Using chance is like painting Nature – but which chance event, out of all the countless possibilities?

The Daily Practice of Painting by Gerhard Richter

Art Quote for the Day


Action painting is just what the name suggests: painting with pure abandon, dripping and spilling colors all over the place with no particular idea or plan in mind

In the 1950″s , Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and other abstract expressionist painters introduced action painting  to the art world. However, long before that (probably since the advent of liquid paint) , generations of young children practiced action painting.  It makes sense that  children would be the first to see how much fun it is to toss and smear paint around without wondering if what they were making was somehow great art.  The fact that the abstract expressionists made this kind of child’s play into an art form gives us adults a great excuse to play with paint, color, and texture just to see what comes out in the process.

One of the unique things about action painting is that the resulting picutres are a visual record of the artist’s “dance” that created the painting in the first place.  Action painting emphasizes the dynamics of the painting process with a focus on movement , gestsure, and free-form play.  This approach is a good place to start using your intuition because it allows you to use materials freely and to explore movement, spontaneity, and dynamic change without exerting overt control over the painting process.  Action painting can involve your whole body- not just your  hands – and allow you to use  new tools and movements to make a work of art

Art from Intuition – Overcoming Your Fears and Obstacles to Making Art by Dean Nimmer   ( contains more than 60 drawing and painting exercises).

Art Quote for the Day

“Remember when you were three or four years old and you would just scribble or smear paint around for the fun of it?  At this time in your life, you were totally absorbed in the creative process, and you never gave a thought to what your paintings looked like or what it was that you were tyring to say or express.  As we move along in life, we tend to lose this sense of play and spontaneity that we had so naturally as young children.  Here’s a story that illustrates this point.  An art teacher arrives at a friend’s house for dinner and is introduced to his host’s kindergartener.  The little  girl asks the guest, “what do you do?”  He replies, ” I teach art students to paint and draw.”  Looking confused , the little girl says , “Why? Did they forget?”  Indeed, sometimes we do forget that we were born with powerful instincts to create and that those instincts can get trampled along the way by all the adult responsibilities and baggage that come with age and experience.

In this chapter, I am asking you to revisit those basic creative passions that were so strong in your childhood by sticking your fingers in paint and playing for the pure pleasure of the process.  If you  can suspend your inhibitions about acting like a kid for a  few hours, the exercises in this chapter will help you find the roots of your creative intuition and inspire a renewed sense of excitement and adventure in your art-making.  Exercises listed are:  ACTION PAINTING, PAINTING WITH STRAWS, PAINTING WITH COMMON OBJECTS,PAINTING TO MUSIC-BLINDFOLDED, AUTOMATIC DRAWING, 30 SKETCHES IN 30 MINUTES, OBSERVE AND DRAW SHADOWS, CREATE ART GAMES, SPEAK IN MARKS, SHAPES AND COLORS,DRAW A CONCEALED OBJECT USING ONLY YOUR SENSE OF TOUCH…”

Art From Intuition – Overcoming Your Fears and Obstacles to Making Art – More Than 60 Drawing & Painting Exercises by Dean Nimmer

Art Quote for the Day


Now we should consider the difficult question of how to be original.  You’ve doubtless been told there is nothing that hasn’t been done already – or as Herman Melville, recalling Ecclesiastes, wrote in Moby Dick, ” Verily  there is nothing new under the sun.”  Fortunately, there’s an unpretentious but strong idea that runs counter to this bleak pronouncement.  It was put most succinctly by a jazz musician who said, “The way to be new is to be yourself.”  Georgia O’Keefe added, “….. the simple fact of yourself – there it is-just you-no excitement about it – a very simple fact – the only thing you have- keep it as clear as you can.” From a very different world we hear a similar refrain.  In a Toltec codex, we read” ” The true artist….. maintains dialogue with his heart, meets things with his mind”

You’re probably asking, “What does that mean?”  Think about what ideas, experiences, and passions have influenced you most profoundly.  Do you find your eyes and your attention returning to certain things again and again?  Perhaps there are some aspects of the world you are peculiarly sensitive to?  The responses to these types of considerations may appear to be alternately of immense import and seemingly trivial.  Somewhere among the answers lie the road markers for findng your own expression.  You may very well not know for a long time which of these answers are the most significant;however, you can be certain they all point in the right direction.

The Blank Canvas – Inviting the Muse by Anna Held Audette

Art Quote for the Day


” I have not worked at all….. Nothing seems worth putting down – I seem to have nothing to say – It appalls me but that is the way it is . – Georgia O’Keefe

” Just dash something down if you see a blank canvas staring at you with a certain imbecility. You do not know how paralyzing it is, that staring of a blank canvas which says to the painter: You don’t know anything……”Vincent Van Gogh

” …. and I thought , enough of this, I’m not an abstract painter, what the hell am I going to do ?  Should I get a job in a shoe store, sell real estate, or what?  I was really depressed by the whole thing, because I felt like a painter, yet I couldn’t make paintings.” – Ralph Goings

As the artists quoted above so vividly attest, discovering that you have no creative ideas is a devastating experience.  It calls into question some fundamental issues about who you really are.. Perhaps you are not the creative person you thought you were- after all, here’s the terrible immutable evidence.  Maybe you’re a fraud.  Between your inability to make anything and your doubts about whether you’ve got “the right stuff”, you’re caught in a vicious circle.

Well, there’s no quick fix, no sure way to order up the flash of inspiration.  What you can do, however, is create a set of circumstances that will increase the likelihood of its happening.  They are, by and large, quite straightforward,apparently hardly worthy of being  parents to a moment of revelation.  Yet if you think about it, you’ll realize that the building foundations of even the most dynamic architecture are not very exciting.  They make possible, but do not foretell, the imaginative structure to come.

The Blank Canvas – Inviting the Muse ,  by Anna Held Audette

Art Quote of the Day

” After I had worked every day for one month on a four-foot statue, the armature suddenly broke.  I watched in shock as a foot fell off…. part of a hip…the gluteus maximus…. one arm… a month of seeing, studying, analyzing forms and muscles.  It was a baroque pose- the rectus abdominus twisted and extended from the upper right to the lower left of the torso. Half the piece was lost. I felt ill.

My husband, Bob, and a visiting friend, Renee, held it up while I frantically tried to reinforce the armature, in order to salvage what was left of the piece. I put in an emergency call  to Donald Kennedy, a sculptor and friend, who came like a doctor in the night.  The intense hear of the past few August days, combined with the heat from the studio lights, had dangerously softened the clay.  Donald arrived with ropes, hoists, blankets, wooden wedges for propping, and a giant toolbox filled with turnbolts, elbow joints, wrenches, and screws. We cooled the piece down with icewater and propped it up with wood, wire, and ropes.  Thus it was stabilized until a new armature was built.  The sculpture was now standing, partially salvaged.  I couldn’t work for several days; heartsick, I couldn’t walk into the studio.  When I was able to resume, I re-created the statue in three days.  It had taken one month to understand the pose- to interpret the forms, the twists and curves, the muscle attachments, the skeleton.  The time was spent in the struggle to see.  That having been accomplished and committed to memory, I could quickly reproduce the exact pose even without the model’s being there.

The mind retains thoroughtly comprehended information, and it can be called upon at any time.”

Art and Soul – Notes on Creating by Audrey Flack

Art Quote of the Day

” In a 1960’s film about the computer there is a good description of the creative process….

The narrator states that the artist is never bored.  She looks at everything and stores it all up.  He rejects nothing; she is completely uncritical when a problem confronts her, he goes through all the stuff he has collected , sorts out what seems to be helpful in this situation and relates it in a new way , making a new solution.  She prepares for leaps by taking in EVERYTHING. ” – Corita Kent-

from the book,How To Be An Explorer of the World by Keri Smith

Art Quote of the Day

“Creativity emanates from ideas. For  the artist , a creative idea may be an all-encompassing plan, a unique set of relationships , an attitude to be conveyed, or a solution to a visual problem.  An idea may come as a “bolt from the blue” , or it may be the end product of much thoughtful effort, as reflected in notes, sketches, and countless revisions of the artwork.

All artists occasionally  encounter blocks in their creativity , and it can take an artist many years to break through these blocks.  A beginning artist may find it difficult  to even find a starting point for a project, ( I don’t know what to do!”)  Although a familiar object or experience is usually the best starting point in such situations, the following approaches, suggested by artists, are ways to develop ideas or overcome the creative block. You may want to expand the list

Look closely at nature, doodle or experiment with any available media,study the life and heartbeat of your city or town,

Unfortunately , the artist’s block sometimes happens right in the middle of creating the image.  Some artists when they can’t quite build the bridges between nearly finished areas, feel that they must  sacrifice an acceptable portion of the work in order to find the freedom to continue with the development of the remaining image.  Before doing this, maintain an on-going dialogue with yourself.  Do whatever it takes to see your work with fresh eyes or from a new vantage point.  Try looking at the work in a mirror, holding up your hands and blocking out portions to see sections in isolation, squinting, or turning the image upside down .  Often, troublesesome areas stand out when you can see them in a new way.

Art Fundamentals – Theory and Practice , 12th edition, Ocvirk, Stinson,Wigg, Bone, Cayton