• Books
  • Diving into the Mystery

    I’ve lived long enough to remember when Advice for Artists was a quiet, contemplative stream at the edge of town. Now it is a surging river with big crowds, water sports and riverboat casinos. Much has changed since Julia Cameron published the The Artist’s Way in 1992. Originally titled Healing the Artist Within, the book […]

  • Creativity
  • Incubation and Its Mysteries

    My daughter Kellin noodling with her niece Siena 18 months ago Joan Acocella, long standing dance and culture writer for the New Yorker, discusses how the path of a new idea comes into form in her recent article, A Nice Little Talk. She uses a set of conversations held between dancers as a good example […]

  • Art Making
  • Pocketed Fear

    Mark Rylance plays Thomas Cromwell in “Wolf Hall,” brilliantly brought to life in the writing of Hilary Mantel (Photo: PBS) I’m a passionate fan of Hilary Mantel‘s books, especially Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. In a profile of the author by Larissa Macfarquhar that appeared in the New Yorker in 2012, Mantel’s way […]

  • Art Making
  • The Right Way

    “Guardians of the Secret”, collage by Barry Swyers, an artist and friend who passed away earlier this year. Artist Ben La Rocco in conversation with Craig Olson, on Hyperallergic: There is some kind of confusion in my nature with regard to received methods of doing things. I’ve always had it. I’m left handed, mildly dyslexic […]

  • Art Making
  • Whales, Horses and the Hand

    In praise of the hand (found on a trip to India several years ago) Laurie Fendrich (painter/writer partnered with painter/writer Peter Plagens,) has written thoughtfully about the concept of a “mature” or “signature” style. “All serious painters, no matter the quality of their work, inevitably end up with a mature style,” she wrote in the […]

  • Art Making
  • The Through Line

    Porthole glimpses into the complexity of layers under the surface of the ice and snow Megan Hustad‘s memoir of a childhood as the daughter of evangelical missionaries, More Than Conquerors, brings her insightful mind to bear on more than Christian theology and the usual themes found in a Bildungsroman. In a conversation recounted near the […]

  • Art Making
  • Permeability

    Somewhere between what is hidden and what is seen: A matchbook found at the bottom of a box of paints from my days on the Lower East Side in the 1970s. In Jane Hirschfield‘s slim but wisdom-packed book, Hiddenness, Uncertainty, Surprise: Three Generative Energies of Poetry, she includes a poem written in 1000 CE by […]

  • Aesthetics
  • The Terroir-Driven Life

    Mosel, the German valley most associated with Riesling wines (Photo: Friedrich Petersdorff) I’ve been laboring to write about (mostly) art making and creativity on this blog for almost 10 years. One of the overarching themes has been the search for language that comes in close, authentically, to the experiences I have when I am in […]

  • Creativity
  • Trusting the Weir

    Native American weir Consciousness is a weir. What gets snagged in the watery carapace of life flowing through us often has meaning that is very particular and specific. It’s a bit like dreams, those cinematic wonders that are designed for and about only us. The wisdom that gets caught in our consciousness weir is a […]

  • Aesthetics
  • The Sweet Unheard

    Of all the poets who delve into writing, creativity and the nature of art making, Jane Hirschfield is the closest to my way of seeing things. I go back to her books over and over again. Now another to add to my library: Hiddenness, Uncertainty, Surprise: Three Generative Energies of Poetry. These three essays were […]