Developing Creativity: Max Ehrman; Elizabeth Olsen; Julia Cameron

Many artists express ideas about developing creativity that can be helpful to other creative people. Here are a few examples.

Max Ehrman

From LOVE IS IN THE AEROSOL, Text by Denise Kitt, SOMA magazine.

Max EhrmanWhen artist Max Ehrman is not completing privately commissioned works, he is zealously spray painting the walls of start-up companies in the SOMA district of San Francisco.

Don’t recognize his name? Perhaps you know him as Eon75, a pseudonym Ehrman uses that stands for “Extermination of Normality” (and “75” denotes the year he was born).

Despite Ehrman’s affinity for San Francisco, he has worked around the world and has mentioned that he may move abroad in the future.

“I loved Germany,” Ehrman said of the country in which he earned his Master’s. “I moved my happy little self to Berlin as quickly as possible and lived in that amazing city for two years. [It was] one of the best experiences of my life.”

Ehrman painted every day, met people from all over the world and relished in Berlin’s “great art, music and everything in between.” Ehrman plans to stay in San Francisco for some time but is considering moving to Barcelona in a few years.

When asked how creating art makes him feel, Ehrman answered in a raw and resounding manner: “Art is my air. Without it, I would drown. It’s also my therapy and way to stay sane in this crazy city and world. If I couldn’t create, I don’t know what I would do … paint with my toes or something? I would say that any artist who loves what they do is obsessed with it. What’s the difference between obsession and passion? Who knows?”

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Travel is cited as a way to enhance creative imagination.

Also, creative achievement often depends on a high level of obsession. Here are two articles of mine on the topic:

DodoCreative Obsession – “The refusal to rest content, the willingness to risk excess on behalf of one’s obsessions, is what distinguishes artists from entertainers, and what makes some artists adventurers on behalf of us all.” John Updike, about J. D. Salinger. Developing creativity and realizing creative ideas usually takes a degree of obsession. But it isn’t a disorder.

The photo is a replica Dodo skeleton made by MythBusters Co-Host Adam Savage – see article: Creative obsessions: Adam Savage and Stanley Kubrick.


Elizabeth Olsen

From Elizabeth Olsen Interview MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE
by Christina Radish :

Your famous sisters, Mary-Kate and Ashley, were child actors, but you decided to wait until later, and you went to college to get your degree. Did your sisters influence your decision to act, at all?

OLSEN: I’m still trying to get my degree. Maybe somehow they did influence me, but I never made choices based on the choices they made. I just always made choices based on following how my path was going. Obviously, your family influences you, in every choice you make, in some way or another, but it was nothing that was really thought out. It was just something that I always wanted to do, and I went about it a different way. I was in a position where I could go about it in a different way.

Did you always want to be an actress?

OLSEN: Yeah, I did. I was a theater camp kid. It’s all that my friends and I did. We were always creating movies and plays on the playground. Instead of playing on the playground, we were rehearsing musicals that we wrote.

I was always surrounded by creative people, growing up here in the Valley, and I just had teachers who were really great in high school and that gave me the confidence to pursue it for real, as opposed to a fun fantasy.

From interview: Sean Durkin and Elizabeth Olsen by Scott Tobias October 19, 2011

[Olsen]  I read the script during my first six or seven months of auditioning for roles. And I really enjoy auditioning, first off. I just think it’s a really amazing point in the process of creating a character, because it’s completely yours at that point. So I love it. I don’t think anything is weird about it, or scary.

But when I read the script, I was completely obsessed with it. And since I was an unknown, I wasn’t able to read very great scripts, you know? [Laughs.] And so immediately, I responded to the narrative and the way the story was told.

I’m a fan of playing with linear structure. And I really enjoy it when people don’t feed the audience so much information.

I think a lot of films do themselves a disfavor by putting in way too much information, and everyone knows what’s gonna happen next, and no one can actually discover things as they go. So I really responded to that.

And I really loved how complicated and difficult and fun the character seemed to me. And I really just thought I understood her, and just came in with a few specific choices, and something that I was constantly trying to change.

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Elizabeth Olsen - In Secret“There was a stillness about her which I found enchanting and complex.

“There is so much going on in her eyes, and that is really what took me to gravitating toward her.

“She was at once very young and had a very old soul.”

Writer-director Charlie Stratton about choosing Elizabeth Olsen to portray Thérèse Raquin in his movie “In Secret” (2013).

[Quotes from Keeping things ‘In Secret,’ Elizabeth Olsen gets an adrenaline rush by Susan King, Los Angeles TImes Feb 20, 2014.]

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One of the reasons I wanted to include Elizabeth Olsen here was the prevalence of critical acclaim for her acting in “Martha Marcy May Marlene” – her feature film debut.

Many other talented actors talk about putting on plays as kids, and how that got them started in a way as an actor. But how many children are encouraged to think of play-acting (or other creative activities) as a potential adult pursuit, if that is what they want?

How did you play as a kid? Is it merely something you “got over”?

I also appreciate her comments about “playing with linear structure” – which some of the most interesting films do (as well as some other creative projects, like novels) – and about always changing the development of her character. That is also something many writers talk about: that the process of writing “reveals” and allows characters to evolve.

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Julia Cameron

Julia Cameron is a teacher, author, poet, playwright, novelist, filmmaker, composer, and journalist. She is perhaps most famous for her book The Artist’s Way, and has written many other non-fiction works, short stories, and essays as well as novels, plays, musicals, and screenplays.

From The Creative Life: An Interview with Julia Cameron by Annette Fix, Women on Writing / WOW:

WOW: “Write what seems to want to be written” is a piece of advice you gave one of your students. Should that always be the practice or should some consideration be made for writing what is marketable?

JULIA: “Write what wants to be written” is sound advice, guaranteeing we will have passion and enthusiasm for our subject matter. When we write with such fire, our work is persuasive and often marketable.

When we try to write “to the market” with no thought given to our enthusiasm, we run the risk of sounding stale. But it’s important to note that what we want to write, and what the market wants to buy, may well be the same thing.

WOW: Discipline can be both a writer’s best friend and her antagonist. In your opinion, how can commitment (planned writing) and creativity (inspired writing) co-exist?

JULIA: It is important to write for the love of writing, and that love may well be exercised on planned writing as well as our creative forays. It is important to realize that we can write salable work, and that our inspiration may come quite freely when working on a commercial piece. I believe that when we write from a spirit of service, it frees our writing and allows us to write with clarity, precision, and passion.

WOW: You talk about the importance of having an emotional compass. How does that help with your creativity and your writing?

JULIA: I believe that we all have a source of inner guidance that moves us in right directions if we are willing to listen to it. I call this inner guidance “True North,” and it is a strong, inner sense that we are moving in the right direction.

WOW: In The Creative Life, you say the key to success lies with open-mindedness—being willing to change and improve a piece rather than being stubborn and insisting on its genius. How does employing that open-mindedness affect your personal creativity?

JULIA: Early in my career, I was not very teachable. I had a lot of ego invested in being “good.” As I matured, and my work matured, I became willing to be open-minded. I found colleagues whose opinion I valued.

I would show them my work and listen carefully to their feedback. Now, it is routine for me to show my work to a close circle of friends whom I call “Believing Mirrors.”


Photo from my post The mind of gifted adults: Julia Cameron on her mental health challenges.

Julia Cameron is leading an online teaching course – see my post Developing Creativity: the Julia Cameron Live online program

or visit the program site: Julia Cameron Live online course.

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Originally posted 2011-11-17 10:58:19.

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