Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Read The Book

I’ve always had trouble reading books. I love reading books, but it has always been a slow process.

If I’ve read a book first, and then they make a movie out of it, I’m usually disappointed with the movie.

If I’ve loved a movie before reading the book, then I will probably love the book.

The Princess Bride movie came out in 1987. My cousin Nancy introduced me to it not long after.

Have you ever wanted more Princess Bride? You can have it... read the book.

There is so much more to the story.

None of this is what I wanted to write about. It’s been decades since I last read this book, and I don’t think I got through it when I last opened it, all those years ago.

Something has changed.

It’s like the time I realized I could do math, after 50 years of believing I couldn’t.

I believed I couldn’t read like other people could.

I spent a lot of time flipping ahead to see how many pages until the end of the chapter.

It took me months to read a book.

Now, I find myself engrossed in the story, unconsciously turning pages.

It’s not a chore to read this.

The reason reading was difficult for me was not that I was not intelligent. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to read it.

The reason was dyslexia.

What changed? Why can I do math? Why can I stick with the words on the page? What has made reading so fun?

I don’t know. Maybe I am just a late bloomer.

Saturday, December 28, 2019


One thing I’ve always envied about musicians, is their ability to perform a song in so many different ways. The difference could be doing a solo acoustic version of a song that they’ve performed with a whole band.

Tonight I was listening to recordings of a friend singing one of her songs differently in two or three back to back takes. One was what I would call a straight, basic version of the song. Then she did one with more details… more flourishes, you could say… or with lines ending on surprising notes. That kind of improvisation is exciting to me, and as I listened, I wished I could do it.

Then it occurred to me that I often say I paint the same thing over and over, yet not the same.

I improvise in paint.

Fish in trees is one of my songs, and I interpret it a little differently each time. Sometimes with more flourishes, or an unexpected color.

Saturday, December 07, 2019


Everyone will see your creative expression differently. They will certainly see my work differently than I see it. We’ve all spent so much time developing into the people we are, and everything has influenced us along the way. We’re snowflakes... no two of us are alike. I see things differently than you do. There is nothing unusual about having an unusual thought.

Things happen in dreams that may not ever happen in real life, yet it is our mind, assimilating our experience into dream stories. In a similar way, painters and writers can make anything happen. We connect details to create something new. Those details come from what we have experienced, and that is not so unique.

You can build just about anything out of legos, but if you look close enough, you’ll see the blocks.

We use what we have in the bucket.

Sunday, December 01, 2019


I never know what will inspire my creative urges. I’m surprised now and then by details that may seem insignificant to someone else. They are triggers that open folders in my brain. I can’t predict them, but I respond to them.

At other times, I’m inspired by something overt, like another person’s painting, story or song.

Molecules in my spirit attract a molecule from yours, and they form a compound.

My creative juices are like saliva. They start when I am inspired. They begin to digest the thing... the idea... the connection, and I incorporate the inspiration into my vocabulary.

I meditate.

When I set myself apart from the flurry of daily activity, I understand myself better. I create in order to explain it to myself. If I paint it or write it, I can then share it. If I share it with you, you can share your response with me. Or you can create something that may contain a compound which contains a molecule of me.

Saturday, November 30, 2019


I live with an elusive creature. She is wise and ancient, beautiful like a panda or pallas cat. You probably wouldn’t see her if you came to my house. She waits. When everyone else is asleep, she comes looking for me. I give her whatever she demands. I’m happy to, for the honor of being her person. She is tiny. Frail, but round. She may have flowed from the brush of Chinese calligrapher. I am not sure. She speaks to me in a language I do not fully understand, but she is patient, and repeats herself until I comply.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Scrap book

I think anyone can expand their creativity and abilities by practicing. If you practice something, you will get better at it. Before the action, comes the desire or intent. It’s easy to say “I’m not creative” or “I can’t do that” and those become self fulfilling prophecies. A sense of urgency can fuel your creative practice. For me, the urgency comes from the limited time I have in this body, and the passion I have for capturing something in images or words... something that will express, in a unique way, what this experience... what this life means to me. Having said that, obviously my work reflects my personality or events in my life.

This can seem narcissistic, but I also have to remember that I am creating things to share in public. There Is a fine line between self expression and considering your audience.

30 years ago, I did a lot of self portraits. I tried to be deep and dark. Now I do very few pictures of myself, yet I see how everything I do is autobiographical.

No matter what I am doing in the course of my day life, I try to keep my physical and spiritual eyes open. I can be inspired by the most unassuming things. I try to notice things. We’re bombarded with detail. My mind clips the pages of collected material when I am quiet, and sometimes I am able to connect and distill something that resonates with me.

There are many creative people that I am inspired by. Musician and friend Cheralee Dillon, short story writer Ben Loory, podcaster Ian Chillag, my father and my grandfather. I’m inspired by children, and their willingness to try things.

That’s the advice I’d give anyone wanting to be more creative. Get in touch with your inner child. Don’t wait for a degree or a license. Don’t wait for anything. Just do the thing, and see what you discover.

You are enough already.

Peel off the layers of rules and expectations. You don’t need them anymore. The orange peel has done its job, and must be removed before you can enjoy the fruit inside.

Saturday, November 23, 2019


I suppose there is some risk involved with creativity. I mean, people might not like what you produce. I should say people won’t like what you do. Some people will like it.

The thing that makes it a risk is your expectation.

Everybody has an opinion. To put your product out for public view, or public consumption, is to invite whatever opinion anyone has toward it.

If you cook food, there will be people who don’t like it. If you paint, there will be people who don’t like it. Maybe they don’t understand it. Maybe it doesn’t match their couch.

I don’t have a problem with that.

If you paint happy little trees and waterfalls, a lot of people will like it. Not everyone. If you paint something with a deeper message... something less happy... less tidy... fewer people will buy it.

If your goal is to sell as many as possible, there is a risk.

If your goal is to express something that you find deep inside, something that is important or therapeutic to you, then there is little risk.

While you are a unique person, your feelings are probably not that unique. Someone will have felt the same. Someone will understand.

Do I take risks? Only when I doubt myself.