Tag: creativity

Little Magic: Chaos in Wonderland


I’d begun to dream, night dreams, about oil painting. I followed them to a midtown art store. Maybe trying something new would address a mood of stagnation, a creative slump. The day was dreary, rain and a deep chill in the air. I prowled the aisles in my dripping slicker. When the salesperson, asked if I was looking for anything in particular, I said, vaguely, “Just poking around.”

Local Art Teacher Shares Four Ways “Whiplash” Gets Art and Aspiration Wrong



Writer/musician Ron Tanner takes Oscar-contender “Whiplash” to task.

Oscar-contender “Whiplash” — about a talented college drumming student under the tutelage of a maniacal master teacher– has made a well-deserved splash with both critics and viewers. The film’s pyrotechnic student-teacher duel plays like a hot-jazz cutting contest and you’d be the odd exception if you came away from the movie without great admiration for the acting: J. K. Simmons is a marvel. That said, the aptly-named “Whiplash” left me shaken because, as a long-time teacher of the arts, I found so much of its message wrong-headed, if not downright wrong.

The Gift: 1 Page at a Time from Atomic Books



The Gift

What it is: The book 1 Page at a Time: A Daily Creative Companion by Adam J. Kurtz. Available at Atomic Books. $15.

In 1 Page at a Time, Adam J. Kurtz contends that things are what you make of them. And that (just maybe) our time and creativity could be better put to use by putting down the iPhone (and attendant apps) and picking up a pencil. He proposes 365 prompts, exercises, lists, and activities to get your creative juices flowing. With this little volume, Kurtz has managed to offer us ways to relax and rev up at the same time– to give ourselves some space while filling it.

Who it’s Perfect for:

The Friend Stuck in the Monotonous Job: You know your friend who constantly complains that their job is soooooooo boooooooringggg? Well, surely they’re telling the truth. But if it’s really that bad, maybe it’s time they found stimulating ways to occupy their time while on the clock. Engaging in some non-computer-screen stimulation may be just what they need to get their gears turning toward finding some more satisfying occupation.

The Jet Setter: Perfect for anyone with a long daily commute on the train, or with weekly transcontinental business flights. Kurtz’s book is prefect for those times when you just need to unwind or take your mind off your inbox for some enforced mental diversion.

1 Page at a Time: A Daily Creative Companion is available at Atomic Books for $15. On Saturday, October 11th, they’ll be hosting a release party with the author where you can get the book, grab a drink, and draw with the author himself. For more information, visit www.atomicbooks.com.






Flight Lessons

image via glogster.com
image via glogster.com

Award-winning Baltimore poet Elizabeth Hazen weighs the pros and cons of sitting in the pilot’s seat.

When my best friend told me she was giving herself a flight lesson for her birthday, I did not envy her role as pilot, but I longed to be a passenger in the plane. After a lifetime of struggling to be in control, I now find myself tempted to hand over the keys. With someone else in the driver’s seat, there’s a chance I might find the time and space to think my way beyond the daily grind.

This Week in Research: Reversing Time; The Outsider Advantage


I’ve got two words for you:  time reversal. From what I can tell, it’s like a combination of time travel and wizardry, and it’s something that University of Maryland scientists are working on as we speak.

This Week in Research: The Upside of Bullying; How to Win the Presidency

In this series, we look at the newest findings coming out of our area’s top research universities. We’ve got some great minds in Baltimore — let’s learn what they’re learning!
Social rejection:  it doesn’t feel good, that’s for sure. But can it sometimes be a good thing? Studies have shown that feeling isolated from a group can inhibit cognitive ability in people who think that belonging to a group is a good thing. But when it comes to people who take pride in their non-conformism, social isolation can be a good thing, according to recent research out of Johns Hopkins.

Gravity Vacation: How a Musical Mom Turned into a Kindie Rocker


Marsha Goodman-Wood is raising three kids as she writes, records and performs quality kids’ music — in this personal essay, she explains how she gets inspired in the midst of her triply busy days, and gets creative things done.

Once when we still had just two kids, we were driving on I-95 through Baltimore, right past a factory with tall towers pushing puffy white smoke into the sky. My son, who was three at the time, asked, “Is that a cloud factory?” An innocent question, a funny idea — could easily become the beginning of a short story or perhaps a song. For me, a singer/songwriter, where creativity’s concerned, it’s a matter of letting my imagination run and turning those silly and innocent yet accidentally brilliant questions or comments into something more. It’s not always easy to write a song as a busy mom (now of three), but I juggle multiple tasks most of the day, and it’s much more fun to think about getting a lyric just right while I’m washing those same dishes (again) or folding that same laundry (again) than to dwell on the next job that needs doing.

My daughter was our first arrival. Before she was born, I had been singing a lot of jazz and blues, so those classic jazz songs were always in my head. I sang them as lullabies, or during diaper changes, along with the ABC’s and whatever kids songs came to mind. One day while spooning some veggies for my baby daughter, those influences of jazzy songs and kids songs came together. It was probably pureed carrots; perhaps I was thinking about what I would make for a grownup dinner too. So in the interest of keeping my daughter happy while I was working in the kitchen, I started vamping the melody for “Spinach & Carrots,” a baby-entertaining improv tune that, like most great blues songs, is based on vegetables. Now, nine years later, it’s one of the nine songs on my debut kindie record.

John Waters Manages to Get Older And Cooler Somehow


Although he exists in many people’s imaginations as a provocative young upstart, John Waters is 65 and owns three houses. He’s made a lucrative living from shocking people like his parents, which puts him in an interesting position these days:  the rebel who’s become canonical. But somehow he’s managed to inhabit that contradiction with style and self-awareness; he may be mellowing out, but he might also be getting cooler. He recently spoke with the Wall-Street Journal about rap music, plastic surgery, scheduling hangovers in advance, and being a six-year old who “played car accident all day.” Some select quotes below: