Clarity First Newsletter, February 1, 2019


Clarity First

A notebook about how we work, and learn, and love and live. 

Corita Kent was right, we are all artists. And we can all learn from her simple and straightforward rules for students and teachers.


Creative Process, Personal Development
33 rules to take you from clueless amateur to generational talent (or at least help you live life a little more creatively).

“There are 33 rules — and they really are all you need to know to make a life for yourself in art. Or 34, if you count ‘Always be nice, generous, and open with others and take good care of your teeth.’ And No. 35: ‘Fake it till you make it.’”
Article: How To Be An Artist


Creative Process, Learning
Negative feedback is good for creating parameters and limitations. What you do within those boundaries is what actually matters.

Comic: How to Take Positive Feedback as an Artist


Learning, Creativity
A leading neuroscientist who has spent decades studying creativity shares her research on where genius comes from, whether it is dependent on high IQ—and why it is so often accompanied by mental illness.

“In recent decades I’ve focused on what we might call the science of genius, trying to discern what combination of elements tends to produce particularly creative brains. What, in short, is the essence of creativity? Over the course of my life, I’ve kept coming back to two more-specific questions: What differences in nature and nurture can explain why some people suffer from mental illness and some do not? And why are so many of the world’s most creative minds among the most afflicted? My latest study, for which I’ve been scanning the brains of some of today’s most illustrious scientists, mathematicians, artists, and writers, has come closer to answering this second question than any other research to date.”
Article: Secrets of the Creative Brain


Personal Development, Meditation
Buddhist practice is like looking in a mirror — there’s no wrong way to do it.

“When you sit down on your cushion, the state of your mind and body automatically appears to you, the way your face instantly appears in a mirror. The mirror does all the work. You can’t do it right or wrong. Approach your sitting in the same way. You can’t do it wrong. It’s not a technique to master or something you can fail at. It’s just being yourself, being your experience of this moment, over and over. It’s simple but, if we’re honest, not always easy.”
Article: You Can’t Meditate Wrong


Learning, Personal Development
Let’s help each other find ‘our best versions of ourselves’

“Hall’s new book clears a rare middle way for her reader to pursue happiness, what the ancient Greeks called eudaimonia, usually translated as well-being or prosperity. This prosperity has nothing to do with the modern obsession with material success but rather ‘finding a purpose in order to realize your potential and working on your behavior to become the best version of yourself.’”
Book Review: Need a New Self-Help Guru? Try Aristotle


Civic Process, Civic Standards
The real solution to disconnection is to ‘find the others’.

“With fake news, Russian election hacking, and the general meanness of our online world, many know the utopian sheen is off our digital technologies. What many don’t know, however, is why things went so wrong — or what our next steps should be.

“Douglas Rushkoff, though, does have a pretty good idea of how information technology and the culture we’ve built with it went off the rails. He even has a pretty clear idea of how to get things back on track. The answers to both questions lies the title of his new book Team Human.

“…In the last few chapters he offers a vision that is neither anti-technology or techno-utopian. There are many ways to create the future (a word which Rushkoff says should be considered a verb). ‘Human beings can intervene in the machine,’ he tells us. ‘That’s not a refusal to accept progress. It’s simply a refusal to accept any particular outcome as inevitable.’

“For Rushkoff, it always comes down to finding new ways to use the machines we build to connect and to cooperate. That will mean doing the hard work of finding the humanity in people. In the end, that’s really what Rushkoff is asking for in his call for a “Renaissance Now.” We must remember that we only survive and thrived when we work as teams — when we work as an ‘us.’”
Book Review: ’Team Human’ Stresses That The Future Lies In Connection And Cooperation


Learning Organization, Design Thinking
Design thinking encourages you to examine your core approach to problems, from the very top of the org down.

“Most attempts to apply Design Thinking in business are not successful. The reason, perhaps unsurprisingly, echoes the reason why Agile so often fails to make a real difference. The new idea (here Design Thinking) is ‘adopted’ (read, ‘preached at teams’), but the focus is kept on solutions (output) and not on executive decision making, strategy, framing, and generating real options.”
Article: Design Thinking as Decision Framing



In 1969 the funk-soul band the Winstons released a single called Color Him Father.

The B-side of that record was a funky rendition of a traditional gospel song called Amen Brother. At one minute and 25 seconds drummer GC Coleman took a quick solo, and he nailed it.

Color Him Father won a Grammy for Best R&B Song, but Amen Brother remained in obscurity until hip hop, and specifically DJ and producer Lou Flores, aka ‘Breakbeat Lou, Bronx DJ since 1974’, showed up.

He turned it into a six-second, 4-bar drum and bass sample for the vinyl-format beats compilations he was making at the time, Ultimate Breaks and Beats.

That was then. By now this sample has found its way into thousands of hip hop, techno, dance and pop songs. NWA’s Straight Outta Compton is built on the beat. Bowie used it. It’s in the Futurama theme. And I’m just guessing that drummer Coleman never saw a bump in his royalty checks. If you are interested in how music feeds itself on what has gone before this short video is a must see.
Video: The Most Sampled Loop in Music History 


Image of the Week

The image of the week is entitled West Coast Flowers. It was shot by Geo Cloete in Cape Town, South Africa. About the shot the artist said:

“Each year during the early spring, the normally barren looking West Coast landscape of South Africa undergoes a magnificent transformation as millions of wildflowers bloom and decorates the landscape in a kaleidoscope of colors as far as the eye can see.

“When I stumbled upon this scene of sandy anemones (Aulactinia reynaudi) whilst exploring the West Coast coastline, it immediately reminded me of the yearly flower season of the region. Only in this instance nature treats us to this beautiful display year round and a wonderful reason to appreciate and give recognition to the wonders of our coastline much more.

“In order to capture as wide a field of view as possible, I relied on my trusty fisheye lens and applied a lens correction function.”

The image allowed the photographer to place in the 7th Annual Ocean Art Underwater Photo Contest.


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