Eric Maisel interviewed on …in my spare time.

I have now read the interview with Eric Maisel on Jan’s …in my spare time another down-under blog, from Coff’s Harbour in NSW, Australia.

I was impressed by how many books Eric has put our & has on the go. Inspiring.

Another question for Eric emerges, same theme as I’m my last post… the eastern ideas of enlightenment, and the psychological ideas on positivity seem to go against the notion of the unconscious, Jung’s notion of embracing the shadow in particular. Eric, what do you make of that?

And another question: I am curious about how you learnt this stuff Eric. You almost seem to say, here are the answers I learned the hard way so you don’t have to. Do you think there is struggle can be bypassed?


Let me say how I enjoyed looking Jan’s blog. Creativity, books, GTD, coffee… we share a few interests. Jan is doing a series of paintings for each incantation in the Ten Zen Seconds book. Here is the first one, (I am) (completely stopping) Jan can I pinch that idea? One sketch per incantation, I’ll do it too! Look at this painting:

Continue reading “Eric Maisel interviewed on …in my spare time.”

Exploring Ten Zen Seconds

I read this from Eric Maisel in the interview on Catherine’s Blog (read that interview):

First, the creating ought to come first each day – that’s a big secret and a big deal. When we get to our novel at five a.m. and write for an hour, then we have made some meaning on that day and face the meaninglessness of some of our daily pursuits with much more equanimity. If, on the other hand, we spend a meaningless day and THEN try to get to our writing, we are usually both worn out mentally and drained existentially, since we have been with “too little” meaning all day long.

Well, immediately I have a few questions! Really I’d like to know the answer to this:

What if you are not a “morning person”? I get to work in the nick of time in the morning, work all day, and then create mostly at night. Not ideal! I love my work, and I love the night-shift too. Is there a better way?

Secondly and perhaps more importantly, Eric, when you say “creating ought to come first” I initially read it as creating ought to come first in your life. I don’t think you said that, but it is an interesting notion. I subscribe to it in a Joseph Campbell “follow your bliss” way. What do you think?

I will be reflecting on the TZS for the next day & emailing Eric my questions, stay tuned.

I also want to apply the method to some sketching…

If I breathe into a few of these I can see it will help!

1. (I am completely) (stopping)
2. (I expect) (nothing)
3. (I am) (doing my work)
4. (I trust) (my resources)
5. (I feel) (supported)
6. (I embrace) (this moment)
7. (I am free) (of the past)
8. (I make) (my meaning)
9. (I am open) (to joy)
10. (I am equal) (to this challenge)
11. (I am) (taking action)
12. (I return) (with strength)

One little doubt creeps in… I have done quite a few sketches while less than centred, plenty of them, from a dark place or from an agitated self. Bursting, Blacker to mention just two. These have been satisfying. My creative work centers me. I imagine you have explored this nook of the creativity phenomena Eric, and I’m interested in your comments.

Eric Maisel & Ten Zen Seconds on the Thousand Sketches blog

Dr Eric Maisel is an amazing man.

He has initiated (perhaps invented?) the world blog tour. He will be here on this blog Tuesday, 8 May (San Francisco time)

I found him while exploring sketches on the net (blogged that here). I found Danny Gregory, and liked his sketches a lot! That led me to a A Writer’s Paris, which I bought for the sketches as much as anything, then loved the essays. I delight in that book even now, a few month’s later. One theme of that book is that it is good to have a time & a place to write, to warm up to it, and to commit to it. To do it. And Paris is a place that will get the creative juices flowing.

I quickly saw Paris as a metaphor. Christchurch is Paris. It is a great little city the with cafes, galleries, a rivers, squares, churches, gardens, beaches and hills. A writer’s paradise in the South Pacific. And for me, right now, writing is sketching.

Then I learnt from his website that he is a creativity coach. Fascinating. I can see how people need that, I do. I sometimes want help with my sketching, but mostly it is simply connecting around the process of creativity I need. In fact too much input on sketching distracts me from what emerges.

Then I got hold of he other book: A Writer’s San Francisco I suppose San Francisco is a metaphor too, but not for me, I will be sketching there for 2 weeks in July and then for two weeks in New York.

As promised mid April, Eric will stop over here on Tuesday this week to chat & promote his latest book.

Ten Zen Seconds

The book

Right now I am catching up on his other blog stops, see the list here.

I am particularly interested in seeing that he was in Christchurch last week! He visited Catherine’s blog, Still Standing on Her Head, and I suggest you have a read – it is a very comprehensive interview and explains the process we will be talking about.

What a day! – Collage – George – Edward – Christchurch Art Gallery – Picasso – and a word from the project.

Planned a collage for #233



Had lunch with George, we talked a lot of art. He is now doing the 14 stations of the cross, abstract, acrylic. Makes sense as he is a Christian Atheist. (Which reminded me that Llew Summers has done sculptures for the Catholic Church here in Christchurch – must go and see them.)

Caught up with Edward and we jointly signed “Just as you are” and he has a great art plan on that theme, which I won’t reveal here – Edward, do it!!

Then I went to the Local Christchurch Art Gallery:


The Giacometti which I have seen, is still on but I did not go there – saw a few other things which inspired me, more on that later as I do some sketches & I’ll attribute the inspirations. AND did sketch #253, which I will post up in the next post. It is a bit of a hoot, as it is a rubbing, not a digital sketch! Not even really my work, but what are rules for?

Followed by a movie on Picasso,

Picasso: Magic, Sex and Death
Three short films in which John Richardson, Picasso’s friend and biographer, sets the record straight about one of the 20th century’s greatest artists. (156 minutes)

Interesting & inspiring, good to see so much of his work, the main thing I got from it was that he saw himself as a shaman, and his art as voodoo magic. Now there is a thought, talk about conceptual art. Its not so alien, as I figure this thing here as alchemy. First mooted in this post. In that post too is the question I live with “What does Thousand Sketches want?”

Today I heard something loud & clear from the project, a realisation… but I am keeping quiet for now. It was a private conversation.

Alex Katz, b 1927 –

I got some feedback today: I hope it is ok that I quote it here, it was that my work was reminiscent of:

Hockney’s sketches, Milton Avery landscapes and Alex Katz figures.

This is the second time someone has said that re Hockney – and I have been studying him avidly since, all I knew of him was the swimming pool stuff, now I have a fuller grasp. More on him some other time.

I’ve never heard of the other two, and so I have been surfin’. I’ll make this a Katz post.

An enjoyable interview from 1991 in the Journal of Contemporary Art: Interview

Another here.

Selected Images

I can see the similarity with some of my figures – the most recent being sketch #241 – what shall I call that style, “bucket fill”? Katz will inspire me to develop that – particularly for portraits. I like the way he can get the tones right in faces. even though there is little shading.

Some of his flat surfaces are in oils and many seem to be silkscreens & lithographs. As I reflect on these media I wonder what I will do when I can get out of this digital crucible?

Oil – printmaking of various kinds – acrylic – pastel – charcoal ?

And a pile of Alex Katz images follow:

Continue reading “Alex Katz, b 1927 –”

Conversations with Edward

I spent a pleasant day with Edward Coughlan and we did some art, walked, drank coffee & talked a lot.

Art: “Just as You are” – the words of Zuiken my digital version is in the next post, Edward’s lino cut print is also in the next post.

Here is the Podcast: The topics covered include ideas about art, and how thinking about it impacts on our work.

Download mp3

Or listen:
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What follows is a mindmap of the podcast & some of Edward’s pictures we talked about.

Continue reading “Conversations with Edward”

Following the flame – Jung’s Dream

Posting a sketch here by L Laughy from Nithwave for inspiration.

I had a walk & talk with Kate yesterday and we were musing over our projects – her horse treks & my sketches. She told me the story of Jung’s dream with the candle. I found it really useful to keep me focussed here & today has been a busy Thousand Sketches day! No sketches, but podcasts & posts and a few good emails have come & gone.

Then as luck would have it when googling for Jung’s dream I found the words accompanying a beautiful moleskine sketch, I’ll post the words and then the sketch.

“I had a dream which both frightened and encouraged me. It was night in some unknown place, and I was making slow and painful headway against a mighty wind. Dense fog was flying along everywhere. I had my hands cupped around a tiny light which threatened to go out at any moment. Everything depended on my keeping the little light alive. Suddenly I had the feeling that something was coming up behind me. I looked back, and saw a gigantic black figure following me. But at the same moment I was conscious in spite of my terror, that I must keep my little light going through night and wind, regardless of the dangers. When I awoke I realized at once that the figure was my own shadow on the swirling mists, brought into being by the little light I was carrying. I knew too that this little light was my consciousness, the only light I have. Though infinitely small and fragile in comparison with the powers of darkness, it is still a light, my only light.”

From: C. G. Jung, Memories, Dreams and Reflections.

Continue reading “Following the flame – Jung’s Dream”


I am thinking about the desire of the project & the desire of the line (to quote Matisse). Something in the marks that is essential, that has a life of its own. What is that? We want to get a glimpse of the real thing beyond the shadows in Plato’s cave. We are channels for a deeper truth if we can just get out of the way. It is something we can’t attain, but it keeps calling or pulling.

And there is something else.

The marks express unique personal identity. If I can get out of my own way I will come through. Unexpectedly I like my #184 Stuff on my Desk because it has me in it & I was hardly there, just doodling as an afterthought. It has my emerging signature – I don’t mean my name, but something that resonates with my inner fingerprint.

I had a conversation with Kate recently about signature, how as teenagers we “practice our signature”, a paradox totally suited to adolescence. Is that signature being invented, or discovered? The latter I think. Which then had me reflecting on that crucial teen-age time in my life, late 50s. I was drawing and painting a bit, though never with formal instruction, except in technical drawing. I really craved to belong to the art class but would not let myself feel that… and that was not all that was suppressed. I suppressed my signature.

Right now I am wanting to find that scrawl, which will shine, because it is gets closer & closer to …

And here is the point that is motivating this post…

… to the personal essence that is also there, in the same place beyond the shadows in the cave.
The subject & artist share one true nature.


Janey’s post.

An earlier post of mine: Thousand Sketches & Signatures

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Top ten images in the world?

There are some images that are totally famous for ever. At the top of the list? It has to be the the Mona Lisa. What’s Next? Marilyn Monroe with her skirt blowing? The Scream? Vincent’s Sunflowers? Andy Warhol’s Soup-can or perhaps his Micky Mouse. Ansel Adams? Amazing stuff. What belongs on that list? What are the top ten most famous iconic and best loved images?

Leave a comment!

Funnily enough I become fond of prints through exposure to them. I have some on the wall here at home that came from my family home & I love them. Perhaps those images became iconic in part because they are so famous, once the cycle starts can’t be stopped. There is a complex element of genius, innovation, drama, and timeliness that kicks off the cycle.

And I become more fond of the images I put up here over time, they become familiar if not better. But I’ll make another post about faves here.

Mona Lisa





Tablet PC & Art

JK On the Run, Tablet PC expert James Kenrick has posted positive and focussed words about Thousand Sketches. Thanks James. James has a great podcast that I have been listening to for a long time.

Tablet PC people have taken some interest in my work, and rightly so, without my tablet where would I be? I would not be doing 1000 sketches that is for sure.