Dejà View

No, it’s not a horrible typo–the galleys for the book arrived and I get to see how the book looks all laid out. There are photos still not placed, but the step-by-steps are there in black-and-white.

BookPagesWhat I sent in as a document is now typeset and designed. Reading the words I started to write a year ago can feel like standing in a time machine, or in a tunnel with a strong echo. I am having dejà vue, a feeling of having seen this all before. It looks so different, but it sounds so familiar.

Of course, the inner critic showed up. The book is about him, after all. Who am I to write about ways to confront the inner critic? Who am I to combine writing and art exercises and write a book to coach artists? And who is going to buy a book that is part writing, part mixed media and a large part coaching?

A family member asked to see a copy of Raw Art Journaling when it first came out. I handed it to her, hoping she would like it. She flipped through it, page by page, then handed it back, seriously. “That’s a lot of works in there,” she said. And this one has a lot of words, too.

Most people buy new art technique books and flip through them, back to front, looking for images they like. If they find a few, they buy the book. Will they like this book–with all those words? It’s a coaching book with writing and art exercises. Will this work?

I don’t know. But in reading through the galleys, I found a sentence that rings true, even a year later. “We don’t know if our efforts will work. But we do know that if we don’t get started, nothing at all will happen.”

Everyone has an inner critic. That makes a big potential audience for the book. I have no control over how many people will like it, but as i read through the galleys, changing phrases to make them clearer, smiling as I remember the photo shoot, I am giving it my best shot.

–Quinn McDonald is entertaining her inner critic.

Learning by Heart

Corita Kent was a nun who taught art for more than 20 years in Los Angeles. Jan Steward knew Sister Corita and became the biographer using an interesting concept to create to create the biographs, Learning By Heart, Teachings To Free The Creative Spirit.

Sister Corita Kent early in her career, when she still wore a habit.

Sister Corita Kent early in her career, when she still wore a habit.

Jan would write down an idea, a sentence, a memory, or a quote she remembered from Sr. Corita, and toss it into a box marked with the name of a course Sr. Corita taught. The two women wrote back and forth about the book, until Sr. Corita died unexpectedly. But Jan didn’t quit or give up. She finished the book, which has become a cult favorite. The chapter titles were taken from courses that Sr. Corita taught: Sources, Structure, Connect & Create, Work Play, Celebration.

I’ve met Jan, and just finished reading her book again. I love the determination of both Corita Kent, who met considerable resistance in teaching art her way, and Jan Steward, who brought the book to completion.

Some quotes from the book for inspiration:

Limitation is what differentiates a flood from a lake. In th emaking of things, limitations allow ou to choose from something rather than everything.”

Image, © Sr. Corita Kent. Quote by Albert Camus: [I] "should like to be able to love my country and still love justice,"

Image, © Sr. Corita Kent. Quote by Albert Camus: [I] “should like to be able to love my country and still love justice,”

“Everything is a Source: There are two objects to my left on the table where I am typing. One is a purple plastic ink bottle . . . the other is a photoraph of a bronze statue of Lord Shiva. . . Either could be a source for my drawin The content of the object will not determine the success of my work.”

“Artists are people who have developd their seeing muscles in much the same way as weight-ifters develop thelir lifting muscles–by constant, disciplined use.”

Jan Steward's book about Corita Kent.

Jan Steward’s book about Corita Kent., from

“We tend to think of play as abstract, without a goal, and somewhat irresponsible–while work suggests a goal, is specific and honorable. Because of this, play can be more challenging–even though we have been taught to perceive work as that challenge.”

“There are moments in the creative process when one is aware of great things happening, but I never feel that is the Creative Process. It is only a punctuated moment of excitement in the larger process. The hard times, too, are prt of the creative process; for example when I can’t sleep at night or lose the meaning of what it’s all about.

It can be a time of drudgery–a dirty, collecting time when I sharpen pencils or clear work space, but we know that somehow these things are necessary . . .”

—Quinn McDonald is amazed at how Jan’s book and Sr. Corita’s wisdom still rings true, decades later. She takes comfort in that.