Category Archives: The Creative Process

Messages to myself about how to navigate impediments which hinder the creative flow in hopes my answers may be a beacon to others.

Consciously Making a Difference

A shift has been happening within me. But I’m not the only one. Now that I reflect upon it, I’m aware of many other sensitive people who’ve also intuitively been preparing for a major shift in perspective. We could feel it. We just did not know how to name it. Nor did we have the language to describe it. Like others I’ve shared with, I feel we are at a critical juncture for planet Earth within our current space/time. I am consciously tipping the balance in favor of an emerging paradigm of life that compels vision, skills, creativity, courage and collaboration.

sunflower-loDuring the last couple of years, I chose to select projects–like Kathleen Wiley’s two books which combine Jungian insights with biblical wisdoms–that see old subjects with new eyes, new perspectives. By putting my focus on Kathleen’s books, I am adding my energy and input to her message. Both of her books have been very favorably received.

Before that, I devoted my time to a much larger book project several years in the making. Occupying most of 2014 and 2015, I am proud to have added my artistic touches to “Mythos Arcanum,” a new RPG game system based on classic D&D. It’s innovation is that it introduces the concept of “philosophic gaming” which encourages critical thinking about the nature of reality. The morality question is openly addressed. There ARE consequences for stealing, plundering and killing. As in real life, players must figure out alternative ways to achieve their character’s goals. So I am choosing to lend my energy to worthy projects that will help people in some way.

The project I’m currently finishing up is a medieval fantasy and mythological coloring book which I will first publicly present at NTRPGA Con (June 2016). Most images depict powerful women with their animal helpers and familiars. The impetus behind the coloring book is due to the gift of a little girl who showed up at my exhibition booth at GaryConVIII. In response to one of the drawings I had on my table, a little seven-year-old girl presented me with a small piece of paper upon which she depicted a unicorn in colorful felt markers. Her gift delighted my heart.

When I looked around the room, I noticed there was not much merchandise being sold for smaller children. Then it hit me. What if I “give back” to the RPG industry by creating something to delight the children, the next generation of gamers? Could it not also feed the child within the adult? I started my coloring book project with images of things I loved and dreamt about when I was a little girl–mermaids, unicorns, dragons–then expanded it to include a centaur, a winged comic-book heroine with a lion, warrior women with different animal mounts etc…

It’s not only about the coloring. It’s about jump-starting the imagination and enticing new creative neural pathways to form and develop.

This is the way I’m making a modest contribution towards solving problems and offering solutions at the micro level. Yet, in terms of the collective, by adding my piece to a new story, I’m helping to change the conversation. My micro becomes a mega when viewed from the perspective of the collective. At the core is the quiet force of Feminine Power.

The transformative properties of Feminine power are effective because it works from the inside. Residing just under the surface within timeless time, The Feminine broadly understands and works with complexity, bridges ideas in novel and surprising new ways and offers brilliant solutions for all aspects of society. My art is my contribution. As I add my essence to the collective dream, the time ripens for the emergence of a new paradigm of cooperation, a world revolution from the inside-out.

Entering the Creative Zone

I’d not thought much about it before. But now I can identify the main reason I like creating art and graphics. It’s the gift of being able to enter into “the Zone…”

Recently, I was working on the computer creating a representation of a strawberry plant. As I was manipulating the pixels, this is what was going through my mind: “leaf, leaf, leaf, leaf, curve, curve, up, up, smooth, deepen green, add more yellow, contrast, no, lighter, stem, smooth the arc…” When I worked on the blooms, as I blended colors and shapes, I also imagined smelling their fragrance. This is the moment I suddenly “woke up” from my reverie and became conscious that I was in the state of DOING, not thinking—I was totally engaged in the moment, becoming fully engrossed within my creative endeavor. That’s when I grasped just how much I give myself over to this trance-like process.

After much consideration, I think “Entering the Zone” is a form of active meditation, a means of exercising the intuition (as opposed to the intellect). Whatever it’s called, I believe any artistic thing created with intent retains the artist’s energetic signature and it seems to have a lasting effect. To me, this comprises a sacred act. To impart to one’s art the qualities of what is aesthetically pleasing is special. I’m becoming more aware of how noticeable this energetic residue is to others.

The only other person I know who talked openly about “the Zone” was the cousin of a friend, an Indiana University professor of some renowned in computer language. At the time, a couple of large Texas corporations were courting him to work for them and offered three times his teaching salary. When I asked him why he stayed, he said that whenever he teaches, when he speaks he goes to a place where the words easily pour out of him. He enjoys being on the threshold so much that he would not trade the feeling of being in the Zone for anything. He’d really miss out if he simply worked at a desk all day.

Becoming consciously aware of the value of creating while in the Zone also means taking responsibility for the energy I impart. With Kathleen’s book, I was “there,” in timeless time during the entire creative process–open to Spirit and able to indulge my intuitive nature. Nothing‘s left to chance. Symbolic content was also streaming in. Deciding to illustrate her book using appropriate symbols served to contribute another layer of meaning to Kathleen’s book.

Well, something must have clicked just right because of the book’s phenomenal success just within the first few weeks of being electronically published. Even though the Kindle version has been available for two years, the book has been blessed with unprecedented sales. Maybe it is simply Kathleen’s time to shine. In this case, I’m glad to have been a catalyst. But maybe, just maybe, the energetic is a powerful factor in its success.

But there is a downside of being in the Zone. And that is it can become physically detrimental over the long haul. For the sake of one’s vision, every twenty minutes you are supposed to look up and re-focus the eyes at something in the distance. But all too often, I’ll be submerged for hours. Once I “come up for air,” I have to make a point of standing up and walking around.

One miscellaneous comment: when I am in the creative Zone, the cat loves to sit on my lap. It’s as if he is riding the creative wave with me. Perhaps he might even be actively accommodating it.

Two Publications, Side by Side

Two books designed by Darlene in 2015.

Two books designed by Darlene in 2015.

This week in the mail,  I separately received physical copies of both books I designed in 2015 for two different authors and the subjects could not be more different from each other.

The first book project, a behemoth 336-page hardcover, “Mythos Arcanum” (written by Joe Aragon, published by MAGI), was completed and signed off by me during the summer of 2015. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, I created the lion’s share of the illustrations. I am surprised at the amount of time it took for the actual printed product to appear. MAGI took the route of having a traditional print run.

I started my second book design, “NEW LIFE: Symbolic Meditations on the Birth of Christ Within” (written by Kathleen Wiley and published by Soulful Living, Inc.), immediately after the first book was put to bed. I spot-illustrated this 98-page soft cover with line art of different birds and signed off on Kathleen’s book last week. Then I prepared the book for publication through a digital vendor and it took only about a week to become available. That’s how I received physical copies of both books in the same week. The difference in the time factor astounds me.

When looking at each title, side by side, it is difficult to believe they have anything in common. Yet I designed both books to conform to the principles of the phi ratio. Now, the first edition of Kathleen’s book had already been publicly available for two years. But a good friend of ours (who had helped me proof read Mythos Arcanum) recommended to her friend Kathleen that she consider having her book redesigned by me, using the golden mean.

When I first contacted Kathleen, mid-August 2015, about a possible re-design, I wrote: “To most people, in and of itself, a page of words is just a page of words. Anyone, even those without an aesthetic sense, can create perfectly reasonable page presentations from templates. But there is no life, no sparkle or soul to an uninviting wall of words. When the eyes get tired, reading becomes a chore and comprehension suffers. To rest the eyes, the book gets put down, producing an unconscious psychological resistance. It’s harder for the reader to resume. Without a compelling incentive, the book may never get picked up again. And that is sad, for both reader and author.

“I’m telling you this because it’s something you may never have before considered. When done properly, the design aesthetically serves the text. The eye is pleased. The result is happy. Good presentation has power. That is what I offer…

“When I undertake a book project, as I read the text, I can “see” the page take shape in my mind’s eye. Is it channelling or divine inspiration? To use my gift responsibly, I must carefully choose which projects I am to undertake. When Patty first mentioned your book to me, I felt the “rightness” of working with you and thus feel led to work with you. The fact that you recognized the potential of the golden mean proportion also speaks volumes in your favor.”

My passion is to create a thing of beauty. Beauty speaks. Eloquently. With book design, my facility is to create a visual portal through which people may more easily access the depth of the ideas being expressed. It’s like opening a gateway to a different world. Resonance is achieved through the subtle balance of negative (white) space, text, and graphics using correct proportion and placement. It is my gift, my genius.

Its only been a couple of weeks since Kathleen’s second edition has been available and already it has generated some notable buzz. For instance, she showed up at a bookstore in her town and inquired if they were interested in selling the book of a local author. They were so she left some copies behind. Before the day was out (or at least a short time thereafter), the bookstore called and offered to promote her book and do an author signing. They are even willing  for Kathleen to do talks and give classes about her material through the bookstore on a monthly basis. I’d venture to say the book cover design worked in her favor.

It is a joy to see how Kathleen’s star is now rising. I am so pleased to have been an integral part of her success. Kathleen is now anxious for me to begin design work on a second title of hers and I’ve already started.
The publication of Joe Aragon’s book will be officially announced on December 5th, 2015. I trust that Mythos Arcanum will receive similar notoriety albeit from a different audience. Only time will tell. I’ve decided to submit this book to an RPG design competition. Because good design has mostly not been a large consideration within the Role Playing Game industry, I am more than curious to see how well aesthetics can be recognized and honored.

Introducing Sacred Geometry in a Gaming Context

Back in 1990, my late husband taught classes on the beauty of sacred geometry. He believed if one is to come into resonance with the universe, one must be able to accurately visualize the dance of Platonic solids and know how they fit and transform into and out of each other. Coming into congruence with sacred geometrical shapes and knowing how to visualize them at will is great knowledge sought after by those in the know.  In esoteric circles, the novice must appreciate the profound relationship between sacred geometry and the proper creation of a magic circle.

For my husband’s classes, I created all his hand-outs, including ton sacred geometry. For his publications, I created educational illustrations exemplifying the concepts of sacred geometry.

OphanicGeometry01

The above illustration is the first page from our chapter on sacred geometry [“The Ophanic Revelation” (c 2006)].

The classic five Platonic solids are 3-dimensional polygons that have a sequential relationship to one another (known as duals or congruency). Congruency occurs when one polygon–with its unique shape, size and facets–can be transformed into the next polygon simply by changing it’s placement by flipping or rotating them. The five Platonic solids are the tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron and icosahedron. Goethe once wrote, “geometry is frozen music.” What an beautiful way to describe the elegance of these patterns.

Because of my familiarity with sacred geometry, I was fascinated to encounter a client, from the unusual venue of gaming, who was conversant with the Platonic solids. In his text, he addressed the five Platonic solids and supplied an illustration of the same. I wondered to what degree he was acquainted with the forms. In my role as his book’s designer, I expanded on his seed idea. Instead of all the solids appearing at once in a single chapter head, I assigned one geometric solid to each chapter in the book. As there are only five solids, I had to add an additional polygon for chapter six and chose a star-tetrahedron. To pique the interest of the inquisitive, I added a small splice of text revealing the symbolic meaning represented by each Platonic solid.

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The Importance of Finishing

Among the things I learned from my late husband is the extreme importance of finishing things. I’m thinking in terms of creativity and writing. Over a long period of time, I witnessed a repeating pattern in my writer husband. Always, in the beginning, he would be enthralled with a great idea for a book. As the excitement or the newness wore off, invariably so did his interest. Often, when he would be more than half-way through, he would get inspired to begin anew. Then, he’d go along at a consistent pace and maybe get a little further along before stopping and determining the material of the book actually required a different treatment. Usually during the third version, I’d discover he’d abandoned it completely in favor of chasing after another idea for a book to write. I never knew him to revisit any of his nearly-completed manuscripts.

Perhaps some people cannot finish things for reasons of their stars, up-bringing or life lessons. One thing is for sure: there is no sense of accomplishment when you are a great starter but do not finish the race. I recently observed this same tendency in my sister who had recently been bitten by the writing bug. She would stop before she started and rewrite. I don’t know how many different versions of chapter one she’d rewritten. Too many. I advised her to silence the critic/editor inside her head. Insist that internal interfering and disruptive editor go take a hike. Now is the time for the writer in her to flourish, unimpeded.

After listening to her other concerns, I knew she was making her doubts interfere on another level. She was fretting about marketing and self-publishing and what if this and what if that… Daunting, that is how she described what she was going through. No wonder she felt depleted, low-energy, disheartened and uninspired.

I advised her to allow herself to remember the reasons why her book was important to begin with. I said, “Reconnect with that impulse to create and allow the purity of your original motivation to allow your genius to soar. Do not concern yourself with practical matters. That comes later, much later. For now, write the book. Work on your craft. Persevere. When you feel resistance, push against it to achieve success.”

The process of writing a book is arduous. The task is long and challenging enough without the extra stress of worry. Fire that critic inside you if he tries to usurp the creative process. Silence any dissenting voices. Banish any doubts. Make no room for negativity. Concentrate on recovering the joy in the doing. Then bless the world with your creation.

I write this as a recovering procrastinator. I write this for the times I’ll need to be reminded that the way out of the unproductive, maze of self-doubt is simply by finding joy in the doing.