The Artist Within – A Guide


How does the word “artist” make you feel?
January 29, 2010, 5:46 pm
Filed under: Creativity Workouts, Daily Entries | Tags: , , ,

I am in Michigan to present my “Artist Within the Wine” Tasting tonight at Fernwood Botanical Gardens and my Artist Within Workshop tomorrow.  As I was making the drive up north yesterday, I pondered my audience for the wine tasting and how I could really get them inspired!

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I have never shied away from attaching my business/mission to terms that may confuse or challenge others because the exact reason it does so is the exact reason it needs to be presented that way.  For example, The Creative Fitness Center used to get a lot of calls asking if we offered yoga classes.  I knew the name would confuse people, but I felt a stronger loyalty to my mission of creating the awareness of our need to WORK OUT or develop our right brain/creative muscle. I envisioned Katie Couric’s interview and her asking me, “Whitney, how does it make you feel that today most corporate businesses have a ‘creative fitness’ program for their employees and many Americans are conscious of how often they have ‘worked out’ their right brain?!” I believe that when that vision comes to fruition that our entire socio-economic status and personal/spiritual well-being will all have evolved to a higher, more holistic, compassionate and susatainable level.

So yesterday, as I looked out the window of my car to the snow glazed corn fields of Indiana,  I pictured my Friday night wine tasting audience and thought, “the word artist is going to instantly have some of them thinking, ‘well, this is not me.'” So, why is embracing your OWN artist within so valuable?

When we think, “I am not artistic,” or “I am no artist,” we are looking at it through the lens of our ego, our left brain. For us Americans, our first association with the term “artist” is a person that is so highly skilled at their craft that they are able to sell their work in galleries and the such. THOSE are professional visual artists, and they have my utmost respect, but for the rest of us our own Artist Within manifests itself in our everyday lives as we interact with others, solve problems, nurture our families, maintain and grow our businesses–we are CONSTANTLY creating.

The ARTIST mentality, combined with the left brain/logical mentality, will lead to scenarios within business, government, education and social sectors that takes ALL sides into perspective, that can make short-term sacrifice for long-term gains, that can innovate change (whether in healthcare, energy production, education, science, health, etc.) and produce results that defy “logic” and what is “feasible”. The “NEW” Economy is just that.  We have a lot of innovating/creating to do.

When you shift your thinking from the left brain/ego centered perspective to the right brain/holistic perspective, the term “artist” takes on an entirely new meaning. Take personal gain and individual performance out of the picture entirely and let the word ‘artist’ conjure images of an almost magical being who can defy the odds, create results never before imagined, and delight us with visions of a brighter future.

My Mother took this pic in her woods.

SO, WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY…to engage your Artist Within, simply look at the light as it shines on the trees, or the colors in the sky.  Ask your team at work to suspend logic for 10 minutes and imagine/brainstorm as many ideas as possible without considering probabilities, budgets, or logic.  Look through a magazine and pick out the images that speak to you, to which you are attracted.  Tear them out and put them in a journal or envelope to use in a “dream collage” or “vision board”.

One of my own Dream Collages

Tonight, I will be taking approximately 30 people through a wine tasting that illustrates the connection between the creative process of wine making, the creative process of painting, and the creative process in general! So fun!  I was interested to see that Michael Gelb has a book called Wine Drinking for Inspired Thinking. THAT is the subject of another blog entry!

So, my point today?  Let me know what the word “artist” does to you.  Can you make the shift from the left to right brain version? Let me know. Check out the Creativity Workouts section of this blog and get more ideas about how to engage YOUR Artist Within.

Creative wishes, Whitney

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Let’s Talk!!!!

Click here to listen to my \”Happy New Year\” audio blog entry! Is painting THAT powerful? Find out….

Once you click on the link another window will open.  Simply click the PLAY arrow on the icon on the left side to listen!  Thanks!

Scroll down for step-by-step images of some of my paintings!  You can do it! Creative wishes, Whitney



Looking Back to Move Forward…

 I am such a go-go-goer that sometimes the most valuable thing I can do is to stop and take a look back.  As I anticipated the new year, the new goals, the new experiences heading my way, I took some time to look back to my beginning.  I found an amazing CLUE there!

The catalyst for my creative journey (currently manifesting itself as author, art teacher, entrepreneur, restaurauteur and creativity coach) began with the book Zen & the Art of Making a Living by Laurence G. Boldt.  The page that started it all went like this:

             First, there was a quote by Friedrich Nietzsche.  “Art is the proper task of life.”

            Then, Mr. Boldt writes this.  My life was never to be the same.

            “Some may find it hard to accept that Nietzsche’s statement applies to them, yet we will insist throughout this book that every man and woman is, in potential, an artist and, when living authentically, one indeed.”

For me, this tremendous journey all started with this breakthrough concept of ourselves, as people trying to find our niche, our passion, our true purpose in life, needing to embrace our “artist mentality”, not so that we would all paint on canvas and hang our work in a gallery, but so that we would take responsibility for the role we play in creating our lives, independent from society’s prescribed course.   

In other words, if we stopped listening to the way everyone else tells us we should do things and really follow our heart and what it wants to express in this lifetime, THEN we will be able to create the life we were intended to live.

 By the time the book The Secret  came out, I told friends who were recommending the book, “I understand manifesting the life you want!  I need to catch up on all of the manifesting I’ve already done!” (Image below is my biz partner and I in 2007 standing in front of the wine racks at our second wine bar we opened.  We have since sold this one and are back to our original.)

NEXT, after embracing our role as artist and creator of our lives, we THEN need to look deeper within the paradigm of the artist.  We have accepted that it is indeed US who are creating the art on the canvas of our life, but what else can we learn from how an artist creates a successful image that will help us to create a successful life?

 As IT TURNS OUT, the same exact tools that artists use as they are creating powerful and effective visual images, narratives and compositions, are the SAME tools that we can use to guide us and provide a framework within which to make decisions.  The PRINCIPLES of DESIGN are revealed as a universal blueprint for creating an effective, powerful, & fulfilled life.  Watch this video of one of my Creatively Fit Students “Before and After” her 2 hour painting class!  Amazing!

Contrast, unity, balance, proportion, harmony, repetition, rhythm, and emphasis are the threads woven through every element of our lives that hold it all together and create a whole, complete expression of our human existence.  Spiritual leaders speak of the power of contrast to transform a mediocre or “safe” life into one that is dynamic, passionate, and centered.  Business coaches use the word rhythm to explain the significant impact a daily business ritual can make in one’s work life.  Unity is the mantra of world leaders and activists seeking peace and justice.  But even all of these people seem to have overlooked the perspective that if you look at your life and everything you do to make up that life as ART, as your form of personal expression, as your imprint on the book of life, there is a formula, a key, a secret that can be applied to ALL OF IT!

What if everyone from government officials to school teachers, to CEO’s to teenagers operated under a common acknowledgement of life as art?  The art spirit has never been about personal gain, artists seldom experienced material wealth when they were living, the accumulation of power or suppression of others.  It HAS BEEN about communicating that which comes from the heart and the spirit.  It has been collaborative.  It has been a unifier.  It has inspired millions of people from a single image.  This is the spirit we need cultivated on our planet right now.

So now, we have taken responsibility for our role as chief creator of our lives, no more excuses or playing the victim, AND we have harnessed the principles of design to guide us along in the process.

 LASTLY, we discover that the physical & mental act of MAKING ART helps us to further develop the first two elements of this paradigm, accepting the artist role and applying the principles of design, by physiologically strengthening our right brain mental ability.  The right brain is the hemisphere that is able to process and put into action this philosophy.  If an individual truly wants to embrace the role of the artist and learn how to manifest her dreams on the canvas that is her life, the simple exercise she can do to get better and better at doing just that involves making her mark &, thereby, tapping into the right hemisphere.  It is this side of the mind that speaks the language of the artist, that will elevate your life to a new level, and that understands how to maneuver in this new paradigm.  Right brain thinking can handle the ambiguity of having created the vision of where you want to go, but not knowing exactly what steps to take to get there.   It balances the left brain inner critic and ego-centered voice, with deep conviction in the ability for the world to provide solutions and in the power of love, not fear.  Dr. Jill articulates this so beautifully in her TED Talk!  Don’t miss that one!

So, we find that the more we “exercise” our right brain muscle, the better able we are to suspend fear, doubt and skepticism, and to move forward based on optimism, inspiration, and a deep faith in humanity and our world.  Dan Pink, in his book A Whole New Mind, Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future, boldly states to american business that their survival depends on developing right brain skills to compliment the current left-brain dominated biz world.  If you want to create the life of your dreams, you have to suspend that voice whispering, “you could never do that” and tap into the voice that says, “who are you NOT to be living that life.”  When we accept our role as artist, we open ourselves up to entirely new ways of living and to an entirely new language and mental dialog that is infinite in its access to intuition, inspiration and wisdom.

So from the image of a simple artist standing in front of the blank canvas, we discover an entirely new way of thinking, living, and creating.  Meet your Artist Within!

SO, this flashback to the beginning of my journey has reinforced to me the direction I need to take moving forward!  So, find a comfy chair, kick back and harken back to an earlier time for clues that will lead you to your future!

Wishing you all a most happy, fulfilling & inspiring 2010!  ~Whitney



Learn to Flip the Switch

3 Things I want to share with you today…

1st…If you want something NEW to happen in your life, your business, or anywhere, you have to do something DIFFERENT.

2nd…When you do something DIFFERENT you change the way you are thinking, making the shift from left-brain routine to right brain innovation.  This is being supported by both brain scientists and spiritual leaders.

3rd…My mission to illuminate for you the ability you possess to “flip the switch” from left to right brain thinking using Creativity Workouts and the Arts is going to provide you with what you need to create the change you desire in your world, to evolve your thinking in this rapidly evolving world, & to lead a blanced and fulfilled life.

First, let me take you on a little tour to illustrate a Creativity Workout.  Follow along with the intent of getting into your right brain (if you are sitting at your computer right now, obviously, you are engaged in the heavily left-brain dominated world and a little right brain exercise is always good.

~commercial break…Go to www.facebook.com/TheArtistWithinU to receive daily ideas about how to get your right brain “Creatively Fit”~

I recently visited UMMA.  The Univ. of Michigan Museum of Art.  I hope this motivates you all to go to an art museum as soon as possible.  It is a FABULOUS right brain workout.  Take your business team.  Take your children.  Go alone.  You will leave with new ideas, more energy, and a sense that you too can create something new.

Imagine that you are walking into this room at UMMA.  It is an art installation by Heather Rowe. http://www.umma.umich.edu/view/ (I don’t know why the pics on the UMMA site are of a different install, but enjoy that one too.)  It is a totally separate room.  I had it all to myself.  It is a series of platforms or open boxes perched upon different lengths of metal and glass supports.  Notice the glass cubes at the foot of some of the supports.  (I really liked those….).  The goal of the installation is to engage you in an altered perspective.  The key is to slow down, look around and take it in.  Throughout my tour here today, look for the reflection of the orange, metal sculpture outside the museum.

So, these mirrors were placed as close to the universal eye-level height and each open “box” had these mirrors and other “random” objects arranged differently to catch the reflections.  See the orange sculpture?  Try to really space out on these images.  Just give yoruself a little mental vacation from the to-do list scrolling through  your mind.  You can’t innovate if your mind is busy processing lists.  Now, let’s move to a different part of the room.

Hi!  Here I am with my trusty iPhone (LOVE it!).  Now, see the orange?  How many times do you see my face? Look in each piece of mirror.  Or almost all of them.  Can you tell which sections are mirror and which are real?  Look again….

Now, here is the last part of the tour.

Now, even I still can’t figure this out.  See my face taking the picture?  See the orange sculpture?  I promise, that orange sculpture was BEHIND me.  It looks like you are looking through the art install to the outside and there is the sculpture.  No.  That is a reflection of the sculpture.  I promise.  Even when I was there I had to turn around and look behind me there it was.  Then I looked in front of me and there it was too.  OK.  At this point, I admit, I started fantasizing about me alone in that room for hours with a bottle of wine and nothing else.  Except that I would surely need a pad of paper because of all the new insight and ideas that would come flooding into my consciousness as I opened up more and more in my mind–right hemisphere, remember.

OK.  So I could go on and on.  I will just say that just yesterday I bought two books.  Joe Dispenza’s Evolve Your Brain (this author was featured in the movie What the Bleep!?!?–rent that if you have not already) and OSHO’s Everyday OSHO.  Within 24 hours, after only reading a total of 15 pages between the two books, I read BOTH of them say that the key to ANY kind of innovation is dependent on your creativity, which is a task of the right brain, and that your left brain is responsible for information or skills that are routine or already processed by your mind. 

Dan Pink reveals this fact as well in his new book DRIVE.  If you want NEW innovation in your organization, it is dependent on right hemisphere thinking. You can learn to FLIP THE SWITCH in your own mind.  We all live in a left-brain dominated world, so if you think, “Hey, I want to new solution to this problem.” That should trigger the thought, “I better get in my right brain.”  In which case you give your right brain something to do (go to the Creativity Workout section of this blog for ideas OR buy my book The Artist Within, A Guide to Becoming Creatively Fit, that is chock full of right brain exercises), thereby shifting the energy in your mind (What the Bleep?!?!) to the side responsible for the creativity, focus, and openness required for innovation.  I will be back with more from UMMA.  I have to dole it out because otherwise this would be a 20 foot long blog entry.

Come back soon…subscribe to this blog–look under my pic–…learn more about Creatively Fit.  We will be launching the Creatively Fit Program in March 2010.  It will be ther “Jenny Craig” for the Right Brain.  It is going to be fun….

Creative wishes this holiday season, Whitney



The Other 97%…

Scientists say that we only use 3% of our total mental capacity.  What if you could learn how to access even another 1-2%?  What might happen?

Picture a 33 lane highway….

It is immense.

Now, picture millions of cars on this highway, all right up on top of eachother, & ALL in just one lane!!!

It’s like they don’t even SEE the other 33 lanes.  The drivers even deny the existence of the other 33 lanes.  They are resolved to continue to inch along down the road, starting & stopping, starting & stopping.

What would happen if the cars just inched over to use 3 off the 33 lanes instead of just one lane?!?!?  How would that ease the burden and increase the flow of traffic?  It would be a RADICAL SHIFT!

This is what it is like inside of our minds.  We are typically conscious of only “one lane”.  This lane if very left-brain dominant because of the task oriented, linear, logistical, and busy nature of our world.  When we choose to engage in right brain activities, we are, in a sense, accessing new, empty lanes, full of potential and new promise, within our minds.

I met Dan Pink yesterday at a Belmont Univ. Leadership event and he had 400 people captivated and excited to develop their right brain thinking.  Dan Pink is helping everyone to see how important right brain skills are to our evolution in this changing economy.

Whether you are motivated by personal or business success, there is NO DOUBT that you would benefit from right brain activity.  All you have to do is buy Dan’s book, A Whole New Mind, Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, and my book, The Artist Within, A Guide to becoming Creatively Fit (which Dan Pink endorsed!!!) www.amazon.com and work out your right brain muscle so that you can be CREATIVELY FIT!  www.creativelyfit.com  Tap another 1-2% in your mind, then, who knows all that could happen….



Right Brain Spa!
October 22, 2009, 9:14 pm
Filed under: Things I love! | Tags: , , , , , ,

Brain Sync Unfold-Your-Potential

I am currently on the back end of a massive week-long book tour/family vacation that began in Asheville, NC and is ending in Charlottesville, VA at UVA!  I can’t wait to share all the details and pics from this adventure! 

In the mean time, I wanted to share with you one of the most amazing tools I have found to CREATING a right brain “spa” experience–the 3 CD set “Unfold Your Potential, Create the Life you Want to Live”. 

If you are not aware of the importance of meditation, just stay tuned.  You will certainly find articles and other info. about meditation catching your eye.  It is vital to BALANCE our busy, hectic daily lives and to CONTRAST the constant chitter chatter in our brain.

These CD’s by Kelly Howell are yummy!  After my first experience with the prayer CD, that got me on my hallway floor for a full hour (!!!!), I immediately got on the phone and ordered a case so I could share them with you all!  They are now available on my website.  Simply click on the image above to get to the shop.

I had been looking for a guided meditation because, hey, I like images and I like stories.  The music that accompanies Kelly Howell’s voice is scientifically composed to balance your brain!  It recreates THETA brainwaves….If you want more go to www.brainsync.com.

I can’t encourage you all enough to buy yourself a set and give them as gifts.  You will NOT regret it!  As a result of using these CD’s just 2-3 times a week I found myself “hovering above the chaos”.  Nothing could really bother me.  I was so much more patient with my children, and I had none of that frantic energy.

I don’t man to be such a commercial, but I can’t wait to hear from you all about how much you love your new meditation time.  I think Lisa (www.lisasartjournal.wordpress.com) got a set…what do you think, Lisa?  look for her comments.

I enjoy bringing you whatever resources possible to support your creative fitness journey!  Enjoy!



What I learned today while painting…

I am consistently amazed at the life lessons that I learn while I am painting.  It is meditation for me.  Thought I would share my insight from my painting time today…

my sunflower step one

This is a painting of a sunflower in the beginning stages.  This is part of the Creatively Fit Marathon I do.  More about that below….  I had outlined the black edges of the flower yesterday (it has been hard to find painting time lately, so I just have to do what I can when I can–good tip) and today I was excited to put in some color.  Now I AM envisioning a traditional golden yellow flower, but since that is so expected (but beautiful) Idecided to lay in some contrasting colors first.  This creates interest in the painting when it is done.  SO, as I was painting in those blue brushstrokes I thought to myself, “This is a good demonstration about how anyone can paint on colors that they KNOW are not what they want in the end.  Even though the blue may seem pointless–why paint blue when you know you are going to paint golden yellow?–it will add so much to the painting when it is peeking through the golden yellow.  Hmmmm, this is just like life.  Sometimes you either spend time going one direction, only to find it is a dead end and you have to do an about face, back track all the way to where you started and turn down a DIFFERENT road.  That is so frustrating.  But, if we can choose (choose being an important word) to see it as part of the process.  That by going down the incorrect road first you actually DID gain some kind of knowledge or insight that will help you in the future.  Just like the blue will add to the overall painting when it is peeking out from behind the golden yellow.”  That is what I thought.

This happens to me all the time.  We go with “Plan A” but almost always, always end up with “Plan B”.  I remember commenting once, “Plan A never works.  It is always Plan B that is the winner.”  But, you have to go through Plan A to get to Plan B, that is just the way.  One could argue that I am setting myself up for that by using a word like “never” but I think more of us need help getting over the hump of dicouragement when Plan A does not work than getting used to Plan A working all the time.  If that is where you are–stay there!  An let us know your secret.  For the rest of us, KEEP IN MIND the blue paint today.  What is the blue paint in your life? 

Now, more about this Creatively Fit Marathon.  This has been the vehicle to getting me and a couple dozen other “runners” painting on a daily basis and providing insight into the art that is our life! 

We are getting CREATIVELY FIT by painting a marathon!  We are painting 26 paintings over and over the same canvas!  Here is the painting that I had done before the sunflower.  If you look back, you can see this painting peeking out from under the sunflower.

my right.left

This painting was “Mile #15 or 16”.  The challenge was to paint an abstract painting that symbolized right brain thinking on one side and left brain on the other.  I have not flipped this one, so in the image above left brain is on top and right brain on the bottom.  Here are a couple of examples of other “miles”.  This was mile #3  that is completely buried under all the other layers of paintings/miles.  The paintings start out easier for my “runners” as they get in shape, limbering up their right brains.  I email them the outline for them to copy onto their canvas and then my example.  This image was inspired by birds my oldest drew when she was 4 years old.

bird by Whitney

This next painting is further along in the marathon when folks are getting bolder and more confident in their painting ability.  This was mile #13.  I really, really liked her.  I did not want to paint over her, although we did decide we would prefer a slightly more chipper “blue lady”.  But it made us wonder what had her kind of down. 

#13 my painting of woman

 

The element of painting over each painting is really fascinating.  We tend to be so product oriented that when you take that completely out of the picture you get into some uncharted mental territory.  That is the goal.  This Creatively Fit Marathon is meant to be challenging. It is designed for people who really want to kick start some change in their life by aggressively working out their right brain muscle.  It works!  Look for comments from some of my Marathon “Runners”.  They will tell you.  Also, go to www.lisasartjournal.wordpress.com to see her blog about my book, The Artist Within and her experience as she paints the marathon!

If you want more info. about the Creatively Fit Marathon, contact us from our website www.creativelyfit.com 

Remember, YOUR life is the blank canvas.  YOU are the artist.  YOU choose the colors, what you paint, and how it looks.  CREATE something beautiful today on your canvas. 

Join my fanpage at www.facebook.com/TheArtistWithinU to hear about the famous opera singers I had the pleasure of dining with last night at my wine bar and how they CREATED Change there!  Creatively yours, Whitney