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Monday, November 24, 2014

Terry Pratchett

"Real education happens when you pick up a fact here, and another fact there, and put them together and get an insight."

English Novelist
1948 -

One of my greatest pleasures is when I create a moment of insight by combining multiple facts into a new idea. I believe we are in charge of our own education. Books, classes, schools are just tools to help us gain information. The real education is in the application of the information to how we live our lives. Some people are book smart but have no idea what living is all about. Some people are street smart but may have lost their souls in the process of surviving. The education for creative leaders occurs during the process of creating. This is where we synthesize all the information we have accumulated in our brains and bodies. This is where our souls are reborn.

Pratchett is the only child of David and Eileen Pratchett.  He was born in Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire, England.  He claims his most valuable education came in The Beaconsfield Public Library rather than school.  One of his early interests was astronomy.  He owned a telescope and wanted to be an astronomer, but was not good in math.  He also loved science fiction and attended science fiction conventions.  

Pratchett published his first short story at 13 in the school magazine.  The story was republished commercially when he was 15.  Pratchett left school at 17 to work as a journalist for the Bucks Free Press.  His first children's novel, The Carpet People, was published in 1971 with his own illustrations.  His first science fiction novel, The Dark Side of the Sun, was published in 1976.  The first novel, The Colour of Magic, in his famous Discworld series was published in 1983.  In 1987 gave up his day job to write full time.

Pratchett married his wife Lyn in 1968 and currently lives in Broad Chalke, a village west of Salisbury, Wiltshire.  He has an observatory in his garden.  An asteroid has been named after him.  Pratchett is known for wearing large, black fedora hats.  He was knighted by the Queen in 2009.  In 2007, Pratchett was diagnosed with a rare form of Alzheimer's disease.  In 2008, he donated a million dollars to Alzheimer's research.

Here is an interview of Terry Pratchett.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Claes Oldenburg

"Very often I am sitting at dinner and I take out my notebook.  I get inspired when I eat, for some reason."

— Claes Oldenburg
Swedish Sculptor
1929 -

When are you inspired?  When you are eating like Oldenburg?  When you take a shower?  When you are walking or jogging?  When you are talking with friends?  In the mornings?  Late at night?  After a walk on the beach?  Or a short swim?  Inspiration comes in a thousand ways and in a thousand places and we never know when it will appear.

Are you a creative leader who waits until inspiration strikes to work on your creative masterpiece?  Don't!  You might be waiting a life time.  Inspiration is fickle and often unfaithful.  Learn to create each and every day even if it is only for 15 minutes.  

Also, identify the times of the day when you are most creative.  These will vary by person.  For some people the early morning is the most creative time.  For others it is late at night. For years early morning and late evening have been my most creative times, but I am now finding that I can also be very creative mid-afternoon.

Where are you most creative?  In your office?  At the local coffee shop?  On your sofa?  At the kitchen table?  Outdoors?  At the mall?  I have found that I can write almost anywhere if I put my mind to it.  I used to write in the privacy of my office only, but I have learned to write in the noisy chaos of shopping mall.  Technology now allows you write anywhere.  

Creative Practice
The Bottle of Notes
Get out of your office or studio and find a new place to write or paint or draw or sculpt.  You are only limited by your imagination and the amount of gas in your gas tank.

About the Sculptor
Claes Oldenburg, the son of a Swedish diplomat, was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1929.  His father was stationed in Chicago, IL in 1936 where Claes attended school.  He studied literature and art history at Yale University.  He also took art classes at the Art Institute in Chicago.  His first recorded art sale was at the 57th Street Art Fair where he sold 5 pieces for a total of $25.  He became a naturalized citizen in 1953.

Claes moved to New York in 1956 and became a part of the Pop Art movement.  Both his wives, Pat Muschinski and Coosje van Bruggen, worked with him in the creation of his sculptures.   Since 1981, Claes has signed all his works with his name and that of his second wife, van Bruggen.

Here is a short video discussing the sculptures of Claes Oldenburg and placing him in historical contest.

Quote Source:
Clint Brown. Artist to Artist. Jackson Creek Press, 1998. p. 127.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Harley's Book Review — The Art of Social Media

The Art of Social Media

by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick

I first became involved with social media in 2009 when I joined Goodreads and it remains to this day one of my most favorite sites. I wish I had had it 50 years ago so I could have an accurate record of the books I have read. The second site I joined was LinkedIn which I am also a big fan of and wish I had it 40 years ago when I got into business. I have since joined Twitter, Facebook, SlideShare, YouTube, SoundCloud and Google+. I have written a blog since 2010. So I have been active on social media for about 5 years but I am not by any means an expert. The reason I became involved with Google+ is because I read Guy Kawasaki's book, What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us. I have been very active as a moderator of a poetry group.

Even with my experience, I found helpful tips in Kawasaki's new book, The Art of Social Media, co-written with Peg Fitzpatrick due out in December. This is a book that you will want to go back to again and again. I read the Kindle version in 3 short days. The book is filled with links that I could easily click on in the Kindle and immediately see what he was discussing. Kawasaki gives lots of examples and sites for more information. The 123 tips are numbered and well organized into 12 chapters.

If you are new to social media or have some experience like me, I would highly recommend this book. If you are an expert in social media, then this book is probably not for you unless you want to give it to your clients.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Alice Neel

"The place where I had freedom was when I painted.  When I painted I was completely and utterly myself.  For that reason it was extremely important to me."

American Artist
1900 - 1984

Do you feel free when you are creating?  Is the act of creation a liberating experience for you?  If it is not a freeing experience, then maybe you are working on the wrong subject.  The act of creating should open you up and free your spirit.  Life may restrict and limit us with work, family, housing and food, but painting and writing should take us to worlds with no limits or restrictions.  We should be free to paint and write as we choose.  Don't let others impose their ideas on your art.  Be yourself when you create and let your spirit lead you and inspire you.

Creative Practice
Using this quote as a starting point, write for ten minutes every day this week about what freedom to create means to you.  Compare what you wrote on day one with what you wrote on day 7.  What changed and what stayed the same?  Then share your best writing here.

About the Artist
My Mother
Alice Neel was born in Merion Square, Pennsylvania on January 28, 1900.  She was the fourth child of Alice Hartley and George Neel.  After high school, Neel held a secretarial job with the Army Air Corps for 3 years and took art classes in the evening.  In 1925 she graduated from the Philadelphia School of Design for Women.

On June 1, 1925, Neel married Cuban painter, Carlos Enriquez.  She gave birth to her first daughter in December of 1926.  Her daughter died just before her first birthday.  Her second daughter was born in 1928.

In 1930 Enriquez traveled to Cuba with their second daughter and left her in the care of his sisters while he traveled to Spain. Later that year, Neel suffered a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized.  She attempted suicide several times.  Although they never divorced, Neel and Enriquez never saw each other after 1933.

        After Neel's separation from Enriquez, she had several lovers.  One of her lovers in a fit of rage burned over 300 of her drawings and watercolors.  He also slashed more than 50 oil paintings.  In 1939, Neel gave birth to her son, Richard.  Jose Santiago Negron, a nightclub singer, was the father.  A second son was born in 1941.  The father was Sam Brody, a photographer and filmmaker.  They had a relationship for two decades even though Brody was married.

Here is a video of Alice Neel at work painting.  It is a silent film shot by her son.  

Monday, November 3, 2014

Sally Field

"It took me a long time not to judge myself through someone else's eyes."

— Sally Field
American Actress
November 6, 1946 -

Probably one of the most negative, destructive critics that creative leaders confront are themselves. We are often harsher on ourselves than we are on our family, peers and friends. We compare ourselves to those around us and believe we are not as good. We believe that others don't like us and are looking down their noses at us. We take a simple negative statement that often is uttered and forgotten to heart and walk around crushed for days and weeks.

Don't judge yourself through the eyes of others. Don't let their negative comments penetrate your heart and soul. Protect yourself from the onslaught of their poisonous arrows. No one can know you better than yourself. Their comments are only their perception of who they think you are. They only see only a part of you. They don't know you.

Creative Practice
This week make a list of 10 of your most positive traits and post them somewhere that you can read them. Read this list aloud to yourself when you wake in the morning and again before you go to bed at night. Carry a copy of the list with you and whenever someone puts you down, pull out your list and read it aloud to yourself.

Sally Field, the Academy Award winning actress, was born in Pasadena, California to Richard Field, an Army officer, and Margaret Field, an actress. Her parents divorced when she was four. She was a cheerleader in high school. In the 1960s she starred in two TV shows: Gidget and the The Flying Nun. Gidget lasted only 32 episodes (one season) from September, 1965 - April 1966. The Flying Nun lasted for 83 episodes and ran from September, 1967 - September, 1970.

Sally Field starred in the title role of the 1976 TV movie, Sybil, and won an Emmy Award. She co-starred with Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit in 1977. In 1979, she starred inNorma Rae and won the Academy Award for Best Actress. She won a second Best Actress award for the 1984 movie, Places in the Heart.

Here are clips from 10 of Sally Field's movies.