medium /// books




a lovely letter

When Kate Woodrow, an editor at Chronicle Books, approached me about writing a book, one of the first questions she asked me was “Why do you want to do this? What do you want to get out of it?” My answer was pretty simple. I told her that I wanted to write about blocks, and inner-critics, insecurities… and of course a way to break through all of those things. I said, “If I can make just one person feel better, less alone, not so creatively broken, I would consider this project a huge success.” And yesterday, I got this letter {that made me cry – twice} from a woman named Claire. I asked her if I could share this letter with you, and she said yes:

“I am writing to thank you for the most amazing book I have ever read… next to the Velveteen Rabbit and the Secret Garden.

About 14 years ago when I was at college studying art, I had just passed my driving test and went to a job interview at a newspaper for some work experience. All my work was in the car, portfolios, sketch books and exam certificates – I wanted to get it right. My work was deeply personal and I was very proud of it, it was who I was. Anyway I went for the interview and then went on a date, the first in two years. I went back to the car park to get my car… no car… it had been stolen with all my work in it… NOOOOOOOOOO! The car was eventually recovered a week later, but no work in the car. Everything I had produced in ten years was just gone. After that I could not make anything. I couldn’t paint, think, draw nothing would come. Then eventually I had my son, and needed to work for myself. My art qualifications were my main qualifications, so I started doing commercial work, and slowly my soul felt like it was being hoovered of all creativity. I just produced work that thought would sell and could not produce anything personal or anything I felt proud of… or that I felt was valid.

So, that has been me for the last 14 years… sad but true… anyhow,  just after Christmas I got really sick and have been in bed pretty much since then. I had an enormous amount of time to think about stuff, and my artistic practice, and what that means… and slowly my brain started to remember that girl who produced work with passion and vigour with no thought for what anyone would think of it. I made because I had to. I had to get it out… and then I saw your book. I have followed your blog for ages, moved by all the work on there. Then your book arrived, and I cannot thank you enough, and all the artists in it, for their honesty and candour. It has moved me and shaken my stuck little world, and today for the first time in 14 years, I made some work… which i am proud of. It is just the start, but it is a start. I have quit all the commercial work and I feel like my block is over. I can make work that is personal, that matters, that I believe in… because I have to… otherwise it’s just half a life.

I just wanted to say that your book has given me a great gift and has really aided my journey back to my brushes. I was on that path and your book has given me some more courage and tools… thank you… seems small, but it has meant more than I can explain.” ~ Claire

Thank you so much, Claire. This means more than I can explain. I think what moves me so much about this is that I feel like this is my story too, which makes you start to realize that there are lots of stories like this out there. When you’re in it, you feel like you’re the only one who has ever felt like this… until you share your story and suddenly you realize that you’re not alone at all. Having blocks just means you’re part of a very elite, creative club! You can’t have a creative block if you’re not a creative person, right? I’m so glad to be in this club with Claire, and all of you.

*artwork by Rachel Castle





julia rothman… again

Gorgeous. This beautifully illustrated love letter to New York hits shelves TODAY! Hello NY is a gorgeous passion project by Julia Rothman… a talented designer, illustrator, and of course, New Yorker. She wrote a very honest, heart-felt post about the ups and downs of creating this book on her blog, Book By It’s Cover – give it a read, and then go pick up the book. I’m going to need a copy because I’m heading to New York {for the first time in my life… WHAT?!} in a few weeks for my NYC book event! Oh, and it just so happens that Julia is one of the artists interviewed in CREATIVE BLOCK! If she’s not too busy promoting this lovely piece of bounded art, she’ll be stopping by the CB party on April 2nd. I hope she has a pen ready to sign her lovely pages!

ps. there are still a handful of tickets available to the NY party, so if you want to come, grab your ticket here.





that time i went to PIXAR to talk about my book (?!)

So this was a crazy day. This is what I saw as I walked into the main doors at PIXAR last week… life-sized LEGO sculptures of Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear and Woody… and a poster with my book on it. Mind. Blown. No time to think about it much though because my talk was starting in about ten minutes. As I was setting up, I was told that the last presenter hosted by PU {PIXAR University} had been JJ Abrams. Hm. No pressure. Quick, could I make one of the books explode or something!?

Alas, nothing exploded, but I did get all set up in a gorgeous theatre with a really, really big screen {of course, it’s PIXAR} and talked my little heart out. I told the story of how my blog was born {which included a cameo by my son, because if it weren’t for having him I never would have started this site}, and how the book came about. The main point of the talk though focused on the big lessons I learned while writing CREATIVE BLOCK. We covered blocks, inner critics, public critics, and then getting through all of that so that you can get back to the joy of making work… work that you’re really proud of! I have to admit. I was nervous. I was in a room full of creative geniuses and I was worried that they’d be like “Uh-huh. Yeah, we never get blocked, lady.” You never know?! But no. That was not the case, because as it turns out they were all human. I spoke for about forty minutes, followed by a Q&A. Everyone then went out into the lobby so I could sign a few books {sign books?!?! very surreal, I have to tell you!}. The feedback I got was amazing. AMAZING. I had no idea who was in this line up and as I asked each of them what they did at PIXAR and what kind of art they did on their own {because all of them had something going on the side} I felt like a total fan girl! I mentioned to two of the guys that my son’s favorite movie is UP… they both worked on it! A few people told me that while they’re very confident in what they create at work, they really miss drawing, or painting, or [enter medium here] but felt a bit blocked when it came to getting started again. Several of them said this book was coming at the perfect time for them… it almost made me tear up a tiny bit, but I held it together because I was pretty sure that JJ didn’t cry while he was there.

Lunch time! I had a giant celebratory cheeseburger, and more fries than one person should ever have, with my amazing PIXAR host, visual-effects expert / fine artist Vincent Serritella, and my good friend Cariann Nesler. She came along as my cheerleader/photographer/book seller/driver, thank goodness! Vincent gave us a tour of this insane campus, which included their current in-house art show. Yes, they curate shows using the personal work of their staff – how amazing is that! {that is a close-up of Vincent’s fabulous self-vandalized self-portrait below}. We met a few famous friends along the way, and then, after a lovely full afternoon, it was time to say bye bye…

*Leaving PIXAR. Thank you so much for having me, PIXAR! Hope to come back through those gates again soon.





a book, 5 years, a give-away & a challenge

Thank you all soooooo much for entering! The winner of today’s give-away is Erin Candela! I’ll pop it in the mail tomorrow, Erin!

But wait… I have to give more away, right?! Right! Stay tuned, as more give-aways are coming in the next month or two {ps. thank you for all of your support, lovely comments, and mostly, for actually wanting this book! I am totally and completely overwhelmed xo}

ps. A few of you asked how to get a copy if you don’t live in North America… it will be on shelves world-wide, but if you can’t find it in your area, you can also buy it through amazon.com or through chroniclebooks.com : )

A BOOK:

Boy oh boy, I love these artists so much! Gorgeous work, and such funny, smart, touching advice… I can’t believe that CREATIVE BLOCK is finally out in the world. Thank you so much to everyone that made it happen, and thank you so much to everyone who plans on reading it! xo {and a big thank you to Leslie Fandrich for these gorgeous photos!!!}

5 YEARS & A GIVE-AWAY:

So, tomorrow, February 22, will mark five years since I wrote my very first post on The Jealous Curator. It also just so happens that my very first book, CREATIVE BLOCK, hit shelves all over the world this past Tuesday… needless to say, it’s been quite a week over here! And so we have to celebrate, right? How about a give-away!? Leave a comment on this post, and on Monday at noon (PST) I’ll draw one name and send that person a signed copy of the book. Deal?

A CHALLENGE:

I’ve heard from quite a few people that they plan to go one by one through the creative “unblock” projects given by each of the 50 artists in the book. So fun! If you do one, snap photo of whatever you make, pop it up on twitter or instagram and hashtag it with #creativeUNblock … I’m going to keep an eye out for them, and then I’ll set up a Facebook album to share some of my favorites from each month. I can’t wait to see what you make!

ps. BOOK EVENTS: I’ll be in San Francisco on March 5, and LA on March 22 and NYC on April 2 {links on the left sidebar}. The book will be available to buy in SF and LA because the events are at stores, but the event in New York is not at a bookstore, and is limited to 100 people so we’re selling tickets to it… right here {the ticket is $25 and gets you a book, drinks, snacks, and a super fun evening!}. More info coming soon on the May 15 Vancouver event.





los angeles – march 22nd, 2014

LA, so I’m realllllly excited that Skylight Books asked me to come for a visit! On Saturday March 22, from 5-7pm, Skylight will be hosting a little Q&A/book release event, AND, I’m so thrilled to report that I won’t be there alone… two of the LA based artists from the book, Stephanie Vovas {Photography}, and Jenny Hart {Contemporary Embroidery/Drawing} will be there too!  We’re going to talk a little bit, answer a few questions, and then all three of us will have our pens ready if you’d like to have your book signed. Really it’s a just a chance to come to LA, get out from behind the computer and chat with people in person. I can’t wait… I hope you can come!

Where: Skylight Books /// 1818 N. Vermont Ave Los Angeles
When: Saturday March 22, 5- 6.30pm

Any questions, just give me a shout {or a leave a comment here}





hale güngör oppenheimer


I have to say, I don’t think these photos do this pop-up book, by Stockholm based artist Hale Güngör Oppenheimer, justice. I wish I could hold it, flip through it, have a really close look… which I’m quite sure would then inspire me to attempt my own little pop-up house! Thick white paper, found bits n’ pieces, paint and patterns. So creative, and oh so fun! {that washy water reflecting through the photographic jug on the last page… oh, so lovely!}

ps. this work will be in a show that opens on February 15th in Istanbul, at Pg Art Gallery





san francisco – march 5th, 2014

I cannot believe it’s finally 2014! I’m finally on my way to San Francisco {the home of Chronicle Books} for my very first book signing party! The incredibly generous and lovely Kelly Lynn Jones, who happens to be one of the fifty artists featured in the book, will be hosting at her shop, Little Paper Planes. Here’s everything you need to know:

WHEN: Wednesday March 5, 2014  from 7~9pm

WHERE: Little Paper Planes ~ 855 Valencia Street, San Francisco {no tickets needed, just come on over!}

WHAT: A chance to visit, sign a few books {some of the artists from the book will be there too}, have a glass of wine, eat fancy sweet things, and try one or two of the unblocking exercises from the book! If you don’t have a copy by then, Little Paper Planes will have them for sale.

I am sooooo excited and can’t wait to see lots of old friends, and meet lots of new ones. If you’re planning to come, could you leave a comment or send me a quick email… wondering how many bottles of wine/art supplies to get. You know, the important stuff!

ps. New York, you’re up next. Just working out a date in April!





jordan sullivan





Oh my. I love this series by Jordan Sullivan so, so, so much… and then I read his artist statement and I loved it even more, because yes, I’m a total sucker for a good story:

“The Young Earth is a photo series and accompanying photonovel set in Iceland. The [fictional] story follows two Americans in the last days of their twenties, one them terminally ill, as they explore one of the youngest bodies of land in the world. The young men attempt to reconnect with the natural world while confronting their own mortality and a past love triangle that briefly dissolved their friendship. The Young Earth is a meditation on death, the end of youth, and the beauty and complications that come with love and friendship.”

Death, love triangles, and dreamy photography? Yes, please. And, if you happen to be in New York tomorrow night, you can meet him and have a copy of The Young Earth signed. You should go!

Book Signing: Jordan Sullivan’s The Young Earth
ICP Store, 1133 Avenue of the Americas
Friday, December 13, 6:00pm–7:30pm

{ps. the book is also available to purchase at photo-eye and on Amazon.com}




studio fludd




Oh. I really love this – especially those ice cream cones {and not just because it’s perfectly coordinated with my site design}

004 GELATOLOGY – Change and Persistence

Everything melts or nothing changes?
This booklet explores visual and conceptual analogies between ice-cream and geology.
Semifreddo cakes, rocky cones and creamy desserts in vibrant colours are models of cause-effect relations and incredibly slow transformations. The mixed media technique attempts to evoke the layering of experiences and the metamorphosis of our states of mind.

The text is the result if a cut and paste operation from a milestone of Geology:
the Charles Lyell’s “Principles of Geology – Being an attempt to explain the former changes of the earth’s surface, by reference to causes now in operation”, London 1830.

Limited edition of 100 copies. Digital + risograph print / size: 19 x 28,5 cm.

This is the work of Studio Fludd – a collective based in Venice. They are Matteo BarattoCaterina Gabelli, Clara Giaquinto, Sara Maragotto, Valeria Sanguin.

{via art hound}





CREATIVE BLOCK (my book!)

I don’t even know what to write… this has been hush-hush for so long… but finally, I can tell you all of the ins & outs of my book that has just been released by Chronicle Books {available in stores all over the world?!!} Let’s start with the title. It’s called CREATIVE BLOCK, and here’s what it looks like (an instagram taken with my very old phone, but you get the idea):

*The cover was designed by Dinah Fried at Chronicle, and then painted by Toronto based artist Amanda Happé. I love it so much and am proud to have had such talented people working on this project.

SO, WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT:

I came up with the idea for CREATIVE BLOCK for myself, just as much as for all of you. I wanted to make something beautiful – a contemporary art book filled not only with inspiring images, but also inspiring words, advice, and tips to help amateurs and professionals alike, find their way through those days when the ideas just won’t come. Because everyone who dabbles in something creative feels that way at some point – right? Right. I wanted to write this book to show you that if you’re feeling this way you’re not alone either. I’ve written hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of posts about successful, working artists who seem to have this whole “creative thing” figured out. But surely they have blocks from time to time? How do they get through them? Where do they find fresh inspiration? How do they handle negative feedback? Does it stop them in their tracks? Now, these full time artists don’t have the luxury of not finishing, or giving up on a project – not when they’ve got a gallery or art buyer waiting on them! So how do they push themselves through those moments when the ideas just aren’t there? Or when the ideas are there, but their hands or materials will not cooperate.

THE ARTISTS:

Finally! I’m thrilled to reveal the list of 50 amazingly open, honest, witty, thoughtful, funny, talented artists that allowed me to interview them about their own creative blocks, insecurities, and inner-critics. Not only did they give us a candid view into their creative process, but each of them wrote a “creative unblock exercise” to help shake us out of our own blocks. Amazing? YES!

Gah! Almost 300 pages of stunning contemporary artwork, insightful advice, and creative-unblocking tips. It’s soooo good, all thanks to that amazing list of people who have been such a huge inspiration to me. I’ll hope, actually I know, they’ll inspire you too!

WHEN & WHERE:

The book is now on shelves, all over the world, as of March 2014, and online via Amazon, Chronicle Books, and several others. Check the side bar for upcoming book signing events! See you there!

ps. Thank you so much to Jerry Saltz, Brené Brown, and Faythe Levine for writing endorsements that will appear on the back cover - I love that you love it!