Step Away From The Desk! Find Your Creative Zone In New Places

SB server Ian visits poolside art studio

(Pic #1) As I make a total mess poolside at a tony Santa Barbara resort, server / musician “Ian” stops by to investigate the scene of the crime.

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(Pic #2) A few last strokes with Sennelier oil sticks. Exploring use of my left hand. Awkward but exciting.

I recently committed to keeping art supplies with me wherever I go. It’s been one of the most effective means of producing creative work. I keep a sort of “lunchbox” filled with little goodies from my local art store. Basics: tubes of acrylic paint, Sennelier oil sticks, graphite pencils with sharp points, newspaper (for ripping collage pieces as well as a way to protect the table you are working on), illustration board, colored paper, glue sticks.) These little treasures provide me with instant opportunities to paint, color or play with paper. Whether I’m waiting for my ride to emerge from the foamy poodle brushes at the car wash, or I’m staring resentfully at the blank walls of the DMV – I’m armed.

A few weeks ago,  Josh and I headed north for a couple of days in the sun at a seaside resort in Santa Barbara. At first I felt guilty, but then I realized I get to take my office outside. I got to create my own ersatz art studio amidst some of the most inspiring scenery on the planet.  All I needed was a table, which poolside server Ian (and his “man bun”) gladly shifted my way. (Pic #1)

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(Pic #3) Notice nature’s patterns and play with them.

Real productivity doesn’t mean you have to bury yourself in your routine. It means finding new ways to produce – and new places to do it.  For me, just being surrounded by fresh colors and quirky shapes is enough. Try exploring what surrounds you; find patterns in nature (Pic #3) or crazy color combinations in some lady’s muumuu. Play with those ideas and see what takes form.

A change in scenery can change your view — and the quality of your work. You will find yourself noticing things you passed by before, and that new habit will expand your visual vocabulary. Then, each time you paint, write, or make music, you will create something deeper, richer, and uniquely yours.

Pipes, Pumps and Valves: The Art Of Modern Plumbing

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(Pic #1) Roof drain rain discharge line, Santa Barbara, California

“The only works of art America has given are her plumbing and her bridges.”   – Marcel Duchamp  (1917)

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with the colorful, clunky metal shapes decorating farm land in Camarillo, California. These forms also appear in basements, maintenance yards, and water treatment plants that no one notices. From Southern Cali to the bowels of turn-of-the-century skyscrapers in NYC, you can find the most elegant, gentle curves serving man’s plumbing needs. Pretty basic stuff. But they are both sculptural and beautiful.


(Pic #2) “Fountain” by Marcel Duchamp (1917)

Perhaps the most famous plumbing fixture in history appeared on the American fine art scene in 1917 – when French conceptual artist Marcel Duchamp submitted a “readymade” porcelain urinal titled, “Fountain” to an exhibition that would ultimately reject the work. (Pic #2)

Duchamp dismissed the assumption that art must be linked to the “craft of the hand” and instead argued that a work of art should be primarily about the artist’s idea — a contention that became one of the most far-reaching principles of 20th century art.

To me, there is real beauty in these utilitarian objects. Check out the ones we’ve collected below. Heck, I even like the sound of the names assigned these sweet supplies, like: backflow preventers, hose bibs, swivel joints, valve actuators, flush valves, and discharge lines. TMI ?

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(Pic#3) Detail, Industrial cooling system, Manhattan, NY

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(Pic #4) Google’s Asian night time cooling and thermal energy storage system, Taiwan.

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(Pic #5) Agricultural irrigation system, Fillmore, CA

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(Pic #6) Agricultural hoop house piping, Camarillo, CA

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(Pic #7) Detail, Industrial cooling system, Manhattan, NY

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(Pic #8) A little rough around the edges -water spigot, West Hollywood

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(Pic #9) Detail, Industrial cooling system, Manhattan, NY

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(Pic #10) Detail, Industrial cooling system, Manhattan, NY


Chew On This: Gorgeous Gum Wrapper Art

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That’s a wrap! Colorful chewing gum papers provide meaningful daily devotion for one Los Angeles artist.

 Artist/analyst  discovers the joys of art making – in minutes.

I preach it in my workshops – and to anyone who will listen: “Do something creative – ten minutes a day.” I know about the dramatic impact of daily creative activity – how it changes the way we look at things, and how we approach problem-solving.  But every time I see what Leslie Howard produces consistently – I’m talking every day – I’m knocked out.

Leslie is a Los Angeles psychoanalyst writing a complex dissertation for her doctorate degree. She has been spending most of the last 5 years reading, writing, and working with patients. But somehow, she manages to stay true to her commitment: making art from trash – the tiniest of throwaways – and recording the little sculptures on her iPhone. She made over 300 of them last time I checked. She will soon complete a full year.

They are beautiful, whimsical, and sometimes daunting. Daunting because you can’t imagine how anyone can produce another month’s worth of compelling forms. They are tossed out gum wrappers, for heaven’s sake. How does she find so many new ways of re-inventing them? Well, I think the answer is in the task: the more we create, the more ideas flow.


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