Art of the Song

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Art of the Song Coffeehouse Creativity Corner Essays

GUESTS: John Dillon | Vivian Nesbitt | Eric Maisel | Eileen Kalinowski | Jan Haller | Don Richmond | Claire Long | Lisa de Burlo

Musician and Author John Dillon

John DillonJohn Dillon is co-host and co-producer of Art of the Song Coffeehouse with his wife Vivian Nesbitt. Originating in Taos, NM, Art of the Song explores creativity and inspiration through in-depth interviews with makers of folk, jazz, roots and blues music. For more information and to find a station near you visit

The History of Creativity

Creativity began about 40,000 years ago when our ancestors first made tools out of bone and ivory.

Creative Renaissance

We appear to be in the midst of a cultural transition. Over 38 million Americans make their living in a creative or related field.

Creativity in the 21st Century

CEOs identify creativity as the number one leadership competency of the successful enterprise of the future.

We All Have a Song to Sing

Let's look at "song" as a metaphor for whatever you feel drawn to do as creative expression.

Inner and Outer Creative Sources

Taking a look at "physical place" and "inner peace" as sources of inspiration and creativity.

Creativity is for Everyone!

The creative process is a path of discovery. Each of us has a unique creative gift to share with the world.

Welcome to the Creative Renaissance

When you integrate creativity into your life and apply yourself to your passion, you will accomplish great things and create a successful and happy life.

Actress and Singer Vivian Nesbitt

Viv NesbittVivian Nesbitt is co-host and co-producer of Art of the Song Coffeehouse with her husband John Dillon. Creativity. It's what we do — it's how we let the world know who we are and what we believe. Yet sometimes conveying the truth of our creative expression to others is an enormous challenge. The ultimate goal of the creative nature at work within us is to shine and bring beauty into the world. It's up to us to craft the setting that allows our expression to shine the brightest and the song that is our life to be heard.

Creativity Connects Us to the World

Creative expression is the medium through which we can help the world in some of the most broken places.

Stopping and Silence

Still silence is the beginning of creativity.

Light and Shadow Play of Creativity

Creativity is a force that can bring light into the darkest corners.

The Gifts of Writer's Block and Creative Blocks

Using pauses in the creative process as an opportunity for reflection and revelation.

Persistence as the Guide to the Creative Life

The creative habit is demanding. Persistence is a quality that needs to live in our creative work in order for it to thrive.

Swimming Deep in the Lake of the Creative Process

What if by swimming deep we find ourselves healed and happier when we lift ourselves from the cool water of creative process?

Honoring the Creative Process & Claiming Your Birthright

By expressing ourselves creatively and sharing them with others, we invite people in to see the world through our eyes for a moment without expectation.

Author and Creativity Coach Eric Maisel

Eric MaiselEric Maisel is a frequent contributor to Art of the Song. These essays are reprinted with permission from his on-air segment and are excerpted from his books: Creativity For Life; A Writer's Paris; A Writer's San Francisco; and others. Visit him online at

Taking a Creative Escape: 6 Ideas to Get You Started

A creative escape is a little time-out-of-time that you carve from your schedule to devote to running away to art.

Cultural Permission to Create

You feel at home in Paris because you are encouraged to sit and write and people watch, to adjourn to a neighboring cafe and write and people watch some more, and pass an entire day this way.

The Opinions of Others

Isn't this a lesson that we have to learn again and again, that every "objective opinion" is an assertion of idiosyncratic personality and not anything like the truth?

Crafting a Starting Ritual

One of the best ways to help yourself create every day is to craft a starting ritual that you begin to use regularly and routinely. These eight ritual ideas will help get you started.

Taking the Bad with the Good

In order to create, we must take the bad with the good. You are bound to write many bad paragraphs along with the good ones.

Writer, Speaker, Songwriter Eileen Kalinowski

Eileen KalinowskiWith a background in education, Eileen was a high school and middle school teacher for many years in the Boston area. She then spent several years in health education, helping adults and kids grapple with issues around sexuality, alcohol and drugs and wellness. The prestigious Wurlitzer Foundation residency in creative writing brought her to Taos and she never returned to New England. She sings, produces her own music, freelance writes for the Taos News, and is a member of the Taos Coalition to End Homelessness. Learn more at

Creating When You Don't Feel Like It

Sometimes I don't feel very creative, or inspired, or even very smart. 10 Minutes can turn this around.

Writing and Self-Doubt

That act of discovery, feeling my way out on a limb, is what makes writing exciting and fun and also scary and cathartic and amazing.

I Stand at the Door and Knock

So much of my writing life has to do with getting quiet enough to hear what's going on inside me — to get underneath the noise and haste and wheel spinning of my every day life.

Life as Writing Material

As a writer of songs, stories, essays, and someday, maybe, a novel, I want to share a bit of wisdom with you that took my breath away.

Writing: Dipping into the Darkness

Writing often pulls us down rabbit holes to places we often avoid because they're unpleasant or difficult or painful, but often leads to healing, understanding, and forgiveness.

Should I Quit My Day Job?

This reasonable, adult-type question touches on the important issues of responsibility, financial security, and creative energy necessary to sustain a worthy work.

'You Should Write More About...'

When someone starts off a sentence with, "You should write..." I feel as if I've been stepped on, diminished somehow — criticized for not doing what I'm supposed to be doing as a writer.

Writing: Just 'Cause It's Messy Doesn't Mean It's Wrong

Creativity is messy. After doing a lot of work on a project you can lose your sense of what it's about or where you're going.

Creativity Loves Company

When we appreciate the newfound joys of creation — a new song, poem, book, or painting — we find the joy is increased tenfold when we share it.

Painter and Teacher Maria Mikhailas

Maria MikhailasMaria is a long time painter, teacher and dreamer — dreaming the dream, painting the dream and teaching the dreamer to dream. She dreams and paints in northern New Mexico where while enfolded by mountain peaks one can touch the sky and hear the quiet prayer of the wind. Maria apprenticed for 10 years with Taos mystic painter Herman Rednick, studied with San Francisco sculptor Harriet Moore, and completed Michele Cassou and Stewart Cupley's 3-year Teacher Training Program in process painting.

What is Creativity and How Do We Access It?
The human being is creative, the same way a rose has a fragrance.

Perhaps our idea of what a mistake is — is mistaken!

Creative Blocks: An Artist's Best Friend
The creative block is an uncompromising friend that demands ALL that we are to come forth and bless the world.

Creativity: Balancing Training and Process
We can use the technical tools that we have acquired in our training in service to our creative lives and the seeker of truth within.

Painter and Teacher Jan Haller

Jan Haller Jan has dedicated her life to the mystery of the creative process and has been a painter for over 35 years. She is the founder of Magic Brush Studios in Taos, New Mexico, where she teaches painting to children and adults. "Painting for the process is the most alive, honest teacher for me. It is a powerful creative freedom." She is currently creating children's Creativity Corners, a kid's book about "Painting and the Silly Monkey Voice" and flags with imagery from her paintings.

The Silly Monkey: Creativity & the Inner Critic
The Silly Monkey shows us the thoughts that support our suffering.

Creativity: Intelligent and Trustworthy
Our longing to create doesn't come from a tendency towards a particular talent, but an innate need to manifest the truth of who we are.

A Blank Piece of Paper
When I stand in front of a blank piece of paper to paint, it invokes a vast sense of possibility and the great wonder of what is to appear there.

Singer, Songwriter Don Richmond

Don RichmondDon Richmond is a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumental performer, having played professionally for over twenty years. Don has released 5 albums as well as several collaborative projects and owns Howlin' Dog Recording. His instrumental compositions were featured in the public television documentary "Roy Bedichek's Vanishing Frontier." Don has also been Artist in Residence and Aesthetic Institute Instructor with the Colorado Council on the Arts. His book on the psychology of creativity and performance, Don's CD's are available at his website

The Creative Mirror
Using the metaphor of a mirror to understand our innate disposition towards creative expression.

Space and Stillness
Allowing space for bubbles of creative inspiration to materialize.

Music Began as Expression
You don't need to know all the rules on how to play an instrument to experiment with it and see what sounds it makes.

Expression and Introspection: Having a Binocular Vision
It's very helpful to be able to fearlessly take in the feedback and see what it has to offer you.

Artist, Designer, Musician Lisa de Burlo

Art of the Song Team member Lisa de Burlo wrote this essay after an animated discussion during a team meeting. Lisa lives in Taos and is an artist, designer, and musician. She loves creating things that other humans can use to express their own creativity. Her website is

The Concept of 'Source'
What does Source, at its heart, really mean for us, and how do we recognize and nurture its role in our lives?

Artist, Anthropologist, Activist Clarie Long

Art of the Song Team member Claire Long, a native Northern New Mexican and graduate of the University of New Mexico, walks the tight rope of the artist, anthropologist and activist. As painter, photographer and paper artist, her commitment to social change and environmental sustainability as well as a fascination with the human experience inspire her work.

Sourcing Creativity: Place
Sourcing the physical place where our creative practice happens gives physical dimension and identity to this process.