Sunday, February 9, 2014

Are You an Explorer, Artist, Judge or Warrior?

For free downloads go to:
Art Lab Info:

ARTiculate Your Story Info:

Happy Sunday Everyone!

A quick heads up - the Waterfront Park Community Center likes to have their registration for the classes at least five days in advance of the actual class. So - if you are considering taking either the Art Lab or the ARTiculate class, now is the time to register. 

I designed the classes so they can be taken either individually or as a series. For the greatest impact, it’s best to take them as a series, but if you can only make one - or simply want to try it out for one instead of making the commitment for the ‘whole enchilada’ that is OK.

I am also offering the opportunity that if you bring a friend, then the 2nd person gets half off - just mention it to the registrar on the phone and she will figure out the math.

Consider this - we are at the time of the year when many brilliant New Year’s resolutions have fallen by the wayside. Reconnect to your creativity and put it at the heart of your day. Meet others who can support your growth. Learn new mindset tools and strategies for bringing your light into the world.

3 Easy Ways to Register

1. Online Register for classes with our WebTrac system, and submit credit card payment online. Registration is processed immediately, and you can print your confirmation form and receipt. For more info on online registration click here: registration is by far the best way of getting the classes you want! You will need your user name and password to register. If you can't remember them, call at least a day before registration begins! 842-2306 ext 118.

2. Drop Off Bring your completed registration form and payment to the Strawberry Hill Park District Office or the Aquatics Center. You will find a registration form in your printed brochure, or you can download a registration form here:

3. Phone In Give us a call at (206) 842-2306, ext 118.  mention the 2 for the price of 1 and a half deal.

By the way - the Waterfront Park people are really wonderful and very friendly.



Diving into the Mist by Melissa Klein 5”x7” framed $125

Are You an Explorer, Artist, Judge or Warrior?
by Melissa Klein

There were some strong responses to my last article about “Who are YOU to judge?” - and it was great to have the discussion. The comments by Sue Bielka were so insightful that I asked to incorporate her words into this article.  

One of the most helpful frameworks that I’ve come across to understand creativity is by Roger von Oech in the book “A Kick in the Seat of the Pants”

He defines the creative process as four basic modes: Explorer, Artist, Judge and Warrior. 

Defining ideas, brainstorming and just generally gathering information.

Taking information and creating, arranging - playing with the material. In the groove of making the project happen.

When you step back and evaluate - Is this working? Do I need to change this? Scrap that? Add something?

Taking your work out into the world - a show, submit it for a portfolio review, post it on Facebook…

"Oh Dang! Here come those twits Snow White and Rapunzel - it's all hair and boys, boys and hair…. Someday I will have to kill them." 
by Melissa Klein 5”x7” framed $125

Shifting between Roles
While this is roughly the chronological order of the creative process - in any project it’s typical to shift between these roles.

Especially between the Artist and Judge. Based on what your inner judge says, you would go back to re-creating and reforming the piece as an Artist. After you present your ideas to the world - let’s say Facebook, someone makes a helpful suggestion which you decide to incorporate into the work. Back to the drawing board. Or perhaps you realize you need more information to finish the work; put on the explorer hat again.

Nude by Melissa Klein

The main challenge is understanding when you need those roles most without letting them interfere with each other. When starting a project, many creative people go into the “Judge Mode” and skip the Explorer and the Artist. One assignment in my Commercial Art class is to draw a self-portrait. One of my new students got set up with a mirror and sat there stuck…. There were a few lines on his paper, but it was otherwise blank. I went over to him and he gave me a list of all the things that he does wrong when he draws a self-portrait - it doesn’t turn out symmetrical, his jawline is off etc… HIs judge stepped in and was really beating him up about things that he hadn’t done. He wasn’t trying to get out of the assignment; he really wanted to do a great job on it. He wasn’t lazy. I told him to kill his judge (and that they always come back like zombies.) He did, and did some beautiful work that really, really looked like him. I’m so proud of him. Tomorrow, he will probably have to kill that Judge again.

Another one of my students, who does some incredible work - has a hard time finishing projects. Right before the deadline of a show, is when she goes into her Explorer mode - she looks up cool ideas on the internet, and decides that she wants to do those projects in addition to what she already has going, but “Don’t worry! I will get it all done in time!” Uh….. not without a lot of stress and late nights, and not to it’s best quality.


Explorer - Mostly for the beginning and sometimes the middle of a project if it’s clear that more information is needed

Pitfalls: Getting sucked into the "bright, shiny object" syndrome - particularly when a project is nearing completion.

Artist - The heart of the project - give this one the most time and the most free rein. Double the time that you think it will take for this one.

Pitfalls: Other roles interfering with the Artist - particularly the Judge. Keep that space sacred for the Artist.

Judge - Kill your judge if he/she comes in too early in the project - and like zombies and vampires, they come back from the dead. Or if that’s too much, reschedule your judge - tell them to come back when the project is at a later stage. The judge is not a bad thing - I really value being able to take a critical eye to my work - but not as I’m trying to create.

Pitfalls: Not listening to the judge when you need to, that nagging question of “Gee, the anatomy of the hand looks awkward… but it’s OK! (when it really does need to be fixed). Or I really should re-write that passage or get rid of it, but…. I won’t!"
A Ninja & His Posse by Melissa Klein 6”x6” framed $125

Warrior - Many artists who struggle to bring their work out into the world need to meet their inner warrior. It’s not that you need to go to war with the world over your work, it’s that you need to be able to take both rejection and appreciation. It’s the public face. It’s the scary phone call, the post, the email, the application. 

Have a mental posse. Mentally take your friends, dogs, horses, cats with you as your companions if that helps. Suit up - put on your armor of things you feel good about. 

Think about someone you admire who was able to put themselves out there - my father was an extrovert (I’m more introverted) and enjoyed promoting his cause for Gardens and Arboretums - below is a photo taken for the Philadelphia Inquirer by Nick Kelsh where he had to climb a tree 40 feet off the ground. I remind myself that he’s in me - I can find that side.

Pitfalls: avoidance tactics and procrastination. Accept that not everyone will love what you do - but there are many who will. They deserve to see your work.

Bill Klein - Photo by Nick Kelsh & article “I was thinking about Leprechauns” And check out Nick's website it's a wealth of information about photography

Right Brain/Left Brain Evidence & Inspiration

Here’s a really beautiful story that Sue Bielka shared about her creative process - and what it feels like to really engage the Artist who resides mostly in the Right Brain:

As a current transition coach, once career artist, this is near and dear to my heart. There is a lovely book called My Stroke of Insight, by Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor that explores what it’s like in the right-brained world. If you haven't heard of her, check out her Ted talk as well. She is a brain specialist who experienced a ruptured aneurysm in the left hemisphere of her brain, in the language center. For a number of years she lived in the right side of her brain while the left repaired itself. The critic was gone. Yay! She said she lived in this beautiful world of pure creation. On the outside, it looked as if nothing of the old Jill existed, but on the inside she was learning about the intricate workings of the brain. Fascinating.

I too had a brain aneurysm when I was 18 and experienced some of what she talked about, although mine was in the back of my head so I didn't lose my speech center. Back then, I didn't know what was happening to me, but some 30 years later, after hearing her words, I was able to relax into what I'd experienced. I decided to play around with my right brain to see if I could consciously open myself to that bliss. I wanted to find a way to get back to that feeling of pure creation.

I was painting the basement of the Children's Museum in their old location. We (my assistant and I) were painting a coral reef and all the sea life on the walls. I was going to paint a sea turtle in a certain spot. I had my reference pictures and my paint and brushes ready then I allowed myself to go into that relaxed, non-judgmental space and just played with light, color and shape. I allowed myself not to worry about painting a perfect turtle. I knew I could always paint it out if my experiment didn't work. I slid so far into my right brain that I couldn't speak later when I was spoken to. (I'd always judged that before too!) When I looked back at what I'd painted on the wall, there was a gorgeous sea turtle there. I hadn't consciously painted it from my will but instead I let it paint me! I was shocked. I'd been in total bliss and there was the result.

I certainly think there is a time and a place for judging in the world of art, but I think we need to spend more time in the early years of schooling on pure creation. So much of our schooling is placed in competition and achievement. The thing is, we live in a very masculine world that is competition based. My work is about bringing forth in women more feminine energy in order to balance the world in which we live. Unfortunately, many women have a knee jerk reaction to surrendering their competitive spirits because they're afraid they'll lose something in the process. My work is about showing them that they gain something far more valuable.

Her website is:

So - what role do you most identify with? What role do you struggle with? Please post below!

Thanks for reading - and I hope to see you this next weekend.

Best Wishes,


No comments:

Post a Comment