I first discovered Maira Kalman’s funny and colorful illustrations in the Illustrated Elements of Style (Strunk and White). What could be better than a stuffy grammar book made entertaining by irreverent visual interpretations?
From there, I enjoyed Maira’s other books such as The Principles of Uncertainty. I’ve been an ardent fan and student from afar, studying her style and voice. She’s fiercely smart and joyfully expressed, and I’ve learned a lot from her visual narratives in the New York Times.
One day a few years ago, I was walking the High Line in New York with a friend. Suddenly, I spotted Maira walking with her friend. OMG! I grabbed my friend’s arm. It’s Maira Kalman! I SO SO wanted to talk to her, but when I am in the presence of someone I deeply admire, I turn quite shy. We followed her for a few steps before I realized I couldn’t bring myself to approach her.
Friday reads!!! As usual, a big stack here in the home/studio.
For the Japan book club, I loved Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being. Next up, Pico Iyer’s The Lady and the Monk. Couldn’t resist his Art of Stillness, because I’ll be home for most of the summer.
Getting my travel jollies with Best American Travel Writing, loved the essay on Tokyo and AirBnB.
For my book group, The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, good but giving me nightmares as I read novels before bed only.
Happy City by Charles Montgomery to feed my fascination with cities and how they (can) function well. Speaking of cities, I’m loving the fun Impressions of Paris by Cat Seto.
I took a workshop with Vanessa Edwards at WDS a few years ago on body language and psychology and it was AMAZING! Beyond amazing. Psyched to read her book, Captivate.
Last but not least, I really enjoyed Andy Miller’s Creative Pep Talk, an inspiring visual romp through some of the wisdom of his podcast guests.
Happy Friday! Read well, read often, friends.
I spent yesterday morning wandering along Boulder’s creek path. Benches here and there gave me a place to pause and make notes about upcoming projects. Walking and writing seem to help me access insights and ideas more easily.
I’m not alone in relishing time in nature to keep me creatively fueled. Many of my clients report that nature helps them feel more calm, relaxed and connected to the bigger picture. Nature is abundant with inspiration, and I love these three ways to treat my artist to nature’s gifts: Forest Bathing, Long View and Water Inspiration.
The Japanese have a concept called ‘Shinrin-yoku’ or Forest Bathing. The idea is that contemplative walks in the forest reduces stress, anxiety and anger. Inhaling the natural oils of the trees can help us relax, allowing clarity and creativity to emerge. I personally love the cozy feeling of being in a forest, where the trees shield me from the sun and inspire me with their elegance.
When I ask my clients what they get from being in nature, many of them refer to a sense of connection, peace and restfulness. Gazing at the horizon, scanning the night sky, viewing mountains or the ocean can bring us a sense of feeling part of something bigger than ourselves. Oddly, this doesn’t diminish us but instead can give us a sense of peace and connectedness.
This kind of space inspires us to take the long view on our projects. Stepping away from minutuae and looking out and up can help connect the dots.
Many people report insights and ideas arrive in the shower or bathtub. Studies about negative ions in water show that the abundance of negative ions found in running water contribute to positivity and creativity.
I don’t need a study to know that being near water helps me feel more relaxed, calm and joyful. I grew up swimming and skiing on a lake in Michigan, so water feels like my natural element.
There are many ways to spend time in nature. From plants and flowers in the home to visits to a local park to escapes to remote locations, time in nature fuels us.
Which of these three gifts from nature do you prefer? Perhaps you have another favorite way to bring Mother Nature into contact with your inner artist? Let us know in a comment below.
I’m grateful that I get to take weekend hikes here in Colorado. I’m also grateful that I get to teach in other beautiful locations. In May, we’re going to the stunning Banff National Forest in Lake Louise, Canada.
We’ll spend four days together at the Fairmont Chateau, where I will lead my Capture the Wow workshop. There will be the perfect blend of group time and solo time, when you can wander around the gorgeous glacial lake, hike in the forest, or simply rest on the terrace absorbing the view.