Sunday, December 02, 2007

Picasso and creativity

This illustration is my imaginary portrait of Picasso.

Picasso and creativity. Both words are almost synonymous. These last days I am engaged in a printmaking workshop (you can see some examples in my blog Acuarela), and browsing some of the catalogues of Picasso's prints I've found some great quotes and anecdotes by the master. One of them has become one of my all time favorites. In its apparent triviality, you see the spark of creativity at its purest.

When Picasso made his first etching, of a horse-riding man with a spear, he realised that the image was inverted in the print and he said "Damn it, he holds the spear with his left hand!". When asked for the title of the print, he promptly said: "El zurdo" (the left-handed.)

Some years later, when he painted his portrait of Gertrude Stein, the model said: "But Pablo, dear, I don't look that way at all". Picasso replied, "You will, with time. You will."

These are other of my preferred quotes by Picasso (or attributed to him):
  • Action is the foundational key to all success.
  • All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
  • An idea is a point of departure and no more. As soon as you elaborate it, it becomes transformed by thought.
  • Are we to paint what's on the face, what's inside the face, or what's behind it?
  • Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.
  • Bad artists copy. Good artists steal.
  • Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.
  • Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.
  • God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephantand the cat. He has no real style, He just goes on trying other things.
  • I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.
  • I do not seek. I find.
  • Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.
  • It takes a long time to become young.
  • It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.
  • My mother said to me, "If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope." Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.
  • Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.
  • Success is dangerous. One begins to copy oneself, and to copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others. It leads to sterility.
  • The chief enemy of creativity is "good" sense.
  • The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.
  • The world today doesn't make sense, so why should I paint pictures that do?
  • To copy others is necessary, but to copy oneself is pathetic.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Q10: no distractions allowed

In a previous post I commented several text editors that shut the door (or the screen) to distractions.

I have had the pleasure to find yet another implementation of this idea, only it is nicer and more feature-packed (for Windows users only). The program, called Q10, has been developed by Joaquin Bernal, it's freeware and you can either install it, just extract it to a folder or carry it wherever you go as a portable app (in a USB drive.)

I really need this kind of application. Do you?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A book about to do lists

To do lists are one of the centerpieces of any organization system.
I like to see what other people do with their to do lists, for example in blogs like To-do list.

Sasha Cagen, a true to-do-list-ologist is the writer in charge of To-do list, both a magazine and the aforementioned blog. And now it's also a book, To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soulmate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us, a collection of 100 lists and the stories behind them. Freshly published this month by Simon & Schuster.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Creative vision: a mindmap

Here is an ongoing mindmap I’ve been annotating with what I think are the keys for personal creativity. You could certainly expand this web more and more, but some of these ideas are worth considering.

The image can be enlarged at a mouse click, but I also have some other goodies for you if you wish to take a closer look or even use it as a starting point for your own version:
All of these versions have been generated from a single master file in the Open-source program FreeMind.

I hope you find some stimulating idea in this map!

Mind maps, concept maps and related diagrams are a very good tool not only for creativity, but also for organization. You get a bird’s view of the whole project and the associated tasks. And there is a variety of Mind Maps Books you can check out.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Nexty: GTD for one or multiple users right in your browser

I have been busy trying out different kinds of CMS systems lately, and I have set up a whole suite of applications to run web applications locally. This means I’ve been able to try a particular piece of software that has been designed from the ground up for the GTD system: Nexty. Open–source, it works in PHP using a MySQL database, the usual combination in most CMS systems.

You can set it up on your hosting service, and use it anywhere, or install it locally on your computer. For a single computer install, the details may vary from one OS to another, but in the case of Windows XP all it takes is two minutes (or less). Yes, I mean it.

For such a quick install of Nexty, you must have first set up a combination of Web Server (such as Apache), PHP, MySQL. The most convenient and super–easy is the XAMMP suite (Apache, MySQL, PHP, Perl, PHPMyAdmin and more conveniently packaged), a portable application suite that you only need to extract to your computer, following the instructions provided in the XAMMP project page.

You can use XAMMP to test locally different CMS solutions, such as Wordpress or Textpattern, and of course to install and run Nexty.

You only need to download Nexty from the project page, extract it to the htdocs folder in the XAMMP directory, then create an empty MySQL database using PHPMyAdmin: call it “Nexty”, (quite imaginatively), then run Nexty by typing http://localhost/nexty and follow the simple instructions. Two screens later you’ll begin to enjoy this multi–user capable application for GTD–ing. To run it again, save a bookmark to the aforementioned location in your hard drive.

(I’ve found Nexty checking out the big list of GTD tools I’ve recently added to the sidebar.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Inspiring workplaces

Belgian designer Veerle Pieters has written a nice piece about inspiring workplaces in her blog, and she has also set up a promising and, well, inspiring Photo set in Flickr, called (surprise!) The Inspiring workplaces Pool.
The article in question is full of interesting ideas you can apply to your own working environment!
I certainly need to have a stimulating place to work, and from time to time I take my sketchbook and try to imagine what it would be like to work in one imaginary place or another... Here is an example (click to see a bigger version):

The following one didn’t get past the stage of a quick pen sketch, but I might add some colours and post it here soon —bigger version available if you click it, too:
I actually have quite a few drawings like this. It’s some kind of projection-exploration-imagination about the relationship between work, leisure and living that I do from time to time.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Theme of the week @ Illustration Friday: Communication.
Mixed media: watercolour as a background for two heads belonging to my Capsbats pictorial fonts, available from Typephases (to see a bigger version, click the image.)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Focus on writing!

There are many distractions that are likely to catch your attention while you are supposed to be writing. If you are easily distracted, there are just so many temptations right here on your screen... Confess it: how many times, while you were supposed to be writing, have you wandered off in the internet, checked innecessarily your email, lurked around in some forum, or drifted apart from your task in any other way?

Paradoxically, many users who work with a state-of-the art Mac or Windows computer, with all the visual appeal of modern systems working online, deliberately choose a spartan write-only interface to prevent themselves from getting distracted, making their computers look like one of their almost forgotten ancestors from the early eighties. How? Using a simple program to voluntarily hijack the computer screen for the only purpose of writing. Any distraction is hidden behind an impenetrable wall.

There is a variety of programs with this purpose, such as the (shareware) Writeroom for Macs and (freeware) Darkroom for Windows, each providing a full screen, distraction free, writing environment. Unlike standard word processors that focus on features, they are just about you and your text. Whiteroom is a Mac program, Darkroom needs the .NET framework to run in Windows; then we have a Java application you can run in any platform, called JDarkRoom, which is freeware and a mere 100K download. And there is a more recent favourite: Q10, which is equally portable, installation-free if you want and basically does the same as Writeroom or Darkroom.

So, if one of your problems while trying to focus on writing is getting distracted by all the rest in your computer, isolate yourself from any potential screen temptation with one of these applications! While they are active you can write and only write.

Bonus: if you don't want to install anything, there is an online service by BigHugeLabs, Writer, you can use for similar purposes.

1000 Heads: the book

1000 heads, my illustration book

My artwork at Flickr

Inspiring books for the creative type

My GTD (Getting things done) illustrations

I conceived this blog basically to share my visual side notes of the Getting things done process. My most recent posts about GTD software and related topics have “masked” the original posts.

You can access most GTDrawings in the archive of december 2005 and january 2006.

Here's a miniature with most of my sketches: this is what you will find, commented and in larger sizes, in those previous posts.

See also the article about GTD drawings.

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