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Monday, October 27, 2014

Denis Diderot

"Only passion, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things."

— Denis Diderot
French Art Critic, Writer
1713 - 1784

Are you passionate about your creative work?  Passion is key to achieving great work.  Without passion you will likely lose your way and become lost in the desert of disillusionment.  Without passion your work will be mediocre.  

Writing a novel takes years for most people.  You have to be passionate about your characters, about the people who inhabit your novel or your novel will fail.  If you don't like your characters, neither will others.  

Writing poetry has almost no financial award and very little recognition.  Are you passionate enough about writing poetry that you can do it for years in seclusion?  Are passionate enough to continue writing even when no one reads it or appreciates your skill? Passion drives the poetic soul.  

Painting by yourself in a studio day after day can be boring.  You long to meet people and talk.  You long for noise and interaction.  Do you have the passion to keep painting even when you are drawn to put the brush down.

Creative Practice
Make a list of 10 creative activities in which you are engaged.  Using a scale of 1 to 100, rate how passionate you are about each activity.  One means no passion.  100 means totally passionate.  Focus your creative efforts on the activities that you are most passionate about.  Stop engaging in creative activities that you are not passionate about.

Denis Diderot was the son of Didier Diderot and Angelique Vigneron.  His father was a craftsman and manufacturer of medical and surgical instruments.  Diderot earned a degree in philosophy, but abandoned the study of law.  He was disowned by his father because he chose to become a writer instead of entering a profession like the law or the clergy.  He was further cutoff from his father because of his marriage to a woman beneath his class.

Diderot's best known work was the Encyclopedie.  He was the co-founder, chief editor and contributor to the controversial work.  He also wrote essays, plays and novels.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Richard Wollheim

"Learning appears as a way of staying young, perhaps of staying alive, and also as a way of growing up, perhaps facing death."

British Author, Philosopher
1923 - 2003

Life-long learning is a powerful habit to develop. Learning something new keeps us in touch with our youth and helps us to stay active and alive. What have you learned in the last week? The past month?  Who has taught you something new about yourself or your art?

We experience the world through our senses — hearing, seeing, tasting, touching and smelling. And what we experience teaches us much if we are paying attention and alert to the possibilities. Did you smell the wind today? Did you hear the approaching storm? Do you taste the rain on your face?

From the time we are born until we die, our purpose is to learn, to grow, and to change. Most learning does not occur in school and we don't stop learning once we graduate. Cultivate a learning attitude. Unfortunately, many people do not learn from their mistakes. They are not willing to change and grow. To be a great artist or writer, you must be constantly learning about the world in which we inhabit.

And when we face death, it will teach us much that we have forgotten. Do not be afraid of death. Understand that it is a gift. It is a door through which we pass, a gate that leads to another world.

Wollheim was the son of actress and a theatrical agent.  He participated as a soldier in World War II and for a short time was a prisoner of war.  After the war, he studied philosophy, politics and economics.  He taught at the University College in London, Harvard University, Columbia University, University of Minnesota, the University of California at Berkeley as well as other universities.

Wollheim married Anne Powell in 1950 and had twin sons.  He married his second wife, Mary Day Lanier, in 1967 and she gave birth to a daughter.

Richard Wollheim is known for his philosophical work on mind and emotions as related to the visual arts.  He was president of the British Society of Aesthetics from 1992 until 2003

Wollheim wrote and published 14 books including a biography of Freud (1971), a novel entitled, A Family Romance (1969) and several philosophical books including Painting as Art, Art and Its Objects, The Thread of LifeOn the Emotions, The Mind and Its Depths and The Germs: A Memoir of Childhood. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Deepak Chopra

"The most creative act you will ever undertake is the act of creating yourself."

Indian Author, Speaker, Medical Doctor
1947 -

The life we live is a work of art and we must continuously be creating and recreating it. The choices we make in life determine the person we become. And the person we become is reflected in the life we live.
Are you living the life you want to live? Have you become the person you dreamed of becoming. To create your life you want requires vision, hard work and persistence. If you think painting a picture or writing a novel is a challenge, creating your life is a bigger challenge.

Sometimes creative leaders become so caught up in their creative work that they lose sight of themselves and the person who they wanted to become. They lose sight of the people they love. We must learn to take care of ourselves — our physical, mental and emotional natures. If we let our work devour us, we can become addicted to drugs, alcohol or sex. We can become paranoid, fearful and anxious. We must learn to love ourselves and those nearest to us.

Deepak Chopra was born in New Delhi, India to Krishan Lai Chopra and Pushpa Chopra.  His name, Deepak, means lamp.  His father was a cardiologist and a department manager at a hospital for over 25 years.  His father and grandfather both served in the British army.  

Deepak graduated from medical school in India in 1969 and began his career practicing medicine in rural India.  Early in his career, Chopra became interested in finding the biological basis for the influence of thoughts and emotions over the lives of humans.

Chopra married his wife in 1970 and moved to the United States to take up a clinical internship in Plainfield, New Jersey.  In 1973, he earned his license to practice medicine in Massachusetts.  He taught at the medical schools of Tufts University, Boston University and Harvard University.

While traveling back home to India in 1981, Chopra began practicing transcendental meditation to help himself stop smoking and drinking black coffee.

Deepak Chopra has written more than 75 books and 21 of them have been New York Times bestsellers.  His books have been translated in to 35 languages.

Here is Deepak Chopra talking about reinventing the body.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Facundo Cabral

"When life shows you a thousand reasons to cry, show it you have a thousand and one reasons to smile."

— Facundo Cabral
Argentine Folk-Singer, Writer, Novelist
1937 - 2011

Nobody's life is perfect and without problems. We all face challenges. Being rich and famous does not protect anyone from facing life's challenges. Being poor and hungry does not ensure anyone happiness. Being a writer, a singer or a painter does not save you from suffering and pain. Being religious does not protect one from misery. 

We all have reasons to cry, but we have even more reasons to sing and smile. Have you seen the sun rise? Have you heard the singing of the birds? Have you listened to the rain on the leaves? Have you watched a calf being born? Have you fallen in love? Then celebrate life! Celebrate the gifts you have been given.

Facundo Cabral, an Argentine folk-singer, was shot and killed in Guatemala on Saturday, July 9th, 2011 at the age of 74. He had been born in La Plata, Argentina in 1937. He did not talk until he was nine years old, the same year his father abandoned the family. He could not read until he was 14. He was diagnosed with bone cancer in his twenties and was told that he only had a few months to live. When he was forty, his wife and one-year-old daughter were killed in an airplane crash.

Cabral taught himself to play a guitar and to sing folk songs. He became famous in the 1970's for his protest songs and had to leave Argentina for exile in Mexico. Cabral performed his music in over 165 countries in eight different languages. He inspired millions around the world with his songs, poems and novels.

Take a moment and listen to this spoken word poem with English sub-titles by Facundo Cabral. Celebrate the life and words of an artist.